Michigan’s in the taillights now. Wisconsin! Cheese! Green Bay Packers!
Our planned first stop is a short hop to Ashland. I’ve seen photos of the murals in this small town, and want to check them out. We find a municipal RV park, right on the shores of Lake Superior, and decide to stay for two nights. It’s windy, cold, and very dreary. The dominant feature of the Ashland landscape is the Ore Dock, built over 100 years ago when Ashland was a main shipping point for the ore and timber extracted from the area. The ore dock extends nearly a half-mile into the Bay. The superstructure has been dismantled, leaving the dock base stretching out into the water. You can walk at least half-way out. Lake Superior laps at both sides of the huge metal dock. It’s cool.
The other distinguishing feature of Ashland is the EPA shoreline cleanup site. There’s the biggest tent you’ll ever see, complete with enormous air-handlers and smokestacks. Contaminated soil from the area is brought inside the tent by truck, and the debris is sorted. Soil is baked in an adjoining kiln, heated to 1200 degrees. After baking, it’s tested and redistributed. Non-treated debris is hauled off to some other site for disposal. The entire project is slated to take eight months, after which Ashland will have its harbor back.
Our municipal campground is directly between these two spots.
We establish camp, haul the bikes out of the Firetruck, and hit the road – armed with a brochure of the murals.
Two mural artists have decorated the historic Main Street district of Ashland with murals depicting the history of the community the first in 1998, and the most recent in 2012. They’re glorious – colorful and informative. Some, painted directly on the brick buildings, are a block long. They are fabulous. My favorite was probably the Ore Dock, which included many smaller portraits of its significance to the community.Even McDonald’s got into the act, and had a mural painted in their dining room.Hey, guess what? There’s a brewery in Ashland! South Shore Brewery. Beautiful setting. Beer….so so. Their claim to fame is their Brown Ale, which is not our favorite, but John enjoyed. I tried an Apple Ale – good at first, but it got pretty tiring by the bottom of the glass. John’s whitefish sandwich was good. My steak salad was ok. End of review.
We spent a morning wandering around the city, grocery shopping by bicycle. There’s a wonderful food co-op here, and an old butcher shop with award winning brats. We stashed away a couple of frozen packages, hoping they will sustain us through the next leg of our trip.
On my afternoon walk with Jezzy, we strolled to the ore dock. There, sitting on a piling about 50 yards from me sat a bald eagle. I had my binoculars along, so I just parked myself nearby and watched him watching me for about 10 minutes. I was hoping he would find himself something for dinner while I was watching, but no.