2010 Alaska Sunk
Part 12 of 15
Its no wonder they call it the San Francisco of the mid-west. They're right! As soon as I found that out I recognized the similarities right away. The lay-out of the City; the style and architecture of the buildings and the residential housing is quite European - as is San Francisco. When I walked along the lakeside promenades and saw the parks and the amusement arcades they reminded me of happy days in the sea-side town of Southport, England.
It doesn't have a Golden Gate Bridge or an Oakland Bay Bridge but the steel bridges of Port Duluth are, nevertheless, striking. I like to see them disappear into the low lying clouds and then reappear on the other side. This port is the terminus for shipping on the Great Lakes. Its as far inland as the great ocean-going ships can go. I sat on a lakeside park-bench eating a chicken salad sandwich and drinking a diet Pepsi for lunch as I watched these ships starting to head East. I was wondering if I could catch a ride to Montreal but then I really didn't want to miss my ride home over the north coast of the Georgian Bay. Its so beautiful there. Having said that – Boy Oh Boy!.... was I wrong on that one! ...Find out why in Part 13 following this Part.
Continuing on US Route 2 I stopped for a bite to eat at a small cafe in Ironwood. I seemed to be surviving on chicken salad sandwiches and coffee these days. It was an informal place located in a small strip mall and most of the patrons there were local people. Its surprising what effect a Harley bandanna and a leather jacket has on people and before you know it I was telling a few guys all about my trip to the west coast. They seemed to be a friendly lot. I got the impression they worked for some kind of utility company in town. As I was getting ready to leave I asked them how far was it to the border. There was an awkward, silent, moment before one of the guys asked “Which Border?” I thought that was a very strange question since I had been talking about returning home to Canada but I just let it pass. “The Canadian border at Sault St. Marie”, I responded. The guys put the question to the folks in the restaurant “Anybody know how far it is to the Canadian border?” The range of responses was between twelve and twenty-four hours so I thought my own best guess would likely be more accurate. I should have left at that point but I wanted to confirm that all I needed to do was follow US Route 2 and the response was “Yes – just stick to Route 2 all the way”.
Shortly after leaving Ironwood something didn't feel right. From the time of day and the position of the sun I had to be going south-east and that was not where I wanted to go. All the rain I had encountered weeks earlier had turned my maps into wet globs of useless paper so I had thrown them away. About ten minutes later I saw US Route 28 fork-left off Route 2 to the north-east. I remembered from the year previous that Route 28 was the shorter way to go so I took it. Those guys in the restaurant were locals, surely they would have known that Route 28 was considerably shorter by fifty miles or so – why would they try to mislead me that way?
Early in the evening I pulled into a private campground off Route 28 because I was tired and I wanted to get a good night's sleep. It was a very large and busy campground obviously very popular with families in camper-trailers. There were lots of little kids running around all over the place. I set up camp between two large house-trailers. The place was full and there weren't many spots left. I parked my Harley just a few feet away from the door of my tent because I didn't want any kids to climb on it, knock it over, and get hurt. I zipped the mosquito-screening closed but left the front door of the tent open so I could see it. A little boy about ten came over and admired my Harley. He then turned his head and called his little brother of eight to come and join him. The third kid was their sister and she was about six. I thought the safest thing to do was get up and go to join them. They were nice kids so I introduced myself and I told them about my trip. The eldest boy turned his head and yelled, “Hey Mom! This man has a Harley and he's riding across the United States”. She asked me if the kids were bothering me and I said “No! They're just fine”. She came over as well and her husband came over after that. I told them about some of my travelling stories and they were fascinated with them. They invited me to join them for dinner.
I was served BBQ'd steak with roasted potatoes; baked beans; fresh garden salad, apple pie and ice cream for desert, and a couple of beers. They treated me like Royalty. That wonderful family was from the State of Wisconsin.