Monday, 30 June 2008


The motel I stayed in was jam-packed with bikers as it was a big wild hog crazy Harley guys weekend. They had come from miles. They had chrome. They had leather. They had chicks. The bikes driven by chicks had guys. They had little trailers. They had a lot of towels -they were drying themselves off and their bikes after the astonishing cloudburst we had all witnessed. We were all young, wild and free.

I sauntered downtown. By the time I set out the rain had more or less stopped although I didn't get the chance to see a lot as it was getting dark by then. Found a fake Irish bar. Rather sterile so just had the one and left. Interesting array of shops from the standard high street ones to the more esoteric ones. "Last Place on Earth" boasted: "Pipe,cigs,guns, adult toys, urine cleaner" . Further down the street there was a shop called and here I am using the American spelling: "Electric Fetus". Shudder to think what they sold.

Found another place which claimed it was a "Tavern". Sat at the bar as two young guys talked fishing. Here we were on the shores of Lake Superior and they had the knowledge. They talked rods, they talked lines, they talked weights, they talked water temperature, they talked depth. They then talked beer which apparently was a vital component of the whole fishing ethic. Everyone seems to have, or have access to, a boat.

Wherever I have been outside of the cities, people have used the land. We just don't have the space and never have done. If you don't have a load of pubs, cinemas, theatres or sports stadia on your doorstep, what do you do for fun? We have often ridiculed our U.S friends by doing that whole "what did you do Saturday night when you were young?"- "Stayed in washing my hair till I was 13 then married my cousin" routine. They are out there and there is plenty of space out there to be out there. Believe me I have been driving through "out there" for a very long time without making any particular headway.

By the time I got back to the motel all the bikers were tucked up in bed dreaming of the open road and possibly a new tattoo.

I had been playing peekaboo with Minnesota, Canada, Wisconsin and Michigan all day. The drive through the Ottawa forest was fairly spectacular and pretty much deserted. I had left Duluth with a stone of breakfast burrito stuffed inside me. It felt like that even though it was delicious. I think it was Miss Piggy who said "Never eat more than you can lift". U.S portions can be large but usually they are manageable. This was a bit of a struggle but I succeeded. The downside, diet fans, of large portions is that your stomach stretches.

By lunchtime I was rather peckish so had to stop at a Dairy Queen for a chilli dog with cheese combo. I had one a couple of days ago which was far superior to this. The last one had far more chilli and the cheese wasn't totally melted. Still the Brit in me said "Super, lovely" when asked how I was getting on with it. However I did spill what little chilli I received down my white shirt. I needed to find a motel with laundry facilities. It had been nearly a week since the last ablutions stop.

Continued on Highway 2 through Watersmeet, Iron River, Crystal Falls and Iron Mountain. The turning to "Felch" was ignored with a certain amount of schoolboy snickering and eventually ended up in Escanoba on the shores of Lake Michigan. I noted when I checked in that another time zone had been crossed. I had crossed the last timezone. I had gone from Pacific to Mountain to Central to Eastern.

Booked into a motel that boasted a bar, a restaurant, a pool, internet er - but no laundry facilites.

Found a basement bar and struck up a conversation with Johnny. He was a health and safety officer from Texas who worked on big construction projects. He had driven up here in just over 2 days as he liked to keep his car with him. That is some 1500 miles. I thought I was travelling! We chatted about this and that and then he left. I was getting a mite peckish by then so I asked for the menu. Just as I was about to order, everything went black.........


Paul said...

Hello Dark Lord,

I've been enjoying your scribblings on American Adventure... The Return. I've also been following your journey on the Google map in the hope of improving my geography (it certainly beats doing any real work!). After you spotted the place called Felch, I couldn't help noticing some other unusual places near your path.
The town of Vulcan (the map line implies you did go through this - just east of Iron Mountain after Norway). Made me think of a town where the inhabitants all have pointy ears and odd hand greetings.

Then there is the Spread Eagle golf course (near the town of Spread Eagle, south of Crystal Falls on HW2, Wisconsin).

Oh and I didn't post a comment quickly enough to mention Hastings Nebraska, but you didn't go North West enough to go near it. There should still be time for you to pop by Hastings Michigan though (South East of Grand Rapids)! How can you resist "One of the 100 Best Small Towns in America"

Travel Safe and looking forward to your return
Paul :)

BluePixel said...

Another great blog Mr Lester. Your adventures make me laugh out loud. Superb.
I know what you mean about 'the land' out there. I have a time-share in Georgia and some parts of the North Georgia Mountains you can drive for ages and see nothing but forest !! No people, no shops, nothing. It's quite disturbing at first coming from the UK where it appears that every square inch of land just HAS to have a house or three on it !!
Keep up the good blogging.

BluePixel said...

Alex, I don't know what your route (or Rout in American)is but if your looking for an odd place to stay that's surrounded by Amish worked farms and loads of 'space' you could do worse than try the Red Caboose Motel.
It's a collection of old railway cabooses. Lay in your bunk listening to the clip-clopping Amish buggies going by. Weird, but fun.