National Grandparents Day


September 6, 2003

Grand Rapids, MN -
Fargo, ND

237 miles

4:12 driving time




Lunchtime.  We're midway between Menahga and Pelican Rapids in a town called Frazee Minnesota.  We've ridden up and down the two major streets and identified the only open restaurant in town, Annie's Bakery and Deli.  We pull the bikes up in front and head inside, grateful to escape the increasing heat. 

Annie's Bakery in Frazee Minnesota

Annie's Oven

We split a roast beef sandwich made on a freshly-baked roll.  Whizmo brings over a copy of the Fargo - Moorhead Forum and reads the sports section, reporting that the Mariners are edging back up in the standings, or at least not falling further behind.  I'm studying the local news section, and my eye is drawn to a column describing a recent study conducted by Candlewood Suites.  In honor of National Grandparents Day (this Sunday), the survey asked grandparents where they would prefer to sleep when visiting their grandchildren.  68% of those surveyed indicated a preference for staying in a hotel over staying with the family. 

Given our experience with hotels, I feel comfortable identifying some stereotypes that we commonly see at the check-in desk:
1)  Families traveling with children.  These groups are most often headed for a wedding or a funeral.
2)  Business folks traveling for work.  They can always be identified by their studiously casual wear, always topped off with a shirt emblazoned with their employer's logo.
3)  Retired folks, taking their time as they make their way across the country, probably en route to see a batch of grandkids. 
4)  Whizmo and Gizmo, totally out of place. 

Our arrival at the check-in counter generally attracts some raised eyebrows, as we saunter up decked out in riding gear (Whizmo's in fluorescent yellow making it even worse), covered with sweat and road grime, pleading for a ground-floor non-smoking double.  I can feel the looks coming from over by the TV lounge.  Grandpa's looking over at us thinking, "They're not much younger than me.  Why the heck isn't that me traveling on a motorcycle, looking studly and devil-may-care-ish?"  At least that's what we'd like to think.

So this newspaper article I'm reading puts some perspective on being a grandparent.  The statistic that catches my eye ... "Average age of first-time grandparents: 48".  Gulp.  It won't be long, statistically, before I'm a grandparent.  Coming off the JerkFest where we all turned 50, I've spent a lot of my riding time pondering the matter of age.  As noted earlier, I don't feel 50.  50 seems old.  Now, the younger half of the readership is thinking "Yes, 50 is old.  Get over it."  And the older half is thinking "Gee, I wish I was 50 again."  Even though I accept this transition into a decade where you start getting discounts merely based on how old you are, and restaurants offer discounts for eating dinner early (which always seemed like a good idea to me anyway), mortality is raising its ugly head and staring me square in the eye.  It is inevitable that in the next few years, some of my close friends are going to die.  One benefit for the JerkFests is that it will make it easier to get a tee time with fewer golfers, and figuring out who has to sit out Euchre will become a non-issue.  But I'm not in any hurry for that day to come.  In the meantime, I plan to live life to the fullest.

The article goes on to highlight some of the reasons why grandparents don't want to stay with their families.  40% said they would rather eat in a restaurant than eat their kids' cooking.  Five grandparents said they'd rather have their belly buttons pierced than eat their kids' cooking!  Six grandparents said that they would rather jump out of a plane than stay with their grandchildren.

It's a well-known fact that the market penetration of RV owners among the grandparent generation approaches 100%, so I have to believe that when Grandpa is eyeing us checking in at the motel, he's doubly pissed off.  His wife won't let him ride a motorcycle cross-country, leaving responsibilities behind, looking carefree as can be as he carves those country curves.  (In sharp contrast to our lovely wives, who are incredibly generous and supportive of our annual outings.)  AND, Grandpa doesn't have an RV, which would make the trips to visit the grandchildren ever so much easier.  "Of course we can't stay with you, we have an RV!  With a kitchen!  So we won't be eating with you either!  See you tomorrow!  Oh, and I think little Jim Bob's diaper has achieved critical mass!"

In the spirit of full disclosure, let me make it known that I am an RV owner.  As all RV owners know, there are conflicting visions of leisure craft out there, all competing for your hard-earned recreational dollars.  Do you get a boat, or do you get an RV?   Good news, because it's no longer such a black and white decision.  You can have both!

The perfect grandparentmobile

Is it a yacht, or an RV?  It's both!

But I digress.  We were having lunch at Annies in Frazee.  Our presence in this small town generates some friendly interaction with the locals.  Everyone asks where we're headed.  We're headed to Fargo, which for me is a movie starring William H. Macy, whom I saw at Las Ventanas in Cabo San Lucas when my wife and I stayed there a couple of years ago.  But to the locals asking the question, Fargo is the nearest Big City.  It's pronounced with a reverence, and the longest 'o' at the end you can imagine, just like the 'o' in MinnesOHta. 


Scenes from Frazee


Whizmo chats up a local named John who owns a classic 1962 BMW, while I spend time with the proprietor of a local curio shop.  Frazee is pretty far off the major highways, so it's struggling to stay viable.  It's a charming little town, and the people are quite friendly.

John and Whizmo discuss BMWs

Roger and Gizmo discuss lakeside living

Today is the last day we'll be spending in Minnesota, "Land of Ten Thousand Lakes".  As we wind westward on highway 87, we pass lake after lake with beautiful waterfront cabins and docks.  It's apparent that people in this part of the country take their lakeside leisure seriously.  Even if their lakes are ice cubes half the year. 

After lunch we suddenly are out of lake country as we approach the North Dakota border.  The land flattens out, the roads straighten, and we're suddenly in another state.  At my suggestion, we violate one of our guiding principles of touring ... we get on an interstate to traverse the last 20 miles to Fargo.  Whizmo shows his contempt for my navigation choice by riding nearly the entire distance hands-free.

Whizmo demonstrates his ability to steer with clenched fists and will power

Tomorrow, we're off to Bismarck. 

The entries we had for Contest Number 4 (W&G branded merchandise) were very creative.  Four that particularly caught our eye were:

J. O'Zinski of Kirkland Washington suggests we do an IPO, apparently unaware that the .COM boom is over.  But he includes some alternatives:   W&G cheese logs, W&G scotch, and the general idea to simply franchise out the W&G name to anybody willing to give us money for ... well, anything.  But we have to ask, have things really gotten this bad?

Glenda Revelle of Fayetteville Arkansas surely thinks so when she coughs up the Dare-a-Jerk Sponsorship Program.  Glenda provides more details, but as we understand her suggestion, we'd keep a running auction going where our readership would bid for us to look even sillier than we already do by daring us to perform ridiculous stunts during our tours.  She even provides examples:  $100 for us to wear tiaras (hopefully not while riding - safety first, you know), or perhaps $500 to see us run naked across the lawn of the public library in Localtown, USA.  Glenda obviously hasn't seen us naked.

Tom Brady of Wading River New York pondered for a short time and came up with this gem:  Selling genuine vials of dirt from all the exciting places we visit.  He even provided examples of snappy names we could use to spruce up our dirt and make it sound more desirable:  "Sands of the Pacific Coast",  "Dirt from the land of Hubert Humphrey", "Big Sky Ground", "Sioux City Soil" (that one's catchy), "Diner Dirt from the parking lot of Martha's Dew Drop Inn of Idaho", etc, etc, etc.  Here's the suggested headline for our web site:  "JERKFEST DIRT -- DIRT CHEAP, supplies limited-you can't just pick this stuff up anywhere.  $5.00 a vial plus (of course) shipping and handling.  And if you order now, you'll also get a vial of used motor oil from Whizmo's bike."  Thanks Tom.

Finally, hard-core reader Steve Ellis from Snohomish Washington, came up with these beauts:   Whizmopoly - A portable game using the Monopoly template, suitable for storage on touring motorcycles.  Whizmocha (the alternative sounded worse)- a drink powder to be added to hot water boiled on the motorcycle engine for an instant taste treat.  Gizmoron - a robot that rides a plastic motorcycle in circles, but only to the left.  For use at night as a distraction after long haul trips when engagement of the brain on something other than flashing center lines is somewhat difficult.  Gizmotron - a high energy battery capable of taking any shape and, therefore, suitable for use in various gizmos and storable in motorcycle bags.  Yep, Steve, that battery idea sounds pretty easy, I recall inventing a Silly-Putty battery just the other day - where'd I leave those plans?

Maybe we'll just stick to t-shirts.

In a close decision, the judges award the prize to Tom Brady.  Rather than a t-shirt, we'll be sending you a vial of dirt from Fargo.

New Contest

At the beginning of today's report, we showed you a picture of the oven at Annie's Bakery and Deli.  After talking to the proprietor, we learned that this oven was built in the late 1940's, takes an hour and a half to come up to its baking temperature of 410, and can bake 200 loaves an hour.  This massive appliance dominates the inside of the bakery.  There's a dial in the upper right corner of the oven.  During lunch, we debated its purpose.  After lunch, we asked what it was.  Neither of us were able to correctly guess its function.  In the picture below, there's a magnified view of the dial.  The first person to correctly guess the function of the dial will win Contest #5, 'What The Heck Is That Thing?

  W&G Contest #5    

What The Heck Is That Thing?

We need your name and email address to uniquely identify the winning entry.  Whizmo & Gizmo swear on a stack of balding tires that we would never, ever share your email address with anyone for any purpose.  We just need to know who the winners are!