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.

Day 24 – June 24th – Forsyth, MT to Miles City, MT – 50 miles

After getting packed up and the tires back on Rambow, I stopped at the workplace of my host to give a final good bye. While I was there, a lady from the local newspaper stopped by and jotted down info for a newspaper article.

I was told of spots I could eat and camp along the way east of Forsyth, said goodbye, and headed off.

The new 28mm tires that I put on really felt good on the ride.  The decreased surface area of the tires on the road helped my speed and coasting ability despite the crosswinds and headwinds that I fought with east of Forsyth.

I noticed a broken spoke on my tire and some loose ones just 7 miles out of Forsyth. Thinking that this likely came from my whole ordeal the previous 2 days, I became nervous not knowing how well it would hold up for the next 200 miles til the next big town, Dickinson, ND. I rode on.

The 2nd dog attack of the trip happened just west of Rosebud, MT. About 100 feet before passing the driveway, I noticed a dog get up from it’s perch on the deck next to the house. It proceeded to bolt toward the road. I sped up and made it to the intersection of the driveway and the frontage road just before the dog made it. No harm done.

My route parallelled the Yellowstone River all of the way to Miles City where I decided to spend the night. At the Dairy Queen, one lady donated $15 to the cause. Multiple other people inquired about the trip, as usual, and one couple also looked at my bike and talked to me about it as they themselves did some cycling too.

3.7 miles separates the Miles City Dairy Queen and the Big Sky campground where I stayed. Big Sky campground has been the best camping experience so far. They gave me a great break on the camping rate. $5 got me a tent site, shower, pool access, wifi in the entire park, and a porch area by the clubhouse. Not to mention the wonderful people I would meet.

I lounged at the porch by the clubhouse, eating my goldfish crackers and cookies from church yesterday morning. As I typed away on this blog, I met a couple from Belgrade, MN. After chatting with them for a while, the owners of the park offered me some free food and drink. I politely declined as I was still full from Dairy Queen, but I did accept a can of Coke.

On the way back to my campsite, in the corner but still with good wifi reception, I struck up conversation with a couple who were camping at the site next to me. They were very nice. We talked for over an hour about their travels and mine. They gave me more inspiring words to keep on my mission, not just for this trip, but for my life. I will always remember them.

The day came to a close in the northeast corner of the half-full Big Sky campground in my tent. I was ready for another day.

Day 13 – June 13 – Libby, MT to National Forest campground at McGregor Lake – 55 miles

Picture perfect ending to an otherwise average day on the road.  It seems as though climbing dominated today and the pestering headwind that blasted my face for a considerable portion of the day didn’t help the ride or my mental state for that matter. In addition to those two annoying cycling circumstances, a light rain fell for two abbreviated segments.  Though slightly refreshing as it was very light, the fear of not knowing how much or the rate of rainfall is enough to keep a cyclist even more uncomfortably close to the edge of their bike seat.

Another notable but not nice part of the day stretched for a few miles along the route today – road construction.  Rocky roads and absent shoulders were crossed alongside logging trucks, semis, and RV’s.

The tavern and eatery 10 miles from the pristine waters of McGregor lake provided good grub and nourished me till my destination.

The campground offered much open space and quiet as there were only two other parties, including the camp hosts, in the entire campground.

My east-facing campsite on the lake truly was the best site in the campground:

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The day ended with a view that would never get boring:

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