Friday, July 11, 2008

We're on the Road to Nowhere (kind of)

Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads

We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride
to nowhere
We'll take that ride
I'm feelin' okay this mornin'
And you know,
We're on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

Well, not exactly for us. We know where we are going, but yesterday we decided to change the plans a little. But let me start at the beginning (at least the the start of yesterday).

The Stardust in Floodwood.

Floodwood: Catfish Capital

Two nights ago we arrived in Floodwood, MN. Floodwood's claim to fame: the Catfish Capital of the World. Now, that seems to be a huge claim, but who am I to argue? This weekend they are having their annual catfish festival. Had we been able to stay I might be able to verify the veracity of their claim. But, we needed to hit the road to stay on schedule.

Before arriving in Floodwood we had decided to camp at the city park. About an hour into our ride, however, it started to rain and did so for most of the day. We had to don the rain gear for the first time in a couple of weeks (although we did ride in the rain earlier in the week it was warm enough to do so without any gear). Before getting to Floodwood the rain stopped, but another storm was moving in. We decided to try to fine a motel in town. Now, with Floodwood being the Catfish Capital of the World one would assume that there would be several hotels from which to choose. Such was not the case, however. The only inn was the Stardust Motel, a small (8 room) establishment located on Highway 2 near the east end of town. Luckily for us they did have a room left. I was silently questioning our decision to stay in the motel (not very adventurous, after all) when, before we had even unloaded the bikes, a huge downpour hit. There was even severe hail predicted for the night (as the woman at the desk told me later). So, it seemed to be a good decision after all.

My experience with small, independent motels has been mixed. Some are dingy, and what they lack in character they make up in odors and unidentifiable stains left by previous occupants. The Stardust, I am happy to say, was meticulously clean, well-kept, and even smelled good! The owner even insisted that we park our bikes in her garage (not so much because she was worried about theft but rather she didn't want them to get wet!).

We decided to get on the road early the next day. We were up at 6, out of the room by 7:30, and finished with breakfast and on the road by 8:30. Our original destination was to be South Superior, Wisconsin. When we planned the trip months ago we decided to skip Duluth. Mostly this was done due to the size of the city. We really didn't want to deal with city traffic. After talking it over at dinner in Floodwood, however, Alison and I decided that if we could get to Duluth early enough to do something fun with the kids we would change the schedule.

About five miles from the city center we were starting to question the wisdom of our decision. As a woman in a gas station/bar/grocery store on the way yesterday described the city to us, Duluth is in a "bowl" -- you have to climb hills to get to the outskirts of the city, and then descend to get into the city. So, I thought, "Bowl. Ok, we can do bowl." I guess I should have listened more carefully when she said "I don't even like to drive my car on those hills." Sometimes I think that we conveniently don't hear things that we don't want to hear.

The hills we encountered going up one side of the bowl were the most challenging we have had since somewhere in the Rockies in Montana...maybe even more so. They were not very long, but they were very steep. And going up was only half the challenge. Let's just say that this was the first time I have had to use my drag break since the Rockies, and I'm not sure it did much good!

Not only did we have to deal with the hills, we had to deal with city traffic, stop lights (Floodwood, for example only had one), and not knowing exactly where we were going. We make it to the lake without any problems. We also found a hotel with a lake facing room!

We had a very pleasant evening in Duluth. The Aquarium was excellent (they now have an exhibit on sea horses) and we ate at a very good Vietnamese restaurant. Sometime after we went to bed, however, a storm hit. The following two pictures show last night and this morning.

Lake Superior last night from just outside the

This morning in a driving wind storm.

After getting up at 5 AM and looking outside it was clear that we wouldn't be riding today. Rain doesn't bother us. Even wind can be dealt with. But 50 mph gusts blowing the the wrong direction? So, we decided to spend an extra day in hopes that the weather would get better. Tomorrow, however, we need to leave regardless of the weather.


Here are some photos from the last few days:

A ship leaves Duluth behind Sonia and Gus.

Alison and Gus about to scream down a hill on the
way into Duluth


rachel said...

Wow, you guys. It sounds like you've been getting your share of tough weather. Funny how you become acutely aware of the weather when you're riding in it! It sounds like Gus enjoyed "nothing to do" anyway! I never knew Minnesota had such bad winds.

Hannah and I just finished a one week "Circus" camp. I taught the kids how to draw animals. Hannah really enjoyed working with "YouWho" the clown. Now Rob and Hannah are packing for Disneyland, which is supposed to be very crowded due to the decrease in International travel. Still, I think they'll have a blast. I'm looking forward to a week of sleeping endlessly and working on stained glass. The blueberries and raspberries are ripe so we're gorging ourselves on them. I love this time of year!
Take care and stay dry.


Anonymous said...

We're thinking of you from our little piece of Colorado. It's good to see that everyone is healthy and happy! Confidential to Sonia and Gus: Keep up with those fabulous quotes! We love to read them....
Carol in CO