Day 31 – July 1st – Final Day – Ashby, MN to Avon, MN – 78 miles – The Home Stretch

I arose early this morning to the thick dew covering the tent and grass. My clothing that I set on the picnic table to dry last night quite likely just became more saturated. Thankfully my cycling jersey and a pair of shorts were dry, so I would be fine.

Knowing time wouldn’t be an issue today, I biked at a leisurely pace along the trail.

Stops for the morning included a gas station in Brandon for a donut to compliment my on-the-go breakfast, the gas station in Garfield for an ice cream swirl, and the park by Lake Agnes in Alexandria where I had a religious conversation with an individual who had a slightly different opinion than myself.

In Osakis, I ate at the café downtown. There I met another cyclist going from Maine to Oregon. He was utilizing the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) routes which just recently were changed to incorporate the Lake Wobegon and Central Lakes trails.

From Osakis I continued on through West Union, Sauk Centre, and Melrose. In Freeport I met up with a friend at the park along the trail. In Albany, less than 7 miles from Avon, I stopped to visit some more friends. At the nursing home where I stopped for a quick visit, I wasn’t even able to go inside without individuals offering donations.

It was amazing to see the generosity continue all the way home.

I arrived in Avon at 5:47 p.m. to some family and friends.

1,993 miles is the official total for the journey. I have to tally up all of the online donations in addition to the $201 that was contributed along the ride. It should be right around $2,000. Thanks to all who supported this cause either financially, thoughtfully, or prayerfully. It has changed my life and the lives of many orphans. I hope this trip can inspire others to be involved in making this world even better than it already is.

Day 30 – June 30th – Fargo, ND to Ashby, MN – 80 miles

What a wonderful restful night.  After a day filled with uncertainty, and a much-needed night of rest, the sun welcomed me to a pleasant morning.  After a shower, I headed back to the tent to pack up the tent and the gear.  At the campsite, my fellow campers offered to cook me some breakfast.  I enjoyed the eggs and toast.  A bag of snacks for later in the day also accompanied the breakfast; I placed the bag in one of my panniers.

I gave my “good byes” and final expressions of thanks to all involved in my camping experience here at Lindenwood Campground before crossing the Red River, the border, into my destination state.

As I’ve progressed farther east, the humidity has become more of a factor.  Up until about Medora, ND or so, the air never felt heavy.  It never felt like the air was a constant obstacle that one had to plow or swim through (unless biking on one of my numerous days of headwind).  I felt that excessive humidity today as I entered the greatest state in the lower 48.  Because interstates aren’t an option for cyclists in Minnesota, I took highway 52.  With a great shoulder, good roadside scenery, and relatively low traffic, this road offers a great ride.

After Moorhead, I went through Sabin and Baker along highway 52 before arriving in Barnesville.  Subway was open and right along the way so I stopped in for a sub.  A phone call home updated the family of my location.  A 3rd refill of the fountain cup preceded my departure.  I hadn’t taken a picture in a while, so I photographed a sign in Barnesville:

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After Barnesville, highway 52 continued to be my path, but with a much less favorable biking surface.  The few cars travelling the road, and the wildlife I saw, however, made up for it.  This is a picture of a Bald Eagle nest just off of the road:

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While biking through Rothsay, the city with the world’s largest prairie chicken, I passed by a kid holding a sign that stated there was a lemonade stand one block ahead.  I proceeded to slow down and stop in front of a few kids, middle to late elementary school age, and purchase a cup of lemonade.  Because of the abundance of change my frame pouch was carrying, I grabbed half a handful of change, probably 75 cents worth, and gave it to the lucky lemonade sellers.  Their eyes lit up with the generous payment that totaled about 3 times as much as they were asking for the lemonade, and started to divide it up as they asked what I was doing and where I came from.  One of them said that their parents let a cyclist stay with them a few weeks ago, which was nice to hear.

Little stops like this never happen in a car.

Rothsay to Fergus Falls yielded little excitement, other than the fact that my miles of biking on roadway were over.  From here to Avon, the Central Lakes Trail and Lake Wobegon Trail would guide me home.

Coming into Fergus Falls, a quick stop at a café was the plan, but a missed turn led me off track from my desired path.  A brief stop to gain my bearings had me check my phone.  While examining the local eating options on Google maps, The Dairyland Diner was shown on the screen.  Approximately 600ft away, according to the maps app.  I turned around and saw it.  It looked good so I walked my bike over.

On the way in, my extroverted qualities shined through, probing the opinion of a customer leaving the establishment.  They gave an excellent recommendation, telling me this was a great place to eat.

Inside, a friendly, talkative staff welcomed me.  I ordered a burger, fries, and a drink.  Conversation continued (about my biking of course).  One of the waitresses mentioned I should talk to the owner, for he greatly enjoys cycling too.

My seven and a half dollars for lunch was reimbursed to me and given back as a $20 donation to my cause.

The owner told me that I’m “Living his dream”.  I know that he is not the only person who wishes to do something like this journey that I’ve been on for 30 days now.  Yet again, reinforcement for this decision that I’m so glad I made.

We had a great conversation, mid-afternoon, along with the rest of the staff there at Dairyland.  Great food, great conversation, and more contacts here in Fergus Falls.

It’s amazing what a missed turn or a detour on your route can yield.

In addition to Dairyland, Grotto Park is a must stop when going through Fergus Falls.  Otto the big otter is always ready for another picture:

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I then made it to the trail head of the Central Lakes Trail:

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My road miles were over, and the remaining miles of the trip began to dwindle.

Average speed increased as the trail provided a smooth, flat riding surface and no traffic to worry about.  I made it to Ashby, one of my favorite small towns, by early evening and set up camp at the campground on Pelican Lake in Ashby.  All new territory for the trip has ended, as I’ve biked to Ashby and back before from Avon.  I can now say that I’ve biked every single mile of the Central Lakes Trail and Lake Wobegon Trail.  Tomorrow I’ll hopefully be able to say that I’ve biked to my destination.

After setting up camp, hunger convinced me to eat.  I opened up my pannier containing food and saw the bag of snacks the fellow campers in the RV packed for me this morning.  I opened the bag to see what they packed.  I was happy to find a granola bar, a banana, and an apple.

Accompanying the snacks was a $100 bill in a plastic zip lock bag with a written message “God bless you”.

I sat on a picnic table by the shore of Pelican lake, eating one of the last bags of the box of goldfish crackers that I’d found on the side of the road in Montana, while watching this sunset like a movie in front of me:

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God is good.  And he has been with me every day of this journey.  Tonight is my last night of this life-changing bike tour.