Canada 2013

Day 02

June 16

 Ken's across the street is closed this early, so I load up Frost and make an early getaway. 
 Since it is foggy and cool, I put on my Frogg Togg rain jacket and I am glad I did. This kind of fog finds every crack and every opening to seep into and will make your old bones ache after a while. 
 But the sun gets high enough to burn off the fog and for that I am thankful. Judging by the numerous deer strikes I pass, I am happy to be able to see all around me. 
 I wonder how long the folks at this homestead have been up and about doing their chores. There's never a vacation for a farmer as there is always something that needs tending to. 
  As I cross Lake St. Croix I see the Wisconsin state line sign where I have stopped two of my ST1100s for a stateline shot. It's on the side of the interstate but you can run a bike up to it for a great picture.  
 But of all of the state line signs, I have to give Minnesota the award for having the most impressive one - and I have seen them all more than once! 
 One thing I love about getting out early is I usually beat the early morning traffic. Since the Twin Cities is coming up, this is especially nice. I698 takes me right around and pops me out on the other side. 
 Back out in the farm country, I admire the working spreads and ... 
 once again the barns. This one is 'picture book' nice from where I sit. 
 But then I'm jarred back to the here and now as here comes another infernal construction zone. 
 Leaving barrel land behind, I'm back out into farm land. The thing about farmers is they live a life lot closer to reality and truth than most city folks. They deal with life and death on a regular basis and truth is greatly valued. 
 There's not much room for pretense and foppery when you're knee deep in cow muck in the barnyard. 
 By now, breakfast is calling my name in a familiar way. My stomach is asking my brain if my throat has been cut since it's really empty. I've seen signs for 'Charlie's Cafe' along the way so I figure I'll give it a whirl since I've only got around 600 miles to do today. Charlie's is located in Freeport, so off we go.  
 Since Freeport is not exactly a major metropolis, I find Charlie's pretty easily. 

And I'm not at all disappointed for my efforts. This is the real deal - a local place that knows how to put on the feedbag. You can tell by the constant action of the front door that this place does grub right.


But it's still a good ways to Kenmare, SD so I go up front to settle up. Figuring I wasn't from around here, the man collecting the money asks me -

'Where are you from? Where are you headed?"

"Well, I'm from Nashville Tennessee headed to Sooke British Columbia with a little side run up to Alaska" I tell him.

"Wow, that's long way to go. Drive safe" he tells me.

I thank him then waddle out the door to get back after it.

I start noticing a nasty crosswind started to blow up. It makes sense why folks grow a lot of trees near their house and barn if it blows like this all the time.

  And I am reminded constantly why Minnesota is called the 'land of 10,000 lakes.'  
 The land is in varying stages of the farming cycle with some that is new plowed and 
 some that is just breaking out with new growth.  
 But before long, I'm over the North Dakota border and getting closer to my destination for the evening. 
 Close enough in fact for this to be my last gas stop of the day. With the range of my ST1100s, I tend to think of destinations as how many gas stops do I have left to make. I usually do around 180-200 miles between stops, depending on how easy gas is to locate. 
 With Frost and me fueled up, I head back out to the slab. I pass this interesting looking house and can't help but wonder about the history behind it. 
  The crosswinds get worse and worse the farther north I travel, roiling the water of the many roadside lakes.  
 On this lake, it is kicking up whitecaps besides making my arms ache as I try to keep Frost headed straight. 
 But I rejoice in the clear blue skies and just keep after it.  
 Off to my right, I see a train that looks like lazy caterpillar stretching out of sight. 
  One thing about being on the road, it gives me plenty of time to ponder things and ask myself questions. A man that doesn't enjoy his own company won't make a happy long distance rider. I spent my early years pretty much to myself running the hills around me (I had a sister but who wants to spend time with a sister when you're little?), so me and I get along just fine and we have some pretty interesting conversations. Like wondering how long this old home place has been standing against these winds.  
 The thing that really surprises me is that the wind is coming from the south not the north. This wind blown tree didn't get it's lean from stretching for the sun. 
 It's not as bad as that day running across the salt flats in Utah, but I am running leaned over down the interstate 
 And out in the middle of nowhere and the wind, sits this mighty fine monument to somebody's money, probably the taxpayers. 
 And yet just down the road a piece is this old decaying home place, slowly falling into itself. It just makes a feller wonder sometimes if there's any common sense left in the world.  
 But I can understand the wind's unrestrained force, as the fields go and on with very little standing in the way. 
 Every now and then, a massive grain elevator sprouts up like a mechanical mushroom. 
 Another thing I pay particular attention to besides barns, is church buildings. They say a lot about a community. This one has probably served it's area well, but appears to have fallen into disrepair - much like the folks' lives around it if I were a betting feller.  
 As I move northward, the wind is still whipping enough to create breakers on this lake.  
 I figure though the wind doesn't bother this train very much as it pulls it's long load to where it needs to be. 
 It's always a crap shoot for a rider when the sky grows dark like this - do you stop and suit up or do you ride on? My general rule of thumb is if I can see some blue, I'll ride on - which is what I do. 
 I am fortunate that I call it right as only a little water falls down until I make it past the dark parts. And if you think about it, that's a lot like our lives. If we would focus on the bright blue rather that on the dark parts, we would generally come out all right. 
 I wonder just how a feller would get along if he lived in this old place. There doesn't appear to be any roads in or any roads out from it.  
  It's nice to finally be off the slab for a while and out into the real country. I pass a little church that has been taken care of which rejoices my heart. How folks take care of the church house says a lot about how they take care of other things in life.  
 As I near Kenmare, this old barn catches my eye. I can tell that it has seen the snows of many winters and yet still stands strong. 

On this trip, I have purposefully tried to stay in non-chain motels as much as possible. Sometimes it works out well and sometimes it doesn't. But since it's just me, I picked the San Way Ve in Kenmare, ND. What's interesting is that Sharyn and I stayed in Kenmare, Ireland when we rode over there. This is a 'mom and pop' place with just 'mom' - Sandy. I notice a USMC sticker on the front door. I tell Sandy -

"Yep, I had a little 2 year excursion courtesy of the USMC with a lovely 11 week vacation at that resort they run on Parris Island."

She just laughs because she knows exactly what I am talking about. After she gets me checked in, she says -

"Just park your bike over near the house - that will be a good safe place for it."

I thank her and make my way over to my room.

  It is a nice a place as I could want for I have paid a lot more and got a lot less. Sandy had recommended a restaurant up the street, so after I tend to my knitting, I head out. Since I have had my knees replaced, I try to walk at least two miles day when I am on the road. My normal 'at home' walk is three miles, but I figure two miles is plenty when traveling. I decide on this trip to do my walking in the evenings rather than in the mornings so I can get out early.  
  I walk up to where Sandy recommended, but it just doesn't push any buttons. I decide I'll walk the other way toward the lake to see what's down there. There's a Chinese restaurant but I take a pass on it also. The main downtown area looks worn and tired, having taken the brunt of the lousy economy of the last few years.  
 But in a local park is this interesting windmill with historical significance. 
 I always associate such windmills with the Netherlands, but this one was built in 1902 by Christian Jenson, a Dane, to take advantage of the winds in this area. It's output was two hundred sacks of meal a day. It was moved to this location in 1959.  
 The vanes had canvas sails attached to catch the wind and turn the 1800 pound grinding stones.  
 All the gears were hand hewn from maple ... 
 and still appear to be in pretty good shape after 111 years. 
 I wander a little further down the street and decide that nothing strikes my culinary fancy. 
 I make my way back to my room, having easily covered my expected distance. I decide I'll just munch on the trail mix that I have and enjoy some water. With the beast fed, I pillow my head and wander off to that pleasant land where no cross winds blow.