Fargo Adventure Ride

June 20, 2010

a gaggle of Fargos

Friday, I took the day off work and rode the Fargo Adventure Ride.  Sixty miles of pavement, gravel, dirt, and grass trails. There were 10 of us.  Six on Fargos.  I rode my Kona Jake the Snake. We rolled out of Lebanon Hills around 8:15 am. A couple of miles of bike paths took us to gravel roads and we headed east and south. Jason led us through Rosemount and down to Farmington.  We rode through Umore park. We stopped near a sheep farm while someone fixed a flat.

MG's new friend

The first part of the ride was pleasant.  Mark declared the roads hero gravel.  Smooth as silk. In Farmington, we stopped at a Kwik Trip for supplies. At this point I was feeling good.  Then Jason led us to Vermillion Heights.  Grass trails used for horse back riding, skiing, and hiking.  Jason had warned us fat tires were a good idea.  I had just mounted some 42 mm Continentals on my bike.  This is where the Fargos shined.  The Salsa Fargo is capable of just about anything.  It’s a fat tire, drop bar, 29er.  It has six water bottle mounts. It’s kind of a monster truck for off-road touring.  Load it up and go. The Fargo riders attacked the trail.  Mud, dirt, and sand. I survived with my skinny tires and took my punishment. After a while, we found this rock.

nice view from the top

Wild raspberries provided a nice snack.

mud crossing

At one point, Jason took a sharp right turn.  Like  a fool, I followed.  He was plowing through prairie grass 4 ft. high.  I’m sure there was a trail there at some point. Early spring maybe. I was using my sense of smell because I could not see the trail. Then I caught a rut. Rider down.  At least the prairie grass provided a soft landing.

stacks at Umore Park

Alien space craft

our leader and some Umore gravel

Fargos headed for home

We rolled back through Umore park and then more pavement on our return to Lebanon Hills. I met some great guys Friday. MG can ride a wheelie like I’ve never seen and he brought dumb dumbs.

After the ride Julie met me at Lebanon and we grabbed something to eat at Doolittles. On Saturday, Julie and I rode to Farmington and back before work and tomorrow we plan to ride some gravel.

The Fargo Adventure Ride was everything I thought it would be. A huge thank you to Jason for organizing this ride. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Wounded Knee-Midwest Connections

June 12, 2010

On December 29, 1890, American troops opened fire with howitzers on hundreds of unarmed Lakota Sioux men, women, and children near Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota, killing nearly 300 Sioux. As acclaimed historian Heather Cox Richardson shows in Wounded Knee, the massacre grew out of a set of political forces all too familiar to us today: fierce partisanship, heated political rhetoric, and an irresponsible, profit-driven media.

Richardson tells a dramatically new story about the Wounded Knee massacre, revealing that its origins lay not in the West but in the corridors of political power back East. Politicians in Washington, Democrat and Republican alike, sought to set the stage for mass murder by exploiting an age-old political tool—fear. Assiduously researched and beautifully written, Wounded Knee will be the definitive account of an epochal American tragedy.

ABOUT THE AUTHORrichardson author photo

Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of West from Appomattox, The Greatest Nation on Earth,and The Death of Reconstruction.

Deeply Rooted-Midwest Connections

June 7, 2010

“The food revolution taking place in this country cannot be truly successful without an agricultural revolution. We must inspire our farmers and create millions more of them. The extraordinary farmers Lisa Hamilton profiles in Deeply Rooted embody the future of American agriculture.”
— Alice Waters

”David Podoll set out to prove organic agriculture wrong, but instead was converted; he and his brother now buck the North Dakotan trend of farm consolidation and corn, soybean and wheat monoculture by focusing on the family garden and breeding plants for diversity, beauty and strength. The book vividly shows how these stubborn individualists rooted in the soil struggle are forging a path away from monolithic agribusiness to sustainable agriculture for its promise of spiritual integrity, community and food security.”
– Publishers Weekly

A century of industrialization has left our food system riddled with problems, yet for solutions we look to nutritionists and government agencies, scientists and chefs. Lisa M. Hamilton asks: why not look to the people who grow our food?

In this narrative nonfiction book she tells three stories, of an African-American dairyman in Texas who plays David to the Goliath of agribusiness corporations; a tenth-generation rancher in New Mexico struggling to restore agriculture as a pillar of his community; and a modern pioneer family in North Dakota breeding new varieties of plants to face the future’s double threat: climate change and the patenting of life forms. In unique ways, these “unconventional farmers” reject the passive role that modern agriculture has insisted they accept and instead reclaim their place as stewards of the land and leaders within society.

Threads of history and discussion weave through the tales, exploring how farmers have been pushed to the margins of agriculture and how that has led to the broken food system we grapple with today. These unusual characters and their extraordinary stories make the case that in order to repair the damage, we must bring farmers back to the table.

ABOUT THE AUTHORLisa author photo (1)

Journalist and photographer Lisa M. Hamilton spent two years profiling three families in rural America who represent a change in the way we should think about food and agriculture, including the Podolls, a modern pioneer family in LaMoure, North Dakota, breeders of new varieties of plants to face the future’s double threat: global warming and biotech food.

Hamilton’s work has been published in National Geographic Traveler,Harper’s MagazineThe NationOrion, and Gastronomica. She lives in Northern California.

The Stormchasers-Midwest Connections

June 5, 2010

In Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum proved herself a master storyteller with brilliant insight into the spectrum of humanemotion shared between mother and daughter in a relationship fraught with secrets and guilt. Now, in her powerful and provocative second novel, Jenna turns her sights to the most intimate and mysterious of family relationships—that between twins—and asks the question: How far would you go to protect a sibling—and at what cost to yourself?

Karena Jorge is at her desk at the Minneapolis Ledger when she gets a call from a mental health ward in Wichita, Kansas. Her brother, Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder, has just been admitted, and they need Karena to come pick him up. Karena hasn’t seen or spoken to her brother in nearly twenty years. As teenagers, Karena, had always been the one to protect and look out for Charles, but as Charles begins to refuse medication and his manic tendencies worsen, Karena finds herself caught between her loyalty to her brother and her fear for his life. Always obsessed with the weather—enraptured by its magical unpredictability that seemed to mirror his own impulses—Charles begins chasing storms, and his behavior grows increasingly erratic… until a terrifying storm chase with Karena ends with deadly consequences, rending apart the twins and changing both of their lives forever.

Now, two decades later, Karena is plunged into a maelstrom of guilt, anger, love, shame. She goes to Kansas to retrieve her brother—only to discover that Charles has lied to the doctors, gotten medication that could make him dangerously manic, and disappeared again. Karena, who’s used every reporter’s tool at her disposal to try and track down her brother, knows she has only one last chance of finding him: the storms. Wherever the tornadoes are, that’s where he’ll be.  Though terrified of severe weather herself, Karena joins a professional storm chase tour, and, forced to confront the violent secret from her past she had long since buried, Karena sets off on a Great Plains odyssey to find her brother before he does further damage to himself—or to tsomebody else.Jenna Blum in Montana credit Marcia Perez


Jenna Blum is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Those Who Save Us. She lives in Boston, MA, and teaches creative writing.


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