Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014: Siren, WI to Superior, WI (Duluth, MN)

It was another chilly morning.  The temperature was actually a little warmer than Saturday morning, but the wind was much stronger, so that it felt colder.  We drove back to Siren to the location by the lake where Cal stopped yesterday - one of the many Wisconsin lakes, and Cal began riding.   It was a sunny day, thank goodness, so it did warm up to be comfortable with a jacket. The topography is rolling with a few steep grades. At one point we left the Gulf of Mexico watershed and entered the Lake Superior watershed which in the end flows to the North Atlantic.  So when we crossed that watershed line it was in reality “downhill” to Superior!!!! 

Wisconsin has a series of roads called “Rustic roads”.  I don’t remember how, but we have a “Rustic Roads” guide book, however I don’t have it with me.  Along the way I have seen signage for several Rustic roads, but I have not driven on them.  This morning Cal would remain on the same road for hours so I decided to drive on two of the “Rustic Roads”.  These actually are just “back roads” that are very nice.  The one road went between two lakes whereas the other wound through a forest.  They were lovely drives.  The whole drive today was lovely – birch, aspen and pine forests surrounding lakes and marshes. The leaves are just beginning to change.  Every once in a while there is a bright red tree, but very few.
Siren - Lake along the road

Serene dock along the lake

Birch Forest
For lunch we stopped at a little gas station/bar and grill along the road (nothing else around).  We have been riding/driving in very rural Wisconsin today.  No major towns! This place the “Dry Dock” was also a DNR point where hunters bring their game to be weighed and tagged. Bear hunting season in Wisconsin began last Wednesday.  They were telling me there are approximately 40,000 black bear in northern Wisconsin.  Hunters in Wisconsin can use dogs, whereas across the line in Minnesota they cannot - we were approximately 8 miles from Minnesota. Last Friday this DNR point weighed and tagged 2 bear.  One weighed 142 lbs and the other 202 lbs.   
Local Scene at the Gar Station

Yellow River - Flowing North

Path in the Woods

High Trestle Bridge

After this lunch stop we came to an area where a high trestle bridge spanned a river gorge.  I stopped to take a photo of the bridge when I saw something black swimming in the water.  By the time I was in position for a photo, it was to the other side of the river – I think it was a black bear – if not, a large black dog, but since there are bear in the area I am certain it was a bear. 
We made it to Superior WI.  We loaded the bike and drove to a hotel in Duluth, MN. On our way we stopped at a Visitors Center at the top of a hill.  What a view of the whole area, the St Louis River, St Louis Bay, Superior Bay, Duluth harbor, Superior harbor, ships in the harbor, large grain elevators, an iron ore depot where they were loading ships, and the city. Duluth, MN and Superior, WI area is very busy (maybe not as busy as in its heyday).  In the hills above the city of Duluth there is a Skyline Drive. After dinner tonight in the refurbished Clyde Machinery Works, we drove on the Skyline Drive.  This is a beautiful way to see the city. It was just at dusk so the city lights were shinning.  
Another Scenic Lake along the road

Rail Cars loaded with Iron Ore

Docks where Iron Ore is loaded onto Ships
We had learned about iron ore being shipped out of Duluth when we visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan several years ago, as most of the shipwrecks on Lake Superior were ships loaded with iron ore coming out of Duluth. The Edmund Fitzgerald was the last major ship wreck on Lake Superior in 1975.  While at the restaurant tonight we inquired about where iron ore is mined.  There are mountain ranges about an hour from Duluth (that we will be going near) that has underground and open pit iron ore mines.  
Due to the natural resource of iron ore in the area there were steel mills.  The Clyde Machinery Works made all sorts of machinery that was used to build the Panama Canal, San Francisco Bay Bridge, Hoover Dam, etc.  At one point Duluth was a very industrial city, including ship building during both World Wars.  Clyde Machinery Works is no longer in existence, so they have converted part of the complex into a great restaurant, bar, and event center, while keeping its history.  We are glad for the recommendation to eat there. 
Duluth at Night
Lift Bridge between Lake Superior and the Duluth Harbor

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