A rainy start to my day didn’t dampen my spirit of adventure or resolve. 

After a restless night and early rise I was out the door around 6:30 driving eastward to Wisconsin.  Sunrise was due at 7:56 but there was no expectation of that as my wipers cleared a light rain falling in the morning darkness.  The news reported that had it had not rained for weeks and they were happy to have it—I didn’t feel the same.

I found my way to Willow River State Park but sat in the parking lot staring at the rain on my windshield for about an hour.  Without rain gear, there was no way I could hike to the falls without damaging the cameras.

I reluctantly departed and decided to drive north to find another waterfall about 30 miles away with closer access.   As I left the parking lot, the Tire Pressure Warning Light came on and I became very concerned considering I was in the middle of nowhere.  I’ve had experience with this light before—one time it meant a very quick flat and other times it was just the result of the air temperature or a slow leak.

I cautiously drove north to Somerset, WI and was fortunate to find a small tire center open that discovered a roofing nail leaking air badly from my rear tire.  A half hour later on my way with new confidence.  Northview Service had WiFi and I was able to check the weather radar. There seemed to be a short lull between two bands of heavy rain so  I decided to return to Willow to attempt to shoot the falls.

I made the one mile hike into the gorge on a wet leaf-covered path that was steeper than any I’ve ever walked before.  The light was very low perfect for long exposures of the impressive Willow River Falls.   I stayed long enough to get some good images but departed quickly for the heart-pounding climb back to the parking lot before the expected next band of rain.

As I began to drive back towards Minnesota the rain returned with a vengeance. I abandoned my other shooting plans and began a 4-hour rainy drive towards North Dakota, hoping to arrive before dark.

The rain never lightened during that treacherous drive.  Around 3 PM as I crossed the Red River,  “I Can Hear Music”  featuring Carl Wilson’s exquisite vocals played on the radio and welcomed me into North Dakota.  (Listen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqyx4TW4Ptw )

In Fargo I stopped at the visitor’s center for maps and brochures and volunteered that it was a special day for me, completing my 50 state list in ND.  They asked if I was aware of the their club.  I said I wasn’t.  Apparently many other people also visit ND as their final state, so they started the  YOU SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST” Club. 

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I  was then ceremoniously presented with gifts (T-Shirt / Magnet / Lapel Pin / Membership Card and Certificate) and posed for photos.  It was the high point of the day!

I then went to visit the Roger Maris Museum at the local mall and then checked into the Homewood Suites Fargo for a rainy evening of blogging.  Hoping for clear skies tomorrow!

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