To the Dakotas

After checking out Antique Archeology, I looked around La Claire a bit before heading north.

This car had Tennessee tags. I wondered if it may be Mike Wolfe’s ride. I heard an employee at the picker’s shop tell a customer that Mike was in town and he frequents the local bars and restaurants.

I continued north on the Iowa side of the Mississippi. My original plan was to camp in the area. I had a reservation at Maquoketa Caves State Park. A few days before arriving, I got a message on my phone telling me that my reservation has been canceled and my money would be refunded. Huh? No explanation was given. I was reading the news the next day and I found out why. There was a murder in the campground.

The roads along the Eastern edge of Iowa are fun to ride. Lots of swooping hills and curves with nice scenery. Straight out of a Grant Wood landscape. Or visa versa.

When I got to Dubuque I crossed the Mississippi River again. I wanted to continue north on the Wisconsin side.

I thought I hadn’t ridden this side of the Mississippi but then I came across this place. This is not a place one forgets. Welcome to the Dickeyville Grotto and Shrines.

The last time I visited I took a bunch of photos. This visit would be a quick visit.

Iowa can get 3 syllables out of only 4 letters. Trempealeau is a bit more excessive.

I sat and had a sandwich at a park along an off shoot of the Mississippi. The train also ran along the great river.

Full disclosure. I am embarrassed to admit it but I nearly ran out of gas. It was a messy day. Rain was intermittent. In between rainfall it was warm. This sucks when you are wearing a rain suit. It gets steamy. As I rode north I passed a town every once in a while. I knew I would need gas soon but the last town I rolled through only had a BP station. I still hold a grudge against them for the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico. So I figured, fuck them I will get gas in the next town. There was no next town. After about 40 miles I began to see houses, but my electronic gas indicator was quickly ticking to zero. I saw a station and it was out of business. When I got down to one mile left, I pulled into the driveway of Phil and Ellen. Not only does Phil have this awesome vintage gas pump in his front lawn, he had a plastic container of the good stuff in the garage. These kind folks helped me on my way and I was able to make it to Superior for a fill up.

The next town as you head North is Duluth, Minnesota where you can find the childhood home of Bob Dylan.

Dylan lived in the house from 1941-1947. The lady here at this home gave me the name, address, and phone number of the guy who lives in the home Bob Dylan moved to after this one in Hibbing, Minnesota. I would have given a call and visited but it was out of the way, and with the crazy on and off rain I just wanted to get to my campsite for the night.

I did make one more stop in Duluth. I saw a large sign on the side of an old brick building on my way to Bob Dylan’s house. It said Aerostitch. This is the place where they make Aerostich motorcycle outfits. Many touring folks consider these to be the best.

It’s a simple enough outfit. This is the showroom. I imagine most of their business is exported from here but this is where they are made. It’s an old building and you can hear the sewing machines rattling above as you walk around the showroom.

Further on down Route 2, I came across the Big Fish Supper Club. It looks like something you might expect to see along Route 66.

Here is Paul Bunyan and his blue Ox, Babe. They are a monument along Lake Bemidji which means I am close to camping for a couple nights.

This campground was nice and well kept. I liked my site as it was more elevated than many of the others.

In the morning as I was having coffee, I noticed a movement on the edge of the tree in front of me.

Oh wow! It was a cicada climbing out of it’s shell.

It was mind blowing to watch this transformation. I had never seen this before. It almost looks alien.

After climbing completely out of the shell the cicada let it’s wings stretch out and dry.

Once fully extended, the cicada began slowly climbing upward into the tree and out of sight ready to take on it’s new life. It was an amazing thing to watch.

Here is the park’s namesake Lake Bemidji.

After chilling by the lake for a while, I noticed some people shooting bow and arrows. I went to check it out. It was something the park offers. I hadn’t done this since I was a kid. Iwas doing OK, then I broke the bow.

That sucker snapped and smacked the shit out of my arm. Bruised me up pretty good. I got another bow and finished up. Nice grouping, as they say. Below is the broken bow.

There is fungus among us!

I could imagine this thing below freaking someone out given the time of day, or night.

I saw some people posting signs earlier for Erika Bailey-Johnson. There was some kind of political event going on to support her. Between a few speeches Corey Medina & Brothers rocked out some bluesy jams. I must be in the front row!

Another bonus to the political event was a food truck. I was shocked to see muffulettas written on the side of the truck. This is Teresa’s Wicked Tasty Food (WTF). I mentioned that my family was from New Orleans and Theresa was eager for my opinion of the muffuletta. I was pleased to report that it was really good. I said the bread is a little different. She said someone else from New Orleans said the same thing. Then Theresa gave me a second muffuletta for free. A lagniappe, I said. Although she practiced it, she didn’t know the term.

I have to say, I give Lake Bemidji State Park a big thumbs up.

I always like to see a repurposed Muffler Man. In this case he stands outside an Indian Trading Post.

I kept that second muffuletta on ice so I could enjoy it on the banks of the Mississippi. The origin of the Mississippi is a few miles from here.

I came across a car show as I rode west on Route 2. I love stumbling upon a car show.

Ah, the Mach 1 Mustang. I had one of these in the 80s. Mine was 72, red with a 351 Cleveland. It looked just like the one James Bond used in Diamonds are Forever as he rides through the streets of Vegas causing mayhem.

This hard top convertible was really nice.

This 58 Chevy was in pristine condition.

The engine was running as I passed this old timer. I said it has a great sound. He said, “Yeah! And when the rubber band is done winding, we can get going.”

Just before I crossed the line into North Dakota I saw some out of place old structures to my right. This was the Polk County Historical Society Museum.

Inside were many artifacts of the local past. I love some of the old advertising labels.

There were rooms converted to look like they did in years past.

I asked about the fella with the propeller on his head. Larry the curator was pleased to say that it was his childhood toy.

Larry also plugged in this stove to light up for a photo. He explained it’s importance as it sometimes gets down to 40 degrees below zero here in the Winter.

Perhaps Carnivorous Flora? I thought it looked like the witches hat from the Harry Potter movie.

In addition to the museum of artifacts, the Polk County Museum has buildings outside. Some are historic like this old schoolhouse below. Some are large warehouses for other items on display.

This hanging globe was amazing. I asked Larry if he had ever seen on before. He hadn’t. Me either.

In one warehouse was old cars and an airplane.

The Polk County Fire Department keeps this warehouse up to date and in tip top shape.

This is an old steam tractor. It still runs and is used in local parades. Larry was proud to tell me that the whistle on the tractor belonged to his dad and is a real attention grabber at the parade. I was really unfamiliar with the Case brand. After I left the museum, I passed 3 Case dealers. They are still making them today.

The next day I visited Fort Totten. We have a Fort Totten back in NYC. It is a part of Queens. This Fort Totten is a former military post. It was active from 1867 to 1890 when it became a boarding school for Native American children. Since 1891 it has been the property of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

And here I am in in another old school room.

They don’t mess around here. They come right out and call it Punishment.

There were some nice size yellow gourds growing beneath these large green leaves.

Inside the flower there was a bit of pollinating going on.

This flag on the wall was dated 1945.

I am not sure what the purpose of this wall hanging was, but it sure has some cool, interesting depictions.

As you pass through Rugby, North Dakota you encounter the Geographical Center of North America. I had been to the Geographical Center of the lower 48 in Lebanon, Kansas before, but this is the center between all of Mexico, The US, and Canada.

My final stop before heading to Sturgis is Minot, North Dakota. This is the Gol Stave Church Museum in Minot.

It is a full size replica of an original church constructed in the 13th century.

This is the only thing I went out of my way to see here in Minot. My real reason for staying here was the great deal I got on a hotel to rest, finish up this posting, and do some laundry. Tomorrow I head south to Sturgis for nearly 2 weeks of camping and motorcycle fun. Oh boy!

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