David Freeze: Battling bugs, a flat tire and spotty cellphone reception

Published 12:10 am Sunday, July 16, 2017

Editor’s note: Salisbury native David Freeze is cycling from Anacortes, Washington, to Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Post is chronicling each day of his ride. Contact him at david.freeze@ctc.net.

Last night at the Tamarac Resort on Round Lake will always be memorable. I knew it was going to be hard to get the story and photos out of the area because of poor cellphone reception. Plus there is no public WiFi even if the place is quite nice and is an ownership-style vacation place. The manager told me she kept a campsite for the occasional cyclist who passed through. I still felt way out of place being the only tent camper.

Right away, I tried to send three photos to the newspaper, and they wouldn’t go. I walked around the lots of huge RVs hoping somebody had an unprotected WiFi but none did. I talked to an owner who told me that the resort has it but does not share it. He also told me that the best cell reception on the huge property was near the water on a private drive. By going there, I got my story and photos to transmit.

By mentioning a day of bugs, late yesterday the horseflies got after me. Usually two or three at a time, but they were not too aggressive. When I got to the resort, it was mosquitos and gnats. The mosquitos hammered me and a few joined me in my tent. A storm was brewing and I hoped it would knock them out, but nothing materialized.

Up very early this morning with a calm wind, I finally gave up and let them eat me as the tent, sleeping bag and inflatable pad got packed in record time. I did get a nice meal at the resort and found a way to charge my phone and iPad.

There were no real towns this morning on the way down the road but there was a very unusual country store in Twin Inlets. The owner was in a foul mood as I entered the door, the only customer. I went right to the bathroom and then came out and bought some things, but he threw the next two groups out because all they wanted to do was use the bathroom. I tried to use my debit card and he made me buy at least $10 to do it, “Not a penny less, I lose money if you do.”

The good thing about the stop is that I met Sarah and Jaye Peterson of St. Paul, Minnesota, as she was buying ice. They gave me advice on how to get to Duluth next and I started the process this afternoon.

My goal this morning was to make it to Lake Itasca State Park and ride through it before going to see the Mississippi River headwaters, the big attraction for the park. There were Indian mounds and a nature boat that goes out for educational cruises, along with plenty of nice beaches. But the big draw is the headwaters. I was amazed at how many families were there and lots of people actually got out in the water or sat and simply stared at the Mississippi flowing from Lake Itasca.

Almost halfway through the 8-mile park ride, I felt my rear tire starting to wiggle and looked down as it was going flat. The rear one is a real headache to change on a loaded bike and it was even worse today. Imagine trying to do it with flies and horseflies all over you. The most interesting thing was a huge black SUV pulled over and a teenage kid just kept sitting on the passenger side eating a huge ice cream cone. Nobody got out but he did eventually roll down the window. Finally two teenage boys got out to go fishing and the ice-cream-eating-one said, “So, she gave up on you, huh?” I said, “No it has a flat.” He replied, “Well, I hope you get her fixed!” They left before I was done.

I lost cell coverage during the midday but decided to try for a bold move by going to Walker this afternoon. Walker is a beautiful town in the Lake Leech Indian Reservation, bordered by beautiful and huge Leech Lake. My motel is the Lakeview Inn, and this time it is, especially after 82 miles, the bugs and a flat. You can look right out the front and see the beautiful lake with no obstructions. I will get some photos in the morning.

The two towns this afternoon were Lake George and Benedic as I spent most of the afternoon riding on SR 220. Both were small but neat. Kudos to Minnesota for great roads today, all the busy ones with good shoulders. I hope it continues tomorrow as I hope to close the gap to Duluth and get there Monday to see Lake Superior and complete all five Great Lakes. Once that deal is done, the final turn south to Wisconsin and Green Bay are the goals.

More great looking lakes today and every single one continues to smell fresh. The terrain was very reasonable too and still mostly light traffic. We are heading into our last week on this journey, the details not quite finalized yet. That should come Monday or Tuesday.

Right now, I am hoping for a good day tomorrow, with tube and CO2 supplies running low. Duluth will surely have a bike shop. Thanks again for riding along — I love hearing from you and you keep adding to the quality of the journey. See you back here tomorrow!

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