* * * * * * * * * *
So very grateful to CENEX Convenience Store in NEW SALEM, North Dakota, for allowing SAM and ME refuge for the night. At sunrise, we were on our way to our next destination: RICHARDTON, North Dakota, some 45 miles distant.
Wearing my newly purchased NIKE MONARCH AIR shoes...and having put large padded bandages on the stubborn blisters (the left foot blister had opened, shredding the top skin layer...the right foot blister was soft, but in tact), was confident we could complete the walk OK. Darkness would not fall until 14 hours later.
CENEX Convenience Store, as SAM and ME walked and rolled onto I-94 West.
MINNESOTA claims to have 10,000 lakes. NORTH DAKOTA also has many lakes. LAND O LAKES trucks are common in North Dakota.
I-94 looks straight and level...note off to the left...a great depression falls away.
I-94 has now become a series of long steep hills, making our transit a difficult one. I will say, that compared to WEST VIRGINIA mountains, which I had to rest several times during the 5 - 12 mile climbs, the NORTH DAKOTA "hills" certainly are not mountains. Just the same, the continuous series of hills were a test of stamina...especially against the head wind of about 10 mph.
Pleased to say SAM and ME did not once stop while climbing the North Dakota hills. We walked and rolled in excess of our normal 4 miles per hour, stopping at convenient overpasses for a drink and few moment's rest. I did set up our chair two times, falling to sleep instantly (after the short night), sleeping totally for about 45 minutes.
We encountered one TRUCK REST STOP, at which we took a few moments to sit on a bench, have a bite and drink...then away on I-94 again...with it's unending hills.
Sure does not look like a steep hill...but I assure you, that roadway is UP !
The two pinnacles in the distance are remnants of the once much higher level of the land. Millions of years' erosion have shaved away all the land, leaving those two reminders of just how Earth changes.
The spot SAM and ME are constantly watching for...a place to find cool shade...a place to rest a moment...a place for a drink and a bite.
As the afternoon wore on, the Western sky became heavy with black clouds.
About 10 miles from our destination, while climbing out of a large valley to once again reach the more reasonable prairie, the storm came down upon SAM and ME.
The above towering thunderhead came directly at SAM and ME. We actually RAN up - and down - several hills, trying to find shelter (an overpass) under which to hide.
Two times, we tucked ourselves under overpasses...only to have the winds abate...and the clouds stopped moving...our chance to continue on to - hopefully - reach the next overpass before the clouds burst open.
When it rains out here in the North Dakota Prairie, it is like continuous fire hoses blasting away at you. Next to the I-94 roadway are water runoff abatement "dams", designed to slow the masses of water running down the ever-present hills.
Having just been missed by a rather fierce-looking thunderhead system, a RAINBOW decorated the Eastern sky.
In the end, SAM and ME covered many miles with the above monster lurking over our heads...as fate would have it, not a single drop of water fell on us...even though we were directly under it much of the time.
We arrived in the tiny village of RICHARDTON, just as the Sun set...giving us only minutes to find refuge before it became dark. The local CENEX (again) came to our rescue. Richardton did have a small motel. The Sales Clerk telephoned...yes, a room was available...yes, it would be held for SAM and ME.
Being only 1/2 miles from the Convenience Store, I purchased a LARGE "MT DEW" drink and a hot sandwich, sat at a provided table, and cringed as the feeling of intense pain returned to my now swollen feet. During the last few hours of running up I-94 hills, I blocked out any feeling of pain (yes, I can do that!). Now, it returned with a vengeance.
Finishing my sandwich, I pushed SAM the final distance to the motel, checked in, unloaded SAM's "cold" stuff into the small fridge, peeled off my soaked clothes, and slid into bed...awakening only once the entire night.
Little did I know that our 45 mile walk was only a prelude as to what was waiting for us tomorrow as we simply had to reach the large town of DICKINSON, North Dakota...a major support town for the Oil-Boom countryside, able to offer choices to mend our pains.
Main Street (also Highway 10), RICHARDTON, North Dakota.
The left ankle tendon had swollen during today's walk. Upon lying down, it quickly became very painful...received some NIVEA cream (which I have used for nearly 40 years) TLC (tender loving care) message, before rolling over to listen to my pillows...which interestingly enough, said nothing !