Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and I think Wisconsin must have about 9,999. Michigan tourist literature says wherever you are, you're never more than 6 miles from a lake or 50 miles from one of the Great Lakes.
For some reason I think I could have ridden on and on today. It was cool, overcast, not too hilly, and the 72 miles seemed to fly by.
Welcome to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or, more simply, the UP.
This was supposed to be a shorter day, so we started out later than usual. Dick navigated using a hand-drawn map and got to our meeting point in Caspian. I used the Adventure Cycling map but got lost and off route. A few extra miles and some steep hills to climb - ugh! We rode on to Crystal Falls where we camped at Runkle Lake Campground.
That sound of a chainsaw last night was Robert clearing a fallen tree from his driveway.The city came out to clear this one from the public road.
Robert gave us an excellent shortcut to get back on our route. The storm damage was evident all along the way. The talk at Star Lake Store was about the injured campers in Boulder Junction (where we would have stayed if Robert and Allison had not been our Warmshowers hosts) and the tornado that touched down forcing a local restaurant owner to bring all her customers to the basement. At Scoobie's in Conover where we had lunch, an elderly couple seemed stunned after a large oak tree had fallen on their house, they really weren't sure what to do next.
Today we camped at Spectacle Lake Campground, SE of Phelps. Getting water was a two-person four-handed job. Dick had to pump 36 times before any water would flow. I had to hold up a valve with one hand so the water would come out the faucet instead of the drinking fountain and hold the container under the faucet with the other hand. Needless to say, there were no showers tonight. Miles completed = 2692
This morning Dick fixed Flat #3, the rear tire on my bike. I haven't mentioned having flat tires on this trip yet. You'll remember we had 33 flats when we rode the S Tier Route and we've been amazed at our luck so far. Flat #1 was the trailer in Minot, but our Warmshowers host Tracy fixed it while Dick was taking a shower. Flat #2 started out as a very slow leak that required more and more pumps of air each day until it insisted on being a real flat - my bike, rear tire.
At breakfast this morning, the weather forecast said a big storm was headed our way, so we rode as fast as possible trying to outrun the worst of it. We did get sprinkled on a few times on our way through Butternut, around Turtle Flambeau Flowage, and into Mercer. The skies cleared up as we rode on to Manitowish Waters. Shortly after we arrived at the home of our Warmshowers hosts tonight, Robert and Allison, it started to rain, really rain. We were so thankful to have the shelter of the wide porch for cooking and also accepted the invitation to sleep inside. Our bedroom was through these doors. Robert and Allison's house sits on the shore of Alder Lake, one in a chain of 10 lakes in this area. Fields of wild rice. As the evening went on, the rain, thunder, and lightening got worse, the wind blew furiously, the power went out. A neighbor came by to tell Robert that a big tree had fallen across the rode. Again, a huge THANK YOU to Robert and Allison for letting us stay with them tonight. We slept soundly but, after the storm eased up, we could hear the faint sounds of chainsaws.
As usual I left about 1 1/2 hours before Dick. I found this little jewel about 19 miles into my ride and couldn't resist stopping in and having breakfast #2. I felt a little guilty until I heard later from Dick that before he left Hayward, he went to the grocery store and had 2 cinnamon rolls, then went over to McDonald's for coffee and an Egg McMuffin.For about 15 miles, I rode through an elk refuge with some kind of elk detection system. If the lights were flashing, elk might be nearby. Three of the four lights I passed were flashing, but no elk were spotted. Glidden, where the largest black bear was killed, 7' 10", 650 pounds dressed. The bear was stuffed and sits inside a glass case in the center of town.
It was fascinating to watch this artist work on a large mural of locals who served in the military. Posted nearby were copies of photos to help her accuracy with facial features and the uniform.
I've been carrying around a bag of staurolite rocks for a week. It was time to mail some to brother-in-law Tom the geologist and some to myself . . . and
it was also way overdue to send the saskatoon berry jam, from Southey, Saskatchewan, home. I've been carrying it for more than 4 weeks.
This is our idea of the perfect campsite: Marion Park. It was free, no one else was there, there were no lights, it was very quiet, it was close to restaurants and the grocery store.
The only disadvantages were no showers and the worst mosquitoes we've encountered yet.
This morning Ray became an official Trail Angel when he brought over a large cup of coffee for Dick. We had a great visit with Ray, Dawn Marie, and 5-year-old granddaughter Isabella from Two Harbors MN. This was Isabella's first camping trip and I think it was a big success.
We rode into town for breakfast, then ran some errands getting ready for tomorrow's ride, and came back to camp to read, rest and eat. Most of the weekend campers had pulled out, but were soon replaced by a new group. Last night we were surrounded with quiet campers on all sides, but tonight it's a different story. It would be near midnight before things quieted down.
Another pastoral ride through farm country. Cornfields, soybeans, and cows, cows, cows.
This group were all facing the barn, maybe they were ready to be milked.
Hayward has a population of just over 2000, but has a lot going on. There's a main street of cute shops that Dick thought had the look of Disneyland, this weekend is the National Lumberjack Championship, and then there's the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. The fish to the right of the sign is so big, people are able to climb inside and stand in its mouth.
Once I got off busy SR 8 and started following the rural county roads, today's ride got better and better.
The terrain is much hillier than what we've been riding recently.
Wisconsin is America's dairyland.
In Cumberland, we had brats with sauerkraut to support a local fundraiser and because they smelled so darn good and had a great drive-up window.
We're camped at Shady Rest Campground and Bar - what a combination! It's decorated with George Jones memorabilia and hundreds of fishing lures on the ceiling.
Our campsite is close to the edge of Bear Lake. It's a very quiet spot, unlike the bar where I'm posting this entry. It's shoulder-to-shoulder, people are shouting to be heard, and David Allen Coe is blasting from the jukebox singing "You Never Even Call Me by My Name." Uh-oh, the live band is arriving in 5 minutes and the lady sitting next to me just asked me to smell her wonderful perfume - bug spray. Time to end this and leave.
The winds are from the SE today and we've ridden 114 miles in two days, therefore this rest day is perfectly timed. We went out to breakfast and explored the main street of St Croix Falls. In the evening, Sarah and Rose came over to visit. They had ridden their bicycles from Minneapolis to Duluth to visit family. Exchanging road stories was fun.
Just before you get to Dalbo, on SR 47, you see this sign. I had to stop since the word up and down the trail has been, "You've got to stop here!"
Donn Olson has been inviting touring cyclists to camp in his yard since 2005 when he helped two cyclist pushing their bikes through the deep sand of road construction. Every year he's added a new feature. This open-air bunkhouse has three private rooms, a refrigerator stocked with goodies for purchase (at cost, I'm sure, since the posted prices are so cheap), a microwave, and comfortable gathering area. By next summer there will be a washing machine also. Outside, there is an outhouse, shower, lawn space, and shed. In 2009, he had 25 guests altogether. This year he's already had 48. Last night was his biggest group ever: a group of 8 on an organized Adventure Cycling tour, a couple from San Francisco, and a solo rider.
Donn is also a wealth of information. He told us the Isanti County Fair in Cambridge had just started so camping at the fairgrounds might not work, or if it did, we'd have a noisy night. Since we had to ride farther than expected, the shortcuts Donn suggested were invaluable. Stay on SR 47 the east on SR 95 all the way to Taylors Falls. From a scenic lookout just before Taylors Falls, you can see the St Croix River.
Crossing the river. It was fun to fly down the hill to this bridge, but a steep climb on the other side.
Thanks to Donn, we saved 13 miles by NOT following the AC route and rode 67 miles to Interstate State Park in St Croix Falls. Whew!
After breakfast at Jordie's and goodbyes to Marcus, I got on the road rather late in the morning considering we were planning a 60-mile day. Within a couple miles, I crossed the Mississippi, but this far upriver, it was small enough to not even get a sign. However, Royalton, just 5 miles away, proudly displays its nearness to the Platte River on banners posted throughout the town.Our day was shorter than expected because Dick wasn't feeling well. Time for a little pampering so we got a motel in Milaca.
Set aside 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine. In a large mixing bowl, beat the remaining butter or margarine with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar; beat until well mixed. Beat in eggs and 2 tsp vanilla. In another large bowl, stir together flour and baking soda; stir in oats. Gradually stir dry mixture into beaten mixture. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the reserved butter or margarine, sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate chips. Cook over low heat until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Press 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15”x10”x1” baking pan. Spread the
chocolate mixture over the oat mixture. Using your fingers, dot the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned (chocolate mixture will still look moist). Cool on a wire rack. Cut into 2”x1” bars. Makes about 75 bars.
Jan and Jen have houseguests this week, Marcus and Susanna from Hanover Germany. This morning we went to breakfast at Jordie's Cafe. Jordie transformed the parking lot next to the cafe into a wonderful outdoor seating area.You might wonder what there is to do in Bowlus that would motivate us to take a rest day. When Jan and Jen told us about "cross rocks," we knew we wanted to go look for them. They can only be found in this area and one other place in Russia. First stop is to borrow a sifter from the stand outside Jordie's.
Then you ride another 4 miles down the Soo Line Trail which is the next section beyond the Lake Wobegon Trail. Dick also brought a shovel in the Bob trailer.
After crossing the bridge in front of Blanchard Dam, you follow the canoe portage trail down to the water. Then you sit in the gravel/rocks and sift rocks looking for twinned staurolite crystals, called "cross rocks." It took a couple of hours, but Susanna and I were lucky. We each found one 3/8" specimen of good quality. I actually came back with a bag of staurolite crystals which I will mail to brother-in-law Tom, a geologist who loves this kind of thing. Dick rolled his eyes at the thought that I'm going to carry a bag of rocks on my bike. The best way to see a picture of "cross rocks" is to go to this website: http://www.littlefallsmn.com/CrossRocks.php
Our tent is pitched in the shade of the yard with a most comfy, sleep-inducing hammock nearby.
In the evening, Marcus and Susanna made us a German specialty: potato pancakes with homemade applesauce. Absolutely delicious.
After dinner, we enjoyed beer, conversation, and Revel Bars for dessert on the deck.
To aid digestion, we also had a little (just a little) frozen Linie Aquavit. A great big thank-you to Jen and Jan for their generous hospitality. We had a great time staying with you.
The Revel Bars were so delicious, Jen is going to send me the recipe and I'll post it in this blog.