Day 33: Central MN – Land of a Million Lakes… and Fish Statues

All good here — perfect weather, sunny and cool.  Little cotton candy clouds most of the day that made me look like a photographer – ha!  An earthquake and an impending hurricane back home in NYC — happy to be missing all of that drama and possible chaos.  If it looks like I’ll be driving into the eye of the storm on Sunday night, then I’ll just pull over and sleep for about 24 hours and scratch work.

Water, water everywhere — meaning every two or three hours we MUST pull over before I go deaf.   Hardly any mosquitos though.  Maybe it’s the zillions of dragonflies that are eating them?

Started the day in Brainerd – home to many giant things.  Including this laundromat reference.  Pole in the way on the sunny side of the sign, forcing me into this off-kilter angle:


More Brainerd — the Log Cabin Bar.  This must have been a kick-ass sign back in the day — with a simulated spinning wheel:


Just south of town, I encountered “World Guy” and his dog “Nice”.  He’s doing all this walking and pushing of the giant globe for diabetes awareness.  More about him and his cause here:


This one from Motley.  Tree in the way — had to shoot shady side.  Obviously, a repurposed sign.  And yes, the ice cream place, which is also just as much an antiques sort of place, is in a former silo:


From Staples:


Also in Staples — this nice glass work.  An eyewear shop in the storefront below now:


One more from Staples.  Even during the day, this neon target sign was lit and hypnotizing.  The rings are lit sequentially.


The Minnesoda Fountain in Park Rapids:


Also in Park Rapids.  This restaurant is still open but unfortunately, these clocks and animated figures are stationary now:


Back to Brainerd on my loop to get to Paul Bunyan Land when it would be open.  I had been hoping that the Paul and Babe that were at Bunyan Bowl (now closed) would be here.  Turns out those statues went to a log cabin homes place in NC:

But this place did get the Babe head that was inside the bowling alley.  It’s not really on display yet since they need to repair it.  This Babe blows steam from her nostrils.  Or is Babe a he?  I seem to recall seeing male body parts on these statues — too exhausted to check.

There are signs here and there at the Old Farm part of Paul Bunyan Land.  Not the neon variety but gas station and plastic signs.  I like this metal sign — Paul or at least a lumberjack:


From Ironton:


Also Ironton.  This nice miner sign hangs on the side of the American Legion Building:


This one from Crosby:


Over in Garrison:


And last one for the day — a goofy Paul & Babe — in front of the Mille Lacs Museum in Isle:


Just two more days to shoot.  I’ve decided to focus on the southwest corner of Michigan for the remainder of the trip.  If I forget to mention it, tomorrow night will be the last blog post until I get home.  Friday night, I’ll be driving and downing coffee trying to lay down some miles towards the 20 hour drive home that I need to get through this weekend.  The final blog post and Flickr photo batch will be on Monday or Tuesday.

10 thoughts on “Day 33: Central MN – Land of a Million Lakes… and Fish Statues

  1. It looks like Erik “World Guy” Bendl has rolled up many a mile since I encountered him on his first long distance walk in 2007. The big ball caught my eye on US 22 north of Cincinnati as Erik traveled from Louisville to Pittsburgh.

  2. 20 hrs of driving is a haul. I just finished 18 hrs straight enroute from Winnipeg to Toronto… not that you don’t know based on your yeoman driving skills…but take a few breaks and pull over for an hour if you get too tired. Safe driving!

    • 20 hrs is about the normal distance I put myself through on these return-home jaunts. Sucks. But I know my limits and when to nap, get coffee, etc. But I still have one more day to shoot — can’t even think about that yet. As it is, during my normal photo-shooting days, I drive about 12 hours per day. But the boredom of the interstates is so much more difficult — esp. once you’re used to all the visual stimulation. Radio, gum, phone calls, sugar, coffee — and repeat.

  3. Hello, Debra Jane! Greetings from California!

    I am finally back home after 4 weeks in the Land of Dial-Up (AKA my mom’s house) and riding along with you on the last leg of your trip. Actually I’ve been riding with you all along, just too dial-up challenged to say a peep. I have read your blog each day, 12 minutes to load the page!

    So sorry about all the car troubles you had, hopefully that’s all behind you now and your trip home will be smooth sailing. (Well, other than that eye of the hurricane thing. But it just wouldn’t be a Debra Jane Roadtrip without a 100-year storm on the return drive!)

    Stay safe, all my best to you and the pups, and thank you for such amazing photos of these rusty crusty places and signs that will probably be gone five years from now. I do believe your work is very important, a record of the lives and enterprise of those who came before us. Today even the concept of a “town” is disappearing before our very eyes. As always, I am in awe of your stamina and photographic talent.

    I will be thinking of you the whole way home, and sending you and the pups much good karma for a safe journey.

    Best to you,

    • I’m honored that you followed me on dial-up. Yes, this trip has been a challenge but it’s made me stronger! If it looks like I’ll be bumping into Irene on the way home, don’t worry, I’m just gonna stay in PA and wait for her to pass. I don’t need 100 mph winds after driving half way across the country. Thanks for all the compliments. And yes, my compulsion to shoot as much as I can is fueled by knowing much of it won’t be here the “next time”. Stamina I got. Dee and the weather gods (which have been good to me for weeks now) take care of the rest. Actually, it’s usually a very reliable, sturdy crew (dogs, van, camera) and with all the prep work I do, it’s pretty much all physical labor. Coffee and sugar help a lot during the mid-afternoon slump.

      • Here’s my daily routine the last 4 weeks:
        1. Hook up laptop to phone modem, get a connection, launch Chrome. Big white page with spinning icon.
        2. Go start a pot of coffee.
        3. Come back to laptop, see stocks and weather on yahoo.
        4. Click on Debra Jane’s Roadtrip bookmark.
        5. Go outside, smoke cigarette.
        6. Take shower, get dressed, brush teeth.
        7. Pour a cup of coffee, return to laptop, read and see your latest blog post. Read again, and study all the photos, because I didn’t have the patience to wait for any other websites!

        I did manage to drive down to Central Illinois to shoot a few small towns as part of a project for Orange Coast College. All film, so I have no idea if there are any good photos until I get into the darkroom next week. Between dial-up, zero bars on my Verizon cellphone, and shooting film with the old Minolta, this will be forever remembered as My Total Luddite Summer.

        It was actually exciting yesterday to be on JetBlue and see cable TV again! Learned about Irene and of course lots of Apple news. Back in civilization, reconnected with the world. Best flight ever.

      • Sounds like it was relaxing for you — I would have been insanely frustrated! I hope you didn’t scrutinze my posts too carefully — written in deliriously exhausted state. I assume you didn’t have a chance to look at the purty Flickr photos — maybe when you get home & have a speedier situation. I know I’m really looking forward to my big screen TV — the only thing I really miss. Not that I ever sit at watch it — but it’s always on in the background and to me it means “home”. Where I’ll be writing to you from next!

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