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Perham, Mn-September 11, 2009

Today, I made some great progress, ending up a bit further than I had expected–due to hitting rain forecast for today and tomorrow–when I came into the St. Cloud area.  Since this wasn’t a prime area for the trip, I figured skipping through, rather than waiting it out, was a sign of better judgement!

My stay last night was really quite nice.  There is a sort of peace and serenity to these little towns.  You can stay somewhere you might not feel comfortable with otherwise and just not need to worry about it.  The Sterling Motel was set off the major highway and a little worse for wear.  The room was clean and the bed comfortable.  I got the last non-smoking room (complete with two ashtrays on the desk)  and since I was alone, got $5 off since it was a two bed room.  The tub also had an interesting row of cigarette burn marks along the edge facing the toilet.  Given its size, I have never seem more furniture jammed into a room in my life!   But it was really a reasonable room for $40, especially when you are only in it for 9 hours.  Now comparing that to the room I have tonight, a Super 8 here in Perham, even with the 8 foot couch, king size bed, desk, table and dresser, I am trying to figure out if they hold barn dances in here.  This room is huge–and the only thing available around.

The morning was foggy, so I stopped to eat early, in Kellogg, Mn.  A pretty small town, but the cafe was hopping with groups coming to town for the weekend’s Watermelon Festival.  The cafe was filled with folks wearing watermelon t-shirts and hats.  I got a short course on local history from Loren, including the viewing of some early photographs of the town.  Janice, my waitress, was a bit of a firecracker.  When I left, her mother’s walker (she comes down every morning) was sitting by the door, out on the street with her bag still on it.

Lock and Dam #2, Mississippi River

Lock and Dam #2, Mississippi River

I moved along the Mississippi most of the day, but at Hastings, moved on through the Twin Cities and expected to pick up the route again in St. Cloud.  Unfortunately, I hit early rush hour in every city, including St Paul and Minneapolis, and prime rush hour in St Cloud.  In the latter, I met my first real jerk of the trip, a “seasoned” driver who was not going to allow me to merge where the construction demanded it.  Everyone was nicely weaving the lanes together.  He lurched ahead as I started to move over and as I looked over at him and without actually looking at me, shook his head “NO”!  Fortunately, being in a vehicle twice the size of his, I was in a good mood and decided to move in behind him and allow his victory for the day!  But this attitude and the rain gave me no regret that I would be moving on through this area.

The rain broke near Wadena, Mn and although I had thought about going on, there was just something here I wanted to stay for.  I had seen a motel on the road that intrigued me and so I drove downtown before returning.  I guess timing is everything.  As I drove downtown, there was the Cozy Theater, an incredible example of old theater excellence.  One of the nicest old neon signs I have seen yet and it was dark enough  to see its glory with the sun setting behind it.

One of the things I had noticed back in 2005 when we travelled the Empire Builder route through here was that the signage quality changed dramatically once we left North Dakota.  There were many great old signs through Montana and North Dakota, but when we got to Minnesota and Wisconsin, it seemed that everything turned to crap!  Once in awhile you would see a fine old sign, but mostly it was plastic signs done by someone who took anti graphic design classes or someone who had reccently discovered poster board and Marks-a-lots!  We had skipped most of the area where I am now due to the job requirements, so it is nice to again be back in places where quality signage is still appreciated.

So, back to Wadena, my hunch was right, unfortunately, a wedding and a class reunion had taxed all the rooms for the night and I had to move on down the road in the dark!

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