Thursday, July 26, 2012

Days 78 - 87 Milwaukee to Marquette MI

Day 78 – Kohler to Green Bay via Kewaunee ~ 86 miles

We woke up this morning at 7 because Alex and his wife had to head to work this morning. So we got up and headed upstairs to make ourselves some eggs with the food that they offered us. Anyone who knows us knows that it isn't our style to wake up that early, but it was nice to start the day early for once. After eating we got our things together, said our goodbyes and took off down the road at around 8. We had so much fun riding with the guys from Fat Kats and hope to see them again.

We headed through Kohler, past the unknowingly famous Kohler products headquarters and north toward Manitowoc. Being that it was still pretty early the traffic was minimal and we were able to make it to Manitowoc pretty quickly. We stopped to refill our water and then took the bike trail along Lake Michigan up to Two Rivers where we decided to wait on lunch and keep going. We got on highway 42 and continued to head north toward Kewaunee. It was so hot already even though it was only about noon. As we were nearing Kewaunee there was a storm front coming in and all at once the wind totally switched directions and the temperature went down about 10 degrees. Even though we were now fighting the wind it was awesome to have the temps cool down a bit. Once we reached Kewaunee, our destination for the day, we stopped for lunch and picked up groceries for the night and morning.

After doing our chores we headed toward the campground which was about 5 miles out of town. We got there just as the clouds were moving in and rain was starting to fall. We went in to pay for our site and they told us it was $38 per night. We went outside under the awning and thought about what to do. We ultimately decided that it was to much to pay for a spot to sleep on the ground. We waited until the rain and lightning slowed down and took off toward Green Bay. Good thing we started early this morning. At this point we had done about 65 miles.

We took a straight as an arrow country road that took us basically the whole way to Green Bay. It was a nice 20 mile ride, especially because it was a quiet road and the rain that came through cooled down the air temps. Once we reached Green Bay we looked on Kris's phone for a public campground, and found only RV parks. We decided to find a cheap hotel. We found one for 45 bucks! We checked in and ate our dinner...cans of soup and crackers.

We are going to try to catch up on some sleep and since tomorrow is going to be a shorter day we are going to stop and check out Lambeau Field! We will be heading to Oconto which is less than 40 miles from here.

Day 79 – Green Bay to Menominee, MI ~ 64 miles

We got ready this morning to the tune of Cool Runnings. We headed out the door and headed west towards Lambeau Field. We made our way through the city and eventually found it, shimmering off in the distance. We were proud because we had found it by smelling the air for all of the trophies! When we arrived we met a big group of cyclists that were biking around in Door County. We talked with them for a bit then snapped some photos and took off. It took a little while but we made it to the northern edge of the city and started to take some side roads following the highway north.

The backroads were nice and flat with very little traffic but we were tired and Kris had a migraine. We were also fighting the wind in our faces but we eventually made it to Oconto where we decided it was time for lunch. Someone gave us directions to where there was some fast food but all there was was McDonalds so it had to do. After lunch we headed north again and after an hour entered the town of Peshtigo. This town has some history with bad fires. There was a huge fire in the area at the same time as the Chicago fires so no one really knows about it. Once we were in town, we found out that the bridge on our path was out. It was looking as though we would have to brave the freeway as there were no other bridges over the river for many miles. We stopped and asked if there was another way across and we found out that there was a bike bridge across the river nearby.

We found the paper plant and went behind it to find a very rocky but manageable bike path. The bridge across the river was an old railroad bridge where someone had laid boards down to make it into a bike bridge. Pretty scary but we made it across and went on our way to Menominee. When we passed through Marinette we stopped and rented a couple new movies for the night. We passed over a bridge and were in Menominee but more importantly back in Michigan, finally in the UP.

We quickly purchased groceries and went to the campground, which was just behind the grocery store and right on the river. We checked in and set up camp. The rest of the night we ate dinner and watched Wrath of the Titans and 21 Jump street. Both were very entertaining. In the middle of the second movie it started to rain so we put everything away and got ready for bed. We then finished the movie and fell off to sleep.

Tomorrow we are heading to Escanaba, MI and there doesn't seem to be too much in between the towns. We will pick up lunch in the morning to have along the way somewhere and hopefully traffic isn't too bad as there is only one highway to take.

Day 80 – Menomonie, MI to Escanaba ~ 63 miles

After it started raining it didn't stop, it kept on right through the night. We would wake up periodically to find that out. And when we finally decided it was time to get up, guess what, it was still raining. That is the worst to start the day out in the rain. Luckily there was an indoor space for us to eat our breakfast. We ate in the dry space and then braved the rain while we packed up our gear. It also sucks to pack up the tent wet because you know its going to be wet when you put it up that night. We had to look on the bright side and realize that at least it was fairly warm out and if anything the rain was washing the salt off of our bike clothes. After packing up we headed out at about noon and stopped at the grocery store to pick up lunch for the day. We are headed to the land of small population.

As we headed north out of town we quickly realized that today was going to be a rough one. The shoulders were uncomfortably small and in combination with rain and semi traffic it wasn't the ideal situation. Scary is a good way to put it. We rode as carefully as we could at the mercy of the traffic coming up behind us, checking our mirrors as often as possible to see what was approaching. We rode for about 30 miles or so until we reached a state park where we knew we could eat our lunch under the cover of a pavilion. We ate and then used the hand driers in the bathroom to attempt to dry our bike gloves and warm our hands a bit before we headed out again. Luckily for us the rain had stopped by the time we left.

We continued on and the sun began to fry off the clouds. We biked the same distance we had before lunch to reach Escanaba. The biking was much more enjoyable now that the roads had dried up and the drivers less distracted. Unfortunately we crossed back into the Eastern Time Zone and we lost an hour. So instead of it being 4:00 pm it was now 5:00. Once we got into town we stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies and headed to Culver's for dinner. By that point we were dry again and the sun was shinning, even if it was going down. We biked the last few miles to the campground just on the northern end of the city. We got our site and ate dinner.

We had a decision to make. Our plan was to continue east toward St. Ignace and then head north to Tahquamegon Falls SP and then west to Muskallonge SP and Grand Marais. Unfortunately when we planned the route we didn't realize that the county roads to and from Muskallonge SP are gravel. To far of a distance for us to go on gravel roads. And we don't want to spend the last weeks of our trip zig-zagging and backtracking on roads all so we could see a couple state parks and minimal amounts of shorelines. We know the state parks we are missing are nice but we feel that our time would be better spent on Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a place that neither of us has been. So tomorrow once we reach Manistique, MI we are going to take Highway 77 north to Grand Marais to spend a couple days checking out the Lakeshore and then get back onto our planned route. It was a tough decision, but we think its a good one and we think we deserve to spend a couple days really enjoying an awesome park.

Tomorrow we are headed to Manistique, our last day on Lake Michigan.

Day 81 – Escanaba to Manistique ~ 65 miles

We woke up this morning to a nice sunny blue sky, a great sight after yesterday morning. We ate our breakfast of our usual bagels and nutella, oranges, and a special treat of poptarts! When we got into camp last night the office was closed and nobody bothered to ask us for the fee this morning, not that they should have to ask us, so we rode away without paying. Oops.

The riding conditions we much more pleasurable this morning. Sunny skies, cooler temps, wide shoulders, and a nice tailwind for a good chunk of the day. We took advantage of it and made awesome time. It really feels good to go fast pulling our gear. We spent most of the day biking through State and National Forest, keeping our eyes peeled for the lone moose. Some smaller hills, but nothing to fret about. A pretty straight forward day of riding. There are very few populated centers up here so we took advantage of a c-store when we saw one at about half the distance of the days ride, right at the northern end of the Big Bay de Noc.

We ate our lunch and then continued on towards Manistique. Unfortunately the campground is about 4 miles short of town so we had to bike into town to get dinner and breakfast and then bike back to Indian Lake State Park. Once we got to camp we paid the fee and headed toward our site. As we were going we saw a few bike tourists at a site and stopped to talk. We found out that they were two different parties of bikers. One is a guy from Washington who is going to grad school in Madison, WI and biking to Thessalon, ON where his family has a cabin. The other is a party of two girls from California who biked from the coast of Washington to Whitefish, MT and then took the train to Milwaukee and are biking around the UP to meet their friend in Glen Arbor, MI. They offered to share their site with us, so we gladly accepted and got a refund from the park office.

We set up camp and sat and talked for a bit while we ate dinner. The other bikers went to bed early because they are going to get up early to make it to St. Ignace tomorrow which is about 90 miles east of here. After dinner we showered and did some filming, read magazines, and listened to an retired Conservation Officer, who has since become an author who writes about his experiences working in the field, give a talk.

Mosquitos are bad tonight so we are writing this from the safety of the tent. Tomorrow we are headed north. Today was our last full day on Lake Michigan...on to the final stretch of Lake Superior! We will be hitting the 5000 mile mark in the next couple days! It will be a huge achievement for us. We are excited to see Pictured Rocks and be back on Lake Superior!

Day 82 – Manistique to Grand Marais ~70 miles

At some point during the night it started to rain. The two other groups of bikers that we stayed with were up and out of the site by 7 am or earlier. We took the other route, as we usually do, and slept till about 9:30 or 10. The clouds hadn't made up their mind whether or not they were going to keep letting water out or stop and let the sun shine. It continued to rain on and off while we laid in the tent. Kris bravely got out first and went down to have coffee and doughnuts at the camp hosts site, and packed his things while he waited. It took a while for Zach to get out, but he did around 10:30 or so and packed up the tent while the rain had stopped for a minute. We left camp around 11 or 11:30 and headed back toward Manistique and Highway 77 where we would head north.

It was about a 25 miles ride to our turn north from the campsite. And by the time we reached Manistique the rain had stopped completely and the sun was beginning to come out. As we turned north we began to encounter some hills. We had to cross the drainage line between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, so we expected there to be some hills. It was fairly hot once the sun came out so we slowly cranked our way up and over the divide.

We planned to stop in Germfask for lunch, but when we got there we discovered that everything had been closed down. It didn't look like the small town was doing so well. So our only options were to eat the cheez-its that we had with or push on to Seney to get a real lunch. We chose the latter. We pedaled past the Seney National Wildlife Refuge on our way and hoped to see a moose. No luck. Once we got into Seney we stopped at one of the local diners in town. As we pulled up we met two cyclists that were on their way from Toronto to Winnipeg. They were going to stay the night in Seney and partake in the local town celebration that was going on that night. We went inside and ate a decent lunch. Kris had a chicken strip basket and Zach had a patty melt. After lunch we headed toward Grand Marais. The air was really hazy today and we would later learn that it is smoke from a fire up in Canada.

The road to Grand Marais was quiet and mostly straight as an arrow. We spent most of that section riding apart, but as we approached town we rode together and pedaled as hard a we could to reach the Lake. We flew down the hill into town and as Lake Superior came into view we were yelling and screaming with excitement and joy. We were just so happy to be back on our lake! We stopped in at Lake Superior Brewing Company, the local brew pub in town, and celebrated our achievement with a beer. After that we went to camp which was only a couple of blocks down the road, set up our tent, and then went and jumped in the lake. It is warmer that it usually is for some reason. But we aren't complaining. After changing we headed back to the brewery for dinner and some beers. We headed back to camp after that and headed to bed. Zach had to use the rest room and was sitting down doing his thing when someone went into the stall next to him and said “ya'll want to hear some tunes while we sit here. I got the stuff” and he proceeded to blair gangster rap. The best part was that in the far stall there was a man in his late 60's or 70's that had to sq

Tomorrow we are headed just about 12 miles down the road into Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to spend a few days resting.

Day 83 – Grand Marais to Pictured Rocks Campground ~13 miles

We woke up around 10 or so and ate breakfast and then biked the ¼ mile into Grand Marais to pick up groceries for the next couple days. We are headed into the National Lakeshore and there are no supplies between here and just outside of Munising. We picked up just enough to last us until our arrival in Munising.

We headed out toward the lakeshore and about 4 miles down the road we passed the 5,000 mile mark of the trip! Kris made a sign out of a cheez-its box and we celebrated on the side of the road, holding up the sign for cars to see as they passed. One car stopped and the guy got out and took our picture. It was a great spot to pass the mileage marker. Just after we passed 5000 miles we reached one of the visitors centers for the park. We stopped in and looked around and picked up some reading materials.

After stopping we continued on and then stopped and the Log Chute overlook that is just west of the Great Sable Dunes. We walked the short trail out to the chute. It is a 500 foot drop down to the lake at about a 45 degree angle. Easy to get down, but incredibly tough to get back up. It is called the log chute overlook because it is the site of an old log chute that they used to use in the late 1800's and early 1900's in the days when they were logging the red and white pine off the land. They would send the logs down the chute to the lake where they would travel over water to the saw mills. Legend says that the logs would travel fast enough and with enough friction to start the chute on fire sometimes. The view of the dunes from the chute was amazing. We could also see the Au Sable Lighthouse from our perch.

After stopping we headed into camp which was another few miles down the shore. We set up camp at the lower campground and got the last site available. We immediately went down to the beach and went swimming. The water in the lake is unusually warm. We swam around the site of one of the old shipwrecks in the area. It has since washed to shore and all that remains are the beams of the structure of the ship with the metal rods sticking out everywhere. After swimming we went back up to camp and got all of our things situated. After that we took the 1.5 miles walk down to the lighthouse. We got there just after 5, which was the time they closed, and the ranger on duty kindly gave us the key to the tower. So we thanked her and headed up to the top for our own private tour. We got to check out the old Fresnel lens, no longer in working condition, and walk around the outside of the tower. Although the old lens isn't used anymore the tower still gives off light for ships today. The Au Sable light house was built in the mid 1800s and was manned by the coast guard until 1958 when the house was vacated. The stretch of land along the coast in the region is known as the Graveyard Coast and is now home to more than 40 shipwrecks. Ships during that time used to sail using a technique called “coasting”, which is when they would sail close enough to see land. The problem with using that technique in this region is that there is a sandstone bar that protrudes into the lake for up to a miles and is only 6 feet deep in many spots. Not a good thing for big ships. The area along the dunes in also notoriously known for being foggy.

After we checked out the lighthouse we went back to camp and made dinner. Our neighbors in camp happened to be the brother and his wife of one of the brewers from Fitger's. Small world. So we spent the rest of the night hanging out with them sitting by the fire, drinking a bit, and playing Phase 10. It was a good night. Rest day tomorrow.

Day 84 – Rest Day – Pictured Rocks

We woke up around 10:30 and after breakfast headed down to the beach. The waves were huge today so we spent a great deal of the day getting tossed around by the water, body surfing and playing rodeo with the massive boulders in the water. That is how the majority of our day was spent. We are burnt. Tomorrow we are headed to Munising.

Day 85 – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Munising ~ 38 miles

We woke up and at the last of our food supply and headed down the road towards Munising. No more than a mile down the road Kris's back tire exploded with the sound of a gun going off. He had noticed something wrong with it, but thought he could ride on it. Somehow the tube had exploded sending the tire bead shooting off of the rim. It ended up flaring out the rim in two different spots. Luckily we were close to an overlook so he walked the bike to a spot where we could get out of the road. Upon closer inspection we realized that we didn't have the tools to make the bike rideable. The rim wasn't going to hold the bead of the tire. So our only option was to have Kris catch a ride the 35 miles into Munising where we were hoping there was a bike shop...there isn't one. We stood there on the side of the road for a while trying to get someone to take Kris and his gear. Eventually we decided that Zach should just bike toward Munising because Kris was eventually going to get a ride and probably beat Zach there. We wished each other luck and Zach headed down the road. About half hour after splitting ways Kris passed Zach in the back of a truck. He had found someone to give him a ride!

We met back up at the Subway in Munising. Kris had borrowed a vice grips from and auto repair shop and bent the rim back into place in the two spots that it had flared out. Obviously not perfect, but it was the best he could do with the supplies he had and no bike shop. Always problem solving. After subway we got groceries and headed to our campsite just west of Munising. In camp we met some nice folks next to us and chatted for while. Kris later met the Lenos, a couple from Cloquet. They invited us over to their camp and when we went over they had made us a great dinner and offered beer as well. We spent a good chunk of the night swapping travel stories and looking at pictures of the flooding in Duluth. We eventually called it a night but at least it is cool and we can get some good sleep.

Tomorrow we are headed about 40 miles to Marquette where we are going to spend a couple days. We are hoping that Kris's bike is up for the trip. All he can do at this point is take it slow and try to make it to Marquette where we know there is a bike shop. On top of it all it is supposed to rain over an inch tomorrow. Great....time to get home.

Day 86 – Munising to Marquette ~ 40 miles

At about 6am this morning we woke up and it looked as though the rain was coming earlier than 11am. We decided to sleep as we were very tired and not up to pedaling on such little sleep. An hour or so later the rain started and we eventually got up later after that. We packed as quickly as possible and headed over to the bathrooms where we packed properly and ate breakfast staying dry. We talked to a couple of film makers before we took off and got some good ideas for shots and when we start the long editing process. Kris took off early as he would have to go slow and Zach would soon catch up. He left in the pouring rain followed soon by Zach. The rain kept up for an hour but then cleared up the rest of the way to Marquette. We soon met back up after the rain and made our way into town along the lake and on a rail trail.

In town we found our way to Nancy's house and met her close friends who were staying in the backyard. They were working on a lake stone mural walkway in the front yard, it was really beautiful. Kris headed straight towards the bike shop next door and quickly got his bike fixed. He had to buy a new rim, money he didn't want to spend but the bike is now fixed and he can travel faster. We spent time back at Nancy's cleaning our bikes and drying off all of our gear as we waited for her to arrive home. We also got showered up and relaxed. She eventually arrived and we hung out in her house chatting over some beer and snacks. She made some pizzas and then we ate dinner with her friends in their motor home. Dinner was great, just what we needed. After dinner we decided to go looking for ice cream with Nancy but the place was closed. So we headed up to the Oar Dock Brewery and hung out there for a while. We stayed a little longer but nancy had to go home because she worked in the morning. When we arrived back home Kris slept in the tent and Zach slept in Nancy's van that she had prepared for him earlier.

Tomorrow we will enjoy a rest day and check out the town, maybe even see the new Batman movie, which we have been drooling about.

Day 87 – Rest Day in Marquette, MI

We woke up this morning and started to do much needed laundry. After that was all said and done we headed into town and got lunch and coffee at 3rd Street Bagel. After lunch we headed a couple of miles up the road to the movie theater. Zach had lost his bike lock key but luckily Kris had brought his so we were all set. The movie was fantastic and we would definitely see it again. We made our way back to the bagel place to look for Zach's keys but they were no where to be found. We then headed back to home base and there they were lying in the grass.

We decided to walk out on the breakwater to the lighthouse. The first part was all cement and pretty easy going. Maybe took about 5 minutes to get out there. The second part was all huge boulders with slippery seagull poop on them so we had to be careful. It was also a longer stretch and maybe took 20 minutes. We hung out at the lighthouse for a while then headed back. A seagull flew within a couple of inches of Kris' head and tried to grab him. We made our way back to the house and had a great dinner with Nancy. We will probably spend the rest of the evening hanging out and getting ready for a 70 mile day tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are heading to Baraga, which is about 25 miles away from Houghton. We will meet Zach's girlfriend Bre and his friend Andy tomorrow at the campground. We are excited to see them.

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