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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten

Maah Daah Hey

We stayed in a park in Glendive, Montana so we could visit the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum. When I heard about this dinosaur museum that provides evidence for creation, I HAD to go. After all, I am a Bible believing, young earth creationist (if you're ever curious, the genealogies from Adam and Eve to Noah, and from Noah to Abraham in Genesis provide ages when they gave birth and it only takes five minutes to add them up to get the number of years from Adam to Noah) and the evolution theory is taught in schools, on tv, in the news, and everywhere else. Who doesn't like to see evidence to verify their beliefs? I read online that you can expect an hour to an hour and a half visit, but they weren't accounting for people like me. I read. Every single sentence of every single plaque. Three and a half hours later we left, and I was thrilled. It wasn't a cheesy museum at all. There were dinosaur fossils, casts of fossils, skeletons next to fully recreated dinosaurs. They even had a rose and a teddy bear that had been fossilized in two weeks of exposure to highly mineralized water. I left there feeling more intelligent, and more confident in the Bible. I would recommend that anyone who has a chance to go to Glendive, Montana stops there.

Next stop, Medora, North Dakota next to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Did you know that North Dakota is beautiful? I mean, it's breathtakingly beautiful. I wish my pictures did an adequate job of even partially capturing the beauty. Where we stayed, we were surrounded by steep dirt cliffs, but the ground was lush green grass with a few trees scattered around and an occasional thick copse. I had no idea. Our spot was particularly good because we stayed at Sulley Creek campground, back in the section where they provide pens for horses, so I got to spend time petting a few horses and one beautiful and absolutely loveable jenny.

Wednesday, the day we arrived, we took our bikes on the Maah Daah Hey horse, bike, and pedestrian trail. We were expecting an easy ride, with a few gentle hills. As it turned out, Maah Daah Hey is a first class single track mountain bike trail, complete with beautiful scenery, hills to climb, and not very technical so you don't need to be an expert to ride it. Two and a half miles in, we FINALLY made it to the top, and we were beat. We have e-bikes, but I like to keep mine on the lowest setting to make sure I'm getting a good workout, and Abe was keeping his on the lowest setting because his battery was run down a bit so he wanted to preserve it. E-bikes are heavy. My previous bike was a carbon fiber mountain bike, and it was a beast when it came to going up hills. With the e-bike on the lowest setting, hills are more difficult than on a twenty pound carbon fiber bike. Fortunately, the rest of the trip to town was mostly down a long, much more gentle slope. We rode quickly through town just to see it before taking the road back to camp. We still had some long hills on the road, but they were a lot easier.

That night Abe went outside. Pretty soon, he called for me to come outside to see some bugs. Giant beetles were flying around, making so much noise that Abe thought they were hummingbirds at first. We could barely see them, so Abe got a flashlight, exposing the great big striped insects. I did a quick search and found out that they were Ten Striped June Beetles. We entertained ourselves for well over an hour, catching them, jumping back when they flew into us, showing them to the dogs, watching in amused disgust as Truffle ate one, and listening to them hiss when we touched them. It was one of those simple pleasures that I am so thankful we get to enjoy.

When we woke up yesterday, we decided to ride to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and we took the road to the park entrance instead of the Maah Daah Hey trail. Incredible doesn't describe the park. Not only was it beautiful, but I got to see something I've never seen before. We were able to stop our bikes not 20 yards away from a herd of wild horses. I wanted so badly to walk up to them, but I knew they'd run so I kept my distance and took pictures. Not only did we get to see them, but we appeared to be the first people to spot them. Abe had to practically drag me away to keep going, and when we rounded a bend and were able to look back at the horses from across the valley, there was a line of cars stopped next to them. A little further on, and there was a stallion standing on top of a ridge, looking out toward the direction of the herd, just like a scene out of a movie.

We passed a field of prairie dogs, and while we stood watching them, a coyote crossed right through the middle of them, happily trotting along. I expected to see him get a quick meal, but he must have been full because he ignored all of the little rodents. He did make a halfhearted leap for a magpie, but the bird flew away. A little further, and we saw a herd of buffalo down in a valley.

Suddenly, Abe told me to turn around, and he started riding back where we'd come from. I was looking all over to see what he'd seen, but there was nothing. Not animals, no cool rock outcroppings, not anything. Then I spotted a black pickup stopped in a turn off, and Abe confirmed my suspicion when he crossed the road to the pickup. There were Aaron and Valerie, who we'd met at Zurich, MT! We knew they were in the area - their campground was actually our destination for the ride. Still, it was a pleasant surprise. We talked for a bit, and the rain started. Aaron and Valerie made a dash for their pickup, and Abe and I took off on our bikes. We were fourteen miles into our ride, and the cold drops felt wonderful. Plus, a quick look at the sky told us that it was just an Idaho rainstorm in North Dakota. Lots of rain, and over in a minute or two. When it passed a couple minutes later, we were soaked and revitalized. We stopped at another turnout overlooking the valley where we'd seen buffalo. There was another couple there, also looking for the buffalo, but there were no buffalo to be seen. How in the world does a herd of 2,000 pound animals just disappear? We were getting hungry, so we turned around to get lunch in town. A little way down the road, we came up to a mass of stopped cars, looking at something. There were the buffalo, crossing the road.

After getting lunch, and then some ice cream because we were still hungry, we hopped on the Maah Daah Hey trail to go back home. Have I mentioned that I don't like to put my bike above the first setting? The previously long, gentle slope down was now a long, steep slope up. But I had to prove to myself that I could do it, so I never turned my bike up. I fell once when I didn't quite turn a corner sharp enough and my tire caught a shrub. Normally, it wouldn't have been a big deal, but at this point, I was exhausted so I couldn't pull out of it, and fell on top of the shrub. I stopped for a moment and let my pulse get below the 180s before going again. I had to stop a couple times just to catch my breath, but I hopped back on as soon as I could. Then I hit a particularly steep, long hill. I was gasping for breath, my legs were burning, and my body was screaming at me to quit, but I refused. Finally, I couldn't do it any longer. My pulse was over 190, and I could barely move my legs. I stopped, and when I tried to dismount, my weak legs didn't have the strength or coordination to hold me up, and I toppled over onto the dirt beside me. That time, I took a little longer to go again. I waited until my pulse dropped to the 160s before pushing on and meeting Abe at a gate a couple hundred yards ahead. Abe was smarter than me, and he turned his bike up, so he had to keep waiting for me, but I'm stubborn, and sometimes I have to prove to myself that I can do things. After going through the gate, I had to rest longer. We were finally at the top and I new it was mostly downhill from there, but I was so weak I didn't trust myself to navigate the descent. I waited a while before I was ready. Abe went, and I realized I still wasn't ready so I waited a couple more minutes before going. By the time we got to the bottom, I was doing much better. Still, we were both beat after our 24 mile ride. We both collapsed in the RV when we got back, and it was a couple of hours before I had the energy to take my very much needed shower.

This morning when we woke up, do you know what we did? We got on our bikes, of course! My quads are hurting so bad, but when we'd ridden to the park the day before, I hit almost 44 mph on my bike going down the 8% grade asphalt. The speed limit is 35 mph, and it always excites me when I can break the speed limit on my bicycle. Anyway, I was SO close to 45 mph. I knew I could do it, and I was determined. I put my bike on the first level, and rode up the steep 9% grade that we'd climbed the day before. When we got to the top, I rested a moment before shooting off towards the bottom. I pedaled as hard and as fast as I could, tucking down low to let the wind travel over me. And I hit just over 36 mph. What the heck? That sucked! I realized I wasn't in the highest gear, so my pedaling didn't do as much as it was supposed to, so I rode to the top, rested a minute, and went down the 9% grade. I was a little faster, but I didn't even hit 40 mph. I examined what I'd done, made some changes for the next ride, turned the assist all the way up because my quads were resisting every bit of effort, climbed the hill, and tried again down the 8% grade. 36 mph. One more try. 36 mph again. This wasn't working! At this point, Abe was staying at the bottom of the hill, waiting for his stubborn wife. He blamed my speed on the wind, so we rode to the top together to try going the other direction, down the 9% grade. I rode slow going up, with my assist still turned all the way up so I could let my legs recover. I had one more shot at this, and I had to do it. As soon as I was ready, I made sure I was in the highest gear and the assist was up (it only works up to 20 mph, but I wanted the help at least getting up to 20), tucked down, and pedaled as hard and as fast as I could. When my speed was going good, I dropped my seat down so there was les wind resistance, and I kept pedaling like a mad woman, glancing often at my speedometer. My legs burned, but I couldn't quit. 34, 35....40...43, 44, 44.4. Come on! Pedal faster! Pedal harder! 44.8, almost there. 44.9, 44.8. NO! 44.9, 50! YEAH, BABY!!! Back to 44.9, then back to 50.0 one more time. I shouted my triumph at the top of my lungs, then the hill started gradually leveling off, and I started slowing down, my legs refusing to move. I coasted halfway up the next hill before I started pedaling, keeping it just under 20 until I got to the top.

I was elated as we rode back to the RV. I was so focused on pushing and reaching my goal that I didn't even notice the thrill of the speed, but who cares. I did it! We all need those moments when we have a goal, push with everything we have, and hit it.

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