Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day Three—Good Day

The day started hot (80 degrees) with overcast skies and an occasional drop of water from the skies. Very muggy, like it feels at the beach on a hot morning when there’s no breeze.

As I mentioned in my blog from yesterday, breakfast was wonderful. Surprisingly filling and delicious. I ate two pieces and was full as a tick!

I got on the road about 7:45, headed north towards Duluth. We had talked about several alternative routes to take to get into Wisconsin, but I didn’t like the thought of Interstate. So, I let Garmin have her way. And I’m glad I did.

Basically, in that region of the state, the roads are laid out in a grid; north-south and east-west. And straight as an arrow, for the most part. Major roads (state highways) and the county roads. Almost immediately, she took me on a county road headed north. The roads are so different from the roads in my part of the world. Crops as far as you can see in every direction. Mostly corn, but hay, wheat, and soybeans. Mile after mile after mile of crops. Dotted along the way are homes, usually with a host of supporting structures; silos, old and new, barns, sheds, and other structures to support the farming operation. I believe that’s what life is about in this area—farming. A noble thing to do; we all like to eat, but not something I’m interested in doing. I’m too lazy….

I came across one surprise--US Hwy 52! It was at one of the intersections maybe 50 miles north from my start. I turned west on it and rode about 5 miles, just to spend a little time with my old friend. I know it's weird, but I have a special fondness for Hwy 52. It runs through the city of my birth, Albemarle, and through the town in which I grew up, Salisbury. So, it is somewhat special to me. I knew it was up in this area; I had followed it on maps, but didn't know exactly where it might cross my path. Neat!

I think the second road headed north, a county road, runs for 56 miles! Unfortunately after about 5 miles, it turned to gravel and since I don’t like gravel roads, I turned East at that intersection and north at the next intersection. This went on for a couple of hours.

I found the Great River Road and followed it a long way. It is a highway that runs beside the Mississippi River as it flows through Wisconsin. While the river was not always in view, there were lots of places where the river was visible. At one point, I saw a tugboat pushing a line of barges probably a half mile long slowly up the river. I had not seen that before, so it was interesting. I wonder how they turn the line when it needs turning?

Lunch was in Prarie de Chien in Wisconsin. I found the Huckleberry Restaurant along the way. The name sounded inviting, so I tried it. Average. It wasn’t bad; just not good. Foiled again in my search for good food.

It was getting time to get serious about moving north. So, I told Garmin to head for Duluth in the fastest route. Jumped on Hwy 53 and made a lot of miles over the next few hours. Not a bad ride, but it was somewhat boring. The good thing is that there was almost no traffic, so the riding was easy.

About 4:30 I pulled into Eau Claire and started looking for a motel for the night. Went to one, but it had no wireless Internet. So, I tried across the street, at the Antlers Motel. Not only did they have a room with wireless; it was also very inexpensive. Got a AARP discount on top of that! And the room was just fine.

Did some bike cleanup; it was filthy from bugs and dirt. It took a while, but it looked much better when I was finished. I noticed that the flies went away when I got all the bug stuff off the windscreen! Yuuuk… I discovered that I have some oil seeping from the swing arm area at the boot. I don’t know if it’s anything to be concerned about, but I’ll keep watching it. Don’t need to fry a rear end and be in the shop for days. Also added some air to the rear tire.

Wasn’t very hungry, so I walked to the convenience store up the street and bought a quart of Gatoraid and a burger. While not great, it filled me up, and I had Gatoraid left over for the next day.

So, a good day. So much cooler, and an assortment of roads.

Tomorrow—Duluth and International Falls

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