Bit of accidental surrealism… No, the bike isn’t falling over, but the house might! Such are the joys of roamin’ the Buffalo Ridge!

Became eligible for Social Security Old Age benefits yesterday, and of course, like with every life event, a celebratory ride was in order. Looked at the maps and noted that I’d already ridden most every paved road in Minnesota and Iowa within a day’s ride. That left South Dakota and maybe Nebraska. Looked at the weather and forecast was for cooler weather to the northwest. Northwest of my humble abode is the Buffalo Ridge, with lots of roads I still haven’t had opportunity to experience. A plan was coming together…

This being my birthday, no need to rush, and after 40 miles I was on new (to me) roads. Wandered the Buffalo Ridge with a stop in Watertown for internet access and late breakfast, then further up the ridge. Forsake I-29 and cruised old US-81, could almost hear the juiced up Detroits racing loads of cattle to the packing houses and overloaded grain trucks to the elevators from the time before the Interstate. Was especially interested in the Roberts county area of NE SD, home to the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (tribe) and not fully settled ’til not quite a century ago. Checked out some roads that were closed to flooding just a few months back and passed on a couple that were covered with all too much loose pea gravel from sloppy attempts at “chip sealing” as they call it. Checked out some new roads across this remote end of the ridge, got a look at the controversial “megadairies” that just went bankrupt, and stopped for ice cream… Twice!

Even caught a couple nice looking short line locomotives up near the SD/ND border. Could have caught the train too, as it was moving at barely a jogging pace despite pulling only four cars full of lumber… Tracks looked pretty scary! Must be a fresh repaint, because at the next crossing I saw a fellow railfan with camera ready to add this train’s photo to his collection too. This was about the turnaround point, figured that about 2 pm I should head back being that a chance of evening thunderstorms were in the forecast. The storms went the other way, so had time for a supper stop at Culvers in Watertown.

After being “skunked” in my hunt for the elusive 17 axle South Dakota centipede on sunday, I caught my limit today at the truck stop in Watertown. Yup, even in South Dakota where they let anything and everything on the highway, those are permit loads. And there were 3 wind turbines worth, nine of these really big blades in all. With the storms gone the other way, I wandered some more, finding an old railroad grade that showed that the Rock Island made it further north than Clear Lake. Dang, lotta old railroad grades out here, and the further west you go the less chance they’ve been bulldozed into farm fields. Hmmm… Out “West River” where the brush don’t grow much they might make for some interesting 2 or 3 wheel adventuring.

A final stop for a massively stacked ice cream cone in Ivanhoe, then home just as the sun set. Dang, these birthdays are so much fun I’ll have to have a lot more!