Day 11 – Duluth Minnesota to Grand Forks – North Dakota

We have arrived in Grand Forks with time to spare but we nearly spend the night in the Sherriff’s jail for speeding on highway 2.

Lets begin at the beginning.

First of all many thanks for all the kind and funny messages that you send us every day. They come from all over the world and even from new friends that have seen us en route.

Keep them going!

This morning an early and rainy start to the rally day. We clocked out of the hotel at 8.01 local time and I must admit it took a few miles to focus on the job at hand. Yesterday was an intense day with a lot of distance covered and we could feel it.

The morning brought us almost one hundred and fifty kilometres of forest tracks with nice country roads in between. A local enthusiast told me last night that the area we were traveling through has a lot of swampland and so it was. Most of the countryside and forest are virtually deserted so we can cruise along on the endless gravel roads at between 80 and 100 km. It’s like the rally of Finland (1000 Lakes)

Where can you do this without getting in trouble in Europe?

Some areas look pretty affluent others are pretty poor with old worn out trailers as houses. This is also Moose area but unfortunately we did not see one at all.
In June the Moose’s are in Florida a local told us….
This area of the United States is Indian country and there is also the Amish community so we have been on the look out for both all day. The Indians and the Amish did not go to Florida like the Moose’s and this afternoon we spotted some ‘red skinned’ Indians working by a house we passed. Eventually Grace spotted an Amish family in a field along the road but we did not see one of their small carriages that they use instead of cars. Maybe tomorrow but Grace tells me we are not allowed to photograph them.

We had a lunch stop in a town called Park Rapids. It was quite a nice location and we had more then an hour before we had to start again so we took a nice salad lunch and had time to check over the car after the punishment of the forests. The Benz is in good shape but is really dirty from dust and mud.

Then after lunch two regularities in the forest again. This time we used a different tactic with stopwatch and distance meter in one separate trip master so that Grace can give me an average speed update every 500 meters. This over a distance of 15 km through rough and tight forest tracks at an average speed of 60 km an hour.

Great fun and we did well with a time penalty of a few seconds. The second trial was similar except that we had two speed variations during the 16 km trial. Again out new approach seems to work and we had only a small penalty from the target time. This is all rally speak for the layman in our sport but rest assured that it is about seconds and not minutes and it makes the difference between winning or loosing. Believe me team Haas is doing pretty well!

After these two trial sections we left the gravel and the forests for our run to our night destination Grand Forks in North Dakota.

When we drove through one of the many small towns we spotted Anty at a car wash with a high-pressure wash device to get the thick mud of his little MG. We joined him and thoroughly cleaned our red Benz from all the dust and clay of the last few days.

After this interlude here was a variety of long and winding country roads through a beautiful green and curving landscape.

Then we reached the highway no 2 leading us for about 100 km into Grand Forks.
This highway is a vast straight four lane empty road leading to the horizon with blue skies and small clouds in the distance. Grace noted that with these skies you could see on the horizon that the earth was round. We tried to take a photograph but it does not really show the reality. Stunning!

The maximum speed on the highway is 65 miles an hour, which is already 10 miles more, then the norm. When you want to cover 85 km on a road like this to get to a cool beer in the hotel you drive 140 km in a Mercedes Pagode – top down no worry in the world. Now and then you pass a car but for the rest the road is clear both in front and behind.

About half way this stretch of road I suddenly saw a black car catching up with me at high speed. Normally you don’t expect cars going faster then yourself so that could only mean one thing ‘ Smokey”

And yes a few second later the lights went on and I pulled over in the side lane.

Smokey or Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Eischers parked behind me and like in the movies (I kept my hands on the steering wheel) came over and then turned out to be a very pleasant officer who asked if we were in a race or rally because he had already spotted 25 cars like mine before me.

After I explained where we came from and where we were going he said that I had been doing 82 miles on a 65-mile road but that he would let me get away with a warning. He wanted to see my driving licence, which he did not understand at all, and then he wrote us a ticket as a memento for our scrapbook. Really very civilized and not something I did expect. He did say that a fine for such a speed offence would be $ 130 at which stage I had to contain myself because in Holland or Switzerland you would pay at least € 500 for this.

He than wished us a good trip and let us go. I am sure that if I had been a local redneck with a beat up Ford 150 pickup truck I would have been on the ground and handcuffed…

So we got away for a second time and I think Grace ‘on my seat cover’ had something to do with it.

So the last 65 km we stuck to the speed limit to reach Grand Forks where we are in a hotel in the outskirts of the town by the university campus. Not spectacular but good rooms and we choose to have a quite diner with Anty and Sonja in one of the hotel restaurants rather then going to the group dinner. We maintained our 12th overall place in the rally but we will have to work hard for it every day.

Tomorrow an easier day with some more free time in the afternoon to go and spend some time in James Town.

More of that tomorrow,

Good night,

Mick and Grace