Adventure Home Necessary Options
Michigan's U.P., including Lake Superior, and Wisconsin - September 2001
DALMAC ’01 - Special People Along the Way
On the first day, I was privileged to see the Colony Road cow tunnel in use. Between the D & K rest stop and Forest Hill Road, there is a small bridge over a brook. Cows grazing on the north side need to get to the barn on the south side. There is a concrete ramp from the field down to the brook. As I approached, they were going home without interrupting traffic.
Up the road in Perrinton, I had a good lunch. Someone riddled that Alma was in the middle of DALMAC. Since this was the first of five days, it didn’t initially make any sense. Once understood, I decided on a bit of mischief up the road. Upon arriving at the ALMA city limits, and with some help, I taped a “D” before, and a “C” after the name on the city limits sign. Alma is the home of Dick Allen, founder of DALMAC.
Between Beal City and Farwell, I passed six riders - all but one riding a recumbent. As I went by, I yelled “Who’s the oddball on the upright?” A couple of miles later, the oddball on the upright caught me to say the recumbent riders got a great amount of satisfaction out of my comment. They had been trying to get him to get a recumbent, and he has refused to just because they wanted him to.
He also mentioned that they had made favorable comments about my RealLITE taillight. When I told him I was the manufacturer, he had to go back and tell them that.
Bill Barber is from Indiana and was the only person in his 70's on my route. He told me about Chuck Harris of Ohio who has for the past 25 years been making review mirrors out of bicycle spokes, beverage containers and bits of glass. Thirty years ago, Chuck built his own bike. He made everything, including the gears. When Chuck was looking for a wife, he would put his date on a bicycle and they would go for a ride. If she didn’t like riding, he wouldn’t call her back.
At Lake George, in the Porta-Potty, someone left some baby powder on the floor. I don’t mean in a container. Just how do you apply that stuff and not get it all over your Lycra? And what about the next few users who drop their shorts unknowingly into that white powder?
In Marion, the toilets had automatic flush. The toilet paper dispenser was behind, rather than at the side of, the toilet. Reaching behind my back to pull a length was a problem because the flusher had water condensation on it. This limited the amount you could pull, and could result in something cold and wet to finish your job. On the other hand, standing up and facing the dispenser flushed the toilet. Being startled when you think you are done can reveal that you weren’t. 'Nuf said.
During the past two days, I have had some difficulty getting Sarah down the road. My sense was that I was working hard enough that I should have been farther along than I was. I checked for low tire pressure and dragging brakes.
I was beat, and I needed to call on the Boyne City bike shop before it closed at 5pm. I accepted a ride for the remaining 7 miles. After setting up my tent, I turned Sarah over to Dave Moss of D & K. I wanted him to check tire pressure, brake alignment, and wheel bearings. I went to dinner.
I’d just finished dinner when Dave appeared at the doorway, and gave me an animated first finger curl that looked serious. Sarah’s one-piece front hub had become three pieces and the wheel was rolling not on ball bearings, but on the quick release skewer and inner hub. I needed a new hub, and Dave had none the right size. He did have the other size of 20” wheel, and a set of brakes that would reach the rim, but the generator for my headlight couldn’t reach the tire.
We decided to sleep on it. Worst case was that I would be stranded in St. Ignace an extra day while a wheel from somewhere could be sent "Next Day Air".
In the morning, Dave came back with his measuring device and a bit of a smile. He had a built-up wheel with a hub that had the right dimensions. He removed the hub from the wheel and re-laced it onto my rim. This was done enroute to the bridge on the last day. When it was ready, I could have ridden but elected to rest in Dave's motor home. As a result, I have 78 fewer miles to claim as my DALMAC mileage.
Dick Boyd is a well-traveled bicycle tourist from Iron River. I have only met him on the internet touring list (Touring@phred.org). I had planned to be his guest in a week. He also makes pottery and was at a Labor Day weekend craft show in St. Ignace. As soon as Dave's Chauffeur Service arrived at the High School, I dumped my gear on the grass and went looking for Dick in town. I had been wondering whether Dick wore a beard. When I first saw him, it confirmed to me that he is a hairy potter.
By this time, both my Achilles heals were bothering me big time. It must have come from the extra effort of riding with a bad front wheel. I couldn't walk any distance without keeping my knees bent. I was thinking about abandoning the rest of the trip. Dick used to be a runner, and told me I could either rest for days or weeks, or kill the pain and inflammation with the over-the-counter product many runners use. I immediately bought a bottle of Alieve and took two.
When I got back to the High School, Dave wanted to check my rear brakes. He did so, and then took Sarah on a 25mph test ride around the parking lot. Next morning, I realized after I had all my equipment loaded that Sarah was still in 19th gear. Umph!
I want to give special thanks to those who eased my anxiety and made the rest of my trip possible. The DALMAC Crew assured me I would get to St. Ignace, even if it was on their rubber rather than Sarah’s. We could check bike shops between Boyne City and Mackinaw City for the right part, if any were open the day before Labor Day.
In the end, it was Dave Moss who made it happen. He learned his trade in much the same way I learned mine - OJT. More important in this case was Dave’s persistence and creativity. He got me down the road.
Superior Adventure in the Land of the Lost
Labor Day was here and I actually was up and around before the busses left, even though they were a half hour earlier than last year. My heals were still bothering me a lot, but Sarah and the rest of me were ready.
On the road by 8:10, a kindly west wind blew me into St. Ignace. I turned north, and the wind followed me up a hill. Life was good.
As the sun shown bright, I was pelted with large drops of rain. The wind became a crosswind that almost blew me into a deceased skunk. Thanks to that wind, I never smelled it, coming or going. Within an hour, occasional sprinkles turned into rain. I found shelter under some trees. When the rain quit, I turned west onto M-123 and within a mile got caught in a downpour. I turned into the first drive and rode right into the garage.
I am noticed immediately by a lady with a phone in her hand. I asked to borrow her garage until the rain lets up. We end up having a 45 minute chat. She is a full blooded Chippewa, born in the house in the back yard, and grew up to marry a Norwegian. We talk of the ways of the Indians and hear that the Bridge Walk has been stopped due to the weather.
It's become afternoon and the clouds have thinned to reveal the sun. I've gone less than 15 miles this day when I realize I'm moving faster than the air that was in my rear tire. Some thoughtful person, done with their Miller Light in a bottle, broke its neck to give me a break.
My new extra wide Kenda tire didn't want to leave the rim. After a long battle, and lunch, I'm back on the road a mere 75 minutes later. I have taken the offending broken neck parts into custody.
Thirty-five interesting miles from St. Ignace, I'm set up at Trout Lake Township Park. I planned it to be a short-mileage day. I didn't know just how much help I would get insuring it would be that way.
Next morning, to help overcome not being functional before 10am, I take the drug in tablet form favored by dyslexics - enieffaC.
At 8:10, it was 49 degrees, and I was on the road again, headed for the old fashioned ice cream soda fountain in Engadine. Traffic was about 15 vehicles an hour.
After using Alieve for a day and a half with good results, I decided I could save some weight by throwing out my 5 remaining Motrin.
Engadine had not changed from last year, but I had. This time, I got my ice cream in a dish instead of catching the drips from a cone on the back of my hand.
I've seen some strange things. Why do people driving houses on wheels have sleeping passengers?
A true sign of dehydration is when you have difficulty restacking the Pringles in the can.
I stopped for a pasty. When the waitress said Labor Day cleaned them out, I walked out. I was putting my helmet on when she came out to say the cook found two. She overcharged me for my beverage, took my money with the bill, and said she would be right back. She disappeared to read War and Peace, then came back with my change. I left her a ten cent tip.
I asked someone "How far to Manistique?". "Oh, that's a long ways - probably 40 minutes." "How far to Gulliver?". "Oh, that's really close - only 30 minutes." Duh!
I'd planned to stop at a campground before Manistique that was 3 miles off my route. It was still early, I was feeling good, so I saved six miles by passing it up. I did laundry in town, then went to Indian Lake State Park on the other side of town, a mere 4 miles off route. Duh!
Although I set up in the dark, I could see a nearby motor home. Next to it was what looked like a tent, resting on a spread-out ground cloth, waiting to be set up. Next morning, as I packed, I noticed the 'tent' move, becoming a sleeping bag. Must have been too cold inside the motor home. On the way out I filled my water bottle at the convenient 'drinking water' faucet, not noticing until too late that someone upwind was dumping their 'honey' (and I don't mean girl friend). I'd obviously forgotten to take my enieffaC tablet.
Note to myself: Before I toss my front pannier into the tent, I need to remember whether the mesh pocket still has any bananas.
Mail box baseball is not unknown in the U.P.
I love peanut butter cups, but they don't travel well. I have discovered a good substitute - Jif Smooth Sensations - Chocolate Silk flavor. If you don't carry a spoon, use your fingers.
Heading north on M-94, an ambulance passed me doing about 85mph. It was able to easily do this because Sarah and I were going less than 70mph.
I had traveled over 30 miles, mostly in the Hiawatha National Forest. There were lots of trees, two bar and grills, and a convenience store. In Shingleton, the 'convenience store' had no public rest room.
M-28 to Munising promised lots of logging trucks; I saw two as I walked into the 'convenience store'. In the 10 miles to Munising on this particular Wednesday afternoon, I saw only one. It had no load, and was coming out of Munising. What a relief.
I stayed at Munising Municipal Park, just a couple of hills west of town. I was assigned tent site #2 right on Lake Superior. It came with two precocious little neighbor girls who had more questions than time to listen to answers. There was a lifetime supply of noisy, hungry sea gulls. And upwind was the fragrance of the bathroom's leaky drain field. Site #9, also on Lake Superior, had no such nasal stimulus, but did have a neighbor from East Lansing, another who had done a self supported trip to Boston, and at the trailer across the road, a BikeE recumbent. What a difference a 100 yards makes.
Next morning, the first mile out of the campground rose 20 stories.
I was coming back to Munising for the Pictured Rocks boat tour, which turned out to be the highlight of my tour. I sat on the upper deck, right at the front. After the fully loaded boat was under way, I noticed that was where the loud speakers were. I had taken with me my front pannier so as to have snacks, warmer clothing, and my camera. Fortunately, it also had my tree inspection kit (toilet paper). A little wad of tissue in each ear solved the speaker volume problem.
As we got into the bay on the way to the rocks, the man on the other end of the speaker wire passed on bits of information, something like:
"You are now 256 feet from land, which is the farthest this boat will get. Unfortunately, it is straight down."
"Don't waste your film on these cliffs; there are much better shots farther along. On the other hand, take as many pictures as you want; we also sell film."
"Some people can't handle the motion of the boat for long and get sea sick. If this happens to you, quickly go to the rail and let it go. Try to use the rail away from the wind."
"There is a hiking trail along the cliffs that is so remote that hikers often feel the urge to sunbathe in the nude. Then around the corner comes the tour boat, loaded with camera operators."
The best time to see Pictured Rocks is in the afternoon, in late June or in July, when the sun does it's magic. I went in the morning in early September, and it was still fabulous.
After the tour, I stopped in at the local bike shop and was able to check my eMail. To my surprise, John Shubert, a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine, had mentioned the RealLITE, and I was getting inquiries.
Somehow, it became afternoon - time to get down the road. (Always remember and never forget: Time flies like an arrow and fruit flies like a banana.) I was about a half-day behind schedule, but so far the day had made it worthwhile.
Fast forward a couple hours. Imagine big hills, a headwind, and the temperature in the 90s. I can't tell up from down, so I take a break. After a banana and some peanut butter, I'm feeling better. That next hill doesn't seem so big any more. Twenty minutes later, not yet at the top, I stop and take a picture of where I came from.
About 15 minutes before Chatham, I pass Slap Neck Road, but don't feel the urge to comply. Just south of town, a true convenience store (see qualifications above) has this plaque at the entrance:
"On this site, in 1897, nothing happened."
In spite of not leaving until the afternoon, I managed 46 miles. I was just north of Little Lake when I happened upon the Lakeside Resort - a half dozen cabins on the lake. The owners allowed me to pitch my tent on the lush grass between their garage and flower garden. And they only charged me four bucks! In the morning, the lady came out and offered to open up one cabin so I could use the shower and toilet.
Several miles down the road, I got a wake-up call. A loaded school bus passed me on a curve. There was an oncoming car. I took to the gravel. Everything worked out OK.
Since leaving Munising, the towns have been small, smaller, or just a dot on the map. Two miles west of Gwin, I got passed by a taxi. A TAXI ?!? I wonder how many times the driver's meter had rolled over?
Adventures come in different packages. South of Palmer, I stopped to talk with a couple of female joggers. Their adventure had been to have a ride on an ore boat from Duluth, through the Soo Locks, and down to Ohio. The food was excellent, the service was great, and they saw a boat go through the locks with just inches to spare on either side. However, to get on the boat, they had to climb a rope ladder. Their luggage was then hauled aboard on the end of a long rope.
I stopped at a (the other kind of full service) gas station. An old guy in a pickup truck came in for ten bucks of gas. He handed over the cash and thanked the Scandinavian attendant for the service. The response was "Yup, and I didn't even have to put any on the ground."
National Mine is actually the name of a town with a copper mine. As I stopped at the general store / post office, three young teenage boys came up. I told them several jokes, then said they had to tell me one. This is what one came up with.
"A native comes into town with a 12-point buck. When asked how he got it he said 'Saw tracks, followed tracks, got deer'."
"Next day he comes in with an 18-point buck and the same answer."
"Joe heard this and decided to go out and give it a try. He came back, all battered, broken, and bloody. They asked him what happened. Joe said 'Saw tracks, followed tracks, train came'."
As he finished, a guy came up on sort of a motorcycle. It had tires at least a foot wide and looked to be made of spare parts. The owner came out of the store with a sandwich in his hand and a bottle of Pepsi in his shirt pocket. I asked him to tell me about it.
"Well, I found the frame and the wheels in the scrap pile - somebody'd threw it away. I took the motor off my snow blower. The gas tank's off a 125 Suzuki. The back fender is off a Honda 350. And I pieced it all together and give her a little (yellow) paint."
After all the fun, I had trouble leaving National Mine. Climbing the big hill going north out of town, I got a flat in front of the mine. The flat was again on the rear, and was caused by sharp rock called 'slag', a byproduct of processing the copper ore. I captured the culprit, but that didn't make my Kenda tire come off any easier.
I had to unload Sarah, turn her over, remove the wheel, and try to get the bead over the rim. Ten minutes later, with no success, the father of the kids from back at the store happened by. He offered to send them back with a set of tire levers. They came back with screwdrivers. Thankfully, I had the tire off by then.
Now I would have more trouble with them than the tire. They wanted to hang around and watch, in the road. There was some traffic. I'd get them out of the road, but as soon as it was clear, they were back in the road.
I rushed completion to get rid of the kids. In the process, I got the tire badly centered, rubbing on a brake pad. So it was off with the tent and panniers, center the tire, and reload. The whole process took an hour and a half.
I just picked a really strong south wind, just after I made a left turn to the west at the top of THAT hill. Arrgh!
Finally, back out in the middle of nowhere, some bird, whistling while I worked, was using my cranks as a metronome. Little Johnny one-note had me convinced that Sarah had a squeak in her bottom bracket. (Where in the world is Sarah's top bracket?)
There has been very little wildlife along my chosen route. Since very few people knew exactly where I was going, I can probably figure out who warned all the animals.
I soon found myself at a busy crossroad. My route for the day had no busy crossroads. I shuda used my compass. It would have warned me I was going north instead of west. For disrespecting an important tool, I was doomed to pay the following prices:
As I came to Koski Corners where I would leave one busy road to get onto the other one, it began to rain. I stopped at a bar, but they only had frozen pizza. A very wet quarter mile down the road was a cafe with grilled cheese sandwiches and something they wanted to call tomato soup.
I was to be in Iron River the next day, and wanted to connect with Dick Boyd. I bought a phone card at the gas station across the street, then used an outside pay phone. No answer.
To find a phone, I took the poor excuse for a road going into Republic.
The town has a nice park on a river, but no level spot for a tent. It also had broken glass in the road near the park, one church, and four bars. At one bar, I went inside to try calling again. No answer.
A good thing about busy highways is that they can have roadside parks. I found one south of Republic. In one part of it there was a hidden-from-traffic location in a low area that was high above a river. For additional security, I set up my tent under the drooping branches of an evergreen.
Morning came. As I woke up, it started to sprinkle. I decided to wait it out. I could have left a bit earlier had I realized that, after the rain had stopped, tree continued to drip on my tent. Oh well, I probably needed the rest.
I rode off in the sunshine, which didn't last. When the rain started, I stopped at a restaurant, parked Sarah, grabbed my money, and went inside. Oops, rewind. Money gone. Even unpacked the tent looking for it.
I dug out a $100 bill I'd stashed, but the lady in the restaurant neither wanted to cash it, or let me use her phone. A customer leaving the restaurant let me use her cell phone to call Dick.
He was home, and would pick me up in Sagola, about 10 miles south.
When we met, he agreed to retrace my route back to where I bought the phone card. We did, without any success. At least we tried.
Dick took me back to his home. It started out as single story without a basement. He dug a basement, then later added a second floor. His pottery wheel and kilns are in the basement where he has 'the best gig in the world'. He loves his work, and his work shows it.
He has a dog and a cat - both of which are quite independent. Years ago, the dog had an accident which rendered one of his eyes useless and gross looking. He has adapted just fine.
Dick prefers touring in the early spring. He takes a train to somewhere in the South, then rides home. That way, he can follow the warmer weather as it moves north. It also fits his business schedule best.
I used Dick's floor pump to get my back tire pressure up to normal. As I walked away, it blew a patch. Back to the battle of Kenda. Dick was amused by my difficulty getting the tire off the rim ... until he tried it, and broke one of his tire levers in the process.
Looking for Bears and Indians in Wisconsin
Morning had arrived at Hotel Boyd. Later this morning I would be in Wisconsin. Dick offered to drop me off in Iron River. He lived on a gravel road (well, actually beside it), the connecting paved road into town wasn't much better for riding, and getting to M-189 wasn't a straight shot. Looking at a map as I write this, I still can't figure out how he got me there. And then there was that humongous hill I saw yesterday as we came into town. I didn't want to go down that by mistake. So I accepted.
I'd never seen porcupine road kill before, but there (s)he was at the center line. I pulled over, took the obligatory picture, and then moved Needles (see how I avoided sex) to the side of the road.
After only a mile of riding, I was looking at a hill I was sure my cold muscles would notice. It was a 10% grade for a tenth of a mile. I asked myself "If I take it easy, how bad can it be?" Cresting it, I found the next hill not as steep at only 9%, but twice as long. I vowed to stop asking myself silly questions.
An hour later I stopped on the bridge over the Brule River and had breakfast - a cup of apple sauce. To the north was the "Welcome to Michigan" sign; to the south was "Welcome to Wisconsin". I was in a state of confusion. That's when I had my grate experience. At my feet was a piece of cast iron, opening to the river below, inscribed with "East Jordan Iron Works". Could I be hallucinating on Wall Drugs? (Note: East Jordan is the town just south of the meanest hill on the DALMAC ride; they call that hill "The Wall")
Not far into Wisconsin I stopped at a bar to satisfy an urgent biological commitment. In spite of it being Sunday morning, there were a half dozen patrons. As I left the restroom, several sarcastically said "Thank You".
It was nearly noon when I got to Mel's General Store at Long Lake. They had all the essentials - V-8, cheese curd, and skinning knives. I mentioned the bar activity to an old guy outside. He said it was Sunday, and they are attending their church. I said I hoped I could get down the road before the services were over and the congregation let out.
With the temperature in the low 50s, sometime after leaving Long Lake, it began to rain. Forty miles south of my start at Iron River I dripped into Laona. As I shopped in the grocery store, the rain stopped. I changed into some dry socks and oversocks, but what I really wanted, a laundromat, had gone out of business a year earlier.
Ten miles further, as I approached Wabeno, I passed four goats by the side of the road. I turned around and they ran back up their master's driveway to a shelter in the back. That scattered a large bunch? of rabbits.
On the outskirts of town (must be a female town, or Scotch) at the entrance to a wayside (roadside park) laid a dead deer. At the next driveway up was a sign "Deer corn for sale". I guess the corn was more than the deer could pay for.
I wanted to call on the Lakewood bike shop the next morning. I stayed at a private campground a mile north. Morning came. I got my rubber on the road and still within sight of the campground, thawp thawp thawp - more castoff radial tire wire cycled past my fender three times, then let go. I quickly dismounted and ran with Sarah, her tire slowly giving up air. At least it was down hill. Pump the tire back up and run. Repeat.
Just after I pushed it across the street to the front door of the bike shop, the shop opened for business. I got a new tube and got rid of the Kenda. All that unused tread, and I didn't give a dime. And with a freely given adjustment to my route, I traded seven very hilly miles for eight fairly level ones.
Later in the day, half way down a looong, steeeep hill, the State of Wisconsin had erected a large sign: "Tour Stop #10". I can't tell you any more about it.
I can tell you I've spent the last day and a half riding through the Nicolet National Forest. Whenever I would stop, and there was no traffic, I would listen in the woods for sounds that could be made by a bear. I started doing this when I was half way through the U.P. Wild camping was not the most attractive option. For some reason, before I left home I thought I would see more bears in the UP than in Wisconsin. That was wrong. I saw the same number of bears in Wisconsin as I did in Michigan - zip.
Now out of the forest and onto the Menominee Indian Reservation, would I have to be on the lookout for drunken Indians in pickup trucks?
The road has become hilly and curvy and every few miles there is a "slow vehicle turnout". Figuring I qualified, I stopped at one along the Wolf River. At that point, the river was swift, scenic, and easily a quarter mile across. What a peaceful place to be. It was hard to leave.
At Kensha, I had my only encounter with an Indian. He was swatting flys off the ceiling in a party store. He had a good sense of humor and if I had been blindfolded, I'd still be looking for my first Indian. I didn't ask if he drove a pickup truck.
I was getting close to Shawano and another bike shop. It was getting closer to five o'clock and I wanted to be there before they closed, not knowing when that might be. At the intersection leading into town, I asked for directions. "Go west to the sixth signal light and turn left. It's at the railroad tracks."
Hoping for closely spaced signal lights, each turning green as I approached, was only a dream. It helped that my bladder was nearly full. When I got there at 5:10, I found their hours were 4-7pm. I showed the RealLITE to the wrench, who called the owner 30 miles away (he used the phone). He would buy four tomorrow morning. We would meet for breakfast.
The wrench went back to installing a chain for a 12-year old boy. I mentioned to the wrench that I was looking for a place to camp. The boy said I could set up my tent in his yard. That is, I could if I wasn't a mass murderer. I called his bluff by saying it would be OK if he could get an OK from his parents. He called my bluff by taking me home, just four blocks away.
Sarah and I stood out on the sidewalk in front of his house while he went for his mother. "Hey mom, come down here quick. I've got a real bicyclist here." Soon after that Angel (her real name) appeared and we were introduced. When young Jory asked her if I could camp in the yard, the first question she asked was "You're not a mass murderer, are you?"
After I assured her that I was not. I was given permission and began to set up my tent. Jory soon reappeared to say "My mom has just made a turkey pot pie. Would you like some?" Duh? It was the kind of meal that was hard to swallow. It tasted sooooo good in my mouth.
Jory joined me, and we talked. Jory has a business. He finds bikes that are being discarded, or for sale cheap. He cleans them up, gets minor repairs made, and sells them for a profit. Did I say he was only 12 years old? This kid not only is polite, considerate, and generous, he is a businessboy.
I fell asleep on a full stomach and woke up in time to say goodbye to Jory before he left for school. Then it was off for breakfast with the bike shop owner. Even though I'd forgotten the name of the cafe, I figured once downtown, it would come to me, until I saw at least four places to eat breakfast. Up and down main street, I finally guessed right.
After breakfast, we returned to the bike shop so I could get his order sent to him. Dave at Riverfront Cycles back home in Lansing had agreed to help me with this. When I called, he gave me some unbelievable story about plane crashes in New York. After reality set in, I was glad there wasn't a TV for me to be in front of all day.
The day was uneventful until late afternoon. Going east, I came to the point where I was to turn south. A treeless, buildingless mile ahead I could see a town on a hill. The tallest building had a spire reaching into the sky. I decided to investigate.
The spire was on a church. Well over a hundred years ago, a Negro came to this place, looked it over, proclaimed "This looks like freedom to me", and settled there. This town in Wisconsin is called Freedom. On this day, September 11, I thought it was a good place to be for a while.
Between Little Chute and Combined Locks (I'll bet there is a story for each name), traffic was heavy, but good. A pickup truck paraded past, a huge American flag waving behind it, demonstrating a lot of pride and support.
Tomorrow I wanted to be on the car ferry, crossing Lake Michigan. The state park I had chosen was at least a 4-hour ride from the ferry. I needed to buy my ticket before 1pm. There was enough time if I woke up in time. And if there wasn't a headwind. And if Sarah didn't break down. And if I didn't make a wrong turn.
Too many 'ands'. I was still feeling good, the sky was clear, so I decided to head towards Lake Michigan. I would begin looking for a place to wild camp when I began to get tired.
I deviated from my planned route and took US-10. Normally very busy
at 6:30, it was virtually deserted. The riding was good.
As the sun began setting, I experienced traffic of another sort. Police had to keep roads clear near each gas station. I stopped at one in Hilbert to take care of my input and output needs (definately not in that order). One car ran out of gas while waiting, and had to be pushed. Another lady just came in to "top off" her 3/4-full tank. I felt pretty good about riding a bicycle, even though chocolate milk still cost more per gallon than gas.
Soon after leaving, the Coke I put in the water bottle that lives on my handlebars became sufficiently agitated to atomize itself into my face.
Almost 20 miles later, in the dark, I came to an intersection in Clarks Mills that had me confused. I went into the Wise Guys Bar & Grill to get directions and a Mountain Dew. I sat on a bar stool next to a Harley-riding, twice-convicted felon who had been married four times to three women (that doesn't total 12). He said he doesn't go into Manitowoc much. The police have flashlights with built-in breathalyzers and he drinks a lot.
The owner of the bar said I could set up my tent behind the bar (outside). I was next to the volleyball court on fresh sod. For me, this was kind of a repeat from my stay last year in Pensaukee, except for the fresh (lumpy) sod.
When I got up, it was sprinkling. Once on the (right) road, I enjoyed sunshine, 60 degree temperature, and a mild tailwind. With less than 15 miles to go, I arrived plenty early. I bought my ticket and visited a couple of bike shops.
Last year I was too rushed to take the submarine tour. A passenger on the boat told me it wasn't very good - I wasn't missing much. Well, I bought a ticket anyway and I thoroughly enjoyed everything except for when I banged my arm or leg against metal airlock doors or steep stairways. The tour guide was a funny old sailor who actually served on a sub like this during World War II.
We learned a lot about life on a sub. Each man got a shower once a week (but none for the first two weeks), with an officer turning the water on and off for him. The submariners were the best fed of any sailors, but for the first two weeks they had potatoes for every meal. It was a top priority because they had to empty the shower room.
Periscopes, contrary to Hollywood's idea, would break the surface for 10 seconds or less at a time. While on the surface, diesel engines charged batteries. Propulsion was entirely electric. Air was cleaned and reused, mixed with air from cylinders of compressed air.
I got back in plenty of time to get Sarah and myself aboard the Badger. It must have been a bit cooler this year; I had no inclination to lay on a lounge chair on the front deck. The TV room on the port side was tuned to CNN; all seats were taken. The TV room on the starboard side was tuned to another news channel; only a few empty seats there. I tried to be other places most of the time.
As we neared the Michigan shore at Ludington, I noticed storm clouds to the west. I hurried to where Sarah was stored as soon as I could in a bid to get camped before getting wet. It was not to be.
This time, Sarah was blocked in by two rows of cars. As Sarah waited for her freedom, it started to rain. I think even the people in wheelchairs left the boat before I did.
Too Much Time On My Hands (No, my feet didn't hurt)
Leaving Ludington last year, a local lambasted the location I'd listed as likely lodging. He had had a heavy heart about the hard hills ahead. Preferring a place more pleasant, I canned my plan and ended up in a ball field in the moonlight downwind from a hog farm.
Self supported touring is about being out of your comfort zone, and dealing with the unusual. This is hard to prepare for, so I'm going to give you an example. This is important. Listen to what I am about to tell you, or get a 3rd grader to read it to you.
Thin king eye new batter end knot wanting too reap eat eh miss steak,
eye try dug in. Bee four eye got their, aye saw ah four rest end know fence, sew Lew King too sea if their was an knee won a round, high rolled Sarah upend tooth a plays weed before the knight.
Inn the mourning, on my furs decent, eye had two break four eh dear.
Well, wasn't that special? Ow Jew dew? Ewe red die tutu are?
At my first turn, I didn't. While I waited, six gravel trucks tried to be first down my road. I fooled them; I went straight. A mile later, I had to choose between two gravel roads, or go back. I checked the map and took the shortest distance to a crossroad. Half way there, I found myself pushing Sarah through sand.
Before I could attack Hart, a Beagle scout burst from the bushes, but I
beat him up the hill. Somewhat softened, a Shepherd (might have been German, but I know little of the language except what I learned from watching Hogan's Heroes) was able to catch me. Since it was daytime, and not near Christmas, I thought it would be OK to zap the shepherd with my Dazzer. He stopped; I got away.
Interested in an internet infusion, I located the local library. Being identification insufficient, I was informed instantly they had rules. I left, came back, showed them the picture of the back of my head that is on my web site, and duh! they were happy.
I figured the local laundromat wouldn't ask for ID, but I did have to answer some questions as I left. A guy followed me out and asked "Do you have a dollar?" I said "Just a minute - I'll check". I looked, and I did, so I said "Yes, I have a dollar" as I put my money away. With a confused look on his face, he said "Can I have it?" and I said "Why?". "Smokes" he said. I said "I don't smoke and I don't think anybody should smoke, so I'm not giving you a dollar. Have a nice day." Just call me judgmental.
About 13 miles before Hesperia, I got another flat from steel belted radial tire wire, this time on the front. I was able to find the piece of wire in the tire. That made finding the hole in the tube easy. As I was repairing it, a man in a pickup truck stopped to offer help, saying he would be back by in about 45 minutes. He did come back, but by then I was on the road approaching Ferry (the town).
On the other side of Ferry, a little hot dog dog was chasing me. It was all he could do to run and bark at the same time. I yelled at him to go home, and he veered off.
A short time later, I heard the heavy breathing of a much larger dog. It was one of those brown thigh-highs. I told him to go home, and he did (I guess).
I crossed yet another political boundary, announced with the sign "Entering Newfield Township - a zoned community". It was soon obvious it was zoned for cars and trucks, tastefully displayed on cinder blocks, skinhead kids riding motor scooters, and unleashed dogs. Can you just imagine how bad it would be without zoning!
I'd stopped at a roadside park to use the facilities and get water. I got to talking with a hapless man filling jugs with water. This is the third time I've seen people getting public water to take home, and each time there was a story to be told.
Hapless had been living with his brother and bride of 3 years; they were in the big house and he in the little cottage. She filed for divorce, kicking his brother into the cottage. The his brother kicked him out, so he moved into the camping trailer he used for hunting, putting most of his stuff into storage.
Hapless drove a big rig, moving concrete for interstate projects. Two days after getting the boot from his brother, he got the boot from his employer - the interstate contract was over.
It was probably just as well. Hapless was as unlucky at work as he was with his brother. Once he got a flat tire on the trailer. Another time the brakes on his big rig locked up and the tires caught on fire. It seemed like trouble would follow him around.
I'd be retired by now if I knew how to write lyrics for country music.
As it got dark, I set up my tent here, just as I had last year. A local jogger even suggested the best place, down by the river and behind some shrubbery.
It was 7:30 when I woke up. It was as close to freezing as it could be without making ice. Last year it rained until nearly noon. I decided to sleep in.
At 7:45, a very loud voice announced to me "If the County comes by, they will fine you - you're not supposed to camp here". It was the guy who cleans the toilets.
Well, I was awake now. Furthermore, I was getting warmer as my blood began to boil. I slowly began to get organized, but it wasn't fast enough. That voice came back, and like I was his little kid that was going to miss the bus, he boomed "You up yet?"
Well, being social that early in the morning was apparently not something either of us is good at. I boomed back (accurately, I might add, since I'd done my homework two years ago) "This roadside park is the responsibility of the State, not the County." He mistakenly retorted "Well, you're not leaving, then" and as he walked away, I heard him say "Well, I guess I'll just have to call the sheriff."
After an hour and fifteen minutes, I was packed and ready to hit the road. I could wait for the sheriff no longer. Two minutes after I pulled onto the highway, I was passed by a State Police car. The officer didn't even slow down or pay any attention to me. I guess I'll never know whether waiting another five minutes would have given me another story to tell. Bummer.
Taking back roads, five miles later I was entering the Manistee National Forest at Jugville. I stopped on a bridge over Robinson Creek that emptied from Robinson Lake. The stream was dammed (not damned) by a couple 2x10s stacked to keep the water level a foot and a half higher than nature intended.
It wasn't an official historical marker, but out in the water was a sign documenting a local battle. It read: "Any tampering with this dam or its boards are protected by the Circuit Court". Did that mean if you tampered, the Circuit Court would protect you? Or does it mean to put up a sign, you need not be literate?
Watching a hawk circle on the thermals is both interesting and relaxing. Watching two or three is fun, too. But when ten of them gather, as they did down the road from Jugville, you spend most of your time watching for mid-air collisions. That's almost as much fun as a figure-eight track on the Fourth of July, and a whole lot quieter.
For me to get internet access at the library in White Cloud, I was asked for my ID. When I told them I'd lost it, they just asked my name and address, then let me have access. Score: Hart 3, White Cloud 7.
I routed myself through White Cloud on the chance I would again see the mysterious fisherman on a bicycle. That didn't happen, but a couple blocks north I stopped at Hot Diggity Dog, a hot dog stand on wheels. Last year, the owner had it open on weekends. He made so much money doing it he quit his regular job, and now has it open full time. Yes, I did say White Cloud, like Laingsburg, a town of barely a thousand people.
The owner has a newlywed niece who went to Spain for their honeymoon. The plane they got on to bring them back, didn't. It turned around and went to Switzerland. Three days later, on September 14th, they were still stuck in Switzerland.
Feeling in need of some energy, I stopped a party store near Hardy Dam and bought a chunk of fudge about the size of a small candy bar. It was marked 13 oz. When I insisted she weigh it for me, we found it was thirteen hundredths of a pound. However, the price charged was appropriate. I'd rather she just make up the difference in the weight.
While riding on the causeway over Hardy Dam, I heard airplane engines. I prayed "Just let me get across, first". You can believe me when I tell you "Nothing Happened".
Well, I don't know whether it was going down the steep hill to the dam, or riding across it, but I was ready when on the other side I found another party store. Bought a turkey sandwich and found a bench outside to sit on while I ate it.
A bearded man and his two sons got out of their car. I decided not to ask them where their still was. They came back from the store, I made a rough count - sixty cans of beer and a two liter Coke.
On the way out of Morley, I stopped at a park to use the facilities. On the playground, three elementary school aged kids were playing. I talked with the lady watching them. Apparently, they come here most every day after school, and go fishing, too. Today, the boy caught two perch, but threw them back because he wanted to play. The day before, he caught a pail full.
I do better in the early morning when I am touring than when I am at home. That doesn't mean I do good enough. One morning, the temperature was low enough I decided to wear wool socks over my CoolMax socks. After I put them on one foot, I had trouble finding the other CoolMax sock. I'd put them both on the first foot, with one wool sock on top.
I wish I liked coffee, and that there had been some available before I started dressing myself. Who knows what I may have done wrong that I just never became aware of.
Just south of Butternut, four kids forced me to stop by yelling "cool bike". They had a lot of questions - they always do. But the one I'd never heard before, and the one I liked the best was "Are we asking too many questions?".
Between Pewamo and Westphalia, I had an urgent biological need. I spotted the high school. Then I saw the high school football field. And there were porta potties. And a fence between them and me.
Eyeballing along the fence, I saw a gate that was twisted. Could I squeeze through? Not! Just as I was trying to figure how to ride with my knees together, a guy drove up, and he had a key. He was opening the concessions for the night's football game. Relief!
It's cool at 2am at Sleepy Hollow as I sit on the holey throne. A father comes in with his son, who sees the urinals and says "I gotta pee". Dad wants more out of him and they both enter the next stall.
The young fellow is placed on the toilet seat, his feet not able to reach the floor. After a bit, the son says "I don't have to go". Dad says "You're all done?". They trade places. Now, Dad has a warm place to sit.
It's morning and time to hook up the 5th wheel at the campsite behind me. The husband hops into the cab of the red pickup truck. (Survey said: Half the trucks in the Sleepy Hollow campground were red.) Wife says "Comon' back ... comon' back". Then there is a loud noise, after which the wife says "That's good".
I'm glad she didn't offer to help me pack up my tent!
Adventure Home Necessary Options
- I must ride ten extra miles on two busy roads, and part of it will be in the rain, and
- I must give up my identification, receipts, credit card, about a hundred bucks cash, and a lottery ticket, and
- I won't even know about #2 until the next day, and worst of all,
- I won't know for 10 days if anyone from the UP won the lottery.