Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 47 Friday 8/21/09 Ontonagon to Baraga, MI

Day 47 Friday 8/21/09
Ontonagon to Baraga, MI
50 Miles
2159 total miles

The hard winds and drizzle blowing 20-30 mph out of the north across Superior continued through late morning when I realized that the storm might not break as early as predicted and it would soon be time to go if I wanted to make any progress at all today. I struck out for Baraga to the east and collected many raindrops along the way. This is the wettest I have gotten so far and even the raincovers on my panniers were saturated, in fact they had each collected pools of water which was hanging in sagging bags from the rear, probably adding a few extra pounds to the load. I decided to stay the night at the Ojibway Casino hotel in Baraga to dry out and unpacked everything to make sure I got everything as dry as possible. I also learned from the book I'm reading, "The People Called the Chippewa" by Gerald Vizenor, that Baraga is named after an Austrian Catholic missionary Frederic Baraga, who built a church and house on Madeline Island in the 1800's but was a great interrupter of indigenous culture in his zeal to Christianize the locals. He later became a bishop for his efforts. If you ask around, not too many locals know that history. Vizenor gives some sobering statistics regarding the percentages of land still in native hands out of the original lands that were designated as reservations. In some cases it is less than 8% of the original landmass. So over time, the already bad deal these tribes/bands received became worse through private sales to timber and mining concerns and other opportunists. The reservation casino/ hotel phenomenon is another story. I have passed through several reservations during my trip, not all of which have these enterprises. Apart from the night I would have spent on the Bad River reservation, I haven't visited any of these casinos.This operation is clean and modern, with comfortable rooms and nice amenities-- they even have an arcade and bowling alley for the kids. My only complaint is the cigarette smoke which travels throughout even the non-smoking sections of the hotel. I met some locals at the bar who were amazed about my trip, one of whom told me to expect the local TV station in Marquette to stop me as I rolled into town there tomorrow! I might fly under the radar and take an alternate route!


  1. I often wonder how much fun it would be to attach a sale to my bike!