Monday, 30 June 2014
On U.S. highways
After publishing my previous post, I realized I hadn't mentioned some odds and ends. The first is that I have left the agricultural prairies and am now in what I take to be part of the Canadian Shield. Am I correct, Pappy? One sign of this was the fact that a passing freight train consisted of cars for hauling minerals rather the grain trains hitherto dominant. Farming has given way to fishing, hunting and logging in order of prominence if not economic significance. Hills are becoming more common.
Being so far up the Mississippi, I find it strange to know the altitude is barely over 1000 feet and it has a looong way to go before it gets to the Gulf of Mexico. It also seem weird the Mississippi itself is so close to Lake Superior. I have already lost count how many times I have crossed it.
The towns in these parts seem very different than the many small towns along the Trans-Canada in the Prairie Provinces. Fewer Chinese restaurants for one thing. Fewer small town motels or B&Bs for another. Lots more liquor stores, mostly of the "Steve's Discount Liquor Warehouse" variety. Out of curiousity, I went into one. The theme seemed be beer, vodka, rum, rye and bourbon, plus American plonk. Nothing special. The banks lack the attributes I associate with them such as familiar names or permanent looking architecture. Maybe the latter is a subconscious admission of their failings! ;-) As I was leaving Fosston, I passed an elaborate, relatively low structure that I took for an evangelical church. It turned out to be a bank. It put me in mind of an exchange from Astérix et le chaudron d'or. Astérix and Obelix are eating in an inn when Astérix sees an impressive building out the window. He asks the innkeeper "What's that building? A temple?" "Nearly," replies the innkeeper, "It's where the Romans keep their money. It's called a bank." Or something like it.
Also, as I was riding today, I kept being passed by trucks carrying bits of a fairground. As they stopped for gas or to regroup, I think they passed me several times.