Be advised, if the title didn’t tip you off, this post has pizza.
This was planned to be a big day, so I got a very early start and was on the water at first light. I had my music on right away. I thought “No, I should see what nature sounds like this early.” You know what it sounds like? Busy highway noise. Why are people and semis even driving around at 5:00 AM? Enough of that garbage, I’m sure the loons wanted to hear me rapping along to my music anyway.
After a while you finally come up on the pretty imposing coal plant. The mountain to the right is huge piles of coal. The map shows a lake ahead, but it’s really the river snaking through a wetland. I saw my first boat out there for the day. It was a guy fishing.
Stay tuned for the pizza section. It’s coming.
The pullout for the Pokegama Dam was a decent ramp. I love when they are easy to get in and out. Weirdly, they placed a campsite right there, so I’m sure the campers get bothered by people all day. The dam was just another run of the mill flood control dams.
It was still a tiny bit before the pizza place opened and it was 0.4 miles away (one way). I waited until 11:00 and called. I was worried because Google listed the connecting bar as opening at 2:00. It would be hard to justify waiting that long.
Call result: Pizza order placed! Most people don’t understand how dangerous a pizza deficiency can be. The modern world has easy access to pizza, but long adventures turn that upside down. Anyway, I locked up my boat and started walking along the busy highway. I retrieved my pizza and started the walk back. I didn’t want to leave my boat unattended for long.
When I got back? Bliss. LMNO P-za in Cohasset is legit good. I ate the pizza and took a nap. It seemed appropriate, but I’m not sure the tourists taking pictures at the dam agreed that an unbathed weirdo should lay there.
It was actually a bit strange to watch them. They came up, snapped a picture of themselves and then generally walked away after no more than a few seconds glance. They didn’t even stand there to take in the scene. Was it just for some post? Is it like a kid that likes to collect rocks? Just another photo for their growing collection that they’ll never see again? It reminded me of the AT when one of my trail buddies, Frosty, got to talking about pictures once. He said something along the lines that he didn’t take them and doesn’t post them. “Those views are for me” he said. I thought about that for a while.
I packed up and made quick work of the portage. Only 3 miles of paddling before I hit Grand Rapids and the second longest portage of the trip.
At the Blandin Dam I found the exit. It feels like someone’s backyard. I mean, it essentially is. As I got out my wheels I found an unwelcome hitchhiker, a leech.
So began the 0.7 mi portage through town. It crossed a really busy road.
During the walk I could hear horns blaring like an inner-city traffic jam. Quite bizarre for a little town. I was tired after pulling my canoe that far, but I needed to get some things at the store (0.8 mi away). I secured it again as best I could and off I went. The library has a cool canoe sculpture nearby.
Now if you were skipping ahead to the section about pizza, I completely understand. That’s exactly what I would do too to get past all this boring stuff about canoeing and straight to the heart of the matter: good pizza. But you passed it. Scroll back up to the picture with the pepperoni on top of cheese. I thought that would have been a good clue, but whatever.
On my walk to the store I found what all the honking was about. The local workers at the paper mill were on strike. Teamsters 346 were fighting to end the 2-tiered wage system at the plant. New hires are making $3/hr less than new hires in 2015. Seems wrong. Also, it was a multi-union show of solidarity today, so other locals drove in to walk the picket line. The townspeople seemed to side with the workers judging by all the honks and waves.
The store trip was otherwise uneventful. I was happy to get back to my canoe. I don’t like leaving it unattended so long. I loaded up and made some more miles. I passed a couple of older ladies clearly struggling. They basically just floated and did weird half strokes to try and orient themselves down river. It was slightly comical, but awesome that they were out for an adventure for the afternoon. I stopped at a trailer access point. I’m definitely not camping here because that would be against the rules. I’m just taking a short break until the sun comes back up.
Mileage: 25.1 + 3.1 bonus walking miles
Total Mileage: 170.7
Today’s Audio: Garth Brooks – The River