Monday, October 22, 2012

A Weekend North (in the car)

Well it wasn't planned that way.  In fact, there wasn't much of a plan at all.  The weather was predicted to be warm, possibly unseasonably so and midweek I started thinking about a ride, the destination of Duluth and northern Wisconsin an evolving one.  Then it dawned on me that heading north was going to make it possible for a bunch of stops; places I hadn't been in awhile or places new, seeing friends that I'd not officially met yet (or hadn't seen in some time) and of course anyone that knows me is familiar with my heading out without any real good reason.

Planned were a stop at a friend's cabin, doubting that anyone would be there, but I'd never seen it and yet had heard enough about it to make my way there.  Though I'm a loyal customer, I'd never been to the AeroStich facility in Duluth and this was going to be a perfect time and excuse to stop in and say long as I made it before their Saturday closing time.  I have some history at the Pickwick restaurant in Duluth and not having been there in many years, was anxious to stop in again.  Friend Deborah was a reliable source for the restaurant's menu and recent remodeling, both very helpful.  These were the structured plans for Saturday; the unstructured one was to spend time in Canal Park and on the Lake Walk, both endeavors I never get tired of.

Sunday's plan was to hopefully share breakfast with a friend or two at the Delta Diner.  Almost a year ago, though I can't remember what led me there, I found a blog by a fellow motorcyclist.  Learning of his rides, his machines and his home that was almost in my neighborhood, we made online contact.  I so enjoyed Erik's blog that I was inspired to join the fun and start my own as a way to share my former and current rides as well as anything else I might feel like writing about.  Erik quickly answered a few of my questions and made getting started pretty easy.  Since then we've visited each other's blog, left comments back and forth, discovering that we'd ridden many of the same places.  Erik has connected with other friends and I've linked to theirs as well.

Early this past spring, I mentioned that we'd have to get together over the summer and meet for breakfast sometime at the Delta Diner.  Summer passed too quickly and our planned meal together never developed.  We agreed to meet Sunday morning to finally make it happen.  Friend Rhonda, another rider (TW200's Unite!) that I'd visited and communicated a few times with hadn't been at any of the gatherings this year that I thought we might both attend, so I wrote to her as well.  It wasn't until I got home Sunday night that I discovered that she had been near the Big Lake as well, only she was further east in Michigan.  Sorry you couldn't make it Rhonda; would have been great to see you at The Shiny Place in downtown Delta.

The Helix, my go-to touring machine for cooler weather was readied for the trip.  Oil level, tire pressure and a bulb check was all that it really needed.  Saturday morning arrived with ice fog and 30 degrees on our thermometer in Frontenac.  The prediction was for a warm afternoon, but it would take all morning to get there.  Considering my plans, stops on the way, Aerostich's Saturday closing hours, the morning ice on our steps, etc., etc. I caved and decided to take the car instead.  I knew there would be times over the weekend I'd regret not riding up, but other times when it would be freeing to have the car rather than the scooter.  These days I avoid night riding whenever I possibly can and with the short days that late October brings, there are many potential traveling hours that aren't very bright.  I wanted and needed to be on the road before 9 Saturday morning; taking the car allowed me to leave home before 8.

Heading north I stopped at the lakeside cabin and found it very quiet, but it was nice to see it in person after hearing so much about it from friend Keith.  No wonder his entire family has enjoyed their time on the lake all of those years.  Using my GPS to full advantage, I wound up on some small paved and gravel roads, zig-zagging my way west over to WI 35, a road I once frequented but no longer spend much time on.  Before noon, I was easing into the south end of Superior and before very long, was parked across the street from Aerostich.

My car, shamed into parking across the street......yes, that's the main entrance.

A different kind of rocking horse; this one goes side to side rather than forward and back.

The first time I ate at the Pickwick was when a friend and I stopped there after spending a week on Isle Royale.  In the late 70's, I was known to ride up to the restaurant after work for dinner, then zip home again for work the next day.  That Ducati was fun.......

After a great and nostalgic lunch, I drove down to Canal Park for some people/ship/people/ship watching.  Duluth was very busy and Canal Park had as many people as I've ever seen there.

We've got a photo somewhere much like this one except there were 4 little Coop kids chasing seagulls.  These boys were having every bit as much fun as our youngsters did.

Autumnal skies, Duluth's towers and hill in the background....

I had watched the bridge lift for the sailboat earlier in the afternoon....

The Lake Walk.......

One of the Lake's big 1000 footers coming in....

Making the hard turn to the Superior coal docks; Wyoming coal will soon be heading east.

I went back inside the Corps of Engineers Museum, waited around Canal Park until sunset then drove downtown so that I could check in at the Hotel.

Up early the next morning, making a nice loop on Skyline Drive and then climbed Enger Tower to see what dawn looks like above the harbor.  The air was crisp and the lighting was beautiful.

Some of my friends give me a hard time about my GPS, others don't.  I held out for a time, having always considering myself a dedicated map person.  Once I had my GPS, I've come to really enjoy it as a tool.  I use it often to plan routes that I might not stumble upon by wandering and then other times I use it without a previously programmed route and simply turn down what looks to be a squiggly line that continues off the edge of the small screen.  I had mine along Sunday morning, punched in the Delta Diner, wanting to make sure that I wasn't late for my meeting time of 9AM with Erik.  Shocked upon seeing that I'd arrive at the Diner at 9:25, I knew something was wrong.  I followed Mrs. Garmin's instructions for a mile, curious about where she was leading me.  I worked my way back down to I-35, jumped on the 535 bridge across the bay and the kind voice in my device now told me that I'd be arriving at 8:40.  That was more like it and what I expected.  Sometimes you need to know where you're going in order to guide the GPS.

I was about 15 minutes away when Erik called, letting me know that he might be up to 15 minutes late.  With some extra time, I took off on a road I'd been curious about on one of my last rides in the area, making a loop with plenty of time to spare, only to arrive in the parking lot and see Erik walking across the parking lot.  We'd not met before but I've seen plenty of photographs, South Dakota in the background, Oregon, Idaho, etc........I knew it was he.

The Delta Diner, very near downtown Delta, Wisconsin.

After a wait that passed quickly while Erik and I discussed riding, destinations and rides, we were called inside and picked out two fine stools at the counter.  On my right was a young boy and his dad; on Erik's left were a couple with some Alaskan history.  We learned some things about AK aviation and photography, we also learned about good nutrition.

I'm pretty sure Erik was still learning about Alaska at this point....

Here, we're both learning about good nutrition.  Our new Alaska friend told us that he eats healthy when it makes sense......on this Sunday morning it seemed to be one of those 'other' times.  The wait staff brought him his own whipped topping source, based on past visits from the way I heard it.  The pancakes were covered with fresh fruit, the rasher of bacon just beyond and the mountain of white cream balanced his meal out very nicely.  His wife sitting nearby, enjoying her oatmeal, simply shook her head.

I thought his meal looked very, very good.

Erik's Jalapeno Pancakes on the right, my Greek Omelet on the left.

This was very, very good as well.  My guess is that the feta provided a bite equal to the heat Erik's jalapenos  contributed to his.

It was great finally meeting Erik in person, food was good as always, our discussion fun and hopefully we'll actually have a chance to get out and do some riding together next season.  Thanks for making the trip up Erik, really enjoyed it!!

Erik's the handsome one in red.

Erik headed home to accomplish something, I had less productive things to take care of.  I headed back to Iron River, then took County A up to Port Wing to check up on the revamped pier that was being worked on a year ago.

From there it was east to Herbster.  Things have changed along the waterfront; the City Campground seems to have expanded.  Though I've wanted to numerous times, I still haven't stayed along the lake.  Hopefully next summer I'll finally make it happen.

Campsites along the beach.....looking west

And looking east....

Continuing further east around the loop, my mandatory stop in Cornucopia.  I was hoping to buy some of my favorite smoked Whitefish, but Halverson's was closed.  Every time I stop with the bike, I get a photo of that trip's ride in front of wife Peg's grandfather's beached fishing boat, The Twin Sisters.  Somehow on this trip, shooting the car in front of the boat just wasn't as appealing.

Halloween, 2008.....

August 2009, finishing up my Trans Wisconsin Adventure Ride

The Cornucopia beach on Sunday.

Next it was eastward to Sand Bay.  Normally crowded with campers and kayakers, it was a very quiet and peaceful place Sunday.

Speaking of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Ride, I stopped next at the most northern point in Wisconsin that you can drive too.  Point Detour is a rustic campground that is owned and maintained by the Red Cliff Ojibwa   In 2009, I rode the southern section of the ride in early August and then a couple of weeks later, I started at Neilsville, WI and finished the northern section.  I'll Post in the future about this fantastic ride, created and nurtured by friend Chad.  Check here for more info.

Point Detour on Sunday, October 21, 2012

.....on August 29, 2009, the north end of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail.  The south end is on the Illinois/Wisconsin border. My ride then included a couple of cool, wet and muddy days.

Point Detour Campground....

The lake from Point Detour, an Apostle Island in the distance....

From there it was down to Bayfield, still recovering from early October's Apple Fest.  I stopped for gas and noted the late blooming yellows and reds of the maples, still glowing.

Heading south through Washburn, a stop at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, a sandwich in Hayward and leisurely trip back to Minnesota.  584 miles for the two day loop and a really nice break from routine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Short Ride

It wasn't quick, though it didn't last very long.  You could count on one hand the rides I've taken this season on a weekday.  Most of my rides are done on a weekend day or entire weekend.  Yesterday I was home from work early, the sun was out, compelling me to put the Darien Light on and see a bit of gravel.

Taking the long way to Lake City for gas, I made a loop on roads that of course I've been on before, but not often nor recently.  Even with our dry weather, plant life that is supposed to be green at this time of year was green, always a nice contrast with the shades of yellow-brown and darker in the woods and in farmer's fields.

A thirty mile ride, far beyond satisfactory and I don't say that very often for ~45 minutes of riding.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Chapter Closed and Memories Refreshed

With instructions to rest and relax this weekend, I've been for the most part very obedient.  Even though today's temps are cool, the warm sun has been strong enough to compensate for the light breezes.  Being outside and working in the pasture with my back to the wind, it felt warm and pleasant, the sun still high enough in the sky to bring good comfort.  I love these days and always have.

The reason I was in the pasture was that I was pulling down electric fence wire and insulators in preparation for pulling T posts, something that will happen either later this fall or next spring.  For the first time since our horses (and goat) left a couple of weeks ago, I was out in 'their' area and missed them dreadfully.  Each day I find myself checking for them with a quick glance, either out in their loafing shed or up in the valley.  I know I won't see them but looking for and checking on them is such a habit that I haven't been able to help myself. My afternoon was full of memories; girls with calloused hands on reins, dirty boots, dusty jeans, girls and their friends, jump stands, lunging ropes, combed manes and tails, girls........

The three animals left quite abruptly two weeks ago; an exchange that at the time seemed both timely, expedient and prudent but that didn't make it easy for any of us, nor for me.  With discussions on what to do with them going on all summer, an opportunity to send all three creatures to the same place suddenly presented itself, a place where they'd be cared for and loved was something we simply had to take advantage of.

I had a few tears the afternoon they trailered out the driveway and had a few more today, missing their pestering and 'help' while I was out in their area, taking apart their place on our farm.  We've had animals as well as fences on our land almost since the first days that we arrived here and now both are mostly gone.

New chapters continue to open and naturally some have to close to make room for what's to come.  This one has been a long, lovely one and a tough one to close.