Fallen trees - Two Far 2018 - Trailing through the Rust Belt - CycleBlaze

Fallen trees

The summer solstice is very overrated. It was a week ago, but our days are still getting longer. Sunrise today at Lake Itaska was 5:27, sunset in Bemidji was 9:21. That gave us a whopping 15 hours and 54 minutes of daylight. Since this is as far north as we are going to get in this trip, I'm convinced this really was our longest  day. But I've been wrong before on this subject...

Walking Itaska state park we noticed that a lot of big trees seemed to have been knocked over.

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What could have caused such destruction? Tornadoes? When we came upon a log cabin in the woods, we decided to ask the old timer who lived in the cabin what had happened to the trees.

Anyone who lives in this cabin must know a thing or two about trees.
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The old timer gave us a history lesson. It seems that many years ago Iowa had just as many trees as Minnesota. The Iowa farmers had a terrible time trying to grow crops in-between the trees. So they asked Paul Bunyan to come down and help clear the forest. Paul did just that. With his big axe he felled trees night and day for an entire year, while Babe the blue ox hauled out the stumps. That's the reason that today most of Iowa is corn and bean fields instead of woods.

The next winter, when Paul was back in Minnesota, was one of the coldest ever. Paul began to run out of hay to feed Babe. Paul sent word to the farmers in Iowa that he needed some silage for Babe.

The farmers in Iowa were so grateful for the help Paul and Babe had given them that they didn't hesitate to respond. Thanks to Paul, they had had a bumper crop of beans on the newly cleared land. Instead of just sending some bales of hay, 400 different farmers each sent a huge wagon full of beans up to Paul's winter camp.

Now Babe was not used to eating beans. Instead of eating just a few bushels, Babe ate up all 400 wagons of beans in one sitting! Pretty soon Babe's stomach started to rumble and swell something fierce. It got worse and worse until finally Babe was able to break wind and relieve himself of the terrible pressure, but no fewer than 500 trees were knocked over in the process. The park service has since cleaned up most of the destruction, but a few of the trees that Babe knocked over remain in the park.

A short distance from our starting point we reached the source of the mighty Mississippi River. It's said that Paul Bunyan could straddle the Mississippi River at any point along it's route through Minnesota. As a team, we were able to replicate his feat. His feet? His feet feat? Anyhow, we did it.

Two Far spans the mighty Mississippi.
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Jeanna and Viktoriya are about 10 feet downstream from the source of the Mississippi where it flows out of Lake Itaska.
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A few miles downstream from the headwaters the river has not gotten any bigger.
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After a lunch stop we thought we had a simple 18 mile ride into Bemidji. Suddenly a detour sign reared its ugly head! Should we ignore it and keep going on our route? Should we follow the detour and add extra miles? You never know with detour signs, sometimes a bridge is out and the road is impassible, sometimes the road is fine for bikes.

We were on the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) bike route. It's not really a trail, but like most Minnesota roads it had nice bike friendly shoulders.
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Choose wisely Grasshopper.
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We decided to follow the detour. We had waded across enough rivers this morning and didn't want to do so again if a bridge was out. As it happens, this was a wise choice. We could see some nasty looking storm clouds in the direction our route would have taken us. Our detour added no more than a mile and skirted around the worst of the clouds, although we did get just enough rain at the very end to qualify as rain day #4.

Our route was supposed to be behind those trees.
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If we can make it under this one cloud we'll be in Bemidji.
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Tonight we are staying next to Lake Bemidji. Interestingly, the lake is part of the Mississippi River. This section looks a lot more like what you would expect the might Mississippi to look like.

Approaching the Mississippi River/ Lake Bemidji.
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