I woke at 5 am this morning and headed out round 6.30. I even got to say goodbye to my neighbor Basil and could thank him for inviting me to come visit him in Washington DC. He was driving up to Fargo today and actually offered me a ride. Had it been a really rainy day I might had gone with that offer, but skies were clear and winds coming from behind, so I went on my own set of wheels. I rode the distance up to St. Cloud, a decent sized collegetown, right on the Mississippi River. I wanted some breakfast to start my day, so I asked some locals for a cool place for some morning grub. They guided me over to Pete’s Place. It looked kinda scraggly, but I ventured inside. I have learned not to judge a dog by its furs.
Well inside I walked into a rather unpleasant argument between what appeared to be the owner and the waitress. If only they had argued elsewhere, some other time, and focused on serving their customers. But hey, observing people and situations rarely is boring, so I waited patiently while assessing the source of the argument. It boiled down to the fact that Pete was taking he weekend off to go fishing and they had not settled the staffing situation, so Pete’s outing on the lake was in danger. No wonder he forgot he had breakfast to make for hungry customers.
Well the food finally came out and to be honest, it really wasn’t worth he wait, but it hit the spot, regardless. Eggs, hashbrowns, toast and coffee served without much of a smile. Afterall the arguing was pretty intense, souring up the day for the both of them. While waiting though, things settled for the better. People were going to come in to work afterall and Pete’s weekend on the lake was saved. No wonder why he was all smiley and happy behind the counter. I got to talk to the guy, and for sure, he was the owner and his name was Pete, hence the name of the joint. We got talking and it turned out that Pete was full blooded Norwegian. His full name is Pete Holt. I hope he catches some fish this weekend. From St. Cloud I was able to enter the Lake Wobegon rail trail, heading northwest, away from the Mississippi River. Again an example of the Minnesotan effort to encourage bicycling and other nonmotorized activities for that matter. Only horses not allowed on the trail, for reasons understood. It would take extremely large bags…I was able to ride a good 100 km on these trails today, all perfectly paved, marked and signed. There were even places to camp on certain places along the way. The trails continues from where my day ended for another 60 km or so. Pretty amazing and such a relief to be away from traffic.
Here are some photos from the area. I got a hunch of some norwegianness as I passed the town Osakis, so I turned around, got off the trail and rolled into town. I had a feeling I would be able to source a new norwegian flag, since the first one that my dear sister gave me back in Norway for good luck charms, was lost somewhere in western New York. I had no luck with a flag, but my hunch of some norwegianness was right on spot. I stumbled upon Jacobs Lefsebakeri. It has been in operation for half a century. They had other Scandinavian stuff on the shelves as you can see. This is Kevin, one of the employees. He admitted to being Danish. I guess that is good enough. As long as he wasn’t Swedish.;) I had Kevin serve me a couple rolls of their Lefse, with decent butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. It was really good. It is hard to find any better lefse in the Homeland I tell you, at least from the stores. And just as I had devoured the lefse and was getting ready to move on, this absolutely lovely couple parks their car, with Illinois plates in front of the bakery. Before nothing she started talking to me in Norwegian. I don’t know how she knew I was of the sort. Her name is Ragnhild, born in Fredrikstad, in the south east corner of Norway. She met the man to her left, her husband since 50 years ago in Brooklyn. His name is Norris and I forgot if he was born in Farsund on our southwestern coast or if his ancestors came from there. They were up from their home north of Chicago to see the Kensington Runestone Museum in Alexandria, a town a little ways up the road. This museum bases their exhibition on the theory around the findings of a norse runestone in Minnesota.
According to a man by the name of Hjalmar Holand the vikings travelled into this area on the waterways through Canada from the Hudson Bay. Not completely according to official historical knowledge, but not completely unheard of either, when you look at how the norse vikings used the european rivers to penetrate lands deep into Europe, Russia and into the Black Sea. Afterall part of the ingenuity of the viking vessels was their rather flat bottom, which allowed for the vessels to be transported over land from one river to another. I am not in a position to argue either way. Worth looking into at least.
I biked on along the trail and found camp at Don’s RV campground on Lake Darling. I was met by his wife Sandie. Of course, she is also of norwegian background. They let me pitch my green castle on their grounds, with access to power, shower and wifi, all for the neat sum of $10. Not bad for a long distance traveller. I was even greeted by a hardshelled fourlegged friend today, a freshwater turtle. Showers were allowed for in this oldie of a camper. It was nice and clean, so I can’t complain, with nice potted flowers on the hookup even.
Tomorrow? Fargo, North Dakota! Ya ya yabetcha!