Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 71, 7/18/10 - Hitterdal to Ice Cracking Lake, MN

Just the Basics: 44 great miles of the sort we dreamed of when we began to imagine this trip! Hilly - but not too hilly. Wide, well-paved country roads - no shoulders, but not much traffic, either. Wind mostly at our backs - just enough time when it was in our faces or whacking our sides to make us appreciate how nice it was to have it at our backs. Wonderful farm country, followed by lake after lake and, ultimately, woodlands.

We're at Ice Cracking Lodge, right on the lake, in a wood-paneled two-bedroom "cabin" (more like a little triplex) with a bath, a kitchen, a living room and a porch. They don't normally rent for less than a week, but owners Dick and Etta LeSage apparently make an exception for cyclists - and even knocked the price down a bit. The only fly in the ointment is that we had expected a place to get groceries and it turned out the nearest place is 16 miles from here, so we'll eat at the bar across the way tonight. Tomorrow we'll have instant oatmeal with fruit (but no milk) and some of our Starbucks instant coffee and the 2 bran muffins we saved from this morning's breakfast - not bad at all!

No Photos Today:

Tomorrow: About 40 miles to Bert's Cabins in Lake Itaska. According to our map we can get groceries in Itaska State Park and possibly at a couple of convenience store/gas station sorts of places a bit farther on.

For Those Who Want More:

Today's Hero: The clerk at the Richwood General Store. We stopped for lunch at the Burger Barn across the street and Becky went to the store to buy postcards and a Sunday paper. She and the clerk chatted about the ride, of course. After lunch we headed out along the road, watching for the turn we thought was coming up. Meanwhile, someone in a blue pick-up passed us and then pulled off the road. When we reached the truck the driver was outside, waiting for us. It was the clerk from the General Store! Turned out we should have turned right there by the store! He'd seen us start out the wrong way and rushed out to catch us and set us straight!!

Nature Notes:

  • We have left behind the dry plains and the fertile Red River Valley and are now in the Big Woods of Minnesota!
  • We have been seeing many fields of sugar beets; also beans and corn for livestock feed, ethanol, or processed foods (think high fructose corn syrup?). We understand there's not much sweet corn except in home gardens.
  • We are still seeing many of the same plants, but much more owl clover, a couple of new flowers we'll try to ID, and lots of water lilies - some with the traditional cup-like yellow flowers and others with blossoms like white spider mums.
  • We keep forgetting to mention that recently we saw another fox and have seen 2 young deer - largish, but still with a fawn's spots, and, in each case, running along the edge of a field, apparently alone.
  • Today we have seen numerous flocks of Canada Geese and quite a few goslings - more than 3 months after we started seeing goslings in the Tri-Cities!
  • Today we saw a mystery animal - bigger than a house cat but smaller than a bobcat, and we think it had some red around the face - we'll try to figure it out!

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