UHaulin’ Across North Dakota
So… we might or might not have rented a UHaul truck and drove 480 miles across North Dakota. Ok. We did. And I don’t regret it.
Here’s the deal: My best friend is getting married in Michigan in early August and, knowing this, we’ve been planning to ride as far as we can and then, if necessary, rent a car or hitch a ride to make it to her big day on time. So, having been pushed back a few days because of the glorious rain storm we experienced back in Libby, MT, we decided that if we have to skip some terrain to make it to the wedding on time, we’d rather skip North Dakota than Wisconsin or Michigan (my home state).
Besides….those plains were getting just about one million blades of grass too long and, come Wolf Point, MT, it was getting clear that there was no chance that I was actually going to be seeing any buffalo roam where the buffalo were supposed to be roaming. (In fact, all I was seeing was dead prairie dogs; lots and lots of dead prairie dogs.)
So, in Wolf Point when we met Matt — a fellow bike tourer travelling lone wolf — who was interested in splitting the cost of a UHaul to UHaul-ass across the last 400 miles of the plains, it was pretty much on.
Here are some highlights from the UHaul extravaganza:
- Originally we had planned to pick up the UHaul in DIckinson, ND, but to save four days of riding (it would have taken us four days to bike ride from Wolf Point to Dickinson), and because our new UHaul split-mate was ready to go meow, we decided to try to get the UHaul July 3rd from Wolf Point.
- We made a reservation to pick up a 10′ UHaul truck from Wolf Point. At this time we learned that the reservations you make on the UHaul website are all entirely theoretical. See, you tell UHaul what they want, they guarentee they will have it for you, then a nice (?) woman named Annie calls you and tells you the 10-foot truck you want, is actually a 26-foot truck — unless, of course, you want to wait four days to pick your truck up. So….
- We drove a 26-foot truck — the biggest truck UHaul makes (!!) — from Wolf Point, MT, to DIcksinson, ND. This was entirely hilarious. The world’s most giant truck completely empty except for three touring bikes and three scrawny bike tourers strapped in the front seat.
- The 26-foot truck ate gas as fast as I have been eating Pop-Tarts on this tour (re: relentlessly and really, really fast without regret), so that was a real pain. Dustin might or might not have scraped the back bumper pulling out of a gas station once.
- After long haul truckin’ that 26-footer to Dickinson we threw Matt and his bike out the back and told him to meet us down the street at a gas station where we would come and retrieve him in our new 10-foot truck. (See, there’s only two seats in the 10-foot truck so we were going to have to do something bojjanketey to get all three of us and our bikes transported in this truck and we thought UHaul would prefer to relieve themselves of allliability with the ignorance is bliss policy.)
- With our new significantly more fuel-efficient 10-foot truck in posession, we drove down the street to pick up Matt. We ended up putting a camp chair in the middle of the pilot and co-pilot seats in the cab of the truck. It worked surprisingly well, and I’d consider it yet another selliing-point #win for the REI backacking chair with back support (as aforementioned in my 10 Luxury Items I’m Glad I Brough On Tour post). Matt sat in the bojjankety middle seat on day one and I sat in it on day two. Having sat in both the real co-pilot chair and the bojankety middle seat I can say the middle seat is hands-down more fun; infinitely more dangerous and precarious — but also infinitly more fun.
- Good news: WE ALL SURVIVED!!!! No one got catapulted out the bojankety middle seat.
- Some pictures:
Some Thoughts on Bismark, ND
We ended up living in UHaul trucks for two days. The first night we camped in Bismark, ND. Dustin and I slept in the UHaul like a glorified double wide, and Matt slept in his hammock outside (Oh, did I mention that Matt sleeps in a hammock with a mosquitoe net rather than a tent?)
Bismarck was…… lackluster. The ride to Bismark was pretty alright (we saw some really amazing canyons; if I were to do it all over again I would ride my bike to Dickinson and then take the UHaul across from there), but Bismark itself (which I have been calling Bizmarkie) was kind of a bust.
If you are in Bismark, don’t eat at Peacock Alley. I am only mentioning the name of the restraunt here because the food was that bad. The prices weren’t low and my salad looked like clearance-rack bag lettuce and the burgers came out cold and plated with about nine french fries. It was the most dissapoiting meal I’ve ever over-paid for.
Spending the Fourth (and Beyond) in Fargo
After our night in Bismark we long-haul-trucked our ass on to Fargo, then onto West Fargo and a magical place called Bonanzaville. (Ok, we didn’t actually go into the Bonanzaville, but we did camp in the fairgrounds right next to it.)
Fargo was good. We’ve been wondering where we were going to be for the Fourth of July for a month now and Fargo was the lucky (and unexpected!) winner. With about an hour of summer thunderstorm rain (complete with thunder and lightning) followed by two full hours of fireworks, Fargo’s Fourth celebration did not let me down.
Dustin and Matt were also able to (finally!) buy some of their own fireworks from a roadside stand (aptly named “Joe Blow Fireworks”) and I lit a sparkler.
That night Dustin and I slept in the UHaul double wide again and Matt, again, slept in his hammock house slung between the UHaul door and a tree.
When we woke up on July 5th in Fargo, it was time for Matt to ramble onward toward Minneapolis, so we said our goodbyes and Dust and I rambled on to the local laundry mat to clean our well overdue for a cleaning clothes.
We also made a stop at the Scheels — which, if you’ve never heard of it before — is apparently the world’s largest “all sport” shop, complete with a ferris wheel inside. I bought a new pair of socks because one pair of the two pairs of socks that I brought had acquired a funk that wouldn’t leave, even fresh from the washer (mailed those babys home to be dealt with later). We also acquired from summer sleep mats with a 1.8 R rating (the mats we were previously sleeping on had a 3.8 R rating and they were making us way too hot at night).
After proverbially emptying my wallet at Scheels, we went to the post office to mail home our old mats and to return our UHaul home.
Lucky for us, this also happened to be what I can only assume to be the hottest most humid day Fargo, ND, has ever seen. Seriously. It was like moving in slow motion through an air wall made of hot butter. Fortunatly we only had to ride 4 miles from the UHaul drop-off location to our city park campground home for the night.
Here are three highlights from that night in the city campground worth mentioning:
- This campsite had showers (yay!) but was also ragingly infested with mosquitos that only come out after the sun sets like little vampire demons.
- We met a guy who”s been travelling for two years (!) with his dog. He says he just wanders around walking and hitching rides. He used to be in the Coast Guard, he’s from Hawaii and he sells jewelry made out of (real) pearls to make money. Meeting him was a pretty solid high-point of this campsite.
- There was an incredible lightening storm happening somewhere in the distance that night, so as we laid on the lawn (soaked in deet) chatting, we could see the sky lighting up every minute or so with huge, brilliant streaks of lightening. It was pretty incredible.
After Fargo we’re back on bikes full time scooting through Minnesota. More on that, Pelican Rapids, Dalton and the Central Lakes bike trail in the next entry……