Day 27 (62 miles)
Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
36Trip End Aug 09, 2008
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we had diverted from our route to get to west fargo, so the first order of business was to get ourselves to downtown fargo. our initial impression of fargo wasn't that great because the streets our host sent us down seemed to be filled with nothing but sleezy, dirty car-related shops (body shops, detailing, mechanics, oil changes, brake places, and more!). never in my life have i seen so many of these concentrated in one place. once we hit the downtown area, though, it seemed quite pleasant. unfortunately, we didn't have too much time to kill...i would have liked to stick around for a while. we did get to go to a fun bike shop, though. they had recently moved their shop to a really cool space--an old train depot. the building also came with a huge fenced-in parking lot that their techs made great use of in test riding the bikes they were working on. sometimes it seems like our trip is becoming more a tour of bike shops across america than the seeing the country itself!
after we left the bike shop (at a leisurely hour of 11:30), we had to say a hasty good bye to fargo and to north dakota. crossing the border was rather anti-climactic...the state line between north dakota and minnesota is a river, and on one side is fargo, ND with moorhead, MN on the other. they grew into one sprawl quite a while ago, so when we crossed the bridge there wasn't any indication that we were in a new state. shortly after leaving moorhead, though, minnesota instantly looked and smelled different. true to their license plate tagline of "land of 10,000 lakes", there seemed to be a small lake around every corner, nestled in between rolling hills with nice windy highways. there are also many more dairy farms in minnesota, so there were a lot of really stinky fields to ride by.
another "fun" little development was a 25 mph headwind with gusts to 35+. we had been experience a little of the wind in the cities, but once we got into open land without buildings to break it up, it really started hammering away at us. there were times when i was pedaling with all my might just to maintain 10 mph. with the wind, we were going so slowly, that we had a project arrival time into camp of after dinner time. after a few hours of that, we were feeling tired and dejected, so we took a break at a dairy queen to collect our wits...and to get some blizzards and french fries, of course. DQ is quickly becoming another staple in our biker diets. it seemed like the break may have been a mistake because storm clouds were brewing, but once again we narrowly avoided getting wet. we got a little damp, but again we got really lucky with the storm cloud movement and the worst of it passed just to our backs. with about 20 miles to go, we had another miraculous wind change and a left hand turn that combined to create a really strong tail wind, so we got to zoom most of the way into camp except for when the road would turn. we arrived just as ann's aunt and uncle who lived in minnesota were setting out a delicious home-cooked meal for us, and to top it off, ice cream with home made hot fudge sauce. we've really been lucky with great food this last week.
aside from the geography and smells, another noticeable difference between minnesota and north dakota is the population. there are a lot more towns in minnesota, and they tend to be larger, and many of the towns near larger lakes feel more resort-like and have tons of pubs, clubs, and restaurants. it's quite nice to have the towns spaced more frequently--we don't have to worry so much about running out of water, and we have more choice in when we want to stop and take a break. the people in minnesota also immediately seemed much more diverse, especially in pelican rapids, where immigrants are welcomed and have many employment opportunities, even if they don't already speak english. walking around town, one can see people from all corners of the globe, hear different languages and accents, and see things like ethnic grocery stores (which i haven't seen since leaving seattle).
after dinner, a newspaper reporter from the local periodical dropped by to take our pictures and write up a little story. a couple of days later, my mom called me and told me what a nice write-up he did and how great everyone in the picture looked. apparently, he also wrote about the siblings who had organized the trip: julie and brad murray (my sister and brother-in-law). we had a good laugh over that one. after he left, we all needed to call it an early night because we were getting kicked out of our campsite (the city park) at 6 the next morning because the annual turkey festival was going down, and vendors needed the space clear to set out their stalls. we all retreated to our tents where we fell asleep while the the strangest mix of country, dance, rock, pop, and rap floated over on the wind from the turkey festival pre-party going down in the town center.