Friday, September 11, 2009

Day One Hundred Eighty-nine, 090905 - Grafton, ND

Day One Hundred Eighty-nine, Date Saturday, September 5, 2009
Time in Saddle: 10:10
Distance for the Day: 82.26 miles From Badger, MN To Grafton, ND
Accumulated Trip Distance: 9402.7 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 850’/676’, Highest: 867’ Accumulated: 2136’
Speeds: Avg: 8.0 mph, Max: 12.8 mph
Weather: 63° clear, hazy, slightly breezy
Expenditures: $29

Woke up and got up at 6:18am. I escaped the mosquitoes last night, except when I opened up to talk to the policeman. One got in my tent, and must have gotten a drink from me, because when I squished him in the morning, he was full of my blood. I sure got him, back, though. I ate a banana and broke down, packed away my gear, and was ready to roll by 7am. The wind that morning kept the mosquitoes at bay, so that was good. I got back out to Hwy 11, and continued south and west through this flat, but lush and highly productive green land. I stopped at a mini mart in Greenbush to get breakfast at 8:30am of choco milk and blueberry Danish ($4). I passed farms growing hay, ranches with cows and horses, and forested areas. There was even a nature preserve of 100 square miles designated toward ‘plains restoration,’ where migratory birds and many different kinds animals could live unmolested by people. I made it into Karlstad, and got a burger and curly fries lunch at the local diner ($10) from 11:45am to 12:40pm. I notice at these non-chain restaurants around these parts that if you want lettuce, pickles, tomato, and mayo on your burger, you have to get the ‘deluxe’ version – otherwise, it’s just a burger between a couple of buns. Do some people like just a burger between a couple of buns? It’s like getting a ‘deluxe’ car, with steering wheel, brakes, and tires. I continued on towards the Minnesota/North Dakota border, but by 2:33pm, the winds had gotten very strong out of the south; at least 20-25mph if not more. In fact, it got so strong it blew the blinkin’ flag off my trike’s flagpole! I didn’t realize it until a while later, and too late to even think about trying to figure out where it may have gone, Demitol. I was now in the market for yet *another* flag. Along the way, I hit a short section where a lot of bees were flying across the road. I looked, and spotted several of those man-made box beehives. Bees are very important to farmers: not only can they make honey, but they pollinate crops. (Did you know that for every kernel of corn on a cob is connected to one of those ‘silk’ threads that come out of the top of an ear of corn (the ‘tassel’), and that each thread has to be pollinated, or no kernel develops? Bees do that, and if there are no bees, then it has to be done some other way – sometimes by *hand*!)

I passed into North Dakota after crossing the North Red River at 5pm, and went into Drayton right around 5:20pm. I had to alter my route, somewhat, to get to this place, because if I didn’t, I would not have hit another town with services for at least 25 more miles, and I was running low on critical supplies (most notably – Gatorade). I even had to use one of my packets of dry Gatorade mix to turn a quart of water into the tasty, energy-boosting solution. Drayton had a gas station/mini mart, so I restocked drink and food supplies ($15), and continued on. The roads today mostly had no shoulders, but they’re generally so long, straight, flat and very lightly traveled, no one had any trouble going around me. This region reminds me of west Texas in that there are not very many places with services, but it’s a lot greener. Hwy 81 was a very nice, recently re-paved road with a wide shoulder, and a buzz strip that was done right, for once, protecting me, instead of rendering the shoulder useless. Sunset was at 7:58pm, and I found a suitable stealth camp right about 9:15pm, just as it was getting pretty dark. It was just a dirt/gravel path that tractors occasionally used behind an industrial business with large garage buildings (N48 25.911’ W97 24.981’). Not the most scenic or well-appointed spots I’ve ever seen, but it was sheltered from the wind and far enough away from the road that traffic noise was almost nil. I set up my tent, and hopped inside with my new favorite bedtime snack: twisty, honey BBQ Fritos corn chips, a soda, and my book. I munched, drank and read until 10:30pm before hitting the hay. I didn’t bother about cloaking the trike or even hiding my reading light – it was, after all, a holiday weekend, and the entire region seemed to be deserted. Today, the wind was a significant factor in reducing my distance gained, going only 82 miles after 10 hours. I consciously took care of my knees, today, making sure to not overstress them – and they’re feeling fine. Surprisingly, I got hit 3 times by mosquitoes while *riding* this evening – I rarely get bit while I’m moving – but, didn’t get any further hits setting up camp, tonight.

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