5th August

Set off from Mitchell 70 miles west of Sioux Falls on the I 90 – breakfasted on remains of last nights pizza and said goodbye to the group of intrepid bikers preparing for their final 300 mile run to Sturgis. I swear you have eaten off any of those machines, they were busy polishing them as we chatted with our cups of coffee. The hurricane baseball sized hail had gone north east, to the twin cities, where I was heading but fortunately had lost its energy as it went on up the country. Donning all my wet weather gear, I was to find it all unnecessary, I only had a little light rain in Minnesota.

So heading east back on the 90 and then turning north just after welcome on route 15 as I turn 90 degrees and cross the state line, the dry prairie turns into lush cornfields and green farmland. I pass by fields selling genetically modified strains of corn, each neatly labelled with its code number. Route 15 is also the veterans highway and every single road sign, telegraph pole, vertical object has a yellow ribbon tied to it.

The houses are better off and neater. No derelict trucks or farm machinery or children’s plastic toys littering the front yards here, thank you. Lutherian churches, crisply painted farm buildings and plastic lettering to welcome the troops home… I have to leave all this rural respectability behind as the 15 gives way to a faster busier road that takes me further north to Minneapolis. I notice that trucks are not popular up here, more traditional Lincolns and Cadillac saloon cars are preferred.

Minneapolis recently suffered the bridge collapse, with fatalities and the main artery that links the twin cities is snapped on the north side like a broken twig. I take the diversion around the scene, passing it on the north side. Hordes of obese morons are wandering around, so I join them. I am more interested in the schadenfreude people watching the scene. Two buses pass by coming from the scene with police escort, some weeping. I turn away I could not stay there any longer.

Swooping out of St Paul on the 35E on up to Duluth. When the Deal Goes Down played in my head and the clouds cleared for the first time in two days as I drove out from under the gloom into the sunshine. At the petrol station kids roar in and out on their quad bikes, this is more like it.

Duluth is pretty big, industrial and commercial buildings appear as I cross over the hill, a deep port for container ships coming in on the shores or Lake Superior. My bum aches from a 550+ mile ride but I continue onto highway 61 as it known for its beauty as it hugs Lake Superior shoreline. Expensive houses line the road, I cross onto the parallel scenic road on one side the twinkling blue waters of the lake, expensive motels – no vacancy, on further, 27 miles north I find Knife River campsite. The owner, Randy throws me a carrot, which I nearly drop, tells me I am lucky to get in, go an d set up and I will check you in. It’s the best place I have stayed at so far. Up the road I dined on elk with figs and mushrooms. On my return Randy had set up a little cinema in his garage, the floor was filled with kids, I crept in and sat cross legged, watched The Rookie with them. Popcorn and crisps were passed around and in the dark at the back of the garage were two hot rod cars under blankets. This felt like home. The next day Randy brought me a mug of tea and blueberry pancakes and I had a closer look at the cars, at the back he has an old rusty but intact Yamaha XS 650 motorcycle he bought from a guy in Florida for $200 on Craigslist. Randy seems to have a good life, I was quite jealous.

This afternoon I will visit Hibbing.


Photos to be added later…

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