With the only highway heading East to Fargo being the interstate 94 (a motorway, not good for cycling) I was taking increasingly smaller and quieter roads. This took me to this lovely quiet, smooth road just after Ayr – with perfect calm clear conditions making for a memorable end to Friday’s ride
The photo shows the corn and wheat that makes up much of the landscape – a change from the quinola in Saskatchewen. Here quinola is seen as a problem because it is a good “volunteer crop” – ie it’ll keep growing like a weed if the farmers try and grow something else. Earlier on Friday I took a break from the cycling to go on a guided tour of another part of the landscape. But not on the surface – do you know where? Underground! Or more specifically the Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility of the 321 Missile Wing.I’ve always been interested in the Cold War, so a tour around one of the underground bunkers where the nuclear Inter Continental Balistic Missiles would be launched from was not to be missed! From this console, up to 150 missiles could be launched from their underground silos spread across this part of North Dakota (spaced 3 miles apart so that if one got a direct hit from an incomming ICBM, the others would not be affected).
Surface of one of the missile silos:
The control centre bunker was 30m underground and shaped like an hour glass on its side – this photo from the generator room through the two blast doors (as thick as my gangly arm is long) to the control centre shown the huge shock absorbers that the floor was suspended from.
This place was decommissioned along with the 14 other similar control centres in North Dakota as part of the START arms reduction treaty. But we were re-assured that three of the original six missile wings are still fully operational and defending the nation. While it is an impressive feat of science, technology and engineering, the thought of 450 missiles being armed and capable of delivering the equivalent of half a billion tonnes of TNT to their targets in less than 30 minutes was far from reassuring!
Ever since Fairbanks, my journey south has been more of a journey east. This right turn at this very unassuming junction marked the point where it became a journey south once again. The edge was taken off the celebration by a strong southerly wind for the rest of the day!
Shortly after this I stopped at this very unassuming hall to top up my water:
I was surprised to walk in on a hall full of people playing bingo (I think they were equally surprised to see me!). But in tge short time that I was there, everyone I spoke with from Barry the hall manager to the bar man and the regulars were very generous in one way or another. I tried my first root beer float – i wasnt sure what to expect beer (6%!) and ice cream to be like, but it was surprisingly good!
Finally, I’ve appeared in not one, but two newspapers this week! The Jersey Evening Post and on tge front cover of the Hearald Press. Time magazine – here I come!! 🙂