Day 63 Thief River Falls to Bagley, Minnesota: The Star Spangled Banner - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

July 2, 2011

Day 63 Thief River Falls to Bagley, Minnesota: The Star Spangled Banner

We set the alarm for 5:15 a.m. so as to miss as little as possible of what we knew would be a moderate sunny day with a tail wind.

Our star spangled banner
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Sure enough, we pedalled easily down the road and did 20 km before even warming up. At this point we came to Plummer, just off the road. Should we stop? Naw, we're on a roll! Well, we doubled back and went in to Plummer anyway.

Good move! We found the people preparing for a July 4th pre celebration, with a parade, market, BBQ, etc. They were just doing preparations, since it was early. This included firing up a line of pellet BBQs and loading them with pork loins. Naturally, that got my attention. Best of all, after a few UQs, they invited us into the town museum and gave a brief tour. Linus Schmitz showed us the wonderful place, much of which he built or helped to build. We were also welcomed by Glenyce Eskeli, the president of the Museum. Glenyce is of Icelandic extraction, and the names of many others who are involved also sound northern European.

These folks accepted us so naturally! In minutes, Dodie was lettering a sign for Glenyce's campaign for county commissioner, and I was working out how much ground coffee to put into the percolator to make 80 cups. They insisted we stay for the festivities, and Dodie was game. I, though, wanted to use that tail wind while we still had it. They countered that they could throw our stuff in a pickup and take us anywhere we wanted, later.

It sure was tempting, but those pork loins were going to take a few hours yet, so after a while we quietly slipped away. We did not slip too far at first, though, because we passed through the small market. I saw a sign for Linda's donuts and went over to see if I could scoop some even before she was set up. Looking at me in my helmet and safety vest, she asked if it was OK to set up here. I explained that I was just a visitor, but it looked ok to me. I turned around and someone else asked directions to the restrooms. I directed them to what turned out to be the showers. Oh, well, not too bad for an unelected official. By the time the next person asked me where to set up, I was already an expert and put them in a good spot!

Pork loins go on the barby
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Inside the Plummer museum
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Another display inside the museum
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Plummer fire engine
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Dodie and museum president Glenyce Eskeli
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Dodie, Glenyce Eskeli, and Linus Schmitz
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One of Linus' many creations
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The celebration we almost got to
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Dodie helps with preparations
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Vintage tractors outside
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I asked Diane if I could put her in my blog, and when she saw the camera she began to rustle in her stuff. She took off her overcoat to reveal a nice blouse, and she put on her apron. So here is Diane, the donut lady of Plummer:

Linda's donuts
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With our new Stars and Stripes flying from our flagpoles, together with the Maple Leaf and of course the all important BoB Banner, we felt very festive. Conan had commented that it was very Canadian of us to fly the US flag, and actually he is right. That is, as we discussed while pedalling along, we feel a lot of empathy with the decent friendly people we are meeting. The brothers Lowell and Vance from Karlstad exemplified Christian values, and others in these small towns are living examples of what many Americans think their country is or ought to be. With this in mind, we are most pleased to fly their flag, and we are looking forward to July 4 so we can help them celebrate.

Partly because we could travel quite fast without the headwind and partly because towns in this region are not too far apart, several towns seemed to pop up on the horizon fairly quickly. The next one was McIntosh, typical, with a nice church and leafy streets. McIntosh featured a bakery with decent muffins.

McIntosh downtown
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McIntosh bakery
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Bakers!
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McIntosh is a nice town
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with a nice church
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From subtle cues of dress and accent, we figured that the staff were Mennonite. One of the few people we saw in the street was wearing plain dress, so maybe this is a Mennonite town.

A political flyer outside the washroom at a gas station
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We rejoin mystical highway 2, again!
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Wow, flat and wide!
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It seemed only Plummer was doing any festivities today, and I had got it fixed in my head that a hot dog would hit the spot. Listen, I argued, I ought to be able to find a hot dog in America on or about July 4. When we hit Fosston, while no one seemed to be grilling any dogs outside for me, there was an A&W. This one had been done up in 50's style, and also had outside car hop type stalls. Inside, root beer was on tap and décor was new but fitting the period. The hot dogs on offer were touted as Coney Island style, but actually were expensive and made me feel a bit ill. It was fun though!

Wild flowers by the roadside. The landscape has changed now. There are conifers around and we are in to rolling hills.
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The Fosston water tower was a more attractive target than other towers.
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Fosston A&W is done up like in the old days
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with root beer on tap
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and available for sale by the gallon
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New vintage decor at A&W
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Next up was a rest area under large oak trees shading picnic tables and with a view of a lake. The site was shut down and barricaded because of the budget meltdown of the state. We could not see why so much trouble had been taken to keep people out, since the toilet part of the operation was just an outhouse anyway. We enjoyed sitting in the shade at the rest area, and even found a 3G signal which allowed us to put up a bit of a blog for the day.

Minnesota government shutdown
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but the rest area is lovely anyway
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Barricades mean nothing to Dodie
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Tidy lawn untidy car
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Interesting barn
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Smokey the Bear, haven't seen him around in years
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Nice lion picture but maybe the zoo is questionable
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Moving again quickly down the road, we had to admit we were getting a bit tired, since it was actually quite hot. This meant we would stop at Bagley rather than push on to Bemidgi. This was a bit too bad, because pushing would have helped put us in Duluth in time for July 4 fun.

The Bagley Park campground was a zoo, stuffed with July 4 vacationers in RVs. They were doing all sorts of innocuous activities, like playing horseshoes, BBQ ing, and going on swing sets! I guess we just are unused to crowds, because we sat and watched them a bit grumpily. We were also not too pleased to be charged $15 and be shoved behind the washroom building. Next time we may choose a conveniently barricaded and deserted rest area instead.

Bagley downtown
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Bagley Park caretakers - a bit iffy
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Bagley Park crowding
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Our 15 dollar spot by the washroom
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Today's ride: 112 km (70 miles)
Total: 3,583 km (2,225 miles)

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