Friday, April 23, 2010

Ottawa – USA Trip 2009 Part 7 of 9

Awesome North Dakota
Not A Harley
What A Wonderful Ride East

Awesome North Dakota

It took us forever to get out of Montana and into North Dakota. N. Dakota was the highlight of our trip. We could not believe our eyes. The entire trip was worth it because of the landscaping we saw there. It was a scene out of the old cowboy movies with windswept hills, mountains and trails. I expected to see wagon trains making their way across the state. Surely, you must remember the old cowboy movies at the Savoy where they showed those pictures of circular windswept mountains with flat tops and screaming Indians with war paint lining the tops of the cliffs on their horses. It was exactly like that. It was by far the most awesome landscaping I have ever seen. We made more stops in N. Dakota than anywhere else. My original plan had been to go to South Dakota to the town of Sturgis, and Brad had wanted to see Mount Rushmore (where the faces of Presidents are sculptured into the mountainside) but I convinced him to forgo that plan. We were getting hypnotized by never-ending highways and I was worried that the Yamaha still might conk-out on us (even though the old dear never did). It was also just too far away and would have meant two or more days of riding added to the five or six days we still had yet to go, so he agreed with me. Then, Brad, and his Google maps generated by his portable micro-computer suggested that we return home via Chicago. That would have meant going around the southern end of Lake Michigan. My $3.95USD torn and tattered paper road map which I bought at a Wal-Mart store showed that returning straight through the states of N. Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan crossing back into Canada at the junction of Lakes Superior and Michigan, at Sault St. Marie, was much shorter, and would avoid going through Chicago's huge metropolis. It turned out to be a wise decision in the long run.

Not a Harley!

In N. Dakota we saw a Harley Davidson dealership from the highway and it looked like some kind of celebration was taking place. We decided to take a look. It was the dealer's 25th anniversary and they were giving everybody free hot dogs, hamburgers and cake for lunch. The place was crowded with men and women all dressed in their Harley gear. It was all Harley people with new and used bikes for show and for sale. There were bikes with ape-hanger handlebars; customized paint jobs; artwork showing naked ladies on their gas tanks; and bikes fully decorated with all kinds of Harley regalia. I was over the moon. I could relate to these guys. They are my brothers and I mixed in very well with them. When it was time to go, I told Brad that I would wait for him by the on-ramp to the Interstate, to which he replied, “No you won't! You'll wait with me until I get started”. Of course, the Yamaha wouldn't start again. A 500 lbs fat man wearing Harley gear and a bunch of monster tattoos across his chest and arms got up from his table yelling at Brad, “ Hey Sonny Boy! that's what you git for riding a ....Y A M A H A.....go and git yourself a real bike next time ......a H A R L E Y ! Everybody had a good laugh, including me, but Brad didn't see the humour in it . He said “Let's get out of here!”

What a Wonderful Ride East!

If I were given the chance to re-visit any one of the seven states we travelled through it would have to be N. Dakota. I cursed myself for not taking enough photos there. When we got into Minnesota, we abandoned the Interstates for the regular two-lane highways. After riding through the mountains of Washington; the potato fields of Idaho; the flatlands of Montana and the hills of N. Dakota, Minnesota gave us a feeling of civilization again. Gas stations were plentiful so no more worries about running out of gas; the Yamaha always started, even though some days it took longer to start than others so I quit worrying about that; there were lots of nice campgrounds (rattlesnake-free) and small restaurants - and each day we got closer to home. A most memorable moment was when we reached the crest of a hill and saw the panoramic view of the south-west coast of Lake Superior and the strikingly beautiful Port of Duluth. This panorama was most impressive with ocean going ships in the harbour; metal bridges disappearing into the clouds; walking trails and amusement parks lining the coastline and small seaside-like towns mapping our route eastwards. We followed the south coast of Lake Superior through Wisconsin and Michigan all the way back to the Canada/US border at Sault St. Marie, Michigan. Once back on Canadian soil all my worries about the Yamaha breaking down in another country evaporated. But, we still had two days of riding ahead of us before getting back to Ottawa. I think I worry too much – don't you think?

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