Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rafting Piers Gorge on Menominee River

Here is a set of photos from a friendly rafting trip with family.  There are a lot of pictures, but not a lot of reading.  Follow the sequence of events...

That's me front left in picture.  Phil (Laurie's bf) is front right in the picture. 
Feel free to comment on my tan lines.

A good look at our guide Forrest.  Yes that is his real name. 

Where is everyone?

Forrest warned us about a rock they call "Volkswagen."  I guess this is it.  I didn't see it coming.  


Down goes Phil...

Regretting my choice of mesh shorts over a swimsuit.  Mesh is really form fitting when wet evidently...

First and last handstand of my life (kinda)

Phil's arm and my legs.  

Me on left

Still under water...

My head on left, still under water...

These safety guys on the rocks were not doing much except yelling "get him in the boat!"

....and Forrest dropped his paddle.

That's Phil laying across the boat as Forrest reaches for his paddle. 

Forrest got the paddle and everyone got in the boat. 

The funny thing about this trip was that we started by towing an empty boat.  We dropped that empty boat off up river before running through these rapids.  After the above debacle, we hiked back and did the same rapids AGAIN.  

We changed positions and no body fell out...

Bill, Sara and Julie in the front.  Sara is sans paddle because we lost a paddle in the chaos above. 

Forrest standing up to show off.
And a great smile on my niece Sara...

Check out the facial expressions on Bill and Will (father & son). 

BOOM, same rock that launched me...

Phil saves Julie.  What a man's man.  

Random lady is dress on the bank?!?!?!

All good, happily paddling home...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bike tour 2014. Park Ridge, IL -> Lakewood, WI

I decided to try and bike from my home outside Chicago to my sister and brother in law's lake house in Lakewood, WI.  My approximate route:

Here is the recap of the trip:

Day 1: Sunday August 3, 2014. Park Ridge, IL to Racine, WI.  Approximately 62 miles

Saw a little man riding this bike with the handlebars reversed.  I asked him why and he said his arms are short.  He neglected to be in the picture but let me take one of the bike.  This was near Great Lakes Naval Base in northern Illinois.

Here is my ride with the entrance to Great Lakes Naval Base in the background.  

Another shot of Great Lakes Naval base entrance.  Not sure why I am so obsessed with this...

I stopped in Kenosha, WI for lunch on day 1.  Being a sunny Sunday, there were many motorcycle riders out and about.  I tried to capture two in the background behind my bike.

Great french toast at this cash only diner in Kenosha, WI.  

South of Racine I saw this medieval castle/ fire house/ torture chamber/ future hipster brewery.  Pretty cool building. 

Looking out at Lake Michigan near the marina in Racine, WI. 

A really good band was playing outside at the marina with like 4 people watching them.   The concession stand sold $2 Coors Lights.  I sat there for 90 minutes for a personal concert: Steely Dan, Prince, James Brown, etc...  The lead singer came to talk to me about my bike during their break.  He couldn't believe I rode there from Chicago.  I told him he can say that someone rode their bike all the way from Chicago to see them play. 

How "Wisconsin" is this?  By the way, these fish were hanging about 20 yards from where the band was playing.  Could affect crowd numbers...

This was the sign on the shelter the band was playing in.  No idea what it means. 

My room for the night at a host's house in Racine, WI.

Day 2: Monday August 4, 2014.  Racine, WI to Mequon, WI.  Approximately 50 miles (40 miles plus a 10 mile accidental detour).

Racine, WI had a cool "fog horn house" and light tower. 

There used to be large pieces of wood through the holes and two men would turn it to help anchor a ship with the connected rope.

The light house - operational and inhabited by a human caretaker.  

I spent much of the day on and off the Oak Leaf Trail.  It was a nice trail between Racine and Milwaukee.  Part of it ran inland and part of it along Lake Michigan. 

I got a little lost in Milwaukee - I had to veer inland from Lake Michigan to get around Milwaukee Harbor.  As I was trying to get my directional bearings I kept seeing these smiley face signs.  I followed them and eventually found my way back to the lake front path.  I never did find what the smiley face location was????

Having lunch in downtown Milwaukee, I spotted a kindred spirit across the street.  Interesting looking bike.  He left before I finished lunch so I did not get a chance to find out his story.  

A cool picture of some old docks in Shorewood, WI.  This is just north of Milwaukee.  

I spent Monday night with Jim and Roberta, friends of my sister Margie.  They were awesome to me.  I did laundry, ate and drank beer.  I took some great pictures of Turkeys that were cutting through their yard, but they did not come out.  In lieu of pictures, imagine a turkey here:

Day 3: Tuesday August 5, 2014. Mequon, WI to Pipe, WI.  Approximately 65 miles

I can't believe it took me three days to see a witty church sign.  

Day 3 brought my first major on the road repair - a broken spoke.  I had spare spokes and all the tools necessary.  It still took me about an hour to unload everything, change the spoke and repack. 

 After a long sweaty ride (and with greasy hands from spoke repair), I ran into this place at the end of the road by my campground.  The host let me sit in the dining room even though I was sweaty and disgusting.   

As to be expected in Wisconsin, nice portion sizes.  Much better than the cliff bar I was going to eat in my tent. (I hate to be a douche bag who posts pictures of food, but this was so good). 

There is a lookout tower right outside of Jim and Linda's

Sunset over Lake Winnebago as viewed from the tower.  

This is looking south at where I came from...

I interrupted two high schoolers making out and had them take my picture.  I am smiling because I just ate the two kabobs pictured above. 

Looking north to where I am going (kinda)...

In case you care about the history of the tower, here it is:

This was an extremely long day.  I left Mequon around 8am and did not get to Columbia Campground until after 6pm.  I was so tired that I set up the rain shelter instead of my tent (first time I used this tent).  I was too tired to fix it and slept under it anyways. 

Camp "host" Dennis was my guy.  Him and his wife invited me to Taco night at a place called Al Capones.  I declined due to the kabobs from the supper club.  Dennis later reported that "the tacos sucked."  Dennis and his wife stay at the campground all summer in exchange for doing a little work.  They had me over for a few beers and fire.  Dennis regaled me with many interesting stories.  These included:

  • Serving in Vietnam in the late 60s
  • His Uncle Bob who was in the mafia in Cicero, IL.  (Bob "went away" for ten years only to reappear).
  • Dennis' wife told me how "they became lovers in the 1960s."  

I love the carpet.

Day 4: Wednesday August 6, 2014. Pipe, WI to Seymour, WI.  Approximately 50 miles

After pounding a few beers with Dennis Tuesday night, I promptly went into a coma in my tent around 9:30 pm.  This led to me waking at 5 am.  I was on the road by 7 am and I covered 25 miles to the day's midway point by 9:30 am.  I was spending the night with a friend in Seymour, WI, (another 25 miles) but he was not expecting me until 4 pm.  I decided to kill some time in Kaukauna, WI, which was about the halfway point of my day. 

Kaukauna straddles the Fox River which flows out of Lake Winnebago from the north.  

A logging truck rolling over the bridge...

A cool sign over a dam...

I love murals in small towns.  This mural was pretty cool...

...except for this scary boy head.  The kid looks like he is drowning, not swimming.  

I hate when cows stare at me.  

On this night I stayed with friends Dave and Cindy.  They have an awesome 5 acre property in Seymour, WI.  This shot is looking at their neighbor's property at sunset.  

Dave has bees (and ducks, dogs and cats).  Here are where the bees live.  

One of the two dogs.  I forget this dog's name, but it is an excellent Frisbee dog.  

 Day 5: Thursday August 7, 2014.  Seymour, WI to Lakewood, WI. Approximately 68 miles

Pulling out of Dave and Cindy's driveway, saying goodbye to Seymour, WI. 

One last look at Dave and Cindy's property.

5 miles into my (almost) 70 mile day, I got two (!) broken spokes.  

Not sure what is going on here.  My best guess is that these are some sort of sleds for when it snows.  

Not a real McDonald's:

I stopped at this place by Anderson Lake for lunch.  It sucked.  

The highlight of the above bar/ restaurant was the TV schedule written on the side of some tub on the bar.  Good to know they wrote down when Hee Haw is on.  

Waubee Lodge, about 1.5 miles form my final destination.  I stopped in for a celebratory beer. 

Last stop: Bill & Margie's house!!

Last scene of the trip...

Cumulative Statistics

Total Miles: 292 miles
Bike Paths used: 
  • North Branch Trail (IL) (for Illinois people this is the one that goes to the Botanical Gardens)
  • North Shore Bike Path (IL) (for Illinois people, this runs east-west along Rte 176)
  • Robert McClory Bike path (IL) (for Illinois people this is the path that runs from Evanston up the lakefront to Kenosha)
  • Oak Leaf Trail (WI)  
  • Interurban Trail (WI) (right outside of Mequon heading north)
  • Eisenbahn State Trail (WI) (this trail ran perfectly northwest where I was going on day 3 towards Pipe.  I was on this trail for about 30 miles). 
  • CE Trail (WI) (I was only on this for a block but I am counting it)
Coolest town names I passed through:


A picture (but not a list) of everything I carried.  I carried more than was needed.  I wanted to see if I could handle it for a potential longer trip in the future.

Maintenance Issues:

  • 3 broken spokes
  • one broken bungee cord (replaced at Dollar General)
  • rear rack bolt/clap fell off on day 1.  I somehow found all pieces and put back together
  • bolts holding my kitty litter panniers came loose on day 3.  Tightened once and they held for the trip.