We’re in northeastern Wisconsin and Minnesota in the midst of what the news media says is the coldest stretch of prolonged frigid temperatures to hit the continental U.S. in a century and yet, everywhere I go around here, the locals seem to shrug it all off and continue with their winter activities of snow shoeing, cross country skiing, hockey playing, hiking, ice fishing and dog sled racing.
They seem to actually embrace the cold in an area where the snow is three feet deep and the snow drifts are taller than automobiles. I mean, they actually enjoy it!
Jennifer and I are here to take in one of the toughest dog sled marathons in North America after Alaska’s famed Iditarod – the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon that kicks off today in Duluth and runs for almost 400 miles all the way to the Canadian border and back across some of the most frigid and rugged terrain you’ll find in the lower 48.
I’ve volunteered to help at a road crossing way up north near Finland, MN starting about 1 AM Monday and use my amateur radio capabilities aboard the Roadtrek eTrek to provide communications and keep track of the mushers as they pass by. The temperature is expected to be -26 F/-32C during our stint up there. Factor in wind chill and we’re talking -50F/-45C.
So I better figure out how the locals dress to handle that kind of cold.
And to do so I went to Northwest Outlet in Superior, WI, right on the Minnesota border and one of the Lake Superior north shore’s biggest outdoor and sporting goods outfitters. It just happens to be owned by Dave Miller, a regular reader of this blog, an avid truck camper and a fellow amateur radio operator. Dave read of my plans to be up here and invited me to stop by.
And when he saw yesterday’s photo of how dirty and grimy our Roadtrek was after driving 700 miles to get here, he insisted that I pull into a heated garage next to his store that they use to install caps on trucks. Then Dave proceeded to hand wash the Roadtrek, even climbing a ladder and helping push off the snow and ice that had accumulated on top of our solar panels.
Then, with a clean and shining Roadtrek hand dried and air blown so the locks wouldn’t freeze, he escorted me to a place where we could get some #1 diesel to mix with the #2 for the predicted super cold temperatures over the next couple of nights that I’ll encounter as I follow the sled dog race up in Minnesota.
Jennifer and I never before met Dave or his wife, Mary. Yet them embraced us like family, even treating us to a terrific Italian dinner at a great restaurant called Valentini’s on the shore of Lake Superior.
But before we ate, I got out the video camera and went into the store had Dave and Mary help dress Jennifer and I like locals, so we’ll be ready for the cold.
You can see that in the video above.
And you can find out how we’re doing by following my live Tweets on Twitter at http://twitter.com/roadtreking and here on the blog, though I’m not sure how good cell phone coverage will be where we’re headed and those detailed reports may be delayed a bit until I get into cellular range.
But, with all the super warm winter clothes Dave hooked me up with, I’m ready to face the arctic vortex.