Monday, August 21, 2006

Yooper country

I am in the library in Crystal Falls, MI. First computer access on the trip, although, I did not really look until today. Today is a day off. Left my campsite this morning thinking I would ride 80+ miles to Escanaba but my legs had a different idea so I am stopped here and resting.

I got into MI yesterday. The ride across WI was idyllic, bucolic, verdant, refreshing and anything but a straight line. My thought is that the counties across northern WI have wager on who can design the road with the most curves in the least amount of space. There are some hills too but they are not anything like what I will see in New England, or maybe even the UP. The towns I have passed through so far includeOsceola, Dresser, Amery, Birchwood, Mercer, Glidden, Boulder Junction, WI and Caspian and Crystal Falls, MI.

My encounters with people are similar to what I experienced last year on the cross country trip. Friendly and a little incredulous at my endeavor. Wonderful store keeper in Haugen WI is keeping a log of riders who come through. That day he got two as I met a gent, Tom, about my age travelling from Maine west to, he hopes, Washington. At this time of the year he may have some trouble with the mountain passes. Tom told me of a paving project down the road. He had ridden 7 miles of loose gravel and it was terrible. When I got to Mercer where the gravel was reputed to be it was two days later and I hoped it might be paved by now. I enquired of a county sheriff who was investigating a garden vandalism crime at the local Subway. He was not much help. He was still there half an hour later when I went by again. Reminded me of Alice's Restaurant. (If you don't get the reference your not in my generation). Anyway, as I turned with trepidation on to County Rd. J a nice man turned his car in front of me, jumped out and shouted to get my attention. He said that the gravel was really nasty and gave me a great alternate route through Manitowish Waters. Avoided the gravel and got to see M.W. Another angel on the road.

The garden vandalism at Subway was apparently the work of one of the motorcycle rally participants who were swarming everywhere around Mercer on that Saturday. I saw dozens of them on the road and rode through the site where the rally was being held. It reminded me of the bike race Paul and I participated in years ago in Sayner which is very near Mercer. Lots of folks hanging out in the woods having a good time. The other connection to Mercer is that Kelli's childhood camp, Whispering Pines was there.

I have been averaging 75+ miles per day and my average pace varies from 12.3 to 12.8 mph. So I am in the saddle about 6 hours a day. It is not bad if you get an early start. I have camped 3 times and stayed in motels three times, including today. The most surprising thing is paying $18-20 to camp and then having to pay $0.25 for a shower. Never encountered that the whole trip last year.

The intrigue and uniqueness of this trip is not quite the same as last year but so far I am riding in familiar country. It should get more interesting as I get further east.

--Gary Fifield 1893 Berkeley Av. St. Paul, MN 55105 651-695-1065


At 2:36 PM, Blogger Gary Fifield said...

Big G.
Everything is happening at once at home. Check the regular email and thank your stars that you're where you are. Kelli

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gary,

I was glad Kelli let me know you were blogging during your trip...

Sounds like things are going well...wind, rain and all. You may not read this until after you're in Ontario, but just in case not and in case you go through Port Huron and Sarnia, please say hi to those two towns for me. Lots of memories there from my grad school days at Michigan State.

Best wishes for a continued safe and fun trip with angels at every turn.



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