Bemidji – September 2014
Report by Waiyen Chu, Club President
You might say to yourself as you see the pictures to the left, the folks in that picture sure looks like they are having a great time based on the smiles on their faces. We were indeed having a great time but I must admit, personally I was smiling for a completely different reason. I was smiling because I was damn glad I did have not have a Clydesdale hoof through my windshield, more on that later. Over the weekend of September 12th to 14th, Red River Region PCA went on a fantastic trip to Bemidji hosted by Region member Rich Siegert.
Most of the group met on Friday morning to convoy on to Warroad MN in order to meet Sabine and Andreas who were driving from their home in Sioux Lookout, ON. Rick Dobel lead the group to Bemidji through some of his favourite fishing spots. Others wished to go at their own pace and met up with the rest of the group in Bemidji that evening.
Upon arrival on Friday, the group was treated to a catered reception in one of Rich’s hotel’s banquet rooms and discussed plans for the remainder of the weekend. Rich distributed maps and discussed waypoints/attractions he would be leading us to the next day.
Saturday morning started with a complimentary breakfast, the group set off for a visit with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox … well most of the group did. For some odd reason Richard Wansbutter and myself were somehow able to lose track of the group in front of us and the first destination was less than 1 mile down the road from the hotel parking lot. I blame my Canadian GPS unit! I embarrassingly had to go back to the front desk to find out where the statues were. The rest of the day I made sure we do not lose sight of the car in front which turned out for most of the day to be the Fernandos’ Panamera and its mesmerizing spoilers. I had no idea all the different directions they can go! It all depends on the mode set by the driver, and Paz mixed it up for us!
We really cannot thank Rich enough for plotting such a wonderful route! He led us for a scenic drive along some fantastic twisty turny 2 lane undivided roads to and from Itasca State Park. I can only assume they were scenic as I was concentrating more on keeping my car rubber side down.
Did I mentioned the roads were state trooper free??? In order to not incriminate any of the drivers in the group I will not disclose exactly at what rate we might or might not have been traveling; suffice to say I know of at least one (and I’m guessing more) of the drivers have already mentioned they need to replace their front tires after the drive. The smell of burnt rubber was definitely noticeable in the hotel parking lot that evening. The route was fantastic, there were endless combinations of double turns along with elevation changes. On more than one occasion I had to battle the laws of physics to ensure my car would complete a turn in the amount of asphalt available. Having driven through many parts of North America I have to admit I have not encountered a horse and carriage warning sign prior to this trip. For some reason I thought it was amusing when we drove past it but quickly realized that it was posted as fair warning of what we would soon encounter. I was in the middle of the convoy and was wondering why everyone in front of me were scooting over to the oncoming traffic lane for what I thought was no reason at all. It was soon apparent the reason for the weaving back and forth; the cars in front of me were avoiding mounds upon mounds of road apples. The second example of why the warning sign was needed happened around a blind corner. We were traveling at an appropriately high velocity and I noticed Dr. Fernando slowing down to an uncharacteristically low speed to for the turn. I had thought there might be a trooper or the local sheriff coming towards us but I did not notice a motor vehicle … and as I was concentrating more on not instantly fusing my car into the back seat of theirs I did not have scan that far ahead for an extended period of time. As I entered the corner it became quickly evident why the good doctor slowed down; there was an indeed an oncoming vehicle but it was not motorized. I can within inches (in the middle of a decreasing radius turn) of a young man piloting a wagon pulled by a pair of the biggest horses I have even seen in my life. At that point I am pretty sure my eyes became bigger than the horses as I was
a) surprised to see a wagon in the oncoming lane;
b) grateful the horses were calm and used to oncoming vehicles; and
c) the driver of the wagon had the horses in control and did not charge at and crush my car. I was informed afterwards by the other drivers the horses were in fact Clydesdales. The day was not just a day of driving at excessive speeds; Rich led us to through Itasca State Park where we visited the headwaters of the Mississippi River, we visited the tallest pine trees in the state and had a wonderful lunch at the historic Douglas Lodge. I really enjoyed the drive inside the park as the sun poked through the clouds and I was able to open my roof and an opportunity to enjoy nature; if you call rumbling through the woods in a convoy of loud sports cars enjoying nature. I am sure we scared the living daylights out of a number of deer, rabbits, squirrels, and various birds who usually enjoy a serene and peaceful existence within the park.
On the last day of the trip we all left town at our own pace and I ended up selecting a route that took me along the shores of Red Lake, MN which was scenic and free of other traffic. During the parts of the trip where we were not on the road, we ate great food and enjoyed fellow members’ company. I believe all that made the trip had a wonderful weekend and I highly recommend you all join us next year. Rich and myself had already discussed perhaps scheduling this trip a little earlier on in the summer in order for us to enjoy some water events such as a pontoon boat ride on the lake; especially for members that might have developed a fear of Clydesdales!!!