The Daily EO: September 5th, 2012

Greetings from Grand Rapids, Minnesota and the Country Inn!
Hours Travelled:  16 hours
Kms Covered:  1368.8

I’m not talking about any tears or heartache today, so I will begin our trip 30 minutes out of Huntsville.  We stopped in Rosseau for a little pick me up in the form of a cream cheese smothered (and I mean drowning) raisin free cinnamon bun.  I got Emile a day-old sticky bun – we need to watch the budget you know.   We wrapped close to Georgian Bay this time whipping through Parry Sound and the French River area.   Last time we swung out to North Bay, and I think hugging the bay is faster.

But then again I was working on catching up on EOs and not paying full attention:

Tethering my Laptop to the Cell Phone

There is an aside here for anyone who is married to or is connected to a photographer.  I am in dire danger having my picture taken doing the most mundane of things with little warning.  I mean who wants to have their picture taken while stuffing their face full of carb delicious Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwiches?  Or while driving?  From today alone, here are the indignities suffered:


In the Eye of the Beholder

I am certain that this is a statement of the skill of the photographer.. . right?  I mean I couldn’t possibly really look like this.  Even when I know I am going to have a shot taken, I end up looking like yahoo because I am trying to suck in things that cannot be sucked in.  I check myself in the mirror fairly regularly and find that my arms while needing a little more tone are not the size of leg of lambs.  My hips while curvy have not yet gone the way of the middle age spread.  But then he takes something like this, and I wonder…

Lake Superior from the South

In Blind River – or somewhere around there – we stopped for the aforementioned Wendy’s.  While enjoying our meal, a women began coughing and choking.  Note coughing.  Not to let the women suffer, her husband (?) grabbed  her from behind on the way to the bathroom and started vigorously performing the Heimlich Maneuver  I must say this is the first time I have ever seen it done in a real “emergency”.  Funny thing though – if the victim is coughing, that means she can breathe.  If she can breathe, then the food is not blocking her airway and there is no need for such heroics.  In fact, it can make the situation worse by moving the food around and then blocking the airway.  Fortunately, a security guard waiting for his Baconater leapt to the woman’s defense and pulled the guy off.  The poor woman – embarrassed for such a scene – slunk into the bathroom to cough out her fry.

We crossed the border at Sault Ste Marie and were really grilled by the customs officer.  “Have either of you ever been arrested?  Years ago?  Perhaps as a juvenile?  You can tell me.  I need to know this stuff.”  I was left feeling like I should have confessed a phantom brush with the law.

Our trip through Michigan journeyed through the Northern part where neither of us had ever been before.  And before we knew it we had passed by the Michigan Skateboarding Hall of Fame and six or seven bizarrely finite rainstorms and moved into our 2 hour jaunt through Wisconsin.  It was too late to buy any cheese and I am regretting that as I write this now.

We drove into the setting sun while swirls of mist wrapped around the tires of our Fit.  Through Duluth as it didn’t seem just far enough and so into Grand Rapids (the other one).  Judy Garland was born here, you know, it seems a fitting to sleep where “A Star is Born”.

September 5th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   I’m a sucker for sunset shots – you know it!  I love the evidence of the movement in the trees due to the shutter being open a little longer.  I took the picture with Emile’s recommended settings, so I’d say this is a team effort.

Again, my hands on the camera, Emile’s advice from behind me:

Wakefield, Wisconsin

The Daily EO: August 6th, 2012

Greetings from St. Catharines, Ontario and the ten Den B&B.

Hours Driven:  15
Kms travelled:  1308
Money Spent:  $123

It was ambitious, but we decided to drive from La Crosse, Wisconsin (which is almost in Minnesota) to home in one day.   In reviewing the route, we determined that it was even further than we could handle and decided on a stop at my in-laws in St. Catharines to shave a couple of hours off the journey.  And then we could see them too!

We made our requisite stop at a cheese factory in Wisconsin and gawked at cheese – how to pick just one?   After driving more than 3000 kms on the I-90, we finally turned south to head around the lake.  For excitement, we considered taking the Milwaukee ferry across Lake Michigan, but once we determined the cost to be $300, we decided the 1 hour we’d save wasn’t worth it.  I guess we are too accustomed to Canada’s subsidized ferries – but that seemed ridiculous for a route that has a reasonable driving estimate.

Illinois is where things got tricky – we had to change highways several times and stop to pay tolls frequently.  We were running low on American cash and therefore snuck Canadian change to our toll payments.  We’d ask the collector a question to distract from our coinage and then leave immediately once the gate was up!  The 407 toll highway in Canada is more expensive sure, but it was annoying in Illinois have to stop at 5 or 6 toll booths while making our way around Chicago.   The last booth was quite confusing – pointing us to Iowa – and we mistakely drove right through without paying.  We are waiting for the FBI to surround our house in Canada looking for their $1.50.

Emile played the Blues Brother’s Chicago and I answered back with Frank Sinatra’s.  Yes, we are dorks.

We snuck through Indiana, and then back to Michigan. You know, for the “auto” state, Michigan has some nice scenery.  In Charlotte, we stopped at Taco Bell for our last American experience.  Afterwards, we shook hands to say No More Fast Food for a LONG while.  About 30 minutes later, Emile saw a White Castle sign and promptly forgot our agreement.  Fortunately, he fell asleep (I was driving by this time, otherwise that would not be so fortunate), and I avoided any other purchases.

The border guard accepted our passports and declarations without incident and we found ourselves with non-roaming cell phones for the first time in days.   Oh, the things I could look up!

As I neared London, I started making up songs about our trip including a lovely ditty that I rhymed up “pee”, “me” and “tea”.  The end was nigh and I was finally cracking up.  Emile – rightly so – got concerned that a crazy person was driving, and requested to take over the wheel.

We pulled into St. Catharines at 1:30 am, and I’ve never been happier to arrive anywhere.  Except the bathroom at Tri-State Toll Highway Hinsdale Oasis.

August 6th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:   The quiet and peaceful sound of driving on asphalt after crossing the border into Canada versus the loud and bumpy concrete highways in the USA.

It’s good to be home!


The Daily EO: August 5th, 2012

(this one is a bit long).

Greetings from La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Days Hotel!

Hours Driven:  15 hours
Kms Covered:  1338.1
Money Spent:  $155

There is an inherent feeling of danger that comes from men who are bikers.  If I said fill in the blank:  “Biker ______”, you’d probably say “Gang”.  I suspect that the truth is more like society at large – people on the entire spectrum of evil and frightening scales.  Sure, in a group of bikers, there surely is a chance of meeting a mean person as there is an encounter with a weekend warrior lawyer in the throes of a midlife crisis.  Nonetheless, put me in a large group of bikers, and my intellectual understanding of stereotypes is somewhat drowned out by yeas of bias training in movies, headlines and books.

So, while driving the streets of Sturgis (Like we didn’t stop to drive through town!  Do you not know us at all??) during the 2012 Motorcycle Rally, I felt conspicuous.  Never mind we were in the 5% of the traffic in an automobile, but we were also driving a tinted-window, sport packaged, purple (ahem, “Blackberry”) Honda Fit with Ontario plates and a photographer hanging out the window trying get close-ups of nipple tassels.

And while I am on the subject of nipple tassels, I ponder this.  Why is it that many of the women who live in this club or culture or whatever you want to call it, are overt and confident in their sexuality?   I mean, there are some who in regular life we would encourage not to wear a tube top, to please put on a bra and certainly get longer shorts.  But here, everything is hanging out in its glory.  Now perhaps this is in the vein of the blatant sexuality at Pride celebrations that is used to boldly claim this as their right, their place, and to make a stir to provoke thoughts.  But Sturgis?  I don’t think it is political – I think it is just men and woman enjoying each other, and to hell with the concern of extra rolls, or saggy boobs, or ripplely thighs.  Shouldn’t we all take a little lesson from this?

Oil Changes and Bikinis. Stugis.

The logistics/planner person in me was fascinated by the preparation of Sturgis and surrounded areas for such a huge influx of bikers.  All of the intersections in Sturgis were changed from lights to four-way stops and every square foot of space was either parking, booths or gathering places.  It was fascinating – and made me want to meet the person in charge of this project – because this isn’t anarchy, people somewhere are planning this and planning it well.

Anyways, imagine driving the short distance from the South Dakota I-90 to Mount Rushmore with 50% of the traffic being cruising bikes.  We were in a group of about 15 bikes and us.  It felt like being in a poor country’s presidential motorcade.

Our Escorts

Mount Rushmore charged $11 to “park” indeed not for entrance to the monument.  Even at Mount Rushmore, there was a Sturgis Gift Shop set-up and 2 specially designated motorcycle lanes.  Mount Rushmore was interesting, but the image is so iconic, it was difficult to really understand that I was actually there.  It seemed smaller than I expected, and I found it more fascinating to look at the uncarved “needles” in the Black Hills.

The “Other View” at Mount Rushmore

The nearest town, Keystone, was almost a replica of Niagara Falls, Canada – with bold SHOUTING billboards and bizarre twisted history (ie, Sitting Bull’s Crystal Caves.  Really?)

We travelled through South Dakota stopping at strange places.  Pioneer Auto is home of THE General Lee (um, wasn’t there like 40 or something?) and Elvis’s motorcycle, but we were too cheap to pay to the $10 admission, so we’ll never know how cool it was.  Alas.  Wall Drug has brilliant marketing campaign with 40+ billboards in the 50 miles leading up to Wall – they advertised free doughnut and coffee for honeymooners.  We were going to try to scam them, but we don’t like coffee and didn’t feel like doughnuts.  But the worst was the “Corn Palace” in Mitchell who is a victim of “setting expectations”.  We expected a building made of corn, but instead it was an arena/stadium thing that was covered in corn.  I suppose that is impressive in itself, but it seemed lacking when we thought corn was used instead of concrete.   People, under promise, over deliver!

Our journey through Minnesota was almost entirely during dusk and we were treated to a slowly darkening cloudless sky with fields of corn and wind turbines.  We drove on to make up for our short day yesterday, and arrived at a Days Hotel that only wanted $60 for the night.  Clean and cheap.  Love it.

Beautiful Evening.

August 5th, 2012 Extra-Ordinary:  A run in Wyoming at 7:30 am, through a field, down a bike path, around a lake.  It made me feel like I am “that” person.  Yep.  Her.

Running In Wyoming. My reward.