July 26, ‘80
It was sunny and windy. I survived both. I camped at a state forest campground in the most northern part of Minnesota. I didn’t make my usual 80 miles.
The next day it rained, almost all day. The rain and highway (worst since Prince Rupert) made bicycling impossible, so I gave up the effort, and pulled into a grocery store. When I started eating crackers and honey under the protective awning, a customer asked me where I was heading. After I gave him a brief trip summary, he said, “If you can get your bike in my car, I’ll drop you off at the Fall’s turn off.” I was trying to reach International Falls before I gave up hope. I made it to the town just in time to make my purchases—dry slide (for my chain), a canteen, and one bicycle tire. The rain had finally stopped, so I proceeded to replace a tire and clean my bicycle. After that I stopped at a local bar to celebrate my arrival in the States. I had three beers, and watched Buck Rogers on TV. I camped around eight miles down the highway.
In the morning, bicycling was excellent–sunny, on a good to great highway through northern Minnesota scenery. When I arrived in Virginia around six o’clock, I inquired at a gas station about a campground with shower. The boys hanging out at the gas station were sympathetic. They didn’t know of any, but they told me about a swimming hole not far from where I was. I really needed a shower, and I didn’t want to rent a room, so off I went, backtracking to find the dirt trail that would take me to the swimming hole. The sun was still hot, and the water wasn’t all that cold. The boys were right; it was a nice spot to swim.
Clean once again, I went looking for a laundry mat, and stumbled upon a baseball field that I thought would substitute nicely for a campsite. (I wanted to camp close to town because I had made a morning appointment to have my bearings greased or replaced). It looked good, but I didn’t want to make my presence known until after dark. I needed to find something to do until then. As I was walking my bike on the sidewalk, making my way to the street that would take me to the main part of town, I noticed a blinking bar sign in a window of a house, or at least I thought it was a house. I had never experienced a bar, if indeed it was a bar, in a residential district before. But then again, I had never experienced northern Minnesota before, either.