Into the Prairie

We awoke early but had a leisurely morning, ultimately heading out at 9. Still a record by about an hour. Our first road, Minnesota 60 West, was an excellent one – delicious curves, good, smooth pavement, and no traffic. We ate it up, passing through a few small towns of the one-gas-station variety. It took us along the Zumbro River through a series of small hills and bluffs west of the Mississippi for a couple of hours, then the road started to straighten out.

The land began flattening out as well, and the distance we could see in an unobstructed view was increasing. We were coming to the Prairie. I’m not going to rewrite what I have before about it, but suffice it to say I find the prairie a cleansing, energizing place. I personally had never known it begins in Minnesota until riding out this way 6 years before. That time it was late afternoon after a day of hard riding when I started seeing signs telling me I was on the “Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway” as I was getting towards the western half of Minnesota. Some time after that I saw a sign for the “Sod House” and pulled off to check it out. This time now I did so again, with Päivi this time, a couple of hours earlier in the day.

Here you can actually see and walk around and in a couple of sod houses, built using the same techniques as the pioneers, wood-starved in a vast grassland, used. It’s on a farm out in the middle of nowhere, but they’ve allowed the grass to grow in the area around the sod houses, even going so far as to plant the varieties believed to have held sway when white settlers first arrived around 150 years ago. It’s hard to describe the effect this has, but it’s a completely different thing than visiting an old house in the middle of a city, or looking at furnishings in a museum. All you can hear and feel outside is the prairie wind, and you smell the grass, the flowers, and the farm. You ARE in the prairie of a hundred years ago.

We eventually had to leave here and continue on our way, at least another 10 miles into Lamberton. We decided to stop here since I had good memories of the place, despite it being where my motorcycle had its only breakdown on my previous trip. This time we stayed in a motel, mainly because we’d been two days without showers and you can only get away with much more of that if you’re traveling by yourself. You do get into a certain rhythm though after a while though. Ride motorcycle during day, stopping occasionally at gas stations for snacks and necessities. Get dinner in a town somewhere, then stop at campsite for night, put up the tent, collapse to sleep early. Get up early, have coffee and maybe some oatmeal, and do it all again. Shaving, shampooing, and other such things get forgotten in the simple routines of life on the road.

Anyway, Lamberton is truly an idyllic prairie town. Clean, well-kept streets, quiet with little traffic, and people leave their bikes unchained, leaning up against houses or parked outside the ice cream parlor. You can walk across the entire town, a grid of a few streets in each direction, in about 15 minutes, and when it comes to an end you stare across green fields to the blue horizon. It’s a place that appeals to the simple man in me, although I am sure that if I lived there all of my complications would follow me. As I said before, we make those for ourselves, and the only way to free yourself from them temporarily is to go on the road.

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Päivi adjusting her pack on a roadside stop. Going through this sort of thing last time was why I’d bought hard luggage for my bike. But you can’t get that setup for every motorcycle.

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You know you are getting west when most of the side roads off the highway are dirt roads leading to nowhere.

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Sod house, seen from the outside.

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Sod house, on the inside. Up until a few years ago, you could actually sleep here!

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One of the most beautiful aspects of the prairie are the flowers

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Church in a medium sized town along the way.

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Our motel in Lamberton. A humble place that was clearly having trouble getting sufficient numbers of guests, but it was cared for. And that makes all the difference.

176 miles.

About ABR

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