It's not a vacation without endangering one's life
On I-90, between St. Cloud and Sauk Center, ninety minutes into the day, I hit a deer. The car still worked, so I pulled into the nearest gas station and took a look. No broken glass, no leaking fluids (and no deflated air bags. Hmm...), only a dented hood; even the wheels seemed to have stayed aligned. I called the police to see if I needed to report it. (No injury, car drivable, no wounded or dead animal left on the road... no police report, and since below the insurance deductible, no report to them either). Too dark for a photo then, here's what it looked like 16 hours later:
Guess I needed to make the trip worthwhile.
Height of Land Lookout Tower, Clearwater County 2005 feet (#18 of 55 highest in state)
The tower's gone, unfortunately. I drove toward Lake Itasca State park, west on 113, then 5 miles north on Height of Land Road where I started the search by going at least 1/2 mile up (or down) every road, trail or deer track from that point. The flies were everywhere. Running helps keep the flies at bay; I was sore from the long car ride, sore from the accident, sore from running injuries, sore from rehab exercises - but I wasn't wheezing! - and I got to see otters for the first time in my life. I also saw a lot of turtles laying eggs.
|Cheap proof for doubters|
|The remains of the tower. (forgot to change camera focus)|
Thorpe Lookout Tower, Hubbard County, 1845 feet (#29)
Back to 113, back to MN 71, north to 200, east to Cty 91, south to state forest entrance, 1 mile east, 1 mile south. Drank some more and headed out, first on a wrong track (honestly, I could get lost in an empty parking lot), then on the obvious spur to the tower, which, of course, wasn't there. There were, however, a lot of wood ticks as well as flies. In the car, I stopped counting after 12, but had at least 20 I removed. I finished off the first gallon of water and headed on - occasionally swerving as I'd find another vampirish hitch-hiker on my legs.
|Concrete footings of the old tower (more focus probs)|
Took 91 south, which becomes a paved road with a surprising amount of traffic and a lot of tourists with boats, bikes and ATVs to MN34 west through Park Rapids (where I bought gas - cheapest I saw was $3.33, compared to the $3.54 I filled up on back home) to Cty 21, south to Wolf Lake Road, which is drivable in a truck, but not in a compact that just hit a deer. More flies, but by now I wasn't even swatting. This is the only place I saw another person that day.
|Note the hand swell with dehydration|
|There is an actual tower, but not what I was expecting.|
|One of the concrete footings of the old fire tower.|
Back to Park Rapids, south on 71 to Eagle Bend, west to Parker's Prairie on 22, which becomes 233 at the county line and continues to 89, but I wasn't sure, so I turned north and caught Cty 6 west to Cty 89, north to Shiloh Ranch Road, east to a dead end with a "No Trespassing" sign on the gated road. Bushwhacked up the hill (about 120 feet of climb in 100 yards) to the communications tower. Ate a little and drank as much ice water as I could comfortably hold, noting I hadn't urinated all day.
|Nice (illegally gained) view|
|Always get permission.|
From parker's Prairie, I took 29 south to I-94 toward St. Cloud, 23 west to Cty 8 in Rockville, south to 110th street, west to tower on a road that just begs to have a race from Cold Spring to Lake Grand. This property, too, is posted.
|See? Address, tower, evidence of misdemeanor trespass.|
|West. That odd shape in the middle is an expensive house with a view.|
Polished off another 2 quarts of water and drove home. Did not fully hydrate until 11 PM.
Hot, eventful day. There's still one wood tick that I knocked loose while driving that's either still there or in one of the bags I brought.