Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Be My Path, Be My Guide, Day 9

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Winnipeg, MB
84,747 (378) (2,015)

I rode north along a county road from the State Park. I’d originally planned to go through International Falls and into Canada, but since I’d not made it much past Hibbing, I’d decided to continue west and enter Canada somewhere else.
As I headed westward, a detour took me hours out of my way toward the north, so I decided to just change my route back to the original plan, so I went toward International Falls after all, but I continued along the south end of Lake of the Woods instead of riding north of it.
When I stopped at Warroad, there was a giant Walleye. But I forgot to get photo. I saw a guy walking along the highway with a backpack and a guitar without a case.
It was very hot. Just before I crossed into Canada, I called Allison, because I knew I’d not be able to use my phone for a couple weeks. I stood in the hot sun and talked with her for a while before I fueled up and rode toward the Canadian border. Although I there was very little traffic along the 8 miles to the border, when I arrived there, I rode up behind a BMW R1200GS. He was only about 2 in line to the customs officer. I turned off my engine, and when the bike in front of me reached the officer, I could hear the exchange. He asked him if we were traveling together. A simple “no” didn’t seem to satisfy the officer, so he worded the same question in a several ways before he allowed the guy to go on. When I rode up next, he asked me exactly the same questions. “Are you traveling with this guy?” No “Where did you meet up on the road?” Right here. I rode up behind him 47 seconds before you met him. “You’ve never met this man before?” I’ve never spoken with this man. He then skipped all the alcohol and tobacco questions and asked me about “weapons,” “guns,” “handguns,” “side arms,” slightly changing his wording each time, to try and trip me up. He was always making eye contact and holding my passport where I could see it. Finally, he waved me through, and I rode on into 40 miles of nothingness and eerily straight road.
About 20 miles after I entered Canada, I stopped at a wayside and no cars happened by the whole time. The desolation and the wind in the pines was kinda spooky. There were flies buzzing, and a bird singing the bay of fundy song. He moved about like he wanted me to follow him. I think I was in a movie. Three years ago, I camped on the bay in Nova Scotia, and awoke in a thick morning fog with this bird’s song providing the soundtrack to the dim, white morning. The song was so strange to me that I rolled over in the tent and grabbed my computer, opened notation software, and took dictation from the bird. I notated his song so that I wouldn’t forget it. I have not heard that song since, until today.
I reached the Trans-Canada Hwy just east of Winnipeg, and planned to camp just west of the city. The light was very strange, and I rode all the way through town before I rode back out onto the prairie, and finally found my campsite beside the river.
I had been unable to get money from the ATM in Canada, so I was without cash. The man at the campground said that I could pay him after I found some money, but I assured him that cash was the only problem, I did have a card. He sent me into a grassy area over the hill from the main campground beside the river, and told me I was fortunate to be on a bike, because I could just ride all the way to wherever I chose to set up my tent.
I put my tent right beside the river, and began to relax. The trees looked as if they were painted about 5 feet from the ground, but I now know that the consistent line on all the trees was last winter’s snow line.
After I set up the tent, I showered and stretched out on the picnic table and stared into the sky. Between the trees, the sky was small, and there was actually a lot of light pollution from Winnipeg. I remembered thinking that even if I was far enough North to see the Aroara Borealis, there was too little sky and too much ambient light.
I was wrong.
The lights danced directly overhead. Brighter, dimmer, whiter, sharper…
I watched, overwhelmed, until my eyes got heavy and I climbed into the tent and fell deeply asleep.



Monday, August 06, 2012

Be My Path, Be My Guide (day 8)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hibbing, MN

84,369 (349) (1,637)

Today was like riding along dolly sods for hours. I saw very few cars in the road but every time I stopped there were people around. Two cars passed me in 30 miles.

Riding the curvy roads through the wetland meadows and aspen trees I suddenly realized I was flying. I didn't notice when I lifted off the ground, but suddenly I realized it. I had been for some time, and I was light and easy and swift as a breeze.

Carried along and carefree and thoughtless.

Actually, today I was on my way to International Falls, Minnesota, but decided to trek out of my way to visit Bob Dylan’s boyhood home. Hibbing was easy enough to find, but they seem rather uninterested in making a big deal out the fact that Dylan grew up here. There is a street named after him, and his boyhood home sits in a corner thereon, but I actually had to google the area to find either of those sites. The town makes no big deal about it.

By the time I had found Dylan’s home and made my way out of town, it was beginning to darken, and I needed to find a place to crash. Ye Olde Smart phone alerted me to a State Park 20 miles away, so I started off to find it. I secured a campsite and made two trips back to the ranger station to carry firewood to my camp FAR on the other side of the park. It had been raing a little, and the sky still threatened, but I figured any few moments with a fire is better than none, so I carried in the firewood.

There were four girls camping next to me and they were quite loud for a while, and used less that “family friendly” language. As I sat by my fire and listened to the girls, a sudden rain came up and soaked me before I could reach the cover of my tiny tent. I climbed in as hurriedly as I could and slept in my clothes on top of my sleeping bag until I froze out in the middle of the night and crawled inside the bag.

All night long, the Loons called to one another from the lake. And one point, I was pretty sure they were calling me, but I didn’t answer. I simply listened to what they were saying and said a “thank you” that such a bird existed.

I slept well and woke up only slightly moist.



Friday, August 03, 2012

Be My Path, Be My Guide (day 7)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Honey Rock Camp, Three Lakes, WI
84,020 (367) (1,288)

I missed a turn on my way to Honey Rock Camp this evening. The inadvertent detour put me about 30 miles east and I have no doubt, brought me through much more fascinating roads than I would have otherwise experienced. Tremendously fun riding meandering between lakes and through beautiful countryside.
Eventually, I found my way to Honey Rock, where the Edgars AND the Walkers were waiting for me to go out to dinner. I was surprised to find the Walkers there, but Shannon was acting as camp nurse for the week, and so we all gathered and went out.
On Thursday, Chip toured me about the place on foot and I decided to spend another night before riding north. I sat on the dock most of the day, and Chip sat with me for quite a bit of it. We had great conversation and shared joys, stresses, worries and anxieties while we watched eagles and osprey play and dive.
It was Parents’ Night at the camp, so they had a free dinner and ski show. After, the camp pastor and his wife came over for a bit, and we all sat about talking.
I sat for both nights on the dock in the chilly air watching the milkyway. It was a good visit.



Be My Path, Be My Guide (Day 6)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Chicago, IL
83,653 (312) (921)

As I was showing off pictures of my kids to Lana this morning, the BMW shop called at 11:08 to tell me my bike was ready. Lana made sandwiches and I packed my bags and loaded them into her van to take to the bike. We took our time.
When we arrived, everyone in service seemed to be on the phone or hiding somewhere, so it took a very long time to get someone’s attention, when I did get noticed it then took 30 more minutes to close out the ticket on my service because the guy who had to do it was still on the phone. Finally, they were ready to settle our account. They gave me an unbelievably high bill. All I needed to do was look cock-eyed, and the guy explained I was charged for the Hall’s Sensor, a gasket, and 5.5 hours labor. I assured them I could have done that job blindfolded with gloves on in half that time, and the guy who’d closed out the ticket said, “would two and a half seem fair?”

That was his mistake.

Now I truly felt that the billed hours were just arbitrary. So I told him I was in the shop for 30 minutes yesterday and that the diagnosis was made before I left and I’d signed that I’d approved that they order the part consistent with the diagnosis. I pointed out that they opened at 9:00am, and that he’d called me to say it was finished at 11:08. Even if the part was on the doorstep when he got to work and he called immediately upon torquing the last bolt, he could have no more than 2 hours, 38 minutes on the job. I figured the more true story was that the part arrived FedEx at 10:00am, he installed it in 30 minutes and laid a note on the counter for someone to call me, which happened after 38 minutes. The desk and telephone busyness that made me wait to pay was evidence of this theory. The guy agreed to check it again, and came back with a ticket less than half of the first one. I smiled, signed the paper and went into the parking lot and looked at the itemization. The labor hours had gone from 5.5 to 0.0. I kid you not. I paid for the part only. AND, I looked it up on the internet, and the price was exactly what I’d paid.
When I started to leave, the starter wouldn’t turn – as if the kickstand weren’t lifted. After some trouble-shooting, I got it to work, but rode it back around to service to be checked out again. When I got there, I realized that the kickstand was VERY loose and decided to tighten it. Turns out that for the first time, my bike has to be in neutral to start. This was not the case before yesterday. I’m wondering if the Hall’s Sensor controls the safety neutral switch, and that it’s been bad since I’ve had the bike.
Finally, when I picked up the bike, I looked at the odometer reading to note how far I rode today. When I broke down, the odometer read, 83311, and the address of Travis’ house to which I was towed is 3311.
It was a great day for a ride and I reached Chicago at sunset. I was still determined to ride along Lake Shore Drive, but I hadn’t the foggiest about how to get there. So I darted in from the south and rode through neighborhoods in South Chicago. That was pretty nerve wracking, but I have to say, not as bad as the Chicago Skyway two years ago.
I arrived at Abby’s apartment at the same time she did and we sat and talked before retiring. This morning, we visited some more before I packed the bike and continued north.