Showing posts from July, 2009

Tour de Valli : Stage 5 to Jamestown

This is a section of the continuing saga of the Tour de Valli, a solo journey on 2 wheels in North Dakota that was taken in early July 2009. Stage 5 begins in Valley City.

I am unsurprised to learn that the previous evening I slept on a railroad bed. This certainly explains the difficulty in trying to stack out the tent. However, for $7 I am not arguing since it included a decent shower.
Valley City is noted for its bridges and so after grabbing a bite to eat at the grocery store I set out exploring on foot. Of the 8 bridges (pdf file) I saw about half. The photo above is the bridge unto the Valley City State University campus (Alma mater of The Champ.) I poked around the empty campus and then pack through the city park.
Later in the morning I packed up and discovered another grocery store (Lever's) which was closer than the other. Then looked through the library to find a North Dakota map gazetteer. The overwhelmed library did not.
At noon I decided to take lunch at the Pizza Hit. Th…

Art of the Deal 7

Well what do we got here? Hmm. 2 finger puppets (free), a backpack (0.50), a book of Western stories by Brett Harte (not the wrestler, 0.75), a CD map collection of the BWCA, the Twin Cites and Lake Superior (0.99), a pair of Hind nylon pants (? I forgot but it was less than$2).

I am most appreciative of the CD of the BWCA. I love those maps and at 99 cents it was a steal. The Hind pants I may take with me on this year's trip for rain gear.

Wise cat predicted economic woes

Sweetie the economist cat wasn't written about by feline poet T.S. Eliot. Eliot should have thought twice before nixing his poem, Sweetie the Depression Predicting Cat. Anyways this cat's stares say it all- "I told you the economy was going to fall out! But no, you didn't listen to me!" Joe Biden quickly responded by suggesting he believed the economy was an entirely different animal.

The night Drew Carey came over

The following is an entirely fictional account of meeting a celebrity and providing food and shelter for him over a weekend.
On Friday I was ambling about town, enjoying the sites and sounds of downtown, when I noticed a familiar face outside the Hotel Donaldson. No it wasn't Jay Leno, even though he was performing at the nearby Shooting Star Casino. And it wasn't Dave Matthews, who would be playing a music festival in the lakes area the next evening. Neither was it Ira Glass or Johnny Lang or Peter Schickele. My stares began to perturb him. Until I blurted out- "You're not from around here, you're from TV." He looked around and shook his head affirmatively. "Yep, I'm from TV. That little box 90 million people turn on in the late morning, I'm on that 5 times a week! Not to mention my show still runs in syndication!" he retorted sarcastically. "Too bad the clerks inside don't know that. Too bad they don't know I'm Drew [explic…

Street Fair 2009

Before I left for the summer home, I helped out at the street with some kids crafts and face painting.
Unfortunately, we were not on the main thoroughfare, which you can see in the picture, but down the street and around the corner.
Still, we had a good number of participants stop in, get a face painted, do a craft, have a refreshment, and view some art from our collection.
I'm not really a big fan of the street fair but definitely like the fact that it draw people downtown. The street fair is typical cookie cutter year in and year out. I guess it makes it easier to plan and execute. I think I mentioned in another post what I would do to "liven up" street fair. I think there needs to be some aspect where people anticipate what's new this year. But then again I may not be the street fair demographic- which I think is mostly female, married, and older. Perhaps this demographic thrives on stability.
Feel free to chime in any ideas you'd like to see implemented at the st…

Art of the bargain 6

This one is a bit out of order but I decided to leapfrog the others to get this fantastic deal out there.
I shop thrift stores a lot. I think its a genetically acquired trait. There are quite a few in the Go. I found this deal (practically a steal) at a shop that was under my for years. St. Vincent de Paul's shop is off the beaten path in a light industrial section of town near my domicile.
As I child growing up in the city of St. Paul, my mother would shop a St. Vincent's store on 7th, a block from a former family residence. I remember it being a bit creepy. I seem to recall a life size statue of Vincent in the store someplace. Another thrift shop just a few steps from the old house was Worn a Bit. It too was creepy. However, I remember mom getting better deals there. Worn a Bit is long gone but St. Vincent's is still there.
But here's what I got for only a buck. A Descente cycling jersey normally worth about $65.
It was misplaced in the children's section. I knew wha…

Music in the Downtown

I saw this group playing old time music in downtown last week. It was really cool. You might never see this a the street fair which disappoints me. The guardians of the street fair would whisk them away. A shame, especially if they had purchased the appropriate license.
Although the street fair is a popular even and draws many to downtown, I have found it rather pedestrian and banal in recent years. Probably from what I stated above. Tents on the street with wares just reminds me of outdoor mall. Something should make this event stand out more.
Last year they added some street performers - jugglers I think. A step in right direction.
My idea would be for multiple venues for performance up Broadway. Look for community involvement to create these "mini-worlds" much like Fargo residents do for the rest stations in the marathon. That would give it some class.

Tour de Valli: Stage 4 - To Valley City

This stage turned out to be the longest and hotest. Due to not being a direct paved route from Mapleton to Valley City, I needed to head north to get on a western route. It did not prove to be easy as you will see.
Got up early. About 7ish. No problems in Mapleton. I suppose the train traffic could be thought as being a problem as it was about 300 yards from my tent. However I have found that to be a sound of security. Still, train traffic was plenty high the course of the night.
I found the actual city park on the other side of town. It was tucked in the middle of a residential development.
Soon, I met up with the first sign of route problems. The road heading north out of town was closed for construction. And it was impassable. I searched for another road north to no avail. Reluctantly, I headed south to the Interstate in hopes of finding a westbound road. Providentially, there was a paved frontage road on the south side of the Interstate which I took all the way to Casselton. I stopp…

Tour de Valli: Stage 3 - To Mapleton

Leaving work a little later than I anticipated and not having nearly everything packed, I started much later than I desired. Fortunately the days are long and I had adequate night illuminations on the bike. I also did not get any supper. Still, I strove on west on US-10/94 Bus to West Fargo. I then proceeded north and missed the turn to go towards Mapleton. Fortunately it was not by much.
I had never been out this way before but it was some good biking. The weather was perfect and the moon was almost full. Mapleton is a short jaunt from the start but provided an excellent stopping off point for the evening. I doubt could have hustled 40 miles to Arthur or even Tower City.
According to my research there was primitive camping at Mapleton City Park. However, I had no clue which of the 3 "parks" they were referring. I set up camp beyond a ball field in some trees and retired for the night.
The picture is of the Mapleton School, just a few blocks from my campsite.

Tour de Valli : Stage 2 - the route

This year the tour's goal was to head West. Some may have suspected Medora to be the grand terminus but alas it ended up being someplace else.
From the start, finding a western route was difficult. Outside the metropolis, paved roads heading west were rare or took one too far north or south to be of any value on a 5 day tour. With numerous maps I pored over possible routes.
The Interstate was out of the question although bikes are allowed on the shoulder. To me that would be boring. Eventually I found a route that took me through Mapleton to Casselton and unto Valley City and then to Jamestown.
I printed some reference maps and packed my Nuvi. July 15- Added the map and now realize I could have called the tour "The Hammer" but refrained from wearing the baggy pants.

Tour de Valli: Stage 1 - Gear

The gear is the unsung hero on the self supported bike tour. It does its job and that is that. It never gets the plaudits like bike- until now. (Of course let's hope this jump starts manufacturer sponsorship points.)
The indispensible gear
Ortlieb Pannier-
That's right, singular. I only have one Ortlieb I picked up at REI scratch and dent sale years ago. I had another pannier on this our, a Deuter, but I was able to resurrect the Ortlieb after finding the missing part online I had lost years ago. Back in those dark days Ortlieb didn't respond to my cries for the part. I really should get another one because the size and durablity are incredible. Did I mention it is waterproof?
Bontrager Bar Ends-
I added these to the bike because on the previous tour I must have placed too much pressure on my Ulnar nerve and had 2 tingling fingers for over a month afterward. The bar ends provided a few more hand positions to avoid this. I also got better gloves.
Euro Team Cycling Cap-
I picked …