Fargo, North Dakota is halfway across the country. Not only is Fargo halfway, but my wife is on a plane flight and has promised to meet me for dinner in celebration of completing half the trip.
My small problem is getting there!
I am now in Valley City, which is a little over 60 miles away from my destination. The bike is in good shape. I am in good shape. However, the rain is coming down in sheets. I think I just spied Noah and his ark floating down the road.
Getting wet is not a problem. I have a rain coat, rain hat and wet weather gloves. The problem is that of the 60 miles to go, 25 miles are on gravel roads and North Dakota doesn’t actually use gravel. Instead, they use sand with some rocks. In a heavy downpour these roads turn to oozing mud.
I’m now in a pizza restaurant for a late lunch. I started out from Valley City but after an hour and a half had only made it about four miles in the muck. I turned back since at the rate I was going I wouldn’t get to Fargo until midnight at the earliest plus the mud was scoring my brakes. Soaked, cold and feeling stuck, I tried to figure out what to do.
All I needed to do was get to Wheatland, North Dakota. From Wheatland it was about 35 miles on paved roads to Fargo. Unfortunately, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft were not available. The internet did not show any taxi services but did show a bus came through once a day at 5:10 AM. I asked the man behind the pizza counter and he said they did have a taxi service in town and directed me the 10 blocks to its location.
There I met a man named Paul, who said I was in the wrong spot. I needed to go back into town to the senior center and ask there. I pedaled back in the rain and noticed the senior center was the next building over from the pizza parlor. I did as told, even though the idea of a senior center also being a taxi company was a bit strange.
The woman running the office did not think it was strange that someone wanted a taxi. She picked up the phone and had a short conversation and then gave the phone to me. A very old voice asked where I wanted to go and how far. I told the person, “Wheatland, which is about 34 miles down the road.” The voice said, “that will cost you a lot, about $40.” I instantly agreed.
Five minutes later a minivan with a taxi sign showed up. Clarence, a man in his 80s got out and helped me get the bike in the van. As he drove me to Wheatland he explained that he used to own the taxi company in town but he could no longer work seven days a week. So he sold the company to the senior center and drove occasionally. The senior center wanted a taxi service because it gave freedom to the elderly in town.
As we approached Wheatland the heavens opened up again. Clarence let me off by the side of the road. I put my head down and slogged about 35 miles into Fargo.
As I saw the sign “Welcome to West Fargo” the rain stopped and the clouds began to part. Half an hour later when I made it to the hotel the weather was even nice.
But the best part of the day happened 30 minutes later when my wife pulled into the parking lot and we got a chance to celebrate halfway day together.