Day 33: Barnesville, MN to Fargo, ND: 150 km

Was up a little later today, at around 7. Day started with a rather non healthy breakfast, but when biking is your business, you can endulge. I had some errands to do in Fargo and I knew stores wouls not be open until 12, so I could start a little later today.   Many of you know of my affinity for bunnies. I spotted this sign today. Unfortunately they were closed as I rode by there in the early hours this sunday.   I hit Fargo at about 10.      

I met these fellow travellers today, Carl & Michelle from St. Helens, Oregon. They are travelling to the Catskills in New York for a family even. Carl is originally from the east coast, but have lived for many years on the pacific coast. He is very fond of bikes and biking himself. We shared the craving for a morning black brew and we all found joy at Atomic Coffee in Fargo. I hope to meet this couple again! Fargo has the most beautiful bikeshop I ever saw, housed in the entire historic Fargo railroad station.   Here is Tom on the left. He owns this gorgeous shop and is a very friendly and knowledgeable guy. He has extensive touring experience. In the picture he is joined by Cody. He is a mechanic and put a new chain in on my bike today. I wanted a fresh chain as I push west. Things are getting more scarce every mile.     Here’s some random shots from the day. 

            My day ends in Valley City, ND. I need to shut eye. It has been a long day. Back tomorrow!

Day 32: Almost up to Fargo: about 140 km

Quite frankly I don’t know the name of the place I left, nor the place I ended. Due to some severe weather warnings I had to call it quits a little early. The skies were absolutely evil looking. Thunderstorms and hails the size of eggs were warned of. I hit up a cheap motel some 20 km south of Fargo. It was nice. It allowed me to dry up all my stuff from all the rain and thunderstorms from last night. Then I had to evacuate my tent into the facility camper on the camground. Thunder and lightning for a good 3 hrs with a lot of rain. Needless to say everything was absolutely soaked in the morning around 9 when the rain stopped. Sun came out partly through the day and it got up into the 30s Celcius. Most of the riding took place of the same railtrail as yesterday. I had my first “accident” on this trip sofar. Due to the rain a patch of deep and sticky mud had resided on the trail. As i rolled into it the frontwheel skidded and my bike took on a very different vector, heading into the thick bushes next to the trail. I didnt try to rescue the situation to stay on the asphalt, in fright on crashing into the hard surfaces, which for sure would mean open wounds and damage to clothing and bike. Instead I let the bush land me softly as I did a nice somersalt over the handlebars. Took some effort getting both my self and the bike out of the entanglement. No harm done, on the bike nor on me. Lession learnt though. I wad able to keep riding towards Fargo. Here are some impressions. Agriculture all the way, in soil as dark as night. Looks like a farmer’s dream come through. Endless fields that go on into the horizon in all directions. It is hard to fathom the size and the amount of food produce that come out of this region. It is mostly corn and soy, with some potato. Less dairyfarms now, but you see them here and there. Grains is the keyword in this region, lots of it and mills to grind them.  

                    In Fergus Falls, the township which the railtrail ended I got hungry and was guided by a local to Union Pizza and Brewery. It was just recently opened by this married couple, Tess & Ben. Unfortunately they were not open yet, but I was allowed in for some local beer. It was really good. Sadly the woodfired pizzaoven was just being lit, so no food here. Too bad, as I would have loved to spend some time there and learning more about their project. Good folk to talk to. I wish them the best for the future.   Round 6 the clouds described earlier gathered on the horizon. Lynda, my Miss Moneypenny in Boston told me of the warnings. People were advised to take cover as big hail was coming down.   This is where my day ended. All the gear got dried and bike was cleaned and serviced for the next day. Which is now actually, as I had no phonecoverage, nor internet to upload my blogentry. So here it is, a day late.      

Happy trails and happy summer solstice!

Day 31: Clearwater, MN to Lake Darling, MN: 140 km

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!  

 

Day 30: Minneapolis, MN to Clearwater, MN: 120 km

I got up round 7 today, later than usual. I spent the night at a hostel downtown, in a 6 bed dormitory, so I knew I was not going to be rumbling around at my usual 5 am rising hour, waking up my roommates. I also needed to see a bikeshop before hitting the road, so a later getup time was in place. A little extra sleep felt good. Sadly I did not spend much time in this city, but I would come back, if only to see more of the biking stuff that goes on here. By far Minneapolis has been the american city I have seen sofar that has done the most to accommodate for bicycling, both for entry into the city from the suburbs, moving around inside the city and for more recreational riding in large park areas. Perfectly paved bikepaths wind beautifully through lush forests. I can only imagine how beneficial this effort from the city pays off in terms of public health. Bowing to Minneapolis!-) 

Todays ride took place in sun for the most part. Some clouds but no rain. Temperatures ran in the high 20s to lower 30s Celcius. Headwinds picked up  mid day and became quite a limiting factor the last 40 km. Good riding today!

          A bikeway to Heaven?  Even bikepaths need trafficsigns to ensure quick and safe transportation on two wheels! In general people are also very well behaved and they move about predictably and considerate. I wish Norwegians would show a tiny bit of the same attiude and behaviour.

  Along the trails are repairstands with tools and pump to fix problems and flats.   I met this fellow Surly rider at gasstation north of Minneapolis today. He lives in south Minneapolis and enjoys the 130 mile ride north to his fathers cabin. He rides with stereo soundsystem as you can see on his handlebars. Pretty cool eh?-)    Not only are the biketrail awesome here, but so are the roads too. I wish the norwegian roads were equally well paved and with anywhere near the width of the road shoulders.  

My day ends at a campsite in Clearwater, Minnesota. I was going to make it up to St. Cloud today and camp randomly, but this campsite proved too tempting. I sure could need a shower and do some laundry. 

And just when you think your day has come to an end, you meet a new camping neighbor. This is Basil from Maryland. He travels the country this summer in a very unamerican way, in his little Volkswagen Jetta TDI and a tent. Americans love camping, but most of them roll in with huge rigs:) It is nice to meet people that favor the simplicity of a tent and that does not leave a large ecological footprint. Basil is retired professor of engineering and a violinist and would you believe, his instrument of virtuosity is the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle. This fiddle is unique in that it has an extra set of strings that vibrates underneath the 4 main ones. This produces a very peculiar sound. Many call it a spellbounding sound.  Basil is heading for California to visit family. He will also go through alot of the same territory as I will. 

  

Have a listen:  https://youtu.be/fZo12BTZDN4

Now the day should end. Have been busy doing some very needed laundry.  

Goal for tomorrow is to make it as close to Fargo, North Dakota as possible. We will see how that fares. Weather forecast is decent, at least until eveningtime. 
Peace Profound!

Day 29: Wabashah, MN to Minneapolis, MN: 160 km

Breakfast this morning was served me by this lovely couple, Juan and Marlis, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. They are among the best neighbors I ever had. Juan is part Apache, part Navajo and some Mexican. Marlis is 100% Norwegian decented. Her Norwegian family comes from the same area of Norway as myself. Funny isn’t it? 

It took Juan less than a minute last night after my arrival on the neighboring camplot to ask if I was hungry. Hungry is every biker’s middlename, so I said yes. He brought me a plate with fried fish and vegetables. He caught the fish himself out of the river the same morning. It was delicious. He went on to help me build an extra roof above my tent to fend off the rain that was in the forecast. If that wasn’t enough, he brings me an extra blanket and clothes to wear, in case Inget cold. We spent a good couple hours together around a campfire.    Marlis cares well for her baby.    

This fourlegged soul has recently gone blind, but still copes by use of nose and hearing. 

   Marlis presented me with what became my words for the day!

 “A goal without a plan is just a wish”

  In the early hours both I and Juan were introduced to Pat, a camping neighbor a few lots down. Look closely on Pats arm and hat and you’ll have a key to understand a little of who you are talking to. Pat served in the US Army in Vietnam in 68 and 69, while the Tet-offensive took place. It was amazing to witness how quickly they bonded. Juan also served in Vietnam at that time. He is a US Marine Corps sergeant. They shared with me some really strong memories of what they each took part in and what they experienced upon their return to the civil world, back in the USA. I can only imagine but never fully comprehend the depth and scope of what they went through. It was touching to witness how vividly they would remember and cite their expriences, soon half a century later. 

I am honored to have met you both! May you find peace within over it all at some point. 

I parted with my new friends just before 9 and started biking north along the Mississippi. My goal was to reach Minneapolis, a 160 km ride.  Again today I was riding next to these enormous freighttrains. Some of them as long as 4 km, some only of oilwagons, bringing petroleum products down south from the oilfields up north.     I am getting to like my new setup of the bike. I sent home a couple bikebags with stuff I felt were obselete. Loosing weight is definately a good thing.   I came across this shop today, in the city of Red Wings.     I reached Minneapolis just before 6 this evening. I was very happy to see how bikefriendly this city is. I look forward to seeing more of this tomorrow. I was quickly able to securely transport myself from the city perimeter to the center, almost exclusively on dedicated and well marked biketrails.    

So I did 160 km or 100 miles today. I am fairly satisfied with that. Weather was a mixed bag of rainshowers, overcast and slivers of sun here and there through the day. And yeah, I had my second flat tire on his trip today. Front wheel this time. Again, being on the roadside it didn’t take long for someone to pull up next to me and ask if I needed help. Turned out that this woman was married to a Norwegian too…so it’s Norwegians galore in this region. Too bad I lost my Norwegian flag, as I am sure more Norwegians would have appeared. 

Tagline of today also, as seen on a church posterboard on the roadside: 

“Kind words echo forever”

Goodnight! Time for some rest!

Day 27-28: Wisconsin into Minnesota

I am too tired this night to really write much, so for now I will just share with you some photos of the areas we have been riding through the last couple days. I will fill in with some text tomorrow, teling you who all these good people are that are in the pictures. I will say though that we have been met with some incredibly friendly people here in Wisconsin and even the small part of Minnesota that we have ridden through. We crossed the Mississippi today, a major milestone. We split up today too. My friends, the brothers will go on in their speed and I will go solo from here to Seattle. I will try to speed up in order to reach Seattle in the first or second week of July. 

  Here we are riding on the Sparta Rail Trail into the rivertown of La Crosse, WI. A local dude guided us to Buzzard Billy for Cajun food and good beer. Gotta give it to the locals, they know best!      Plus good people are always nearby. We met with Alan and Trish. Turned out Alan is almost fullblooded Norwegian. Dont they look great together?  Earlier that day I had contacted John Wissing. He is an avid cyclist and takes pleasure in hosting fellow cyclist into his and his wife’s home. We met through the warmshowers.org community of cyclist taking care of other cyclist. This was my first attempt at this way of accommodation, and what pleasure. It is hard to find words to describe their hospitality, friendliness, helpfulness and generosity! Their dog Sam was a real sweathart too, as were their beautiful daughter Alexa. Thank you so much, you are the best of folk!    John had another cyclist hosted too, Myles from Chicago, who just graduated from architecture school and was on his move to Seattle as well, looking for work. Godspeed Myles!  And the day after Per was in need of some help over his seat issues again. We found Smith Bicycles in La Crosse, a nice and friendly shop owned bu Carl Johnson. Turns out he is 100% norwegian, with grandparents that emigrated from Ulster on our beautiful west coast of Norway. Great guy, great help!          John even came riding with us the morning after and took us out thru the marshlands north towards Trempeleau. We parted here after a Guiness.   You have got to love his riding socks! Wisconsin cow pattern and norwegian Nisse!   

     These are some photos of the landscape along the river up to my campsite at Wabasha. First night without the company of the brothers. Sad,but there is a time for everything. Godspeed boyz!

Day 23-26: Chicago!

We are a wee bit speechless! The hottie in Pink, sweet Sharyn, the Host of Hosts, the senior part of the Holich Sistah Duo, warmly and wholeheartedly allowed us access to her Chicago Old Town Studio! She has made such an impression in our trip’s experience! Mind you, us boys are countryfolk and for us to even to have Sears Tower as bedroom view is slightly unreal.    To top it off, the other half of the Holich Sistah duo, my beloved Lynda, knows how to honor our milestone of having safely made it to Chicago! That bottle did not live long I tell you! Perfect medicine to wind down from 22 days of extensive bikeriding! We slept more than well on our first night in this very vibrant Metropolis. Just riding out from Union Station and into Sharyns place in Old Town at dusk was a memorable experience.   Here are the bros resting on our first day in The Windy City.  

   Our bedroom view, straight downtown Chicago, with Sears Tower in the background, for a long time the tallest building in the world.   Even Jack was struck by the view of this great city. He even forgot to put his clothes on.   Time to keep the legs high. Resting feels good after all our physical efforts the last 3 weeks.  Of course Per is still searching for the perfect seat for his Tush. Here he is seeking the advice from Mr. Nyberg at Village Bicycle. Turned out he has a swedish father. Roar, normally a wine connoseur, is learnin how intimate connection there is between biking and beer:)    Roar’s breakfast view, with Sharyn’s thriving orchides.   We all are working out our ways of travelling by bike. That means simplifying and lowering travel weight. Another package was send home with stuff that have rendered itself obselete.   After having ridden through weeks of endless farmland, we have entirely met different surroundings.     I am so pleased to see that biking is so big in Chicago. The city has a very extensive network of bikelanes thru the entire city that allows for very swift and secure moving around the urban areas. I am lovin the bikevibe here!             If you are even slightly interested in bicycles, a place worth seing is Heritage Bicycles on Lincoln st. Serves you delicious coffeebrews and is passionate about bicycling.         Emily served me the best Cortado I have had in a long while, on the house for all of us, mind you, due to the fact that we doing the xcountry ride. Can  coffee be served with any bigger smile?    Now on our last night here, upon returning to Sharyns apartment building we are greeted by the doorman Josh and his sweet and mesmerizing tunes on his guitar. Turns out he has great interest in Gypsy Style guitars, as pulled of by late Django Rheinhart. He is also a big fan of Hot Club de Norvège. He told me he had sold several guitars through his online dealership to happy Norwegian customers.

http://caravanguitars.com

Some doorman if you ask me! Boyz are rested through our days here in Chicago, thanks to Sharyn. We will make our way out of this big city tomorrow. Seattle awaits us!

Thank you Sharyn!!! Thank you Chicago!!! You are both wildly friendly! A peculiar and lovin Vibe in the both of ya!

Peace Profound!