Thursday, July 19, 2007
Notes from the road
What do I do when sitting behind the wheel for 14 hours a day? I compose brilliant, witty blog entries that nobody will ever hear. Then when I sit in front of the computer to write an actual entry: nothing.
Left home yesterday morning, searched nearly in vain for a gas station on the North Shore, saw a herd of buffalo and lots of cool glacial landforms, and ate at the world's most polite Arby's in Oshkosh ("Would you like a mint? How was your meal?"). I've been through eastern Wisconsin before and there's just something about it that's terribly off-putting. The landscape, the towns, everything seems scrubby and run-down, and the people sense it but are too disillusioned to fix it. I escaped Oshkosh and headed for the North Woods. On the way there I happened across the Wisconsin Concrete County Park. What exactly does that mean, you ask? When I am more awake, I will post a picture and you will be every bit as baffled as I was.
Then on to Chequamegon National Forest. I camped in my snazzy new blue tent, and I hope the red squirrels enjoyed the show because my first attempt to assemble the tent did not go well. Sometime in the middle of the night, it started pouring rain, but I was snug as a bug in a very noisy rug.
This morning, got on the road at 7:30. Went to my first stop, though I never actually found the site so went *near* the first stop and collected samples. Went the long way afterwards so I could see Lake Superior, but at Chequamegon Bay the lake is underwhelming. I pursued a skittish blue heron for a while, then headed off to Duluth, which is a lovely city though I mostly just zipped right through. My next stop was in north-central Minnesota, where I found lots of trees to sample and lots of bugs to swat at (basswood branches make excellent fans!). Minnesota is VERY buggy. I saw a ginormous beetle nearly two inches long and shaped like a shiny barrel, and clouds of large-ish bugs lifted off from every branch I touched. Deer flies swarm the truck when I'm in the woods, but they haven't bitten me yet. They mostly like to smack into my head at high speeds. I tie a bandana around my ears and look like I'm in the Aunt Jemima gang, but at least my ears are so far unmolested.
This afternoon I felt like I was running way behind, not that I had a set schedule or anything, so decided to drive as late as I could stand and then stay in a motel. However, I didn't count on the Central Minnesota Wasteland. Oh, you wanted food in the next two hours? HAHAHA! Hotel? Bathroom? Where do you think you are, civilization?! It turned out to be a BP that saved me. Not only did they have Cute Little Pizzas, they had wi-fi and I used Expedia to find the nearest hotel. So here I am in Milaca, MN, using their free wi-fi and getting ready to pass out. I'd better not get too used to this hotel thing because $59 vs. $14 a night is a big difference!
So my mosquito bites and extremely tanned left arm are going to bed. Pictures later if I feel up to it.
EDIT: pictures for the entire week are here!