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May 19- Day 43

I got up way too early. 6am. Took my time getting up, however. Left my signature poem on the lady's door and left.

Only a couple klicks later, I stopped at a gas station to see if they'd let me use the phone for the internet (Duluth is a local call). She let me use the bar phone, I knocked over a pitcher of water and then mopped it up. The phone connection worked, but the access is still down. Geez. When I get to Sault Ste. Marie, I've got to try and work things out. See if I can call dad, or get a message to him via Tracy.

(Note to self: wish him happy father's day)

Then I saw on the news that rain is on the way, and it's coming in force. By Wednesday everywhere between here and Sault Ste. Marie will be covered in cloud and rain it seems. But for now the weather is nice. Pity it won't last.

After that I had a chocolate milk and waited briefly to see if there was a truck heading east. Across the street was a parked mobile home, and older version of the one I was in yesterday. The couple inside agreed to take me at least as far as Ironwood.

He's a Vietnam vet who served in the 101 Airborne (Screamin' Eagles), his wife is retired. One of their sons was a Gulf War vet with the 86 Airborne, and is now a state trooper, the other is a mechanic. They are on the tail end of a five week journey that took them up to Alaska and back. They even saw a couple of grizzlies on their trip, which I did not. They have a young dog, a boxer named Mitsy. Any time a deer or such animal can be seen, she gets all excited and shaking, wanting to chase after them.

While they were in Anchorage, Alaska, they came across an usual couple. They had a really expensive motorhome ($150,000 american) and were staying in a RV park that was basically a level gravel parking lot. Now, the couple I'm riding with stayed there only as a place to keep their RV while they went driving everywhere in the car they had in tow, and had taken a really muddy road to get there by. When they get there the woman of the other couple comments on how dirty the vehicle is, and if they are going to clean it up. The veteran says that they just got here and are tired. The next day, the man of the other couple informs them they have cleaning equipment if they need it to clean the RV with.

Now, what really gets me about them is this: They came from California, and were there for 3 weeks, and only ventured outside the barren level gravel parking lot to get groceries. Aside from that they stayed in the RV park and read books. What on earth did they travel to Alaska for? They never ventured anywhere. They could have stayed in their backyard and did the same thing as they did 2000 miles away. On top of that they were neat freaks, who vacuumed out their vehicle on a daily basis. At least the couple I was riding with traveled all around, and used this place only as a base of operations. I just don't get people sometimes.

Another reason I have not qualms about this bit of hitchhiking I'm doing has to do with dad, I suppose. I'm understanding that part of his youth just a little bit better.

I was dropped off about fifty klicks from Ironwood. They were going to take a break for a few hours, and I wanted to still feel useful as a biker. However, they made a most generous offer. Since we are going on the same road tomorrow, if they saw me, they'd be glad to give me another lift (they're staying in Ironwood for the night, seeing friends and whatnot), perhaps as far as Sault Ste. Marie! Well, who am I to say no when a major storm is just two days away? Besides, as I have said before, I'm not writing about the states, and I'm behind schedule as it is. Who knows, I may yet catch up to Erin and Linda, assuming they didn't take the northern route.

Taking a break in Ironwood, half hour or so. My mini-quest for the hour: Determine which is better. MDonnalds's McChicken (on sale today for 99 cents), or Hardee's (not Harvey's) Spicy Chicken sandwich (also for 99 cents). Lets see how our competitors do:

Appearance: McChicken looks firm, Hardee's looks limp

Size: Hardee's is bigger by a little bit. McChicken is thicker by a little bit.

Taste: Hardee's is definitely spicier, but is it better tasting? The buns are about equal, McDonnalds is more generous with their sauce (I asked for extra sauce on both), and believe it or not, the McChicken just had a meatier texture. Since I'm not a huge fan of spice, I'll have to give the McChicken the edge.

Conclusion: McChicken beats out Hardee's, but they were both good.

For 99 cents, that is.

Next break was in Bergland, about 50k later. On the way I filled my water bottles at a gas station and was shocked to find the water white! It cleared up soon enough, apparently it was just the fluorination or something causing a temporary bubbling.

The election race is on for the next county sheriff, and it's amusing to see the competing "Vote XXX" and "Re-Elect YYY" signs everywhere. Quite political. Picked up a free local newspaper with a huge ad on the front for the election. Rested a bit, ate some jerky. This town is by a lake, nice to ..see when passing by. Hopefully I'll make it another 50k before tonight.

Time spent cycling: 7:59:00

Distance traveled: 144.10 km

Total distance: 3357 km

Average Speed: 23.0 kph

Maximum speed: 52.2 kph

Current Location: A roadside park I shouldn't be in 6k past Paynesville.

The next 50k were nothing special. A few small towns, stopped to confirm directions a few times. Except at Paynesville.

Rich Game is the owner of the North County Store and Motel, in Paynesville, Michigan. You probably won't find Paynesville on a map. It's even been removed from one of the main Michigan maps. A small town 110 years old. Rich moved there 11 years ago from Chicago, and he seem to love the place. Just as I suspected, the upper part of Michigan (or Upper Peninsula as they like to call it) and lower have an antagonistic view to one another. People up here call them "The Trolls" because they "live below the bridge" that connects the two parts of the state. I thought that was pretty cute.

Others have been through there. Others like myself. Actually either better or crazier than myself. One person who stopped in was crossing America, from Washington state to Maine on FOOT! He said it would take him 3 months to finish. That's how long it's taking me by bike! Granted, I have a longer distance to traverse.

If that doesn't impress you, how about this: a man, retired from the army, no family, no living relatives, decides to cash in everything he's got and walk around the world! Six years it took him, and he took his time. He stayed in Paynesville for three days and before he left talked to the local public school. The whole school turned out for him.

Rich does some articles for the local paper, and wanted me to pose for some pictures outside with my bike and give a synopsis of what my trip was about for him to try an get printed. If he does, he promised to send me a copy. He was a very eager and energetic older man, and I'm glad to have met him.

Including the free ride I got this morning, I figure I covered around 300K again, so I'm happy.

Too dark to write now. Beddy bye time.

Onto Day 44...