Sauk Centre, Minnesota to Fergus Falls, Minnesota: A Perfect Day of Riding That Lands us in the 9th Circle of Hell - Minnesota Matrimonial Evaluation Tour - CycleBlaze

June 22, 2017

Sauk Centre, Minnesota to Fergus Falls, Minnesota: A Perfect Day of Riding That Lands us in the 9th Circle of Hell

Yeah, I thought that title might catch your attention. First, the set up ...

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Oh. Editor's note: It looks as if our iPhone decided to drop dead which is pretty innopportune given that almost all the day's photos (and they were all award winning today, of course) are in that phone. So, no action photos of the day's ride I'm afraid. Poop, huh? Well, as we parents always tell our little kids when they are angry about something and incoherently screaming, for today's journal I will just have to "use your words."

Last night we stayed in an old historic hotel in Sauk Centre which is purportedly haunted! Alas, no ghost sightings from us, but the Palmer House Hotel is a fun, non-cookie cutter lodging. The lobby is a great place to hang out and work on your journal and art work, and the food there is down-home but well made. You can also grab a beer or hard cider in the attached bar. This place is hitting the haunting thing hard in their brand development. When we were in the lobby two young guys were interviewing the manager with a HD mini-camcorder about the various ghostly sightings and other haunted lore over the years. Not sure if they are part of a cable ghost show (those are big these days) or maybe haunted house web site entrepreneurs, but the whole theme was front and center and really fun. The hotel hosts ghost "seminars" and seances several times a year, and also provides lodging for outside groups doing the same. I tell you, occult is Big Business. We did grab a few pics of the place last night with the iPad.

Mike feeling the love with a mannequin in the lobby
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The lobby desk area at the Palmer House Hotel
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Looking down from the first level of staircase into the lobby
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Once again we were unenthusiastic participants in the call to reveille. We slumped downstairs to the hotel cafe (where they had also let us store our bikes for the night. Huge shout-out to them for that) for a hearty breakfast. The food was great but the coffee was sub-par, so Margaret ran upstairs to our room and grabbed a couple packets of instant Starbucks and we juiced the house coffee with the Via packets. It was a brilliant coffee hack on her part. We were discreet because we didn't want to cause any offense to the wonderful woman running the cafe.

Mike giving the house coffee a covert turbocharge with our instant Starbucks
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It had rained lightly most of the night, and also through our breakfast. So our motivation to get on the bikes was lacking, but we finally loaded the rigs and were riding just before 10 AM, which barely qualifies as even a modest effort to get our assses on the road. Ten AM? Please. But Lo! Though it sprinkled on us the steady rain had ceased. That pleased us, and Margaret was especially happy because there was just enough rain to justify wearing her new rain jacket but not enough to actually risk getting wet.

Again, the World's Worst Model lends perspective to the loaded bikes outside the hotel
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The clouds were ominous to the near south but we seemed to be riding just fast enough north, and the rain seemed to be tracking just enough to the south, to enable us to slowly pull away from it. Blue skies to the NW were the carrot that pulled us along. We stopped in the tiny village of West Union to mail Margaret's latest art card (pictured below) to our son Phil and use a restroom if we could find one. In the little city park was a set of His and Her bathrooms which was mighty neighborly of them to provide. That is, we thought that until Margaret shrieked from inside the "Hers" door how horrific it was inside. Curious, I checked the "His" door and what I saw inside can only be described as a crime against humanity. I mean .... uh .... First: whichever resident of West Union is using those public restrooms needs to see a doctor. Immediately. There is something seriously wrong with his or her digestive system. Second: They need to work on their .... well ... their "aim" is probably the gentlest way to put it. Touring cyclists, I beseech you ... DO NOT use the facilities in West Union.

Marg's second Art Card from the trip
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The day was, again, glorious. In fact toward the end the steady sun almost started to be a bother. In 70 miles we arrived in Fergus Falls (heretofore "FF") in grand spirits. We decided to motel again tonight just because we can, and after consulting the map, and asking a couple townspeople for guidance we aimed ourselves toward the western side of town where most of the motels are. Here is where we started descending into the 9th Circle of Hell. This is the moment when we realized that the phone was dead when were going to consult it for a map. That was not disasterous but certainly a bother. We rode through FF's old downtown which looks vibrant and healthy and was a real upper because we thought, "Man, this town is actively hanging on to its soul!" Then we emerged on the west side to find an urban sprawl of titanic proportions. The street that had traversed the sweet little downtown area spat us into a maze of four and five lane, traffic infested nightmares. There were Big Box stores peppered everywhere with the accompanying ribbon of traffic into and out of each. It was like Fergus Falls made a conscious decision at some point to just completely sell itself to corporate America. "Hell yeah," said the town council, "Build anything you want. Pave it all!!" I fear that is where our hometown of Stoughton, Wisconsin is heading. Our Super Wal-Mart is the standard gateway drug to this kind of horrible stuff. Some consider such development a sign that their town has "arrived" I guess. Well .... Navigating that on a bicycle in Fergus Falls was a dangerous drag. We finally stumbled upon a couple motels, one of which was a Super 8. I've stayed in some Super 8's on rides before and have found them to be low cost bargains that are clean and well run. Nothing plush but always more than acceptable.

Oh God. Forgive me for throwing more shade in this journal but the FF Super 8 is a pit. Not as bad as West Union's public bathrooms, but a pit. This motel was rode hard and put away wet. It is a weary, miserable little turd of a motel. But, there we were, and we did NOT want to venture back into the concrete jungle and locate another motel so we surrendered. The kicker was when Margaret took a shower after we ate dinner. She was looking forward to a long, hot shower. After about 10 minutes she called out, "Oh man, the water is lukewarm" and gave up the ghost. I walked down to the front desk (And, to be sure, "desk" is an over-aggrandizement of the area they receive customers) intending to ask for another room, but determined not to be a jerk about it. The manager sauntered out, eyebrows raised. Not asking "Can I help you," just raised eyebrows. I said, "Say, my wife just tried to take a shower but all the water was very lukewarm. Any ideas what's up?" She stared for a moment and said, "Oh. Probably because I'm doing laundery right now. Should I stop the load?" Our room was directly next to the laundry room.

Now: Imagine one of those nutcracker dolls. Visualize how noticeably their hinged jaws can drop. That was my facial expression. Yes, I said. Brilliant idea. Let's do that turning off the laundry thing. "Just wait about 20 minutes for the water to warm up again," said the manager/desk clerk.

Sure enough, scalding hot water was available in 20 minutes.

Fine. We move on. Tomorrow the forecast is for high winds and gusts of 30 MPH. We're still getting the hell out of the Super 8 no matter what. Stay tuned!!

WHOA THE iPHONE CAME BACK TO LIFE!! WOO-HOO!! Here's a few pictures from the ride with quick captions. Just a photo dump. G' Night!

Marg displaying today's roadside lunch. Bananas and trail mix with water for her, two sleeves of peanuts, two airhead candies and a fizzy lemon drink for me.
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Two friendly dogs we met trucking along the trail. The one in the foreground just anointed Marg's rear wheel as belonging to him.
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It is always an auspicious moment when it's time to move to a new map segment. Margaret demonstrates ...
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Dig Marg's groovy new rain jacket.
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Rose: Marg - getting to wear her new rain jacket. Mike - Eating my first sleeves of peanuts on the tour, my favorite touring snack in all its salty goodness

Thorn: Marg - Landing in the ugliness of American sprawl Mike - The (not so) Super 8

Bud: Marg - Feeling excited about the windy challange tomorrow. Mike - Leaving the (not so) Super 8

Today's ride: 74 miles (119 km)
Total: 208 miles (335 km)

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