Phelps, WI

July 3, 2010 7:47 am



I awoke at 6:10 this morning. Every day brings promise of a fresh start, and a chance to do things better. I still haven’t gotten rid of the browser hijack, but have learned which process to kill to disable it temporarily, I think. I’m sitting in a laundromat in Mercer right now, doing our load of laundry which doesn’t even fill the washer 1/3 of the way. I put 12 ounces of the laundry detergent into smaller bottles for the panniers, but plan to leave the rest at the laundromat. We don’t need or want the weight. There’s a life lesson here, somewhere.

Elliot is back at the motel, likely sleeping. There was coffee, OJ, and toast at the motel, but that was all. A very basic continental breakfast. I will not sneer at food, though.

Susan Vacca was doing her laundry, too. Although they had a washer at home, she was bleaching items at the laundromat, because their septic system wouldn’t tolerate bleach. She confirmed that Wisconsinites don’t seem to eat many vegetables. They have their own garden. Susan has 3 grandchildren including two granddaughters 6 weeks apart. I offered her our excess detergent, but she said it wouldn’t agree with their septic system, so I gave it to Carol, another woman at the laundromat.


Susan Vacca

As we headed out, we saw people riding ATV’s. There are trails crisscrossing this entire area.



We reached Winchester at slightly before noon. There was no functioning store there, only a small bar. Elliot and I had cranberry juice. Jocko and Dennis, a couple of locals, dropped in shortly thereafter. We gave them cards. The woman behind the bar recommended that we take Papoose Lake Road instead of highway K.


Papoose Lake Road

Papoose Lake Road had virtually no traffic for miles, and had obviously not seen a winter, yet, as there were no cracks. It was shaded, too, on that hot day. I don’t see why this isn’t the standard Adventure Cycling route. We saved a mile going that way.

The woods are full of small trees, here. Timber is used for all kinds of things.


This home had several lodgepoles drying in the yard They made a volleyball net out of two.

We reached Boulder Junction at 1:15. It was a touristy place, with upscale food, coffee, pottery and art galleries. Merrianne, I think you would have liked it.


Here’s another big fish for you, Lorna.

The day was getting hot. We went into a shop for ice cream.



Outside the ice cream store, there was a canopy, and I met some other travelers. They were from Wausau, like Mark and Tiffany. Their daughter Amber had a slew of cute questions, as could only come from that age. I left cards with them.


The Johnsons on the left, the Dudleys on the right

The bike shop in town did not have a toestrap, but the man there helped me drill out the rivet from the old one. He charged us nothing for the work. I think I may be able to repair it with a bolt and nut. We wanted to have french bread, and made it to the bakery just at closing. The bakery’s specialty was Pastys (PASS-tea, not PACE-tea, which is an ecdysiast’s accessory). I had a beef and rhubarb pasty, Elliot had a pizza one.


They were substantial, about a pound.

The afternoon was wearing on. It was about 4 pm, and we had to decide whether to take one of the nearer campgrounds, or be ambitious and try for Phelps, 34 miles distant, which supposedly had a motel. As it was the eve of Independence day, it was a distinct possibility that the motel would be full. And it was hot. As if on cue, clouds rolled over the sun, and the wind picked up. I took it as a sign from God to go for it,


Is it breezy? Look at the flag.


We got to Star Lake at 5:30. Plenty of time. Along with the usual cold drinks, I bought a postcard there. Debbie, the store owner, told us that the picture on the postcard was of an actual mother duck and ducklings by the dock behind the store, and if we went out back, we might see them. We looked, but possibly the boaters out there had scared away the ducks.


Debbie at Star Lake Store

The store was closed in Conover, so we continued on highway K. By doing this, we were making a choice that would impact the next couple weeks. I’ll talk about that in the next post.

We reached Phelps at just before 8 pm. There was still more than an hour until sunset. We needed the granny gear to get up the driveway of the only lodging in town, the Lakeside Motel. There was exactly one room left. The owner advised us that the A/C was broken, and the screen door wouldn’t close. No problem, it would do. Perhaps that room was left for us precisely because of those problems? And there was a Congregational Church just across the street. God provides.


The room was like someone’s normal house. It had a sink, stove, refrigerator, and all colors of towels, instead of hotel white. There was shampoo in the bathroom, unlike the $94 place in Mercer, which provided only soap. And there was a fan, which was quite adequate for keeping us comfortable.

We asked about restaurants, and the owner told us that if we didn’t mind going to a bar, there was The Great Escape 3/4 mile down the street. We had burgers there. There was a deck outside on the lake, and we watched a fireworks show on North Twin Lake. As it was only July 3rd, I expected that there would be even more fireworks the following night.

Mileage: 65.7


  1. Stephanie McIntosh says:

    Hi Guys!
    I got your postcard Roderick, thanks for thinking of me. What a great adventure you two are on together. I imagine you are even getting to know each other in ways you didn’t before. The pictures you’ve posted of the places you’ve been are beautiful. And the people you meet seem friendly. It appears that you are taking a scenic route, when Merrianne told me what you were doing, I was imagining a lot of highways, traffic and busy streets. I’m glad that you’re taking this opportunity to be together. I bought a new bike on my birthday, which was on July 1st. It was Shawn’s idea. It’s a Raleigh brand Venture 3.0 in Solar White. I’m sure I will never travel accross the U.S. with it but I will definitely get good use out of it. Happy 4th of July, hope you see some good works!

    • roderick says:

      Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

      Never know, you might do a tour someday :wink:.

      Yes, we’re on secondary roads for much of the trip, and even the shared struggles are an experience. Everyone has been extraordinarily kind.

      – Roderick.

  2. Mona Schorow says:

    Happy 4th of July! American Independence. Your independence of carbon-producing vehicles. (The carbon dioxide that you and Elliot create is minimal.)

    Don’t want to scare you, but in your pics, if there are any shadows, it’s getting hard to see your and Elliot’s faces because you guys are getting tanner and tanner! Especially Elliot! He’s beginning to look like a Cheshire cat because of his white teeth when he smiles.

    David and Marcus went to Union City for fireworks and they’re concocting small bombs made of duct tape with fireworks inside plastic bottles. David is the responsible adult; should I worry? Yesterday, my brother and brother-in-law were helping them. My mom, who was also over, asked me to watch them and be ready to call 911! So far, no injuries. Even though fireworks are illegal here, the local firemen said they were okay as long a responsible adult supervised.

    Friends will come over tonight to help light fireworks, so I’m sure there’ll be at least one mature adult here.


    • roderick says:

      4th of July is big in this area. In the North Woods, they were selling the Big Stuff. All you need is a permit, and you can shoot off skyrockets, roman candles, mortars, etc. from your dock on the lake.

      People here are very proud of our country, and flags are abundantly displayed. It’s not surprising, because the rural life is so good. In the cities, where there is less social support, I could see why there is less to be happy about.

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