Getting to Minneapolis…

I left Rhinelander early Saturday morning and got on the road to Minneapolis, thinking of getting on the freeway and doing the 200 or so miles in a couple of hours so I could have the entire day to explore the city. After about 15 miles of riding on the freeway though, I realized that I was no longer interested in doing the freeway slab even if it saved me time. I got off at the nearest exit and onto a county road. I set my GPS to avoid freeways so that it routed me through smaller backroads.

I spent the rest of the morning riding some beautiful Wisconsin backroads that wound through remote farmlands. It was easy to see why Wisconsin is called “America’s dairyland”. County roads in Wisconsin are named by letters of the alphabet, which seems confusing but perhaps it is less so if you lived there.

I rode three brilliant hours of riding through the backroads before I started feeling impatient and wanting to get back on track to Minneapolis. Since I thought that I had been heading west most of the time, I figured I was pretty close anyway, but I was surprised to see that I was almost 120 miles away! I guess my ramblings must have added about a hundred extra miles to the route. Ah well, no regrets. I needed those roads after the really dull stretches on 2 and 8 the previous day.

This time I got on I-94 and made it to Minneapolis in one shot. As expected, the freeway slabbing was boring, but at least it got me there. (And yes, I did think of you when I crossed the Mississipi, you now who you are). :P

Rolled into Minneapolis to Stephen’s place who was waiting for me with his girlfriend Ruth. They proceeded to spoil me rotten for the rest of the day. :) We had some locally made root beer (I forget the brand) and then drove to get lunch. The streets in the neighborhood we stopped in reminded me a lot of Seattle and Portland, which made me very happy. Here’s a city that I might consider living in if I were ever forced to move to the mid-West.

We spent the afternoon checking out the sculpture park (took a picture with the cherry and spoon), the Basilica and a local arts fair. It had gotten extremely humid, even more than any of the east coast cities had been, which I find makes me really tired and hungry. I had a wonderful time though and there was never a dull moment. :)

Dinner was at Noodles & Company, after which we went back to Stephen’s place to do an oil change on the SV – my first ever! I felt very proud and accomplished when we were done. ;) The chain on the bike felt fine and didn’t look like it needed adjusting, so I just lubed it and left it at that. The tires are beginning to look a little squared off, which worries me, but I think I’ll be able to make it to Seattle on them.

I had intended to get to bed early to be able to wake up early and take off, but we ended up talking late into the night. I finally climbed into bed (a very comfy one!) around 1AM.

Update from Rhinelander, WI

Woke up to the sun shining into my tent and my shoulders freezing as I tried crawling out of my sleeping bag. Brrr… it was a cold morning. My first reaction was to crawl back in and sleep for two more hours, especially as I’d had trouble falling asleep the previous night, but I forced myself to get up so I could get an early start.

I ate a banana and some strawberries as I broke down camp. There was no dew on the tent this time, but the ground tarp was coated in mud. *sigh*

I was out of there and on the road at 8:30AM. I’ve been feeling a lot better over the past couple of days, except that I still feel sick when I wake up and stay that way until lunchtime. :|

Anyway, the plan for today was to just keep going for as long as I could. I knew I couldn’t realistically make Minneapolis tonight as it was almost 400+ miles away. I would mostly be on Hwy 2 and Hwy 8 today. Hwy 2 going west had quite a bit of construction going on with more than two miles of grooved pavement (no “motorcycles use extreme caution” warning) and a detour for a few miles.

I made it to Manistique by 10:00AM. It turned out to be a no-name town with nothing much to see. I had breakfast at a Burger King with a couple of Harley riders from Chicago who were doing the loop around Lake Michigan.

90 more miles and I was in Norway, MI where I stopped for lunch. There was a slight misunderstanding with the server and I ended up getting a plateful of deep fried fish. Yuk.

When I walked out of the deli, I saw two bikes parked next to mine and the riders standing next to them. I was amazed to see that one of the bikes was an exact replica of mine except much newer. In the past 3 years of owning my bike I have never seen another curvy red naked SV, so I was pretty delighted to see another one. Co-incidentally, the other bike was a V-star 250 – my first bike was a Virago 250 which was an earlier version of this bike. We chatted for a little while before exchanging contact info and then I was on my way again.

The ride along Hwy 8 was long and monotonous. I made it as far as Rhinelander, a town I decided to stop at purely because I liked the name. :P I searched for a coffee shop and found a really nice one. Yay! I thought I’d stop and get a coffee and rest before I rode another 50-60 miles. But when I got online, I saw that they predicted thunderstorms all along that way. I had no desire to get caught out in one just to make time, so I decided to get a motel for the night and ride the 200 something miles to Minneapolis the next day.

I got a room at the Best Western, relieved to be able to shower after two days of camping. Later in the evening, I walked out to explore the downtown which took almost five minutes. Apparently folks here retire early.

I probably should do that too. I am in a different time zone now, so even though it says 10:30PM, my body thinks it is 11:30. *yawn*