4th August

Strange days, these. I spent a second night at Knife River Campsite 25 miles along Highway 61, actually on the scenic road that runs in parallel, right on the shores of Lake Superior. The site is run by Randy and his wife, as mentioned in a previous entry. Randy took early retirement, he was a Locomotive engineer, paid off with a good pension. He refurbished a boat, then with the proceeds built a house, sold it, moved into a motorhome with his wife and bought the site, now he has a small place but lives to enjoy life and plans to get another boat and live on it 6 months a year. He builds hot rods, just sold one to a guy in California. “C’mon, lets go for a beer” he said and we hopped into this contraption which is basically a 1932 model T Ford sitting on two thin steel rails and a 5 litre nailhead engine bolted onto the front. We catapult up the road, doing a quarter mile in a very short pace of time, slowing for a slight dip in the road as the floor of the vehicle we sat in was only inches from the road, the suspension crashing as it bottomed out. We were challenged by a Harley and Randy shifted the skull with a top hat gear down a gear and the little model T bellowed along. I helplessly gripped the thin door next to me. No seat belts. 1/8th inch of a metal panel between me and the outside world.  The Harley lost the race and dropped back. Randy, grinned in the dimming light. On 61.

We reached the lighthouse cafe for our beer, meeting Deb, a neighbour and another friend at the bar, stayed for a bite to eat. All four of us lamented at the current administration and its effects. A man eating his dinner overheard us and said things have never been better, he did not understand what we were saying.

Later on we met Deb at the beach and built a bonfire under the stars while we sipped on a bottle of Southern Comfort I had in my bag. Deb has a cabin in South East Alaska, only way to get to it by boat or plane. She was a cheerful brave woman who had lost her husband from a heart attack 10 years earlier and was left with her 24 year old son and earns her living from her upholstery business. She tells us how she loves the solitude of her cabin by the remote shore in Alaska.

Next day the very same campsite owner refused payment for the site fee and insisted that he buy me  breakfast, making me promise to do the same when he comes to London!

I really enjoyed my stay at Knife River – Randy made me think again on how life could be lived, of course I cannot do what he did but I seem to be on a similar wavelength to him, he envied my travels on the bike as well. A good sort.

I waved goodbye and headed back on to highway 61 up to Canada, Thunder Bay. Highway 61 continues on into Canada with the road signs on a crown graphic to remind us of the difference. 61 starts in New Orleans and connects to Duluth… Perhaps one day I will make the journey from Duluth and end in New Orleans.

how can a chicken be crispy and moisturised?

On, further on, the 17 to stop at mirror lake, at a shambolic campground by a delightful little lake with plastic paddle boats. My spot is just by the lake, very few people remain after a busy weekend so I choose the best spot.

People swimming in the lake, I share a morning cup of coffee with a woman who regularly goes to the UK, to Surrey and Newcastle. She said normally they get 100 inches of snow and temperatures drop to 30 C below zero, at Mirror Lake 70 degrees below. Last winter there was no snow at all. The tulips who are protected by the snow id not arrive and many bear cubs were lost. Another global warming anecdote. I read the local paper and learn about swimmer’s itch, a snail/bird/human vectored parasite wich you can do nothing about except cut off the tops of the pimples you get with a sharp knife to relieve the itching caused by the shistosomiasis: I thought you could only catch that in African countries.

7th August

In the lavatories, (marked MOM and POP) I find a delightful sight: two adult sized turds sitting comfortably in the urinals. I gaze at them in case the jump out and mug me. They were still there the next day. I was not going to be a hero and throw them into the cesspit toilet, thank you very much.

The old boy running this site was more concerned with building some steps down the hill to the lake than checking on the lavvies. He advised me to go back down the road and find a special spot which overlooks Lake Superior down a dirt road. I did not find it but I had a nice 50 mile ride into the forest down past lake Rita to Sleeping Bear Park. Every few kilometres another lake, so beautiful. I saw a cricket that when flying had yellow tips on its wings and it flew round me to show me how to fly. Wild raspberries, tiny birds bigger than a hummingbird, smaller than a sparrow, startled birds of prey with white markings on tail feathers jump up from the road in front of me into the trees… so many wild flowers –  and silence.

Back on the road – a delicious  lunch at Karens Kountry Kitchen by a little lake, the customers, tidy and polite people who had driven there in newish cars. They looked at me a little sniffily – what the hell!

More miles, followed by a weirdo who shadowed me though the mountains a few feet behind me for 50 miles. I stop off in a little village for a blueberry pie and coffee.

I meet Andy from Manchester who is cycling from Ontario to Vancouver, 4000 kilometres. Impressive stuff, makes my trip look like a stroll. He was exhausted after battling with headwinds all day yesterday and had the blueberry pie as well while we chatted. A lady entered the café and told us that a helicopter overhead was searching for a missing woman, 20 since Sunday.

The TV is advertising Levitra a pill to help men with diabetes get erections. I hope I never need that. A lot of pharmaceuticals are advertised on TV, to make people go to their (private) physician and ask for a drug by name. Lipid lowering, type two diabetes, hypertension you name it they sell it. Cialis and Viagra also compete for the erection market,

I checked into a motel in Marathon, Ontario on the north shore of Lake Superior as it was getting damp and my jeans were wet from road spray. It was not actually raining but it would not be fun to be in a tent again tonight. I am very fortunate and grateful to be able to make this choice.


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