Day 137 The Prairies: Havre Homecoming - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

September 14, 2011

Day 137 The Prairies: Havre Homecoming

Sleep was somehow more difficult last night, though we each grabbed a double seat to try to stretch out in. Maybe we are getting too tired now to sleep properly. One advantage was watching the sunrise.

Sunrise on the Prairies
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It feels funny to be back on the Prairies.The train has brought us here with what feels like lightening speed. On a plane we would never really be here, and so would not adjust to it. But at Rugby I actually trod the Prairie soil again.

Many fields are still flooded
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Breakfast! The juice was given to us by Ken and Rhonda at the campground by Lake Champlain. Now it is keeping us alive in North Dakota.
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Here it is folks, Rugby North Dakota - the geographical centre of North America. Did you think it would look like this?
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It's cold
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When we left they were struggling to seed. Now when our backs were turned, they have already harvested.
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Having eaten through much of the stuff we brought on board, we succumbed to hunger and made our way to the dining car for lunch. The place has only one thing in common with Schwartz's and that is that you get jammed in at the same table with someone else. We got to sit with Bill and Nell, a couple who were going by train all the way from South Carolina to Seattle and then by ship to Alaska.

This cross continent odyssey was itself worthy of some UQs, and for example we found that this is not the first time they have done it. Since both are 80 or better, it's an impressive trip.

Nell in particular was proud of her southern heritage and accent, and they referred to the Civil War as the war of Northern Aggression.

The food offering turned out to be fairly reasonable, in its cheese burgery way. The burgers were thick and had good amounts of lettuce, tomato, and onion. Cost: $11.50 each. One of the servers was very sweet and the other had a real attitude problem, making for a null score on service. Overall, then, the dining service gets a passing grade.

The dining car is clearly overloaded, though, and we are on a waiting list for after the last seating. Beverly, though, sent us up some muffins from her store of carried on stuff, so actual starvation is unlikely!

About Beverly, here is a further shot of her and the kids, taking advantage of one of the rare stops where there is time for a quick run around. From what we can see the kids have been golden, quite something for youngsters confined for so long.

Beverly and kids get a chance to leave the train
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The North Dakota landscape is not all flat.
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Now, around 3, we are rolling in to Havre. The train has given glimpses of our famous and familiar highway 2 all along, but Havre is where we struck North from all those days and months ago, so it's a bit of a home coming. Also, now that we are in Montana we realize that each mile brings us closer to Avi and Violet. That is, until Whitefish, where each each mile will rip us further away again. Sniff! But never fear, we will be back.

Hah, this tanker on highway 2 can not get to us!
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We pass through a small oil patch
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Bill and Nell from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They say the landscape there is mostly "golf courses"
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The train in spots has touched on the route we followed East on the bikes. One major point of convergence is Havre. Here is where we came up from Missoula and briefly rode on highway 2 before striking North to Saskachewan. Havre has a number of historic buildings, but lacked much charm overall. It is a centre for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, the descendant of the Great Northern, which ran the original Empire Builder, starting with that name in 1929.

It was nostalgic to look at the town again, this time from the tracks that we had earlier looked upon from the road. We spotted again the red and white laundry building, and the buffalo jump - now concealed behind a shopping mall.

The station at Havre
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The backside of the statue of James Hill - the "Empire Builder". Also visible is the corner of RJ's pub and steak house. We deemed it too sketchy when we were on the bikes at the front side of this scene.
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Unlike the Lakeshore, the Empire Builder has its own publication that does explain much about the train. Also the on board staff has taken care to introduce riders that come on at various stations to the "shift lever" and the intricacies of where is the restroom, lounge, dining car, etc.
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Grammie and baby are united at Shelby. Beverly did a great job of shepherding her four kids this far.
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The mountains suddenly appear in the West
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East Glacier looks more like a prairie town than a mountain resort. It was dark by the time we reached West Glacier, but in the dark it looked much more Jasper-like.
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This is all we saw of the mountains before night fell.
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