INTRO DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5 DAY 6 DAY 7 WRAP-UP
3 Monday, August 10, 2009
Trout Lake to Blaney Park
LUNCH STOP: Engadine
ROUTE: H40 (a.k.a. Hiawatha Trail) west to Hwy 117 (in Engadine) Hwy 117 south to U.S. 2 U.S. 2 west to Dreamland Motel (which is on U.S. 2 about 2 miles west of Hwy 77 the mailing address of the motel is Gulliver, but it's closer to Blaney Park)
TOTAL MILES: 52
We slept in an hour later this morning because it was a relatively short day of riding only 52 miles. We had breakfast at McGowan's Restaurant and hit the road at 10:45 a.m.
We headed westward out of Trout Lake on Hwy 40 (a.k.a. Hiawatha Trail). Skies, wind, and temperature were all perfect. Traffic was nil. There were periods of 20 minutes or more when not a single car passed us from behind. It reminded us of our prior day's ride on the Mackinac Trail. So we rode side-by-side and chatted much of the way.
Had it all to ourselves
We crossed a railroad track that had a lumber-loading station about a hundred yards down the line. Over the week, we saw a number of such lumbering operations; many much larger than this one.
Lumbering a major U.P. industry
As the trip progressed we became increasingly aware of the homes and "architecture" indigenous to the U.P. One common structure is the mobile home with a free-standing roof built over it. This is probably to eliminate heavy snow weight on the roof and also eliminate any chance of roof leaks. Some of these "super-roof" structures were quite elaborate, with carports and porch roofs included.
Uniquely charming "architecture" of the U.P.
Bill and I also noticed the large garages. It's common to see a homestead comprising a relatively small house along with a garage as large as or bigger than the house. Probably needed for housing the out-of-doors toys like snowmobiles, ATVs, boat, and/or motorcycles. It caused Bill to whimsically quip, "Did you know, there's a zoning ordinance in the U.P. that your garage must be bigger than your house."
Another thing one soon notices is the number of homes and businesses with metal roofs often deep-forest green. The house might be small, plain, and modest-looking, but the shiny roof gleams in the sun and looks like it's the best and most durable house covering that money can buy.
In about an hour and a half, we came to the "town" of Rexton. It appeared to consist of a half dozen houses and one small store with two fuel pumps one gas, one diesel. We stopped at the store for a restroom break and an ice cream sandwich.
While we were in the store, three bikers pulled up outside for gas. In their off-road biking garb they looked like sci-fi astronauts. We couldn't resist talking with them and snapping a photo. They were clad top to bottom in super-protective gear hard plastic plates on their chest, back, elbows, knees, and shins. The material to their suits looked like tough nylon or mylar. Their heads were totally encased by helmet and face shield and appeared to have something like a dust-filter for talking and breathing through.
Star Wars trail riders of the U.P.
When we first approached them one of the fellows said, "Hey, I've seen you before. Were you in Trout Lake last night? Were you walking down the road and then crossed over to look at the dogs in the trailers?"
We confessed that it was us. These guys were indeed friendly. They explained that they were up from Ohio (I believe it was) and that they're avid off-road bikers, been doing it for many years. I reckon they were in their late 40s or early 50s. I inquired as to where they bike. One of them then brandished a large detailed map showing numerous trails throughout the eastern U.P. He had created the map from information off the Internet, and had figured out how to "connect" the trails so they formed a continuous connected cross-country ride similar to what Bill and I had done. They explained that they specialize in riding two-track trails rather than one-track trails. Years ago they used to do one-tracks, but one-tracks are extremely bumpy and, thereby, hard on the knees as one gets older. So they left the one-track club that they were members of and formed their own club a "two-track club" for senior riders who want to specialize in less-bumpy two-track trails.
We continued westward down H40 and soon came to a small lake on the south side. I believe its name is Garnet Lake. It looked very pikey. So we stopped and I unstrapped my fishing rod from my bike, snapped on a spinnerbait, and casted the shoreline for a few minutes. Caught nothing.
A little roadside lake gave it a few casts, but for naught
We continued down H40 for another hour or so and, finally, arrived in the pleasant little cross-roads town of Engadine our lunch stop.
We decided on Mary's Garden, Bakery, & Café, on the northeast corner of the main intersection in town (and, as far as I could tell, the only intersection in town).
Food and baked goods excellent at Mary's (pretty flowers, too)
Mary's has a fairly broad menu selection and home-bakes its breads, rolls, cookies, and desserts. Bill got a hamburger and I got a BBQ sandwich, both served on a Mary's home-made hamburger bun. This bun is truly spectacular. It's slightly firmer than a "regular" hamburger bun and, thereby, does a better job of holding the contents, especially when sloppy. But, best of all, it has a delightful yeasty aroma and taste. For dessert we each enjoyed a Mary's home-made cookie. Bill had the peanut butter & oatmeal cookie and I had the whole wheat chocolate chip. Then, while paying the bill, we decided to split a ginger-molasses "for the road." These sweet delectables are truly good.
Tasty whole wheat chocolate chip cookie hits the spot after lunch
We then went south on Hwy 117 to U.S. 2 a distance of only a mile.
Then, we rode U.S. 2 westward for about 20 miles, until we reached our day's destination, the Dreamland Restaurant & Motel, two miles west of Hwy 77.
U.S. 2 is a busy highway. The stretch we traveled has paved shoulders about 8-feet wide. So it's easily and safely bike-able. One finds businesses along the way, many of them of the older variety, and some of them quite interesting due to their uniqueness. Here are a few examples.
Where the highway overpassed a train track we just had to stop for this one.
Although we're a long way from home, this train track winds its way to Engadine, Trout Lake,
and eventually to Sault Sainte Marie and goes within a quarter mile of Bill's place
About 30 minutes before
reaching the motel the western sky turned an ominous dark gray. We
put extra muscle to the pedal to get there ASAP. Three minutes after we hauled our bikes into our motel room a downpour broke loose. It was the type of rain that, in about 30 seconds, would make you as wet as if you just walked out of a lake.
We dodged the bullet on this one
Our "home, sweet home" on August 10, 2009
We had dinner at the Dreamland Restaurant (the only restaurant around). Like McGowan's in Trout Lake, the restaurant pay counter doubled for the motel front desk. I got the soup and salad bar. Bill got the "Angus beef cutlet," which, in case you're wondering, would probably carry the moniker "chicken fried steak" in most other areas of the country. The food was acceptable. But our young-woman server was curt, rude, and inattentive.
We had breakfast in the restaurant the next morning. Our middle-age waitress was friendly and helpful. As we were leaving, Bill asked her, "Have you seen the weather forecast for today?"
"Yes!" she said, a big smile spreading over her face. "It's sunny and 80 degrees for today. AND, it's going to get better and better and BETTER for the rest of the week."
Indeed, it turned out she had the correct forecast.
<< PRIOR DAY ... NEXT DAY >>