SPIA and I enjoyed a comfy night parked in the BP Gas Station in West Willmar. Was up at 5:00 am, wind rocking SPIA and pounding a tattoo on the roof.
Turned on SPIA's propane furnace and nearly went back to sleep...only to think about all I would miss if I didn't get out and shake some bushes...so, I rolled out, made up my bed, prepared my porridge (hot oatmeal), dressed, and leaving SPIA in the empty / CLOSED gas station, began walking West on US 12 in the windy cold rain.
3.5 hours later, I returned to SPIA, drove to the NEW Willmar...that place a mile or so South of old town, where 1.5 miles of Shopping Center after Shopping Center lined Highway 23.
Stopped in at a number of big box and little box stores looking for a leather punch...all to no avail.
I must say, the sales persons I met were a bit in a fog...neither friendly nor disrespectful...kinda just not altogether together.
I felt uncomfortable and was not displeased to drive west out of Willmar to the town of Kerkhoven, where SPIA parked while I walked another 3.5 hours (12 miles); still needing 7 miles to reach the town of Benson, Minnesota, our evening destination.
US 12 West, leaving Willmar.
Seeing this sign, I knew we were in the North Country. One sees this sign only when a roadway is subject to closeing because of drifting snow blocking the road somewhere up ahead.
US 12 passing through Kerkhoven.
Lousy picture, but I include it because of the sign reading: GLACIAL PLAINS COOPERATIVE.
Yesterday, I theorized that the glaciers of 10,000 years ago had a lot to do with the topography...including soil composition and 10,000 lakes - of Minnesota.
A rather interesting photograph of black soil contrasting with umber marsh grass...the two main elements to be found in this part of Minnesota.
This sign is placed at the entrance of every town along the Minnesota Highways I have walked.
A good idea to let drivers know they better get on the brakes.
Look at Kerkhoven from West to East as I returned from my second walk of the day.
This establishment, I am informed, is owned by the town of Benson, Minnesota...a nice business for the township to have. SPIA is spending the night parked as you see her above.
After parking, I walked BACK East to pick up the 7 miles we needed to reach Benson.
A railroad runs through the middle of Benson, effectively cutting it in half.
It was suggested that I consider dinner at Duffy's Tavern (really called Duffy's Bar and Grill), as having unusually excellent food.
Although my Debit Card was near empty...and still 4 days to "payday", I decided to visit Duffy's and at least look around.
On the way to Duffy's, I met up with this cute apparition, dancing on the street corner, enticing passing motorists to attend the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars - of which I am a member -Saturday Night Fundraiser festivities.
Asking permission to photograph the apparition, it immediately leaped over to the light pole and did what any normal male dog would do...I don't see anything running, I said...so it started to run in circles...No No...I didn't see any stream of pee...I'm good, it replied, but not quite THAT good.
...and what might your name be?...I'm called SPOT. Well, I'm Bruce, walking America...your doing WHAT?...walking America...I walk lots doing this gig, but never America...etc. etc.
We hit it off immediately.
Handing it my SAM & ME business card, it removed a "paw", revealing several artistically painted finger nails and a delicate white hand...you been practicing that Pole & ME trick?...oh, that...yep...said I was good.
I reluctantly shook paws, pinched "her" nose, and walked the final block to Duffy's.
Duffy's is a darkened Den, buzzing with chatter from the many folks sitting around tables scattered across the large double room. I took a "high" table with stools - arrogantly placing myself where I could not be missed from any direction, and ordered PRIME RIB, end-cut, well done...OK OK, I know in "good" restaurants, I would have been chased out with a broom, but they considered the fact that my Server recognized me - I was in my "foul weather" regalia - because it was still blowing, raining, and the temperature was dropping from the previous high for the day of 42 F.
My daughter and I saw you early this morning as we drove to Willmar...you were walking East a couple miles from Willmar. Where you walking to...from...(and so it went)
Please say Hello to Linda.
Linda was my Server this evening at Duffy's. She was so attentive and fun to chat with...but insisted I could not use my American Express Credit Card, and my Debit Card was near empty.
The Debit Card cleared OK, but left me nothing to give Linda a tip. Just want you to know, Linda that I owe you.
Please say Hello to Reed Afinson.
As I was stacking up my empty dishes for Linda, Reed stepped over to my table, asking if I were really walking America. Several minutes later, Reed introduced himself as the Owner of the local Benson Newspaper and PRESIDENT of the National Newspaper Association.
Reed had just driven back home to Benson from - I believe he said - I forget, but someplace on the banks of the Missouri River, a very long drive from Benson; and, instead of heading right home, stopped to chat with me.
Reed was taking notes all the while we spoke...dumb me, I had nothing to write on (I know, Karen, I MUST carry your gifted notepad and pencil).
To say the least, Reed and I had a very interesting conversation about a number of topics...mostly before I know who he was and what he represented.
I am pleased and humbled, Reed, for your visit and sharing your time instead of rushing home after your long exhausting day of speaking engagements.
...and, last but not least, please say Hello to Dan (l.), Matthew, and Marsha, sitting at the adjoining table as Reed and I visited.
When Reed left to rush home, Dan asked...are you really walking America...and so it started all over again. The three of them had just been served their dinner. After I gave a quick overview of SAM & ME, Dan would ask another question. This back and forthing went on for the entire time they were eating...and for some time after.
I was so pleased to spend time with such kind and interesting folks at Duffy's...visited on a whim...sometimes the most pleasurable and fruitful...especially after slogging wet windy cold roadways all day.
Thank you all.
In the morning, SPIA remains parked while I walk West on Highway #9, toward the town of Morris, 25 miles distant.
To share the evening weather of Benson, it is very cold, still as a hiding mouse, with heaviness in the air as thick fog wafts through the streets and down the railroad tracks on my way back to SPIA. SPIA's propane furnace has been turned on since I returned...temperature inside is 60 F., but the chill lingers along the floor...oops, the furnace kicked in just as I wrote those words...
Will make up my bed, read some Kindle, and snuggle under Karen Estey's gifted goose down Duvet.