The Highlight Reel: Wisconsin

June 27 Day 34 – Tilleda to Crandon 63 miles
June 28 Day 35 – Crandon to Eagle River 42.9 miles
June 29 Day 36 – Eagle River to Big Lake Campground 44.3
June 30 Day 37 – Big Lake Campground to Mercer 18.4 miles
July 1 Day 38 – Mercer town to Mercer campground 8.25
July 2 Day 39 – Mercer Campground to Clam Lake 61 miles
July 3 Day 40 – Clam Lake to Birchwood 60 miles
July 4 Day 41 – Birchwood to Balsam Lake 56.5 miles
July 5 Day 42 – Balsam Lake, WI to North Branch, MN 52 miles

1. I really liked Wisconsin. The Wisconsin landscape provided a welcomed change to the flat farmland of Michigan and Ontario. As soon as we crossed the border, there were rolling hills and more texture than just corn fields. We also had forest and lakes, wild flowers, and lots of wildlife.

2. We took two successful detours. It always feels good when a detour ends up being a good choice. Our first detour was on our route from Tilleda to Crandon. We came to our turn and there was a sign that said “bridge closed 11 miles.” We stood there for a while trying to figure out if the bridge in the sign was a bridge that we would need. A couple people stopped to see if we needed help and we found out that the bridge was indeed on our route. Luckily we had cell service and were able to look at google maps to plan our detour. The road we followed had rolling hills, wildflowers, and lots of butterflies. It was a beautiful day and a successful detour.

Our second detour was actually the next day. Our route took us on a “scenic route” in the national forest. Unfortunately, it was about 40 miles with no services and we did not have a good breakfast that day. Our other option was through two towns that had food. At the turn for the scenic route, we stopped at the bottom of someone’s driveway to make a decision about what to do. The homeowner came down (I think she was coming to get her trash barrels) and asked if we needed any help. We explained what we were doing and we started chatting. She told us about a good restaurant in town and a new bike path that connected the two towns we were going through. She was also a cyclist and had done a shorter tour with her husband years ago. She invited us up to her house to refill our water bottles and then gave me an apple! It was so nice. We took her suggestion and went into town to eat at a delicious restaurant that was right on a big lake and then followed her directions to the bike path. It was a beautiful path that wove through forests and open bogs. Another successful detour!

3. We spent the night at a really nice campground in Clam Lake. It had very clean bathrooms (definitely a highlight!), was not crowded at all, and I made friends with a lonely 6 year old who was living there for the summer. I played soccer with him and he invited me to go fishing with him. He was also very disappointed to learn that Dan and I are married.

4. At the campground in Balsam Lake, we were camped under a tree where a Barred Owl perched for much of the night. It woke me up a few times, but I also loved hearing it’s call.

5. We saw a Black Bear! It was on our ride from Birchwood to Balsam Lake. We were stopped on the side of the road, right outside of a bigger town, and I was looking at the map. All of a sudden, Dan says, “Look.” I look up and about 75 feet up the road was a young black bear staring right back at me. My first response was “Oh, shit.” And “Where’s the mother?” We started slowing backing down the road and then got on our bikes to pedal away.

7. We saw so many Bald Eagles. It was beautiful and cool.

8. Dan stared down a Bald Eagle. I missed it when we passed because I was trying to avoid roadkill. There was a Bald Eagle sitting right off the road in a field, watching us pedal by. Dan and the Bald Eagle, apparently, made eye contact and stared at each other as he went by.

9. My shifter for my front gears broke towards the end of the day on July 3. A bolt fell out and I had to ride the last 2 miles if the day in my first chain ring. That evening, Dan MacGyver-ed it with some medical tape to keep it in the second chain ring. We weren’t sure if we would need to go to a bike shop, order a new shifter, or just find a bolt that fit at a hardware store. The hardware store was the closest option. On our way to the hardware store in the next town we saw the black bear I mentioned earlier. Dan continued with his MacGyver-y-ness and found a bolt that fit and fixed it!

10. We crashed a July 4th family reunion party while hiding from a thunderstorm in a public park.

 

Here are some other photos from Wisconsin:

 

By Emily