Uh-oh, bad-bad-Bad! Tues, 7/12/16
The sky was clearing as we left saturated Ontonagon, Michigan. We weren't in any hurry since we had less than 100 miles to get to the Bad River Casino in Odanah, Wisconsin where we'd meet our friends, Donna and Danny. They're traveling east from Southern California as we're returning west to Northern California! Odanah is a bit inland from Lake Superior, a few miles east of Ashland, Wisconsin. We crossed into the Central Time Zone.
We noticed piles of junk in the above lake as we approached Wakefield, Michigan, located a few miles east of Wisconsin. Then we noticed throngs of people. Then we saw why. Those severe storms that nailed us last night hit here and really hit hard. Fairly benign-looking sky now!
Till last night, this very large warehouse had a roof on it. Torn to shreds, it littered the land behind the building and parts were blown into the lake. Jimmy and I parked Tergel at the street and joined the onlookers. It was a mess.
Someone had to break out the back window to rescue the man inside this overturned rig. Apparently he wasn't hurt, but I imagine he'd have nightmares for some time! How terrifying! At the street, we saw a sign that said, "Overnight visitors welcome." Thank God we didn't stop here!
We figured a brief twister touched down in this part of town, tho we saw more snapped limbs and downed trees as we traveled along Hwy 2. Power was out in Wakefield.
The National Guard was on its way, so we left the scene and continued on to Wal-Mart in Ironwood for a few staples. No hurries, no worries, right?
After first seeing the Wakefield damage, being detoured at the entrance to Wisconsin on Hwy 2 was our second indication that all was not well. Just an officer and a detour sign, no information. OK, maybe road work. We didn't know. We drove and drove, figuring we'd missed a sign somewhere. Apparently we were heading SW on Hwy 77, not the way we wanted to go, but every little road north toward Hwy 2 had a sign posted that said "road closed."
25 miles later we hit the town of Mellen, passing over the Bad River that was so swollen it nearly engulfed the bridge we were crossing! The approaches on both sides were flooded. Oh. The light dawned then. Last nights bad storms. I finally tracked down a lady who told me that no way could we get north to Odanah via Hwy 13. No way could we get to Odanah, period. All the bridges were washed out and Odanah was isolated, basically an island. Good grief. Nope, we'd have to drive all the way to Hayward just to get to Ashland!
We were routed and rerouted. Every time we thought we'd found a way north to Hwy 2, another detour sign or road closed sign greeted us. Officers pointed and said, take Co Rd N to Co Rd GC, and ... on and on. The roads got narrower, and they were not the kind you want to take a fully-loaded motor home, towing a car. We ended up on a logging road, still bumping along ... maybe Co Rd XYZ or PDQ or WTF, I don't remember. Water covered the road in spots; we saw partial road collapses.
As frustrating for us as this was, we were still very grateful that we were upright in every sense of the word. Meanwhile, Donna and I had been texting, so she knew our Bad River Casino reservation was a goner. They, who had a much further drive than we did, arrived in Ashland and secured spaces for both rigs, while we wandered all over hell's half acre, trying to find a way north to Hwy 2 and Ashland. Further south, we made it to Clam Lake, then west to Cable, and eventually to Hyw 2 at Iron River, 25 miles WEST of where we needed to be. It was after 5 pm when we arrived at the campground and our friends.
"The Bad River near Odanah rose over 15 feet in six hours, to the third highest level ever, before the automated river level gauge stopped working."
The four of us marveled at the odds of this happening. Two couples from California, one traveling east, the other heading west and out of all the towns in all of the states in this entire country, we would arrange a meet-up at the Bad River Casino in Odanah, on this date. Go figure.
Flooding rivers turned Lake Superior shores a yucky blood-red.
We treated ourselves to a delicious dinner out at Deep Water Grille in Ashland, a reward for perseverance.
Donna and I went for a walk, and it felt good to stretch our legs. Above and below: Big difference between one side of the breakwater and the other side!
Well, it was grand to see our fishing friends (we originally met in Livingston, Montana), although we allowed as next time maybe we'll get together in California. Tomorrow, they'll have to do the grand detour to the east, and we'll continue west. Oh, did I forget to mention that, to add injury to insult, we endured a 20-mph headwind, with gusts of 30 mph all day? Maybe the wind will die down for tomorrow's drive. Maybe pigs will fly.