Monday, September 17, 2007

Days 8 - 10: from Green Bay to the AK Highway

Day 8: 387 mi to Darwin, MN


After escaping form De Pere, WI at around 2 pm, I headed west toward Minnesota. Stopping for yet another lunch at a Subway -- incidentally, Subways in Wisconsin have more cheese options than anywhere else I've found, which I suppose makes sense -- anyhow, so realizing I was about to enter Minnesota, I gave my brother a call. The conversation went something like this:

JAKE: Hey Steve, you near a computer? I'm about to enter Minnesota and need you to look something up for me.
STEVE: What's that? You lost?
JAKE: Think: I'm about to enter Minnesota.
STEVE: Minne -- NO WAY!
[clatter of Steve's chair falling as he leaps out of it]
JAKE (laughing): Yep. Can you tell me where it is?

Why is this exciting? Because we're uber-dorks and listened to Weird Al growing up. Aside from his parodies, he wrote a few original songs, including this tribute (sincere, to my ear) to Roadside Americana:

(If you don't have Flash, that's supposed to be an unofficial Youtube video for "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.")

So when I found out that it would only take me about 30 minutes off my route, I had no choice. Twine ball or bust!

Unfortunately, the Twine Ball Inn doesn't look like anything more than a run-down bar, so I wound up camping at a nearby RV park.

Day 9: 817 mi to Regina, SK

Crossing the northern American plains. Minnesota to North Dakota to Saskatchewan.

Not a very interesting ride, although northern North Dakota has a rather stark beauty.

(don't worry, Mom -- I parked the bike first. And then ran into the middle of the road to get a better shot.)

Camped about 15 mi north of Regina. There was no hot water in the shower. Not fun.

Day 10: 815 mi to Grande Prairie, AB

More dead boring riding across the plains. There were cows ...


... and bugs ...


But mostly there was nothing. Even more nothing than in North Dakota. Yes, yes, stark beauty and all that, but I was getting sick of flat and empty.

Fortunately, that started to change once I got past Edmonton and turned NW. Soon there were hills, trees, streams. Industry shifted from farming to logging and oil.

Another picture of my shadow. Autumn is in full swing up here!

There are additional pictures that I didn't post in my online gallery. More of the same, really, but maybe you want another look at those bugs?

I'll be in Fairbanks in 2 days, which makes my Prudhoe Bay run the 20th or 21st. Precisely on the equinox. As a result, everywhere but the northernmost latitudes will still experience a full day/night cycle: on the equinox, the inclination of the Sun above (at noon) and below (at night) the horizon is just your angle from the North Pole. Fairbanks is at about 65 degrees north, so the Sun will go from 25 degrees above the horizon to 25 degrees below it -- more than enough to ensure perfectly dark skies. ("Astronomical night," during which it's dark enough for the big telescopes to operate at their best, is defined as the sun being more than 18 degrees below the horizon.) OK, physics lesson over. In practical terms, it means: I MIGHT SEE THE AURORA!! Please send some spaceweather, my astro friends.

OK, I've got to run! Day 11's a rollin', and I still need to change my oil before I hit the road.

>>>NEXT: Days 11 - 13: The Alaska Highway


Mom said...

Jake, You are really booking miles! Once again, great pictures. Love the twine ball stop. What do you mean "don't worry, Mom"? If you want to take pics while cruising at 80 mph, your choice! And those shadow pictures - didn't look like you were wearing your helmet. I know it was just the elongation. You think you got bugs now? I hear they have monster mosquitoes on the DHwy. Have fun, fun, and more fun. Love ya, Mom
PS: how's the weather?

Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't believe how far you've gotten in the last few days. After hearing about it, my life is almost complete seeing the picture of the twine. I'm sure it is not quite as good as seeing it in person, but probably (likely) as close as I will ever get.

I hope you get some amazing auroras as you go north.

I love you,


Anonymous said...

Hey Jake!

I wish I lived in the NW, so I could be a stop on the Fall of Freedom 2007 Tour!! Love reading the updates - its amazing that so much has already happened and that you have covered a ton of ground. Wow! What is the odometer up to now?


Anonymous said...

Glad to see u are up and running again. Really enjoyed our discussions about the universe on our trip from Newberry to De Pere. Good luck on the rest of your trip. Denny at the Best Western In Newberry Michigan.

Scott Hughes said...

Amazing pictures, Jake. You're making me hungry for a roadtrip. I've done the US Southwest many times, but never the northern plains, and Canada not at all. This is inspiring!