I awoke at 5:30 am to yet another dreary sullen dawn and knew that the impending bad coffee and equally lame continental breakfast fare were not going to give us any false hope that the day was going to get any better than it already was. We were still surrounded by an immense low pressure that was sucking up warm moist air from the southern United States and dumping rain from the Dakotas across the northern Great Lakes. We finally made our move at 10 am after getting a somewhat consensus from 4 different weather services that there would be a narrow window in the weather until 1 pm. That gave us 3 hours to possibly bike the entire 30 miles from Ashland rain free; all very doable of course unless Lake Superior threw us a curve ball and brought the storm system down on us early. We biked through a cold dense fog for 18 miles before we found a bar in which to unthaw and do a coffee refueling stop. The bar owner had dumped a big bucket full of ice in the men’s floor urinal so I got to joke with her that the guy preceding us must have been way colder. She laughed obligingly and made a pot of coffee.

We made the Iron River city limits but not before catching the very beginning of the rain so we arrived quite drenched from the waist down at the tiny Red Motel. We got assigned room #1 and upon opening the door realized that we’d entered a time portal and it was now 1970 or thereabouts. The room was paneled in 2 dark but opposing styles of cheap pressed panels from that era; the floor sloped in 3 directions, and the 7’ high ceiling sagged in sympathy. The walls were festooned with period art prints of mallards and Canadian geese on one wall and an autumn scene of hunting dogs on another. But things weren’t as bad as they seemed. We had a deck of playing cards and two books. And the small town was chock full of recreational possibilities with its 6 bars and taverns with pool tables and the nearly 6 lane bowling alley. Oh yeah.

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