St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On the Road to Seattle Days 1-3

Margo's Butter Grand Championship at the Polk Co fair
The Pumpkin/Squash Patch for this September 26 River Road Ramble Garden Market

Beaver Dam at Orr Lake

Margo packs the trunk of the 91 Olds

We are headed out to visit some cousins in Seattle on Hwy 2 across the Northern US. We are taking our time--aiming for about 300 miles per day and camping with a tent.

Day 1 August 10, 2009Miles 61,285.0 1991 Olds Cutlass Sierra Left Cabin at 8:45. Checked and 6 swans on Orr Lake. We are uncertain if they are the parents and 5 young hatched this spring who left 6 weeks ago or just a group immature adults who stop by once in a while. All were white and large--but way across the lake.
Stopped at Burnett Dairy and bought some Wisconsin cheese for gifts to take west. Then at the bank in Siren to transfer some money into checking and pick up some cash. Drove North on 35 all the way until the drop over that lets you see Superior and Duluth in the distance.
Stopped for breakfast at 10:45 at the Manitou Inn. We had the breakfast special of ham, eggs, toast and hash browns, $5.25. The coffee was weak. The ham was a huge thick delicious slice. Hash browns a little weak. A family came in with Extreme Makeover Home Edition and talked about the family nearby that was just seeing their brand new home.
Stopped at a touristcenter at Floodwood and got two cookies $1.25 each. Not too bad.
2:44 Deer River. Evergreen Industries Christmas Wreaths -- Byron Boy Scouts (I was Scoutmaster and our son Scott sold 70 each year) got wreaths for sale each winter.
3:00pm White Oak Casino. Went in to get free pop and ice. Each spent $2 at video poker in 10 minutes. Margo lost hers and I won $8.25, leaving us a profit of $4.25.
Stopped at a historic general store to buy a loaf of bread and package of hot dogs--$5.00. Started looking for camp sites. Drove into Cass Lake National Forest campground-- $21 and no water or electricity. Decided to go to Itasca State Park about 35 miles off of Hwy 2 to the south of Bemidji.
After Bemidji, started seeing more open farmland. Before it was almost all woods and spruce swamps.
Itasca state park-- nearly full where there were electrical hookups. Found one and set tent and air mattress up and unpacked in 30 minutes. Had boiled hot dogs, cookies
Day 2
Up at 7:30 and out of camp at 8:30. Stopped at the headwaters of the Mississippi and saw it come out of the Itasca lake. In the 1930s the CCC boys decided that the Mississippi deserved a better start than oozing out of a swamp, so built a rock dam to get a nice little waterfall effect for the river start. It does look nice!
Drove across a warm MN into North Dakota, through Grand Forks where the boys in our Scout Troup from Byron, MN, helped with the cleanup after the big flood some 10 years ago.
In Western MN and ND we saw some new crops; sugar beets; potatoes and sun flowers. We were watching for Monarch butterflies, but saw only each of the first two days.
We pulled into Graham Island State Park in ND, on Devils Lake about 4 pm. It was about 90 degrees. After a quick homemade supper, we took a shower. We noticed the camp grounds host sign "Loren and Caroline Hain, Byron MN." Loren and Caroline's two boys were in my Boy Scout troup from Byron and we used to know the Hains quite well. They were away from camp for the day--and had not shown up in the evening.
We left a bottle of syrup on their doorstep and a note that we were in camp site 21, as their neighbors in the campgrounds said they were out fishing until late each night. At about 10:30 pm, they came back, found our note and then found us and invited us over for a late campfire and some freshly fried walleye fillets. Very delicious. They were hosting the campgrounds for the month before heading back to Byron. John and Tom (their sons) are married and have a couple of children each. Both Hains are retired and are within a couple of months of the same age as we are.
Day 3 Out of the park at 8:45 am and headed back north to Hwy 2. The car was idling rough, and began killing this morning at low idle. We stopped at a garage in Leeds where we also had breakfast at the Farmers Cafe (not too bad). The single garage mechanic in Leeds said he didn't have time to work on it, but stop ahead 28 miles at Rugby at D and S (GM dealer) in Rugby ND. They quickly found a vacuum hose leak and replaced the hose and were going to charge me $20. I thought they were so honest that I then ask them about the rattling noise--it was a belt tensioner pulley with weak bearings. I had him replace it and the somewhat cracked original (1991) belt and got out for just under $200. It now runs smoothly and quietly--so we are ready for the mountains. We are getting about 28 -29 miles per gallon so far. We are very heavily loaded, so that it pretty good.
Was hot yesterday, but cooled down some. We saw a satellite in the night skies, but didn't have it dark enough at the campgrounds to see meteors from the Perseids Shower last night. Maybe tonight.
Hoping to get pretty much through ND today and then into Montana tomorrow. Supposed to be very hot!