Sunday, 20 July 2014

Day 56: Bagara MI, Ashland WI to Little Falls MN 645km

Pour yourself a cup of coffee.

It is a big day...

... filled with people,

... lots of miles, and

.... lots of smiles.

Dick with brothers Rich and Jerry from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Rich, Olivia and Jerry are riding west, too.
We hope we see them somewhere along the way.
We learned a lot about the Finnish population in this part of Michigan. The Finns brought forestry and mining skills and were willing to live in this area which has a similar climate to Finland. They also brought culture, customs and food.
Laverne - 'Thank God I'm Finnish' was born in the USA but both her parents were Finns. She is here for the music festival.


Houghton near the tip of the upper peninsula is the home of the Michigan technical university. Red brick buildings abound.
The roads are good motorcycling roads here.

Meet Noah.
He has been to Aotearoa, New Zealand. His family hosted an exchange student from a Nelson, NZ. He us off to to University of Ohio, Toledo to study premed in the fall.
The. Restrooms often have uplifting posters.

Brianna serves us coffee and a pasty with a smile.
Briana is studying elementary and special education at university in Marquette Wisconsin.
It is wonderful to meet young people with a passion.
The pasty is typical Yooper fare.
I didn't really need to eat one at 10am but in the interests of research I did.
The crisp short pastry was filled with potato, carrot, beef and simply seasoned with salt and pepper.
Barbara, a local historian, explained that the pasties are of welsh origin. The miners used to wrap them in paper and pack them in their lunch pails with coffe on top? I have heard that Cornish miners did this,too.
We are at Superior WI.
The route west is closed.
Mrs Garmin GPS doesn't know about this.
Had we entered Superior from another direction we would have seen these detour signs.

Over the rail tracks, past huge piles of coal and iron ore and gravel, cement silos, limestone, chemicals...
We ride over the bridge from Superior in Wisconsin to Duluth Minnesota.
Duluth is such a pretty word.
But the rail tracks and loading gantrys were not pretty.
Duluth Superior is one of the top 20 ports in the USA
We stopped at a truckers' cafe in Cromwell.

Meet Le Roy a retired farmer....

And Larry, his friend. Larry is taking a break from hay making. He has driven 15 miles to come and have coffee with Le Roy.
He said that usually the table is full but today the other men are out hay making. He also suggested that I should come in the morning. The place is really full then. Retired men coming in for breakfast.
I told home about the ROMEO club we met in Robbinsville. Retired old men eating out. Larry said that it is common all over America. Fast food places have a niche market with this group. They serve seniors coffee 50c, half price senior. deals each day. It is cheaper than eating at home. I am not sure about the dietary benefits but the social contact must be great.
Retired folk in the USA have established their own THIRD SPACES. Fellowship, breaking bread and drinking coffee.
Larry also tells me his name is 'Larry Swanson, that's a Swedish name' and he reels off a list of Swedish names of folk in Minnesota.
He is curious about our journey.
George Jones a truck driver hears me talk about our journey and asks if we went to Louisiana. On this trip he has driven his truck from Laredo TX to Houston TX then to Grand Rapids MN
George carries oversize loads on his truck.
On Monday he will pick up a train from Duluth that has been cut in half and will take it back to Texas.
No, he said he doesn't sing.
A poster on the wall at the truck stop.
We are in prairie country.
Grains - wheat, corn and barley on this road.
Even though the roads are straight they are not boring. The land is undulating and there are clumps of trees, houses, barns and any lakes.
This is Minnesota - the state of 10,000 lakes.
Crosby is near our destination. Antique shops galore.
And quirky houses.

We cross the Mississippi at Brainerd.
Meet Jeff, our knight in shining armour!
For the first time on this trip there were no rooms at any of the inns.
There is a state-wide baseball tournament with 32 teams and their families in town this weekend.
Jeff was sitting with friends in a hotel reception area. He heard our plight and immediately began phoning around. No luck.
Then he suggested we ride South to Little Falls or St Cloud and we should find a bed for the night.
His local knowledge and kind heart blessed us.
We rode on to Litte Falls and found a room.


Stuart Burns said...

Hi Diana from the photos it looks like the seat on Orlanda is not as comfortable as that on Mella?

Diana said...

You are very observant, Stuart!