Day 64 Bagley to Cass Lake, Minnesota: Covered Gazebo with Picnic Tables - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

July 3, 2011

Day 64 Bagley to Cass Lake, Minnesota: Covered Gazebo with Picnic Tables

We set the alarm for 5 and did get going not too long after that. Our plan was to cycle before it got too hot or windy, and it did work out. There was not a breath of wind as we started down the road.

Sarah, our early morning acquaintance at Bagley city campground.
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Feeling confident that we had a head start on the day, we didn't press very hard. By about 9:30 we reached the west side of Bemidji and stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. We answered the normal number of UQs on the way in and while sitting at our table. One man a few tables over offered advice about what lay ahead of us, particularly the bridges at Duluth and Sault. He had travelled all over the north central states as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and told us some of his background there. As often happens, the conversation ranged to other topics, such as general goals in life, where one's parents and grandparents lived and where they moved to and why. When we mentioned raising chickens and turkeys, Jon (for the man's name was Jon Selzer, of Bemidji) recalled how his grandparents had at one time bought chickens from local farmers, processed them, and sold the product in local stores.

What I remember most from meeting Jon is the way his face lit up when talking about his grandparents. Jon is well over fifty and seems to have had a fairly hard life of travel and of work in cold conditions, but at that moment he seemed ten. Yesterday at the campsite we talked to two other grandfathers who were each out camping with their children and grandchildren. It was clear that the big treat for the grandchildren was to have grandpa there.

If in any way we can be to Avi, Violet, and Amelia what Jon's grandparents were to him, or what these others at the campsite were to their grandchildren, we will be happy indeed.

Jon and Dodie at Bemidji
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Back in the parking lot of the restaurant we received another round of UQs. One set of the curious was a fairly old father and son about 50. The father asked if I had run into any mean drivers and I replied that aside from semi trailers passing too close we had found people to be considerate. In fact, I added, we were thinking of compiling a hall of fame of those who had been especially helpful. I had found, I said, far more generous and helpful people than I had ever expected.

With this the son gave the opinion that the journey would give God a way to speak to me and make other revelations. He asked if he could pray for us, and I said sure (based on the principle of you never know). He asked if he could pray now, and again I said sure. So he put his hand on my shoulder and asked Jesus to throw a protective shroud over me and Dodie and ensure a safe journey (and maybe a few other peripheral requests).

As we pulled back onto the highway I tried to sense if any further protective shrouds were in place, but could not be sure. Nevertheless the good wishes and prayers were much appreciated. They are evidence of the kindness and concern that this man had and we support that 100%.

It turns out that highway 2 acts as a bypass for Bemidji, so wanting to still make some progress, we missed going in to the town. Sarah Anton (of Middle River, Minnesota) who we had met and chatted with in the early morning at the campsite had recommended that we visit the Paul Bunyan statue in Bemidji. In her view, Paul Bunyan here is a big deal. This became clear as our GPS seemed to tell us that the main street of town is named for Paul Bunyan, as is a nearby state forest. This lead to some discussion back and forth on the bikes as to whether Paul Bunyan was a real person. Dodie naturally branded me gullible for possibly believing that. Wikipedia reading later presented a bewildering array of theories about the origin of the Paul Bunyan myth, much of it coming from Quebec and/or the Ottawa Valley. Apparently, however, the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota are from the footprints of Paul's Blue Ox and he created Lake Superior for him as a watering hole. Oh, I'm glad that is straightened out now. Only thing, Bemidji is one of about ten places claiming to be his birthplace and two places claim to house his grave. I guess the truth of this may never be known.

We reach the Mississippi!
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The headwaters of the Mississippi are very near here (at Lake Itasca)
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...and you should see their Boxing Day sale!
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It's a forest (not a prairie!)
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As we carried on past Bemidji the sun became more intense and we eventually sought shelter in a Cenex gas station just by Cass Lake . They have little pizzas there - precooked and kept warm under lights. Not bad! The prairies are well behind us now, and this is an area of lake based recreation. Cass Lake (the lake) is quite large and filled with both many speedboats and lots of game fish. Cass Lake (the town) had the typical one block downtown, and predictably was locked up tight.

Cass Lake town - locked up tight
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An abandoned church in Cass Lake.
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We carried on to a barricaded state rest area just east of town. This thing, before being torched by the legislature along with the rest of the state on Thursday, was huge and terrific. It has a giant restroom and information building, acres of lawns and trees, and covered gazebos with picnic tables. To boot, it is on the lake and has a dock.

Now, 'covered gazebo with picnic table' is a magic phrase for us. Although we had not yet really gotten anywhere (only 75 km) and it was early in the day, we couldn't resist. Plus, the barricades could help keep out any 4th of July hoards. (This time the officials were quite serious, using both wood and concrete to keep the people from their recreation asset.) So here I am writing the blog in the shade, after having had my swim. Pretty soon we may stroll over and look at 'our' information building, do a few circuits of our lawns, check the security of our barricades and maybe go for another swim. Tomorrow will be soon enough to crank our way down the hot road!

Our covered gazebo with Lake!
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Oh, oh, the reservation here is called Leech Lake. I found out why!
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Today's ride: 75 km (47 miles)
Total: 3,658 km (2,272 miles)

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