Friday, July 25, 2014

Pedaling from Minneapolis to Duluth for a One Hour Radio Show

A couple of months ago we drove go Duluth and took in the live radio show called Take It With You. The show is the work of friends of ours Mary and Blake who are Actors and Musicians.  When we were at the show in late May, I thought it would be fun to pedal to Duluth for a show sometime this summer.  The ride came together for the July 22 show.

Right - let's pedal 2 days for a one hour radio show.  Then let's pedal 2 days to get home.  Sounds about right.

We put the word out to a few people and Mike, Joyce and their daughter Hannah joined us.  The route consisted primarily of trails and Forest Boulevard/County 61 that paralleled I-35.  The difficult part of this was figuring where to stay and space the route out so that we had food and lodging.

Kay and I rode our Surly CrossCheck bikes, and I pulled the Bob Trailer.  Mike, Joyce and Hannah had their Banjo Brother's panniers for the trip.

Here is how it all went down....

Monday, July 21, 2014 - Minneapolis to Hinckley (~91 miles)
The weather was hot and humid, 92 degrees and dew-points into the high 60s.  There was a south wind of about 10-15mph throughout the day.  We made use of several stops on the way, the most pleasant one was the Cenex gas station in Rush City.  The attendant there was a 17-19 year old woman, and was happy to let us hang out and chat.

There is also an old hotel/restaurant called the Grant House Hotel and Eatery that looks interesting.  Maybe we can make a stop here some time.

We stayed at Americas Best Value Inn in Hinckley.  It is a tired place that was reasonably clean.  There were warnings on the door that drug use and underage drinking would be dealt with by calling in the police.  I have no doubt that this has happened at this place.  On the upside there is a liquor store immediately across the street and Cassidy's restaurant (more than adequate, really good breakfast) right next door.  Net-net:  It was more than adequate, and next time we may look into the casino hotel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - Hinckley to Duluth (~79 miles)
A thunderstorm came through at about midnight and that made for much better weather on Tuesday.  The high was about 75 degrees and the dew-point was much more tolerable.  The entire length of the  Munger Trail and some well-signed streets through Duluth is our route today.

We encountered some down tree branches and completely down trees within the first 10 miles today.  Apparently there was some substantial wind.  We needed up stopping to move branches or portage over down trees, all while being pursued by deer flies.

Duluth - outside of our hotel
We stayed at The Suites Hotel on Canal Park, and we will stay here again.  The rooms are real big, clean and the location is great.  Dinner was at The Lake Avenue Cafe and Breakfast on Wednesday was at Amazing Grace Cafe, both recommendations of Mike's and both very good.  Both are located in the same building.

We made the show at 7:25... just in time.  Take It With You was great... we were so glad that we were able to go... and we plan on making the next one.  Mary gave our group a shout out from making the pedal from Minneapolis to Duluth for the show.   As it turns out, Mike and Joyce are friends of the radio show's special guest, Scott Laderman.  Scott is from California and lived in SoCal and NorCal, where he became an avid surfer.  Now living in Duluth, he surfs Lake Superior and offers a course in Surfing an UM-D.  He authored the book Empire in Waves - A Political History of Surfing.  The five of us joined Scott and his wife Jill for a beverage and conversation at the Harborview Restaurant, a revolving rooftop restaurant on the top floor of the Radisson.  It was a great night.  We really enjoy Take It With You.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - Duluth to Pine City (~93 miles)
The weather was absoutely perfect on Wednesday. There was a bit of a headwind or cross wind, and it even became a tailwind at times. Once again the route was the entire Munger trail, followed by County 61 (which has a wide shoulder).  

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Lazy Moose Restaurant in Moose Lake, MN.  We stopped there on the way up and the way back.  They have a good menu, the veggie burger was really good and they have pie.  

We rolled into Pine City and ordered a couple of pizza's from the Pizza Pub to be delivered.  We also ate at the North Branch location.  They do a great job.   

The Motel tonight was the Gail Motel.  It is an independent place, the kind of place that has been around a while.  It was a clean place and was fine for what we needed.  There is only one other motel in Pine City (The Old Oak Inn), and all they had left was one non-smoking room, and some smoking room.  That wasn't going to work, so we are at the Gail.  

We were having pizza at the Fire pit when a raccoon came out and just hung out about 50 feet from us.  The raccoon was soon joined by a fox, then another fox, and a second raccoon.  We encouraged them to leave, but they were comfortable around people.  We finished our dinner and went in.  A few minutes later, someone came out with a pail and fed these animals.  That explained why they were there and why they were comfortable hanging out.  It was strange. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014 - Pine City to Minneapolis (~76 miles)
Pine City seems like a real pleasant place.  We went to Cabin Coffee's, the local coffee and breakfast place.   It's a full-on coffee shop, they even know what a Depth Charge is and brew it very well.  It was the best coffee we have all week.  The place filled with a group of gentlemen in their 60's-70's who really seemed to run the town.  We talked about cycling and one of the gents said that "we are working on extending the Munger Trail through here..." and that sort of thing.  I quickly got a sense that these people cared about their community, and the town is clearly better for it.  We got quite a reaction when we told them where we stayed, and we assured them that the Gail was a clean place.

We rolled into Minneapolis at about 4:30 with smiles, had a few refreshments and called it a tour.  We pledged that we would to it again.  Maybe a quick weekend dealio to Red Wing, or up to Rush City.