Wednesday, 16 July 2014

On maps and photographs

I had made a point of bringing a road map with me on the flight from the Soo. My hope was that I could use it to work out what I was looking at. I am that sort of a person.

At some point, I was mentally pondering the route I might take from the Soo to Montreal next year. I was trying to work out the approximate distances in my head before deciding it was a silly thing to do as all I needed to was to pull out the map and use it to get an approximate idea of what I was up against. I took out a pencil and had fun making vaguely arcane scribbled markings on the map. The only new conclusion was that I will need a good map of the bike routes through and around Toronto before I leave Guelph, if not before I leave Montreal. Big cities are trickier to get into than out of on a bicycle. As the trip is nearly a year away, I should have plenty of time to procure such a map (or maps). As I write this, I am half wondering if I shouldn't use the layover I will have in Toronto in September on my way to Clearwater to procure one.

(Hmm, maybe I should bring a map of Canada with me on the train.)

I have uploaded most of the photographs from my trip. You can find them here. Some have been added to select blog entries.

Friday, 11 July 2014

On finishing with a splash, unfortunately

I blame myself really.

I had wanted to get to Sault Ste Marie early-ish in order to make life easier for Gregory with whom I was to stay with (and am staying with). So I made a relative quick and early departure from Newberry.

It was a cool but sunny morning with a light wind more or less in my favor. As Newberry's crossroad to Highway 28 dropped out of sight a crop-dusting biplane with a radial engine snarled low above a nearby field. About ten miles later, I stopped to take a picture of an immodest highway adopter's sign. As I resumed my ride, I noticed a license plate on the shoulder. I dutifully picked it up and stowed it for delivery to the appropriate officials.

After a couple of hours, I was getting a bit bored as the 28 was going through a National Forest which means lovely trees but not much else. Consequently, I decided to dig out my Joby GorrillaPod and use it to secure my iPhone to my handlebars to play some Bruce Springsteen. Margo probably doesn't approve but music gives me an edge and I wasn't getting the order to the verses to Stan Roger's "White Squall" right. (I liked the line about "...Roll North to the Soo".)

Nearing the "Yank" Soo, I turned North to Brimley in hopes of finding a police station in order to turn in the plate. What I found was a very nice local history museum partially housed in an old Algoma Central passenger car. I stopped to check it out and fell to chatting with one of the volunteers. I eventually handed on the responsibility for the license plate to the volunteer before heading on.

It was nearing two o'clock by the time I got to the Soo, so I got a quick lunch on the American side then set off for the Sault Sainte Marie International Bridge. After paying the toll ($1.75), I nipped into the duty free shop to buy a bottle of Famous Grouse Scotch. Owing to state regulations, I had to take it out of the store in a plastic bag. I stuffed it, slippery bag and all, into one of my rear panniers where in partially stuck out.

The Sault Sainte Marie International Bridge is probably best described as bike tolerant. It has no particular provision for bikes across its relatively long span with one wide lane in each direction. It is not for the faint of heart cyclist. I attempted to cross as fast as possible. As I was coming down into Canada, I heard a pop, crash tinkle behind me and briefly smelt malt. A quick glance behind revealed that 1.14 L of Scotch was now in the gutter.

I was almost tempted to go back across the bridge to get another bottle.

I found my way to Gregory's where news to of loss was particularly felt by his roommate, John. (Strangely enough, John's almost girlfriend is called Caitlin. This is odd given Margo's John and his Caitlin. (I am not sure of the spellings of the various Caitin's and will happily submit to correction on the matter.))

Today was spent doing laundry, visiting the Canadian Heritage Bushplane Museum and putting Leonardo into a bike box. The Bushplane Museum seemed more focused on aerial fire fighting that bush flying. It had a 3D movie about fighting forest fires (featuring a big one near Sioux Lookout in 2011). The experience was enhanced by various wind, lighting and smoke effects. The film narrator was quite familiar. I tried to place the voice until I has a "D'oh!" moment: it was Gordon Pinsent.
He, of course, is the *other* person I know who was born in Grand Falls/Windsor, Newfoundland. (My niece Anna being the more important one to my family and I.)

Post return addendum

While on Highway 2 in Michigan, I noticed a Leatherman multi-tool by the side of the road. As is my wont, I stopped, picked it up and discovered it was still serviceable. I stowed it in one of my bags and more or less forgot about it.
Today I looked up which type of Leatherman it was and was somewhat surprised at the result. It is a Charge TTI, which retails from the the website at about $170.00 US! I would be tempted to bring it on future bike trips except for the fact that it weighs about half a pound which is rather heavy. Rather makes up for the loss of the Famous Grouse.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

On my current status

I arrived at Gregory's house in the Soo (Ontario) about four hours ago. I am surprised at how tired I am and I am about to call it a night. I can also call it a trip. More details tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

On today's lack of significant events


...I can't think of anything terribly exciting.

-Didn't go into "Honest Injun's Tourist Trap."
-Got rained on sufficiently to deploy rain gear for the first time this trip.
-Saw a turkey vulture up close. They aren't birds that bear close scrutiny.
-Chatted with a man who was cleaning his riding mower by driving it down a boat ramp.
-Had a vanilla malt at the Moose du Nord Ice Cream Shoppe.
-Was surprised Newberry had a large state prison. (Not something they tend to advertise in tourist brochures.)
-Figured out that bikes are allowed on the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge.
-Phoned Gregory in the Soo to work details of my stay.

It's my last day on the road tomorrow and it looks like the weather will be nice.

Oh. Alice posted pictures of little Kerry on her Picasa site.

On American beer

One of my anxieties about biking in the United States was American beer. This was a minor one. However, I do enjoy a good beer at the end of the day and typical American beer has been compared to making love in a canoe. The Frantics made the comment "We [Canadians] may have a devalued dollar, but [the Americans] have devalued beer."  The astute reader may well deduce that I don't consider typical American beer as good beer.

However, my anxiety was all for nought as I am sitting in Timber Charlie's in Newberry, Michigan on the last American night of my trip with a sampler of four different craft beers in front of me. I have not had to confront or consume Spudweiser or Coors or whatever Lite on this trip.

In Boulder Junction, I ate both nights at the Aqualunge Alehouse which features about a dozen different craft beers on tap in rotation. The first night they had Raftman from Unibroue on tap. I am reasonably sure I sampled 6 of them. On the second there was a "Cheese shop" type incident when I asked for beer A only to be told the cask had just been installed and wasn't on line yet. When asked for beer B, they had just ran out of it! They did have my third choice.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

On cold day's unexpected end

I was woken at 3 AM by a tremendous rain storm. I took a look outside and was very glad I wasn't camping. I casually wondered if the water in the parking lot would flood into my room, then dismissed the notion as a result of watching too much Weather Channel. That channel makes way too much fuss about every last thunder storm.
The day proved gray, windy and quite frankly cold for July. I loafed out of town and along the coast of Lake Michigan. I soon decided that my hands were cold and that I should dig out my fleece gloves. I had felt a bit foolish for packing them, but they were just the thing.
At Rapid River, I saw a restaurant with the evocative name of "Jack's Eat" (sic), so I stopped for lunch. As I was finding a spot for Leonardo, a fellow long distance cyclist came up and yet another chat began. He was travelling very light by my standards, especially as he was apparently camping. No rear panniers but he did have a bag that sat inside the frame the bike. He was headed West and recommended the Star Motel in Manistique. It proved to be cheap, wonderfully spacious and very clean and nice to the point that in order to protect the carpet, I put spread out maps under Leonardo. However, I am getting ahead of myself.
I saw another pair of sandhill cranes beside the road. This time I could accurately judge their (small) size as they were that much closer to me.

I stopped at Manistique's tourist office. When he saw me come in, the guy behind the counter punched up the weather forecast as that was he found cyclists always wanted to know. It was 12 degrees Celsius out. I made a comment about how glad I was about bring my fleece gloves. He replied that one should always bring warm clothes to the Upper Pennisula regardless of the season! (Remember, this is the tourist information officer talking. ;-) )

As I neared the Star Motel, as recommended by the cyclist, I saw a circus tent set up near a mall. I gave it a once over and kept on going. I went to a nearby restaurant recommended by the nice old lady who ran the motel for supper. In the atrium there was a sign announcing the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus would be performing at 7:30 that night. I took this in and filed the information away. My plan had been to go into Manistique to see the sights after supper, but I thought I might give the circus a try if I got there in time, which I did. So I went to the circus.
Circuses are odd things for me. They feature in books and movies far more that they have ever featured in my actual experience. If I remember correctly, I have been to exactly one traditional circus, and that was a three ring affair in Santa Barbara at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Aside from some Chinese acrobats, my only other circus experience was a very early Cirque du Soleil performance with Aunt Lorna.

And yet circuses have played background roles in some of my bike trips. One of my memories from the trip in Spain was countless posters for circuses. On the Calgary to Winnipeg trip, I saw the circus-themed "Madagascar 3 Europe's most wanted".

Sadly the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus rather resembled the Circus in the movie before the Penguins buy it. It was a very modest one ring affair. Their advertising featured their big cats prominently. Alas, they were easily the weakest act. The two tigers and the magnificently maned lion seemed rather bored and unimpressed with their trainer. He made me think of Bruce Campbell's character on Burn Notice. After a few rather dull tricks, the cats were coaxed away and the cage was taken down by the trainer assisted by the roustabouts. I was struck by how small they were compared with to the lion trainer. Looking more closely, I noticed they seemed Latino looking.
Thankfully, the other acts were better aside though the clown wore thin at times. There was a great act from London, Ontario featuring six unicyclists. Another interesting act had two performing horses: one was a draft horse and the other a miniature horse! It wasn't a long performance and even that had a lot of schmaltz and padding.
Aunt Lorna had been a driving force behind my visit to the Cirque du Soleil as it didn't feature animals as she was an animal lover and circuses are so cruel to animals you know. Years later, I once asked a question about an apparent contradiction in my great aunt as she appreciated fancy horse riding (she was a very respectable rider in her heyday) as well as dog acts (she was also a prize-winning dog trainer). If there had been a circus featuring dogs and horses as well as humans, would she have gone? This relevant this evenings performance as aside from the big cats, the only non-human performers were the horses and a set of dogs. The latter really seemed quite happy to do their tricks.  Part of me thinks that the C&M might be well rid of the hassle of the big cats.

Monday, 7 July 2014

On a good day that could have been a great day

Today was supposed to be a relatively long day and it was. On fact, it was an even longer day on paper than in reality, as I returned to the Eastern Time Zone which meant I lost an hour.

However, it was an exhilarating day as well. It was nice, sunny with the wind at my back for most of the day. As well, much of the day was on Highway 69 which gently rose and more often fell in such a way as to encourage high speeds. At one point I was keeping pace with a couple of ATVs that were on a trail parallel to the highway. Mind you, they had to stop at the intersecting roads whereas I didn't. At one point, one of the drivers gave me a friendly wave.

Lunch came at Hardwood. I went into the only grocery store I had seen in about 20 miles looking for a sandwich or something. I choose the best option out of a very limited selection namely a frozen microwaveable ham 'n' cheese thingy and a bottle of cold Gatorade. There seemed to be an issue at the cash with the customer before the customer before me. As the store was quite cool, I let the matter sort itself out with the patience of someone having a good day of biking who knows he needs to rest a bit before going on. The matter resolved itself in due course.

(What little attention I paid to the matter leads me to believe it was some sort of credit and/or debit card machine issue. I have noticed the Yanks are way behind Canada in financial technology. You can't verify a credit card transaction with a PIN like I have done in Canada, Australia or the UK. As well, I have seen many signs in businesses about which personal checks they will accept. I can't remember the last time I wrote a check to a business.)
Getting back to Hardwood, the customer in front of me asked me about where I had biked from and where I was going. Then she insisted on paying for my lunch, such as it was. I accepted given the good spirits she was in. After the woman left, the clerk said: "That's Tina Murray for you. Her whole family's like that. If it had been her sister, she'd have insisted on driving you!" ;-)
It was a nice day, but a dry one. By the time I got Perronville, I was dying for a cool drink so I went into the tavern there for a Sprite and to cajole the hostess into filling up my water bottles with water and ice.  While was sipping my drink, one of locals informed me that there was a bad accident several miles ahead that the authorities were detouring traffic around. Not knowing quite what to make of this, I shrugged and thanked him for the news.

After I had turned off 69 onto 14th road, I came across a cycle tourer going the other way. We stopped to compare notes. He confirmed the continued presence of the accident. He was returning to Minneapolis after a seven week jaunt. I didn't event him in the slightest as he was a camping cyclist and was facing a twenty mile or more slog against the warm wind before he reached the next campground.

I had to take the detour. This involved talking talking to a Michigan state trooper and not making references to a Bruce Springsteen song about Michigan state trooper based in Perronville. The detour was no fun as the roads had no shoulder, heavy traffic and a certain amount of dust. At one point, I opted to get off the road completely to let a truck with an over-sized load go by. I used the time to reset my watch.

All things considered, the detour wasn't that bad, but it put a damper on an otherwise very good day. Among the stats, 155 km, 26 km/h average and a 70 km/h maximum speed.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

On Big Two-Hearted Day

Students of American literature may get the reference to a certain short story by Hemingway set on the other side of Michigan's Upper Pennisula. It has been a good day which could have been better.

I left Boulder Junction just after a rain storm had past.  Shortly afterwards, the road opened up into a long straight showing a series of three dips and hills close in front. I called out the Simpson's line: "Ay-yay-yay! No me gusta". Then a doe appeared in the road in front of me, so I called to her "Tu me gusta!" She hesitated before bolting from the lunatic barreling down the road towards her. ;-) That sort of sums up the day.

It was cool but humid. It was mostly cloudy so I didn't bother with sunscreen. I stopped to pull on tights after 20 km as I felt a chill only to discover that one should first brush off the wet sand stuck to one's legs before doing so.

Shortly afterwards, I chanced upon a pair of road cyclists just setting off in the other direction. We stopped a chat for a bit but between the arrival of one them's wife and mosquitoes, we didn't chat long.

At lunch in a crazy excuse for a mall in Phelps, I decided I would try to further than my goal of Caspian, Michigan, subject to the availability of lodging as rain was forecast for the night. This made me make a wrong turn after lunch which took me a couple miles out of my way.

After returning to the correct road, I was rounding a corner near a wetland when I spotted what took to be two deer in the grassy bog.  Not so, they were large birds that I first thought might be emu, then concluded were sandhill cranes!  One of the birds ducked down behind a hillock of grass while the other kept a close eye on me. My theory is that there might have been one or more chicks hidden in the vegetation.  I stopped and pulled out the binoculars to get a better look, as well as take a few second rate pictures. (My camera is poor for zoom shots.)  Their bodies were "deer" colored (ochre) and they had red crests one their heads. Unless anyone can think of a better match, I am convinced they were sandhill cranes.  A little while later, after having crossed the border into Michigan, I came across some wild turkeys who scuttled into tall grass before I could deploy the camera.

A little later, the sun came out. I stopped to put on sunscreen only for a rumble of thunder to arrive. Riding before the wind and hoping to beat the rain to Caspian, I poured on the coal. I made it before it fell in earnest and found a gas station C-store with lovely big eaves to shelter Leonardo under. As I was taking the handlebar bag off the bike, a motley group of kids arrived bearing a box of returnable cans and went inside. I followed in their wake. I pondered what snackerel would suit me as a certain confusion reigned to the dismay of the 20 year old cashier. After they left, she apologized to me. I said I didn't mind as I partly waiting out the rain.

Once snack enabled, I went outside to consult my sources and to phone ahead regarding a room for the night. The first two places I phoned were in Crystal Falls (about 20 miles further on) and closed. More's the pity as it was only 3 o'clock and there wasn't anything in range beyond. I did find a room at the Chicaugon Lake Inn about 5 miles further on.

I then noticed a smiley face painted on Caspian's water tower. I was about to take a picture when a man got out of a minivan with a bike rack on the back asked me if he could pick my brain about bike touring! His name was Mike. He was from the Chicago area and he was scouting the area for a possible Boy Scout ride. I confessed that all that I really knew of the area was based from a few days experience, road maps and my Adventure Cycling maps. I showed him the latter which intrigued him, as he was a member of Adventure Cycling and had been for about twenty-five years. In fact, his honeymoon had been to cross the U.S. on a tandem in an Adventure Cycling organized trip! (He is still married after twenty-three years.) However, he didn't know about their maps. I gave him one of my cartes de visite with the url to this blog on it. After some more chitchat, I rode off, only remembering a couple of miles down the road that I hadn't photographed the smiley face. I didn't go back.

The inn turned out not to have a restaurant nearby so I inquired about getting some boiling water for my freeze-dried "just in case" food. A solution was found. A few minutes later, one of the owners came out of the office in her wheelchair as I was schlepping bags to my room. She said she was about to drive into town so would I like her to pick up a salad for me! Yes, please!

It has been an odd day in a good way.  And I remembered to email Alice a happy birthday.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

On feeling slightly like a fraud

Boulder Junction seems to have started life as a "nowhere" stop on a local railroad serving the local iron mines. The immediate area industry seems to have been logging for mining timbers. At some early point, recreational fishing and support industries seem to have taken over. It is still going strong though other "Northwood" type recreations have been added such as snowmobiling and ATVing. It bills itself as the musky (as in muskellunge) capital of the world. (I have noticed a tendency in American towns to make themselves the capital of this or the first of that.)

So on the surface, there wasn't a whole lot to pique my fancy on my rest day (The rest day was imposed by the related concepts of the 4th of July long weekend and room availibility.) as fishing is something I am quite happy to let other people do. (My apologies to Grandpa.) However, it worked out very well. I slept in late, moseyed around town in my civvies. I was surprised by the large number of cyclists on the sunny day. Mostly casual recreational, but there was a tourer passing through. I waved at him as a fellow soul then realized he would only see a tourist in a Hawaiian shirt and a Tilley hat. I almost felt like a fraud!

There was a fire department chicken barbecue advertised. I added it to my gastronomic plans for the day. After using the Internet at the Library, I wandered in to the tourist information office to inquire where a swimming beach might be found. The lady informed me of a suitable location before telling me about the fire department barbecue. She then warned me that it typically sold out early.

About half past noon, I took in the event. As I paid, a voice behind informed the man taking my money that I had come all the way from Winnipeg in order to sample their chicken barbecue. It was the manager from my motel who was a volunteer fire fighter. He later told me they went through 1500 chickens! They had quite an installation for barbecuing all that chicken.

I went back to my motel room to prepare for my swimming expedition. I was delayed by sight out my window of a white tailed doe nursing her twin fawns! I couldn't quite see the fawns due tall grass and brush but I could see their white tails waving vigorously! The area has a significant deer population including a number of albino deer.

A decent day all told.

On being pushed by fear and being surprised by new bike paths

I have an aversion to yellow and black insects owing to having been stung too often as a child. Consequently, when a bee or similar insect comes into my vicinity, my reaction is try to leave. The problem yesterday, was that the insects were following me, partly in my bubble of air (c.f. "large nephews make good windbreaks").  When I was on the level or going down a hill, I got usually lose them, but going up hills became the challenge of not pushing myself to go faster!

I rode East on Highway 2 to Hurley, then shifted to Highway 51 South. The sun was out and winds were low. While it wasn't very hot, I was working in the direct sun which was demanding. At the town of Mercer, I took a long break for the final push to Boulder Junction. This also marked the start of using the Adventure Cycling maps. I had been afraid they would take me onto nasty back roads. Instead, they got me onto flatter roads with less traffic but also less in the way of a shoulder.

I must digress to explain something that is about to be relevant.  The numbering system of American roads is a mite problematic with roads having numbers created by the federal, state and county levels of government. To further muddy the waters, there are at least two numbering systems at the federal level, viz the Interstate and the "old" U.S. highway system. It is not always easy to figure which "Highway 12" the map or sign is referring to.  The State of Wisconsin in an apparent awareness of this issue has ordained that County road be instead "lettered" instead of numbered. Thus, at Mercer, I turned off Highway 51 onto County road "J".  (There are also a few double lettered roads such as "UU".)

After a dozen miles, I turned onto County road "K". I noticed there was a freshly paved bike path on the right. I got onto it but was keeping a very close eye on the "K" road.  After a few miles, I asked a passing cyclist about where the path lead. I was happy to hear it lead most of the way to Boulder Junction (my destination for the day). The path wasn't finished for the rest of the way, but it was obvious that the county was working on it.  The path wasn't on the Adventure Cycling map, so I will have to let them know about it!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

On pushing myself subconsciously

I push myself on these trips. Sometimes, I know am doing it, others times...well it is only when I stop and try to talk to someone only to stumble over my words and I am suddenly stunned by just how tired I am. That happened a few times today.

Looking back I can identify several things that caused me to burn more energy than usual today. The first was getting from Duluth over the St-Louis River to Superior, Wisconsin. My intel had picked out the William Bong (what a name!) Bridge as being the one bikes were supposed to use. So, armed with a bike map of Duluth, I set off for the bridge which was upstream from downtown. When I got to entrance of the pedestrian and bike access to the bridge, I found it shut with orange construction netting. Grumbling, I found the car access route and rolled along keeping a close eye out for signs that actually said "no bikes". I didn't see any and the construction workers I saw around didn't bat an eyelash.

The bridge gave me a vantage point of some of the massive mineral loading docks complete with elevated railway lines so the minerals can dumped from the rail cars straight into the lake boats. (Great Lake freighters are called "boats" not "ships" even when they over a thousand feet long.)

Once across and on the streets of Superior, I was changing maps in my map case when a small detail caught my eye. There was a bike path that ran parallel to Highway 2 along the water front. Cross-checking between two maps I learnt there seemed to be bike path between Superior and Ashland (the day's destination). Intrigued, I made quick change in plans and got on the trail. At first, the path was a paved bike only trail that ran beside the waterfront which included the only surviving whaleback lake freighter. (Whalebacks were an odd and possibly dangerous form of cargo ship that had a vogue in the late 19th century or so. A link to Wikipedia will be added when I get home.)  The trail gradually became a gravel former rail bed called the Tricounty Corridor. The surface was initially acceptable but became softer and sandier as the miles wore on. From the signs and the tracks, ATVs were allowed to use the Corridor which explained a lot, including the financing of the 61 mile length of it. However the surface made it a challenge to keep going safely. Eventually, I decided to return to Highway 2 as soon as the opportunity presented itself. This took a while and I guess I took in 10 miles of the Corridor. This was the second source of extra fatigue.

My tribulations were not over as there was a lot of roadwork being done on Highway 2 at about that point. Some of it was easy to negotiate but near the end I had to use the one lane available to traffic going East and the only safe way to do it was to take up the whole lane. The pickup truck behind me was very courteous but I really didn't wish to be too much of a bother so I pushed myself to get out of the area as quickly as possible.

Once past the construction zone, I had the concentration to admire the landscape of rolling dairy farms with their concrete silos so like the Eastern Townships. So like home that I felt I was almost home and therefore unconsciously pushed myself to go faster as I was "almost home".

Then there were the hills which while nothing horrendous did take some effort to climb.

Around 3 PM, I stopped at what turned out to be a bar for hunters in search of a cold drink. A trio of older people arrived at the same time. One of the women wanted to know about my bike and journey. It turned out she was the support team for her husband who was biking from Anacortes, Washington to Bar Harbour, Maine. We chatted for a bit over beer (root beer in my case). Looking back, I wonder if my thought processes had been so muddled that I may have neglected to possibly cajole her into adding my luggage to her van as they had already acquired a "stray". ;-)  That and I neglected to give her one of my business cards.

All this to say that it has been a relatively demanding but rewarding. The weather was sunny with quietly favourable winds.

On my day off in Duluth

The slack in my rear brake lead me to Continental Ski and Bikes (name to be checked and link added later) which is a bike store I would patronize as much as needed if lived in Duluth. Friendly, nice and knowledgeable. One of the people suggested I check out a nearby waterfall which I did.

I then went to the Lake Superior Railway Museum which houses one of the world's largest steam locomotives.  I haven't the energy to go into the details of the thing and I suspect I would bore much of my audience if I did. I will say it was designed haul trains full of iron ore from mines in the Mesabi Iron Range down to Duluth. I approached it from the rear and struck at how ginormous the tender alone was. (A tender is where your store fuel and water for steam engines unless it is a tank engine like Thomas).  Very cool in a train spottery way.

I lunched on about six types of deep fried food from a "Cap'n Fishy Bob" type booth on the waterfront. While I waited, a small boy proudly told me he had just been on a big bike trip. Smiling, I asked him where he had gone. I don't recall the precise details but it was essentially out along the spit and along the waterfront. Translated into Vancouverese: around the Seawall in Stanley Park and along part of False Creek.  Then the boy's father asked where I had biked from. They were impressed at my answer to say the least. ;-)

While I was eating lunch a small girl managed to knock over Leonardo onto his right side. I couldn't see any damage.

I then tour the William Irvin lake freighter built in the 1930s for use a freighter and yacht for the company's president, cronies and potential cronies. Apparently a third of the construction cost of the ship went into the guest quarters. Impressed the tour guide by remembering the name of the ship's telegraph between the engine room and the pilot house. On traditional lake freighters (like the Irvin) the former is in the stern and the later in the bows. Apparently most people on these tours forget in the time it  takes to get from one to the other.

The ship served into the 1970's. She bore signs of having been updated over the years including two radars and sign on the bridge giving instructions about what to do if a nuclear attack was likely. To paraphrase, the orders were: "Get the hell out of Dodge and into a dispersal area and rig the ship's fire hoses to spray water to reduce the effects of fallout." I was struck at the almost surreal concept of "dispersing" freighters on the Great Lakes which are inherently relatively confining.

The fair which I had shared the road with on Monday, was busy setting up shop in the waterfront area. I know this was the same fair as I asked one of the carnies if they had been on Highway 2 that day.

The Great Lakes Aquarium was a mild disappointment mostly because their otter had just been fed and therefore wasn't in the mood to entertain me with its antics. I did get to admire some huge lake sturgeon and pose with fiberglass moose.

Riding in search of a grocery store, I found Leonardo was shifting imprecisely. To be on the safe side, I went back to Continental Bikes were one of mechanics (an old guy with a huge beard) checked things out and made a few adjustments. I was struck at beauty of the chain changing gears up on the stand. The mechanic said there hadn't been much wrong but tactfully suggested I clean the chain.  I did and Leonardo has shifting more accurately.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

On yesterday

The day began badly when I microwaved my instant oatmeal in my plastic mug without having remembered to add water. This resulted in a hole being burnt in the bottom of my mug. Also, the motel coffee was terrible.

The weather was quite favourable with semi-cloudy skies, cool temperatures and a tailwind that allowed me to cruise at over 30 km/h for extended periods.  I stopped for coffee at a truck stop where I was a surprised to see they also sold ammunition. The ride until Duluth was relatively uneventful, as the road crossed extensive wetlands, one of which was the home of a family of Canada geese which resented my presence when I tried to photograph them.  At another point, I stopped to photograph an osprey on its nest.
I passed a stopped train that I later saw heading down to Duluth with a load of taconite pellets onboard. Sadly, just before I reached greater Duluth, I saw a dead otter by the side of the road.
On the outskirts of the Duluth, I stopped at a bike store I came cross to see if they could provide me with a bike map of the town.  The nice people at Galleria Bicycle could indeed and were quite interested in my trip and my bike. They gave me some suggestions as to which was the prettiest way into town.
Duluth is a town built on a bluff that drops sharply down to the Big Lake they call Gitchee Gummee.  The hills are very steep and I needed a lot of braking power to keep Leonardo under control. I was a mite concerned about overheating the rims so I alternated block by block going level, then down, going level then down.  I was trying to find a tourist information centre so as to find a reasonably priced lodgings near downtown. I failed rather badly in this endeavour, seemingly going around in circles.  Quite by accident, I stumbled on the Voyageur Lakewalk Inn which met my requirements very well.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

On my current status

I am:
-In Duluth.
-Pleased with my day's biking.
-Glad I found reasonable lodgings in a part of Duluth that suits me very well.
-Ecstatic over my new niece.
-Pleasantly drunk.
-Going to call it a night.

Most of these points will be discussed in greater detail on the morrow.

On a new niece

Alice had her baby yesterday! A girl called Kerry. 8 lbs, 8 oz which I believe is relatively large. Alice seems to have had a rough time of it, but is recovering. I am vaguely disappointed it wasn't a boy (poor Edward will be outnumbered by girls at family gatherings) but I am pleased Alice and Mark chose a name that didn't start with "A" or "M". ;-)
Best wishes.