The land of 10,000 mosquitoes

The drive from The Apostle Islands to Leech Lake Minnesota was fairly traffic free, other than for a short time, when we entered the Superior, WI / Duluth, MN area.

A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.”— Tom Waits

I was looking for 10,000 lakes worth of scenery. What I found was The World of Accordions Museum. Clearly the picture to the left is illegible, but it is my proof that there is an entire, rather large, building dedicated to the lowly concertina and it’s better known cousin, the accordion.

We had an accordion when I was a kid. None of us could play it, but for some reason, we kept one in the basement. We were nerds.

I digress. Back to the lakes: I had high hopes of seeing thousands of lakes as we cruised the countryside into Northern Minnesota. License plates boast that this northern state is the ‘Land of 10, 000 Lakes’. I, perhaps, saw 10 lakes, and those were mostly obscured by pine trees. That is not to say that the lakes aren’t there, it’s just that the 10-thousand lakes are hidden behind 10-million trees. The trees, however, are lush, healthy and abundant. Even our Leech Lake Campground was not really a lake, it was merely a wetlands that, eventually, opened up into a lake, but it was not visible from the camping area.

The wetlands in this region are home to wild rice and cranberry bogs. There is an amazingly tasty wild rice and cranberry bread that can be found in the local bakeries.

“Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky” ~Ojibwe saying.

The Leech Lake area is home to the Ojibwe, who are also known as the Chippewa. A prophecy urged them to move west to “the land where food grows on water”, which, they believed, was a clear reference to the wild rice. This crop and the revelation served as an incentive for these indigenous peoples to migrate westward.

Wet, marshy, land, on which wild rice is grown is also a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. So, rather than 10,000 sparkling, blue reservoirs, we had 10,000 buzzing, biting insects.

Thank God it was raining, we had an excuse to stay inside with our e-readers. It was also an opportunity for a re-supply run.

Onward to North Dakota, where we would be camped along the wide, Missouri. The land boasts vast acreages of grasslands with an occasional hill or butte along the river to spice up the topography. This is truly America’s breadbasket, with far-reaching farms and colossal cattle ranches.

This is the land through which Lewis and Clark ventured to explore the west following the Louisiana Purchase. We decided to get a history lesson at Fort Mandan, near Washburn, ND. Although I was a fairly decent student of American history, I confess that there was a whole lot I did not know about the Corps of Discovery Expedition. Did you know that Merriweather Lewis brought his Newfoundland pup, named Seaman, along to be a member of the crew?

 “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton

It would not be another RV ramble post without an appearance by Gypsy.

She did not make it to Fort Mandan because it was not a dog-friendly tour. She did, however, manage to find an historical marker along a trail, commemorating PORT Mandan.

We discovered that our plans to make it to Glacier National Park, involved a 25-mile drive on gravel to make it to the 1st stop. We also observed that the 2nd stop in Montana would entail a 12-hour drive. In order to save our trip, our sanity, and probably our marriage, we made some modifications to the trip. These changes include stays in commercial camp grounds (not state parks) in the booming metropolises of Glasgow and Shelby, MT.

I assure you that these stops will be quirky….

Stay tuned….

2 thoughts on “The land of 10,000 mosquitoes

  1. Last time I was in Montana was during one of gas crisis. National speed limit was 55mph. Except in Montana. There essentially was no speed limit. Border sign said something to the effect ‘Trucks 65 at night. All others reasonable and prudent.’ Recall doing 85, policeman passed by, didn’t even glance my way [we were on a straightaway]. If you were on a two lane highway headed West, you stayed in the slow lane. If you wanted to pass the car in front, used a turn signal, pulled into the passing lane, and after passing the car, you put on your turn signal and returned to the slow lane. No flashing high beams, no tailgating, no hand gestures, no drivers tourettes. Most courteous drivers I encountered in all 50 states. Sadly, this reality does not extend to neighboring states.

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    1. Driving ‘out west’ has been a joy when compared to the congested mess in the Mid-Atlantic. My anxiety level has decreased dramatically! Onward to Shelby, MT today, then we land in Glacier National Park on Sunday. I love Montana 🙂

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