Day 65 Cass Lake to Grand Rapids, Minnesota: Go Michael, Go - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

July 4, 2011

Day 65 Cass Lake to Grand Rapids, Minnesota: Go Michael, Go

4:30 a.m. came and us sleepyheads decided to hit the snooze button, 'tll 5. By then the sun was already rocketing up into the sky. We plugged our netbook into the locked down washroom/tourist information building and recovered the power we had squandered on Big Bang Theory the night before.

Dawn through our mosquito mesh
Heart 0 Comment 0
The new day at our private rest stop
Heart 0 Comment 0
Zillions of may flies here
Heart 0 Comment 0

We reluctantly left our private lakeside preserve, but were glad to get back on the wide shoulder of our favourite, Highway 2. Just down the road was the Stony Point resort, which had been recommended to us as a camping spot. Wow, wall to wall RVs, just like at Bagley. We were much happier at our closed rest area!

RV slum down the road
Heart 0 Comment 0

Signs for other camping spots appeared along the road, since we were passing through a federal forest. Not sure how far off the road they really were, though.

We approached the hamlet of Bena. I had Googled Bena last night to see what to expect, and came up with the story of the Big Fish restaurant. Sure enough, it was the first thing we came to, and looked in good condition.

The big fish supper club outside Bena
Heart 0 Comment 0
The big fish ate a house?
Heart 0 Comment 0

The Big Winnie general store and campground gave us a better surprise, though. As we pulled in, Michael Altfield materialized. Michael is the fourth cyclist (or couple) we have run in to. Each time has been a hoot, giving us a boost as we realize we are not alone out here, and going over the oh so familiar variations of equipment, problems, and strategies.

Michael Altfield
Heart 0 Comment 0
Our hex key helps Michael with his shifter
Heart 0 Comment 0
We fill our water bottles with water not being used by the minnows
Heart 0 Comment 0
Shifter is fixed
Heart 0 Comment 0
Our netbook finds 3G so Michael can check messages
Heart 0 Comment 0
The Big Winnie general store and campground where we met Michael
Heart 0 Comment 0
Shortly thereafter five other cyclists came down the road. Out in the sun we just did not have the strength to stop and talk.
Heart 0 Comment 0

Michael started in Maine and is headed to Seattle. He is young and strong, but we were glad to be able to give him a small boost: Michael's right side bar shifter was falling out, and we had just the size (length) of hex wrench for it. We also had some electrician's tape that fixed up the other side. After the usual one hour spent exchanging stories and route advice, we both headed off in our opposite directions. We are now eager to read Michael's blog. You too can check it out, here is the card he gave us:

Michael's card
Heart 0 Comment 0

I like Michael's title "Northern Tier Cyclist". I think it dignifies the act of slogging along the road, chased by mosquitoes and deer flies.

The deer flies, by the way, are vicious and numerous here. They fly circles around us even when we go 20 kph, and look for their chance to take a chunk out of hand or leg. They do help out a bit though, by eliminating any lax inclinations we might have to stop and rest.

Next up on Highway 2 was the Casino in Deer River. Visions of free pop, a possible all you can eat buffet, and the chance to improve our winnings total from its present $.20 danced in our heads. But the casino parking lot was totally crowded, and we have been on the road long enough to have an aversion to crowds.

We proceeded instead to the Sportsman's Cafe in town. Speaking of aversions, hamburger and fries and the other such food types are starting to get us down. We expect no relief until Toronto, though. We both ordered club sandwiches. Checking email in the cafe brings word from Yuul, who is about to challenge the north side of Superior, as we sleeze under the south side. Our map shows us few supply points for Yuul and we sure hope his strong cycling skills will bring him through.

We are lingering here with pie and coffee, waiting for the sun to lose a bit of power. Pretty soon, though, we will have to go back out. Grand Rapids, here we come.

We also did not stop at the Casino
Heart 0 Comment 0
But we did "dive" into yet another cafe
Heart 0 Comment 0
The cafe in Deer River
Heart 0 Comment 0
Deer River
Heart 0 Comment 0

Grand Rapids does not seem to have an historic downtown. This is kind of a giant strip mall of a town, with businesses strung along a few miles of the highway. The strip mall also features an enormous paper plant and associated wood waste power plant. We followed some directions and made our way through a nice neighbourhood by a lake to the fairgrounds. Unfortunately the grounds were closed, fenced and barricaded in a way that would make it too much work for us to penetrate the defences. We went back to the highway and decided that we were not going to find a campground or RV park anywhere close, so we ducked into a decent but second class motel. Actually it features shade and cool and a shower, and does not smell weird, so it is most welcome. Outside, we can not unload the bikes in our bare feet because the pavement is too hot. How quickly we have gone from freezing in the rain to frying in the sun!

Not actually somewhere over the rainbow
Heart 0 Comment 0
Strip mall type town
Heart 0 Comment 0
Another feature of main street
Heart 0 Comment 0
Nice house for sale in Grand Rapids
Heart 0 Comment 0

Around 9 o'clock the lady in the next unit over knocked on our door. She said her sister in Bemidji had called to say a strong thunderstorm had come through and was heading our way. She recommended we get our bikes under cover. Things looked calm but we took the lady's advice. Sure enough at 10 o'clock all hell broke loose with a major thunder, lightening, and rain display. So now we are happy that this rather lame town did not have a camping spot and that we did not go out of our way to find a stealth camp somewhere. It saved a lot of cringing under the sleeping bag and then later packing up a soaking tent!

Thanks, Grand Rapids, for not giving us the opportunity to be out in this!
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 91 km (57 miles)
Total: 3,749 km (2,328 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0