Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18, 2017. Bemidji to Leech Lake, MN. 42 Miles.

After breakfast we turned in our keys at the visitors' center and drove up to Bemidji. Our first stop was at the monument to Paul Bunyan and Babe the blue ox.

We drove to the trailhead for the Paul Bunyan Trail. We were on our bikes at about 11 AM, very late to start a day of riding.

Our first stop was at Ye Olde Schoolhouse in Guthrie. Bill and Doris were not there, so I texted him and they were at the other trail stop for Guthrie. Soon enough they showed up at Ye Olde Schoolhouse and we replenished our snacks and water.

It was a beautiful ride, but we had a headwind all the way. I hate when that happens!

We finally got to Walker, where we put the bikes in the trailer and walked to lunch. Our table was a canoe!

It was 3 PM when we ate lunch, and we had some discussion about whether we wanted to ride more or give it up for the day. We finally compromised and 5 of us rode the rest of the way to Leech Lake B and B. Dianne got in the truck with Bill. The wind had shifted while we were eating, and we did not encounter the tailwind we expected, but we fairly flew to the inn, between 18 and 21 MPH.

We arrived at the B and B, a beautiful place right on the lake. Our room has a view of the lake. There were several different items for sale here, including Leech Lake B and B bathrobes, modeled here by Diana and Tom.

Gary, the innkeeper,offered us each a glass of wine, and I went out to the trailer to get trail mix and Chex mix. Dianne and I played Scrabble, some people read their books, and others spent the evening talking with Gary. Sandra, Gary's wife of 50 years and the other innkeeper, came in to meet us all a little later. Over all it was a very pleasant evening at the inn.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September 17, 2017. Itasca State Park, MN.

Breakfast did not begin until 8:30, which of course felt like 9:30 to us, considering we are now in the Central Time Zone. We were all plenty hungry and craving our coffee by then!  After breakfast we went to the visitors' center to officially check in and get our vehicle passes.

We went back to the lodge and dressed warmly for our first ride--it was 45 degrees out there!

We unloaded the bikes and Bill took our photo in front of the lodge. We started out on the bike trail heading toward the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

We stopped a few times to see the sights along the route. Somewhere along the way we lost Dianne and Diana.

Fred, Tom, Dennis and I arrived at the headwaters of the Mississippi River and took advantage of the photo opportunity. Our bike shoes were not such a good match with the rocks!

I walked over to the gift shop while the guys went back up the trail to where we'd left the bikes. We finally met back up with Dianne and Diana, who had stopped to see a youth hostel along the route.

We all walked back to the headwaters for a group photo. We went back to the gift shop and cafe for a cup of coffee and some light lunch. Then we backtracked on the bike path to see the Pioneers' Cemetery.

We stopped at the Wegmann's Store replica and the ruins of the original store.

By now it was almost 2 PM and we had only ridden 8 miles!  The path dumped onto the Wilderness Road, which was open to automobiles as well as bikes, but there was not much traffic. We stopped to see Itasca's largest white pine tree--here is Tom in front of it for a point of reference.

The cloud cover finally dissipated and the sun came out--what a difference that made!

Most of the Wilderness Road was one way; it was a beautiful ride!

Our final stop was at the Aiton Heights Fire Tower. Fred, Tom, Diana and I started to climb the steps--again it was difficult in bike shoes!

Fred went up as high as the tree tops and headed back down. The tower was swaying in the wind; I never let go of the hand rail all the way up to the top!

We finished the ride, stowed the bikes in the trailer and had a snack. We are all very happy to be here!

September 16, 2017. Ludington, MI to Itasca State Park, MN.

We knew this would be our longest travel day. We left Summer's Inn to get in line for the ferry at 8 AM.  We boarded the SS Badger and the porters drove the trucks onto the boat.

We asked a stranger to take our "beginning of adventure" photo while on the ferry. Diana designed and purchased the shirts this year. Here we are in our "Rollin' on the River" shirts: Dianne, Doris, Dennis, Fred hiding behind Dennis, Bill, Diana, Tom and me.

Soon after boarding Dianne and I found a nice table to play Scrabble. We ate lunch on the boat to save time afterward--we still had an 8 or 9 hour drive ahead of us after the 4 hour ferry ride!

We finally arrived at the Itasca State Park Douglas Lodge at about 10:30 PM. I had called them earlier and they left the keys in an envelope taped to the doors of our rooms.

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017. Ludington, MI

First we planned on leaving Saturday morning very early. Then we decided that would make for a very very long day of driving from Grosse Ile, MI to Lake Itasca, MN. So we thought we would leave mid-day Friday, stay at Ludington and take the ferry to Wisconsin Saturday morning.  Then we got notice that the Grosse Ile Free Bridge was going to close at 9 AM this morning and stay closed until 3 PM.

So we met at 8 AM and left home at 8:30. We took our time driving to Ludington, stopping at Muskegon for lunch.  The first restaurant we chose was too tiny to accommodate us, and had no place to park the truck and trailer. So we found another, on a wide street with ample free parking.

Tipsy Toad Tavern had something for everyone and we had a great lunch.

There is an Irish Music festival going on in Muskegon this weekend, so we were fortunate to get easy parking. There was a sign a block away advertising parking for $5. This man with the pony cart was taking people on rides on the city streets.

While at lunch I sent a text message to my friend Christy, who lives near Ludington. She and her husband Tim were at their new restaurant just 5 miles from our destination, so Bill and I and Doris and Dianne took a detour, while Fred, Diana, Tom and Dennis went to Ludington State Park to hike.

After visiting with Christy and Tim and touring their diner (set to open on Monday), we drove to Summer's Inn. They offer free wine tasting, so Dianne and I sampled a couple of wines, and then purchased a glass to take to the Scrabble table. Sue was very accommodating.

We played four games on the screened in porch, up until it was time to go to dinner.

We followed Sue's recommendation and went to PM Steamers for dinner. It was a positive experience all the way around. After dinner we drove to the ferry dock to check it out so we'll be prepared when we return here with the trailer in the morning. Thus begins another adventure!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September 11, 2017. Kingston to home.

We awoke to bright sunshine and warm temperatures. Right after breakfast Bill went in the water to wash the outside of the boat--much easier to do it in the water than on the trailer.

The water was extremely calm in our little harbor.

We left Milton Island around 9:30, about an hour and a half later than we had planned. The water was still as smooth as glass with absolutely no wind, so we did not attempt to sail.

On our way back to Kingston we saw this interesting dock, and a boat very similar to ours. This is the 31' version, also made by Corsair.

The windmills on Wolfe Island were still. The view out into Lake Ontario was still as well.

There is a lookout tower on Cedar Island; this may be a future stop when we return to this area.

A ferry boat passed right behind us--I was not watching like I usually do, and Bill was uncomfortable with how close it came before we were aware of it. After stopping to pump out the head we docked at Kingston about 11:00 and started removing sails and gear from the boat.

Just when we were almost ready to take it out of the water a barge pulled onto the launch ramp and we had to wait half an hour while the bargeman loaded his concrete tiles. As soon as he was done Bill backed the trailer down the ramp so we would be next. We got the boat on the trailer without incident and started getting ready to lower the mast.

The mast came down nicely; it's much easier to do when there is no wind, which was a factor in deciding to come into shore today.

When we were done wrapping up the boat we walked across the street for lunch with my friend Noreen at Portsmouth Tavern. Noreen and I rode together from Los Angeles to Boston 9 years ago. We discussed inviting the XC08 group to meet somewhere in the midwest next year for a 10 year anniversary ride.

We left the marina at 4:30 PM, a full 2 hours later than we had planned, but it worked to our advantage. We drove past Toronto without any traffic delays (although there was plenty of traffic).

We encountered 4 separate construction areas between London and Windsor, 2 of them causing time delays. We got to the border at 12:40 AM, and the border agent was just getting into asking us questions when shouts arose from another booth. He sent us on our way and we arrived home about 1:30 AM. Life is good.