Thursday, September 13, 2007

Road Trip Notes

(Madison, WI) - It's been difficult to get wireless internet connections in the various places we've been visiting, so the posts aren't exactly on the spot reporting. That's ok. The main thing is the trip itself, of course.

Today's start was in Duluth, where temperatures were cool, but the cloudy skies did not mean anything more than sporadic rains. In any case, a little rain wasn't going to dampen a trip to Duluth's waterfront, where we were going to check out huge ships leaving the harbor, and trains carrying ore and stone.

A ship called the "Canadian Progress" left the harbor carrying a load of coal, for power plants or steel mills unknown. The US Army Corps of Engineers posts the expected times of arrival and departure for tankers, so it's easy to plan to be at the channel at the right time. Navigating these ships out of Duluth and into Lake Superior isn't nearly as treacherous as the course through Cleveland's Cuyahoga River "Collision Bend", but it's still fun to watch the trip.

The Canadian Progress in the ship channel on Minnesota Point connecting Duluth and Lake Superior

Hitting the road out of Minnesota and into Wisconsin revealed the best wildlife sightings of the trip thus far: Four bald eagles, several elk, deer, and dozens of wild turkeys. Neither Steve nor I had never seen a bald eagle in the wild before, so we were very excited at seeing one on the road, finishing off a deer carcass with the help of some crows. Only about ten minutes later, I spotted another perched atop a dead tree in a swamp. Steve stopped the car so I could approach for some pictures. As I made my way closer, a second bald eagle chased the first off its' perch, taking its' place. Unfortunately, in getting closer for better photos, both birds were spooked off, and they flew away.

I wish I could have gotten closer, but the bald eagles didn't seem eager for my company

This was the first real serious backroads jockeying we did, and it really paid off. We use the DeLorme's Atlas & Gazatteer series of maps. These are backroads maps, created with road trips in mind. DeLorme's publishes an edition for most states. They aren't great for city travel, but they really help you find alternates to the highway that make up in scenic beauty for whatever time might be sacrificed. I recommend them highly.

The road less travelled, in northern Wisconsin.

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