Monday, July 16, 2012

A quick trip to Minnesota

I'm running up to Minnesota to take my skeet guns in to the expert for repair/update/etc.  So, here I am in Willmar, MN & here's how I got here (& what I saw along the way):

Left at 6:40 AM via MO-13 north.  At Polo, MO-13 becomes the Zack Wheat Memorial Hiway, and there's a monument to baseball HoF player Zack Wheat.  In town, there's the History House, Cooty Farm Service, and the Red Rooster Cafe.  A bit further north, there was the Won By One Community Bank.    At Hamilton, took US-36 to Cameron, then north on I-35 toward Iowa.  The MO welcome center near Eagleville looks pretty fancy, with a herd of buffalo & a cowboy (all metal, of course) on the hillside behind it. 

Crossed into Iowa at 9:16 and stopped at a welcome center in Lamoni.  It was in a big "Amish Country Store" which also had a Maid-Rite cafe in it.  On its lawn were displayed cattle made from fuel tanks and a historic schoolhouse.  As I proceeded north, I passed New Virginia, IA (could some Southern folk have settled here?).  Exit 52 leads to alot of attractions - Madison County covered bridges and John Wayne's birthplace the most prominent among them. 

Passed Des Moines at 10:30 and picked up IA-141.  Near Granger saw a sign for Jester Park - wonder if it's any fun?   Picked up US-169 at Perry, would be on it for almost 100 miles.  This area is mostly flat, with endless corn & bean fields.  The barns almost all have roofs curving down from a point rather than a constant slope.  Roads good modern 2-lane, with a frustrating 55 mph speed limit.

Lunch & gas at Ft. Dodge from 1147 to 1205, and back on US-169.  Humboldt has the BackSeet diner & drive in.  Roads north of Humboldt aren't as good, but they're straight as they look on the map.  Algona has a railroad overpass painted with an 1870s locomotive & the words "Algona, on the Right Track."  Picked up US-18 here.  Passed Cylinder, IA, and the Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg.  Area is more hilly like NW MO, and some more northern trees start to pop up in plantings.

Took IA-4 to Estherville, and switched to US-71 (a familiar number thru MO, AR & LA).  Saw a Softail Saloon in Superior, IA, and a group of old railway passenger cars deteriorating nearby.  Crossed into MN about 2:05, but saw no welcome sign.  Adopt a Hiway signs featured the Sleepy Eye Garment & Pottery co and the Germantown Livewires 4-H club.  Jackpot Junction Casino  is outside Redwood Falls, MN.  Near Olivia, couldn't initially figure out why there were porta-potties in a corn field - until I saw the stand selling hand-picked sweet corn.  Olivia also has the Sheep Shedde Motel, and not far from there was held up by a TC&W train (look it up). 

Got to Willmar, a town of about 20,000, at 4:19 PM, 537.4 miles, averaging 32.3 mpg & 57 mph.  Temperature pushing 100.  Downtown has a statue of an Indian on the Kandiyohi County courthouse lawn - yep, it's Chief Kandiyohi.  Downtown lightposts have cages on them that I think are the type used in Frisbee golf.  Couldn't find a local cafe, so ended up eating at El Tapatio - which doesn't hold a candle to the one in Sedalia.  Came back to the Comfort Inn, and enjoying a PBR.  Tomorrow, it's on to Spicer to leave off guns, then about 550 miles home!