Friday, September 3, 2010 Rain with very strong winds in the morning and 50 degrees; sunny and 65 degrees in the afternoon
For the past four days much of our travels through MI,WI, and MN has been on state or county roads. We've been amazed that we encountered so little traffic on these roads. Sometimes we drove several miles without meeting another vehicle or seeing one in our rear view mirror. We've made good time without the stress of crazy interstate automobile roulette. So refreshing.
This morning we crossed the Mississippi River just as we left US 2 for MN 200. Having seen it when we were in St. Louis, it was a surprise to see it so narrow---less than 50 yards---and so shallow. Sure isn't Old Man River there.
The Minnesota we saw today is mostly flat. Trees, usually evergreens, grow along the roads. The land seems to be very marshy, and we did see lakes of all sizes, some larger than Canandaigua Lake and some the size of a large farm pond (or Lake Mitchell). Wide expanses of fields planted to corn, short-stemmed sunflowers, and soy beans appeared as we approached North Dakota. Nearby the inevitable grain elevators rise up, towering over the prairie. This is reminscent of Kansas.
This afternoon we visited the Frontier Village in Jamestown, ND. Twenty-four buildings, moved in from small prairie towns around ND, house historical displays. Town life is represented by a post office, dentist, print shop, jail, saloon, bank, fire department, school, church, law and insurance offices, and many more, each furnished with artifacts and antiques appropriate to its use. Louis L'Armour grew up in Jamestown, and one building honors his legacy and displays many of the books he authored.
On the same grounds is a celebration of the bison's importance to the prairie, the World's Largest Buffalo Monument which is 26' high, 14' wide, 46' long and weighs 60 tons. He's one intimidating dude. Just beyond the monument is a herd of 30 bison. Included in the herd is White Cloud, the only female albino bison in North America, and five of her calves one of which is also white.
Tonight we met our Waterloo, as we expected. Phil spent almost two hours locating rooms for us for the next two nights. Labor Day combined with the oil workers, who have moved into the area to work in the newly discovered oil fields, have made lodging scarce. Since Plans A and B have been sabotaged, tomorrow will be working from Plan C which may also affect our plans for Sunday and Monday as well. Trips like this necessitate flexibility.
For our grandchildren who are using our travels to study geography, these are the routes we took today: from Duluth, MN, I35S-US2N-MN 200W-MN34W-US10W-I94W as far as Exit 258.