DAY 43   JULY 9   84 MILES

A bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it becomes old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.                       Ann Strong

What a difference a day makes!  We awoke this morning with very light winds from the southeast which helped to propel us along our route (Why are favorable winds seemingly light while the opposite always strong?)  The roads were much better as well.  Our proposed trek was 30 miles shorter than yesterday which energized everyone. 

My only problem was that I missed a turn and rode an extra 6 miles out of the way.  Of course, there was another 6 to return for a total of 12 extra miles.  I had expected a larger intersection for the turn but it was only a small side road.  In addition, I was somewhat preoccupied with riding over and popping the small bubbles in the tar which seals the cracks in the road (they make a nice snap when hit just right).  The riding was easy today so it was not a major problem. 

The corn and soy are still with us but today we were met with 2 new crops.  As we topped a small hill, we were met with a gigantic field of beautiful, brilliant yellow.  At our next rest stop, we were told that it was mustard.  It was the only such field we have seen so far.  Another crop stood about 3 feet tall and was large leafed.  That turned out to be sunflowers.  They will be more beautiful when eventually they are in bloom.       

We recently read an article which lamented the disappearance of Tall Grass Prairie.  While there once was more than 250 million acres, there now remains only 2 or 3% of that total.  What they call "Human Ambition" has taken its toll.  Falling into that category is farming, the building of communities, highways and other growth.  Farming is by far the largest land use.  Of course, the loss of the tall grass prairie is unfortunate but an unbelievable amount of food is now grown on that land.   

Tonight we are in Bismarck and more than halfway through North Dakota.  Soon we will be in Montana.  Once again, our fate for the night is a city park so I found a nice hotel in downtown Bismarck.  They have a guest laundry.  Now all of my clothes are clean so I am good for the next 4 days.   

Tip:  For road bikes, the top of the handlebar should be about 1 inch lower than the top of the saddle.