Mini-Update from the Twin Cities

Hi folks.  Yep, it’s another “mini-update.”  Sorry about that, but I’ve been doing constant 400-mile days since I left Colorado in early September and haven’t had time to post much on my website.  In about 10 days, though, after I get to my brother’s house in Connecticut, I’ll take a break from traveling and will post full updates for September, complete with captivating (?) stories as well as phenomenal (??) maps, pictures, videos and several cool panorama photos that I’ve recently taken.

Since I Last Wrote...

The last time I wrote, I was at the top of Lemhi Pass in Montana/Idaho, where Lewis & Clark crossed the Continental Divide in 1805.  Even though it dipped below freezing that night, camping at that historic site was one of the – no pun intended – high points of my trip so far.  After leaving Lemhi Pass, I turned east and spent a day in the Yellowstone/Tetons area and boy, was it ever crowded.  From there it was on to Laramie, in eastern Wyoming, where I saw my old friend and former colleague, Warren and his wife, Karla.  As I learned, Warren can grill up a pretty good steak taco. 

After that, it was on to central Kansas, then up to Nebraska, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, into South Dakota, and then to Bismarck, North Dakota.  I spent a day driving 400 miles around northern North Dakota before returning to Bismarck, then I headed to northern Minnesota and an interesting place called the Northwest Angle.  Then it was down to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), where I am now. 

Since I last wrote a couple weeks ago, I’ve visited lots of fascinating geographic places, including:

  • The Tri-State marker at the boundary of Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas.  It's the second Tri-State marker of my trip, so far.
  • The lowest point in the highest state: the Arikaree River in Colorado on the border with Kansas.  In a few weeks, when I get to Delaware, I’ll visit the highest point in the lowest state.  Golly, I might be the first person to visit both places – imagine that.
  • The geographic center of the 48 states, located a few miles north of Lebanon, Kansas. Going to that site was the main reason I visited Kansas.  Well, OK, I always wanted to camp at a place called Prairie Dog State Park, too.  Who wouldn't want to camp there??
  • The Pole of Inaccessibility, or the point in the U.S. that’s the farthest from any ocean coastline. Every country has a Pole of Inaccessibility and for the U.S., it’s on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota (which is also the poorest place in America).  Using my trusty Garmin GPS – and with the kind assistance of some locals – I found it.  While I was there, I wondered:  would the folks in the richest place in America (the Hamptons or maybe Orange County, California) have been so kind to me?  I kinda doubt it.
  • The geographic center of the 50 states, which is located in a farmer’s field about 15 miles north of Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
  • The geographic center of North America, located near the small town of Balta, North Dakota. There’s a big controversy (well, "big" in the Extreme Geography circles) over the actual monument site and I’ll talk about that in my full update, which is coming soon.
  • The northernmost point of the Lower 48 States, located in the Northwest Angle area of Minnesota.  A local guy there, Paul, took me out in his boat one drizzly morning and we found the buoy that marks the northernmost point.  I shot video of our expedition and will post it shortly.
  • The coldest city in America. That’s supposedly International Falls, Minnesota, which dipped down to a brisk -55 degrees back in the early 1900s.  And Shawn, the nice woman at the Chamber of Commerce there, gave me a free t-shirt that proudly states it.  However, my friend Paul up in the Northwest Angle just laughed when I suggested that International Falls was the coldest place in America.  "It's so balmy down there," he said in his Minnesota accent.
  • The headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota.  I've already straddled the headwaters of the Rio Grande River (in Colorado in July) and the Missouri River (in Montana a few weeks ago).  The headwaters of the Mississippi are about 30 feet wide, though, so I couldn't actually straddle it.  Well, you don't want to see the picture of me trying to do it.  

Here in the Twin Cities, I’m staying with my old friend, Mark, and his wife Jayne for a few days and this afternoon, we’re heading out to find a couple of markers.  Mark has gotten the “Extreme Geographer” bug and yesterday he discovered that Minneapolis is the largest city in North America that crosses the 45th parallel, the line of latitude that’s halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.  I used to live in another “45 degree” city (Lincoln City, Oregon), so I thought it was interesting that Minneapolis is at the same latitude. There are a couple plaques at two different sites here that commemorate that fact, so Mark and I are going out to look for them. 

From here it's on to Iowa, Wisconsin, and then the Northeast, where I'll visit five more of the 16 extreme compass points in the Lower 48 states (all in Maine).  Stories and pictures will be coming soon – along with complete updates of my recent travels through the West, so stay tuned!