This post, written one year after day 39, is drawn from the daily journal I kept, and is written as if it just happened.
June 25-June 30
Munising, MI >>> Osceola, WI
We rode out of Munising to Anderson Lake State campground. I predicted this place would have no facilities (pit toilets), the lake would really be a pond, and the mosquitoes would be horrendous. I was correct on all accounts. I called Carl and assure him he wasn’t missing anything.
The next morning we packed up wet, dirty tents in a cloud of hungry mosquitoes. We agreed everyone should leave ASAP, and we’d regroup for breakfast 12 miles down the road in Arnold. But the corner store in Arnold was closed. Northland was 6 miles farther – nothing. A few miles later Rachel, Abby and I stopped to eat breakfast out of our panniers, but the bugs were so bad and we were so dirty and wet from humidity we just continued. Finally, 30 miles from Anderson Lake our oasis appeared in the form of Hunter’s Bar. There was a breakfast buffet, AC, a bathroom to brush our teeth, free soda, plus we crossed into the central time zone, so we spent our extra hour relaxing and chatting with the owner and her son. The rest of the day turned out all right – hot but not muggy, low traffic on windy, windy decently paved roads, and it ended at a campground with a swimmable lake, showers, laundry, and ice cream.
The rest of the week continued to be a mixed bag in terms of weather and terrain, but Abby and I did buy our own personal maple syrup supply, so breakfast was always fantastic!
As we approached Wisconsin, we were battling a cold misty headwind. Literally the moment we reached the Welcome to Wisconsin sign, the sun came out, the wind switched directions, and the pavement was smooth.
Wisconsin also has salad!! Good salad. I’ve been craving a salad for, I don’t know, weeks? From now on, I will always have salad available for bikers who stay at my house. Always. We found it at the Hungry Minnow in Birtchwood. They also had stupendous ice cream.
While all other maladies subsided once we left Michigan, the mosquitoes did not. And it was in Wisconsin the animal attacking our group got a bit larger than the lowly mosquito. In the middle of one night I trudged down to the restroom. Still half asleep when I entered, I was started by something moving in the shower. I froze. Then, “Jenn, is that you?” “Rachel, what are you doing in here?!” I was regaled with her harrowing tale of fighting off the raccoon-bear. Rachel has never encountered a bear, but before this trip she heard all sorts of stories about black bears and grizzlies in the US. She awoke in her tent to feel something sniffing around her feet. She kicked at it, but it returned and slashed a hole in her tent! She was sure it was a bear. Armed with only her water bottle, she leapt out of her tent yelling for us to help and squirting water at the thing. Like good biking companions, we all slept through her calls for aid. Eventually the raccoon got sick of being doused in water – I mean…uhhhh…Rachel valiantly fought it off, and then she promptly retreated to sleep in the showers. The next day she fixed the hole with some duct tape – it looked “naft”.
On our final day without Carl, we rode into Osceola avoiding a thunderstorm. Rachel actually planned a perfectly timed ride – we pulled into Balsm Lake and popped into a breakfast place right as the sky opened. By the time we’d finished breakfast, the sun came out and we had absolutely gorgeous weather for the remaining miles. We arrived in Osceola pretty early, and Abby and I had a great time hanging out in our room. I’m realizing I haven’t really been able to have much one on one time with anyone. I want to try and do that more.
Three days ago someone in the group started acting weird – very similar to how Carl was acting in Munising right before he got sick – getting upset over really, really tiny things like leaving a half hour later than planned or which side road we should’ve used when we went off route for food. Each day one or two things were added to a list of grievances and each day there were attempts to argue them with me. At first I tried reasoning, but just like in Munising, the rational didn’t make sense. I’ve tried to figure out if there’s an underlying issue, I’ve tried appeasing, and I’ve tried ignoring, but nothing seems to be helping. I’m wondering if whatever Carl had is making its rounds and the physical symptoms haven’t yet manifested, or maybe the tour is catching up with all of us, and we’re just really tired. Either way, it’s been extremely frustrating, but we’re on tour, so you just gotta let it roll, right? One of the most important things to keep a tour on track and enjoyable is when issues arises, you just have to let them hit you and roll off your back. I’ll admit, I’ve had to do this a lot more than I anticipated, but I’m pretty pleased with how well I’ve been doing. I attribute this ability to Joel. His laid back attitude has definitely rubbed off on me.
Carl is back. On one hand I’m thrilled to have my friend back. On the other, I’m worried. I’m worried the injury/illness will lead to another incident which will end far worse than the event in Munising. I just keep thinking how lucky it was that he swerved off the road rather than into a car. Every night we had phone service, we called him to let him know what happened that day (to make sure he still felt apart of the group) and reaffirm we wanted him back. He’s so concerned about holding us up, I wasn’t 100% sure he would return until he was standing outside the hotel in Osceola. On top of all this, the initial circumstances of Carl’s greatest pre-trip concern were in the making. While my biggest fear was crashes involving cars, Carl’s biggest concern was leaving St. Paul – heading out into the great, vast west – with a small injury, like an irritated achilles or a bit of knee pain, then having that issue intensify once we were in the middle of nowhere – how would you get help or get back home? In three days Carl will leave St. Paul – heading out into the great, vast west – with a cracked rib and collar bone, and possibly a viral infection.