Sunday, August 20, 2017

Aug 20-- Day 69--More Breaks, and Yes, I'd Love a Pulled Pork Sandwich

Now I'm on a deadline of sorts. I booked my ferry ride across Lake Michigan. It's a good thing I did, because I wouldn't have known I'd need to be there an hour before the sailing. I booked it for Aug. 23rd, the 9:00am sailing. It's a four hour trip, but due to the time change to Central time, I'll get in to Manitowac at noon. I was supposed to ride 55 miles that day, but I'm just going to stay in Manitowac. There is not a closer campground between the one at Manitowac and the one 55 miles down the road. It's no problem as I'm a day ahead anyway.


So, including today, that's three days to get to Ludington. Today was the longest of the three days at 70 miles. The first batch of miles were on the road to Midland.

Heading pretty directly west

Midland is a good sized city. I thought I would resupply groceries there, but I didn't go by any grocery stores. Sure, I could have gone off route, but here's the thing. I had to pee. I knew I was getting on a major rail trail, so instead of trying to fiddle around looking for a store, I just wanted to get to the trailhead because I was sure they'd have restrooms there. It also wasn't vital that I get groceries in Midland. There would be a few more towns along the way.


I got to the trailhead for the Pere Marquette Rail-trail. It's a pretty long trail. All of what I was on today was paved, but it continues past Clare unpaved. There was a "Run Michigan Cheap" run today on the trail. It looked like there were 5K, 10K, and half marathon distances. Hmmm...I'd rather ride my bike 4000 miles than run even a 5K!


I didn't see an info sign about the trail, but then again, I had to pee so I only had eyes for a potty shack. So, I have no idea what the history is (other than it was an old railway).

Pere Marquette Rail Trail



I decided today I really needed to take more breaks (even though I had a lot of miles to do). I've found riding flat land all day is harder on the knees than riding rolling hills. I think it's because you are constantly pedaling. I suppose riding for hours without taking much more than a few minutes break, and riding for days and days without taking a day off might have something to do with it too. Anyway, I decided more breaks were a good idea.


With that thought in mind, I stopped in Sanford for second breakfast at the Railside Restaurant. It was a good BREAKfast. Then I saw there was a Dollar General store next door. As much as I'm not really fond of the selection at Dollar General, the prices are good. The biggest problem is they do not carry produce. So, no banana tomorrow morning.


Just after I got back on the trail, I stopped and talked to a guy out for a road ride (I guess I was really taking this more breaks idea to heart!). He said he lives in Midland, and likes to ride to Clare and back on the trail because it's slightly uphill and into the wind going, then downhill with a tailwind coming back. I said, "Oh, so I guess I'll only get the uphill and headwind as I won't be going back." That's the way it goes sometimes.


I finally rolled into Clare and the end of the trail (through town anyway). I stopped and picked up a snack and took it to a little park. 


A little ways out of town, and I was back on the trail for a couple more miles before getting off it for good. The rest of the way was more rolling hills than I've seen for days. It was kind of nice, actually. Okay, I was getting a bit tired, but the end of the day was in sight, so not a problem.


I pulled into the Lake George Campground at 4:00. It's a private campground with a hefty number of seasonal campers. The young couple who own it have only had it for a year. When I told the gal I'd ridden 70 miles today, she said, "Would you like a pulled pork sandwich?" Of course I said yes! They had a big party here last night and had leftovers. What great luck! I got to my site, and ate my sandwich. I swear, it was the best pulled pork sandwich ever!

My campsite on the hill




Tomorrow is a shorter day than today--I think around 55 miles. Then, the next day is even shorter.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Aug 19--Day 68--The Long Way to Lake Huron

Well, my free campsite was very well lit last night. I woke up because I could hear people. It seemed so light that I thought it must be morning. I looked at my clock, it was 2:30! I guess Friday night in Otter Lake is pretty wild! Also, I'm not positive, but I think someone messed with my bike. It was locked to the fence, but somehow my little thermarest seat pad that I use to sit at picnic tables when they're wet, was on the ground (I keep it in the outside pocket of a rear pannier), and the buckle to the pocket was undone. I rarely unbuckle those buckles, so...


Today's ride involved three bike paths. The first one, right out of Otter Lake was the Southern Line Trail. I was on it about 6 miles to Millington. It was a nice trail.

Bridge on the Southern Line Trail

Just out of Millington I saw a sign that said Bay City was 30 miles away. That was via Hwy 15. That would make a 37 mile day. But, that was not what the route did. The route went north to Vassar, then hairpinned and went southwest to Frankenmuth. 


As I was riding along Hwy 15 to Vassar, I saw a sign that pointed left to Frankenmuth. That would have saved me about 10 miles, I think. But no, that's not what the route did. I told myself there must be a good reason the route went to Vassar, then to Frankenmuth before turning back northwest to Bay City. I think the Hwy 15 option would have ended up being a pretty busy highway coming into Bay City. The shortcut to Frankenmuth, however, seemed like it would have been no different than the roads I was on. Oh well, what's another 58 mile day?


Frankenmuth reminded me of Leavenworth, WA. Everything is Bavarian themed. Even this covered bridge. Notice it's not that old--built in 1979. Being Saturday, the town was pretty busy.

Covered bridge in Frankenmuth



Frankenmuth was the last town before Bay City. It was a pretty long stretch between the two. I got on the second bike path. This one, had I stayed on it to the end, looked like it came to within a few miles of the outskirts of Saginaw. I was only on it for four miles.

This trail was more out in the open



The last trail was the Bay City Loop Trail. This came into the city, and crossed the Saginaw River.

Saginaw Riverwalk path

I rode along the river for awhile, then turned inland before reaching Lake Huron and the mouth of the river. The path was a bit funky. At one point it narrowed down to a sidewalk, and was rough going. There were so many street crossings that made progress very slow.

So many street crossings

Early on I stopped at a kid-run Trail side lemonade stand. I think this is my fourth on this trip. The two girls were selling lemonade for .10/cup, and cupcakes for .15/cupcake. They had blueberry and chocolate cupcakes. I gave them a dollar and had a cup of lemonade and a chocolate cupcake. I told them they really needed to raise their prices. They said they were raising money for one of the girl's mom. She has stomach cancer. That sucks!


I followed the Bay City Trail all the way to the State Park. I was a little nervous about them having a spot, but they did. It's a pretty big campground. The Day Use area has a Splash park, numerous picnic shelters, and a Visitor's Center. I was able to get a Lake Huron postcard for Grayson. 


The beach was closed for swimming due to e. Coli, but I wasn't going swimming anyway. The park is on Saginaw Bay. Here's some historical info.

Saginaw Bay info

My third Great Lake--Huron




Shells on the beach

Today the wind was blowing, but it seemed like it wasn't as bad as yesterday. Plus it was a sunnier day, so that helps.

Pretty flower outside the Visitor Center


Friday, August 18, 2017

Aug 18--Day 67--Oh How the Wind Doth Blow

For about 35 of my 55 miles today, I was riding smack into the wind. It wasn't fun, but it wasn't the end of the world either, just a whole lot slower.


Coming into Yale, I saw a gal cycling toward me. She crossed over and we chatted for awhile. Her name was Sarah (my second Sarah). She had started in Anacortes on July 1st. She was definitely making good time. She said she had a limited time window of two months. Sheesh! I don't think I could do that! She wasn't going all the way to Bar Harbor as she said she lived about two hours (driving distance) south of Bar Harbor, but still, that's a short time.


In Yale, I checked off a Michigan Subway. Since it was just 9:00, I only had cookies and something to drink. 

Michigan Subway



Prior to Yale, I had been going primarily north. After Yale I turned west and spent the next 9 miles going in a straight line into the wind to Brown City (note its claim to fame in the photo below). It was about 11:30 when I spotted another Subway (in a grocery store). I stopped for lunch. That made it a double Subway day.

Birthplace of the Motorhome?



As I was walking out of the grocery store, an older gentleman stopped me and asked me if I was a biker. I said I was, and he asked me where I was coming from and all that. He thought I was very brave to be by myself. His name was Louis, and he was 95 (he sure didn't look 95). He was of Hungarian ancestry, and had lived in Brown City for 50 years. He told me I would go by his house just a quarter mile out of town. His wife was there (she's 93). They owned 30 acres, and except for having a gal come in and clean the house, they still did everything themselves. I told him I hoped I was just as active as him when I reached 95. 


I got back on Tilmann and headed down the road. A quarter mile down the road I saw his house. The garage door was open, and his wife was sitting in a lawn chair in the garage. She waved at me. I crossed the road and rode up the driveway. I asked her if her husband was Louis, and was he at the grocery store. She said yes, and I told her how I had met him and talked with him. She immediately asked me where I was from and if I was alone. She also thought I was incredibly brave. Since I knew they had lived in Brown City for 50 years, I asked her what she liked about the town. She didn't really answer that question, but instead told me how when they first moved there, the mayor asked them to build a theater. They did, and ran it until television came along and no one went to the theater anymore. Then, Lou had the idea to open a Canoe Livery. She asked if I knew what that was. I said I'd seen them on this trip, and would actually possibly be camping at one in a number of days. They would take the canoes up the river, and the people would paddle them back to the livery. I've kayaked the Wenatchee River, but they company that we went with didn't call it a Kayak Livery. Maybe that's a mid-west term. Anyway, I really enjoyed talking to Jean and Lou. 


Back into the wind, I just listened to my music and kept pedaling. The next town was North Branch. Sure enough, there was another Subway. I was very tempted to stop and make it a triple Subway day, but I thought that might be a bit ridiculous. 


I rolled into Otter Lake at about 3:00. Gail, at the Otter Lake Village Park and Campground said I could just set up my tent near the restrooms. She wouldn't charge me anything. I thought that was great. She even gave me a key to the restrooms and showers. I just have to remember to give it back in the morning.


I talked to her husband, John, later on. I asked him if there was a good restaurant in town. Indeed there is! I think I'll eat there tonight. The wind would make cooking difficult (although I could manage if I had to). John and I had a good chat. I learned more about the whole seasonal camper thing. He said it's like a soap opera. It all sounded quite funny to me. 



I'm off to see about some dinner (and maybe some wifi)...

Otter Lake


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Aug 16--Day 66--Rain, and a Pair Of Dutch Chimps

The people in the site behind me last night mentioned something about rain coming. In fact, they were so sure of it, that they packed up and left last night (even though they were in a pop up tent trailer). I heard them say that they were fair weather campers. 


A couple came in next to me. They were older than me, but maybe by less than 10 years. Marcy was disabled, and in a motorized chair. I watched as Bill unloaded Marcy's chair from the carrier on the back, then he proceeded to get out the tent. I finished eating my dinner, washed my dishes, and then went over and offered to help Bill set up their tent. First he declined, but then said he could use some help when it came time to lift it up. 


It took him quite some time to get it all laid out and the poles in their sleeves. Marcy said it sleeps 10 (in their case, two, a dog, and a motorized chair). I was sitting in my chair when Bill looked over at me. I asked if he was ready. He was, so I went over and did the holding up from the inside while he put the poles in their slots. We finished connecting everything, and putting the rain fly on. I'm not sure how Marcy would have been able to help him, but apparently she usually does. I have to give them credit for getting out and camping in a tent with such physical limitations. Makes you think anyone can go camping if they want to.


It didn't rain overnight, but I have to say, it was awfully noisy. The cicadas were deafening. There was some insect, probably a kind of cicada, that made a sound like someone jumping on a trampoline--the sound of the springs. Then there was the dull throbbing sound of the ships going up and down the St. Clair River. Ear plugs would have been nice.


I figured out why I've been sleeping later than I had been earlier in the trip. It's not really getting light now until after 6:00. The light is what wakes me up. However, this morning I woke up at 5:30 to pee. I didn't go back to sleep, and ended up getting up at 6:15. The sun was rising over the river. The sky around the sun was red. Uh oh, red sky at morning...




It was pretty cloudy. I made sure my rain jacket was on the top in my pannier. I changed my plan for today's ride. Instead of doing 80+ miles, I would just go to a KOA outside of Emmett, approximately 45 miles. I took off at 7:15 in hopes of beating the rain.


The Bridge to Bay Trail runs right by the campground, but it goes back out to the road for awhile just after the park. There was no need for me to go back to the route in Marine City. I could just stay on the Trail as the route would eventually get on the Trail. I picked up the route about 11 miles in, near the town of St. Clair.

Bridge to Bay Trail



The Trail came to a point where I could choose the river route or the inland route. I chose the inland route as it looked shorter. As I was riding along, I saw some big birds ahead. I thought they were turkeys, but upon closer inspection, they were peacocks and peahens.


Peahens and peacocks in the bushes



Pretty soon the rain came. I stopped and, in addition to my jacket, I put my rain shorts on too. Last time I wore them was in the Adirondacks. They fit better now...


I came to a grocery store. I needed to restock food, so I pulled in undercover. As I was packing my groceries, a lady suggested I wait for a bit as the rain was only supposed to last a couple of hours, then have a good break. I was going to go to the McDonalds next door (and I did to use the restroom), but there was no place under cover for Tilmann. I continued on riding.


I came to a small park with a picnic shelter. I pulled in there and had a snack. I checked my phone to see if I had LTE coverage. I did, so I uploaded the last three days of posts.


When I was finished, the rain had lessened. I decided to push on. Just as I was getting back on the trail, two cyclists rode toward me. They were Henri and Leo from the Netherlands. They were riding from Portland, Oregon to New York. Leo even had a belt drive and a Rohloff! Henri noticed mine first, then pointed out Leo's. That's now the third person I've seen with a belt drive. They continued on, and so did I. 


From then on I had the Barenaked Ladies song, "Another Postcard" stuck in my head. It has a line that says, "A pair of Dutch chimps send their love from Amsterdam." Google the song if you don't know it. It's one of my favorites.


The rain stopped, so I took off my rain shorts. Of course, that meant it would start raining again. *sigh*...shorts back on. 


I had departed from the Bridge to Bay Trail, rode on a highway with very little shoulder, then picked up another trail called the Wadhams to Avoca Trail. I was only on that one for about 3.5 miles. It was raining raining raining.

Wadhams to Avoca Trail



At the town of Emmett, I departed from the route to go to the post office in town. I've been carrying postcards for Grayson since Montreal. I could finally mail them now.



Back out to where the route turned, I continued off route another 5 miles to the KOA. It's funny, this KOA seems to be out in the middle of nowhere. Oh well, it works for me! I got a cabin because the rain seems to be continuing. Tilmann is happily under cover on the porch, and I am drying out in the shelter of the cabin. 

The view from my cabin--I mean Kabin


Aug 16--Day 65--The Siren Song of the US

I couldn't help it, I could see Michigan across the St. Clair River. I was planning to stay in Canada for one more night, but I saw the sign for the Blue Water Ferry, and Tilmann just went there! The Siren song just called us across the river!

The St. Clair River, and a ship!!!



Today's ride ended up being nearly 70 miles. About 5.5 of those miles I will do again tomorrow. I thought I had left the Waterfront Trail behind forever. Not so. In fact, I think it goes all the way to Lake Superior. I'm not sure how it hits Lake Huron, or if it does at all. I'd have to look at a map.


I got just brief glimpses of Lake Erie today before I turned north at Morpeth. That's okay, I've seen enough of Lake Erie. Apparently, from the campground I was at last night, on a clear night, one can see the lights of Cleveland. 

Glimpse of Erie



Today was a bunch of straight road riding. Except that there were actually trees, I could have been in Illinois or Indiana. There were more fields of corn, beans, and peppers. I went through enough towns to stop for breaks and snacks, slowly using up my Canadian currency.


In Sombra, I stopped at a small store and attempted to use the rest of my money. I still have about $17. I guess that's not too bad. 

Tilmann on the ferry




One reason I took the ferry and returned to the US today was because I didn't know how early the ferry runs. I have a lot of miles to do tomorrow, so I'd like to get an early start. I figured I would just stay in a motel in Marine City. Well, there isn't one. The one that the map listed appears to be closed. My next option was to ride to Algonac State Park. It was just a couple miles further. 


The park is on the St. Clair River, but Highway 29 is between the park and the river. It's not a major highway, but I didn't really want to be camping along it. I have a site back by the trees. Camping cost $24.00. That's cheaper than Canada (even with the exchange rate)!



Tomorrow, I'll be riding some bike paths, and USBR 20. Although I can now use my phone, it's on 4G which is not conducive to uploading blog posts. It'll have to wait...


Aug 15--Day 64--And Bernie Makes 15

I've been thinking I should be seeing more eastbound cyclists. Today I got my wish. Out of the no-services town of Fingal, I saw a touring cyclist coming toward me. I crossed the road to say hi. It was a woman named Ann. She said she was with a group of 15. They were an Adventure Cycling group doing the self-contained Northern Tier/North Lakes/Lake Erie Connector Route from Anacortes to Bar Harbor.


While we were talking, the next guy in the group rolled up. That was Mark. We chatted a bit more, then went on our respective ways. Number 3 waved and said hi, but didn't stop. Rick, number 4, stopped, and we chatted, exchanged blog/journal addresses, and took photos of each other. I didn't think to take a picture of Ann and Mark.




I rolled on, and before too long numbers 5 and 6 rolled up. We chatted for a bit. I got these guy's picture, but didn't get their names. Number 7 was a gal on a recumbent. She waved but didn't stop. Number 8 also waved, but didn't stop. Nine and Ten were going down a hill (as I was going up). We didn't stop, but they did shout encouraging words to me.

Numbers 5 & 6



Number 11 was in the parking lot of the cafe in Wallaceville. He was talking to a guy who asked me how many were in my group. I said it was just me. I didn't get 11's name or photo. 


I had a snack at the cafe, then rolled out. It was getting close to 1:00, and there were still 4 more to go. The group was overnighting in Port Burwell, where I had come from, so I knew how many miles they had to go. Plus, they had stayed in Ridgetown, which is about 10 miles or so further than I was going tonight. Pretty soon I saw 12, 13, and 14 coming down the road. They all crossed over to me. It was Hugo (Ann's husband), Alison (the tour leader), and a young German guy (I can't remember his name). I asked where 15 was? They said he'd be coming along. Pretty soon Bernie rolled up. They figured they would arrive at Burwell around 5:00. Hugo told me there was a guy named Don going the same direction as me. He was going around Lake Erie. They said I'd catch him. 


I caught up to Don with about 6 miles to go for me. He was talking to a guy with a Minnesota shirt on. The guy owned a food truck that was there, but it wasn't open. However, he went in and brought me a bottle of water. Don was just on his second day of his tour. He had started in Long Point, and stayed in Port Stanley. Turns out, there is a trailer park that will allow cyclists to stay for $5. I might have gone there last night if I'd known about it.


Don and I rode together until I turned off in Clearville to go to the park. At the park, I went to the office. The guy said I didn't need to pay, I could just go to the tent sites. That is the only night I have camped for free in Canada!

Last night on Lake Erie--that would be Cleveland across the lake if you could see that far.




Tomorrow night will be my last night in Canada, then its back to the good ol' US of A! I think I've calculated my Canadian currency just right. Tomorrow, I also leave Lake Erie. Although I am camped near the lake tonight, I've not hardly seen it all day long. I just saw lots of fields, wind turbines, and TOURING CYCLISTS!!!

Aug 14--Day 63--A Day Off...of Sorts

Today was the first 40 mile day I've had in a long time. It's like having a day off! Funny though, the one day where I had a tailwind is the day I don't have many miles. Unfortunately, the next camping opportunity is 60 miles away from where I am tonight. That will be tomorrow.


Knowing had didn't have a long day, I took my time this morning. I am usually on the road by 7:15. This morning I didn't get going until the late late time of 7:45! Okay, I guess it wasn't really that late. 


My plan was to stop in Port Rowan at the library to upload the last two day's posts. I rolled into town about 9:15. I found the library, and noticed it didn't open until 10:00. I wasn't surprised. To pass the time, I thought I'd get something to eat in a cafe. Well, neither of the two cafes were open either. The only thing that was open was the grocery store. I got a snack, and took it to a little park overlooking the water. 

Snack with a view



I finished my snack, and returned to the library. Upon closer inspection of the library hours, I discovered the Port Rowan library is closed on Mondays (the Simcoe Library is the one that is open on Mondays at 10:00). So, it was a total waste of time. Port Rowan, you disappoint me!


I rode the remaining miles to Port Burwell. It was not an exciting ride. It was mostly along fields of various things like corn and beans--lots and lots of beans. There were also a few fields of this plant with really big leaves. I don't know what it was. 


Mystery plant



I knew there was a library in Port Burwell. I found it just as a gal was going in. Yay, it's open, I thought. But, no, it wasn't--not until 2:00 anyway. However, the gal was nice enough to give me a guest library card and PIN number (what one needs to use the wifi) that I could use while sitting at a picnic table next to the library. 


Posts uploaded, and email cleared, I went in search of some lunch. I found a restaurant called The Lighthouse. I had a good pulled pork sandwich and some sweet potato fries. 


I guess if I hadn't spent the time in Port Rowan, I wouldn't have arrived at the Port Burwell library at precisely the time the gal was going in. Ah, another incidence of everything happening for a reason.



I'm at the Port Burwell Provincial Park. Since it's a nice day, and a mini day off, I put on my swimsuit and hiked down to the beach. I even took my chair. After wading around in the water, I sat in my chair and fell asleep! I guess I was tired. Good thing it was a short day!

Resting on the beach