Just in time Cycling

The ferry to Grand Portage was a totally different experience from yesterday’s boat from the Michigan side – in more ways than one. First of all, it was a much different boat. This was the U.S. Mail boat, not primarily a passenger vessel. It was a lot smaller and was a 2-person low key operation. Highly efficient and seaworthy, but bare bones. Secondly, in addition to making mail quick stops around the island, it also picked up and dropped off hikers from various points on the island. Hence, it clung to the shore and made numerous stops on the island before heading back to the mainland. In fact, the actual crossing took less than two hours out of our 6 1/2 hour trip. And finally, and most importantly, I felt just fine. Hurray!!! The winds were much less, and the most we had were 1-3 foot swells, with much of the trip being even calmer than that. It was so nice to be able to enjoy the trip this time.
Molly on the ferry - feeling good!It was a long day on the ferry, and highly relaxing given the slow nature of the trip. Venturing into the inlets to pick up hikers was very pretty, and traveling the deep recesses into the island reminded us of the archipelagos of Scandinavia. Beyond that we entertained ourselves by talking to other passengers, trading our cycling stories for their hiking tales. We did quite a bit of reading, but I will admit to doing more snoozing than reading. Unlike yesterday, the boat’s motion kept lulling me to sleep. I didn’t mind a bit.

It was close to 4:00pm by the time our bikes were unloaded from the boat and we were ready to head down the North Shore. After hours of forced inactivity on the boat, it felt good to be doing something physical again. We had renewed energy in our cycling, pushing the pace faster than usual. We were pleased to find that that section of highway 61 had enormous shoulders, which lasted all the way to Grand Marais. Given the late hour, this was not the day to stop for sightseeing. But there were plenty of lake views in that section of the North Shore to welcome us back to Minnesota.

Try as we might, we couldn’t ignore the rain clouds overhead which dropped a few sprinkles on us. Soon they were producing lightening strikes over the lake. When the rumbles of thunder became closer and more insistent, we pressed on even harder. Rain began to fall In earnest as we entered Grand Marais. Before we got too wet, we found our motel, checked in and stashed our bikes in the room. Just minutes later, heavy thunderstorms and rain blanketed the area. Boy, did we time that right! Even better, after showering and settling in, the rain let up and allowed us to go out for dinner, make a trip to DQ and walk around the harbor.

The trip seems to take on a different feel from this point on. Our long distances are behind us, as are the hills. So it feels like we can practically coast home. In addition, we are now on familiar territory. No more surprises in our route – we know what the North Shore will throw at us. That is both reassuring and a disappointment. Seeing new places and exploring different parts of Lake Superior has been a highlight of the trip. It’s different cycling it than driving it in a car though, and I’m sure our remaining two days will provide us with ample experiences. And heaven only knows what must-see sights Rich will find along the way.

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