States 14 and 15 of the trip - WI and MI

Trip Start Jun 05, 2009
Trip End Jul 03, 2009

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Where I stayed
Super 8

Flag of United States  , Michigan
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

This morning was as rainy as last night, but we went to Duluth's Canal Basin area early for a walk as planned. It’s a lot like Albert Dock in Liverpool and it was decked out for this weekend’s Grandma’s Marathon. From what I could see of Duluth it was a nice but quite quiet city. Crossing the bridge into Wisconsin, the town of Superior continued the North-West England analogy, by looking a bit run down and a bit like Birkenhead. We were quickly out into the countryside and I can report to Dad that the lupins here are indeed a lot further on than they are in Yellowstone – there are masses of them in the verges and in fields.

It had brightened up by lunchtime and we took a short detour up to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – a popular retirement and sailing area. The towns of Washburn and Bayfield have late 19th Century roots in quarrying Brownstone (looked like red sandstone to me) and the dentist, bank and museum are impressive monuments to this past. The rest of the towns’ buildings are cute little Victorian clapboard houses with porches and verandahs and beautifully planted cottage gardens. Bayfield had loads of cafes, chandleries and a large marina with the first concentration of sailing boats I’ve seen on the trip. There was a Westerly Corsair (few feet longer than Just So) moored alongside in the harbour.

The road west continued through farmland, deciduous forest (still a lot of logging around here) and lakes. The whole area seems to be in a series of timewarps - the rural idyll is 50s ish and although there are plenty of farms, no farming seems to be occurring. The lakeside resorts and motels are from the 60s and 70s and all have a very out of season feel, there are lots of houses and businesses which look like they've been vacant a while. I turned off the road to check out the skiing capital of the Midwest – Powderhorn Mountain, which was downhill from the road I was on!! There were 6 or 7 chairlifts with smart red paint but which looked like they were driven by steam power and the whole place was empty and shut up. The lodge made me think of the hotel in "The Shining" so I turned back to the main road pretty sharpish.

The biggest town I went through, Ashland had a very long pier / dock thing, about 70ft high, which now leads to nowhere on the land. I believe it used to carry iron ore from the railroad to the waiting barges on Lake Superior back when Michigan was the centre of the world steel industry. There’s also one here in Marquette, looming over the lakeshore now regenerated with parks and marinas – a very pleasant little town. Off to Canada tomorrow.

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