31 August 2005 - Wednesday
0 Miles - Left Bismarck North Dakota
Woke up before sunrise again and headed east on I-94. More
straight highway across the plains. Though things were getting greener and
you might even see a few trees now and then (including those in the
well-marked "living snowfences").
We saw from the highway the
world's largest buffalo in Jamestown ND:
We crossed the continental divide again, this time from the Atlantic to the
Arctic near Eckelson ND. Here the divide amounts to just a slight hill, not
the dramatic mountains of the West.
We also passed near the KVLY-TV tower, the world's tallest structure, but
we didn't see it, or at least we couldn't tell which of the many towers in
the distance it was.
We next drove through Fargo, ND. The AAA Book amused us by talking about
how the local zoo had a "Domestic Animal Contact Area" (which we can only
suppose is the same as a petting zoo).
194 Miles - Arrive Minnesota
Upon entering Minnesota we drove much further to the south than Kristina
wanted. She wanted to be efficient, I had a certain destination in mind
that I thought was worth going out of the way for. More on that later.
So we continued south on I-94. We stopped in Alexandria MN to see the
Runestone Museum, which got a gem in the AAA book. We were the
first visitors of the morning so they had to unlock it for us (it
was attached to the chamber of commerce) and run the greeting DVD ourselves.
The runestone was a stone with Viking Runes on it found by a Swedish
Immigrant over 100 years ago. At the time everyone thought it was
a fake, and he was harassed for years. A son committed suicide and a
daughter fled town due to the taunting.
But recent analysis makes it sound plausible that the stone may be genuine.
The Vikings in 1362 would have sailed down the Hudson Bay, through Lake
Winnepeg, and down as far as Alexandria. And other Viking implements were
found in the area.
My picture of the runestone didn't turn out, so you'll have to go to the
webpage to see what it looks like. There was also a nice museum attached
that showcased local history. And outside there was a giant statue of a
Viking that the town had sent along with the stone to the 1965 World's Fair
(note one of Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes in the Background):
We then got back on the highway and pressed further south. We got off
of I-94 and made a few wrong turns, but finally we arrived in Darwin MN,
the home of
The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
(made famous by the Weird Al
While taking pictures, a nice man (who you can see looking out the door in
the above picture) came out and opened the door so we could see the
twine ball up close and personal:
We then went inside and bought souvenirs, including (I kid you not)
souvenir miniature balls of twine and a postcard: "Greetings From
The Twine Ball, Wish You Were Here". That one got sent to my brother Kevin,
a big Weird Al fan.
We missed the annual Twine Ball Days festival which had been a few weeks
before. Someone had apparently lit a bunch of flags on fire then, and while
we were there the caretaker was talking to the sheriff about offering a
reward for info because "the twine ball could have caught fire".
The twine ball is not the largest in the world, but is the largest made by
one man. This same man also had a talent for carving giant pairs of pliers
out of wood (fully functional and without any pins). They had one on
display that was huge and the handle itself was made out of many smaller
Also nearby was the Twine Ball Inn:
So that was a lot of fun, and I am glad we stopped even though Kristina
thought I was being silly.
We then eventually found our way through the farmland and lakes. It was so
nice being somewhere green with deciduous trees again. We drove through St.
Cloud where we crossed the Mississippi (after which the radio stations all
started with W again):
We traveled north on Minnesota 23 and then I-35 until we got to our
destination, Duluth MN. We were amused to be staying there due to a stupid
joke in a John Bellairs book (no, it's not funny. "Does this bus go to
Duluth? No, it goes beep-beep").
We stayed at the Motel 6 there, which was in a questionable part of town.
We had finally made it to the start of the Great Lakes!
589 Miles - Arrived Duluth Minnesota
Day 5 - 589 Miles Traveled, 2698 Miles Total
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