We rode into Ironwood, Michigan June 9th.
The Gogebic County Fairgrounds has been kind enough to host my 3 day stop over. From Sault Saint Marie to Ironwood is 350 miles. I added another 60 or so by riding north thur L’Anse and Ontonagon to avoid hwy 28. It also gave me a chance to ride the shores of Lake Superior, an ocean without the salt, thrilling for this lady long rider. Twenty three days to cross Michigan, over 400 miles. We need a rest. The horses are in excellent condition and moving with energy. I am packed light, much lighter than I had been crossing Ontario, summer weather allows for fewer items to be packed and carried in my panneirs. Lots of rain but cool and only now are the bugs really determined to devour us. Each night the horses, if we do not have shelter, are covered in bed sheets and fly masks then sprayed with insect repellent. It works. Their heads and tails are quiet as they grab mouthfuls of tall orchard grass, clover, alfalfa, a cornucopia of food for my girls here in the fertile land of Michigan.
MICHIGAN has the longest freshwater coastline in the world and over half the state is forested and dotted with over 100 parks!!, its been a highlight of the ride. I have learned about the “yoopers”-the name given to those living in the upper peninsula and the “trolls” those living out side or in the lower half of the state. I’ve eaten “pasties” a pastry filled with meat and vegetables, once made for the miners. And….I have been bitten by Michigan’s nasty “black flies.” The name Michigan is derived from the American Indian name “Michi-gama” meaning large lake. The American Robin is the state bird and the painted turtle is the state reptile, I see lots of both. Its a good state to ride, lots of grass, water and friendly people who seem to find an equestrian traveler…well interesting. I am glad I came back thru, it was a good call to reroute this way.
I really feel I must apologize for not posting my route change. Several people have inquired with,” Hey whats up I thought you were riding Canada coast to coast?” Well yes it had been my intention when I set out on this ride but plans change routes change and I do reserve the right to reroute if I feel it may be dangerous, or I simply can not make it do to weather. When I rode back into New York last year from the Atlantic Ocean I realized it would be impossible to ride all the way back into Canada near Maine. (please note that I do not route in detail my entire ride, right now I am looking at Wisconsin and Minnesota, when I cross those states I will look at Manitoba and the route westward) So I headed up thru Ontario, not sure at that point whether I would take a northern route thru Thunder Bay or take a southern route along Lake Superiors shores. I still wanted to see the Adirondacks of New York and I was pulled to see a bit more of Michigan’s “upper peninsula.” But what really changed the route was Canada’s Hwy 17, holy cow. I have never seen such truck traffic on a 2 lane road. As it was I had to haul about 100 miles of it. Highway 17 SHOULD NOT BE RIDDEN by equestrian travelers! Plain and simple. Taking the northern route seemed ridiculous as it meant even more risk. SO, I went thru Sault Saint Marie and will re-enter Canada near the Minnesota/North Dakota border and head for the west coast.
The Gogebic Fairgrounds has one of the finest displays of historical buildings constructed in the 30s. The facility is hosting several events this weekends.
The 4-H’s are having educational workshops and have brought tents and campers for the event not to mention their sheep, cows and pigs they will be showing at the fair this summer. I am a spokesperson for 4-H and speak at many clubs as I travel. It filled my summer with direction and discovery, I’ve said many times the lessons learned in 4-H are now applied to my long riding life.
There is also a horse-show coming up on Saturday. The fairground facility may not be what it once had been but it’s worth having and adds to any community. I do hope they are able to do the necessary repairs to the Gogebic Fairgrounds they are beautiful and as is seen by this weekend, well used.
Thank you to Carl and John who keep the buildings and grounds in good working order. They made sure I had everything, ran me out to buy hay and grain and just checked in on us to make sure the horses and myself had everything we needed. ALSO thank you Kathy Jo and Nancy Zak for helping us get settled in and safely off busy hwy #2.
These photos do not do justice to the actual structures. Deb Daniels met me a day or two before I rode into Ironwood. She had stopped the car beside me as I struggled to pick up the over turned panniers. (They’d slipped under Essie’s belly, the cinch came loose), Oh I was having a good time when Deb stopped, and we laughed about it. Her aging terrier (I think he is) Gismo stuck his head out the window and thought the whole scene pretty amusing. Deb came by later the next day at the fairgrounds. She let me take a hot bathtub soak at her lovely home, chauffeured me around town to run errands and then we went out with a handful of other folks for a beer. Such a help. These are photos of Ironwood, once a logging town once a mining town once quite prosperous. But still it is a beautiful town and well kept and the architecture stunning.
taken from an actual photo I wish I had more details for you. It is the miners who worked in the Iron Ore Mines real faces, real lives.