Total Elevation Gain (ft): 1122.0
Weather: Sunny, Warm
Hillbilly Insults: 0
Roadkill: 26 (6 Birds, 9 Snakes, 2 Frogs, 1 Badger, 3 Chipmunks, 1 Rabbit, 1 Turtle, 3 Unknown)
Bugs Swallowed: 1
Mean Dogs Chasing: 0
Animal Rescue: 1 Turtle
I'm riding through Southern Saskatchewan, or as some call it, "North Dakota" and wondering why anyone would live here. Don't get me wrong, I am truly happy for the 46 friendly people that call this home, but their frigid winters, boiling summers and spring floods would test the patience of Job.
If you are one of the 46 that can stand North Dakota, it must be great. Wind blown plains, eternal miles between small towns and, winters on a scale that shame Minnesotans surely must have a unique charm. Ya know, come to think of it, it's Nebraska, without the decent college football.
No matter, the people are great. The state is doing well (oil shale) and unemployment is low.
I've been without the company of Kathleen and the kids for several days. I've had a lot of time in wide open isolation to consider the most monotonous and isolating kind of potentially fatal weather imaginable out here. I marvel how the pioneers endured this place as I huff up hill into a 30 mph wind gust. At least I've got pavement, a steri-pen for water and a smartphone (without coverage). How did the strong men and women of the 1800's make it with woolen clothing, cholera and Dr. Semmelgeiss' Snake Oil?
I conclude that I'm a dandy wuss with my petty complaints of heat, wind and saddle boils. I persuade myself that I'm in heaven until a rabid looking badger hisses at me from the side of the road. I yell, "Go home!" and mutter, "Honey Badger don't give a f***," remembering the Internet meme which can be seen here:
The badger ruined my brief self-delusion of being in a quaint paradise. Now, I feel like I'm in some post-apocalyptic landscape. I rarely see traffic, never a cop and the main streets of towns are abandoned. I'm pretty sure the state tree is the telephone pole and wait...what's that? That huge white thing in the sky. It's a...pelican. In North Dakota? Puhleeze! No way. Pelicans thrive in the wetlands, here. That's right, pelicans.
I thought I was suffering heat stroke hallucinations when I scanned a small choppy lake and saw this giant white "pigeon" soaring just a few feet above me. What the hell?! I did a double take. This was the first of dozens and dozens of pelicans and seagulls I would see.
The aptly named "American White" is a pelican unlike its ocean dwelling relatives. It does not plunge-dive because its American, fat and lazy. The literature says that Whooping Cranes are often confused with the American White, but I found that unbelievable. The crane is easily distinguished because it flies idiotically with legs and neck extended, like a rubber chicken.
I realize that my descriptions seem dubious, but I checked the digital oracle and what I write about the weather is true, at least for the state as a whole. The record low in North Dakota is − 60F and the record high is 121F. To put that in perspective, the temperature delta here is 181 degrees which is more than the difference that separates freezing and boiling. Both temperatures were recorded in 1936. That's also the year that Jesse Owens defeated Aryan Supermen in the Olympics. Yet, such an historic feat gets the silver medal compared to whomever endured the Great Depression and biblical climate around here.