Day 47 – Brainerd, MN to Walker, MN

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Day 47 – Brainerd, MN to Walker, MN – 59 miles

We started out the day with coffee and conversation with our warm showers host Audra. We also enjoyed the antics of her new puppy, Frank. We said our good byes and pedaled away with an extra traveler – Frank wanted to join us! We circled back, so Audra could catch Frank, then slowly biked away while Frank was distracted. For sure this was our most exciting departure!

It was cool & overcast when we left. We rode off in long sleeves but stopped partway down the road to put on our jackets. As we went by a thermometer along the highway, we noted that it said the temp was 52 degrees. Later in one of the towns we passed thru, we saw that the temp had gone up to 62 at noon. It was grey, cool & overcast all day.

We rode to the Paul Bunyan Trail and hopped on the trail in Nisswa. The Paul Bunyan Trail is a paved bike path between Brainerd and Bemidji. When we joined the trail, it was our first time we were back on the on the Northern Tier Cycling route since we rerouted in Maine on day two. It was nice to be on the trail and Minnesota trails are well marked and signed. The trail is an old rail grade, so the grades were easy to pedal and riding without dealing with traffic or varying shoulder widths was very nice.

We spotted an assortment of birds, including a couple of scarlet tanagers (one that seemed to be in a tussle with a goldfinch), a bald eagle that flew just 10-15 feet over us, and a Baltimore oriole. We continue to hear the wrens singing and the laughing loon, as well as many other common birds.

We made some quick stops to take pictures of “babes” along the trail – part of the Brainerd Ox Trot. To celebrate the areas favorite former citizen, Paul Bunyan, the community has a bunch of Babe the Blue Ox’s painted up for show. Jim likes to take pictures of his Babe next to the Babes, so each required a stop. We also spotted Lucette, Paul Bunyan’s sweetheart. A bit of a Minnesota controversy here, as Lucette is said to be the mother of Paul Jr., yet is only Paul’s sweetheart. But who is to judge? We certainly won’t!

Back on the trail, the long and narrow road was getting to us a little bit. After a day on the bike path we started to feel a little claustrophobic (give us the open road!). To fight the monotony, we had to dig into the song vault to sing the “you can’t get to heaven” Boy Scout camp songs. All the verses are somewhat made up, ours started with…

Oh you can’t get to heaven
On Paul Bunyan Trail
‘Cause The Lord don’t want
Oh you can’t get to heaven
In the big big gear
‘Cause The Lord don’t want

We will save you the pain of the words we were inventing, but at the time, we laughed and thought they were pretty clever! Of course even an easy going team can only perform a few hundred rounds of the song before the brain is fried, so the singing on our last leg of the trail was (can you tell we were getting desperate?):

99 Bottles of beer on the wall,
99 bottles of beer…

We stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant – “Udon’s” in Hackensack. (Fantastic Pad Thai, by the way!) The waitress was interested in our trip, she is 6 years new to the US, and struggled a bit with the location of Maine, but when she made the connection to New York (close enough!) she was all excited & wanted our autograph on the card we gave her. When we went outside and she saw our bike, she asked for pictures and she and the rest of the restaurant team joined in, as well!

The trail conditions were pretty good to excellent, for the most part. However there was a stretch of trail where we rode thru a swamp and there had been a good amount of cracking & heaving in the asphalt, which wasn’t terribly pleasant. At one point later in the day, we heard a funny sound when we got on the bike. We’re always tuned in & aware of these odd sounds, as they could be a broken spoke. We didn’t hear anything more so we kept riding, thinking maybe we hit a rock or twig funny. A few more miles and a few more songs and we had arrived at our nights accommodations. We were tired, so it was hotel night for us. As we rolled the bike into the room, we did realize that we did have a broken spoke. Time to break out the “string” spoke for temporary use. This is a Kevlar, adjustable spoke. We hope we can get to Bemidji on it tomorrow, where we can hit a bike shop for a new “real” spoke. Hopefully the trail is smooth tomorrow!

Brain Meanderings:
– We stopped at a shopping plaza that advertised “Pretty good shopping” – why set such high standards!!
– Swamp beauty is individually defined in the eyes of the beholder.











One thought on “Day 47 – Brainerd, MN to Walker, MN

    Al said:
    June 27, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I love Thai food: I’m not sure I could ride on Thai though…

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