Perfect way to start the trip: I was all excited, ready to go, with my bike all packed up. I got on BART to head to the airport, and casually started checking in to my flight – but it kept rejecting me. That’s when I realized my 11:59pm flight was not for Friday night, but Saturday. Whoops. I skulked back home and hopped online to log into my weekly dungeons and dragons sesh with my college buds, but instead of rolling dice we just spent 3 hours lamenting the terrible state of the world (with a brief side quest contrasting the qualities of Pee-Wee Herman vs Ed Grimly).
It’s all going to work out fine, just instead of a relaxing day bumming around the twin cities, I’m just going to hit the pavement running tomorrow. Bums on!
Well, I made it to the Twin Cities… but my bike did not ☹️ I’m still waiting to find out details, but I’m hoping they just forgot to load it and it will be on the next flight? Here’s hoping this trip doesn’t turn into HikeBums!
Phew! Tatonka the bike thankfully showed up on the next flight from San Francisco. Spent half the day fretting about the bike (Sun Country air offered me no way to track where it was), but the other half was a relaxing tour around Minneapolis with M-swob. Tomorrow, we ride!
We got a great start yesterday. Rolled out of Minneapolis on its amazing bike infrastructure. It was all bike lanes and cycle paths for at least 30 miles. We already ran into other cycle tourists – one guy was in his 60s, going solo from Washington to Maine, and averaging over 70 miles a day! Overall it was just a full day of really pleasant, easy riding. We ended up camping on the Saint Croix River, at a site that would have been perfect except for the crack force of mosquito commandos the patrolled the area. I knew we wouldn’t make it through the north woods without getting a few bites, but I guess I forgot how aggressive Midwestern mosquitos are compared to their western counterparts.
Got some rain last night, but thankfully it didn’t start until we were snug in the tents and stopped just as we got up. We skipped making breakfast given that we would likely eat less than we would be eaten, and instead grabbed some pastries from the bakery in (sugar) Rush City.
We stopped briefly near the fire department museum in Rush City to snack, and to remind ourselves that Devo is a great band. From Rush City we continued northward. In Pine City, we made camp lunch at a picnic table in front of City Hall. An 18 year old in a giant pickup truck showed off the acceleration of his vehicle several times, presumably for our benefit. We rode through Hinkley, Sturgeon Lake, and eventually settled into a municipal campground on the shore of Moose Lake. Important showers were had. “The mosquitoes. Are. Awful,” said the camp host, and he was telling the truth. The Moose Lake Community Band rocked the amphitheater in the park to the delight of a dozen octogenarians, while a lone 12 year old girl spun mindlessly on a merry-go-round in an attempt to stay awake. We ate pizza at Poor Garys while debating how poor Gary actually is. Then, like bums often do, we ended the night at a local brewery. At the brewery, we met a local man who aired out every opinion he’s ever conceived in the course of 2 hours. From him, we learned about Duluth (he hates it), taxation (hates it), square cut pizza (hates it), hot sauce (loves it), and heteronormativity (loves it.)
One more comment about the Moose Lake brewery: they have probably the best nut brown ale I’ve ever had. Just don’t feed the loudmouth and you’ll have a great time.
We had a killer breakfast at the lazy moose: wild rice + mushroom omelette, along with wild rice and candied pecan pancakes. 6 thumbs up.
As we headed north along more glorious paved bike path, the weather got cooler and the terrain got a bit more mountainous. By the time we got lunch in outer Duluth, it was downright chilly.
Humes after downing some serious hot saucethe bridge to superior
We got the red carpet treatment at the Thirsty Pagan brewery in Superior. Lots of good advice, and the owner even gave us free bike jerseys.
cheers from the Thirsty PaganFrozen custard on the move
I celebrated our entry into Wisconsin by making a bee-line for some Culver’s frozen custard – it’s no Strickland’s, but it’s pretty dang good. Had a wet ride to a state park and nestled down for the evening.
Well, we’ve clearly fallen behind in the blog updating. Just posting here to confirm that we are still moving east through the beautiful upper peninsula. Good times have been had, characters have been met. No problems so far, though last night we learned that neither of our tents are as waterproof as we remember. We’ll have a longer post soon…
yeah, so we’ve gotten really bad updating this blog… But we promise, stories and photos are coming soon. Had a great meetup with Mike Bush, Clair, and their energetic children, Rosie and Sylvie – much fun was had, but now we are on our own again, drinking away our troubles at the ByGeorge brewery in Munising. Stay tuned!
Beautiful rolling countryside down to lake – reminded me of the bodensee in Germany
Pub crawl in port wing
Local drunks are astonished and amused by the dumb things done by people on a show called ‘dumbest things done by people’
Got to cornucopia aka corny just in time for weekly town live music party
Shout-out to the whitecaps – men our age playing music for boomers
Watched local witch dance with abandon
Zach’s drawers were rescued by good samaritans with bad judgement
Camped at amazing spot 20 ft from Lakeshore
Took first dip in the lake – 5 stars
Bayfield was busy with tourists
Great bike shop right outside of town – unfortunately the attached brewery was not open yet
Greg nearly experienced death-by-hammock
Great little coffeeshop in Washburn
Took another dip in the lake, taking care not to disturb any fortnight birthday cakes
Great bike trail through Ashland
Camped at frontier campground/bar/grill/gas station
Had post shower nightcap at bar, but any conversation was inhibited by gambling machines
Rode to cute Finnish museum – learned that the word ‘sisu’ is only for Finns
Learned that the next town, hurley, used to be known as a wretched hive of scum and villainy
Picked up some Finnish salty licorice – yum
We just barely missed embarking on a life of sin in Hurley, thanks to the bike path
Crossed into Michigan – again, no sign
Began amazing 20 miles long bike path in ironwood
Met loquacious local who has mastered the art of comedic indirection. Met him several times on the trail – he cannot drive for medical reasons, so the trail is his lifeline. He’s never left the area, and is a local celebrity – he truly is ironwoods ambassador. And, as Randall would say, there’s some humor in that, if you think about it
Stopped at visitor center in Wakefield – friendly volunteer advised us that ‘da yoopers’ are not appropriate music for Sunday school
At pizza pub, met previous owner, who used the proceeds from selling the bar to buy a house down the street from where she grew up
The bar’s new owner is still figuring out what kind of wine “piñot” is
Great ride through forest to campground on the lake – gorgeous sunset was observed.
Weren’t even bothered by the outhouses that were just upwind
Randall, the sweetest man in Ironwood
Another great ride through the forest
Another great swim in the lake
Another mediocre square-cut pizza
Met tandem cyclists on a day ride – one reviewed our entire route, and gave ‘no opinions, only observations’
Had ice cream in Ontonagon before making a delicious curry at the very nice town campground
Another great lake sunset
We both woke up to find the waterproofing on our tents did not stand up to the rainstorm
Everything we own was wet and filthy, including our souls
Added 20 pounds of water weight to our bikes
Soggily dripped into Syl’s for breakfast – towels were provided
Zach procured ill fitting pvc hazmat suit from ace hardware, which would keep him wet, dry, hot, and cold simultaneously for the rest of the day
Rode through the rain all day – it was quite a slog
Disappointed that beer belly bob’s was closed, along with the rest of the town of Greenland
Greenland’s fourth of July festivities appeared to have been washed away
Made burgers at convenient pavilion in Laird township – 5 stars
Finally made it to Baraga, where we had a hot meal, but they were out of everything from a busy weekend, including humanity
Decided that, rather than set up our soaking wet gear in the rain, only so it could get more wet, to just stay at the hotel where we ate
Celebrated our nation’s birthday in the best way possible – watching Independence Day between commercials
Absolutely destroyed the bathroom trying to clean/dry our gear
Cleaned hotel of woodchips and sand from our tents
“The Hilltop” breakfast. Giant cinnamon roll.
Greg broke “no food left behind” rule because granola side was more sweet than cinnamon roll
“Connies” for beer on the route.
Google route through the back roads of Ishpeming, ended up at Grandpa Joe’s in the Cleveland mining district.
Huge feast was prepared for us
Late night jam session on guitar, clarinet, and autoharp. Only situation I would ever play Coldplay
Wed July 6
Another feast for breakfast prepared by Joe and Amy – perhaps the most hospitable people I’ve ever stayed with
Gorgeous 15 mile bike path ride into Marquette with Mike, Claire, Rosie, and Sylvie. 6 year old Rosie rode her bike the whole way! She taught me a lot about how to ride a bike, and together we even went 17 miles per hour!
Rosie thinks people in cars are bored and that there should be more bikes and less cars. Rosie for president!
Marquette is a very nice little town with plenty of urban amenities
In Marquette, Grandpa Joe picked up Claire and the smalls. The three of us beelined for the brewery.
Beers + lunch at co-op cost us half the day
Greg briefly broke the no crashing rule when he experienced the first de-clipping failure of his long career. He brushed it off and avoided being placed on the DL
Mike rebuilt his headset on a sandy pullout halfway to our campsite
Sight confusion as we had not clarified which campground we were meeting Claire and the girls at – it turned out to be the one after the massive hill
Rosie took us on a mushroom tour of the campsite
Dinner was made, beers were drank, good times were had all around
Thursday July 7
Family road trip to pictured rocks Lakeshore trailhead in that most magnificent of chariots, Mike’s minivan
Lovely hike to lighthouse – entertainment was provided by Rosie’s games of 20 questions, and Claire’s wild flora expertise
Lighthouse had separate privies for the lighthouse master and the lighthouse assistant
Rest of day post-hike was spent lazing on the beach. Zach practiced skipping stones. Rosie tortured Zach with cruel tests of endurance, but later gave Greg a relaxing sand and stone massage on his elbows
On the ride back home, we learned Mike and Claire’s secret to parenthood – Thin Lizzy soothes and pacifies their children. Surely the result of some sick Pavlovian conditioning
Later, back at camp, Rosie made us all freshly burnt marshmallows. At one point, she ramped up production to four marshmallow roasting at once. Nonetheless, Sylvie seemed unimpressed
Greg’s camp chair got it’s first use after 500 miles – big hit with Rosie and Sylvie
Exposed Rosie to the dark path of 20-sided dice
Late night music listening/story swapping session – Sylvie is a huge Ween fan
the next generation of d & d
Friday July 8
Mike passed us in his prized minivan leaving the park as Claire leaned out window and told us to “get a job.”
Rode to Munising: vegan pastie, museum, brewery
Stopped at kitchy general store for a cookie as big as a hubcap
Kingston lake camping. Cheesy broccoli casserole.
Saturday July 9
Greg swam on 3 miles of sandy beach
Stopped at visitor center for Pictured Rocks national rec center, old man told us about shipwrecks.
Arrived Grand Marais: brewery, brian the bartender is kind of a lot; we both had the whitefish specials; hardware store and depressing grocery store
Bought candy from a kids candy stand for 10cents per jolly rancher
Left town on a paved road, which turned into a gravel road, which turned into a road made of sand.
Corner store with old outboard motors for decor
Camped at Perch Lake; mushroom cheeseburgers for dinner
Sunday July 10
Breakfast at camp;
first store in miles the clerk said we rode on the worst road in Michigan
Stopped at brewery in Tequomenon state park; guitar guy sings john prine, tom petty
Ride to Paradise and another depressing grocery store; heavy metal golf cart
Stopped at Tequomenon river mouth campsite—lots of RVs.