Well we really learned a lesson today. We are trying to remain in the vicinity of Interstate 94. So we figured we could ride frontage roads and other east-west roads either north or south of (but parallel to) the Interstate. We pulled out of our Hampton Inn
Turned right, and the road turned to gravel. Here is 37th Street:
Dirt but not too bad. Light traffic! But then we got onto loose gravel and sand.
Holy moly! Here comes another!
I practically fell down several times when my front wheel dug into the silt. Marie started walking her bike.
All the roads here are gravel! We could not possibly continue if we had to walk our bikes. So we backtracked up to the Interstate to find the frontage road. I told Marie firmly "If any road here is paved, it will be the interstate frontage road."
Well of course it's gravel. The east-west road to the north of the interstate that is paved is 22 miles north, and the paved road to the south is 22 miles south (the one the ACA recommended. Our choices are: ride either north or south 22 miles in loose gravel, then west, or ride on the Interstate shoulder. Out West it is legal to ride on the Interstate shoulder. It's 15 feet wide and very clean by our standards.
When traffic went by it was a bit noisy and windy but not much worse than the 2 lane roads we have been on.
This is typical. Every 30 miles or so there would be a paved north-south road. Everything else was gravel.
At lunchtime we exited to a small railroad town named Cleveland. It was a ghost town within a town. Seriously. Check the Main Street out:
That's the bank at the left.
The public school, now used as an equipment shed.
But it had this lovely park and a senior center.
And a huge grain loading facility that was working.
The town's former gas station is now a private residence. They left the sign, and the pumps.
A very interesting place, with 2 new church buildings housing Methodists and Seventh Day Adventists.
The scenery on the Interstate was actually pretty when you looked around. Most of the time we were pretty carefully clinging to the right side of the shoulder, bracing for truck wind blasts. Both of us got stiff necks from the tension. But there was beauty:
The land is slowly transitioning from crop land to grazing, then back again. Also, although I didn't take any pictures of the birds, there are mini-lakes and wetlands all over. Kidder County is a top bird-watching destination and we saw many kinds of birds enjoying the wetlands and lakes. If I photographed them with my iPhone while riding, all you would see is dots in the distance, so I didn't bother.
After 10 miles of dirt and 55 miles of Interstate shoulder-hugging, we were had to come to our planned stop in Steele. This is the only hotel within 20 miles in either direction, but it's brand new. It's a franchise I never heard of, "Cobblestone Inn & Suites". We are sure grateful for its existence.
Dinner was a new gastronomical low. The Steele Vets Club's cook was AWOL tonight so our waitress heated up a frozen pizza for us and served us ice-cold Michelob Golden Light (in bottles!). Dessert was soft-serve from the truck stop convenience store. Not the worst pizza, not the worst beer, and not the worst ice cream I've had. So, not so bad.
Tomorrow we get to ride on paved roads that are not Interstates all 45 miles to Bismarck!