July 5, 2005 – Tuesday – Day 10

Miles Today: 362- Total Miles: 2466 – Daily Average: 246.6
11:30AM-8PM (CST) – 9.5 hours
Escanaba,MI to Superior,WI
(-stayed at a Super 8 -) (MI,WI – 13/48)
– Cloudscapes Galore – Into the Icebox? –

Finally, I thought we’d get an early start. But it was not to be so. We slept a bit later than usual, there was a little trouble getting on-line again, and when we went over to the store for the pasties, it took much longer than they originally said it would. Pasties are regional pastries w/beef, chicken, or just vegetables that are baked until the pastry’s crust is golden brown. They are about 7-inches round and may appear like a giant perogie. We got two to take with us. The pasty (pronounced with a short ‘a’) goes back to the 1300’s, and arrived in the US in the 1850’s. Miners in the area could eat it underground because it was a handy, hearty, one dish meal.
The whole time thing is a mess what with crossing into the central time zone. The watches and all the tech things had to be changed to an hour later.
It was to be a simple routing today. Route 2 across Michigan and Wisconsin all day. For the first hour or so we rumbled along the coastline of Lake Michigan all the way, and the scenes were fabulous. Some boating scenes, but mostly just water with some tree-lined harbor areas. The sun was just right, the morning air magnificent, and it was gorgeous coastal riding the whole 40-mile way or so. And we enjoyed the ride a lot. That is, we enjoyed it a lot until…

Until we realized we were on Route 35 going south instead of Route 2 going west! Arghhhh… When we realized our mistake, in Menominee, we just bit the bullet, took the pasties onto a picnic table, collected our thoughts, selected a route back, and put it into gear. We headed back north toward Route 2 on another road. It wasn’t long until we rolled through Norway, which was just north of Vulcan!

When we left Escanaba we had it in mind to reach Superior, Wisconsin, just east of Duluth, Minnesota. Now we were really behind that timetable. But I just love audacious challenges (perhaps like this trip itself!), and I was determined that we would still make it there today! And try we did!

We rolled down through corridors of tall pine trees most of the rest of the day. The roads were again straight and clean. Once we came to a construction zone where half the traffic had to wait. I chatted with the stop-slow flag girl there. I learned they make $12/hr and have to work 12-hour shifts. The pretty blond young woman said that yes, it did get boring though.

Before Wakefield we stopped into a Subway, practically frozen to bits. We warmed up in there somewhat with a meal, and some conversation with the staff. As we were getting gear together to pull out of the lot, a friendly guy came up on a Honda Goldwing of older vintage. When he took off his helmet it revealed a million boils of various sizes and shapes covering practically every centimeter of his face. He was friendly, but I was sort of glad when the conversation ended…

It got chillier yet. When we put up our shields, it sometimes felt like an icy blast. It was spectacular riding, and if it had been a number of degrees warmer would have been the absolute quintessential riding day.

At Watersmelt we chatted with a guy and a woman who had dismounted from a Harley at the gas pump. They were riding 2-up as we do. (“2-up” is an expression for when two ride on a motorcycle.) She got off first, and when she took off her helmet one could see the outline of her goggled suntan on her face – and it gave the distinct impression of raccoon eyes! I smiled and shouted over, “So is that what we’re going to look like after we’re done this ride?” Seems they were finishing up a 9-day ride out west and just heading home to their home in about the center of the mitten of Michigan. (She held up her open-palmed hand to show us where they lived.) I asked how many miles they put in on a day, and they said 500. And I said, “Hmmm, I guess we better get earlier starts!” And we all laughed.

It got even chillier. We bought a second set of gloves to go with the ones we were wearing.

As we rode along the banks of Lake Superior and westward the last third of the day, there was a monstrous broad quilt of dark-textured cloud covering the sky from left to right horizon. We approached this band of ominous looking cloudscape and couldn’t help but have it in our thoughts. Everything turned darker and we rode on – and then on the other side there was, for the first time today, sunshine, friendly tufts of white cloud and blue sky.

In Ashland we stopped and admired the beauty there of part of the western tip of Lake Superior. It was a wonderful 7pm evening moment as the sun was heading down and the glinting of the rays reflected off the water.

The air at the end of the day as we rode the shore of Lake Superior was the freshest of any of the whole ride so far. But the true story of the day was the clouds. Glorious clouds throughout the whole day – patchwork at the end, ominous in parts, a steely gray roof for long stretches. When one rides as we do through several weather systems within 100’s of miles there are generally lots of changes.

After looking at the temp readings on bank signs today, we knew we went from 70ish degrees to 62ish degrees to 55ish throughout today. At the end, we took the first motel in Superior, WI, a Motel8 just to get warm. As soon as she got into the room Karen turned the heat on.

Author: Joel Perlish

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