St. Paul Going North: Day 3, October 11, 2016
I like cycling for lots of miles, and most have been solo. The biggest challenge to cycling more miles has nothing to do with my bike or body. It’s all the fun people I meet. We end up enjoying long conversations, and time for cycling gets short. A wise German friend calls this a “luxury problem,” and she’s right. I enjoy cycling, talking, and writing. There are never enough hours in a day for them all, a luxury problem. On this day, I enjoyed many conversations and cycled for fewer miles, about 30.
You may have noticed the name of this post has the word “Again” at the end. That’s because I’m re-using a title from a few years ago, when I faced the same issue while cycling across Britain.
The first conversation was with a minster, from Buffalo, Minnesota. A wise American friend of mine is from there. Anyway, the minister and I talked in the bathroom while shaving, an odd but uniquely manly sort of conversation. The minister is mostly retired but provides grief counselling, tough stuff. He and his wife like to camp in a vehicle they call Van Go. It’s a minivan that he converted to a camper, which they use for quick getaways. Besides a love of camping, the minister and I had some other things in common. He knows England well because his son studied and worked there, and one more bit is that he also had prostate cancer.
After shaving, I returned to my camp site, packed it up, and cycled through Duluth.
An unusual sight I wanted to see is the Seaway Motel. My brother went to school there after he lost his sight. He chose to stay there because it was cheap, and the place hasn’t changed much.
Cycling through Duluth added some variety to the trip, moving from trails in the woods to roads in the city. Duluth offers another treat, Lake Superior. It’s the biggest of the Great Lakes, and when you haven’t seen it for a while, it makes you pause. The immensity of it makes worries fade and more. The “more” part of that is different for each person.
In Duluth, I found a nice coffee shop in Canal Park. Even better, I found a table next to the window where I parked my bike. You can’t lock everything on a loaded touring bike, so all you can do is keep it in sight. I was typing away when a man apologized for interrupting me and asked if that was my touring bike. I love to write, but that question makes me happy to stop. Anyone who knows a touring bike from others is usually someone I want to talk with.
His name is John. He continued by saying that I had my bike loaded up the way it was meant to be, which I also enjoyed. My bike is a the Surley Long Haul Trucker, and it’s meant for touring hundreds of miles, fully loaded. John knew that. He was also interested in my past cycle tours, and even better, he’s toured more than me, once in Scotland and once down the Mississippi. His wife Cindy (?) joined us, and we all enjoyed a long conversation, including a chat about prostate cancer. John currently has it, and I offer the best vibes and hopes that his cancer is cured just like mine and the pastor I met earlier.
After talking with John and Cindy, I finished writing, and cycled out of Duluth. It was about 3pm, so I knew I couldn’t get far, since I like to find a place to stay before sunset. The day was a bit grey, but the sights were still good, click on any picture to see more.
Around 4:30, I cycled into the town of Knife River, love the name. There was a camping sign, so I stopped to check it out. I wanted to cycle a few more miles, so first, I used Google to find campsites around Two Harbors, which was about a half hour north. The campground was almost closed, since it offered only “dry camping.” That meant I would have to bring my own water.
I have a 3 gallon water container, but it was getting too late to find and haul water around, in addition to setting up a camp. I decided to camp at Knife River Campground. I went to the office and saw a sign saying they were closed for the season, but there was a phone number. I called and spoke with the owner, Randy. (For British readers, that’s a name on this side of the pond, not “sexual enthusiasm.”) Randy said the place was closed, but the water was on. He told me to pick a site and that he would stop by later.
Sooner after my camp was set up and supper was cooked, Randy showed up. We talked for a while, and I asked him how much I should pay. He said there was none, since I was his guest tonight. Good day, good people.
Randy suggested I check out the beach, good idea.
It was a cold and windy night, but I stayed cozy inside my trusty winter sleeping bag