CONOVER - Conover native Brian Benson never considered himself a cross-country bicyclist or a book author.
Now, he's both.
We met the Northland Pines High School graduate, and Brian told us about how he met a woman named Rachel on a backpacking trip through Guatemala â€" and how she wanted to bike across America.
"I pretty much instantly just said, 'yeah, I've been thinking about that forever!,'" Brian laughed, recalling the conversation. "I'd been thinking about it for about six seconds."
But Brian called himself head over heels for Rachel, and soon after, they set out from his parents' home near Conover â€" simply "headed west".
Brian got to know Rachel well, but over thousands of miles, sometimes they ran out of things to talk about.
"I ran out of things to think about, too," he said. "I had this idea that I was going to be thinking these deep, deep thoughts out on the road. But I wasn't. I was thinking, I really want a cheeseburger, or my butt hurts, or why I am I doing this?"
He says he got to know Rachel better than he could have imagined.
"You are exhausted and malnourished and unshowered, so you see each other at your best and your worst," he chuckled.
Years later, the journey is now a published book.
"I do feel good about it. I feel good mainly because Rachel really likes it," Brian said.
How else would Brian do a book reading and signing tour but by bike?
He'll travel the Northwoods and Upper Midwest.
You'll need to read the book to find out if Rachel and Brian made it to the West Coast â€" and to hear the end of stories like meeting this bike mechanic.
"This guy named Jeff was probably about seven feet tall and 500 pounds. I'm not exaggerating. Enormous," Brian said. "He was also, I should mention, too big to ride bikes. He broke bikes. He just couldn't do it."
This Northwoods native would love to tell you that tale and many others.
The book is called "Going Somewhere".
Brian has a book reading and signing on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Mercer Library, and will do the same next Tuesday at the library in Washburn.
MERRILL - A Northwoods school pulled off a big surprise on Friday to honor a few veterans. After months of planning, students and staff at Kate Goodrich Elementary got to see the payoff of all their hard work.
"It was like kind of overwhelming," said Wolfgang Lenk.
Lenk, Todd Annis, and Randy Perry had no idea they would be the guests of honor.
"To see all these kids and knowing how hard they worked selling all this, and now your name comes up that you're one of the three recipients, it was awesome," said Annis.
RHINELANDER - A scoop of frozen custard goes down pretty well on a humid day like the Northwoods saw Friday. Rhinelander's Associated Bank made grabbing a scoop an easy way to help others.
Culver's set up a mobile custard stand outside the new bank building on the corner of Lincoln Street and Oneida Avenue from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fifty cents from every $2.50 cup sold went to Associated Bank's Children's Miracle Network fund.
The bank is hoping to raise $500 through its fundraisers for CMN this month.
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