Rollin to the Coast – Day 1 Arden Hills, MN to Valley City, ND
We said goodbye to the kids and grandkids the day before we left so it was eerily quiet as we loaded the bikes for this adventure. If all goes according to plan we will travel around 4,000 miles hitting eight states and one Canadian province on this trip. Traveling by motorcycle is truly an adventure but it requires quite a bit of planning and can be physically demanding. Weather can also be a challenge as things that you don’t consider while driving a car become an obstacle on a bike.
On day one of the trip we woke up to cool weather which is OK but the reason it was cool was that a powerful cold front had just passed overnight and now lots of cold air was pouring down on the area from Canada. The winds were gusting to over 30 miles per hour all along our route so it would make for a rough ride. We pretty much rode into the wind so it felt like we going over 100 miles an hour all day.
Even with temperatures in the low 60’s we felt the cold. To keep warm we stopped every 50 -60 miles for coffee or soup. The first part of the day was the section from the Twin Cities to Fargo. This is our home state so we didn’t plan any sightseeing stops. This was more of a survive the wind and get to North Dakota day. That is where our adventure would really begin.
Notice on the map it shows an estimated time of 4 hours and 15 minutes by car. When you stop to warm up and let your bottom take a break from the bike seat this can take all day. With the stops we made our first 300 miles took from 9am to 5pm.
I was a pilot for many years and the early part of my career I flew to North Dakota many times. When I communicated with Kim Schmidt from the North Dakota tourism office about our trip, I joked that I had been to North Dakota 100,000 times but had never really seen the place. Kim did a great job of putting together an itinerary for our trip across North Dakota and arranged lodging for us as well. If you are traveling to or through North Dakota the state tourism office is a great resource for you and the people could not be any friendlier.
We hit Fargo around 2pm and our first stop was the Fargo Moorehead visitors bureau. This was a welcome sight as the last 100 miles was particularly cold as mother nature thought we should have some drizzle to ad to our misery on the bikes. Staff at the visitor center had hot coffee and popcorn ready for travelers when they arrived.
After we warmed up a little we started to check out the visitor center. We have noticed that there is trend towards larger visitor centers with lots of displays and a more relaxing environment. Many have wifi available as well so travelers can keep up with all the things you are supposed to be forgetting about on vacation. I really enjoyed the display that was set up in the corner about the movie Fargo. They had the wood chipper from the movie along with copies of the script and posters too. It was well done and good natured as the movie was a spoof on all of us who live up here in the tundra, don’tcha know. It seems that people think we have some kind of weird accent or something.
After warming up it was time to ride the last 65 miles or so to our destination for the day, Valley City, North Dakota. We pulled off the freeway and saw the sign for our hotel right away. That was a good thing because this was day one and our bottoms aren’t in shape yet for this many hours of riding in one day.
At the front desk of the hotel there was a package waiting for us with a bag of home made cookies with a note from Mary Lee Nielson to give her a call when we got in. I thought my day was over. Mary Lee who works with the Valley City visitors center had a plan for my evening. She came and picked me up at the hotel and took me to the United Methodist Church for a corn feed. Great people. What a fun surprise. I always enjoyed flying out in the Dakotas because there was no traffic and the people were always so nice. Now I was enjoying a great meal with these same wonderful people.
After the corn feed Mary Lee took me on a driving tour of the town with stops at the visitor center, Barnes county museum and a city park by the river to see the famous railroad bridge. There was a lot more to see in Valley City than I ever imagined and Mary Lee was quite passionate about it. It turns out that not only was she a lifelong resident but a former mayor and a current city commissioner. She was so enthusiastic about Valley City I suggested she write some posts about some of the more unique things in the town. Hopefully soon we will ad to this post with her insights to visiting Valley City.
Here is a slideshow of some of the sights I saw in Valley City.
After the tour of Valley City, Mary Lee dropped me off back at the hotel. It was time for bed as this was a long day and next 21 or so would be too.
Thanks again to the North Dakota Department of Commerce for helping with our travel plans and a special thanks to Kim Schmidt and Mary Lee Nielson who’s efforts make a day like this possible.
Please follow us as we cross the continent on motorcycles visiting several states and national parks along the way.