"The devilís name is dullness."
Ė Robert E. Lee

TODAYíS ROUTE:
St. Paul, MN to Bismarck, ND: I-94 East to I-35E North to I-694 West to I-94 West past St. Cloud, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Fargo, Valley City, Jamestown to Bismarck. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
I start the morning with a quick stop in downtown St. Paul to visit the offices of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. This is the first stamp Iíve ever gotten in an office building. St. Paul looks like a cool city and Iíd like to come back here again and really spend some time checking out the sights, but not in winter. Many of the buildings are connected with enclosed walkways so pedestrians don't have to venture outside in the colder months.

I head northwest towards Fargo and the boring drive across the plains into North Dakota. Iíve dreaded this day for months since I planned it. 450 miles on the same interstate is not my idea of a fun-filled day. But I hunker down and start counting the exits. The speed limit is 70 MPH here so at least Iíll make good time.

The trucks add some excitement to the trip though. There are few things I like less than the terror of truck turbulence. In a car you feel the wind noise as you pass a truck, and maybe your vehicle moves a few inches. But on a motorcycle itís a whole other world.  It starts to hit you about 1/10 of a mile from the back of the trailer. Imagine being thrown into a wind tunnel at 80 MPH and then being head-slapped by Deacon Jones.

I get my highlight of the day between exits 153 near Avon and 147 near Albany. A large dump truck from an excavation company is shedding its load of golf ball sized rocks onto the interstate. Suddenly Iím dodging bullets, driving through an asteroid field! Iím reminded of that scene in "The Empire Strikes Back", except my Millennium Falcon doesnít have energy shields or laser guns. I move as far left as possible and try to zip by the truck, but SMASH, a rock hits my ankle. It feels like my boot took most of the damage. When I get up to the driverís window and start waving at him, he thinks Iím saying hello. But he gets the idea quickly when I lift up my visor and start yelling at him, accusing him of attempted manslaughter. He pulls over right away, almost in a panic.

The bike has escaped damage, as I was most concerned about a broken headlight or windshield. But my ankle will probably have a bruise and maybe some swelling. Nothing is broken, so I move on and the traffic gets lighter as I get further west. I really am out west now, as Iím closer to the Pacific than the Atlantic. Iím also getting colder, as I drive into a front. Just before Fergus Falls, I break out the gortex rain liner and by lunch Iím wearing my heated vest. Itís below 60 degrees in Bismarck when I arrive. Bismarck Ė even the name sounds cold.

On a day like today, I think a lot about gas mileage. Iíve had some questions from the audience about fuel costs and mileage so here are the stats:

Tank Size = 6.1 Gallons, 5 gallon main tank with a 1.1 gallon reserve.
Average Mileage during trip so far = 43.833 Miles Per Gallon
Total Fuel Used = 141.81 Gallons for 6,216 Miles
Average Cost Per Gallon = $1.43
Total Cost of Fuel = $202.12
Number of Fuel Stops = 29 in 18 Days
Average Distance between Fuel Stops = 214 Miles
Longest Distance between Stops = 263 Miles, 5.94 Gallons

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 445.5
Total Miles: 6,394
Time on Motorcycle: 6 Hours 10 Minutes
States Visited Today: 2 (MN, ND)
Total States Visited: 19
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 1
NPS Stamp Total: 49 Stamps, 15 States
Weather: Started off Hot, ended Cold and Rainy.
Number of times my AMEX card didnít work at the Pay at The Pump: 6

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Exit 324. No Services", "Exit 276. No Services", "Exit 190. No Services." Ė All on I-94, North Dakota

RANDOM PASSINGS:
(Please read the following aloud in your best Marge Gunderson accent)

OK, so I stop in Fargo for some lunch, pull into this place called Krollís Diner, and try the soup special. This famous Knoephla Soup type deal. Some kind of potato dumping deal. Didya ever try it? Pretty good, yaah? Yaah. Everything Okaay Fer Ya? You're darned tootin'!

 


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