Saturday, July 29th, 2017
I'm back at Sandy's first thing in the morning for breakfast, the usual: 2 eggs over-easy with bacon, white toast, and hash browns. The place is hopping being a Saturday and all.
The waitress asks me: "Do you have kids?"
Me: "No Ma'am."
Waitress: "You should have a little girl to pass on those beautiful eyes you have. Your kids would be gorgeous."
Me: *blush* ... "I have nieces, they've got the gene."
Waitress: "I bet your girlfriends have been jealous of you, with all they have to do to make their eyes look like that."
Me: "I might have heard that before..."
Someone's getting a good tip today.
And so I'm out of International Falls, headed west, on a hot and sunny day. The road takes me up along the Canadian border for what seems like forever. I didn't realize Minnesota was this wide. I'm just cruising along when I come around a corner to find three Canadian (appropriately enough) geese running across the road. I come down hard on the breaks and swerve to the left. I miss the first two but the third goose takes a direct shot from my back right bag. He's done for. My heart is beating a mile a minute. I really wish I could have avoided it -- only a few inches more to the left and he would have been spared. That sucks. Only the second time I've hit an animal with Greta, the first was a crow that flew straight into my headlight on the highway in Maine about 15 years ago.
Not 50 miles down the road I get another scare. I'm on a long straightaway with thick brush lining the side of the road. I see the budding antlers of a young buck sticking up out of the bushes. I slam on the breaks but he sees me and decides not to make a dash for it. Wise choice. Greta and I would not get off so easy hitting a buck as we did with the goose.
The plains...they just seem to go on forever. Straight roads for as far as the eye can see. Thank god I'm not traveling by bicycle this trip, these roads must drive cyclists mad.
This road I'm on finally runs out. I have to take a highway a good bit south to get on track for where I'm going. This is North Dakota now. The speed limit on the highway is 80, I'm doing it at 85-90. At 157 on the odometer the tank reserve light blinks on. That's awfully low mileage for me to be running out of gas -- and here I am in the middle of nowhere. It's 35 miles to Grand Forks which would really be pushing it on reserve. I slow down, put my feet on the back pegs, and get down behind the windshield. This is gas-saving mode. I just hope for a gas station to appear out of the fields. One does, fortunately, about 20 miles later. Greta takes 4.8 gallons which means I only had .45 gallons left. Cutting it a bit too close there.
At Grand Forks I head west again. At a rest stop I meet a couple of Vermonters from the Burlington area. They are in their 60's, headed west to hike a section of the Pacific Coast Trail. They've traveled extensively by bicycle so we have a lot of stories to swap.
At Devil's Lake I'm tired and debating on getting a motel, but everything I see is expensive. I give up and head out of town -- only to discover a cheap motel on my way out. I get a room for 50 bucks, drop my stuff, and drive to the supermarket to buy dinner. I find supermarkets are the best way to get a healthy meal in this country on short notice, this town is all fast-food and greasy-spoon looking places. There are thunderheads off to the west as I'm ready to retire, good choice not to camp tonight.