Left Thunder Bay later in the morning. Must have been 9:15 or so. I got up a little late - I think it was 7:00 or so! Then did some work, checked email, facebook, etc. Finally grabbed a few hard boiled eggs and a cup of coffee and headed out. It was cold, but for the most part sunny - just a few puffy blue clouds. So the hope was I'd beat the storm out of Canada and get to Bemidji before it rained.
Made it to the border, its not that far, and took a quick shot of the Canada sign and then some more shots of "Welcome to the US" while waiting in line. The line was moving pretty slow - but just sat there taking pics and enjoying the warm.
[Side note - if you are on facebook you've already seen all these pictures that are linked - but for those that aren't on facebook I'm including the links.]
Entered Minnesota, the North Shore of Superior and No Helmet Law!
As I was heading south I could see clouds building to the west "inland." I kept hoping they'd disappear the further south I got... but they didn't.
Got to Silver Bay and stopped for Gas at a little store. Waited to pay and ask the cashier about best routes, while she finished up a phone conversation.
No. I don't know if A won or not. The B squad lost though. I'm not sure about the A squad. I think they lost but we left before the game was over. 38 Special was playing in front of the casino. They were awesome! Awesome! They should play winterfest!
All in a MN accent of course. I love listening to "local" chatter. :)
Anyway - I asked her the best way to get to Bemidji (after asking her how to pronouce it... its Ba-mid-gee) and she told me that my map didn't have a new road they just built. "11,15,16 They are all the same thing!". Well its really Forest 11, County 15 and another County 16. "It will cut 45 minutes off your trip vs going to Duluth."
Well the sun south was calling - but I decided to make the shorter trip, turn away from the lake and head inland. The forest road was awesome: brand new, wide, and nobody but me on it. Curvy but not twisting - keeping the speed up the entire time so making good progress. Then I hit a detour, then the "Detour End" sign - and I'm on the little back road. Still paved - and still Hwy 16 - but not that great of a road and out in the middle of nowhere. At first I just had on the dew rag, then I added the beanie, then finally put a bandanna over my face. Yeah, it was getting colder all the time! And then it starts to rain and my goggles are fogging up and I can't see - so I push them up and I'm glancing over the top of them. I have NO idea where I am - other than I'm heading west - hopefully towards Hibbing. I finally see a sign "Welcome to Hibbing"... but there is nothing here. I'm on a country road with a few houses here and there. Great.
So this old guy is pulling his trash can in and I stop and ask him:
M: How do I get to the town?
OG: What town?
OG: Oh - just turn around and turn left and its right there!
M: Is there a gas station?
OG: No - for that you should go straight, then turn for a mile then go two miles and you'll hit 167 and Walmart is right there!
So I try and wipe the goggles off and head on my way - and all of a sudden there is this big Walmart and I pull in and gas up... and put on the full face.
This other older guy says "Kind of cold day for a ride!" and we talk and he asks where I'm coming from. "Silver Bay" - "Oh... you must have drove right by my place on 37." I tell him I was trying for 37, but ended up on the 16 detour and he's just grinning and nodding the whole time - like 'yeah, everyone does that.' He then tells me how to get to Grand Rapids and then Bemidji and I head out.
But its not raining *that hard* so I don't put the suit on - just the helmet.
Well I end up not making it to the "little patch of blue" and the rain is getting more steady, so I pull into this little Used car lot / gas station with the Open sign flashing but a sign on the door saying "Went to tow a car. Back later." But they have the pumps under a roof (like most stations) and I pull under there and start getting the rain suit out and situating everything.
Now I'm wearing 2 pairs of pants, chaps and rain pants; plus 3 shirts, leather jacket and rain jacket. I'm not cold. :)
Rain isn't coming down too hard and I'm pretty used to driving in it, so I just head on my way.
Finally make it into Bemidji and its no longer raining - although it looks like it could at any point. I end up driving around and getting a few more pics - one of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox! and then going for dinner.
Ate at the Peppercorn. Had salad, the Peppercorn NY Steak (best peppercorn sauce I ever had), a Honey Weiss beer (good), and bread pudding for dessert. Yeah... probably the last dessert I should get. It was great, but I'm not supposed to be eating that much sugar and I was pretty stuffed after. It just looked really good. Thumbs up on the restaurant... if you are ever in Bemidji!
Got to bed at a decent hour.
And now its 7:00 AM - I've updated facebook with pics and this blog - so time to get around and hit the road!
Today its off to Bismarck ND! I'm going to stop in Hazleton on the way. Well its not "on the way" but its not far out of my way. We lived there for several years. The town was 400 when we were there, and as of the 2000 census it was down to 207 with a wikipedia note of "To combat population loss, city leaders of Hazelton have offered free land and start up money for people to move there."
They also have a note in the discussion that says, "It is requested that a photograph or photographs be included in this article to improve its quality, if possible."
So hey... I'll be uploading some pics to wikipedia later tonight! :)
Well.. really should get around - looking out the window it is cloudy but not raining. Forecast calls for rain - but later in the day all the way to Bismark. Its another short day - only 325 miles or so - about 6 hours. So plenty of time to hit Hazleton and still get into a hotel early. And its supposed to be sunny which would be very nice!