DAY 35 (7/15/05): Rest day, St. Louis Park. Today I spent a very relaxing day in St. Louis Park. I read the New York Times over breakfast for the first time in about a month. Then, Andrew's mother took me to REI to replace some things that had been either trashed or depleated over the past month, including the fuel cylinder for my stove and my cycling gloves. I also picked up maps of Wyoming and South Dakota. After shopping, Andrew's mother had to attend to some church obligations and I hung out in the basement for most of the afternoon, away from the heat and sun, planning my route through South Dakota. There is no Adventure Cycling route for this part of the trip, so I wanted to b e sure to plan each day carefully so that I would avoid major roads but still go through enough towns to have places to eat and stay. We had a great lasagne for dinner, and then once the sun had gone down sufficiently I went outside to do a little bike maintenence. While I was sitting outside, a mother duck who had been nesting under a bush on the Howards' driveway made her first public appearance with a brood of about 8 newly hatched ducklings, who were very cute. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of them, but I think Andrew's mom did and maybe she'll be willing to contribute one to the site. DAY 36 (7/16/05): St. Louis Park to New Ulm, MN 98.8 mi. Based on all of my ma p gazing yesterday I had planned two possible routes through MN: an ambitious, tw o day plan or a more relaxed, three day plan. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I elected to go with the ambitious, two day plan. So, I got up early and hit the road before 7 am to go to New Ulm. The roads near Minneapolis were a bit busy but once I left the outer ring of suburbs behind all the traffic disappeared and I rode very quiet state and county roads through mostly farmland all the way to New Ulm. What made today challenging was the heat: the temperature got up to 98F in the afternoon. To combat heat exhaustion, I stopped at every single service station that I passed and took a 15 minute break in the A/C. I usually also bought a cold drink or a n ice cream. Even so, I was basically melting the whole way. I must have consumed more than two gallons of liquid over the course of the day and was still incredibly thirsty when I arrived in New Ulm. I camped out at the state park there, which was very pleasant and quite full due to the Heritagefest that was underway (New Ulm is a town with very strong German heritage, so much so that the banners on the lampposts in town say "Willkomen"). As I was walking to the showers, a guy wearing a Harley tank top came up behind me and said, "You know, it'd be a lot easier if you'd just put a motor on there..." DAY 37 (7/17/05): New Ulm to Lynd, MN 93.3 mi. Thankfully, today was much cooler than yesterday. I spent almost the whole day today traveling west on County Road 4, which gets almost no traffic at all. The road surface was generally good and it was a very pleasant ride. I passed through one town, Evan (pop 62) about 20 mi from New Ulm, and that was it in terms of civilization for the day. The rest was just corn and soybeans. I had noted the lack of services on my map and so for the first time so far this trip I filled my two collapsable Nalgene canteens (1 quart each) in addition to the two regular water bottles and the 1.5L bottle that I carry on the frame. Then, I just rode straight into the wind for the rest of the day. The strangest thin g was that out there in the middle of nowhere on that road, I had excellent cellphone signal--quite surreal, actually. Because of the wind, I was on the road for a long time, through several refreshing rain showers. I arrived at Camden State Park quite late, but still had enough daylight to set up the tent and make dinner. For all you Garrison Kiellor fans out there, I definitely have the feeling of being "out there on the edge of the prarie" tonight. The terrain has already started to change a bit, and that wind is all about the great plains. DAY 38 (7/18/05): Lynd, MN to Oakwood Lakes, SD 80.8 mi. This morning I got on the bike and basically got blown directly into the city of Marshall, 10 mi north of the state park where I had camped. I dropped Dagny off at a bike shop for another new chain (hard to believe it's already been 1000 mi since the last one), and went out for breakfast. I came back, picked up the re-chained and re-adjusted bike, and set off directly into the wind for South Dakota. The wind was so strong that I was using my smallest chainring to travel on flat ground at about 6mph. I stopped in the town of Ivanhoe, right on the SD line, to pick up food. While I was there, I met two really cute kids who were very excited about the idea of traveling on a bike. The boy, about 8, was amazed that I had traveled almost 3000 mi on a bike. He was even more amazed that I had never in my life before been to Ivanhoe, MN. That really blew his mind. I suppose that's reasonable, since in all likelyhood everyone that he's ever met in his life has been to Ivanhoe before. After Ivanhoe, it was a short ride past a wind farm (go figure) to the SD border. The scenery here is just spectacular, rolling grassland as far as the eye can see, which is quite far in this part of the country. The park where I am camped tonight is unbelievable, a group of a few small lakes and old oak trees in the middle of all this grass, i t really feels like an oasis, and very isolated. It's a bit of a well kept secret, I think--no one that I talked to so far in this state, other than the folks who are actually here, had ever even heard of it. Even though it's on the map, there are no road signs pointing to it, even from the major interstate that runs close by, so I don't think very many people find their way here.