I set a new personal one-day distance record on my return trip from Minnesota. I rode my fancy, German motor scooter 640 miles in 10 hours, 20 minutes. And I was hurting afterwards. I don’t know how those Iron Butt Riders can regularly do 1,000 mile days. For the last hundred miles or so, I was periodically standing up like I was riding a dirt bike, just to ease the pain in my not-even-close-to-iron glutes.
It’s nice to be home, but I sure did enjoy the low temperatures and low humidity of the north. The locals there say the summers can almost make you forget the six months of snow on the ground in winter. Almost.
During the second week of my stay, I made a couple of day trips to an area north of Duluth known as the Iron Range, where I got to see what open-pit iron mining looks like. In short, it looks horrible. It is incredibly jarring to the senses to travel through vast areas of scenic natural beauty, seeing nothing but forest for mile upon mile, and then suddenly be confronted with a barren moonscape like this.
It is difficult to describe the sheer size of this mining operation. The pictures just can’t do it justice. (It has been suggested that amateur bloggers/philosophers should learn how to use the panoramic feature on their phone camera if they want to go posting photos on the intertoobz, but I can’t be arsed.) Here is another shot, similar to the first, but you can see a tiny, yellow dump truck down in the pit, on the far left side.
To get an idea of the scale, the tires on that yellow dump truck are taller than the average man. In case I am not making myself clear, this is one whopping big hole in the ground. I left there wondering if it can be seen from space. It is big, and it is ugly. But it is pretty much the only source of good-paying jobs for the residents of several small towns in the area.
I find it comforting that in fifty-some years — basically my own lifetime — Mother Nature can turn a man-made atrocity into something beautiful again.