Soggy Tofu and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Rain (640x480)Waking up to a high gray overcast and news that is was raining in Sturgis was all I needed to know. We were going to get wet. On the road at 0749, we got maybe an hour or two down the road before Mother Nature evened out the perfect riding day we enjoyed yesterday.  

Heading south out of Fairmont on MN 15 we were heading west on Iowa 9 in minutes (honestly, following Ed and his radar detector, we were cruising on almost traffic-free roads at serious ticket speeds). While the signs identifying our route changed, the fields of soy beans and corn continued to march endlessly to the horizon. It is like cruising a green ocean of agriculture that will end its days as tofu and high fructose corn syrup.

When the sun is out, this panorama of tall tasseled corn and the lush green carpet of beans rolling to the horizon is tranquil and viscerally serene. Two-lane roads scribe asphalt lines through the green, connecting small-town islands that appear every 10 or 20 miles. From Estherville, IA, west, these islands  were home to happy and sad scenes. Main Streets watched our passage with the vital and focused store-front eyes. Others were blind and boarded up.

Harley (640x480)This dichotomy continued just out of town, with a spotless white screen at an outdoor theater surrounded by corn and beans. And after another there was a consist of a half-dozen passenger train cars and a caboose, windowless and slowly being consumed by unknown vegetation.

When it’s raining, all we can see is the road ahead. Our speed slows and we keep a sharp eye for puddles that the BMW’s front wheel bifurcates, launching a surprising and disconcerting blast of water against your left boot. Discussing our precipitatory ordeal at lunch, the creation of puddle projectiles seems to be a trait shared by at least two BMWs.

scott (480x640)With the 73rd annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD, stating this weekend, We’ve been seeing rumbling Harley-Davison hogs in almost uncountable numbers. People seemed surprised at our BMWs, and that we are going to Seattle, and only passing through Sturgis. At Boom’s Restaurant, at the corner of SD 44 and 37 in Parkston, There were two older Harley couples drying out in the alcove, and another dozen or so inside, their uniformly black getups trimmed in orange with dark damp splotches here and there.

Ed (480x640)Sucking down serial cups of help-yourself coffee with our lunches, we recovered from our hypothermia experiment. From the booth back across from us our riding jackets dripped puddles on the floor. When we entered two farm couples, just finished with lunch, started up a conversation when one of the women said that in my electric yellow rain suit, I looked ready for outer space. He was happy for the rain, the memory of last year’s drought still fresh in his mind. For a conversation connection not clear to me, the other woman said she used to drive 18-wheelers, but now delivered RVs. Her husband didn’t say a word.

From our booth we could watch the rain wash the last of yesterday’s bugs off the bikes. As the coffee’s warmth spread, Ed checked the weather on his iPhone. Big blobs of green with thick yellow hearts were marching out way. iPhone also revealed that a few blocks north on SD 37 was the Dakota HorizInn, and a quick call revealed that they had a room. The decision matrix only had one step. Get a room.


About smspangler

Freelance writer, editor, and photographer of myriad aviation topics and the exploration of America's small towns.
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