Sunday, June 20, 2004

Random Notes from a Week in the Apostle Islands

* When I was fresh out of college, I thought that the main issue involving Superior, Wisconsin was which of its gritty, “authentic” bars was coolest. Now, pushing thirty, I think the big question with Superior of such great natural beauty manages to be such a shithole.

* I would say that having a tree root plug your toilet drain of your cottage sucks ass, except that it really prevents the fruits of your ass from being sucked away. You get my drift.

* On the other hand, when said toilet-drain blockage gets you a discount so deep that you're staying at a swank cottage on a beautiful island for less than a Motel 6 would cost, you learn to love tree roots.

* Minneapolis is a city of many great bookstores; and St. Paul has a few good ones, too. But by far the coolest one I've ever been to was this dinky little used place in Bayfield, WI. I can't remember the name offhand, but it's not like there can be that many other used bookstores in Bayfield to confuse it with.

* As far as that goes, Bayfield rules. No city of less than a thousand would ever be expected to be so funky and cool, especially with the mullets of Superior just an hour away.

* However, I can't understand the passion shared by all of Bayfield's merchants for Blue Bunny Ice Cream. It's not like Blue Bunny is dog food, but it's nothing special. But everyone there sells it and acts like they're serving you the special gourmet shit that they only trot out for kings or Donald trump.

* Sea kayaking = fun.

* I enjoyed staying on Madeline Island, but it seems to be full of hippies and weirdos. The hippies I can handle just fine; although you think that with so many of them around, it'd be easier to get veggie burgers. The weirdos, though, were pretty overwhelming. We had the mumbling self-talker who stumbled into a bar and announced to everyone that he'd been at his job for six years and wanted to celebrate it by having a party Friday night at which he'd get a couple of cases of O'Doul's and get crazy (this, by the way, was the first thing we saw on the island). Or there was the dumpy-but-bronzed man who split his time between driving around the island in a convertible and hanging out at the Island Inn pool hosing down children with a squirt gun. Or that guy's kids, for that matter, who thought it was a ton of fun to put on life jackets and hop into a hot tub with an unfamiliar couple and bug the hell out of us, going so far as to try to sit on Rebecca's lap. Rebecca rebuffed the attempt with a well-placed kick.

* However, the single weirdest person we encountered was in Superior (of course)-- a kid in his mid-teens who was spending his Saturday afternoon in a Subway, rocking out to a boom box that was cranked up to drown out the oldies compilation Subway wanted us to eat to. Said kid would bob his head constantly, talk to himself, and occasionally stare over at us to judge how effectively he was annoying us. When it became clear that he was annoying us pretty effectively, he brandished the case of the CD he was rocking and initiated a stare-down.

Really, stay out of Superior. That's the main lesson. Duluth's wonderful, but for god's sake, its sister city is the armpit of Wisconsin.

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