Stopping to take in some roadside treasures. Lupines can be here and there in ditches throughout the Northwoods this time of year. (Contributed photo by Joel Austin.)

It’s the time of year again that lupines are exploding in color in ditches around the county.                

On a bike ride back to Moquah from the Delta Diner I rolled past quite a few lining the roads and stopped to admire them.

It got me to thinking about all the beautiful things that we mostly just zip by in our cars. It’s easy (and sometimes necessary) to get into the tunnel-vision of moving fast and needing to watch where you’re going.  It’s something easy to do ... and it can happen even at the speed of a bicycle or hiking on rough trail.

It’s understandable that sometimes you need to pay attention to where you are going and what’s going on around you. On a singletrack trail on a mountain bike, your attention needs to be on what’s ahead of you because sometimes having just a few inches can mean the difference between a smooth ride and crashing.

In a car in traffic, it’s even worse as you have to pay attention to where you are going, what cars around you are doing, and not missing your turn. When hiking a rough trail sometimes not paying close attention to your feet means a rolled ankle or a nasty fall. Sometimes it’s best not to look around for flowers.

But if it makes sense, you should look around and take it in. I’m far from perfect at it — I sometimes find myself coming to while on a bike ride and realizing that I’ve been zoned out for the last several minutes.  Then again, getting lost in your thoughts isn’t the worst thing in the world and, to me, a bike is a easy place to do that — have you ever seen that meme with a picture of someone riding their bike on a lonely road with the caption that reads Miles Are My Meditation?

Saturday was the 14th annual Superior Vistas Bike Tour. I wasn’t signed up to ride this year but wanted to be part of it if even in some limited way — and I decided that I would ride from home to the Delta Diner (turn around point for the 71- and 100-mile routes) take a few pictures and ride home. It was on the way back that I saw the lupines.

Here in the Northwoods there is a lot of beauty to pass by. Fireweed, waterfalls, birch, cedar, deer, lakes, fall color, the stark beauty of the winter. Slow down, don’t just pass by, take it in.

Until next time, keep the rubber side down.


Joel Austin lives in Moquah with his wife and son, is a member of the North Coast Cycling Association and has been biking for more than 20 years. He keeps a blog at

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