Tuesday, August 28, 2018

One more state to go on our cross-country quest!

We started a cold, overcast and windy day in Grand Rapids, MN and ended in Carrington, ND, marking off our 18th new state with only South Dakota left until we've ridden a motorcycle in every one of the lower 48 states. We also reached 7000 miles on this trip as we pulled into the hotel parking lot, with over 9000 miles total on the BMW. And we're not even sore, tired, or ready to go home!

Minnesota has 11,842 lakes of 10 acres size or greater, and as we headed west it seemed like there was always a lake showing up on the Garmin GPS. Often the lakes were hidden behind pine trees, but periodically U.S. Route 2 passed close enough that we could glimpse the cold, blue water.

The sky and the lake water were similar shades of grey, dark grey, bluish grey and blue. We estimate we saw the sun for perhaps 5 minutes total today, riding in temperatures that hovered in the mid-50's. A very nice woman at the Subway where we ate lunch asked me if it was cold riding on the motorcycle, probably because she saw me shivering while I ate my sandwich and apple slices.

Even with the cold weather and always-threatening but rarely appearing rain, it was fun to ride first through the Chippewa National Forest where there were trees everywhere we looked and the smell of pine was always in the cool air. It's the first national forest established east of the Mississippi in 1908, and contains more lakes and wetlands than any other national forest.

West of Bemidji, which derives from the Ojibwe Buh-mid-ji-ga-maug, the landscape changes dramatically from forests to flat, open farmland.

We turned south away from U.S. Route 2 and followed Minnesota Route 200 the rest of the trip. There aren't many people in this part of the country, but everyone we met was friendly and helpful.  Mike stopped on the highway's wide shoulder to adjust his ear plugs, and a man driving a car with Minnesota license plates pulled over to ask if we needed help. When the waiter at dinner couldn't tell us what the soup of the day, knelpha, was; the lady at the next table helpfully explained that it was potato soup made with dumplings.

Look closely in this photo, and you'll see a prop plane over the fields. We watched the plane swoop and dive, perhaps practicing aerobatics.

We crossed the Red River separating Minnesota from North Dakota, and the landscape seemed to open up even more.

We rode along looking over the vast fields and watching the billowing clouds. There's a notable difference between the views in the Midwest vs the West; in the Midwest everything is closer together and we could only see long distances from the top of high hills, while in the West the land and sky opens up and we could see for miles.

We're staying in Carrington, ND, known as the Central City because of its central location in North Dakota. Our hotel is at a highway crossroads directly behind a large gas station where semi-trucks filled with grain or carrying huge tractor tires line up. After a cold day on the motorcycle, we're excited to see the sun tomorrow as we continue west across North Dakota.  Here is today's route

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