Friday, August 9, 2013

Time Warp

“It's just a jump to the left...
And then a step to the right....”

I left Grand Rapids after a huge breakfast that filled me for most of the day. I literally forced myself to have a light lunch (a small bowl of chilli) in a truck stop just to find an excuse to rest for a bit. Most of the day was flat with a good tailwind, but I got into some good hills by mid afternoon.

The approach into Duluth was a big descent, and I felt like I was falling from the great green shelf of the American breadbasket into the creaking gears of the Rust Belt. The crumbling, pothole-riddled road did not even give me the satisfaction of coasting freely, I was riding my brakes all the way down the escarpment for fear of lodging my tire into a large crack and getting thrown off the bike. Suddenly, there was Lake Superior, stretching out like an ocean.

Lake Superior in the horizon
Bridge to the Wisconsin side of the Port Cities

Duluth MN and its twin port city Superior WI sit on the tip of the greatest of the Great Lakes on either side of the St Louis River. There's a fascinating faded glory here, as if they're still clutching on to a faint memory of the mid-century heydays. There are lots of old buildings that I hope won't fall to the wrecker's ball.

To play along with the contextual ambience, I chose to stay at an old hotel built back in 1925 and has been barely renovated since. The Androy was Superior's "Million Dollar Hotel" back then, and still is the city's tallest building at a whopping 7 storeys. My cheap room is up on the top floor — yup, it's a little ragged but I don't mind. The cast iron bathtub is scratched and chipped but along with the hexagonal mosaic tiles in the bathroom, it adds to the vintage experience. 

My room was on the top left corner

The building has a mail chute and the letters fall into this antique collection box

Tower Street all dug up for new sewers and services

The city is in the midst of ripping up its main street to revitalize the downtown area, so for dinner, I went out  towards the port to a place where captains and crews of the large lakers supposedly eat while their ships were docked in town. I had a hankering for a good steak and the Hammond did not disappoint.

There were lots of other bars for the sailors and railway men

Car dealer with some oldies

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