Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: bike, GeoCache, vacation

GRABAAWR – Rhinelander to Merrill

After another wonderful evening with some of my Northwoods friends,
it was back on the bike this morning heading from Rhinelander to Merrill.
The day started out a little overcast, and still gray from another overnight rain.
We set out knowing that at some point we would get rained upon. Inevitable.
Actually, my sunburned skin is pretty happy that today might be overcast & cloudy.
Even the rain doesn’t seem too bad… gives my skin a chance to calm down a bit.

The first water stop was a few miles into the ride and the clouds were darkening.
We decided to move on quickly hoping to make it to the next town before the rain
No such luck. We got soaked, despite our efforts to “duck out of the way” under some
trees and roofs along the way. When we made it to the little town of Tomohawk,
we stopped for lunch, and a chance to dry of a bit. By the end of lunch, there was
literally a puddle under my chair from my raincoat dripping. Luckily, a piece of pie
made the day much better. While we ate, the rain stopped as well.

While in Tomohawk, we also decided we should check to see if there were any
GeoCaches anywhere in town. And to our surprise we found out there were three
to be found. The first one was hidden in a tiny little container stuck on the under side
of a park bench along the main street.

The second one was apparently hidden by the same person, in the same manner
at the other end of town… and by “town” I mean like four blocks. Seriously.

The third one was a little tougher to find and it forced us to get off the main drag.
We had to check out some of the local woods to find the GeoCache. Chris found a
large box hidden in the nook under some tree roots. The box was filled with crazy
trinkets for you to exchange with.

Then it was back on the road… pedaling further. More rolling hills… which I love!
We don’t have many hills here in Chicago, so I’m much more accustomed to the flat cornfields
and even  flatter lakefront. So when I get to play on some rolling hills, I’m a very happy biker!!!

Further down the road, we found some incredibly beautiful horses standing on the side
of the road. At first we thought they might be statues… standing so still, standing so tall.
But of course, we had to stop and play for awhile. After getting off our bikes, and a little
encouragement, the horses finally came over to see us. There were two of them,
named Lincoln & Ford. They are Fiersian Horses – and they might be the most beautiful
horses I’ve ever seen?! And the friendliest. The owner came out to chat with us and explained
that the breed is know for being so sociable & friendly.

In the last stretch of our ride, the sky grew dark again… impending storm approaching.
We’re smart enough to know when it’s time to seek cover. So we did. Minutes after we were
safe under the roof of a deserted store front, the rain came pouring down… lightning…
thunder… and HAIL. Yes, hail. We missed the storm and watched a lot of other bikers
riding through it as we sat their in the dry entryway. When it cleared up, we started out again.
Only to stop a few more miles down the road under a forest preserve pavilion with a bunch of
other “stranded” bikers also waiting out the storm. This is where we met Liz. One of the most
upbeat & bubbly people we have ever met. Many people can become a little downtrodden
with the storms… but not Liz. She was just excited to be having this adventure!

By the time we made it to the finish school, we were finally dry and ready for dinner.
It was very hot & humid… with another round of storms predicted for overnight.
But nothing that a large hot fudge sundae couldn’t help with… especially when you have Liz
with for the trip. We invited her to join us for ice cream, and she never stopped talking!!!
Recently retired and ready to take the world by storm! Too funny… such wonderful energy!

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