7/24/2021 – Ghost Lake to Mercer, WI

67.6 Miles / 2287.4 Total Miles

2185 Ft. Elevation Gain / 81,668 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

A few days ago, I received a message from my ex-husband, Jerry, suggesting I look up John Nelson in Manitowoc Waters, Wisconsin.  He and his family head out there to stay in a lake house for one or more months, each summer, and he is there right now.  I looked at a Google Maps, saw how far north that location was from where we were, and told him it was too far out of our way.  Then a few days later, I pulled out our next map, and Manitowish Waters is actually on our route. So I reached out to John and did a little coordination.  John doesn’t actually stay in Manitowish Waters, but is about 5 miles north of there on South Turtle Lake, so he was going to drive down to the Pea Patch Motel & Saloon, pick us up, and take us up to the lake house for the night, then bring us back down in the morning.  We had to make a few changes on our end.  Ed cancelled our campground in Mercer, and instead of riding the 64 miles to Mercer, we were now going to be riding 76 miles, which was doable.  We had a plan to go with John to see his wife, Jill, and son, Connor, perform in a water ski show, something I’ve never seen before.  All this was going to happen today, until last night and this morning happened.   

If you remember, it was going to rain, last night, and at 12:22, the heavens opened and it didn’t stop raining until 9 AM this morning.  And then we had to tear down camp with wet rain flies and tent footprints.  To save time, we agreed to skip breakfast and pick up something to eat at our first food stop on the route, which helped us clear out of our campsite in record time.

Ten miles down the road, we came to Clam Lake. No food available.

Seventeen miles further down the road, we came to Glidden, “The Black Bear Capital of the World.” We pulled into the first convenience store we came to, and thankfully, there were a lot of choices for breakfast. They sold the most delicious strawberry milk I’ve ever tasted, and somehow, I had the self control to not buy a second bottle.

Out front,, we met a gal wearing a “Get Nutty in Butternut” shirt. (Butternut is the town 9 miles further down the road.) This gal told us about some really nice murals painted by a resident artist of Buttercup, and you know how I love murals. Also, there was a big street fair going on in Buttercup, and we were not going to blow past a street fair, without stopping to check things out and try some of the local food.

So Ed and I had a conversation about how difficult it was going to be to meet up with John. We would have to ride over 75 miles to get to the Pea Patch, and with our 3 hour rain delay, and now this street fair, there was no possible way to make that distance before 6 PM, when we would have to be cleaned up and ready for the 45 mile drive to the ski show. We agreed to try to make good time, but we would reassess our progress as we moved along.

And that’s when we saw the little ice cream shop next door. I hadn’t had ice cream in a few days, and they had Elephant Tracks, and I’ve never tasted it before. There was going to have to be some savouring of ice cream, before we could get on the road. Mmm Mmm Mmm. That Elephant Tracks was super delicious! 

Even though we were trying to make good time, some things cannot be compromised, such as stopping at Veterans Memorials and murals.  So I stopped at the Glidden memorial, and lo and behold, the first mural of the day was facing it. The people on the mural are actual citizens of Glidden, and their names and service dates are written in gold next to each of their paintings.  Additional service members names and service dates were in the gold stars on the mural.  I loved the mural, and couldn’t wait to find the others, so we headed toward Butternut, where the artist lives and where there are supposed to be several other murals.  

After going only a couple of miles, Ed’s rear tire went flat.  And that’s when we knew that we wouldn’t be making it to see John Nelson, today.  The tire had a big staple in it, and it was not an easy fix.  He installed a new tube, then neither one of our pumps would pump it up, because his spare tube was bad. He had to patch the old tube, which thankfully worked.  

Then we got back on the road and got ourselves to Butternut. 

Their Veterans Memorial also had a mural adjacent to it, and I loved that mural too.  The painter has such great ideas on how to depict people, inspire thought, and lift up the viewer of her work.  That’s how I felt–lifted up.

The mural on the wall of the school faced the playground, and pictured are actual kids from the town.

The next few murals are folks from Butternut.  If you zoom in, you can read a narrative about each of them, written on the background.  I’m assuming the narratives were written by a family member or close friend.  Many of these people are still alive, and they are remembered on these murals.  I love the whole concept of it!  Before heading up to the street fair, I stopped in the artist’s studio to meet her.  Told her how much I love her work.  I need to get her to paint a mural of my adorable grandkids and their parents to put on my wall.  I’d have to find a blank wall, for the mural, but I could do that.  Who needs a piano?  Or a television?  

After touring the downtown and talking to some of the locals, we headed over to the town fair, which involved climbing a hill with an 11 or 12% grade.  Way to hurt us, but that wasn’t going to stop us.  At this point, we were determined to find ourselves some lunch.  My first stop was the baked goods booth, manned by a couple of ladies from Sweet Brew, the local bakery.  I bought some snickerdoodles and some unnamed super healthy cookies for athletes.  I’m not an athlete, but I need munchies on my bike that are healthy, so they will be perfect for my feed bag

And then there was the dunk tank, where a guy dressed in a pink tutu and wearing white rabbit ears was being dunked by adults and kids over and over again.  It was hilarious to watch. 

The horseshoes tournament was much more serious.  I overheard a conversation, there, about how if these guys entered the senior games, no one could beat them.  That’s how good the Butternut horseshoes players are.  If I had been carrying something that could be written on and a pen, I might have asked for some autographs.

The big crowd draw was the mud bog.  Two trucks would line up in two separate lanes of deep mud, and race to see which one could get through the mud first.  It’s not like they could just drive through it.  They all got stuck, and had to ramp up their engines to get their wheels spinning, and then the truck would start spinning and turning, till their tractor tread tires pulled them through. It was insanely loud, but the crowd loved it.

There was a lot going on at that street fair, and we didn’t have time to take it all in, but we did stop and have the biggest bacon cheeseburger I’ve ever eaten, cooked by the crew from a local resort.  It was super delicious.  And then it was time to head out.  

Our new plan was Plan A–stay in Mercer for the night.  Ed lined up yet another Campground/RV Park, as the one he cancelled was now full, and we hit the road.  

Before we got out of town, though, we had ourselves another Yeti sighting–on the back window of an SUV. And before I lost my cell phone service, I called John to let him know that we weren’t going to make it for the night, but that we could meet up with him for breakfast in the morning.  

When we arrived in Mercer, the RV park we stayed in was much nicer and more convenient than the one we cancelled would have been, and it had laundry facilities.  After showering, Ed walked into town to get a drink and see what was going on (he found live music), while I did laundry and worked on the blog.  

And that was another day on our bike tour!

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2 thoughts on “7/24/2021 – Ghost Lake to Mercer, WI

  1. I have to admit that I truly enjoy the fun that you put into each of your cycling days. You are really seeing the back roads of America. Stay safe but have fun!

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  2. I know Ed says that riding the bike lets you see so much more than in the car. I am sure that is true, but I Want to be in the car when you keep going through the fields in lakes, and the same scenery over and over again. My heart would love to be able to go with Ed on these rides, but I know my body would be screaming at me every step of the way.

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