June 9, Minot, ND – Because of the change to the central time zone, I was up early and on the road by 10 after 6. It was chilly and sunny. It stayed that way all morning until a very brief shower mid-morning.
My first stop was in Proctor, MN at a museum that has a steam engine on display, a “Yellowstone” mallet. This is not just any steam engine, but one that holds significance to our family. These big engines, articulated 2-8-8-4s were purchased by the Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range in the early forties. They were designed to haul iron ore cars from the open pit mine at Hibbing to the docks at Two Harbors, MN. In the late 50’s we saw these engines working, pulling 100-car ore trains to Two Harbors. Then in 1962 we went to Duluth to ride a rail fan trip behind engine no. 222. It was the last run of a Yellowstone Mallet. It was a very exciting day that was marred only by the death of the engineer that afternoon. He had a heart attack at the throttle.
My dad took pictures of this locomotive as a visual aid. Between 1966 and 1976 he built a 1 inch to the foot, working live steam model of 222. The model is about 18″ high and 12 feet long. He still has it and runs it occasionally.
We vacationed in Minnesota many times when I was growing up. We’d drive along the north shore of Lake Superior, stopping at Two Harbors, Pigeon river Falls, and Split rock Light House. Then we’d go fishing in Ely. My ride today brought back memories of those great trips.
One of the things my dad would point out on our trips was red winged blackbirds. I don’t know what his fascination was for the birds, but he’d always point them out. Today I saw several red winged blackbirds. The first one I saw reminded me of my dad’s habit and I almost exclaimed out loud, “Look, there’s a red winged blackbird!”
I had no idea Floodwood, MN is the catfish capital.I was able to get the part I needed to fix my auxiliary lights and made the repair in the parking lot. My friend, Melanie, gave me “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” to read last winter. I had no idea I was going to have so many repairs along the way as the author did in that book. I’ll save you a recitation of some Zen philosophy, but dealing with breakdowns certainly interrupts the flow of the trip. When there are many breakdowns, a new flow develops that includes time to make repairs.
Western Minnesota is more like North Dakota with few trees and wheat farms. Except for a little bit of rain in the morning and a storm outside Minot, it was a gorgeous day. US-2 is in pretty good shape. It’s four lanes in a lot of places, and I went for miles at a time without seeing another vehicle. Also, I can see why Harley added a 6th gear to their new transmissions. It’s for roads like these.
I stopped in Rugby, ND to take a picture of the monument marking the geographic center of North America.
There was a huge, dark storm directly ahead of me around 5:30 p.m. Fortunately US-2 headed southwest, away from the storm. I did get into a few miles of rain about 15 miles from Minot. That makes seven days in a row, I believe, that I have ridden in some rain.
I did make up the miles I didn’t do by stopping early. I could have ridden longer, but there was no point in doing so as the motels are in the major cities. Except for the rain and breakdown in Canada, I’ve made my mark each day. 500 miles a day in the terrain I’ve covered so far is pretty easy to do. It takes me 11 or 12 hours to cover that distance. The SCMA literature said that many people do this trip at a comfortable pace. I can see now that it is true. I’ve passed 6000 miles, so I guess I’m about half way on this trip.