The next day we headed back east taking the north road up through North Dakota and then onward to Minnesota. The ride north was just a big prairie grass land and when I did not have my nose in the book, I listened to the Walkman and just gazed out the window at the vast ocean of nothing. Talk about a land that is empty. Even as we made our way east along the highway, it still seemed lonely, very little traffic and only an occasional house, many miles apart. There is just nothing there. In some ways, it was very soothing, just riding along, listening to my collection of tapes.
In some ways, that emptiness was very attractive to my folks. Believe me, I rode in the backseat through some back roads and back country in my youth and the emptiness, the peacefulness, yeah, it was all there. Not much happened except a chance to stop at a very old service station, get some gas and dig in an ancient cooler for a bottle of coke. It was so dry and hot that we drank down those cokes, put 'em in the rack next to the cooler and cracked open one for the road. We continued on the long journey, heading to the coldest place in North America, even in the summer.
After a long, quiet day of just driving, we pulled into International Falls, Minnesota to camp for the night. Believe it or not, even in August, it got chilly over night. But it was just a quick pit stop, a quick jaunt through both sides of the river in the ever present Bait Shops. Back then, it was easy to just go across into Canada, browse Sheeple Trinkets, and head back across and be on our way. That is what we did, because tomorrow we were going to go look at a big hole in the ground.
The next morning we drove down to the Mesabi Range to see the big pit in the ground. At the height of production between the wars (I do mean WWI and WWII) this big hole produced about a quarter of all iron ore in the US. I could tell by the size of the hole. Of course, I read everything I could get my hands on, getting the feeling this was a trip all about mining, but that was cool, cause it is pretty interesting. I was amazed at the sheer size of everything. A dump truck you had to climb a ladder to get to the cab and the wheels were eight, yes 8 ft tall! All very cool, to see such wonders in the middle of no where.
After a morning of pit driving, we headed back toward Michigan to go sample the Gogebic Iron Range and all of the deep mines that dot the Western U.P. This was one of those things we wanted to do during the big trip around Superior and did not have time to do then. So this was a continuation, if you will of our site seeing and now that I think about it, fascination with mines.
We were back in Ironwood, setting up camp for one more day of mining exploration before the trip back home. We were good little sheeple, took tons of pics, ohh'd and ahh'd at all the appropriate places and even snagged of few Treasures. The lameness never really surfaced, and nothing strange happened along the way. It was clear sailing.. er driving, and no crazy hijinks in a mine shaft. We did good, but the grande adventure was winding down. Good thing really, I had half a book and one set of fresh batteries left in my stock. Tomorrow, we had once last mining excursion and then back to the Great Road home.