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Just ten days in and we are starting to get the rhythm of life on the road. Setting up and breaking down camp is becoming second nature, we have resigned ourselves that rain will follow us where ever we may go (the California drought’s days are numbered, we should be there in August), and we had our first flat. Although the Weasel does look quite nice floating on one tire, it was not done just for photographic purposes. The one place where we have not quite hit out rhythm is food. We are still in the novel road food mode. Every day we tell ourselves that this is not a shot term vacation and we need to eat healthier and every day there is some fascinating fried item on the menu that somehow ends up on our table. Most recent was fried cheese curds in Michigan, a squeaky, tasty invention that will remain
The one aspect of being on the road that we quickly discovered, even before our realization that we were empowered by the rain gods, was the social aspect. One would think that being on this journey is an isolating experience, but it already has proven to be quite the opposite. It all started in a rather unexpected way. It was our third day and we had survived an overnight storm to find our tent in what can only we called a bog. The mud was deep and we were not sure if it was all mud, the smell in the air gave us the frightful thought that the campsite septic tank might have contributed to our own little slice of swampland paradise. Thankfully it was only an issue with poor venting and not an overflow. Trust me when I say that it was a great relief. Just about this time, we heard two bikes pull into the campsite and later had the pleasure of meeting the riders, Sasha and Keri. They were heading back home after a long weekend test riding two bikes for their motorcycle reviews, they run a great motorcycle blog (see link below). We spent some of the morning chatting about bikes, our trip, their blog, and media in general. Sasha was quick to point out that we need an Instagram account and that we should let her know when we have one up. Five minutes after we set up the account (#onthewanderlist) and Sasha blasted it out on her feed, we have over 300 followers of which we know few. We are definitely feeling the pressure to perform. An is on Instagram duty, to her goes the credit or the blame.
A few days after we bid farewell to Sasha, Keri, and the bog, we were camping at Pictured Rock in Michigan. We had traveled through the area last year on our return from the Rockies, but did not have a chance to explore. Last year we under estimated the popularity of the area and spent hours in the dark looking for a camp site or room. This time we were there early and secured a prime campsite in the park. So we felt a great deal of empathy when we saw four bikers on BMWs pull into the campsite late in the evening looking for a place to stay. They were on the last few days of a trip around Lake Superior and to add to their troubles, one of the bikes had a clutch that was going. We quickly decided to offer to have them share our campsite and spent the night by the fire sharing beers and road trip stories. Once again, we found some great friends on the road in a rather unexpected way.
After enjoying a day of hiking in Pictured Rock where we stubbled upon Alwart, a bicycle rider riding around the world and at the moment torturously lugging his 140lbs of bike and gear across a 10 mile muddy trail (see ride link to his travel blog below), we were off to visit our friends Matt, Karen, and their son Max that just moved to Minneapolis. With not much in terms of points of interest between the northwest of Wisconsin and Minneapolis, we opted to leave early and make it to Minneapolis that evening. Fortune was on our side, the weather was nice, the bi-ways we selected were as scenic as one can ask for going through central Wisconsin, and we were enjoying the day. That is until just 30 miles from Matt and Karen’s, the Weasel starts to feel like its back tire is riding in an oil slick. Yes, our first flat at the end of our longest day of riding and just minutes away from a cold beer. We figured it would happen at some point, but not now, not in this heat. Never having changed a tube on the side of the road before, this was going to be fun. Shocking to both of us, we had the bike up in the air, the rear wheel off, and the culprit tube out in minutes. At this point it looked like that cold beer would shortly be ours and this would just be a fun story to share. I believe that is call hubris and if often followed by some sort of fall, in this case the valve stem. The first effort to get the valve stem into the rim did not seem to go so well, but there was no reason to panic yet. The second effort also failed in similar fashion. Third try is a charm, right? Charm in that it was not like the first two tries, did not get the valve stem in the rim and managed to pinch the new tube. With the heat at record levels, no beer in our hands, the frustration level was starting to creep up. Thankfully we had a second spare tube, which was a great relief, but that did not solve the problem of the valve stem. That is where the road gods or karma come in to the picture in the form of a guy named Will. Will was on his way out to dinner with his girlfriend wearing a very clean white shirt when he pulled over and offered to help. As a former avid dirt bike rider and current motorcyclist, he was eager to help out. Minutes later, Will's shirt is not so white and the valve stem is in the rim. After thanking Will and saying our good byes, we got the tire back on the bike, and were on our way to Matt and Karen’s. That first cold beer was great and each successive one has been just as nice.
Thanks to all those we meet on the road for making the start of our journey so much fun.
Sasha and Keri’s motorcycle blog
Alwart Boers’s world tour blog