Day 31: Bismarck, ND to Richardton, ND (89.7 miles)

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Sunset outside the Abbey.

A dark and ominous day quickly turned into a bright and sunny one as we made our way through the hills past Bismarck. It was a largely non-descript ride apart from the change in weather, but we did get to see some new scenery (a little bit of prairie) and to return to our Tour de Fries at Doc’s Saloon in Glen Ullin. We made it to Richardton in the late afternoon, and headed toward the twin spires of Assumption Abbey.

We were met outside by Brother Odo, a genial man who has been at the Abbey for 56 years. He showed us our room and told us he would pick us up for dinner at 5:30. We showered and explored our surroundings a bit. The Abbey is itself a beautiful building and is set into a hillside, overlooking green hills stretching out into the distance.

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The building itself.

We ate dinner and asked Brother Odo about his time at the Abbey; we were incredibly curious about how things worked there. He answered all our questions and had some of his own about our trip. After dinner we attended the vespers service (one of four daily prayer services for the monks) which was a new, but enjoyable, experience.

The striking thing about the Abbey is how well-functioning the community seems to be. Of course, there are reasons why: it takes 4.5 years for a candidate to be fully accepted into the brotherhood. But it is exactly that depth of commitment that makes the community such a joy to see in action and be a part of for a day.

We rose a little later the next morning so that we could have breakfast with the monks. As Benedictines, these brothers eat breakfast in silence and it was a peaceful and reflective experience to eat and look out over the North Dakota hills. We got on the road after saying thank you and goodbye to Brother Odo, with the sun shining but, unfortunately, the wind in our faces.

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