Manitowoc Tour - Day 5

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High Cliff State Park to Manitowoc, 40ish miles.  

Despite all the beer, I was feeling pretty good this morning. I guess I figured I was almost within walking distance now.  Not much to worry about. 

Still, with all day to cover only slightly over 30 miles to go to the edge of Manitowoc, I just couldn't find my rhythm. The first twenty miles of any given day are always the toughest for me. Once I get into it, I can go all day.  With such a short distance to cover and some less than remarkable scenery as the rural landscape began to turn more suburban, the miles just seemed to crawl by.   

Despite that though, the end of the road beckoned, and I made some good time. Pulled into Manitowoc just in time to watch the 1PM ferry crossing heading out. 

So now I had 11 hours or so to kill, waiting for the ferry to get to Ludington, turn around, and pick me up shortly after midnight.  

First thing I did was hit the bikeshop downtown to buy a new tube and a bike lock so I could ditch the bike for a couple hours.  The dude behind the counter knew a couple MTU students whose names I didn't recognize, but it was cool to see how popular MTU and the Keweenaw are with bicyclists in the midwest.  He gave me a couple good restaurant recommendations too.

So, time to do the tourist thing! 

You can't miss the Manitowoc Maritime Musem- it's a pretty prominent feature of downtown. Looked like a great place to kill a couple hours- and it was.  Oh, sure- they had all kinds of neat things-

A tour of the USS Cobia, a WWII era submarine similar to those that were built in Manitowoc during the war.


A big section devoted to boats built in Wisconsin. Here's a really neat wooden C scow, a type of boat I always thought was cool. 

But tucked away in a corner was one of those unique historical anecdotes that gives you a whole new perspective on the people from a certain place and time.

After all that local history, I needed a nap, so I rolled down to the waterfront and stretched out in what I thought was a public park.  When I woke up and hour or so later, I noticed that that just 30 yards away or so was a patio near a hotel that was now setup for some al fresco dining. The patrons seemed slightly less than impressed by a sleepy cyclist crawling out of the nearby bushes.  I should have gone over there and asked if they had any spare change. 

I was hungry now, and ultimately decided that the "Tequila Rose" would work. What an odd place it turned out to be. 

The first thing you notice is that it's a Mexican Restaurant/Biker Bar. And like any good modern "Biker Bar", it looks like somebody raided the Harley Davidson(tm) dealer tchotchke trove just last week. The place was finley appointed with the latest and greatest in officially licensed merchandise from The Motor Company(tm).  I think the ultimate in this culture clash was their fajitas with smoked sausage and ham.  

Anyway, they had an awesome selection of localish beers on tap, and I set to work sampling each one, pint by pint.  As I was doing this, an interesting phenomenon was happening. Packs, literally packs of women would come in, order a bunch of margaritas and once the tequila and their curiosity about the loaded bicycle parked out front got the better of them would proceed to start flirting with me such that even a bonehead like me could pick up on it. 

This was probably more female attention than I've had in the last 10 years combined. A man with more social graces may have been able to use this to his advantage, but I was in a purely dumbfounded state of shock and awe.  Besides, ladies- this Prince Charming needs to get out of here and get his ass on a boat by midnight and before your tequila buzz wears off.   

OK, my exploits as the suave, sophisticated, homeless, beer swilling cyclist of Manitowoc aside- I was really looking forward to my trip on the SS Badger.  I've been watching this thing come and go from Ludington ever since I was a little kid and have wanted to ride it for years.  At midnight, in Manitowoc, it's a little different than I remember.

Backed into the dock.

Loading up the coal for the boilers.

The empty cargo hold.

I had read that a popular option on the midnight crossing was to grab a deck chair and sleep out on the deck during the 4 hour crossing. With a light rain falling, there weren't a whole lot of takers. Still, I followed one guy's lead and dragged a deck chair under one of the lifeboats. 

Shortly after departing, the rain stopped and we had a nice tailwind and some nicely rolling waves.  With the light midnight crossing load, the boat would roll with the waves and made for a very, very pleasant snooze on the way over. 

I woke up just as we were pulling into Ludington, met my dad for breakfast, and them promptly embarked on a strict training program of beer consumption, eating, sleeping on the couch, and falling off of tubes being pulled behind boats in preparation for my trip home. 



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