Today we got a slower start, but were still on the road by 8:30 AM. So far we have only unhooked the trailer completely from the truck once, which helps us get on the road on the morning (although sometimes we do lift it off of the ball to level it).
First thing this morning we drove through the town of Little Falls, Minnesota which was very quaint. We saw a beautiful church, the Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, so we circled the block to get a picture. It is amazing how many beautiful churches and courthouses there are in America!
The next picture of the day was taken near Park Rapids, Minnesota. It is not beautiful, but certainly memorable. We could never catch the guy to see what he was advertising, but his commitment to get attention was admirable!
We continued our trek north to find the beginning at Itasca State Park. Itasca Lake is the source of the Mighty Mississippi. It is amazing to see the small creek leaving the lake over a natural rock dam, heading out to become Big Muddy. The Ojibwa Indians led the first white man to the lake in 1832, and I find it amazing to think that trillions of dollars in annual revenue in the U.S. start right there at that small stream. The water we saw flowing out of the lake will travel 2,350 miles and reach the Gulf of
Mexico in mid-December. Wouldn’t it be nice just to float all the way down on it? After checking out the river crossing, we had a picnic lunch in the park. We were a little rushed by a bank of dark clouds rolling in, but enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.
Managing to dodge most of the storms, we pointed Brutus north again to Bemidji. Why? To see Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, of course! Bemidji is a pretty little town on the banks of a large lake. The temperature still hadn’t made it above 63 degrees, and with the wind whipping across the water, it was quite cold. We walked around for a little bit, then headed back to the car to get out of the mist.
Back in the car, we hit the road to our stopping place for the night, the Shooting Star Casino Campground in Mahnomen, arriving mid-afternoon. Run by the White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, this was a really cool place. Of course, there is a large casino and hotel, but it also includes some shopping areas, restaurants, and a nice, well-maintained campground. It is a great idea, and brings in a lot of folks since they only charge $23 for a full-hookup site. Once we were setup, we spent some time figuring out our plans for the next few days in North Dakota, then walked over to the buffet in the casino for dinner. This wasn’t great. The food was mediocre at best and the $15 per person price tag was a bit steep for the offerings. (The desserts were better and had more variety though.) After dinner we walked through the casino. I was amazed that they still allow people to smoke on the casino floor, although there were signs that they were converting to non-smoking one area at a time. Thankfully, they did not allow smoking in the restaurant! It is funny that every casino we’ve ever been in has at least one little old lady sitting at the slots with their drink and cigarette just pulling that arm like a robot. How long do they sit there?
More pics from today:
This morning I was slow getting up. The wind was so strong last night that Penelope was rocking! We went to sleep with the windows and both vents open. The first time I woke up, the blinds in the kitchen whipping around like crazy, so had to close those windows. Later I got up to go to the bathroom and the side window blew up and pulled the closing rod out and threw it against the side of the trailer. Since I didn’t want scratches, I had to get dressed and go out to put the rod back in and close that window. Then in the wee hours the vent over the bed was rattling like crazy and had to be closed. Of course, MW slept through all of it. (Man I wish I could still sleep like that!) Just after I was finally good and asleep, it was time to get up and hit the road. On mornings like this, I really wish I had learned to like coffee!!! We headed out, and I drove for the first leg. Towing is so smooth that I don’t really notice Penelope back there except that she is blocking my rear view mirror, but I do like to practice occasionally in case I ever have to do it on my own. We crossed into North Dakota and our route took us by the KVLY TV tower near Clifford. At least we think that is the tower we were looking at. It is supposed to be the tallest structure in the U.S., but who can really tell when you are looking at a TV tower? We continued over to Cooperstown to take a look at the Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historical Site Oscar-Zero. (We used the GPS, which lead us to a point in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road. Thankfully, there was a place large enough to turnaround!) Oscar-Zero is the control center for several of the decommissioned missile silos in the area, and the cool thing is that they let you go down into the bunker where the controls were manned. I mean, this is where the guys sat with the KEYS! THE KEYS!! The ones that must be turned at the same time with a code to launch a nuclear missile!!! The responsibility must have felt crushing at times for these guys! This facility is surrounded by farmland, as are most of the missile sites. As you are driving along, you will just see a fenced off area in a field and a government sign. I wonder what it was like for the local farmers during the Cold War sitting on top of nuclear missiles that were potential targets for Russia?
The country we are traveling through now is mostly rolling hills of fields and farmland, and there are hawks and other bird of prey everywhere. We also saw wild swans and turkeys. We stopped in Glenfield, North Dakota at a little park to have a picnic lunch, then headed to Jamestown, North Dakota to take a gander at the World’s Largest Buffalo. (We dropped Penelope off at Lakeside Marina and Campground on the way into town.) The National Buffalo Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the American Bison and protecting a herd. It is next door to a Frontier Village, which was really neat. Sadly, the herd was in the other end of the pasture, so we didn’t get to see their white buffalo.
Back at Penelope, we experienced another bit of wild life…mosquitoes! They were everywhere, so there was no sitting outside to enjoy the evening. We got inside quick to keep them out, worked on setting up a campground for Washington, and I caught up on some paperwork before turning in.
More pics from today: