13 September 2010

Journey to the center of North America: Part 2

Prairie Chicken WMA wasn't much to crow about. It just provided us with a small spot to camp. Not recommended but for the most hard core of bike tours. After eating one of the many oatmeal creme pies that the Man of 3 Names brought, I eagerly loaded up the bike to blow this WMA. It was almost blistering hot last night and the bugs were very thick. It was a pioneer experience.
We discovered just before we left that a majority of the flatland grass good to camp upon was on the other side of a "moat." that surrounded most of this land. We were on a slice of land a few feet from the "moat." At night the discovery of unexpected water makes one stop. For all we knew it was one large wetland. Tip: Do not camp on wetlands, you will regret it.
We hopped back on US 81 and pedaled north going through Ardoch, Minto and stopping in Grafton to eat and seek out the means to fix 3 Names' rack.
While traveling I thought of some songs to go with the towns and places we were going. For the Prairie Chicken WMA it was the "Chicken Dance." I had no inspiration for Ardoch or Minto. Perhaps Take Me Out to the Ball Game for Minto since they had quite a swell ball park (and city park for that matter.) You can see it on the left. We took a short break in Minto to eat a little more. It was mid-morning by this time and the sun was beginning to exert its radiant power. It would be a hot one for the rest of the day.
For Grafton, the Johnny Cash/ June Carter Cash duet "Jackson" kept going through my head. However I replaced Jackson with Grafton.
Grafton is the largest town in the area between the Canadian border and Grand Forks. I stopped at the market for some fresh fruit and then we were on our way to the hardware store downtown.
We did not need to go into the store because the Man with 3 Names developed a system using the available bungie cords we had. This greatly improved the rack's ability to hold the pannier bags secure. It also relieved 3 Names from carrying a large backpack in the heat of the day.
From Grafton we struck out toward Park River with the belief there was a missile silo museum there. Unfortunately I had mixed up Park River with Cooperstown, so we abandoned that plan and re-routed to Tater Town USA- a.k.a. Hoople. Just as we were turning north we were blessed by a cup of ice given to use by a passing vehicle. It's not was you may think. The car slowed down and handed me a glass filled with ice. 3 Names and I shared this unexpected and refreshing gift then continued on State Route 18.
It was along this road I finally saw fields of potatoes. We had seen plenty of potato business along US 81. I even recall seeing a few potatoes on the road that fell from trucks but I never encountered a field of taters. Since I was a kid, I remember being told in school that the Red River Valley was a fertile area that grew lots of potatoes. I moved to the Valley later in life and saw mostly sugar beets.
I am not sure why Hoople adopted the moniker- Tater-Town. True, Hoople is the heart of the potato belt of North Dakota but there was not much to endure me to Hoople except the sign calling it Tatertown USA. We stopped looking for place to get away from the scorching sun and found only the back side of the school gymnasium. I was expecting a potato themed city park. Nothing of the sort in Hoople. I'm not even sure there is much more to Hoople than a school, a few barns, some ball fields and about 50 homes. Later I discovered there was a park deeper inside of town. We stuck near the state road so didn't see it.
Oh and the song for Hoople- "Man on the Moon" by R.E.M.

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