Friday, July 16, 2010

Day Four—Excellent!

What a day! I slept well last night, for the first time since Monday night, and that helped a lot. And when I went outside the room, it was almost cool. I think it was 67 degrees when I first went out. That, coupled with cloudless deep blue skies, made the start of the day so good.

Got some coffee and two doughnuts (skimpy continental breakfast) at the office, brought them back to the room to eat, and packed the bike while I downed the coffee and doughnuts. Packing the bike gets faster and easier after a few days of it, so it took only a few minutes to get ready to go.

Hit the road at 7:30am. Still cool and no traffic; the going was great. Hwy 53 is a 4 lane road built like an Interstate, but not one. It runs southeast/northwest across the state, going to Duluth and then heading northwest to International Falls. I spent the day on Hwy 53.

Around 10am I was feeling hunger pains, and decided to find some grub for a real breakfast. Also decided since I was in Wisconsin, and since Wisconsin is famous for it’s cheese, I had to find some Wisconsin cheese along the way.

I was riding along, thinking that I had not seen any wildlife on the ride and wondering why, when I saw a black animal cross the road about 150 yards in front of me. It was bigger than a dog, but not as big as a big bear. It was running on all 4 legs. I decided it was a black bear. About 15 seconds later, an eight point buck crossed the road at the same place as the bear!! So, I finally saw some wildlife...

So, I asked Garmin to find a place to eat, and she did a great job. In Solon Springs, I found the one she was guiding me to, and it was the kind of place that I’ve been looking for. A real mom and pop restaurant. I ordered coffee (50 cents!), a (real Wisconsin) cheese omelette, and hash browns. Delicious! It was what I had been looking for but had not found.

After breakfast, I walked up the street to the IGA store and found the cheese I wanted. Well, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted (not cut right in front of me as I had envisioned), but wrapped like the Kraft cheese in all of our stores. But it was genuine Wisconsin cheese. Don’t know when I’ll eat it, but with no refrigeration, it will need to be eaten soon.

On a lark, I walked into a souvenir shop, just to look around. I found a treasure hanging on the wall, a real oil painting, in a real wood frame for $5. The painting is a seashore kind of scene with a lighthouse, water, and some trees. It’s actually very nice, and a steal at that price.

About 35 miles later, I rolled into Superior, the last big town in Wisconsin. It sits on the edge of Lake Superior and has a lot of ships, boats, and watercraft of all varieties.

Up over a big bridge (which was not easy; the wind was howling from the side, making riding tricky) and down into Duluth, home of Aerostich.

For those not in the know, Aerostich is THE motocycle outfitting store for serious motorcyclist. Home of the bumblebee (my waterproof riding outfit you see in my avatar), it carries hundreds of high-quality motorcycling stuff.

Prior to the trip, I spent hours going through their catalogs, picking out some things I wanted or needed (actually “need” is a misnomer—there’s very little I need anymore). When I found an item, I circled it and tore the page out as an easy way to present a “shopping” list. They give a 10% discount for walk-ins to their store (the vast majority of their sales is through catalogues), so I decided that since I was going to be close to Duluth, I’d do some shopping and save money on price and shipping fees. I think I picked out 6 items I wanted to look at.

The “store” is in a nondescript brick building in an industrial section of town near the big bridge. It has no front door; you enter through a side door and walk down two corridors to the “shop”. The shop is about the size of my bedroom (I have a very large bedroom), with a glass topped case and Roadcrafter suits lining the opposite wall. They have only a few items on display; their business is through catalogues.

I gave my list to the saleslady and she retrieved the items. After looking them over, I kept only 4 (ear plugs, plastic film, heavy duty Velcro, and some bifocal sunglasses). I called Gary to see if he needed anything since I was there, but he said he didn’t need anything. So, I paid for the items and hit the road towards International Falls.

The ride north was uneventful. Just miles of 4 lane road.

Got to Duluth about 4pm and found the Tee Pee Motel, where I had a reservation. I had looked on the Internet last night to see if rooms were generally available, and was shocked when it appeared there were no rooms available in town. So, I called one place, just to satisfy myself, and yes, they were full. The operator told me that Friday nights were very busy because the fishermen flocked into town to fish on Saturday. He said he was booked up every Friday night through the summer. Dang! I had no idea. So, I decided to call another place that sounded interesting, the Tee Pee Motel. Luckily, they had rooms, so I booked one.

The motel was fine. Clean and inexpensive. Even has a small refrigerator for the cheese and what’s left of the Gatoraid.

Walked downtown to see what was there (not much) and then walked back to the motel. Asked about places to eat, and the owner told me that the best Walleye fish was in the little restaurant next door.

Next door was a good place; I had a good salad, a big slab of fresh Walleye (white, sweet fish, similar to founder), and fresh French fries. Delicious; the best dinner meal of the trip.

Then back to the room to clean the bike’s windshield and blog.

So, today I realized another of my dreams; to go to International Falls. I know I’m weird, but ever since I was a boy listening to the weather, the coldest place in the lower 48 was very often International Falls. Somehow it fascinated me, and I wanted to go to that frigid place. Well, today I did! Not a Bucket List thing, but definitely something I wanted to do.

Tomorrow—Visit Voyagers National Park, cruise around the town on the bike, and cross into Canada to visit Thunder Bay.

1 comment: