8/6/2021 – Dearborn, MI to Toledo, OH

58.05 Miles / 2891.38 Total Miles

363 Ft. Elevation Gain / 96,518 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

This morning was a mad flurry of activity. Before I went to bed, last night, I went to the front desk of the hotel and paid to extend our stay another day, even though we hopefully would not be staying past 1:00 PM. I on a rental car at an Enterprise Car Rental location, that happened to be right across the street from the hotel, and they had cars available.. When the various businesses, we were going to call, started opening for business, Chris and I kicked in with the phone calls, per last night’s plan.

Velocity Wheels not only did not have any wheels in stock, that would work for my bike, but they also did not have any of the rims that would be required to build me a set of wheels. The call to SIC Transit, in Ann Arbor, turned up one wheel, coincidentally, made by Velocity, but it only had 34 spokes, which usually means, not as strong as the 36 spokes of my current failing wheel. A call back to Velocity verified that the 34 spoke wheel is actually much sturdier than my current failed wheel, and would be a good choice for my bike. Kevin, the fella who took our call, at SIC Transit, had a set of quality used wheels at his house, that he was willing to drive home and pick up, for us, but his home was 60 miles (2+ hours round trip) from the shop, so we would end up having to wait for him to arrive the shop with the wheels, which would put reaching our next destination at risk. I decided on the new Velocity wheel, and Kevin promised to jump on moving my tire, cassette and brake rotor to the new wheel, as soon as we arrived the shop.

We grabbed the rear wheel off my bike, walked over to Enterprise Car RentaL, rented a car, stopped at Burger King to pick up some breakfast sandwiches, then hopped on the highway to Ann Arbor. It was clockwork from that point on. After the 40 minute drive to Ann Arbor, it took Kevin just 30 minutes to set up the new wheel, with my existing parts. While he was doing that, I found the brake pads I’ve been looking for for my bike, Ed and Chris found some things they’ve been needing for their bikes, and Michael rode to the shop to see us one more time. He is an awesome guy! Kevin, Thanks for getting my wheel set up so quickly and for all your help! Michael, Thanks for all your advice and your willingness to do anything you could to help! You both made my day! You both made my week! You both made moving down the road again possible!!!

Michael, Kevin and Me, at SIC Transit.

Finished with our business at the bike shop, we jumped back in the car, and headed back to the hotel, where we dropped Chris off, with the new wheel, so he could work on making sure my bike’s brakes and derailleurs were properly aligned with the wheel. Then Ed and I headed back to Burger King to pick up lunch. By the time we got back to the hotel, with lunch, my bike was ready for the road (YAHOO!). So we quickly pounded down that lunch, packed up our gear, put on our cycling clothes, loaded everything up on our bikes, and were out the door by 1:15 PM. With a 58 mile ride ahead of us, we all had our headlights at the ready, in case we ended up having to ride in the dark.

On our way out of the hotel, I stopped to say goodbye to the front desk manager, Ali, who helped me out several times, while we were there. Thanks for all your help, Ali. I truly appreciate it!

Me with Ali, the manager of A Victory Inn, our hotel in Dearborn.

It was slow going, getting through the streets of Dearborn and Detroit. Don’t get me wrong–the roads were great, with nice shoulders. There just seemed to be way too many traffic lights–a lot like riding where I live in Gilbert, Arizona. We passed the headwaters of the Detroit River, as we left town, then miles of heavy industrial facilities, then just wide open country. At one point, we were routed onto a dirt road. We don’t do dirt roads, so we had to consult Google Maps for a better option, and fortunately, there was one.

Per Ed, these are the headwaters of the Detroit River.

In January of this year, the Navajo Generating Station, formerly a major power source for the Four Corners region of the country, was demolished. And we passed another demolished coal fired generating station, as we entered Muskegon, Michigan. So I was surprised to see the coal fired generating station in Trenton still operating.

This conveyor takes coal from a train car to the generating station.
River Raisin, in Monroe, is one of the few rivers in the US that have River as the first word in their name..
Memorial for unidentified remains from the River Raisin Massacre, which was the deadliest conflict ever fought on Michigan soil, and the casualties included the highest number of Americans killed in a single battle during the War of 1812
I love this yard art. If anyone knows where you can get a cute little minion, like this one, message me details.
Welcome to Toledo! This photo sums up how I feel about all the industrial waste and mothballed buildings, in this part of the country. Way too much wreckage.

Throughout the day, I had been in touch with our Warm Showers host, Larry, and as we got closer to his house, I messaged him for recommendations of places we could get dinner en route to his house. He sent a few suggestions, and we picked Inky’s, an Italian food place, that happened to be right on the route. As we pulled up to the front door, the owner’s daughter came out and told us where we could safely secure our bikes to a fence behind the restaurant. Hmmm. This is usually not a good sign, but the restaurant is on a busy street, and someone could stop a vehicle and pretty easily grab one of our bikes. We appreciated her concern for us. It was Inky’s 64th anniversary, and the place wa decorated with balloons and banners, with many longtime customers there for dinner–and here walk in 3 bedraggled cyclists. The staff quickly seated and served us, which was very impressive, and while we were there, we had customers pop by our table to inquire about our trip, and it’s always fun talking about our trip. We had a great meal, and I totally understand why the place is so popular.

After dinner, we rode just 2 miles, to get to Larry’s house, and he was standing on the corner, waiting to welcome us. After showing us where to park our bikes (in the garage), he gave us a tour. His house, which is at least 100 years old, had a guest bedroom on the third floor, where a couple of us could sleep on two beds, and two sofas in the living room. Ed went for the bedroom, Chris went for the living room floor, and I went for one of the sofas. This had been a long day, for me, and I wasn’t in the mood to climb all those stairs over and over again.

Larry was a great host and quite an interesting guy. For one thing, he’s a beekeeper, which brought back memories of the Honey Hub Hostel. He’s done quite a bit of bicycle touring, and has also hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, so I had a lot of questions for him. And he knows the way to a cyclists heart is through his or her tummy, so he had fresh watermelon, sliced and ready for us, and it hit the spot–big time. Larry: Thanks for being such a great host! Wish we had had more time to hang out and talk with you, but after such a long day dealing with my wheel problem, then cycling like maniacs, to make it to Toledo, before dark, we were wasted. You come visit one of us, and we will make it up to you.

In summary, this was one very long, difficult, expensive day. That wheel problem costs me about $550, by the time I paid for the car rental and motel room. But our Warm Showers hosts, Michael and Larry, really brought some positive light in, with their goodness and generosity. I really REALLY appreciate them for all they did to restore joy and happiness.

8/5/2021 – Zero Day in Dearborn, MI

We had an awesome day, today. After waking up early, I ate tasty leftovers from Al-Ameer, while Ed and Chris went out to breakfast. We had reserved tickets for the first tour of the day at the Ford Rouge Factory, where F-150s are built, so we caught an Uber to take us to the museum and got on the road.

We were early, so had to entertain ourselves for 20-30 minutes, while we waited for the motor coach that was taking us to the factor, to arrive.

We really enjoyed the factory tour. It started off with a couple of videos, then an overview of the buildings that make up the factory, Then we moved to a catwalk that let us look down on numerous assembly lines with stations every few feet, where individuals installed a few widgets with power tools, then another vehicle showed up and they installed the same widget, repeat, repeat, repeat. How do they do the same thing all day, every day? I guess the money could be a big motivator, but I’d go insane.

After getting our fill of the assembly line, we headed back over to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. But I have to tell you, that that name is not accurate, because they also had innovations from other countries. The museum had numerous trains, cars, planes, trucks, farm machinery, steam engines, furniture, clocks, glass, political movements, and more. It was all over the place, not just innovation. My favourites? The Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile, the 1956 Thunderbird (it was a very good year), the VW buses (we had one when I was a kid), the Citicar (we had one, when I was married to Jerry), and all the Presidential vehicles.

This museum building is an exact replica of Independence Hall, in Philadelphia.

After 3 hours, at the Museum of American Innovation, I was museumed out. I checked my text messages, and learned that the guys were outside awaiting an Uber, dthat was due to arrive any minute. I high tailed it out to meet them, and we headed to ta Bar and Grill called the Ford Garage for dinner.

Our dinner was wonderful, and when it was over, we caught another Uber back to our hotel, where I got to work cleaning my bike, chain and drivetrain. As I wiped down my wheels, I noticed something alarming. There were 1/2″ – 1″ cracks under the spokes of every second or third spoke, with a couple of parallel 2″ cracks near the valve stem. I’m not sure how my tire had been holding air–it’s tubeless. I summoned Chris to come over and look at the cracks, and he confirmed what I thought. The wheel was ready to blow at any moment. I could not ride down the road, till we found a new wheel for my bike.

The thing is, that since July 25th, when I had the wheel trued in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, I had been checking with bike shops along the way, for brake pads and a rear wheel for my bike, with no luck. It was past 7 PM, so most bike shops were closed, but we immediately started making phone calls, to those that were open, and formulating plans for the morning.

I called Michael, our Warm Showers host in Ann Arbor, to see if he had any wheels laying around, from his collection of bikes. He has bikes that aren’t currently being ridden, that use wheels similar to mine, so he measured his drop outs to make sure they were the same width as mine, and they were. Borrowing a wheel, from him was an option. He also pointed us in the direction of a really good bike shop, near his house, that specialises in touring bikes–SIC Transit.

I wrote down the names, phone numbers and addresses of all the shops within 60 miles, then checked all their websites, to see if they either had my wheel in stock or a new touring bike in my size. Borrowing a used wheel, from Michael, was, so far, the only viable option There were no wheels and no bikes in stock anywhere. I checked eBay, Amazon, Google and Craigslist for bikes and wheels. Again, nada. I checked the availability of rental cars in Dearborn, and Enterprise had cars available. Here was the plan for the morning:

Plan A: Call Velocity Wheels, a Grand Rapids company that builds quality touring bike wheels, to see if they have a set of wheels on hand that would work on my bike. If they did, we’d rent a car and drive the 4-hour round trip to pick up the new wheels, then Chris would use the tools he. bought along to move my tire, cassette and brake disc to the new wheels. We would get a really late start, tomorrow, but we could complete the 56 mile ride to Toledo, with just a little time riding in the dark.

Plan B: Call SIC Transit, in Ann Arbor, to see if they have a wheel or bike available. This would require only a 2 hour round trip drive to Ann Arbor, so we’d get on the road earlier.

Plan C: Borrow a wheel from Michael. Same logistics as Plan B, as Michael is in Ann Arbor too.

Plan D: Call all the bike shops on my list, starting with the closest, and working toward to the furthest away.. We might get lucky, but it wasn’t likely.

I went to bed, worried about how this was going to work out.

8/4/2021 – Ann Arbor to Dearborn, MI – 2/3 of the Way!!!

36.33 Miles / 2833.33 Total Miles

673 Ft. Elevation Gain / 96,155 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

We hit a milestone today. We are 2/3 of the way through the days we will be riding and 2/3 of the way through the miles we will be riding to reach Bar Harbor, Maine.

We slept in till 6 AM, because we changed the destination for our day off, tomorrow, from Detroit to Dearborn. It seems that the Motown Museum, in Detroit, is closed, and the Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, is open, so we all agreed to the change.

We packed up our stuff, then headed to the kitchen to prepare our oatmeal, and Michael was already there–baking some fresh banana bread for us. Before we even left his house, we had both our first and second breakfasts out of the way. With such a short ride, there wasn’t going to be a stop for second breakfast, anyhow, and we weren’t going to stop for lunch. We were just riding straight through to our hotel in Dearborn.

Michael’s house is off our route, and he knew the best way to get back on the route, so he hopped on one of his bikes and led us 6 miles, to the bike path along the Huron River, which we followed to Plymouth Road, where we rejoined the route. We took some photos, and said our goodbyes. Michael: Thanks for sharing your beautiful home with us and for your hospitality, amazing cooking, and inspirational stories. If you ever come to Arizona, with or without a bike, be sure to look me up, so I can return the favor.

A good part of the route, today, was on bike trails, but they were winding, hilly and bumpy, and the adjacent roads were straight, mostly flat, mostly smooth, and had shoulders. We chose to ride on the roads, with the cars.. The Hines Park Trail, and its adjacent road, passed through numerous Wayne County parks and picnic areas. I hope the people who live here appreciate all the bike paths and parks that are available to them.

We stopped in Plymouth, about half way through our ride, and enjoyed some pastries from a bakery, then got back on the road.

When we came to the Rouge River Gateway Trail, which unfortunately did not have an adjacent road, we jumped on the trail, and rode it as it wound its way through Henry Ford Community College, the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus, the Henry Ford Estate, then to Michigan Avenue, in Dearborn.

Michigan Avenue was a busy road with no room for bikes, so we rode on the sidewalk, which was scary, because cars just pull over sidewalks without looking, and can easily take out a cyclist. About a mile from our motel, Ed swerved to get around a shopping cart, that had been left on the sidewalk, and his wheel got stuck in a rut. He ended up flying through the air and landing on the grass. Thankfully, he and his bike weren’t hurt, but it was pretty scary to watch.

We arrived at our motel pretty quickly–between 11:00 and 11:30, so we were going to have some free time on our hands.. While we were checking in, a couple from Iraq were also checking in, and I spoke with them briefly, before we left for our room. The wife was dressed very traditionally, for an Islamic woman in the US. She was wearing a black abaya and hijab, and had just her face uncovered. I had heard, somewhere along the way, that Dearborn has the highest population of Arabic people of any city in the US, and that got me thinking that, with all the free time we had today, I’d like to find a good Middle Eastern restaurant that serves the kind of food the Turkish Restaurant in Riyadh, Saudi Arablia served. And then I though that maybe I could get the gal from the lobby to go out to eat with me. So I went back to the front desk and asked Ali, the guy working there, if he could tell me which room she was in, and he did. I knocked on her door and asked her if I could buy them dinner at one of the Middle Eastern restaurants in town, and she said, “Yes.”. We would meet up at 6:30, and they would drive.

I went back to the room and took a nap, then readied my self for dinner. We met, as agreed, and headed for the Al-Ameer, Ali’s favourite restaurant. And while we were driving to the restaurant, I learned their names: Asra and Fors, and I discovered that they were on their honeymoon and had only been married 2 days. I offered to let them off the hook on the dinner, but they insisted they wanted to go with me.

Dinner was wonderful. I ordered a baba ganoush, hummus, grape leaves and tabouli, to share with them, and they ordered a lamb and chicken kabob and shawarma platter, that we all shared. The meal made me wish for a chance to go back to the Turkish Restaurant, but that will never happen.

After dinner, they offered to take me to see the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in North America and the oldest Shia mosque in the US. I wondered how it would compare to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and now I was going to get to find out. Unfortunately, when we got there, the mosque was closed, which was a little odd, because there was still one more prayer call left in the day. Something else that was odd, was that the mosque was completely surrounded by other churches.

When I got back to the hotel, it was time for blogging, a few phone calls and an early bedtime. We had a big day ahead of us at the Henry Ford Museum.

8/3/2021 – Mason to Ann Arbor, MI

58.07 Miles / 2797.03 Total Miles

1864 Ft. Elevation Gain / 95,482 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

Some motels, you just want to block out of your mind, and last night’s was one of them. The sanitation was such that we didn’t want to boil water to make oatmeal for breakfast, so we packed up and headed for a nearby McDonalds. Ed figured he’d fill his water bottles there, and I figured I’d use their bathroom, instead of the creepy motel bathroom. So we pulled up to McDonalds, and the dining room was completely closed, which meant we had to wait in line with the cars.

When we pulled up to one of the two drive through speakers, where you order, we weren’t recognised by the speaker, so we sat waiting, while cars, at the other speaker, placed orders and moved forward. Taking matters into our own hands, we pulled in behind the cars and ordered at the window where you normally pay, which caused a big pileup behind us. When all 3 of our orders were ready and paid for, we sat on the curb to eat breakfast. Not ideal, but what other option did we have?.

We had already dropped our old fashioned metal motel room keys into a drop box, but I had left the door to our motel room unlocked, so after breakfast, we headed back to the dive motel to fill Ed’s bottles and use the restroom there.

Once we got on the road, it was a chilly 52 degrees out, which for a Phoenician, is like the dead of winter. I’m not complaining, trust me–I’ll take that over 110 or 117 degree heat, any day. Our route was dominated by quiet, hilly 2-lane roads, that wound their way through cute, little, well manicured towns. We took our time, but there wasn’t much to stop for, in terms of food and sights, so we made good time.

In Gregory, we stopped at a little grocery store, for our morning break. I had an ice cream bar, which, for those of you who think that sounds unhealthy, had a couple of food groups in it.

After our stop at the market, we were surprised to learn that our next left turn was going to put us on the road to Hell. What did we do to deserve this? After just a few miles, we were rescued from going to Hell, but making a right turn, to stay on our route.

In the classy little town of Dexter, we had the best lunch I’ve had in a while. We stopped at a pizzeria, for lunch, and when we sat down, we found out that they had a pizza and salad bar. We were all over that. Have I mentioned that we have the appetites of 3 teenaged boys? Among the pizzas offered, on the food bar, was my favourite: barbecue chicken. It was amazing!

After lunch, we only had 12 miles left to go, to get to our final destination. I stopped for a few photos, as I rode through the University of Michigan, then headed for the home of our Warm Showers host.

Our Warmshowers host, Michael McGashen, greeted us outside his 100 year old home, and showed us where to put our bikes and gear, and our options for sleeping and bathing, of which there were many. The guys.is a few years younger than me, but he has been way busier than me on his bike. He’s toured the world extensively, and had photos to show and tales to tell. We were in awe of the many austere, distant and remote places he has been, and the situations he has been in and dealt with.

Also being an excellent chef, he prepared a feast of appetizers, fruit dishes, beverages, main courses, etc. The stories and conversation continued late into the evening, and it didn’t matter, because we were sleeping in till 6 AM (did I just say that was sleeping in?), and could stay up late. I went to bed and dreamt of all the places I was adding to my bucket list.

Michael: Thanks for your hospitality, the amazing food you prepared for us, and for entertaining us with your cycling adventures. We loved our stay with you!

8/2/2021 – Cascade to Mason, MI

77.27 Miles / 2738.96 Total Miles

2605 Ft. Elevation Gain / 93,618 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

After several; days with no WIFI, I am trying to catch up on the blogging business, and catching up is harder than you might think, because we’ve been through so many towns, that I am starting to forget what happened where. If only my mind was a little younger and sharper.

When we hit the road, this morning, it was chilly out–as in 57 degrees. Shivers! Our route meandered through several small towns, some lakeside summer home areas, and more crops.

In Woodland, we pulled up to a corner with an abandoned old church on one corner and an abandoned old school just across the street. Someone mows the lawn at the church, and both buildings have been maintained, to some degree. Wish there had been someone around to ask why they keep them up.

We were wanting second breakfast, but didn’t run into a possible stop for that, till we arrived Vermontville, where Jolei’s Diner called out to us. While we ate, a local gal came in, and sat at a table near us. She was super friendly, and had a few tips for us, one being that, just a few miles down the road, was an Amish community with an excellent bakery. Now that we have Chis on board, we try to stop at bakeries, even if we aren’t hungry.

That was the situation, as we pulled up to this place, shortly after eating second breakfast. Now we were on third breakfast. I bought an apple fritter and some chocolate milk, and felt like I needed to purge, by the time we left that little bakery. Not being a purger, that was out of the question, so I just had to live with the feeling that I was going to pop, for a couple of hours.

We had planned to stay with Warm Showers hosts, this evening, but getting to their house would have required over 85 miles of cycling, so we had to undo that plan. Instead, we found ourselves another cheap motel, and this one required some cleaning–by us–before we could let our things make contact with anything. I wiped the counters, toilet and furnitures tops off, with wipes I carry, while Ed went to the office for a broom and swept the place out. Oh, he also had to request a garbage can, as there wasn’t even one of them in the room–a new low for us.

Our Warm Showers hosts, Chuck and Hannah, graciously picked us up from the motel from hell, and took us to dinner at a Mexican food restaurant, in town. They are an awesome young couple. Chuck is working on his PhD in Math Education, and Hannah, is attorney who practices something she enjoys better than law. And they are both cyclists and fitness fanatics, which I can relate to. They took us to a few of the sights in town, and to the local ice cream shop, which, of course, made my day. Thanks, Chuck and Hannah, for your hospitality and kindness! We truly enjoyed our time with you!

This is Shawn–the owner of the ice cream shop.
That’s us with Chuck and Hannah.

8/1/2021 – Muskegon to Cascade

52.41 Miles / 2661.69 Total Miles

1070 Ft. Elevation Gain / 91,013 Ft. Total Elevation Gain.

As we left the motel, this morning, it was chilly–54 degrees, and we were concerned about Ed. He had strained something in his groin, yesterday, and was having trouble making some movements with his legs. There was a little talk about taking a couple of days off, to give it some rest, but the real talk was about just taking it easy–trying to ride, and seeing how it went. Relatively speaking, we had a short day–52 miles, and we took it easy, so as not to cause Ed to further strain his muscle. Again, we were lucky or blessed (I vote blessed). Once Ed got riding, the pain worked itself to the background, and by the end of the day, he was back to full strength.

Chuck had given us the best route to the Musketawa Trail, last night, so we just followed his guidance, and shortly, we were on the trail–a 25 mile Rails-to-Trails path, that connected us to the Pioneer Trail, a 5.4 mile trail, that took us to the outskirts of Grand Rapids. Did you follow all of that? The first trail was pristine asphalt with very little variation in grade–just what the doctor ordered for Ed. The Pioneer trail was a rail trail for the first mile, but then a paved path adjacent to an active train track. It was a little hilly, and not quite as pristine as the first trail, but still, it was wonderful having a break from cars and traffic.

We stopped for a break at the end of the Musketawa Trail, and this adult play structure (aka bike rack) presented itself.

We ran into quite a few friendly folks, on the trail, and even more friendly dogs. All 3 of us are dog lovers, so we are almost always going to at least comment to owners on their dogs. This batch of dogs required a little petting.

As we entered Grand Rapids, hunger was setting in, at the same time we came across this busy little cafe, with a crowd of locals waiting outside for a table. It was totally worth the 30 minute wait, to be able to eat here. All three of us ordered something different, and our food was exquisite.

We can always find ways to burn 30 minutes.

When we arrived the downtown area, we were only 9 miles–less than an hour–from the end of our route. I spotted some monuments, and the guys wanted to move on, so we parted ways. I rode around downtown for a little while, before heading down the road.

These murals were very cool. They were paint and mosaic, with some 3-D relief built up. I would love to have the talent and skill to be a mural painter.

I really liked the sign below, too. Sometimes you need to put down your phone, camera, binoculars or whatever you think is letting you see the world, and just look it with your own eyes, to truly see it. Put away all those devices, open your eyes and just look. What you’re looking for may be right in front of you, and those things are keeping you from seeing it. Great message.

We were following a route I found on RideWithGPS, today, and the route was great–every mile of the way. Nice paths, roads that took us through quiet neighbourhoods and scenic places. Beautiful scenery, including dense trees, fertile farmland, cool looking farmhouses, and bunches of silos. We are so fortunate to have all the technology we have at our fingertips and to have this opportunity to see these parts of the greatest country in the world,

7/31/2021 – Ludington to Muskegon, MI

71.77 Miles / 2609.28 Total Miles

]1591 Ft. Elevation Gain / 89,943 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

We had a long day ahead of us, as we pulled out of the campground, this morning. We had hilly terrain, and a cross wind to contend with, but Chris was with us to shake things up, and his change to the dynamic took our minds off that. He and Ed were moving quicker than I was willing to sustain, long term, which was fine, but it had me bringing up the rear all day long.

For most of the first 33 miles, we followed the Lake Michigan shoreline. Often, we couldn’t see the lake, due to houses and tall, dense trees, but it was right there–through the trees. After Pentwater, we rode inland, till we reached Muskegon.

This is the power plant just south of Ludington
Wishing for a tailwind.
What about these Wisconsin shaped chairs and table?

Hart had the first Veterans Memorial I’ve seen that honors women. The right marble slab, depicts a woman soldier. Good to see. Women, in the US military, have been a factor in all of the more recent conflicts.

We hopped on the Hart-Montague Trail, a rails-to-trails path, just after Hart, and rode it through Shelby, New Era and Whitehall.

The trail was a busy place. We saw more people walking and cycling, today, than we have seen walking and cycling during the entire trip to this point. Somewhere after the trailside art above, I received a text message from Ed. They were stopped at an ice cream shop right on the trail. I was skeptical–thought he and Chris were pulling my leg–they know how much I love ice cream. But just a short distance ahead, I ran into the Country Dairy Farm Store, a popular stop for cyclists using the trail. It wasn’t really lunch time, but the timing wasn’t going to be right when we reached the towns up ahead, where we could eat lunch, so we ordered food, instead of ice cream.

Being a dairy, the Farm Store served bottomless milk with their food. I might have overdosed on chocolate milk. I had already drunk a pint, earlier in the day, at our morning stop. This was a great stop!

Veterans Memorial under construction.

As we approached Montague, we started to notice matching t-shirts on people who were hopping on and off the bike path. There was some kind of event going on. Turns out, it was a pub crawl for bicyclists. They actually called it a Pub Pedal. At the Whitehall VFW, there were dozens of bikes and bike riders

I wish Arizona would use some of its resoucs to create some long distance trails like this one, and the others we have been cycling on.

As we approached Muskegon, the scenery changed to mid century industrial. Our maps showed us riding along a large inlet of Lake Michigan, which I thought would be a lovely waterfront. I was sure wrong about that. Instead of a beautiful lake and boardwalk, there were piles of salt and coal, a mothballed foundry; a mothballed coal generating station, a mothballed factory of some sort, and a toxic waste site that is so bad, I probably can’t be cleaned up.. Everything was run down and dirty–not what I was expecting for an entrance to Muskegon. On a positive note, they supposedly have a plan and are working toward cleaning up the eyesores.

Due to a crossed communication wires, we cancelled what looked to be a really nice Warm Showers opportunity, to stay in a motel, that turned to to be a complete dive. Even with us flaking out on them, the hosts, Doug and Barb, offered to meet us for dinner. Well, during the day, that offer changed to them fixing us dinner. Doug picked us up at our motel and took us to their lovely home. Dinner was an incredible 6 course meal, prepared by Barb, who is an amazing cook. Doug prepared the salad, which was a work of art. We sat out on their deck and chatted about bike touring, bikes, recipes, and other fascinating topics, then Doug took us by a grocery store on our way home, so I could pick up a few items. What a gracious couple! Doug and Barb: Thanks for your kindness and generosity! We truly enjoyed our time talking to you, and loved your home cooking. I hope I can see you again someday, sometime, somewhere.

Doug & Barb.

7/30/2021 – Zero Day in Manitowoc and on the Badger Ferry to Ludington, MI

No alarm, this morning. I slept until I couldn’t sleep any more, waking up at–6:30 AM. What the heck! That’s not sleeping in. My sleeping in clock is broken. That’s just one more thing to work on, when I get back to Arizona, but for right now, being up early is important.

Chris had messaged us to meet up for breakfast, except I didn’t get the message, so was a few minutes late. Had a delicious breakfast, at a fancy little cafe in town, next to my favourite chocolate shop. After running a few errands to pick up some grocery items, bug spray, and a few other things, I spent a little time cycling around town, to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything, but I ran out of time and did miss out on one of the things I had wanted to see–the site where the Sputnik debris landed on the road.

There was a banner for each submarine built here in Manitowoc. The top of the banner, for the first two, indicates they were sunk.

I headed over to the ferry at 12:40, to meet up with Chris and Ed. We loaded our bikes, settled in on board, and relaxed, while the ferry did all the work, carrying us across Lake Michigan.

Chris, Me and Ed with the Badger Ferry.
This bear sculpture was on the point next to the ferry landing.
A couple of old goofs, messing around with their electronics. I used the time on the boat to try to catch up on the blog, which, of course, will never happen.
Arriving Ludington.

Once we arrived Ludington, we rode into town, found a pub to eat in, and enjoyed delicious salads for dinner. Then it was off to our campground, which was right next to a large cemetery. There was no wifi to blog with, so we turned in early, to rest up for a 75 mile day ahead.

Transitioning from ferry passengers to cyclists.
We’re in Michigan!!!
That’s the pub where we ate.
Tent city. The two in the foreground are mine and Ed’s. Chris already had his down, by the time I took this photo.

7/29/2021 – De Pere to Manitowoc, WI

52.89 Miles / 2537.51 Total Miles

1093 Ft. Elevation Gain / 88,352 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

We went to bed, last night, not knowing for sure if there was going to be golfball sized hail, 80 mph winds or a tornado.  It was windy and rainy, during the night, but nothing woke me, and when my alarm went off at 6 AM, nothing had changed–besides the ground outside the pavilion being wet.  No trees were blown down, and nothing was damaged.  The severe part of the storm skipped us.  We’ve been lucky with the weather this entire trip.  Knock on wood.  

An added blessing, from sleeping under the pavilion, was that my tent and tent footprint were dry.  I don’t like compressing them into their stuff sack, when they are wet, especially, when it is going to be warm out.  Goes against my grain.  Things could get moldy, which is never good. 

We made good time, but that might have been partly, because we were looking forward to meeting up with Chris Demetre, who has been cycling for 3 days from Edgerton, WI, to meet us in Manitowoc.  He will be riding with us through Bar Harbor.  Chris started riding at 5:30 AM, so he beat us to town and checked into his hotel.  We had Warm Showers hosts, Cath and Brian, lined up, and were tenting in their back yard, just across the road from Lake Michigan, while they were out of town for the weekend.  

As we mounted our trusty steads and turned on our Garmins, we both realized that we had run out of maps on our Garmins and should have downloaded more maps, during all that free time we had, yesterday.  Duh.  We decided to push ahead and navigate off the paper maps, like we did on the Southern Tier.  It was cool and humid, out, as we hit the road, but as the day wore on, that gradually transitioned to hot and humid.  Bottom line: We were sweating our brains out—all day long.

Everything about the ride, today, had to do with dairy farming.  Dairy cattle operations of every size were everywhere, separated by crops that grow cattle feed, with farmhouses of all sizes sprinkled into the mix.  We stayed on quiet country roads all day long, and I have to say that it was one of my most enjoyable riding days.  The dairy farms, with their silos and farmhouses, all surrounded by fields, are really pretty.  

This is where we ate lunch.

On our way into town, a sculpture caught our eye—named, “Late for a Date.”  It was the monument piece of the Rahr Art Museum.  I popped my head in to ascertain what the admission was (free) and how long it would take to see the museum (30-60 minutes), and we decided to stop at the museum, before heading to our accommodations for the night.  

There were 2 painting exhibits by women who write about their art.  One had a political viewpoint, and the other, a family farming viewpoint.  When I get home, I’m going to buy the following book, by Lorraine Ortner-Blake, to read the family farm stories to my grandkids.  

After setting up our tents, showering, starting a load of laundry, and checking out our host’s garden and healing hermitage, we headed to the Maritime Museum and to meet up with Chris.  I gave him a call as I left the house, and he came walking up as I pulled up to the museum on my bike. 

He is quite the mechanic, and immediately started checking out our bikes.  Both Ed and I have been having brake problems, so our priority changed from spending time at the museum to spending time at the bike shop.  The bike shop didn’t have brake pads for either of our bikes, so they dinked around with our brakes, making Ed’s better and mine worse, and I payed for that.  Chris put my bike back on the bike stand and used the shop’s tools to work on getting my brakes to a better place—until the place closed.  

7/28/2021 – Tilleda to De Pere, WI

70.49 Miles / 2484.62 Total Miles

1093 Ft. Elevation Gain / 87,259 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

When we pulled out of the campground, there was confusion over which way to go.  Our paper maps seemed to be telling us to go right, but our GPSs were telling us to go left.  So I consulted my good friend, Google Maps, and it too said to go left.  For some stupid reason, we ignored the GPS and Google Maps and went right, but within a minute, Google Maps had rerouted us, and the right turn was going to take us to our next town, with just an additional 0.3 miles added on to our day.  Good enough for me.  No need to turn around, when you are already headed for your destination  When we arrived Leopolis, we were one block off route.  From there on, it was smooth sailing for rest of the day.

This is NOT the town where Pella windows are made.
Pine Grove Campground is where we stayed last night.
Hey! I thought we had more than a month left to go, before we get to Maine!

Starting in Washington and continuing probably through the end of our route, we pass quite a few abandoned farm houses that look like they would be pretty cool, if they could be fixed up. Or is it a matter of they can’t be fixed up, because the owners didn’t maintain the roof, the siding, the paint, etc., until the entire house was ready to fall apart, and then it is so expensive to catch up on all that maintenance, you give up and build a new house. If anyone reading this knows how these houses end up being abandoned, like this, shoot me a message.

In Leeman, which, as far as I could see, wasn’t really a town, there was just this corner store, run by a single Mom and her kids.  They are out in the middle of nowhere, and they sell groceries, pet feed, gas, and all kinds of stuff.  I was impressed.  I was especially appreciative of the fact that they sell chocolate mile, because I was needing a fix.  

Today, we started passing dairy farms.  Lots and lots of dairy farms.  BIG dairy farms, and a few little ones too.  I need a tour of a big dairy farm, if you know anyone who could give me one.  What do they do with all those silos?  Where does all the manure go?  What do they do with the baby boy cows, in the US?  The nicest dairy farms seemed to  be branded with the big companies like Land O’ Lakes.

Out in the country, there are very few Biden signs, and a lot of Trump signs.  I stopped to talk to the people at this house, and they told me that most of the Biden signs disappeared.

Ed and I had been riding separately for most of the morning, and bumped into each other somewhere after my milk stop.  We leaped frogged each other for a bit, then  arrived in Black Creek, at the same time, for lunch.  

The waitress and customers in the little diner, where we ate, were interested in our adventure, and they were surprised we were camping tonight.  Why surprised?  Because there was a severe weather warning for the area.  What?  This was the first we’d heard of it.  One guy brought his phone over, to show us his radar app, and it looked pretty bad.  My National Weather Service feed had a prediction of golfball sized hail, 80 mph winds, tornados, and possibly a Derecho.  If you’re in a car or building, you have some protection from the elements, but in a tent?  Not so much.  I was wondering how this was going to impact us.  

I had planned to stop at the local library to work on the blog, for an hour or so, but the weather had me worried, so I headed for the campground to get ready for whatever might be coming our way. 

Our campground for the evening.

By the time I arrived at the campground, Ed had arranged with the folks at the campground to let us sleep under the pavilion by the pool, to be safe from the storm, lightening strikes and a tree possibly falling on us.  The catch was that we had to wait till camper activity in that area died down, before we could set up.  Easy enough.  We’re good at hanging out, and can easily find ways to entertain ourselves.  

During my first hour, there, a 9-year old girl, was having a big birthday swim party, with about 8 other little girls her age.  I put my swimsuit on, while I washed all my clothes, swam and showered (had to drip dry, because my pack towel was in the laundry too.)  

At one point, I was in the bathroom getting chain grease stains out of my sun legs, when a little girl called out, from one of the bathroom stalls, “Help.”  Her voice was so soft, I wasn’t sure of what I was hearing.  She called out again, “Can somebody help me?”  I went over next to the stall where the voice was coming from, and asked her if she needed me to hand her some toilet paper.  “I have toilet paper, “  was her response, “I need someone to help me wipe.”  

Ummm.  Let’s see, now.  That’s something I would have helped my daughter with and have helped my grandkids with, but not someone I don’t know—especially a child.  I asked her if her Mom was here, and she told me her Mom’s name.  So I headed outside to find her Mom, asking the nearest parent to the door who Tashonda was.  Mom was a ways down the sidewalk, talking on her cell phone, so I hurried down and told her that her daughter needed her in the bathroom, and she almost ran for the bathroom.  When I pointed the stall out, to her, there was no hesitation (the floor was covered in mud and water, tracked in from the pool, or overflow from the shower).  She dropped to the ground of the RV park bathroom, on her belly, drug herself into that toilet stall, and proceeded to gently talk to and help her daughter, and tell her what a good job she’d done.  

Did I really just see this?  Was I really hearing this?  Who dives down and gets prone on a filthy public restroom floor, then does the low crawl, into a bathroom stall, to help their child wipe their fanny?  Tashonda you are the bestest, kindest Mom EVER!

Over the next couple of hours, people from the RV park, who had TV service, came by to warn us of the severe storm warning and what to do if we heard the tornado sirens (run for the laundry room).  We had done everything we could to prepare.  Our tents were tied down under a pavilion; my bike, panniers and all but my sleeping gear were in the laundry room.  

It was pouring rain, as I climbed into my sleeping bag, then a flash of lightening lit up everything us, followed by a thunder clap, just a second later.  Things weren’t sounding too good.  I fell asleep quickly, in spite of the loud rumbling thunder.  Story o be continued—tomorrow.

7/27/2021 – Crandon to Tilleda, WI

74.19 Miles / 2414.13 Total Miles

1834 Ft. Elevation Gain / 86,018 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

We were so fortunate to have a change in lodging plans, yesterday, that put us indoors for last night’s storm. The thunderstorm and high winds lasted most of the night, while we were safely tucked away between the covers, in the Four Seasons motel. As we rode out, this morning, the roads were littered with tree branches, and there were fallen trees along our entire route, or evidence of fallen trees that had been removed by highway crews. Our tents would have kept us dry, no matter what, but if a tree had fallen on us, or if lightening had struck a tree near us, we would have been toast. We weren’t going to have access to food or hydration for 51.5 miles, so we left our motel room, fully stocked for the day.

Crandon was a pretty spiffy little town, and as we rode out of town, it moved up a few more notches, in my mind. Part of the town backs up to this really nice lake, and the houses that back to it are not mansions. They are just humble homes that normal people live in. And the city has a nice little park with a public beach, so everyone can enjoy the lake.

We had no idea we were going to pass through Nashville. It wasn’t even on our map.

This is the Red River, outside of Mattoon, but we also crossed over the Wolf, Lily and Embarrass Rivers. The Embarrass and Wolf Rivers had tubing and kayaking operations, and it would have been nice to have had a few extra hours to stop and go on a float. I thought to myself that when I get home from this trip, I need to get out to Salt River Recreation ASAP and float down the Salt River, before they shut down for the winter. The water is much clearer than this water, and there are rapids. Send me an email or text message, if you would like to join me.

We’ve been passing Christmas tree farms, over the past few days, and I keep forgetting to take a picture. So here it is.

Mattoon was our lunch stop, but the only available food was in the Deli of the little grocery store. While we were patiently waiting to order, a heavy set women walked up and put her order in ahead of us. We held our tongues and didn’t let it get to us. When our order was ready, the deli gal brought it to us, as if we were in a restaurant. Very nice touch. Lunch was delicious!

I noticed that the town had a library, so I decided to stop in and work on my blog for an hour or so, while Ed move on to the campground.. When I got to the library, I discovered that it is only open 2 hours a week, and this didn’t happen to be those 2 hours. I needed to use the restroom, so crossed the street to ask the people at the city hall building if I could use their restroom. The doors were all on electronic keypads, so I couldn’t even go inside to ask, but someone heard me trying to open the door and came out to see if I needed help. And that someone was the heavy set woman from the grocery store deli. She was really nice. She let me in to use the restroom and told me that even though the library was closed, I could sit out front and use their wifi.

The front of the library building had full sun, there was no place to sit, and it was really hot outside. So I sat on the asphalt in the only available shade–the shadow from the bed of a pickup truck. Apparently the gals from the city hall building looked out to check on me, because the heavy set gal came over and invited me over to sit indoors and use their wifi. I cranked out a post and hit the road. There were still 20 miles of riding left to get to the campground.

Mattoon gave me my mural fix for the day. They didn’t have buildings to put a mural on, so they took advantage of a long retaining wall. Very resourceful.

For only $2500, you could own the antique bucket of bolts truck on the left.

I finally made it to Tilleda, where we had decided to camp. The Pine Grove Campground & RV Park was a high end place with a high end price, with 2 beaches along a lake, a pool, goofy golf course, petting zoo, playground, fountain, store, golf cart rentals (that looked really fun), showers, wifi, and a nice patio/deck for us to sit on. Oh, and lots of mosquitos. We burned through a bunch of my mosquito repellent, and they were still biting us.

One of my favourite features of the campground was the goats, Stan and Ollie. Ollie was the man of my dreams–attentive, patient, full of energy, easy to please, likes to pose, eats healthy, is fit, and will fight for what he wants. He and Stan entertained us, by head butting each other, locking their horns and chasing each other around. Very manly–my kind of guys. Forget all those boring human men. Maybe those Middle Eastern men truly do know the secret to happiness.

7/26/2021 – Eagle River to Crandon, WI

44.88 Miles / 2339.94 Total Miles

1184 Ft. Elevation Gain / 84,184 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

With a short day ahead of us, we decided to sleep in and get a real breakfast, before embarking on our ride. For us, this was a rest day–kind of. There weren’t going to be any towns with food or hydration until Crandon, so we made sure we had plenty to eat and drink, before getting on our bikes.

We passed along some lakes, just after we left town, and people were actually headed out on them, with their boats. I’ve seen a lot of lakes and a lot of boats tied to docks, on this trip, but boats being used on lakes? Probably less than 10. It was good to see people heading out to enjoy the lake.

As we moved down the road, we entered the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, which is a forest with trails and lots of campgrounds, but no historical destination, site or building.

Our route followed a couple of scenic byways, but to me, it just all looked like a bunch of tall trees, with a lot of fern undergrowth. Sometimes I was so busy trying to dodge potholes and torn up pavement, that I couldn’t even see the trees.

,Eleven miles of our ride, through the National Forest, was on Old Military Road, which actually does have historical significance. It was built between 1864 and 1870, as a wagon road, to provide a route for reinforcement of two military forts during the Civil War Period. Mind you, the road had no role in the Civil War. That is just the timeframe in which it was built.

We passed through Hiles, and even though it claims to be the “Mushroom Capital of Wisconsin,” we never saw a mushroom. Not even one.

As we approached Crandon, we passed an interesting entrance to some kind of auto racing facility. I didn’t recognise the vehicle on top of the sign, but I love the idea of a vehicle on a sign, so I took a picture. As we continued down the road, we figured out what the facility is–the Crandon International Raceway, Home of the World Championship Off Road Races. Too bad we aren’t here September 1-5, because that’s when the championship races will be held. I’ll bet big money that they beat the excitement and crowd of that Mud Bog we saw in Butternut.

I wanted to use the wifi in the public library to work on my blog, so Ed headed out to get lunch, then rode ahead to our campground. While at the library, I met a brother and sister, in their 20s, who are riding the North Lakes Route–the same maps we are currently following. They headed out for the same campground we were planning to stay in, so I expected to see them later. Well, I missed seeing them, because after riding almost 5 miles, Ed arrived the campground to find that it has been closed for construction for at least a year. With no other campground up ahead for over 50 miles, he had no choice, but to turn around and come back to Crandon. Once again, this kind of news would be easier to deal with, if you were driving a car. We found ourselves a cheap motel for the night, so we weren’t exactly homeless.

The brother/sister duo had stopped at the grocery store, so never bumped into Ed to get the news about the campground closure. They too rode all the way out there, then rode all the way back to stay in the same cheap motel. Great minds think alike.

Every time one of these malfunctions happens to us, the end result turns out better than the original plan, and that’s when Ed says, “Everything happens for a reason.” Last night, there was another thunderstorm, with heavy winds, that lasted most of the night. This morning, we passed a lot of downed trees laying across the road. As much as I love camping to in my cozy little tent and cocoon, I’m glad we were indoors for the storm.

7/25/2021 – Mercer to Eagle River, WI

63.84 Miles / 2295.06 Total Miles

1332 Ft. Elevation Gain / 83,000 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

After an uneventful night, last night (no thunderstorms), we got on the road early, today. Our first stop of the day was going to be breakfast with John Nelson, in Manitowish Waters. I messaged ahead to let him know what Google Maps was saying our ETA was, then called when we got closer. We were meeting up at a place called Dixie’s, across the street from Dietz’s gas station. We jumped on a rail trail in Mercer, and were teleported forward on luxury asphalt. I felt the pressure to be focused and make good time, but there were all these cool things to snap photos of catching my eye.

We’ve seen several of these Soo Line rail cars, starting in Minnesota. Mercer had one next to their former train depot.

Had to stop at Mercer’s Veterans Memorial. Loved the Eagle sculpture.

Then there was the gigantic Loon, Claire d’Loon, with a display that played all of her various calls and sounds.

The rail trail is very high end. This is one of the many bridges we crossed.

And here’s Ed, showing his rail trail etiquette.

Pretty quickly, we were in Manitowish Waters. We passed our original meeting place, the Pea Patch Motel, and were wondering if we followed the Aurora Borealis sign, could we actually see the Aurora Borealis.

The Memorial Park, in Manitowish Waters, had a huge fish sculpture, that was really cool. This place was so well groomed, with gorgeous flowers planted everywhere, and lots of meticulously mowed grass, even along the bike path.

Starvation was setting in, when John arrived. I ordered the breakfast casserole and a peach smoothie, and they hit the spot. John entertained us with the things that go on in town. The place is so meticulous, because the owner of ULine, a large commercial supply vendor, lives there and donates heavily to her town.

We struck a pose, on the dock, with John, but had no photographer to take a photo. And at that very moment–like a scene from a movie–a beautiful, blonde bombshell came traipsing down the stairway to the dock. It was Johns wife, Jill, coming to save the day. Ed and I had been preparing to leave, but now we were sitting back down to hear about Jill’s water skiing show, last night, and get caught up on other important things. I’m kind of old to think about learning the kinds of things she does on skis, like being on the top row of a large pyramid formation, but she says that if I were to come back next summer, they would teach me how to do some tricks. Hmmm. Great idea! I’ll put that on my list of things to consider.

When we left Dixie’s, our bike path travel continued, till we got to our next town, Boulder Junction.

Once there, we toured the downtown area, checked out the Veterans Memorial and the town mural, then looked for and found unique sights.

My bike had been making some strange rhythmic sounds for several days, so while Ed sat down for lunch, I headed down to see the bike mechanic at Coontail Bike Rentals–the first bike repair opportunity I’d had, since Fargo. Thankfully, they had a super knowledgeable Specialized certified mechanic on duty. He trued my real wheel, adjusted my brakes, checked my gearing and re installed my beast of a kickstand (I had removed it, because my wheel was so out of true, that I though it was rubbing against it.) Thank you Coontail for having such a sharp guy working for you!

Ed finished up with his lunch at about the same time the mechanic finished up with my bike, so we got back on the road. During our little break, both of us had been getting an earful about how the bridge was out just before Conover, and the detour was REALLY long. Ed had found a shorter alternate route on Google Maps, that bypassed the bridge ; one gal had suggested another alternate to avoid the bridge and the traffic we would encounter on the road from Conover to Eagle River; and one gentleman mentioned a snowmobile/ATV bridge we could take, that runs parallel to the bridge, but just a little south of it. What would you do with those 3 choices? I went for Ed’s Google Maps option.

We pushed ahead, and that Google Maps option was looking good for the first mile. It was a nice road, and all downhill, till we ran out of pavement and were looking at who knows how many miles of a dirt/gravel road. We turned back around and peddled back up that hill, deciding to just follow the ACA route, but take the snowmobile bridge, if we couldn’t find a way to cross the bridge.

As we rode up on the bridge, I told Ed that maybe we could just find a way to cross the bridge, but when we got closer, there was no bridge to cross. The entire span had been torn down. It took quite a bit of grunting and groaning to get our bikes up a steep embankment, then through the dirt and gravel on the road and ramp to the snowmobile bridge. Once we were over it, we were home free, with no detour required.

I didn’t see a Veterans Memorial in Eagle River, but there was quite a bit of Yeti action. Wait. A couple of those Yetis look like the ape from the Tarzan Disney movie

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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7/23/2021 – Haugen to Ghost Lake, WI

75.84 Miles / 2295.64 Total Miles

2730 Ft. Elevation Gain / 79,483 Ft. Total Elevation Gain

In 2015, I spent 5 weeks in Italy, and within a couple of weeks, I had seen so many statues and cathedrals, that I couldn’t be impressed by yet another of them. I had become numb to them. Has that ever happened to you? I mention this, because it’s happening to me on this ride. I have become numb to crops and lakes and forests. There might not be more photos of them going forward, even though I see them all day, every day. They may just be in the background of other things I take a picture of, so it will be up to you to notice. Is laziness setting in? I hope not.

After enjoying a restful night, on a real bed, in that little KOA cabin, and a real sink to brush our teeth at, in the morning, we hopped on our steeds at 7:20 AM and bid Shady Rest Campground adieu. We decided that the guy who owns the place does a lot of what he does just to be good to people, and we really appreciated his goodness to us.

Just a few miles down the road, we ran into this herd of Bison. If only they had been this easy to find and see at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The fence keeping them contained looked pretty flimsy, so I am hoping it was an electric fence, and that electric fences work on gigantic ultra furry creatures, like bison.

Once we ran into this sign, we were on the lookout for Amish horse drawn buggies, but we never saw one. I didn’t mention it, but we saw one going down the road, yesterday, and cars were blasting past it a high speed, which I thought was pretty thoughtless. Horses can really get spooked by things racing up behind them. I know what it feels like. I get spooked too. Frequently.

We cycled past miles and miles of resort cabins and lodges along the shores of Lake Chetac, Sand Lake, Lac Courte Oreilles and Grindstone Lake This would be a great place for an extended family vacation, if these places aren’t booked up years in advance. I especially liked the sign for the Red School Resort.

It looks like Wisconsin folk believe in Yetis, because look what is starting to crop up again. We didn’t see them in North Dakota or Minnesota. I haven’t met any experts yet, but if I do, I’ll keep you posted.

We had very few places on our route, today, where food or beverages were available, so when we came up on this one, my heart lept a little. The guy who owns this store lives here and keeps it open year round. Apparently, enough snowmobilers come to town, in the winter, to keep him in business.

The mailbox of the day.

We learned a bit about the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Indian Tribe, as we passed through their reservation. Many of them were converted to Catholicism, back in the 1860s, by Catholic Priests who offered them mass. They built a log church that burned down and was replaced by the pipestone church below.

They serve in the military and honour their veterans. Their memorial is really REALLY nice.

While on the Ojibwe reservation, we stopped at a grocery store, to pick up some food for lunch and restock a few items. Parked out front were a couple of loaded touring bikes, so an encounter with other cyclists was inevitable. In the store, we met two college aged fellas who are cycling from Washington D.C. to Minneapolis. They rode out of D.C. on the C&O Canal and Greater Allegany Passage trails, then used RideWithGPS to route them up to what is known as the Northern Peninsula (of Michigan), where they toured Makinac Island, then crossed over into Wisconsin. They’re definitely having an adventure.

We passed into, through and back out of the Chequamegon National Forest. It was very similar to forests on the Olympic Peninsula, with their lush foliage, tall trees and fern.

The 4.5 mile “Rustic Road” we rode on at the very end of our day, reminded me of the difficulties of the day. It was hot and humid from the moment we got on our bikes, and both the heat and humidity increased as the day wore on. And now we were being beat up by torn up pavement. This particular Rustic Road informed me of what a Rustic Road is. It is a paved road that no one has the funds or time to repair, so they put a cool sign on it, to make it look like they intend it to be rustic. Occasionally, there was a fresh patch of asphalt, on a section of pavement that looked like someone dropped a bomb on. I couldn’t figure out what they were trying to accomplish, with their little bitty patches, when the entire section of pavement was completely deteriorated and impassible, but maybe they have to use that asphalt or lose it;

A couple of miles after surviving the beating from the rustic road, we arrived at our campground. Surrounded by large camp trailers and RVs, we had a nice quiet spot with every thing we needed, except wifi, of course. After showering, we headed over to the lodge to get dinner and to hopefully find a place to set up blog central.

This was Friday night, so the place was packed with people who had come from miles away to enjoy a night out with food, drinks, music and friends. I ordered up some fish tacos, and they were scrumtious. Sadly, blog central was not going to happen, because the wifi didn’t work in the lodge. The owner told me that there are 3 large boulders, near the office, where you can get wifi, and I meant to head over there after dinner, but that’s when the live music started.

The female guitar player/vocalist sounded like a cross between Joni Mitchel, Melanie and Janice Joplin. She was really good. The lead singer, harmonica player and congo drummer was the owner of the resort, who had been wearing the bartender apron, up until he got his cue to take his place with the band. He was a talented performer too. I don’t get out to hear live music, very often, so I stuck around and enjoyed the moment.

When I finally headed over to the 3 boulders, I was able to access the wifi long enough to check my text messages and respond to one of them. End of wifi for the evening. Time to go to bed. Not being a quitter, I stuck around and hit my head against the wall for another 15 minutes, before completely throwing in the towel on the wifi.

The weather forecast had predicted rain during the night, so I closed everything up tight, before going to bed. Unfortunately, with every thing buttoned up, my tent was a sweat box. I was laying on top of my silk cocoon in my skivvies, sweating my brains out, so I opened the rain fly on both sides of my tent to let some air in. At 12:22 AM, a torrential downpour, thunder and lightening all hit at one time. Water was pouring in both sides of my rain fly, until I closed up those openings. The thunder and lightening kept me awake for about an hour, before I fell asleep again.