I awoke before my alarm on Saturday morning.
When I went to pack up my motorcycle, Roger had placed a washcloth on the cycle for me to wipe down my seat and bike.
He and his wife greeted me outside and asked me to come into the office for breakfast. I had two hard boiled eggs, a homemade scone, and some apple juice. I shared my blog address with them, and we said our goodbyes.
The sky was gray and cloudy, and I wanted to have an early start to the day.
My plan was to reach the North Shore and travel north on 61. All that changed... more on that later.
I drove on windy, rural Minnesota road called 1.
It is a road that can be bumpy at times and other times smooth as silk.
Extremely isolated, I was told to watch out for moose!
It was a cold ride.
At times, pockets of chilly air overwhelmed me, and a shiver would run down my spine.
Despite having five layers on and gloves, I felt unprepared for these types of cold and wet and rainy conditions.
When I reached the North Shore, I stopped off at the Tettegouche State Park/Rest Area. While there, I checked my phone to see how the housing arrangements were going.
No luck in Grand Marais, Minnesota; however, contacts in Duluth were looking promising.
It started to rain, so I grabbed my helmet, and went back inside the covered building provided by Tettegouche.
A band of clouds circled the area.
In essence, it would drizzle/rain; then, it would stop; then, it would drizzle/rain again, and so on.
I hung out along some of the trails and absorbed the views offered by Lake Superior.
Walking down one of the hiking trails, you find yourself right along the Lake Superior "beach" area.
Children and young people could be found swimming along these areas.
Following some reflection time, I headed into Silver Bay to find the local library.
Thanks to ample signage, I found where it was.
Unfortunately, it was closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Seeing a grocery store nearby, I stopped in for some hydration and a light lunch. I found some covered park benches outside, and sat on one of them to relax.
Despite not having any "set" housing in Duluth, I decided to go ahead and drive into the city.
The rain kept stopping and starting, and I had a break in the rain.
I jumped back on 61 and headed south on it.
I passed the giant plant located along Lake Superior called Cliffs Natural Resources.
Water, water, and more breathtaking water views.
Huge granite and basalt structures flanked me.
Sometimes on my right; sometimes on my left; sometimes on both sides.
The real WOW moment came when I could see the movement of lava through the rock formations on the right side.
The lava flow was gray and the surrounding rock was a dark orange.
It was unbelievable how you could see where the lava was rushing through the earth.
Next, I drove through a few jaw-dropping tunnels which had to be created by blasting through these rough and jagged granite and basalt formations.
Later, I saw a turn off (to the left) to take "scenic" 61 into Duluth.
It seemed the rain had subsided... that is... until I reached Duluth.
Arriving around 4:30 p.m., I found a covered parking garage and drove my motorcycle into this dry sanctuary.
I could leave my helmet and backpack there while I found a place to rest and check on the housing situation.
It was a smart move.
By the time, I parked, the rain had begun again.
I found a nearby coffee shop and checked to see how the housing situation was looking.
Apparently, not good.
A few possibilities fell through, so I tried other friends and other options.
Again, no luck.
Finally, a possibility where I could meet someone at 10 p.m. became available.
I had a back-up plan; still, I did not wish to burden others.
I looked for airbnb housing and found nothing.
Many of the hotels were booked except for a Holiday Inn looking to charge $178 a night.
I would blow my daily budget on a one-night stay.
That was a no-go.
I decided to walk around and take pictures and think about what to do next.
Waiting sometimes works to my advantage.
I waited; still, no housing.
Again, I had the 10 p.m. option.
I walked back to my motorcycle and carefully pulled off my bag to find my rain gear.
There, I lost composure and began to cry (as quietly as possible).
As I sniffled, I used a soothing internal voice to calm myself down.
I had another option; I simply had to drive a few miles to get there.
Plus, I could always go on 35 South and find a cheap hotel just outside of Duluth...maybe in Superior, Wisconsin.
By the time I suited up and tightened up my bag, an older couple approached their car parked next to my cycle.
A woman asked if I had turned my headlight off (one that I used for camping).
I looked at her and mumbled, yes.
Apparently, she sensed my torment because her next question was:
"Do you need a friend?"
That was sort of it for me.
I began to sob.
She introduced herself (and her husband): Joanne and Dick.
They offered me their guest bedroom.
All I had to do was follow them home.
And with that...
The light at the end of the tunnel came despite the rain.
I spent the evening with complete strangers at no charge in Duluth.
By the way, Joanne was NOT a Minnesotan; she was from Wisconsin!
When we arrived at their home, they made me scrambled eggs with cheese; later, I showered and fell fast asleep.
On Sunday morning, they offered breakfast and coffee.
I learned that Joanne had been on biking and motorcycling trips (alone); she was a kindred spirit of sorts.
Her and her husband were known to house strays, too!
I also met their daughters (the youngest was on her way to her first year of college in Eau Claire) and a son-in-law.
Before leaving, Joanne taught me about a safety mechanism on my motorcycle -- that it starts when in neutral -- not when I grab the clutch and put it in first gear. Sometimes you think you know about motorcycling, but you really don't.
She prepared a PB&J for me to take on the road and put a brownie in a small bag, too.
I cannot thank Joanne and Dick enough for offering me shelter and food during a time of need.
Until we meet again, my friend.