Sunday, July 1, 2012

Traveling Back in Time

The plan was to follow part of the route we traveled 30 years ago when we rode our bicycles from Seattle, Washington to Old Orchard Beach, Maine.  We joined the route in Malta and found many things we had seen before were pretty much the same.  That was until we got to Culbertson, Montana where the boom of oil drilling began.  It was very different from there to Minot, North Dakota where the changes became less noticeable.  Then, for much of the rest of the 550 miles we followed it, the route was much the same as we remembered it.
Our we did not have go to Alaska tour continued in Eastern Montana when we had an 18 mile stretch of highway replacemant.  Even this brought back memories, as we had a road replacement project like this in Canada on our bicycle tour in 1982.  
Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota are in the middle of a huge oil drilling boom so they were totally different than we had remembered.  In Williston we stayed at the same campground we had used on the bike trip.  Big change, we could only get one night because the place was full of workers, some of whom are living in tents.  At the Walmart many shelves were empty and pallets of goods were just left in the aisles.  They can't get people to work because most are making good money in the oil fields. In the middle of the picture is typical housing in the area with people living in temporary tin huts.  Western PA is also having a gas drilling boom, but it is nothing like this.  Here they are just burning off all the gas they find. Go figure.       
We moved on to Rugby, North Dakota, the Geographic Center of North America. The monument is the same as it was on our trek, but some now claim they are off the mark by a few miles.  Route 2 across the state is now four lane so it is totally different.  We stayed at a campground that had a different name, but I am sure it was where we stayed in '82. The town has not changed much because it is outside the oil boom area.  The farmers must be doing okay because they were building a new grain elevator.
Rugby is also the home of the Prairie Village Museum that is a real step back in time experience of life on the Great Plains.
There was a nice exhibit of artifacts that a local had collected in Alaska, so our we did not have go to Alaska tour continues.
Some of the exhibits included an old newspaper office, the last switchboard used in Rugby, a blacksmith's shop, old washing machines and old cameras and projectors.  The big projector was like the one my dad operated at the local theater when I was a kid.
There was a great collection of old cars and tractors as well as the local funeral home.  Left, I am standing with a statue of North Dakota native Clifford Thompson who, at 8'7", was the World's Tallest Man.  Right I'm standing by a 1946 Ford.  That makes us the same age.  
From Rugby we headed north to the Turtle Mountains (not really mountains) and were happy to see the W'EEL Turtle was still where we saw it 30 years ago.  Turns out it was built in 1982 (the year of our last visit) using more than 2000 old tire weels.
A side trip we did not make back then was to the International Peace Garden that was started in 1932 on the border of Manitoba and North Dakota. When I took this picture I was standing on the 49th parallel with one foot in each country.
A memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks was funded by the government of Manitoba as a show of friendship
Each side of the Peace Tower is in a different country.
And of course there were the flowers.  We were here the first week of summer but many of the blooms were still spring flowers.  The gardens were still being planted with the summer flowers.
A new addition at the garden is the North American Game Warden Museum that honors wardens from both countries who have lost their lives.  All the displays are animals that have been confiscated because they were killed or transported illegally.  Each had the story of how they were acquired. 
We next followed our trail along route 5 through many small towns that have changed very little in 30 years.  We stopped in Rock Lake were we had a particularly memorable day back then.  After a long day of North Dakota headwinds we stopped at Harry's Bar (top left) for quite an evening.  The bar and Harry are gone, but the building and water tower are still there.  Thirty years ago we passed many ICBM missile silos.  As back then, if North Dakata had left the United States it would have had the world's third largest nuclear arsenal.  Bottom left is the only remaining missile command center we saw on this visit.  Bottom right is the office of the Cavalier Chronicle newspaper that was one of three that published stories about our bike trip.  
We relived some of the old trip with a couple of rides through the mustard fields along Route 5.  On one of the rides we even got to experience one of those terrible headwind days.  It sure brought back many old memories.  Nanc is wearing her I biked coast to coast trip shirt that my Mom made for us 30 years ago.  So you see, she didn't get rid of all the stuff when we gave up the stix and brixs.  Can you believe she still has that shirt?!!!!!


Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

The Peace Garden has been on my list and applause for all who have moved to NoDak for jobs!

Bobbie and Jim said...

What an interesting post!!!! thank you.