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My carnival pals.

Miles: 78.4 (Part 1)

Miles: 56.3 (Part 2)

Total Elevation Gain (ft):  3156.6

Weather: Sunny, Hot

Hillbilly Insults: 0

Roadkill: 19 (6 Birds, 2 Turtles, 1 Raccoons, 3 Skunks, 7 Unknown)

Bugs Swallowed: 1

Mean Dogs Chasing: 0

Animal Rescue: 1 (Turtle)

Two! Two!! Two days in one!!!

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Mennonites are cool hitchhikers.

"And like my dog was on the back of the bike trailer freaking out and we were like, you know, dude, no way, no fucking way we are gonna take this 40 mile detour-- with 200 pounds of gear back through fucking nowhere North Dakota!  Like a truck, we needed a truck. You know, like, to haul all our crap because I didn't care the road was closed to us. So, this dude outta nowhere comes up and knocks on a giant truck behind us and saved out ass. Made the guy haul us up the road," exclaimed Michael whom I met through Forrest, the tattoo artist in Mantiwoc, WI. 


Michael was weaving his tale on a neighborhood street in Manitowac. His audience of five had his full attention. It turns out that Michael is a touring enthusiast. After I was introduced and explained what I was doing, we both started lamenting about North Dakota. Michael knew all about it.


An idle mind is the Devil's playground and as I clocked distance in the heat, I told myself I could go slow, make the 120+ miles and have plenty of time to get across the water.  So, I forged ahead to Manitowoc.  Twenty miles outside the city (I'd underestimated the distance), , I had a slow leak in the rear tire and couldn't find the culprit. I was on the side of the road, bike upside down, tube out, tire in hand, and an enthusiastic group of three youngish guys whom had done some touring stopped with a truck and offered to get me near downtown.  I was tired and took them up on the offer.

I'm sure moms everywhere would be proud of me for having trust in mankind and remembering my Christian values. Reserve judgment about people. Have faith and all that jazz. It's this attitude that makes doing laundry with carnival workers, chatting with farmers and offering energy bars to hitchhikers such a joy.   


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Forrest and Alissa.

I got plopped on the main suburban drag and started my way downtown with vague directions to the Broken Spoke bike shop.  It was 5:40 p.m. and most local, reputable shops close at 6 p.m., kind of like barber shops.  As I pedaled on a deflated tire, I wasn't seeing the place. So, I ducked in the Sticky Tattoo parlor to ask for directions.  That's when I met Forrest Marsh. He told me where to go but wanted to chat me up. He was genuinely curious about my travels but I was antsy.  I told him I'd be back and he gave me his number probably thinking I'd disappear.


The Broken Spoke is a narrow space with three floors. As I walked up the stair ramp with my bike at 5:55 p.m., I could see the long face on the mechanic shutting down for the day.  Often doing thankless tasks, mechanics have to deal with homeless guys looking for free repairs; ignorant and demanding suburban soccer moms; 'roid monkey Lance wannabes and people that want their rides overhauled in a few hours. At first glance , I bet I looked like a poseur. 

I explained my situation and with just a twinge of reluctance, Ryan took pity on me. Better known as "Possum," Ryan and I hit it off right away talking about winter biking, the Surley Pugsley and old lugged road bikes.  I spent a better part of an hour with Possum as he showed me the parts graveyard on the third floor and his Green Bay Packer homegrown fixie.  


It took the eyes of an expert to find the itsy-bitsy, mouse hair of a wire that had barely protruded through my tire and wore a hole in the inner-tube. 

I thanked Possum and headed back for the tattoo parlor.  I had time to kill and entertained the fleeting thought of getting some ink so that I'd fit in better back home in Bend, OR. I feel square amongst all the ubiquitous hipster moms and dads sporting devils, Bettie Boops and tribal bands on their athletic bodies. The idea passed as Forrest shut down early and we motored for some Thai food in an old converted bank.  

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Yummy White People Thai Food. Tops!

If Forrest is reading this, I apologize for the following description.  I'm sure he's tired of it, but the readers must know that he resembles Seth Rogan, if Seth Rogan was still cool and not so rich.  It isn't his looks so much as his voice and friendly mannerisms.  Forrest is an intelligent guy with a lot of life experience at a young age.  He grew up in Wisconsin and Alaska; went to art school; took a few hitchhiking trips; toured around on bikes and got around Iceland working on farms, kibbutz style.  

After dinner, Forrest took me around the waterfront, to visit his girlfriend Alissa and his pals, the most animated of which was Michael.  Michael reminded me so much of my sister's boyfriend: California friendly, wildly gesticulating and high energy. I was reminded of my advanced age when Michael said, "I'm totally getting into the Gin Blissoms and 90's bands, man! Behind those pop songs is hard assed music!"  He did a little air guitar for effect.

Alissa let me take a shower in her well appointed craftsman style house and I took off for my trip aboard The Badger. It's an old car ferry formerly run by the C&O Railroad.  The Badger is a Wisconsin boat and its sister, The Spartan, sits moored for spare parts on the Michigan side of the Great Lake. At its peak, this car ferry system ran 205,000 rail cars across the water yearly.

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Chessie the Cat. C&O's old mascot advertised the idea that you could sleep like a kitten in a ship cabin.

I found lounge chair on the starboard deck and stared at criss-crossing satellites and  the Milky Way without interference from light pollution.   I fell asleep and dreamt of Kate Winslet and a frozen Leonardo DiCaprio.

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The ferry has a 16 year old beater bike with a wobbly rear wheel to run quick errands.
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The Badger.
 


Comments

Joe Kaplon
07/19/2013 6:40am

Did you get in on any of the free Badger Bingo action during the crossing? I did the same crossing last summer with my Spitfire while working on the Kraft Yes Pack project. The cast of characters in the main lounge room that night was memorable.
Enjoying hearing of your travels, good luck and safe travels.

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Jonathan Leahey
07/19/2013 7:05am

Joe, long time, no see!

I took the 1 a.m. Boat, so it wasn't too crowded and there was no bingo. I did watch a bit of a movie in the "theater" with some folks, but no one was conversing. The crew were an animated bunch, however.

Be well,

Jon

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Mary
07/19/2013 1:33pm

How many hours did the ferry take? We were considering taking that route from Montreal one year, but moved to England instead.

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debra wade
07/19/2013 1:56pm

Jon,
You are meeting the coolest people on the planet on this trip and I do envy you but I possess neither the stamina or ability to do the same style trip so I will travel vicariously. Don't know if that is the correct word but since you're such a bright guy you'll figure out what I mean. However, I would not want to deal with roadkill and bugs.

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Jonathan Leahey
07/19/2013 5:35pm

Four hours. Nice ride. I'm certain England is better.

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Jonathan Leahey
07/19/2013 5:54pm

Deb,

If you want, I could just bring some if these people to you! The transients, poor hipsters and carnival guys would love Florida. Now, what's your address?

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07/20/2013 12:59pm

Yeah, well considering your last post of your helltell room in MI, I would say England is considerably better. When the end to end ride happens over here, I promise you there will be none of that disgusting grossness. At. All. Gross. Gross. Gross. Gross.

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Jonathan Leahey
07/20/2013 4:38pm

There's ugly everywhere. Skinheads. Tories. Football Syndicate Man United Fans. Prince Charles.

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Mary
07/21/2013 3:09am

Oh yes, well those, but our showers are considerably cleaner.

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Mary
07/21/2013 3:21am

And don't forget UKIP, England's Tea Party cousin.

10/05/2013 10:51am

When you're taking care of the customer, you can never do too much. And there is no wrong way... if it comes from the heart.

Reply



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