Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Touring Series: The Stevens Point Debacle

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995.

This time we rejoin the three rain soaked travelers after they arrive in a bar in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.........

The Steven's Point Debacle. Yeah, this part of the story could stand on its own. It was the defining moment of the tour. A point where we all found out some things about each other.

It all started in that college town bar, the name of which isn't recorded. It was as different from The Cranberry Inn as night is from day. We all felt much more at "home" here, that's for sure. It was still early in the evening, so the place was pretty empty. We learned about the special where if you drank six pitchers of beer, the seventh was free. (Gotta love college town marketing!) We said we'd go for it. I'm sure that the bartender didn't think the three of us could pull it off, but he didn't know us! 
Location of Stevens Point indicated by the arrow.

About six o'clock, and well on our way to pitcher number six, it was determined that we should eat something. The kitchen was closed, however, so we asked the bartender to allow us to order in pizza from Domino's. Now I was sure that this wasn't right, not until I saw the astonished pizza delivery man drop off our steaming hot pie! Weird!

After the pizza was long gone, and we had triumphantly polished off the free seventh pitcher of brew, we decided we had better find a place to stay the night! It was getting busier in the bar by now, and Steve had a mind to hang out longer. Troy and I had concerns about lodging; however, so we set out to do our own "information gathering" without Steve. We ambled out of the door into the dank, wet night. We found our bicycles, mounted up, and headed off in the direction we thought was most likely for finding lodging.

The street was strangely devoid of traffic, quiet, and the night sky was black. Suddenly a strange higher pitched rumble could be heard in the distance. I looked up to see a figure piloting a skateboard with a backpack on. The individual was going right up the middle of the street towards us. As the skateboarder approached, I heard a voice hail us, and we stopped. It was a young college aged guy. He asked us what we were doing, and when we said that we were bicycle touring to Canada, he was impressed. Troy asked him about hotels, and he said that we should follow him to another local hangout, where he might score us free lodging. He said his name was Dave, and took off down the road with us in tow.

The joint was called The Mission Coffee House, and it was full of college aged people. Inside we were met with lots of friendly smiles and questions about our trip. Our "host", Dave the Skateboarder was busy trying to secure lodging. We were busy chatting in our alcohol induced hazes. We were oblivious to the outside world and enjoying ourselves immensely.

Now I'm not going to pretend to know the details of this time at The Mission Coffee House. I will say that for whatever reason, it was as if we had walked into a modern day Never-Never Land. We lost all semblance of responsibility and time stood still.....or it seemed to. I have no idea how long we were there, but it seemed like a very long time. Without scoring any overnight accommodations, we thought we should go get Steve and bring him back to The Mission Coffee House because it was such a cool place. So we took our leave of Dave the Skateboarder and our new acquaintances with a promise that we would be back with our traveling companion. 
 This is only the first part of the weirdness, the second part is yet to come next week. This part of the story was such a departure for Troy that it really should have been drawn out better in my original telling of this. Troy was almost militant when it came to making progress and being "on point" when it came to getting to sleep, getting up, and getting moving each day. Every minute was weighed by him with great seriousness, with the notable exception of the Stevens Point Debacle. There he was a completely different person, at least early on in the night. 

Troy was most in his element at the Mission Coffee House, which, by the way, isn't in the same location it was then. Back in the day, it was located in a huge brick building and the interior was rather expansive. Troy relished the liberal, laid back college patrons there as they were more in line with his Grateful Dead cultural leanings which were in stark contrast to his deeply held conservative opinions and disciplines. Troy was letting that liberal side show there, and maybe this was why I was losing track of time in there, because Troy was generally our "atomic clock" when it came to our touring life style. 

It was rather ironic, when it came to the desire to be helpful to us, that when it came to actually making any arrangements, one by one those well-meaning college students backed away and found reasons not to follow through. I remember losing faith in people a bit that night. What seemed like a sure thing was nothing but. Then there was the rest of the night.........

Next: Taking A Turn For The Worse

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