The weather forced us to spend another night in Iron River. It was too bad that it was on a Sunday when half or more of the food related businesses were closed further narrowing the choices in this small Wisconsin village. We got coffee at 6 am at the convenience store and were on our way to the only known restaurant on the far side of town when the sky began to rumble ominously. We turned back to discover that the grocery store wouldn’t open for another two hours but surprisingly found a small café in the doing. Sarah had the two and two special; two eggs and two pancakes and I ordered the breakfast pasty. For you non-aficionados, pasties are a pocket meal consisting of lots of leftover stuff but mainly things like rutabaga, potatoes and meat that have been minced then wrapped in a pastry like blanket then baked and are the cultural legacy of the early Cornish miners who came to work in the ore mines of this area. Although I hadn’t had one in years I knew that this one was exceptional in a homemade kind of way because the pastry part was both flaky and chewy.

Food is an important part of any trip and not getting good and tasty things to eat is a problem for a good many of us. I’ve been a local resourcer (or whatever you want to call it) kind of guy my entire life. For example, when I am in Mexico where I live now it is all about the tacos, carnitas, and local fruits and vegetables. When I lived in Texas on the gulf coast it was all about the shrimp, oysters, and fish; and I harvested my own whenever I could. Now that I am back in the Great Lakes region I want to eat the same regional specialties that I grew up on as a kid and eat just those things that you can’t get anywhere else. And I will eat corn on the cob, fresh baked pie, rhubarb, pasties, whitefish and walleye, perch, and pike, and their smoked versions until they are coming out of my ears because somewhere down deep my subconscious knows that the ship is going to sail all to soon so I’d better get it while I can.

The locally sourced foods on this particular trip at times have been on the thin side. We landed in Minneapolis 23 days ago and the first walleye meal didn’t surface until day 4 or 5 when circumstances found us looking to the local Eagles Club for an evening meal.

We found the best pie in the version of Forest Berry (mixed fruit) in the little town of Cosby, Minnesota which we both ordered up with a scoop of ice cream and a cup of coffee. We found that St. Cloud had no real local food choices but the beer choices got better there with lots of regional tap options. In Duluth we found good coffee and great beer but unexceptional food except for the local co-op up on 4th Ave.

When we got up on the North Shore (of Lake Superior) we began to find smoked fish. It was in Tofte where we first found some excellent smoked whitefish which we had with thinly sliced onion and bread. We found that there were lots of good regional beers to drink and lots of whitefish, smoked and otherwise, to be had in the rest of our circumnavigation of the western part of Lake Superior. As we get ready to ride back into Duluth today completing the circle; we are both very pleased and privileged to have done this 500 mile loop on bicycles.

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