Day 75, Bemidji to Tower, MN, 216 miles
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."
The bike shook and wiggled as we rode through the construction zone, a strip of loose gravel. I heard QG whimper. The oscillating felt exactly like when we crashed in the snow. Ahead, the grader had left a short windrow of gravel that swept in front of us. I kept the throttle on, a light touch, and compensated for the undulations without overcompensating. Finally we emerged on pavement, wheels down. I let out my breath.
"That felt terrible. I thought we were going down," she said.
No understatement. If the loose stuff extended for another hundred yards, I think we may have laid it down again.
Riding this bike with the trailer pushes the laws of physics. On pavement- asphalt or concrete, no problem. Hard dirt roads, compacted crushed rock, it does okay. But loose stuff, it is a 'hang on and pray' event. Both of us took an hour to settle down as we continued North and East. Okay, no harm, no foul.
This trip North provides a good picture of Upper Minnesota. Lots of forest with smatterings of farms where itinerant farmers cleared the land and set up shop.
The riding was mostly straight, but as we moved East the hills provided twisting turns as we ascended then descended hills, then another three to ten miles of straight.
QG had found a brochure for an underground mine tour, and man what a treat.
Visitors descend half a mile below the surface, then board a train three fourths of a mile to an excavation.
No one told me to pressure my ears for the descent, but at ten miles an hour the ears needed popping. The little car (it held sixteen miners) rattled and shook as it slid down into the abyss. James, my guide (I was the only tourist in my time slot!) told fascinating stories of the mine and how they worked it in the nineteenth century. For instance, the miners had to provide their own candles, so they didn't use them in the horizontal tunnel. Wow.
We shuttled to the end and explored the excavation. James shut out the lights and the darkness was complete. Can't see your hand in front of your face. Those miners stuck in Chile last year spent thirty days in total darkness. Incredible.
We ascended and he turned the light out again, the darkness yielding to light at a thousand feet, growing brighter until full daylight.
Next Quilter Girl and I visited the engine house. She had passed on going into the mine, choosing to read instead. Not enough like quilting for her.
The house contains a 600 h.p. electric motor to raise the manlifts and six tons of ore. Now it cruises, bringing up light loads of overweight tourists. The wheel that runs the thing holds two cables, three thousand feet each, and plays one out while it lifts the other, two elevators going up and down opposite each other.
After finishing, then meeting people interested in the 50 States adventure, we decided to hit the local motel in town. It's run by a 95 year old woman. She said she needed to stop soon. Right. Might as well take some time off while you still can, right?
In 'downtown' Tower we found a bar and grille. The waitress informed us we could only order hamburgers or appetizers, as the cook wasn't available, so deep fried stuff only. I ordered deep fried prime rib. She saw the humor in that, and I got a hamburger, the best one I've eaten all day, believe me.
Perhaps we'll make Duluth tomorrow. After the near wreck today, I wonder about washed out roads and what the rebuilding surface looks like. We'll see.
Hopefully this isn't another great idea that deteriorates into a bad one quickly.