We had yet another day of serious southeasterly headwinds. Rough conditions. We were windblown and exhausted after the 30-mile ride from New Salem to Mandan with another 5 miles to ride to Bismark.
The ride into Bismark was dramatic in every way. At one point I looked back toward the Mandan No 2 Fire Station, a brown brick building with bright red doors, with American flag fully extended in the strong southeasterly, a bright orange sunset lighting the sky, all under dark grey storm clouds flickering with lightning. As we crossed the Missouri River the lightning continued, catching us in large rain drops for a few minutes. We were so tired from days of headwinds that our emotions were as dramatic as the sky. It felt significant to me to be crossing the Missouri on September 1.
We had a rest day in Bismark. I attended a Lutheran service with a local couple who had given me their business card back in Medora, MT. They graciously also invited me to lunch, during which we talked about life and family and about the bike tour. I answered through their many skeptical questions, each time offering an invitation to consider more of the evidence. By the end of lunch, I was gratefully surprised to be receiving spontaneous support for media outreach. We had a radio show to record in the afternoon for the 9/11 Free Fall podcast. I got some rest in the afternoon – not enough.
In the evening I rode a couple miles up the hill past the capitol (Bismark is a big town), to the Bismark Fire Station. I gave a DVD to the captain. He said he’d share it with others in the department. He mentioned that they have an annual commemoration, and that his community has a piece of WTC steel as part of their memorial (many fire departments around the country received pieces of the WTC steel for this purpose over the past year or two). I mentioned that I would like for those who died to be honored with a proper investigation so that the annual commemorations are based on factual evidence.
At the Bismark Police Station, I gave a DVD to a patrol officer who was just heading off duty. He said he’d share the DVD with the other patrol officers. To leave a DVD for the police chief on the holiday weekend, he recommended that I go to the door of the station and use the phone to call the duty commander. I appreciated his advice.
Then I went to the Burleigh County Corrections Center in the center of town. (The captain at the fire department had advised me that the dispatcher is at the airport, farther than I was willing to ride my bike in the evening). The deputy on duty was administering breathalyzer tests. When I gave him a DVD he told me, “Yeah, I got an email saying that you guys might come through the area. It was just on our internal email system.” He said he’d share the DVD with the other deputies, and he gave me the mailing address for the county sheriff.
On Monday morning, I rode my bicycle the five miles back west across the Missouri River into Mandan, and left DVD’s at the fire station I’d seen the day before, and gave a DVD to a Morton County corrections officer, and to a Mandan patrol officer who said she’d give it to her lieutenant. Then I used the off-hours door buzzer to get in to leave DVD’s with the dispatcher for the Morton County Sheriff and the Mandan City Police Chief.
Today we’re riding to Hazelton, in another stiff headwind! We took a couple short breaks, one to do some outreach at the University of Mary, and then for an interview on the Maria Hellar radio show in Phoenix, AZ. Then we rode on into more easterly headwinds...just at the point when I had decided that the headwinds of North Dakota were matching and adding to my character trait of determination, the winds shifted to the NE and our route shifted to the south. What a relief to have the wind behind us!
In the morning, after some friendly conversation, I gave a DVD to a group of local farmers. One question answered, curiosity satisfied - the animal that digs large holes along the road, burrowing under the roadbed, is a badger! And I received fair warning that badgers are aggressive.
I also had a relaxed and pleasant conversation with the fire chief for Hazelton, ND. He said that it never did make sense to him how jet fuel fires could destroy all that steel. He said he’d show the DVD at a fire department meeting and make it available for the firefighters to take home to watch.