Monday, June 5, 2017

The Keweenaw

May 26
A cool morning, a fitting reminder we are headed to the Keweenaw Peninsula to participate in the annual 'Ride the Keweenaw' festivities. We killed a little time in Ontonagon, strolling around, buying groceries, hanging at the library.

The little city park was a nice spot for lunch

Eventually we go to Adventure Mine for first group ride of RTK, kicking off that evening. It was fun to see lots of Duluthians! I opted for a 'rest' day, easy choice since every trail in this little park are advanced. I just looked at some flowers, before the black flies drove me back to the van, and got in some stretching and reading.

It has been so fun to see all these spring flowers for months!

After the ride, most people continued on to Houghton where more kickoff events were happening, but a few of us hung around and camped right there. The bugs were annoying but not aggressive, and they did diminish, with just a few mosquitoes biting after sundown, so not bad for chatting and showing of the van until bedtime!

May 27
A little cool and buggy, but not terrible. Everyone is up and out relatively early to get to Houghton for the next group ride at the Michigan Tech trails at 9 am. I still have yet to bike those trails, I got in my last pre-Kettle 'longish' run while Rudy participated in one of the many group rides. A couple of hours of socializing and rest before the next ride at Churning Rapids at 1 pm. Rudy went out with the fast group, and I joined a 'moderate' group. I was uncertain of my choice as my legs were a little tired from the start, and I was the slowest of the bunch, but I warmed up and had fun and made it! I had run here a few times with the MTU Cross Country team, and it was cool remembering a few sections of trail.

View from the 'tower' at Churning Rapids

Another break before the final ride at Swedetown. Both of us opted for slightly more casual groups - with the easier, flowier trails, and 20-30 miles already on most people's legs, it was certainly more 'fun'. Even with the raffle and bbq following this ride, most people had already headed up to Copper Harbor for the more aggressive biking, and checking out the next day's courses. We stuck around for the food though - standard burgers and brats, but surisingly great sides (well, in my opinion, lots of veggie-laden salads!) We soon made our way to Copper Harbor too and found a spot near our Duluth friends at a campground in development just outside of town - it was packed! The night was just more good visiting with our friends.

May 28
We drove the mile back into town, where Enduro races were happening. The racers had some light steady rain to start their attack of the rocky trail and wooden bridges, but people still had fun and biked hard! Rudy didn't race, and got in some fun rides with a few other guys. I hung out, reading, strolling around town and down to the water, and occasionally finding someone to chat with.

A calm Copper Harbor, Hunter's Point on the left

Breeziness and scattered showers continued, but we got to see some periods of blue skies in the afternoon! After Rudy cleaned up we went back to camp for burgers and brats with the Duluth crew. After that, most people headed back to town for awards and partying. Rudy and I, along with Duluth friends Dave and Tiffany, stayed back and enjoyed catching up around a nice little fire.

May 29
Happy Memorial Day! Again cool, with bouts of light rain, and no internet to check weather! But we lucked out and stayed dry for a stroll to Hunter's Point with Dave and Tiffany.

Looking back toward town
Ominous clouds

By the afternoon, most everyone had departed for home and the campground was pretty quiet. Nothing too exciting for the day of continued light rain and breeziness. I did get out for a jog on gravel paths around town, and Rudy watched Mystery Men (sounded a little cheesy). We also made a quick trip to town for hot water. Copper Harbor wasn't completely empty, but it was a big change from the weekend! Back to a pretty standard evening of soaked black beans and rice, and Hand and Foot - Leslie wins twice!

May 30
Cool and breezy, not so much precipitation though! After breakfast, we parked the van at the marina, which magically has wifi! A bit spotty, but enough for me to catch up on some internet things while Rudy got a good bike ride in - the rocky, sandy trails drain quickly, so not too much wetness for him. Aside from a little strolling, I didn't do much besides hang out and read - Copper Harbor is a difficult place to be resting before a big run, especially when the weather is not conducive to relaxing by the lake. Back to town for hot water, then camp. A little more wind and drizzle in the evening. Polenta and red sauce for dinner, then Trivial Pursuit and Hand and Foot - Rudy wins both.

May 31
Cooler and windier. Some light rain too. We returned to the marina to kill time and wait for the weather to warm up. I got in a nice little jog. Not much change in the weather, and we decided to take care of some laundry - apparently there's a public laundromat at Fanny Hooe Resort and Campground. Rudy got out for more biking while I got clothes washed. Rudy was out a couple hours longer than it took to do laundry, so I just hung out at the van. Apparently, we overstayed our welcome, the guy in the office told us to leave about two minutes after Rudy returned - I've heard about Fanny Hooe's sternness with their rules and being jerks, and now I have my own example! On the literal bright side, the sun finally came out!

Our pretty little camp spot, with sun!

Dinner was quinoa and lentils, followed by some financial planning fun. We've recently been thinking about simplifying and increasing our financial 'awareness', so starting to do some real planning for our return to real life! Still got in a round of Hand and Foot - Rudy crushed it again.

June 1
Back to cold and rainy. Not a big deal, time to head south anyhow. So, one of our favorite things about the Keweenaw is the Jam Pot - a little store run by monks at a monastery in Eagle River that has the most fantastic baked goods, in addition to local fruit jams, etc., that they make all from scratch. Since we would easily drop $50 there, we saved our treat-shopping for the end of the UP visit, but the Jam Pot was randomly closed for the day due to a funeral at the monastery!

Worst part of our visit

We weren't reduced to tears, but it was very sad indeed. We carried on, and settled for a stop at the Hilltop Cafe in L'Anse. I didn't have high expectations, the place is known for giant sweet rolls, but that doesn't mean they are 'good'. I was pleasantly surprised the rolls are also delicious, and have apple filling! We also picked up a ginger cookie (so-so, a little too chewy and not very spicy), a date bar (yummy and not sickeningly sweet), and a scotcheroo-style bar with oats instead of rice krispies for the base (also quite tasty). Jam Pot goods would have been preferred, but I guess this saved us a little money, and there weren't as many naughty options to be tempted by for the next few days. We continued south a few more hours, crossing into Wisconsin in time to see lots of dumb little deer threatening to jump onto the road, then back over to Michigan to find a camp spot on the Menominee River.

The Menominee River, a nice spot to just sit

We had a nice evening of hanging out, with not too many bugs. Ate shells and cheese, more budget discussion and numbers-running, and one game of Hand and Foot - Leslie win!

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