Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Days 74 & 75, 7/21/10 - Bimidji to Walker, MN

Just the Basics:
7/22/10 - Special Note for Regular Readers: We have finally had a really good Internet connection and the time to update our report on our time in Fargo and Hitterdal (Days 69 & 70) - if you have time to check out that "re-post," we think you'll enjoy it.

We are laying over in Walker today and will be back later this afternoon with any updates and to let folks know where we'll be tomorrow night. Smiles! R & B = ) = )

7/22/10 Evening Update: Friday night we'll be in a Rodeway Inn in Pine River, MN. Saturday and Sunday nights we'll be in the Super 8 in Baxter, near Brainerd at the end of the Paul Bunyan Trail.

7/21/10: 36 glorious miles on paved, off road bike trail, mostly with VERY gentle relief. What's more, we have 2 more days on it still to come! See MN Bike Trails, below.

Aside from discovering this great trail system that will take us from Bemidji to Brainerd over the next 2 riding days, today's other "big events" were unfortunate animal encounters: (1) Becky got a bee sting on her left cheek - it's fine: and (2) Becky and a dog collided on the bike path. The dog was running around a biking family (the owners) and charged at Riley. We both slowed and Becky fell back. The owners called to the dog and assured us it did not pose any threat. We proceeded and suddenly the dog dashed in front of Becky. Not sure who hit whom but Becky somehow managed to stay up and then came to a stop. The family with the dog cycled off, with the man saying "We have to keep him off the trail." End of story. YIKES!!

After biking into town to the Bimidji Visitor Center Wednesday morning (before bee and dog incidents on the trail) we felt so happy and relaxed about the next few days of riding (See MN Bike Trails, below.) that we stopped in a little cafe we'd noticed yesterday and shared a coffee and a piece of apple crisp. We also wanted to ask about "Minnesota Hot Dish," advertised in their windows - turns out it's just any kind of casserole; they offer one with wild rice, one labeled Sloppy Joe, and so on. While we were there, Riley talked to another patron who is going to ride in Iowa's Ragbrai Ride next week.

Lunch in Laporte is described below, as well as various encounters on the trail. We had dinner at a pizza place in town recommended by a couple whom we met on the trail.

Tonight we're at the AmericInn Motel in Walker; we'll also be here tomorrow night.

Today's Photo: Haven't got one

Tomorrow: Layover Day here in Walker - rain expected and the three days prior to this one were quite hilly, so Becky's left knee would appreciate a rest. Furthermore, on our present trajectory we have only 2 riding days before we head along the northern shore of Lake Mille Lacs to connect with the Adventure Cycling route we had been following earlier, which will take us down the eastern side of MN to the Twin Cities. We don't want to ride in that area on the weekend - it is full of resorts - so will take a layover day here and possibly a 2nd one in Brainerd.

Update, Friday, 7/23:

For Those Who Want More:
MN Bike Trails: The mail we picked up in Bimidji included bike maps and info for MN and WI. Using the MN bike map and a Bimidji map we'd gotten at the Visitors' Center, we saw that we could depart from our Adventure Cycling route and cycle on the off-road, paved Paul Bunyan Trail from Hackensack to Brainerd in a couple of days and then head out to Malmo and rejoin the Adventure Cycling route.

We also saw that possibly we could get at least part of the way to Hackensack on a bike trail that appeared to go south from Bimidji. We decided to check with the Visitor Center this a.m. - GOOD CALL. Turns out we could go all the way on trail from Bimidji to Brainerd - 3 days of riding!

The trail has been great - winding mainly through mixed forest, some farmland, and a couple of tiny towns, with flower-strewn trail borders.

Lunch at the Laporte General Store: We had a little trouble connecting between the Bimidji town trail and the Paul Bunyan Trail and stopped at a bank to see if they could straighten us out. In combination with what we'd heard at the Visitors' Center and from some cyclists who were at the Center, they did confirm that we were headed the right way.

They also suggested we stop at the grocery store in Laporte for lunch. Later we met a cycling couple (the teachers described below) who seconded this recommendation - so we stopped and had the biggest, messiest, most delicious cheeseburgers you can imagine, washed down with V-8. They also had a box for donations for the local food bank so we bought some peanut butter and dried beans for that, which led to a nice conversation with the cashier.

Encounters on the Trail: We understand that this section of trail was only paved within the last year, but it is very well used and we ran into lots of folks with whom we talked. Here are three notable examples:

* A couple about our age from AZ. They cycle every summer - someplace cooler than AZ! This year they are doing 2 months on MN bike trails. They highly recommended the trail between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC - maybe next summer? We think their names are Dick and Joan but aren't certain. They mentioned that they had spent last night at the cabin of some friends near Walker.

* A Couple on a Tandem w/a Toddler in a Trailer: These folks caught up with us right about the time of Becky's crash with the dog. Turns out they were the friends with the cabin where Dick & Joan (?) had spent last night! We rode along together, talking about biking. They've done the Ragbrai several times - the man has done it 11 times, we think he said! They suggested the pizza place where we had dinner and said we might see them there - sadly, we didn't. They also asked if we had a place to stay, recommended the AmericInn (where we, in fact, already had a reservation) and said if we didn't have a place we were welcome to stay in their camper which is parked beside their cabin!

* Two Teachers: There's a rest stop in the tiny town of Guthrie - which is where Becky got the bee sting. Another couple had also stopped and were eating their snack at the next picnic table while we had our orange and molasses cookies. Turns out they cycle a lot, and agreed with a suggestion we'd gotten from another local about how to reconnect with our Adventure Cycling route when the Paul Bunyan Trail ends at Brainerd. We chatted for a while. They are both teachers - she teaches g. 1 at a school near Cass Lake where there is a lot of poverty; the Boys and Girls Club is struggling to provide an after-school program there - this subject came up when they asked what we did. The man teaches art to grades 7-12 - really nice folks.

1 comment:

  1. An Email from Cousin Steve, 7/23/10: How's the finger? And the knee? And the cheek?

    Your body is wearing the badges of your cross country trek! Don't let the road grind you into crumbs!!!!

    I am really enjoying reading your journal. The amount of detail that you are gathering and adding by being the extremely, personable, Becky Newman that you are. The stories of the other folks along the way is a really great garnish to the details of your trip.

    I am amazed by your ability to recall the detail, hours later, and produce such a nuanced description, of their tale or story. Or just the details of a side of the road encounter or mishap.

    Keep it going for as long as you can. No apologies when the road or exhaustion or bad internet access causes a lull.

    Good Luck for your continuing journey. May it stay interesting and fun and free of serious hazard. Steve