July 2006

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 31

07/17/2006 07:39:39 by Administrator

From: Cooperstown, North Dakota
To: Tolna, North Dakota
Mileage: 45

We had a short day today because of the headwinds and the fact that we wanted to get out of the afternoon sun. It was tougher riding today, more mentally then physically, due to the headwinds. At times we were pedaling hard, and only traveling 7 mph. By the time we got to Pekin and had lunch, the winds and Mother Nature were winning the battle.

North Dakota, so far, is beautiful! The acres of farmland are huge, 3500 to 7000 acres of crops per farm. We might have the strongest military and the richest banks, but we think our real treasure and strength is because of our agriculture. We have seen first hand the abundance of food resources we have in the US.

Met two eastbound riders today. Scott and Mike greeted us somewhere in the middle of county route 1. Scott is a fireman from Oregon who met up with Mike (a recent high school grad from New Jersey, taking this opportunity before heading off to college in the fall) in Montana. Both suffered yesterday with the headwind headed east, while we enjoyed the tailwinds. Today was payback; they had done 60 miles when they met up with us (we had done only 30). We traded war (bike touring) stories while the occasional North Dakota pickup truck passed us in the middle of nowhere.

We had lunch at Pekin (population 100, maybe). We entered the "Peek In Bar" and asked if they had any hamburgers. The lady barkeep grabbed a tub of frozen (microwave able) hamburgers and sandwiches from her freezer, and we picked a couple out (just like ordering live lobsters in Maine!). As we ate, she played cards with two local retired farmers.

We are camping tonight in Tolna (population 202, maybe), at the city park. We have the railroad tracks and a large (huge) grain elevator and silos to complete the scenery. The small towns in North Dakota are dying, which will make it harder for us to find simple things like bread. People are shopping in the larger towns, driving 50 miles to do one stop shopping so the in-town grocery stores are all closed up. Fortunately we planned ahead, and have spaghetti for tonight's dinner.

We visited the bar for a drink and to see if there was anyone to talk to. On the way in we met the "Peach Lady" (our name for her) who is a retired farmer's wife. She has given peaches to bicyclist on the road when she sees them. She told us how the grain coop works, and talked to us about how things used to be and how the small towns are changing due to people leaving for the bigger cities. Just a super lady and a pleasure to meet. [Mary] Ok let's be honest here, we really stopped at the bar to procure toilet paper and use the restroom (sorry to the bartender). The facilities at the town park are somewhat limited. They do have electricity but they haven't gotten the showers and restrooms in yet. Everyone in town has promised that there will be showers by the next time we visit. Oh well as one of the guys we spoke to earlier today made the remark "you just can't be picky" I think we have really been learning that lesson first hand the further west we head. This of course has had more of an impact on me then Noel who is truly in his element and gets happier the further we get from modern conveniences. We do have running water, a hand pump, so life is good and the people in this town and through out North Dakota have been super.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 30

07/16/2006 05:11:14 by Administrator

From: Moorhead, Minnesota
To: Cooperstown, North Dakota
Mileage: 104

Shsssh, be quiet and we'll tell you a secret. Make sure no one's reading over your shoulder. All set, is the coast clear? Ok, here it is. . . . TAILWINDS (when heading west) in North Dakota!

The roads are good, smooth and FLAT; the drivers are courteous, and we had tailwinds. Now if we could only get rid of this 100-degree weather. . . . but it only got really hot after 3:00, and by then it is time to seek relief.

One of the activities that we haven't mentioned enough is our pleasure in riding around and exploring downtowns. Most towns we travel in are only 4 city blocks in size, so the adventure doesn't last very long. At this slower pace though, your opportunity to experience each community heightens, which is one of the reasons we enjoy touring by bike. Even though Fargo is NOT a small town, it has that feel to it, at least to us. Riding around at 7:00am on a quiet Sunday morning, we explored the different neighborhoods and business areas that Fargo has to offer. Moorhead has the retail, and Fargo has the charm.

We had breakfast at Mom's Diner in downtown Fargo (yes the Rear Admiral had the lumber-jack special and I had the 3 pancakes with peanut butter). Breakfast is an important meal for us, and it is relatively inexpensive (you get more bang for the buck). We have tried to make breakfast for ourselves or eat the free continental breakfasts some hotels have to offer, but the riding afterwards is not as enjoyable because we both quickly run out of energy.

After breakfast we rode past the train station, and also the downtown (Broadway Street), again. Fargo has statues of different colored Bison all over the city, like Bennington Vermont once did with moose. There is a mixture of open shops, and buildings trying to rebound from the suburban retail craze. After downtown, we rode past the University of North Dakota and finally the airport until we were out into farmland again. This time less cornfields, no dairy farms, and now sunflower fields.

Flat, tailwinds, and fields made up this day's riding experience. We learned that the small town grocery stores are closed on Sunday, but we were looking only for breaks from the sun because we had plenty of water and food with us.

We had lunch at the Page Cafe, in downtown Page (population 248, maybe) with all the citizens of Page, who just got done with church. Main Street was very wide and every one just parked their cars in the middle. If you are ever in Page, try the Cafe! I had TWO homemade chocolate caramel cupcakes!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 29

07/15/2006 04:52:27 by Administrator

From: Moorhead, Minnesota
To: Moorhead, Minnesota
Mileage: 0

Hot, temperature reach 102 today so we are stayed in. Rode to the bridge that separates Fargo from Moorhead because there was a bike shop. They were backed up at the service department, and we didn't feel like waiting. SeeMore understands, and I gave him a nice cleaning instead. Tomorrow the forecast is for 96 and winds out of the east 10 mph. I can't believe our great fortune!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 28

07/14/2006 04:51:24 by Administrator

From: Battle Lake, Minnesota
To: Moorhead, Minnesota
Mileage: 95

Mandy and Mike, you'll love Minnesota! Mandy and Mike are the young couple pedaling from Boston to Montana, read more about their adventure at http://www.pedalingforprogress.blogspot.com/ Minnesota is a great place to cycle!

With tired legs, we are living large here at the Travelodge (pool, spa, with Target, Wal-Mart, and mega retail shopping experiences) about 3 miles from the North Dakota, and about 3 miles from our estimated half way point.

Today's ride was spectacular, at least for most of the day. Rolling hills, marshes and lakes. Temperatures in the am were pleasant since it doesn't seem to really warm up until late afternoon. It was hot , when we pulled into the hotel at 5:00 CST a cool 96-degree temperature surrounding us. We had (dare I say it) tail winds for a good part of the day again, but not all the riding was glorious. Outside of Cormorant on route 4 we had a freshly oiled road for 6 miles. It was not fun at all, and SeeMore finally quit being a nice guy and rode in one of the smoothed tracks on the road. 98 percent of the Minnesota drivers that passed us on route 4, were very kind. Then, Route 10 out of Hawley is a four lane major highway, and we rode it 18 miles (Friday afternoon traffic) into Moorhead; the ride was hot, noisy, and not very fun at all.

Knowing that today and tomorrow were going to be hot, we planned on riding into Hawley and take up lodging at the only hotel. Then a short ride tomorrow into Fargo. But when we finally located the Riverside Inn, we quickly turned around and headed for Dilworth. We got to Dilworth, and the only hotel would not allow SeeMore to sleep in the room, so we did not allow them to have any of our money. Then, after Dairy Queen for fortification and encouragement, we pushed on into Moorhead the big city and retail heaven.

Tomorrow is a day off, SeeMore needs to go to the beauty parlor, the Rear Admiral needs a retail fix, and the captain needs to plan out the next week of cycling adventures.

While having our lunch picnic in the Pelican Rapids' city park, Tom and Dave road up to us, with kind words and bike traveling tales. Tom is 70 years young, and both were on a round trip cycling tour from Winnipeg to Minneapolis. You can read more about their adventures at http://www.geocities.com/tomo105154 I just finished reading about the Alaska trip. . .I'm dreaming again, please don't tell the Rear Admiral.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 27

07/13/2006 04:49:47 by Administrator

From: Long Prairie, Minnesota
To: Battle Lake, Minnesota
Mileage: 68

Off to an early start this morning in hopes of beating the heat. We were up and at the restaurant by 6:45 am. While waiting for our breakfast to arrive, the former owner of Mikey's Downtown Restaurant (downtown Long Prairie) came over to chat. He sold the restaurant that he owned and operated for over 25 years, last year. Now he comes in and "harasses" everyone (his words not ours he was really a nice friendly guy). Seems a lot of cross-country cyclist have stopped by this restaurant over the years and he told us about a few. When our breakfasts arrived, he excused himself, and we could hear him "harassing" other customers.

We are going to call Minnesota the tailwind state. The wind was blowing today from the southeast at 15 mph, and we were traveling northwest! Not much to report, it was a GREAT ride today, lots of things to look at and we had some views of what North Dakota will look like, with rolling plains. Lot more lakes and marshes, which means more birds (storks, cranes, egrets, kingfishers, bluebirds, and loons).

We are about 100 miles from Fargo, and it is forecasted to reach 102 on Saturday (in two days). So for the next few days it will be early starts and shorter days.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 26

07/12/2006 04:48:15 by Administrator

From: Milaca, Minnesota
To: Long Prairie, Minnesota
Mileage: 84

It was HOT; today it reached 93 degrees when we were having ice cream treats in downtown Swanville Minnesota. We had a south wind, which when it blew, kept us cool. We also traveled north a great deal today, so we had a tailwind during some of today's riding.

While riding we were debating on what current items we needed to toss out so we could bring new items with us like: wild life, flowers, plants, and bird books; also a pair of binoculars, but the Rear Admiral told me I can't use them when steering SeeMore.

Our opinion of Minnesota has not changed, is an excellent place to cycle. Mostly flat smooth roads, great scenery, courteous drivers and lots of wild life to keep you looking in all directions. Today the photographer captured an osprey but missed a red fox.

Our semi big event today was crossing the Mississippi River, we say semi big because we did not realize until about 1/2 mile down the road, that we crossed it. There was no sign telling us it was the Mississippi, and it wasn't any bigger than the Nashua River.

We met another couple riding the Northern Tier of the Adventure Cycling route. Two years ago they rode the Southern Tier (from California to Florida). They are in their late sixties and look fit and fresh. We spoke with them for a while, we met the nicest people riding on SeeMore!

New twist on lunch today, fresh tomatoes for our bologna sandwiches and desert was fresh blueberries!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 25

07/11/2006 04:46:43 by Administrator

From: St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin
To: Milaca, Minnesota
Mileage: 85

Guess what, there is another big hill on the other side of the St. Croix River that you get to climb! I know it was not as bad as yesterday's Maple Road because my lungs remained in tact. The bottom photo is for the people in Polk county Wisconsin. This is the worst road in the 84 miles we have ridden by bike in Minnesota. Please study it carefully, and then use it as a blueprint. Even the worst road in Minnesota, is 5 times better than any Polk County road!

Remember that nice lady at the Information Booth in St. Croix Falls, who sent us up Maple Road yesterday; well she gave us GREAT information about route 37 out of Taylor Falls Minn. (THANK YOU).

We had breakfast at the Chisago Restaurant (downtown Taylor Falls Minn) in the non-smoking section, with the bible study group. After a lumberjack special breakfast for the Rear Admiral, my 3 pancakes (with peanut butter) breakfast and a little bit of religion, we climbed the hill next to the Restaurant (unmarked route 37), which lead straight up and out of town.

Today was an easy ride. Flat and SMOOTH roads, great weather, great scenery, and a tailwind put us here in Milaca at 3:00 pm. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and as we rode we saw lots of trees, small farms, lakes and streams, and wildlife.

We also ran into 2 groups of cyclist, both going from Seattle to Bar Harbor. We were able to talk to both groups and share information. The second group consisted of 2 men and 3 women, who shared a picnic table with us in Grandy Minnesota (population 100, maybe). They started out on June 5th, and we are the first westbound touring cyclists they have seen. One of the gentlemen was a doctor from Anchorage Alaska! Both groups did not get to ride through Glacier National Park because they were too early; the "Road to the Sun" was closed. Both groups told us of being pushed across Montana because of tailwinds.

What a great enjoyable ride today!