Day 48 – Walker, MN to Bemidji, MN – 33 miles
Wow! What a day it’s been! I woke up in a bit of a foul mood. Not sure of the cause – gloomy, overcast skies, fatigue, … who knows? It’s a strange thing about this trip – the darnedest things can make your day or can bring you down – and there is no predicting it and it can change so quick! Yesterday we had such a fun day riding the Paul Bunyan trail but then for the last 15 miles, suddenly I was just tired of it and just wanted to be done!
So, this morning we set out in overcast skies once again and on the Paul Bunyan trail once again for the last 32 miles to Bemidji. Maybe I was fretting over the spoke repair and whether or not it would get us to Bemidji. Maybe it was the annoying goose/duck squawk sound coming from the rear brake. Anyhow after a structural engineering lesson from Jim, I decided to just let go of my worry over the spoke and Jim disconnected the rear brake, so we didn’t have to listen to that.
We made great time on this stretch of the trail. This was mostly because we took very few and very quick breaks because the mosquitos were plentiful & tenacious! But we did get off a few times to take pictures and marvel at the beautiful lady slippers, foxglove and other wild flowers that were in blossom along the trail! Wow! So beautiful! Especially the lady slippers! Before too long, we saw approaching bicyclists and we crossed the US-2 overpass and I knew we had arrived in Bemidji!
My parents both grew up in this area and we had many family vacations to this area to visit family. I wasn’t sure how many of my relatives we’d be able to meet up with but I knew I wanted to visit my mother’s sister and her sister-in-law. I just wasn’t sure how the logistics would work out because my one aunt lives about 7 miles from town. We’d have to bicycle out there.
In a fortunate turn of events (and this becomes even more fortunate!) my brother and two sisters are on their way to Alaska and spent last night in Wisconsin with a cousin. When I told them we would be in Bemidji, they decided to swing north and visit our aunts too! I was looking forward to seeing them but this also helped us because they could drive us out to my aunt’s house!
So, when we got into town, we of course stopped first thing to see Paul Bunyan & Babe the blue ox. Then went right to Northern Cycles (we could see their sign from the Paul & Babe statues) to see about the needed bike repairs. They were great! They said to just leave the bike and all our packs with them, go have lunch & they’d have the repairs complete. So we walked over to Raphael’s – a favorite stop, recommended by my cousin, Carol on my last trip to Bemidji. We also went to the post office & mailed a package home. And sometime around that time, Jim realized he didn’t have his wallet. He went back to the bike shop & checked his pannier. Nope, not there. So, he called the hotel in Walker. Yup, that’s where it was. Now what?
I called my sister, thinking that one of several possible routes for them would take them thru Walker. Sharmin looked at the map and said it didn’t look like it was out of their way to stop & pick it up for us! Whew! That sure saved us a lot of trouble!
We went back to the bike shop but the bike wasn’t yet ready, so we talked about going up to the assisted living facility where one of my aunt lives. A guy who works at the shop said he’d be happy to drive us up there, as it was about a mile and a half from downtown. What a kind offer! We took him up on the offer, figuring we’d figure out a way back later.
We had such a nice visit with my aunt! She is 95 years old & doing so well! She looks great & is so spunky & fun to talk with! We weren’t sure when my sibs would get into town so we said our goodbyes and walked back to the bike shop. The bike was ready, so we took it for a test ride and after a quick brake adjustment, we were on our way to our hotel. My sibs showed up just as we were checking in. We went up to our room, changed our clothes and then headed right out to see our aunt before dinner time. Another visit with her and then we were on our way out to see our other aunt.
We picked up some KFC, as we were all very hungry by now, and descended on our other aunt. It was so great to see her – she is nearly 90 and also doing great! I feel so blessed to have such wonderful, strong women in my life! The life stories of these women – and my mom, as well – could be the subject of a great blog! My cousin, Kevin, came out for a visit too – so fun to see him! We had a great visit but couldn’t stay long (with either aunt), as my sibs wanted to make it to North Dakota tonight.
We returned to our hotel. My sibs brought their keurig machine up to our room to make coffee for the long drive yet this evening. (Who brings a keurig with them on a road trip???). We said our good-byes and returned to our room. Pretty soon, I got a text message from my sister that my cousin, Carol was stopping by for a visit. I couldn’t help but think how that came about but figured Carol would fill me in. This is where this day gets crazier!
Cousin Carol stopped at the gas station this afternoon and saw a guy that she thought looked like one of her Michigan cousins. Then she saw Sharmin get out of the same car & knew it was her cousins! (We have 50-some cousins on our dad’s side of the family.). They chatted a bit and Sharmin gave Carol our hotel & room number, so that is how Carol knew how to find us & visit us! We had a great visit! She’s so nice – I always enjoy visiting with her! What a fun surprise & bonus to this day!
So, here I sit, writing this blog, reflecting on what a wonderful, wondrous day it has been! I saw so many loved ones today and I am so very happy! This detour to Bemidji added miles to our trip but has been incredibly uplifting! After Carol left, Jim went downstairs for some pop – er, soda – and when he came back up, he told me to check out the sunset. I walked downstairs and caught a beautiful sunset over Lake Bemidji. A beautiful ending to a beautiful day! I am a woman abundantly blessed.
Re: My Wallet…To my dad: you were right, I CAN fall into a shithole and come out smelling like a rose. To my wife: thanks for putting up with my rosy stench all these years!
This was a very good day – I love being with Shawn and all her Fam. And thanks Boyce, Sherri and Sharmin for bailing me out! Love you guys! And to Boyce, thanks for the super bright, 1 dollar bike light AND I want a picture of you riding your garbaged picked bike, transported to Alaska on a three dollar bike rack, on the bike paths on Anchorage! Have a great trip!
Lake Bemidji sunset: