PEQUOT LAKES -- Fred Haeg returned to his residence west of Pequot Lakes the night of June 19 after racking up what he described as a few miles on his 1990 Harley Davidson Heritage Softail.
Those "few miles" came during the 67-year-old bachelor's tour of the western United States, including Estes Park, Colo.; Yellowstone National Park; Las Vegas; and Redding, Calif., totaling more than 6,000 miles. He left May 28.
Haeg's latest trip just adds to his more than 100,000 miles in 11 years of riding. These miles are not just in the United States. He has rented BMW motorcycles overseas and the countries he has toured sound like a geography class.
"Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco," Haeg recited as he counted each country on the fingers of his right hand at least twice. "Nice riding over there in the Alps."
Haeg gained his motorcycle interest, which has taken him around the world, after his nephews bought Harley Davidsons.
His sister, Janice Sheridan, said when Haeg learned her sons owned motorcycles, he asked her if her children can have them, why can't he?
So Haeg bought his motorcycle, having never ridden one before.
"One day I took it out. Boy, I was scared to death," he said.
Now, he tows a Cycle-Mate trailer behind his bike on his trips. Items inside this carpeted trailer with oversize tires and Harley Davidson mudflaps include a propane stove, a tent, a battery-powered beverage cooler and a can of Pam.
Haeg steers clear of interstate highways on his twice annual trips during the spring and early fall.
"You can go coast-to-coast on the interstate and see nothing," he said.
Haeg charts his trips in an Atlas. In it he has circled the popular tourist destinations his friends have been to and enjoyed.
Haeg stays at campgrounds during his trips, saying he likes camping by himself because fellow campers will talk to him in a moment's notice.
"When I get in a campground, I don't have to go around looking for somebody to talk to," he said. "And I like to meet people. That's half of traveling is meeting people."
He cooks for himself, washes his clothes nightly and cleans his cycle nightly.
"Or I get up dang early in the morning to get it clean," he said.
Cleaning his cycle is not his only responsibility. He also does all of his own mechanical work.
"Because if I have trouble, it's my fault," he said.
With his knowledge, Haeg modified his engine for more speed by increasing it from 1,350 cubic centimeters to an estimated 1,500 cubic centimeters.
"I try to get everything out of them," he said.
He brings parts from his other motorcycle, including the engine coil, on his trips.
When asked where he secured his mechanical expertise, Haeg said, "Right on the work bench."
Sheridan confided that Haeg studied auto mechanics at Dunwoody Institute. His studies also included blacksmithing and welding.
Sheridan said her father removed Haeg from high school when he was 16 because of family farm duties. Haeg's family farmed 229 acres in the Gaylord area from 1959 until 1982, when they moved to Pequot Lakes.
His family moved to his current 90-acre residence in 1982. His mother died in 1987 and his father died in 1990.
A year later, he took his first trip.
"I love (taking trips)," he said.
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