Monday, August 8, 2011

Coffee on the shore of Lake Superior

The Tap Roots Coffee Shop occupies one corner of a brick house on the corner of Lakeshore Highway(US 2) and 4th Avenue in Ashland, Wisconsin.  The rest of the building is a law office and gift shop.  I stopped here on the way to Oregon and loved it, so I knew I'd have to come back.  We're sitting next to a window that gives us a view of the lake across the highway.  The window frame is tiger oak, as are the remaining frames and the doors.
Window Sample
Our plan, currently, is to spend two days in Michigan's UP before journeying through Canada to New York.

My quick repair of the hot water line in the bathroom has sprung a minor leak.  I am trying to pack in with putty (or whatever it is; it seems to mold itself to the pipe) to keep the leak from getting worse.  Right now, if it stays the way it is, we will be fine.  I think one of the jarring back roads must have put a strain on it.  One of the bumps shortened my spine an inch.

We're at Van Riper State Park on Michigan's U.P.  We'll be here for two nights then scoot south and east to a campground around Flint on Wednesday.  Thursday we'll enter and exit Canada and drop in on our daughter Laura and her family for the night.  Friday is home.

We walked to the boat launch this evening after dinner, passing the "rustic" camp area, meaning tents and pit potties.  On the way, Carol said, "It's a Jame's Taylor song," then, sometime later, "Ice."  I'm still trying to figure that out.

A path leading from the boat launch followed the lake shore toward the "modern" campground.  A short way along the path we climbed stairs set into the hillside, that deposited us at the edge of "modern".  "Look they have RV's in the rustic campground," Carol observed.   It took a bit for her to convince herself we were actually back in the modern campground.  This is why I worry when she decides to hike somewhere unfamiliar all alone.

August 7th

Okay so we’ve located another cool state park, this one in Wisconsin just a few miles across the border from Duluth, MN.  Its name, Amnicon Falls State Park, which might lead one to believe that there’s a waterfall or two there.  There are actually three.  I’m imagining that this is a particularly high water period because there are signs reading “No Swimming Today” and I cannot believe anyone is able to swim here, ever.  Of course, anyone who would consider swimming in this river today probably can’t read anyway.  
Check the sign
Upper Falls and Carol

We finished listening to Still Alice by Lisa Genova, a heart wrenching, well-written novel.  I highly recommend it.  Next on the list is a biography of Einstein.  Anecdote heard on NPR: An elementary teacher trying to shore up kids who weren't doing well in math told them that Einstein flunked math once in school.  One child raised a hand and when called on said, "If he flunked, why'd they call him Einstein?"  

August 6th

Camping tonight on the east side of North Dakota – Turtle River State Park.  It showered most of the day but cleared up shortly after we arrived so we saw actual shadows on the ground.   We have water and electric tonight so we’re splurging and using the convection oven to bake a sweet potato. 
On our way here we saw lots of evidence of the flooding that has plagued North Dakota up around Minot and east along US 2.  Thousands of acres of farmland are still under water and the rotting hay bales in dry fields speak of the devastation that has already occurred.

We had to make a brief stop in Rugby to see and photograph the marker pinpointing the geographic center of North America, after which we decided to resupply a couple of items.  Sadie directed us to a market in the tiny town of Lakota, ND where we were able to get some fruit and veggies but no yogurt, beer or wine.  We asked at checkout and found that bars sell beer and wine to go in addition to their usual operation.  We were told that Third Base, a bar just up the street was one possibility.  A woman in line behind us suggested another place that would have a better wine selection but the clerk said they didn’t open until four.  It was only three when we checked out. 

We found Third Base with no trouble and went in.  There were four men sitting at a table, two more sitting at the bar, and a bartender who looked more rundown than the bar he tended.  I spotted the cooler against the far wall on our left and made for it.  The relic bartender met us there, standing wordlessly a couple of feet away.  I saw Sam Adams Boston Lager on one shelf and a quick check of the expiration date told me I had barely time to consume it.  I pulled two bottles then asked about their wine selection.  The bartender pointed to two one-liter boxes of burgundy.  We left without buying wine.

August 5th

We spent a good part of today in Glendive, scooting in for breakfast at Book 'n' Bear Nook/Coffee Den on Merrill Ave (the main street.)  Before we left the park, Carol spent twenty minutes meditating while I dug the dried mud out of the soles of our hiking boots, the result of an aborted hike through an arroyo in the park after the evening hailstorm.  The muck is incredibly slippery and sticky when wet and rock hard when dry.  It took a lot of gouging with a little used saw-tooth blade on my utility knife to finally expose the tread. 

For breakfast, we each had a slice of spinach quiche and an apple juice, then split a bagel and coffee while downloading our email and engaging in other miscellaneous internet activities.  We spent a couple of hours there, over-tipped the staff, and left in search of a coin laundry.  Before I could start the Traveler, Carol noticed a local drug store where she might be able to replace the sunglasses that I’d stepped on yesterday (they were on the floor next to the drivers seat.)  I was also low on disposable gloves which I use when dumping the holding tanks, so there were a couple of reasons to check the place out.  We scored both items and while paying for them asked the woman where a laundry might be.  She directed us straight up Merrill a few blocks. 

We were able to park in the shade while the laundry was happening.  Carol spent a fair amount of time trying to decide whether the bathroom sink's tap was high enough to allow her to wash her hair.  It wasn't until our laundry was dry and folded that she noticed a utility sink in the middle of the room, with a high-arched tap.  She didn't wash her hair.

Turns out the place also had internet service so we both spent more time with our computers. Lest you think I was wasting said time, I’ll have you know I made a campground reservation for my family reunion the end of this month, and also scouted out state parks in North Dakota, finding the Lewis and Clark State Park only a hundred thirty miles away, just outside Williston.  I know, it’s the second L and C park we’ve stayed at.  I think by tomorrow evening we’ll be too far east for any more.  Anyway, this one advertised electric and water hookups, showers, and even internet.

When we arrived all the hookup sites were taken so we’re in a primitive site anyway.  The showers are still available.  Haven’t found the internet service though.

We stopped for lunch at a neat little corner cafĂ© in Sidney, MT.  The name of the place is Sunny’s, and Sidney bills itself as Montana’s Sunrise City, so …

It rained pretty steadily from lunchtime until almost sunset so Carol didn’t even need the sunglasses.

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