Day 37!

Today we rode 67 miles, leaving Minnesota and arriving in Fargo ND.  Most of the ride was farmland, but there was a bald eagle in his/her nest along the way.  The nest was amazingly large, and the eagle didn’t seem to care about me on the ground.  The Red River divides Minnesota from North Dakota;  no sign, so I had to make do with a Fargo water tower. We go directly west across the state to Montana;  much of the state is flat, I believe, but the days are long.  Lodging is at a congregational church;  dinner was provided, and the members were again very welcoming.  We were interviewed by a local TV station;  hopefully the exposure will help bring in a bit more funds.

Day 36!

Happy July 4th everyone.  Today we biked along a lovely bike trail towards Fargo ND.  We stopped at a Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls; sadly, no open restaurants and no fireworks. However, intensive investigation revealed a Domino’s Pizza, so I was able to avoid the trauma of cooking my own food.  The road was flat but I had two flats, which slowed me down quite a bit.  Minnesota is supposed to be the land of 10,000 lakes;  from the trail today, that seems a believable number. 

Last night we stayed in a high school in Osakis, which is a local tourist destination mostly due to a very large lake which is popular for boating and fishing.  There is also a local distillery, making I believe the only Minnesota bourbon to be had.  This demanded sampling; not at all bad.  In the evening, someone had a copy of the movie Fargo, which I had seen long ago.  Not a movie to be seen twice, in my view.

Tomorrow we move to Fargo. North Dakota will be our 12th state. Only 3 left:  Montana, Idaho, and Washington.  The size of states get bigger with westward movement, however, so 2000 miles yet to go.

Day 34!

No rain!!!  Today we biked predominantly west, still following the Mississippi River as we get close to its origin.  We have been on or near the river for over a week, and have been able to see it transform from a major industrial artery to a fairly small river with no navigable components.  Tomorrow I think we  head away from the Mississippi, continuing Northwest toward North Dakota.

Today we passed through farms and more farms; very flat.  We are staying in a campground on the banks of the river;  quite beautiful.  Not much else to report.

Day 33!

Today we started the day going to an MS day treatment program.  There were about 50 quite advanced MS patients, who come to the center between 1-4 days per week.  The center provides activities, PT/OT, counseling; it was impressive how positive the clients were about the program.  The residents have been following our ride, exercising how they can, and assigning equivalent distances to match us.  We were treated like royalty, and got lunch as a bonus.

The ride started around noon, and was 60 miles due north.  Not surprisingly, it rained all day.  It was flat and fairly easy except for the weather.  We are staying in a “bicycle bunkhouse”, a farm that has been rearranged to be a haven for cross country bikers.  Great birds, wonderful host, and a full meal.

Day 32 and a rest weekend with Kathy!

On Friday we biked from Wabasha into Minneapolis, a nice 55 mile ride.  Much of it was on a bike path, as the area near and around Minneapolis is the most bike friendly place I’ve seen.  We had a 2 day break here;  on Saturday we did a service project, painting the outside of a house for a disabled person with MS.  In 3 hours we had the place mostly painted; definitely not professional, but nice and appreciated.

The last couple of days, Kathy and I have also explored Minneapolis.  Except for the extreme cold in the winter, it seems like a very pleasant place.  Many ethnic neighborhoods, great areas for restaurants, and a riverfront that has been converted from a flour milling center to a recreation spot.  Much of the old infrastructure is still there, converted either to museums or lofts.  Evidently the location of Minneapolis was predicated on the presence of St. Anthony’s Falls, which provided power for mills from the 1840s to the 1960s.  The falls has been completely altered to create a stable power source. We toured the Mill Museum, housed in the remains of one of the largest mills along the Mississippi.  It was surprisingly fascinating.

Tomorrow we visit an MS day center, then leave around noon for a 70 mile ride northwest, starting our 2nd half of the journey.

Day 30!

Today is Day 30 of the ride;  39 more to go.  We rode 70 miles along the Mississipi. The upper river is much different than that in Tennessee or Louisiana; much of it is so wide it looks like a lake. It is still a transportation focus however, with huge barges and container ships slowly moving downriver. It was warm finally, and the ride was fairly flat.  Construction made parts of the ride slow going, but finished in Wabasha Minnesota.  Went to the National Eagle Center, which is basically a nursing home for distressed eagles.  Watched one tear apart a rabbit; put me off rabbit for at least a little while.

Tomorrow we cross the river again to Wisconsin.  I think the only reason for this is to add another state to our list, but the ride looks nice though quite hilly.  Heading for Minneapolis Friday, and 2 days off biking, which  will be much appreciated.  Minneapolis is almost exactly the halfway point for the journey.

Day 29!

Today we rode along the Mississippi northward to Minnesota. On either side of the river are a succession of very steep Bluffs which we climbed and then dropped down from. This made for quite challenging riding; the totals for today were 84 miles and 3000 feet of climbing.

The upper Mississippi is incredibly beautiful. Everything is flooded however; for the last 30 miles we rode along a train line that had been flooded a couple of weeks ago and is unusable even now. Where islands used to be, you just see trees coming out of the water. Trailers along the side of the river have stilts built under them to keep them from washing away.

Tonight we are camping in a city park. There is no Internet or cell phone coverage in most of of Brownsville which is where we are. Fortunately, like all small towns, there is a bar with Internet service, which is where I’m sending this from.

Day 28!

Last night we stayed in Oxford Junction (city hall in pics); no  cell and no internet connection.  After 95 miles we stayed in a senior center;  the director was 89, and gave us a history of the town, which was basically one of slow decline.  He had been mayor, owned a large movie theater, a restaurant, and 2 businesses, now all gone.  The senior center attracted 40-50 seniors for dinner every night, now down to 2.   This has been the same pattern in all the small towns we have passed through; thriving at one time, dying now.  Not sure what the lesion is, but part of it is the industrialization of American farms, which now require far fewer people to do the work of many previously.

Yesterday we crossed the Mississippi into Iowa, which in the Northeast corner is hilly and beautiful.  Today we road 94 miles through windy and hilly terrain, and passed through the area where Field of Dreams was filmed.  I tried to walk off into the cornfields and disappear a la James Earl Jones, but the corn was only ankle high.  Still great fun.  For those who have not seen it, Field of Dreams was made in 1989 and is basically a redemption story about a disaffected son and aloof father.  It is incredibly sappy, but made an impression on me, partly because my relationship with my father was tenuous at that point.  Relating to Kevin Costner is always a positive experience in any event.

Tomorrow is another long and hilly day into Minnesota on our way to Minneapolis Friday night.