27 August 2009

BWCA Trip 2009- Preview

In the upcoming days and weeks the blog will feature the 2009 BWCA narrative. This year's sojourn in the border waters starting at South Hegman Lake was wet, muddy, rugged, and cool.
This year's trip included a lot of portages, a few rivers, plenty of history, and a rabid waterfall.
The series should begin in earnest after the last entry in the bike tour saga- which I surmise will be around this weekend.

25 August 2009

The things that happen when you are away


I went on my annual respite to the border lakes region of Minnesota last week. It was wet, muddy, rugged, and cool. No drama this year- unless you count the minor annoyances of not finding a campsite after paddling for 6 hours and portages over a mile. I also misplaced my wallet for a while but providence broke through each time. I'll detail the trip later for you BWCA enthusiasts.
However, the point of this post is to respond in a surprised manner at how much the world changed when I was alone in the wilderness.
Let me begin with the first piece of news- Brett Favre is a Viking. Yes, old news to most now but when I got to Ely on Saturday morning and saw Brett in Purple on nearly every paper, I flipped out. I had thought this story was dead and buried. Apparently it resurrected itself.
Next, Scotland decides to release a terrorist on what the government calls "compassionate grounds." Abdel Baset al-Megrahi was serving a life sentence for a Pan-Am airplane bombing 20 years ago. He has terminal cancer. This is a bit perplexing. I don't know where to fall on this issue considering he was responsible for 270 deaths in the bombing and yet is dying.
Then in the mid-week a tornado touched down in downtown Minneapolis (and North Branch and also near Hastings.) 2 local pastors duke it out to determine if it is a sign from God since the tornado took off the steeple of the ELCA Central Lutheran Church while the national convention was going on. My father told me that the tornado also landed not far from the house although probably a safe distance away.
Finally, the Fargo Moorhead RedHawks manager,
Doug Simunic gets into a fisticuffs with the manager of the Winnipeg GoldenEyes. Doug is a bit of a rebel rouser but this is the first he's ever gotten into a fight (I think). The Northern League fined both and did not suspend either.

14 August 2009

The perfect blendship- man in front of train station


Man arrives from someplace. But from where?
Perhaps it is Vulcan. His hat covers his ears and he spoke exclusively in logic. Although I am not sure why he would smile.

"I am Segue." he uttered, "I am a disc jockey."

The perfect blendship- woman with backpack


The green backpack followed her out the door and then to Finland and other European points including Italy.
I think she is saying- "Thanks." And then let's out a chortle.

The perfect blendship- kids in a tent


Took these kids over a hour to set up the classic Eureka! Timberline.
Once they were done, everything was okay.

12 August 2009

Tour de Valli: Stage 7 to Hunter

The following is the continuing narrative of my North Dakotan bike tour in early July.
I stuck around the Sibley Crossing Campground long enough to shower. It was Sunday. A slow day for some. The beach was littered with debris from last night's fun. You could have made a bonfire from it.
After the cleaning ritual and packing I set out across Ashtabula.
A paper handbill stuck out to me at the campground office the other night. It was for a restaurant that offered a Sunday brunch. The establishment, Kelly's Crossing, was on the other side of the lake at the east crossing. Hunger drove me to take the shortest route on gravel through the wind farm in the late morning heat.
The wind turbines seemed to go on for miles. That morning only a few the giants were turning. Because of the emptiness of the range, the wind farm resembled something from a post apocalyptic novel. I was peering upon the last energy reserves of a once great society. Alas, that's not true.
The jaunt through the wind farm really worked up an appetite.
The Mom and Pop type restaurant and lounge on the east shore of Lake Ashtabula put out a good spread- fruit, scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, fried chicken, potatoes, salads. The place was packed so I took it as good sign and ate my fill of grub. What amazed me the most were these giant size slices of cantaloupe.
Before returning to my route I took a peak at the Corps of Engineer's campground. It was subperb. They had a new bathhouse! But $16 for a single person didn't really appeal to my sense of thrift. I reloaded on water, ascended from the valley, and found myself on the eastboad road still surrounded by wind turbines. I pedaled for a good man hours with the same rural field scenery around me in a near blistering heat.
I stopped in Page to find respite and met up with another long distance biker. He said he was from Louisiana and had biked all over the place. I believe he said he was coming from Canada. He sort of startled me because I hadn't met up with any on the routes that I take. However I think the route through Page east was an alternate route on the Northern Tier route that Adventure Cycling puts out. We talked a bit. I mentioned the services in Fargo since he said he needed a new rim (ironically I would buy one days later.) He said he'd rest for a while since he planned to go no further than Arthur. I bid him well and decided to continue down the road.
Only I got out on the road I thought I saw another biker behind me. I decided I wouldn't stop and sped on ahead. It may have been an illusion.
2 hours later I was at a decision point. I could go south to Arthur or north to Hunter. Both approximately the same distance away. At this point I felt Arthur may be a bit busy if the Northern Tier suggested camping there. I turned north and pedaled into the wind towards Hunter.
Hunter appeared to be a generally quiet town. I saw hardly anyone enroute to the city park.
Surprisingly the city park is about the same size as the entire town. It had toilets, water, trash, and lots of space.
Seeing it was earlier than I usually stop to camp, I sat around, read Outside magazine, and took a nap. Later I set up camp, made a small dinner, brewed some tea, and went to bed listening to old radio shows from the 1940's. I was very impressed with Hunter.


11 August 2009

Tour de Valli: Stage 6 to Sibley Crossing


The following in the continuing narrative of my solo bike tour in North Dakota in early July.
It was July 4th. It never seems special anymore since I am usually on the road to somewhere. Well, last year I was actually at a celebration at a friend's homestead. I even met up with a rock star that evening.
Today I met a motor cycle couple from Iowa. They had pitched camp next to me at the campground. We talked a little about biking. They mentioned RAGBRAI, a popular (if not legendary) tour in Iowa from the Missouri to Mississippi River. I had read about it a number of years ago in Outside magazine. We also discussed the flooding in Fargo and in Iowa.
After chatting I headed to the actual Pioneer Village next to the campground. This collection of old buildings with associated antiques is quaint and free. There was even a building they called "Louis L'Amour Writer's Shack," which featured artifacts from the prolific author's original hovel for writing. If you did not know, L'Amour grew up in Jamestown and then flew the coup in his late teens.
On the other end of the Pioneer Village is the world's largest buffalo statue. Below the statue site on a rolling prairie, a buffalo herd roams freely. One of the herd is albino and named White Cloud. Another albino was born there May 31st. The herd is part of the National Buffalo Museum, which has a museum adjacent to the Pioneer Village. I regret I did not visit it as I needed to be on my way.
It was noontime and I hoped to bike quite a bit today. So after provisioning at Super Walmart I headed back into town and up the hill and then out toward the Jamestown Reservoir. I should also note that I missed quite a few attractions in Jamestown due to time constraints. There is an old fort, a cathedral, and the sports hall of fame.
I cruised north and then east on a county road with some wind resistance. A band in a van stopped and asked for directions to Wimbledon. I told them to continue straight on the road I was on. They thanked me and invited me to their concert in Wimbledon. About an hour and half later I arrived in Wimbledon. I refilled water at the city park and decided waiting to 9pm to see the band would not be ideal. I continued pedaling east.
There is not much of interest to talk about here. The route was mostly the same farm fields over and over again. But eventually the terrain did change and in the distance I saw the sentinals of North Dakota-- wind towers. What I saw was actually the Ashtabula Wind Energy Center built last year. I will speak more on that later. The towers were still a great distance away.
As I neared Lake Ashtabula region I made the decision to go to Sibley Crossing instead of the Army Corps of Engineer's East Crossing. It turned out all right.
I spent the night at a crowded privately owned campground. The proprietor just barely found space for my tent. I was glad because I would not be looking forward to riding in the dark to someplace else.
After I got situated and set up camp, I walked over to beach to watch part of what was to become a 4 hour fireworks show put on by visitors to the camp. After an hour and a half I decided to check out. The fireworks kept going to clear near midnight. Nonetheless I fell soundly asleep.

03 August 2009

Boy reporter learns Vikings will not be in Super Bowl

Finally the Brett Favre "is going to play for the Vikings" saga is over. The man decided to stay retired and enjoy the endorsement checks he still receives. (Doesn't he endorse some deodorant? You don't need to be a playing pro football to say "I sweat but this stick makes me smell better.")
Nonetheless, it was not a joyful day last week, when Favre made known his intentions, for one Vikings boy reporter. When handed the AP News release, he burst into tears and muttered "The Vikings will not be in the Super Bowl." He could not be consoled until Brad Childress spoke with him. It is suspected Brad promised the boy a pony.

02 August 2009

Tour de Valli: Stage 5.5 In Jamestown


Being larger than I expected, I was a bit disorientated once I got into the downtown. The James River, which runs through town, had flooded this spring and dikes were still standing. The James apparently is the longest un-navigatible river in the world. At least that's what the wiki says. I think you could probably canoe many of the 710 miles.
I wanted to get a camping spot firest and then look around town. However, I ended up looking for a camping spot not knowing where I would find one.

I had originally planned to camp at a primitive place north and west of town but I too scant notes to be able to find it. I tried a city park, McElroy Park. I went further east. No go. I used the Nuvi and it began to take me west. I climbed another hill, passed the Super Wal-Mart, then got directed down a dirt road where I proceeded to wipe out fall over the front handlebars due to the new gravel. I wasn't hurt, but frustrated. I continued down the road until it turned into a prairie road. This campground was sure far from town I thought. Finally Nuvi directed me back near 94. I decided to give up and try at the Pioneer Village where I knew I saw a camping sign.
The Pioneer Village camp area is mostly RVs. I saw only a small path where I would consider pitching a tent.
Darkness descended as I inquired at the adjacent bar about camping. I paid $10 and was instructed to set camp on a grassy patch between the RVs. I never found this spot. Neither did those tenting adajacent to me that evening. I just put up the tent on the grass area at far end and then opened the 2 Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonades I acquired while meandering through town.
The Pioneer Village area happened to be just above McElroy Park where I had been earlier. I did a lot of biking (and falling) for naught. I went to bed after viewing a few impromptu fireworks shows in the city below.