This report is from Day 8 of our 2005 Summer Vacation, on August 4, 2005.

Day 8 of the Froggie/Ladymegs 2005 Great Circle Tour (long)

The Froggie/LadyMegs 2005 Great Circle Tour, Day 8:  a little town, a little fox, and a little cabin.

- A beautiful morning in Huron, SD.  We started off south on SD 37, a 4-lane divided highway once away from Huron.  Right away, we were greeted by a distance sign with an error on it.  What should have been a SD 224 shield was instead a US 224 shield.

- SD 224 shields were normal at the junction.  SD 224 itself is a 7-mile long connector route between SD 37 and the town of Alpena.  Why it isn't just a county route or why it doesn't extend the extra 5 miles to US 281, who knows...

- As with SD 37 coming down from Huron and south to Mitchell, the SD 34/SD 37 duplex is 4-lanes divided.  However, at both of the SD 34/SD 37 junctions, SD 34 is the "through route", not SD 37, which has stop-control instead.

- Sans the 4-lane, a similar situation exists with the SD 25/SD 34 junctions....SD 34 is the "through route" and SD 25 stops and turns.

- A couple miles south of the "Little Town on the Prairie" (DeSmet, SD for those of you who never read the books as a kid) is the first indication of "Laura Ingalls Wilder tourism" along SD 25:  a blue trailblazer sign showing the turnoff and distance to the Ingalls Homestead, which is about a mile off of SD 25.  Just beyond that was a brown sign for "Laura Ingalls Wilder Tours" in town.

- DeSmet is the county seat for Kingsbury County.  Aside from that and its very obvious connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder, it looks like nothing much more than a typical Midwestern farming town.  Roadgeek-wise, there's not much....both SD 25 and US 14 are concrete through town, with shoulders on both and left turn lanes on US 14.  The street signs are stylized...with white font on a brown background and a symbol showing a covered wagon surrounded by "Little Town On The Prairie", to the left of the streetname.

- North away from DeSmet, SD 25 is the "through route" at its junctions with SD 28.

- To nab a couple extra counties, we cut east on Clark CR 36, which according to several maps is a paved route, but in reality looked to be through year-one of a two-year reconstruction was gravel on this day.

- Threaded our way up to the hamlet of Hazel, which is where the western terminus of SD 22 is.  Why SD 22 ended there instead of continuing to end at SD 25 was another question mark for the day.

- Eventually made our way up to US 212 and back to SD 25, where the eastern US 212/SD 25 junction is a T-junction with US 212 as the through route and also a left turn lane on US 212.

- Further north, SD 20 traffic stops for SD 25 traffic at the 20/25 junction.  Also in this area were several "deep lakes", one of which even had a diamond warning sign along SD 25.

- There's one traffic signal in Webster, but it's not at US 12/SD 25 (which is on the northern fringe of town).  Instead, it's in the middle of town at SD 25 and 8th Ave.

- US 12 looked to be recently widened on its run through the northern fringe of Webster.  It's 5-lanes undivided through town, with stop-control on SD 25 at the 12/25 junction.

- Rather than stay on SD 25 all the way to SD 10, we took a shortcut in the form of Day CR 17/Marshall CR 5.  CR 17 had a very old white vertical rectangular shaped shield, while CR 5 was a standard blue pentagon shield.

- Marshall CR 5 had another of those "deep water" warning signs.  This one said "Deep Water Next To Road", with a small sign below it saying "Reduce Speed".

- SD 10 is the "through route" at the eastern SD 10/SD 27 junction and also has a left turn lane.  We opted north, where SD 27 becomes ND 32 at the state line.

- North Dakota welcome sign:  "WELCOME TO NORTH DAKOTA" (next line:) "Discover the Spirit!"

- At both ND 11/ND 32 junctions, ND 11 is the "through route", even though it's the route taking a 90 degree curve.  At the northern junction, road construction had ND 11 West traffic detoured, and ND 32 traffic on a gravel surface on the south side of Forman.

- At both ND 13/ND 32 junctions, ND 13 is the "through route", though unlike at ND 11 these are bona-fide T-junctions.

- More construction in Lisbon had ND 27 West detoured, then just north of town a repaving project on ND 32 had one-way alternating traffic that added a good 20 minutes of delay.  Part of the culprit was stupidity on the part of the NDDOT crew...which started the single-lane traffic OVER A MILE from the actual work zone.  Adding insult to injury was a pace car that was going less than 30 MPH even in areas of the zone where there was no work going on.  We bestowed upon NDDOT the title of "Bonehead DOT of the Day".

- ND 46 is one of those few state routes that follows a county line its entire length, and is possibly the longest, at well over 100 miles, touching 7 counties in the process.  We took ND 46 east from ND 32 to I-29, which was basically 41 miles of nothingness.

- Took I-29 north to Fargo.  Either NDDOT maintained I-29 in extremely good condition or they recently reconstructed the pavement of I-29 south of was good condition concrete from ND 46 up.

- Both Exit 50 and Exit 54 have the crossing county route posted on the I-29 guide signage using blue pentagons:  Cass CR 18 and Cass CR 16 respectively.

- Heading north on I-29, the first indications of Fargo sprawl (besides billboards), are traffic signals at the 52nd Ave S interchange (Exit 60).

- Further north, I-29 goes to 6 lanes at the 32nd Ave S interchange (Exit 62, one mile south of I-94).  Not sure how far north the 6-lane section goes...we got off at 13th Ave S (Exit 64).  There are also auxiliary lanes in addition to the 6 through lanes here.  Southbound I-29 for example has 4 lane between the onramp from 13th Ave S and the off-ramp to I-94, where there's a 3+2 split (3 lanes for SB I-29, 2 lanes to I-94).  The flyover from SB 29 to EB 94 starts at 2 lanes, but narrows to 1 lane before the end.  This flyover ramp becomes the third through lane for eastbound I-94...I-94 is 6 lanes between I-29 and US 75.

- There's a stylized pedestrian bridge (some sort of tied arch bridge) over I-94 just west of the BUSINESS US 81 interchange (Exit 351).

- Into Minnesota for the first time in a year, along I-94.  Exit 6 has been reconstructed to accommodate the reconstruction of MN 336 into a 4-lane divided expressway between I-94 and US 10.  This project also included a new interchange on US 10 at MN 336.  Both interchanges are partial-folded diamonds, with off-ramp loops from EB I-94 and WB US 10.  There are also "free right" movements at the interchange ramps, facilitating traffic between MN 336 and US 10 to/from the east and I-94 to/from the west.  Both interchanges and the mainline MN 336 lanes were done in concrete.

- Though 3-digit sized Minnesota shields have long been part of MnDOT's standard for guide signs, they aren't the standard for reassurance shields or trailblazers, which are normal 2-digit sized square shields.  Yet that's exactly what there were at the interchange and along the route:  3-digit sized MN 336 shields.

- On southbound MN 336 at the CR 14/CR 79 junction (just north of I-94) was an I-94 trailblazer with a white background.

- In Barnesville along southbound MN 9, the trailblazer for Clay CSAH 52 has "OLD" above the route number, referring to CSAH 52's status as a former US 52 routing.

- The Rothsay exit (Exit 38) off I-94 is notable because it's one of the rare times that MnDOT does not post the route or the streetname on the interchanging street/road.

- Somehow, we wound up on a gravel road near Rothsay.  While on this road, a small grey fox started crossing the road about 500ft in front of us, then stopped, sat in the road, and looked at us as we slowed down on our approach.  He disappeared into the nearby farm fields by the time we got up to him.

- On the southeast side of Morris, US 59 has a bridge over MN 9 and the nearby parallel BNSF railroad tracks.  Access between the two is via a service road in the northeast quadrant of the junction.  A "1-ramp interchange", if you will.  This might be why some national map companies erroneously label US 59 as a short freeway with an interchange at MN 9.  In addition, the service road also has an intersection with Stevens CSAH 10.

- Off the US 59 Morris bypass is a short spur route, MN 329, that serves part of the local branch of the University of Minnesota before ending abruptly next to a large tree at the bottom of a hill.

- Although US 59 has a bypass of Morris and MN 28 doesn't, US 59 still must stop for MN 28 traffic at the junction of the two routes.

- Moving on to Alexandria, this was my first time on the 3rd Ave portion of MN 27/MN 29 in Alexandria since MnDOT began a reconstruction project on it a couple years previously.  What used to be a 2-lane city street is now a 5-lane city street with dual left turn lanes for MN 29 "through traffic" at both MN 29 turns.  This project tied in nicely with the previous reconstruction of MN 27 between Alexandria and Osakis.  Both reconstruction projects were done in concrete.

- Rolled up to a little A-frame cabin on Maple Lake east of Osakis around aunt's lake cabin.  We spent the next two nights here...not really venturing out anywhere on "Day 9".

Next up:  finally back in the hometown.

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