If you think you’ve seen icicles, you’re probably wrong unless you’ve been to Minnesota.
If I tell you that I traveled clear to the other side of the Midwest for the opportunity to trudge six miles across a snow-covered, frozen bay in the dark of night, you might be inclined to ask why. Well, I can’t tell you that. There are certain things in life that we just have to do. Maybe it’s something to do with thrillseeking or spending time with friends, or maybe it’s just a more primal urge that we all have: There’s something missing in my life, and it’s a six-mile trudge through the night across a snow-covered, frozen bay. Don’t just look at me. Over four thousand other people did it too. Many of them paid good money for the privilege.
I’ve been away from the blog for a while, I know. I don’t have much to say just at this moment, but I’ll be back with more words and stuff. But what I do have to say is this:
Second of two posts today. The first, which is the main one, is here.
There’s an announcement I have to make. Every so often, I write a short story. Earlier this year I finished one, and I thought it turned out well enough that I’d see if I could get it published. So I sent it off to Joel Caris at Into the Ruins and, to skip to the exciting part, it’s going to be in the fall issue!
About twelve miles east of Waubun, Highway 4 comes off of Highway 113 and heads up toward Nay-Tah-Waush. There at the corner, there’s something unusual going on. Down in the grass there’s a scattering of tipis, two huge army tents, and a trailer, spread among a selection of cars ranging from serviceable to dead and an uneven layer of debris like chainsaws, old doors, and cinder blocks. Come down off the road and go down the hill toward the nearby banks of Gull Lake, and the theme holds and intensifies, with a half-dozen wigwams lining the trail, some covered with layers of tarps, some no more than a dome-shaped frame of bent saplings, flanking a yard full of old boards, scrap wire, insulation, a blue ’60s flatbed dually. Facing toward the road is a big banner that says
Camp Turtle Island
What’s going on here?
A couple days after we finished the Lake Superior circle, I was at the Black Cat Coffeehouse with Maria. The Black Cat, I’ve mentioned obliquely, is the crossroads of interesting people on the Chequamegon; it’s rare to go there and not meet someone you know, if you’ve lived in town long enough. That day a couple friends of Maria’s showed up. One of them, Jeff, mentioned that he was going to be taking a trapping education course soon. Eh? I got interested.
What are we doing
We rolled into Houghton, Michigan, wet with drizzle and burnt out from four straight days averaging fifty miles. A fifty-mile day isn’t any particular achievement as bike touring goes—a hundred would be—but being out in the wind, the occasional rain, the kind of autumn chill that soaks into your core, it was enough, and when we passed a coffee shop we unanimously decided to park the bikes and sit down. Cradling hot mugs full of comfort, we played cribbage and talked. “You guys,” Ava said. “We’re biking around Lake Superior. It’s so far. What are we doing.”