St. Paul Going North: Day 2, October 10, 2016
This is my fourth cycle tour, and this day was one of the best. The sun was out, a strong wind was at my back, fall colors were around me, and I was on cycle trails for almost all of it.
The day started with writing in my blog and a nice conversation with the manager of the hotel I stayed at. After updating this blog, I packed up my bike, dropped off my key, and said good-bye to the manager. She made it very clear that I better be safe on my bike. I thanked her and said that I always wear bright colors, since I also have a tough time seeing cyclists when driving.
After spending a lot of time on roads the day before, it felt great to turn onto a dedicated bike trail soon after I getting on my bike. The peace and beauty were beyond words, so I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
This picture shows one of my distractions and, often, one of my failings. I’m a recovering gadget guy. If you look close, you’ll solar panels on the back of my bike. I easily lost an hour of cycling to get the panels working right, but I do enjoy them. They charge AA batteries, which power my GPS and camera.
One of my next gadgets will be a dynamo in the front hub, which can create power on cloudy days. Like most renewable energy, multiple sources makes it work. My previous touring bike came with a dynamo in the front hub. That bike was a folder and is the bike I used for most of this blog.
The store in this picture is about 50 yards away. I stopped in simply because it looks like a fun store. The staff were friendly, so we talked for a while.
While we spoke, I remembered my camping stove, which is the gadget I mentioned a moment ago. My camping stove qualifies as a gadget because it burns camp stove fuel and unleaded gas, which is great for cycle-camping. My stove has been out of gas since my last cycle tour, 3 years ago. I had to use a plier to pry the cap loose, hoping not to create a spark.
I figured this was a good place to fill it up, since small town staff are more likely to let an odd cyclist fill a little stove at a gas pump. I’ve never filled the little stove from a gas pump before because gas comes out really fast, but this was one of those times when I had to try. The small stove has an even smaller hole to put fuel in, so I put a funnel in the hole, aimed the gas nozzle toward the funnel, and gently squeezed. A moment later, my stove was full of gas, inside and out. As you’d expect, my hands were covered with gas, but it was successful enough. I walked toward the store and inside to wash the gas off my hands, being careful not to walk by someone smoking a cigarette.
The rest of the day was less dramatic and as beautiful as the start of the day, as these pictures show, click on any picture to see a larger version.
On this trip, I’ve been worried that campgrounds would be closed, so I was a little worried when I called one around 4pm. The place looked perfect, just outside Duluth and next to St. Louis Bay, which flows in to Lake Superior. When I called, a man said they were open. I arrived about 2 hours later and learned they have some walk-in campsites, so I picked one that overlooked the bay. You can see my tiny stove in the foreground, which very fortunately lit with no flaming surprises.
My first night of camping on a cycle tour in the US could hardly have been better.
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