The weather is unsettled here in upper middle America. There's a cold air mass trying to push in from Canada, it's being opposed by warmer humid air that probably spent some time over the Gulf of Mexico. There was rain beating on my tent much of the night. Rather than soothing & mesmerizing as is the sound of rain on the metal roof of my house (as long as I don't have hay on the ground), the rain kept me tossing & turning. I had thoughts of times I've had to get up and break camp in the rain while backpacking, and get back on the trail.
As it turned out, at first light it was overcast but not raining. It has been a great cycling day. For the moment the Canadian stuff is winning, and cool dry air has been blasting in from the north.
The ride took me south along the bluffs on the east side of the Missouri River / Lake Oahe. The landscape is an incised mesa, making for rolling topography as the highway winds into and out of drainages that feed the Missouri River. Much of this is rolling grassland devoid of trees. The views are spectacular as I swoop along, miles of green landscape with the river either far below or close by. I suspect the landscape is not hugely different from how it was when those earlier explorers from Albemarle County Virginia made their way up the river 200 years ago.
There are hills to climb, but the descents are equally long. The morning hours are my favorite riding time; this morning was really nice. There is almost no traffic on this road. The town of Pollock, SD is about the first thing you come to heading south out of Bismarck on 1804. As I rode into "town" about 55 miles into the day's ride, my stomach was thinking in terms of a blue plate special at the local cafe... It was not to be. It doesn't look like there was ever a whole lot to Pollock, but there is less now than there used to be. There are two boarded-up restaurants on Main Street, and the only sign of life is at the Sandy Creek Bar. I claimed my seat at the bar, and ordered a pepperoni pizza, which was about the only option for those seeking non-liquid refreshment. It took about half an hour for the bar tender to figure out how to produce the advertised pizza, in the meantime I had great conversation with the gathered locals, most of whom were farmers who couldn't! 't cut wheat or bale hay because of the rain last night. After we got done with my trip & how nuts that is, we got onto trucks & before it was all over one of the geezers wanted to drive me 20 miles out into the country to show me his Studebaker truck, I'd talked about the '57 I have sitting next to my barn.
Pizza devoured I'm back on the road & back up on the bluffs, wind in my favor. I wended my way south to the town of Mobridge. I suspect I did not see the best side of this burgh, I was not able to fully bond with it. Hot, big trucks, more bars than restaurants, but the people were outgoing as always.
The lady in the grocery store steered me to this campsite, which is a great place. Run by SD Game & Fisheries, it has showers, an electric outlet for my AA charger, and lakefront camping.
The pool in the lake is 30 something feet low because of several years of low snowfall, but after you climb down the bluff to the water, the water is wet and cool. I've had my swim and now I'm cooking dinner. I've conversed with the park ranger, there are construction detours on the paved roads. It looks like I'll be riding some gravel roads tomorrow. That's alright, the winds will be adverse according to the radio, so I'm not going to be making century time anyway.