Milestone Achieved – Blue Cow Spotted

This trip had a specific point on the map that we were shooting for and today was the day we made it happen. I want to tell you about some of the lead-up to pulling the bikes into the Park at Lake Itasca.

The morning was filled with crystal blue skies and a a beautiful 56 degrees F (13 C). I really love this type of morning for riding. There was only one issue. The bright sunshine really highlighted just how filthy my bike was. I was going to have to do something. I created a shopping list that included some microfiber towels and something to clean the bike with. I think Mason is also feeling the pressure of a dirty machine but I’ll let him tell that story.

Actual cleaning would have to wait. The next order of business was to find something for breakfast. St Cloud is too big and I needed to get out of town (my choice – not local law enforcement). Mason expertly picked a small place in Rice, Minnesota (about 18 miles away). The Old Creamery Cafe had some good food but appeared to be very short staffed. We saw only one server the entire time we were there and the place probable seated 70 to 80 people when full. Mikayla did a super job and served everyone with smile.

The Old Creamery – Rice, Minnesota

In the far left of the picture above you can see the cross-walk markings on the pavement. The crosswalk led directly to a cemetery. I thought this seemed a little strange. I wondered how much foot traffic they get from the cemetery and exactly what it consisted of. (I have a strange sense of humor in case you hadn’t noticed.)

Leaving the Creamery with maybe one too many cups of coffee under our belts, we continued heading north and west. We have been told that this spring has been extremely dry around here this year with only a little over an inch of rain. I’m sure that’s true but it seemed like everything around us was green and lush except the grass in people’s yards. The road had a lot of gentle curves and rolling hills. I was enjoying the ride a lot. Then that final cup of coffee kicked in and it was time to stop.

Before I was quite ready for it, the sign pointing to Itasca State Park was in front of us. That’s the target and a hard left turn put us at the park gate. We paid our fees and headed straight for the visitor’s center. It was small but had everything I was looking for – a men’s room, a penny smashing machine, and hat pins.

Smashed pennies and hat pins – my favorite kind of souvenirs.

It was a short ride from the visitors center to the Headwaters of the Mississippi. Here I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

We sat in the shade of the on-site information center and had a cold drink – tea (same effect as coffee unfortunately). We walked slowly back to the bikes and headed for the days final destination – Bemidji, Minnesota. We made it the hotel about 3:00 and were able to check in. I made the reservation and usually have good luck at Best Western Hotels. This one is really dated. There were too few electrical outlets for today’s society, the furniture was all pretty worn, and the place overall just has gotten tired. It is clean and we’re making the best of it. Besides across the parking lot is a Menard’s, second only to Dairy Queen on my shopping top 10.

Time for dinner. The top rated restaurant in Bemidji is Bar 209 and is located downtown. It is located only a short distance from the hotel. The food was good as was the service. Kayla steered me towards the onion rings instead of the fries – that was good advice.

Bar 209 in Bemidji, MN

After dinner, it was only a couple of blocks to the real reason we came to downtown Bemidji. I know you’ve all been waiting anxiously since seeing the title of today’s blog. Wait no more. Here’s my picture of the Blue Cow.

Who’s that tall guy with the cow?

OK – I know it’s not a cow (at least I know now after reading the signage. It’s an Ox. The tall guy (all 18 feet of him) is Paul Bunyon (in case you’re not up to date on your tall tales).

I saved one picture from the headwaters and one picture from Bemidji’s Paul Bunyon Park. In both of these pictures, Mason is standing next to the Mississippi River. I thought it made an interesting comparison. Amazing what a little water and a few miles can turn into.

Total miles for the trip so far 1101. Today’s miles – 211.

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