Live from Sault St. Marie Canada, I, Olivia, bring you the first official Great Lakes Great Stories update! As I type this, Ryan is going over our first story recording and Dylan is taking the first shower of the trip. Tonight we are staying at Vélorution, a bike shop with a camping area and bathroom specifically for people bike touring. We hosted our first story recording event this afternoon and had the pleasure of meeting the owner of Vélorution and got to hear just a few of his stories about Lake Superior.
Leaving Marquette on Monday was surreal. We’ve been planning this trip since October so it seemed like the day to leave would never come. A special thanks to the few close friends that sent us off from the Ore Dock. We covered 92 miles into Grand Marais through the beautiful northern woods we love so much. Dylan is convinced that Grand Marais is a movie set since we didn’t actually see another living person there. Our campsite was in an RV park where we had the option to pay extra for cable. However, we were right on Lake Superior for an amazing sunset and sunrise (see Instagram for the picture I took of Ryan eating breakfast, I’m pretty proud of it). Ryan made the best dinner possible with a camp stove that first night. Dylan’s sleeping pad deflated in the middle of the night so there was quickly three people on two sleeping pads. The patching of Dylan’s sleeping pad is still a work in progress, because, like everything else, it has to be jerry-rigged.
On Tuesday, our 5:00 am wake up time rolled around much too soon and we begin another 92 mile day for Paradise. I personally saw some great water fowl on the ride towards Newberry but the boys are really holding out for a moose. At our stop in Newberry, a man approached us about our bikes and told us that he read in the paper that three Northern students were biking around the lake, which was us. We got to stop at Tahquamenon Falls – which Dylan promised for about 20 miles was “just ahead”. None the less, we got to avoid gravel and M-28 by taking the route past the falls. We rode through Paradise – where we actually saw one other human being – and camped five miles outside of town at a state park near the mouth of the Tahquamenon River. For dinner, we killed our remaining pasta and two blocks of cheese prepared by Chef Ryan.
This morning I thought that I was going to have to be physically removed from my sleeping bag – it was so warm and the outside was so cold but we had to ride 57 miles and get across the border for our first story recording event in Sault St. Marie, Canada. The roads were still empty enough where we could all ride together and talk. During one of our descents, the bug spray flew off the front rack of Dylan’s bike and all of the plastic broke off of it.
Crossing the border into Canada was interesting. For about 100 yards we had to illegally ride on the interstate to get to the toll booth on the American side. Once on the bridge, there was construction where it was closed down to one lane. Dylan got through without any issues but Ryan and I got an experience. The construction man stopped us in the middle of the bridge right in between America and Canada and we stood there as a line of cars formed behind us and semis whizzed past us the other way and shook the entire bridge. When we were allowed to go, we got to set the pace for the line of cars behind us. On the final stretch of the bridge, Ryan’s Nalgene somehow shot out from my front rack. RIP blue Nalgene somewhere on the international bridge.
At customs, Dylan got asked maybe three questions and was let into Canada. The guy at my booth asked me why I wasn’t a physiology major since I liked biking, where I was staying in Canada, and how much money I had. He asked me long I had known Ryan for and when I said “two years”, he replied with “Hmmmm, stable”. So now a Canadian Border Patrol agent thinks Ryan and I have been dating for two years.
But, we finally got to Vélorution and met the wonderful staff and set up for our first story recording event. As we began, THE Derek Hall shows up! Derek is the Assistant Vice President of University Marketing and Communications for NMU and the person who got us on the NMU Adventure team, stickers, patches and a logo. It was so nice to see a familiar face after three days of riding. During the event we also realized we needed to get better at our conversions from miles to kilometers if we didn’t want to confuse the friendly Canadians.
After our event, (which I can’t wait to share the recording from) we went out to dinner where I got to eat an entire gluten free pizza—so I am as happy as possible. We grabbed a few more groceries after dinner and have settled in for the night.