Day 21 – Hundreds of Water Birds

Day 21; Bismark, ND to Napoleon - 72.5 miles

Last night, loud adults outside the hotel and kids running up and down the hallway outside our room woke me up. Such is the excitement of Saturday night in Bismark, North Dakota. At 7 am, Betsy and I met grad school friend Scott, who lives in town, for breakfast at the hotel restaurant. After an all-too-short visit, we bid Scott adieu and rode south on Washington Avenue. Soon the outskirts of Bismarck disappeared.

The highway zigged and zagged for 10 miles, climbing to Twin Buttes (elev. 1,768 ft.). The road curved east for 8 miles to Moffit Road; Moffit road was bumpy, but with little traffic. At Moffit, we stopped for more breakfast and watched a pair of Willets escort their two chicks across the road. We turned south on US Hwy 83 and rode 13 easy miles- aided by wind and a smooth, wide shoulder- to Hazelton. We got water and a cold drink, then headed east on Hwy 34. A northwest wind pushed us along gently rolling terrain with grassland, corn, and wheat fields. We noticed many large piles of glacial boulders in the fields. In 13 miles we stopped for lunch where a sluggish creek ran under the road. While propped against the outside of a guard rail, we watched cliff swallows snag insects and feed their young in mud nests under the bridge (see photo).

The highlight of the last part of our day featured hundreds of water birds on McKenna Lake: a shallow, 4-square mile reservoir. We saw white pelicans, geese, several species of ducks, yellow-headed and red-winged blackbirds, and an egret. A mile past the lake, we turned south on Hwy 3 and rode for a mile to Napoleon. We bought food for dinner at a convenience store, then biked 6 blocks to the town park. We pitched our tent in a shady, grassy spot. Our showers and dinner perked us up; our spot was a delightful place to end the day.


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