Into the Northern Wilderness

Since Minneapolis, we’ve worked out way across northern Wisconsin and into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP). It’s been incredibly delightful to get away from the city and onto back-country roads. We’ve also come to deeply appreciate trees — anything besides arid, flat landscape. The hills are picking up, but now they’re fun (South Dakota took all the joy out of flat roads).

Seven weeks into our trip, it’s hard to imagine doing anything besides pack up and bike each day. These next weeks are sure to be bittersweet as we get closer to our final destination. Now, onto the photos!

 

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Heading out of Minneapolis, our host pointed us to this long bike path. Few people on the path and no cars made for a neat exit from the busy city. While the Twin Cities were great, biking around new urban places is always a tiring adventure.

 

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James’ relationship with mosquitos is strained, to say the least. We found this sculpture by the side of the road (sign reads: average size mosquito in Wisconsin) and the photo-op was too perfect to pass us. Don’t worry though, we recently stocked up on some pretty intense bug spray in preparation for the woods ahead.

 

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We saw this storm approaching and at first thought: what interesting clouds! A few minutes later we found shelter under the overhang of a garage just in time to avoid torrential rain. Within fifteen minutes it had all passed and we were able to hop back on the road. That night, we had decided to stay in Rice Lake at the last minute with a warmshowers host. We were so thankful to be inside when a giant storm passed right over! Looking at lightening from inside a house is a little different than from inside a tent.

 

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We’ve loved all the lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin – they make for some pretty scenic rides. Also of note, Erin picked up new bike shorts in Minneapolis to try to hike her tan line up. She’s been trying to walk the line between letting it tan and slathering the newly exposed skin with sunscreen to avoid massive burning. So far, so good!

 

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Happened upon this giant lumber yard in northern Wisconsin. The logging trucks look different here than back home — interesting. Also of note, snowmobile/ATV routes are everywhere up here! Looks snowmobiles are actually a primary mode of transportation in the winter.

 

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We encountered a bit of tire/tube trouble this week. Wire on the shoulders punctured one of James’ tubes. Erin managed to pop a tube while getting her bike off the road when finding a place to stealth camp for the night. Fortunately, that happened near Minnocqua, WI which had a fully working bike shop…though it didn’t carry tubes in the right size. We lost nearly a full day sorting out all that business and figuring out how to make do.

 

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James takes on the position of Chief Navigator. We’ve found that free county/state maps are highly helpful in showing back roads that are lightly traveled and much more pleasant to bike.

 

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Taking a break by the beach. The weather has continued to be in our favor — mid seventies and eighties. Perfect for biking, but not necessarily for taking a dip in the water.

 

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We stopped at a farmers market in Phelps, WI. This little town was really struggling, and the two farmers at the market show up more as a service to the community than for profit (the grocery store just shut down). We chatted a bit, and they forced some free produce upon us. We had fresh onions in our chili that night!

 

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Even more tire trouble. About 75 miles out of Escanaba, MI, Erin woke up to another flat tire. Completely out of tubes, and with the nearest bike shop in Escanaba, we managed with our last official patch and a jury-rigged one (from some rubber cement and a plastic bag). We weren’t on the road until 11am, but still managed to crank out the miles and get into Escanaba for the night!

 

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Entering into the Eastern Time Zone! We started in Pacific, so this seemed a little surreal. We’re starting to get to the last legs of our journey.

 

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Arriving in Escanaba on August 11th, we discovered that the UP State Fair was going to start on the 12th! Since we had already decided on taking a full rest day in Escanaba, this was perfect timing! We’ve already been to the bike shop this morning — new chains (especially with the miles we’ve put on), new bike shorts for James (otherwise his would have fallen apart in the next couple days), and tubes (the first bike shop with exactly the right size!!!). Now off to the beach to fly a kite that James picked up, and then we’ll explore the fair.

And tomorrow, we start the final countdown. Three weeks.

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3 comments

  1. Erin and James, thanks for the update and great pictures! I can’t believe you have only three more weeks. But to put that into my perspective, I would be wondering if I could make a three week bike trip!!! Glad you guys are doing so well. What wonderful memories you will have. Even with all the flats it sounds like things are going pretty smoothly for you. I thought your comment about SD flatness was very interesting. And I’m not surprised that hills seem pretty easy to you now! You both look very buff!!

  2. Erin & James — Great to hear you’re making progress despite occasional flat! We think of you often and pray for your safety. Regarding your photo of the mosquito, I’ve heard that Wisconsinites don’t need screens in the windows because there’s no mosquitoes small enough to enter by that route. We beat you to Boston; I’m writing this from the back of the houseboat Barbara rented! Safe travels; we’ll follow your posts. David


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