Friday, August 17, 2012

The Road West - 2012

Spring 2012:
The busy winter season is slowly winding down and I seem to have survived with my job intact; even though I've faced over thirty winter seasons, every year I wonder. With another year worth of salary now assured, I can turn my thoughts to the more enjoyable side of life; our summer vacation. This year's version, similar to 2011, will include about ten weeks away from Kihei with visits by automobile to Denver, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota to visit the kids, and a month back in Michigan to visit other family and friends. That last month will again include time on Drummond Island and a bicycle tour for me after Cheri leaves for home two weeks ahead of my return.

I've decided to give loaded touring another try utilizing a trailer to carry the extra weight that has caused me trouble with rear wheel problems in the past. There is a brand new trailer on the market now, called the Extrawheel trailer that basically attaches a third wheel directly behind the rear wheel with a framework to hold the panniers, taking that weight off the rear wheel, carrying it on the Extrawheel. I haven't purchased it yet, but that's what I'm planning so far. They say it handles more like a regular bicycle than the BOB Yak trailers which are a lot longer.
The route for this year looks like north and east from Hemlock to the sunrise side of the state of Michigan as far north as Alpena where I'll pick up a new rail-trail that goes all the way up to Cheboygan in the northern tip of the mitten. Then, straight south to Gaylord, Grayling, etc. and back to Hemlock. It looks like about nine days of riding and I'll have almost fourteen available if needed so there will be less time pressure and more rest days if I decide to take them. I’m pretty excited, and have started training already, with forty-five miles each of the last two Saturdays.
We still have three months of living to do, including a lot of singing; maybe even a CD recording session with 4-Given in May. We still have yet to find a house/dog sitter to take care of the girls in our absence, so I’ll be working hard on that until we can get someone lined up. Our flight and auto reservations are made, and I’ll order the Extrawheel soon.

I’ll arrive in Michigan on May 27th if the planes all fly on time with an American Airlines Advantage ticket, then Cheri a few days later on a purchased ticket and a much nicer schedule. We’ll head for Denver a week later, two weeks there and three more in Minnesota, including a camping trip on the Superior shore before heading back to Hemlock, then Drummond etc. That’s all the detail we have as of yet, and any or all of it can be changed if something better comes along (all expense paid trip to see the Tour de France for instance).

The Plan, for Now:
This is the schedule so far, reservations for lodging at the W, and camping locations are made, so we're pretty firm for much of this. • May 27- Mike arrives DTW, drives to Hemlock. • May 29- Cheri arrives MBS. • June 1- Drive to Mason. • June 4- Drive toward Denver, CO. • June 6- Michelle's house, Denver, CO. • June 7- Cherry Creek State Park, Denver, CO. • June 14- Chatfield State Park, Denver, CO. • June 21- Drive toward Minneapolis, MN. • June 22- The W hotel, Minneapolis, MN. • June 25- Baker Park Reserve Park, Maple Plain, MN. • June 28- Itasca State Park, MN. • July 2- Temperance River State Park, MN. • July 6- Pine Island Lake, MN, Brown family gathering. • July 9- Drive and ferry to Muskegon State Park, MI. • July 10- Drive to Hemlock, MI. • July 14- Cheri to Gaylord, MI, Mike open. • July 15- Drummond Island, MI. • July 22- Harbor Springs, MI. • July 23- Hemlock, MI. • July 26- Cheri returns to Kihei. • July 27 or 28- Mike bicycle- Alpena-Cheboygan-Gaylord. • August 3- Join Skip and Lenda at Fletcher's Pond, MI. • August 6- Back to Hemlock, MI. • August 10-Mike returns to Kihei via DTW airport, Detroit, MI. Hope to see all of you at one time or another, suggestions for additional activities are welcome.

Getting Ready to Go:
Less than two weeks to go and not much has changed for our trip. We've added a stop at Clyde and Skip German's house in Gifford, Illinois the evening of June 4th; they are old and dear friends, and Clyde's health kept them from visiting us in Kihei this winter. We've also signed up for the Denver Century Ride on Father's Day, June 17th. I'll do the metric century (100 Km = 62 miles) and Cheri will tour the 25 mile family course for her first organized bike event. We'll meet our friend Darrell there and get a report of the 100 mile course from him.

We've tightened up the safety net for dog care for the summer with some local friends house-sitting for a week, and a Monsanto intern named Kori Sakahashi from Kauai for the bulk of the summer. He visited Kihei this past weekend, and he'll make a fine Nani-Nanny.

I had a pretty wretched flight schedule on the mileage award ticket until sometime in April when they changed a flight on me, and I would have had a virtual overnight in LAX. So I called American to see what could be done to improve it and talked my way into a perfect schedule and first class cabin from here to Chicago; don't ask me how, cause I don't know and I'm not making any waves now! They may have upgraded me automatically because of the terrible schedule after the change, but she didn't question the first class status that was listed in her computer and complete news to me, and I certainly didn't either. I'll have to limit myself on the free booze since I have to drive to Hemlock upon arrival.

I got the Extrawheel trailer ordered, and when it arrived, Skip got my bike down and put it together for me. I'll be able to test ride it as soon as I get to Hemlock, but the pictures he took look just like the video I've seen online. I think it will be perfect! Ship is also putting together a group of friends with kayaks for a trip to Point Aux Barques in Lake Huron, which is similar to the Pictured Rocks area near Munising in the U.P. I told him his friends better not make any wise cracks about my paddling a two-man kayak, or I'd chase them down and sit on them.

I guess that's all for now; I'll talk to you next from Michigan, probably after the Lake Huron trip. See you then!

First Days in Michigan:
The flights went well, but I still didn’t sleep much, even though the seats in first class recline to a nearly flat position. All the connections were on time, and my bag reached Detroit on the same plane I did. It took Thrifty Car Rental forever to process me and a few other folks, then more time in their poorly marked lot, but I drove away with a Chevy Traverse and it drives very nicely. No luggage rack but we’ll cross the kayak hauling bridge later in the trip, since this was the only model available. My eyelids got heavy before I finally drove into the yard, but I made it in time for supper with Mom.

Sunday morning I went to church with brother Randy and his family, then got on the bicycle for a short trip to the cemetery to visit my dad and test the Extrawheel and found it to be fine so far. I noticed a couple things on the bike that need attention, but can wait a bit; the middle ring on the crank-set is worn enough that I experienced some chain slip under power, and one pedal feels a bit loose, and looks like its ready for replacement. That evening I took Randy & Mindy along with Mom to Olive Garden for dinner, and we had a nice visit and a good meal.

Monday Skip and family picked me up for the kayak trip on Lake Huron which was pretty nice, but no friends joined us and it was a long paddle for the first trip of the season. Later I went for a twenty mile round trip on the bike (sans trailer) to the Brant cemetery to visit my maternal grandparents, and further shake it down, then later yet worked on cleaning the pool from the past winter’s inactivity. It’s not too bad, but still plenty of work skimming, vacuuming and babysitting the barracuda (auto-vacuum). It looks almost swim-ready by dark.

Tuesday morning Cheri came into Tri-City Airport a bit ahead of schedule and Mom and I took her to breakfast at the Riverside and then to Meijer’s and on another errand, before heading back to the farm, where she grabbed a two-hour nap, and I continued with the migrant labor thing; the pool clean-up. I got in to skim and vacuum more completely and it looked really good by the time I finished, but the weather was far from hot and I couldn’t get Cheri to come in with me. We had a great dinner of hamburger patties, sweet corn and some beautiful tomatoes.

Wednesday saw Cheri and I on the Saginaw Valley Rail-Trail up to St. Charles and back, then on to the bike shop out on Bay Road, where neither of my little problems could be solved yet. I asked him to order the new chain-ring, and I’ll get the pedals on line and have them shipped to Michelle in Denver. It was quite chilly so no pool activity, but I went to the library and got some books that they will allow me to keep until I get back here in July, which is nice of them.

It was really cold on Thursday, and we visited niece Kelly’s shop for a haircut (me) and a face wax treatment (Cheri) then returned to the farm for a lazy day of reading and then writing in this blog. Later we’ll go out to dinner with Skip & Lenda, Randy & Mindy, and Mom to Harvey’s Bar and Grill. Then I’ll get those pedals ordered and get ready to head out to Mason on Friday. See you later.

Mason and the Long Drive West

We had a nice time in Mason with Bill and Anita, with Uncle Kevin guys, and Bill Jr. & Debbie with us Saturday night for my own recipe of pork loin in mustard and vinegar sauce. Everyone seemed to enjoy and Grandpa even ate a mushroom, though I must say that the sauce for that dish is so flavorful that he probably didn’t taste the mushroom itself. Sunday I took a bike ride while Cheri took her Mom shopping, and we ended the visit with a delicious dinner at Mitchells’s Fish Market.

Monday was a good day for driving, and we made good time to Gifford, having forgotten the fact that we would gain an hour. Clyde and Skip made us very welcome again, and we asked to go see their church which was being remodeled last year at this time, and they did a fabulous job on the “Cathedral in the Corn Field” as Immanuel Lutheran in Flatville is known. It is a beautiful church that seats about 400 people by my estimate, and Clyde claims that they fill it pretty regularly for special occasions. The night was continued with dinner at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Champaign/Urbana for some good old country cooking that we really enjoyed. We also got a good old country breakfast the next morning in Clyde’s avowed favorite place to eat (Skip’s kitchen) with bacon and pancakes that were very tasty.

Mapquest had suggested that the southern route through Kansas City would be the shortest, but Garmin disagreed and took us across I-80 again, and the last time we disregarded Garmin on a decision like this, we regretted it. It gave us a chance to stop at a place we’d seen on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives (TV) in Omaha. Garmin took us right to the address, but the restaurant there had a different name, Shuck’s Oyster Bar and we decided to give it a try. It was really good and we got to try Oysters Rockefeller that were delicious, if a bit pricey. We drove on well after dinner and ended up in Kearney, NE at a Microtel and had a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday started with a good breakfast courtesy of the hotel, complete with fresh made waffle, and we were on our way. We were ahead of schedule so we decided to stop in Gothenburg to see Celeste and tour that location, and give me a chance to say hi to some other coworkers. They had a Safety Pause going on, so after our tour and some conversation, we headed for Denver. We were still ahead of schedule, so we took a scenic detour in northeast Colorado and got to Michelle’s about 4:00PM and she let us into her apartment to clean up and we both fell asleep on the couch. Dinner was at a local place called Bonefish, and it was delicious, especially the “Bang-bang shrimp”, and after we had some as an appetizer, I ordered more for my entry with a spinach salad; really good. We walked a dog, Robbie, for Miki’s friend, and then got a good night’s sleep in her very comfortable bed.

First Days in Cherry Creek State Park, Aurora, CO

Thursday Michelle cooked leftovers and eggs and we headed for Cherry Creek and our first 2012 camping site. We set up, including Cheri’s new, larger tent, and found that a mouse had gotten into both of our bag chairs; no damage but they absolutely reeked of mouse odor, so they had to be scrubbed and deodorized.  Mice had carried corn kernels into the bags and one poor smelly creature forgot to leave in the spring. It took a full bottle of Fabreeze to make the chairs sitable. We rode our bikes around the campground for orientation and then headed to the store for groceries. We had a light, late, lunch and an afternoon of relaxation, then some salmon and salad for dinner. The wind in the evening was brutal and we went to bed wondering if our tents would be standing in the morning.

They were, but one plastic fitting had broken causing some leaning which required readjustment, then I discovered that part of the propane stove had been left in Michigan, and I had to heat water for Cheri’s coffee and dishwater (same flavor to my taste) in the electric skillet after the sausage and raspberry pancakes were done. We decided to go for a long bike ride to prepare for next Sunday’s century ride, but Cheri’s bike had a flat front tire to fix first; she had picked up a thorn. Our ride turned out to be three and a half hours, but she made it, so I’m confident she can do her planned 25 miles in the organized event. The trails are great but not well marked, many of the trail maps are too weathered to read. In the afternoon we went off in search of bike stuff and a stove replacement and were successful on all counts, if a bit poorer financially as a result. Miki came out to the campground for a steak and sweet corn, and we enjoyed talking with her until late in the evening.

Saturday brought some nicer weather our way, so Cheri and I decided to get the kayak wet, and maybe each other. We drove to a picnic area where it was a short portage down a cement path to the water’s edge, and successfully put in and got in; getting out is the hardest part for me. We paddled about an hour to the marina on the far side of the lake, and after looking around pulled out on a nearby beach for a snack and some water; this being a reservoir, even I wouldn’t drink out of the lake. That evening we drove to Westminster to take Miki’s friend Darrell to dinner. Darrell is a bicyclist and will be joining us for the century ride next Sunday, though he plans to do the full 100 miles, while I’m taking the metric approach and doing only 100 kilometers (62 miles). Cheri is being brave enough to try the 25 mile family ride, but there are 1,000 cyclists signed up, so it’s going to be bikes wall-to-wall. We went to “California Pizza Kitchen” and had a very nice meal and great conversation. Afterward, we loaded Miki’s stuff up to take her back to the campground with us and avoid the very steep fee to drive another vehicle into the park.

Sunday was nice again, though plenty warm and we took a group bicycle ride after I had fixed up the bicycle that Miki had been given by a friend who was moving (just air up the tires and adjust it to fit her physique). We rode a couple hours though not particularly hard or fast, but enjoyed the ride and the company before a leisurely lunch and lazy afternoon. Miki slept in our tent Saturday night because we returned quite late, but we set up her tent today. I grilled BBQ chicken for dinner, after a trip to the market, with sweet corn and salad; it was delicious.

Monday was a crazy day with Michelle having a couple of appointments and Cheri looking for a Weight-Watchers meeting so she could weigh in. She is a lifetime member which requires that she weigh in once a month within two pounds of her original goal. She has to pay again if she goes over the two pound limit, and resume weekly attendance, which she prefers not to do, and has never had too yet. I decided on a long bicycle ride, so after Cheri and Miki left for Westminster, I finished the dishes and hit the Cherry Creek Bike path. Miki and Cheri found time in their busy day to get Darrell to take them out for sushi, while I ate at a 7-11, but got a salad instead of my favored chilidog. I got back after two visits to REI and eight hours on the bike. We couldn’t agree on a mileage for my day, estimates ranged from 60 (Miki - on her smart phone) and 200 (me - based on how I felt afterwards). Cheri and I prepared hobo dinners, a favorite camping meal where hamburger, potatoes, carrots, and onions are gathered into foil packages and tossed in the campfire; though with the ban on wood fires, I had to cook them on the gas grill. We had some salad too, and a promise of a chocolate desert yet to come.

Last Days in Cherry Creek State Park

The weather Tuesday morning was good and we sort of just played the day away. We had some left-over potatoes from dinner, and some left-over sausages from Saturday which all went into a scramble for breakfast. We read and talked and then as it got warmer, went down to the beach for some sun and water. After an hour, Cheri and I left Miki to her sunbathing in favor of a bike ride and Cheri decided to challenge the hill just outside the campground, and I couldn’t let her do it without me, so we both conquered it. Later that afternoon Miki had physical therapy for her ankle (a result of a car accident three months ago); I had a date with Don Dolin (an old friend) to attend a Rockies game, while Cheri and Jackie Dolin went to dinner. We all met back at Michelle’s in Westminster and said our good-bys before carpooling (Miki, Cheri, and I) back to Cherry Creek and a welcome bed and blankets. There is no fee for entering the park after hours.

Wednesday was another day for the bicycles, just we three, after some raspberry pancakes.  We rode a couple miles to a bike shop just outside the park and bought Michelle a helmet for safety, and then she and Cheri went into shopping mode and accessorized with gloves, a seat-bag to carry some essentials, and a water bottle. It ended up being $125.00 but it was for our little girl, and she claims her friends will push her to use the bike now that she is set up properly with safe gear. I hope so. We took a long ride after the shopping and she did very well as we rode all the way around the lake, then up the hill to a residential area and one of her favorite places for lunch called Tokeo Joe’s. Cheri had what they call a “Kihei Salad” and all of us had a great lunch before riding back to camp. That evening I tried to grill some Dover sole which was only moderately successful, but the sweet corn, salad, and wine made it an acceptable meal. We said good-by to Michelle for the next few days as she returns to work, and we get ready to move our camp to Chatfield State Park, a bit further south and west of Denver.

Thursday was devoted to changing camps and I made eggs and potatoes for breakfast before we started in with packing up. We got everything loaded and over to Chatfield about 10:30 and had to wait for our site to be evacuated, so we drove around the park a while. It’s a nice park but there are few trees in the campground, which sits high on a bluff above the lake. Later in the afternoon we went up to Estes Park to visit some friends and really enjoyed touring the area with Gary and Fran Shelley, snow-bird members at Kihei Lutheran, before and after a nice dinner at Mary’s Lake Resort. It was a late night by the time we got back to camp and we dove beneath the sheets ASAP. There was a mild thunderstorm and a little rain that night, but we stayed dry even without the rain-fly in place on the tent (which we had ordered delivered to Michelle’s and picked up on the way to Estes Park).

Friday dawned windy and cool, so windy that after raspberry pancakes we had to get away, so we went into Denver to reconnoiter the start area of Sunday’s century ride at Stapleton Central Park. The address I had in the Garmin (copied from the web-site) was in the middle of a residential housing development, but we found the park a mile down the street. We decided that we’d better budget more time there prior to our estimated departure because parking is going to be a nightmare. Then we drove to Confluence Park for a visit to the REI store and a bike ride down Cherry Creek Trail that I rode on Monday and felt Cheri would love; she did. We stopped in the Cherry Creek Mall where Jackie Dolin works and invited her to lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen that we enjoyed so much in the Flatiron Mall with Darrell last Saturday. She called us when we got there and canceled her attendence, but we had a nice lunch and stopped back at her shop to say good-by, then braved a bit of a thunder-storm that threatened but didn’t materialize on the ride back. We got back to Chatfield and the weather was beautiful as I grilled gourmet burgers that were the best meal to date. By-by for now.

Chatfield State Park

The wind last night was awful and we were awake half the night listening to the tents flapping and snapping, and feared they wouldn’t last until morning, but somehow they did and we awoke to a beautiful Colorado morning. After naked raspberry pancakes (no meat) for breakfast we put the kayak in the water at the west end of the lake for a paddle. There is very little boat traffic at that end and we had a nice time chasing geese. At first we thought there were two species of birds in the small flock we were near, but the white ones were just Canadian geese upside-down as they looked for food under the water. Later we saw a family of ducks, Mama and at least twelve ducklings who might have been a little old for that title, but I don’t know what to call adolescent ducks. After some turkey sandwiches for lunch, Cheri set about doing laundry while I stood guard at the campsite as there was a storm on the horizon. When it hit, I thought again that we’d lose the dining tent, but it managed to stand through my estimate of 50 MPH gusts with only a drop or two of rain. When Cheri returned from the laundry room, she had no idea what I’d been through having only noticed a few bicyclists taking shelter in the building with her. That night, I outdid myself with a camp spaghetti that was absolutely delicious for our private carbo-loading party. (The next day we would see a sign that said “Carbo-loading is so 2011”.) We got our site ready for an all-day absence as we would be leaving about 5:30AM for the century ride and hit the sack hoping for good weather. Wish us luck!

We were up an away on time, having purchased some muffins so we could breakfast during the drive. Parking turned out to be no problem as I received an email the previous night with specific instructions that worked perfectly. We were there on time and got checked in okay, except some volunteer had screwed up Cheri’s registration, and the bib she got didn’t have her name printed on it as most others, including mine, did. Darrell was delayed by a ride partner and we ended up beginning our ride a few minutes before he got to the start line, but they passed us soon enough. We had a pretty nice, safe ride right through downtown Denver although they had said something at the start about an aid station about seven miles out that we never found, by the time we got to the 12.5 mile aid station, and Cheri’s turn-around, we were a bit confused, and I think Cheri was a bit thirsty as she had forgotten the water bottle we bought specially for this event, and wasn’t carrying water (and for some reason, didn’t want any of mine). But at the aid station that was all cleared up, and she got a water bottle she could carry on the way back. I guess it was about 9:15AM that we got that all cleared up and Cheri confident of her route and properly prepared, and I went on from there for the other fifty miles in store for me on the metric century, as Cheri rested up before heading back toward the start/finish for her 25 miles.

We had started out with clear and warm that soon turned into clear and hot and after I left the next aid station at Golden and headed toward Boulder it got hillier and windier, and the five miles after the thirty mile aid station were absolutely devastating for me, and Darrell backed me up on the difficulty of that section later. At about thirty-five miles (probably at least ¾ mile of which I had to walk) we turned downwind and downhill, but the damage to my condition and confidence was done and I was just hoping I could make it to the finish line. During that same time, Cheri was finding that the course markings were not as clear as she would have liked on the return, though I think the tug of a Starbuck’s sign may have helped pull her away from her proper bearings. She ended up walking her bike back toward where she had last seen a sign (on a one-way street) and found her way with the help of another couple. She finished at about 11:30AM and tried to find shade until I struggled home almost four hours later. Darrel later reported having as bad an afternoon as I did, finishing his 100 miles in the 98° heat a little more than an hour after my paltry 65 miles. Cheri and I didn’t wait for him at the finish because the call of Michelle’s pool was so strong, and that ended up feeling soooooooooo goooooooood! Afterward Michelle took us out to a restaurant called Hacienda to celebrate Father’s Day; what a wonderful daughter. We were so tired that evening, we decided not to drive all the way back to Chatfield and accepted her hospitality and bed for the night.

Monday morning we headed back to Chatfield by way of King Sooper to shop for dinner, expecting Michelle and Darrell to join us later in the day. After getting back and putting our site in order and stowing the groceries, we decided that a car-trip to nearby Roxborough State Park would be in order (and air-conditioned), just to investigate. It turned out to be a nice park had we had time and energy for a little hiking, and returned to Chatfield intent on getting in the water again to cool our body temperatures, this being another 97° day in the Denver area. We got word that Michelle’s business meeting had been canceled, so we met her back at camp and then drove to the beach for the cool-down, before showering and preparing for Darrell’s arrival. The salmon and sweet corn were well received and we had a great time chatting and eating with a little wine and a few beers tossed into the mix, it was a lovely evening. We would have liked to have had a campfire that evening, but the state of Colorado is now under a ban on open fires due to extremely dry conditions, and two very serious wildfires currently on-going elsewhere in the state.

Tuesday morning at 4:20AM our sleep was disturbed by a very public domestic dispute, something about a ”fricking” lighter (maybe for her crystal meth?) shouted for all in the campground to hear. Around 8:00AM we rose for a big breakfast of bacon and blueberry pancakes with juice and coffee, before setting off on a short bike ride as Darrell had stayed over, and had brought his mountain bike along with tent and sleeping bag. We stopped a few places and had a very nice time before getting Darrell off for a return to his office around noon. We three went to the market, and visited “My Favorite Muffin” café for lunch, and returned with gourmet burgers and shrimp cocktail in hand for later. It was another very warm day, so we stayed pretty close to the shade, though I braved the sun for an hour-long bike ride exploring a bike path toward Plum creek which also drains into this reservoir. The burgers were declared excellent, prefacing a gorgeous sunset. Cheri spent two hours looking for her lost eyeglasses (successfully!) while I blah, blah, blogged in your honor. Cheri and Michelle also took a short ride around the campgrounds as the evening cooled to a very pleasant mid-seventies as night fell. Our time in Denver is nearing an end, as all good things must do, and tomorrow we will visit old friends Burt and Elouise Van Engan for lunch before celebrating our family ties again with dinner out. I’m hoping for sushi!

The Road Back East

I got my wish and it was delicious as we returned to Sushi Yume that Michelle, Darrell and Cheri had visited a week ago for lunch. The sushi was great, and the crab cake appetizer was the best I ever had. We awoke at Michelle’s apartment to a breakfast of scrambled eggs, with ham, spinach, and onions that was very good and got on the road by 8:30AM. We stopped there in Westminster for gas and then at a hardware to replace a pin that had been lost from the bike rack with a similar sized bolt, and hit the open road. We stopped in Nebraska at a rest area and decided to give Sonic Drive-in a try in honor of niece, Lani, having worked at a Sonic in Texas. It was okay and we continued on to Council Bluffs where there is a DD&D restaurant called Dixie Quicks and we had a great dinner there. The bow-tie pasta with asparagus and prosciutto was great and the owner, Rene, said it’s just as good with spam. We drove until about 10:00PM to make Des Moines and have a short day tomorrow and stayed at another Microtel.

Friday we had the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, just edible, and hit the road for the four hours or so we had to the twin cities. After a fuel stop and a light lunch at Jimmy John’s we arrived at the W hotel in Minneapolis at 2:30PM just as a bunch of other cars pulled up, so Mark was busy but a bellboy and friend named Marcus took over and showed us to our beautiful room and Mark came up around 4:00PM. We walked back to their apartment and had a drink waiting for Katie, and later went out for a late Father’s Day to Wakame sushi, and it was fabulous. A sushi chef friend of Mark’s named Yo made us some poke that was great and everything else they brought was too, and then Yo sent us a fruit desert on the house. We went back to the apartment for drinks and conversation before they walked us back to the W, how sweet!

Saturday we were invited over to breakfast so at about 10:00AM we were having banana pancakes and bacon with them before taking a cab to Loring Park to check out the Gay Pride festivities going on there; it was just crazy with all kinds of people and booths for just about any kind of thing you’re interested in. There was a volleyball tournament going on and lots of other entertainment so Cheri and I stayed there when Mark and Katie had to leave for her Mom’s wedding which was immediate family only. We stayed until about noon and then found the Aussie Kebob food cart on our walk home, and the gyro they made for us was really tasty. After returning to the W we went out for some people watching and another snack so we stopped in at Zelo on the Nicolette Mall for a glass of wine and a flatbread pizza that was a lot bigger than we expected and watched the city go by. Mark returned and we took a cab to the Ten-Twenty-Nine Club and Smack Shack for the best mac and cheese ever and a couple great sandwiches and some beer. Katie joined us later and we caught a ride home with her and promised to meet them for a bike ride on Sunday. Late that evening one of Mark’s friends at the W, Clayton, sent up a brownie desert compliments of the hotel that was fabulous, so instead of breakfast, we had dessert in bed!

We were up around 8:30 and walked to Hell’s Kitchen for breakfast and I had some great corned beef hash and around 11:00 Mark and Katie came by and we got our bikes and rode up to the river. We caught the bike path there and had a very nice ride north along the river, and the west and south down around Cedar Lake and stopped for a picnic Mark had packed for us with wine, cheese, crackers, salami, and chocolates that Cheri had brought. We rode back to the W to clean up and rest prior to meeting them at the apartment for a swim and dinner on the deck. Mark made delicious teriyaki braised boneless beef ribs with rice and vegetables and Katie added some great bruchetta with some wine. Later Mark said he needed a walk and he marched us all over Minneapolis before we got back to his apartment, and then had to walk back to the W.

Minnesota Camping

Since we extended our stay at the W we only have three days of camping at Maple Plain, and Baker Park Reserve is just beautiful, as we remembered it to be. We arrived Monday and got set up after checking out and taking Mark to lunch at Krawarzcuk’s deli and café with some delicious sausages, and then bought bratwurst, sauerkraut, and buns for dinner tonight and some other things. We had time for a bike ride around the lake (6.2 miles) and some reading before firing up the electric skillet and cooking the delicious stuff we’d brought.

Tuesday started with a breakfast of pancakes and sausages from Krawarzcuk’s that were good but not as special as I thought the brats were. Mark called and had changed his schedule to allow him to spend the afternoon with us, and we played some disc golf while Cheri caught up with her reading. Back to his apartment for some pizza with Katie and her Uncle Jim and Aunt Sherri before going to a Howard Jones concert with them, meeting Leanne and Jerry there. Jones was one of the pioneers in using a music synthesizer, so his stuff was avant guard in his day, and apparently was a favorite of Leanne’s which explained Mark and Katie’s presence, and we were there to be with them. Afterward we went to a Mexican bar for a snack before heading back to the campground about 12:30AM.

Good weather allowed us to sleep in before a fruit and cereal breakfast. Cheri wanted to spend some time at Mall of America and get her hair done, so I took my bike along to help pass the time, because she didn’t want to go alone. I struck off trying to find a bike path of some sort and didn’t have much luck in that regard, but did find the Fort Snelling National Cemetery which I enjoyed, and a wildlife refuge with visitor center which I also enjoyed. I was back at the mall and had some lunch before running into…guess who? That’s right, Cheri! We celebrated by going into a shop for pedicures, which was fun, and then I turned her loose again on an unsuspecting mall while finding myself a good place to read for a while. We were planning to go to Mark’s roller-hockey game at 6:00PM but it was pushed back to 7:00PM so we had an extra hour to shop (and read)! After watching the game, which Mark’s team lost, we met Katie at a nice steakhouse called Mancini’s for a good dinner. We thought we were doing good to get back to Maple Plain and in bed by 10:30PM.

Thursday was a travel day, trading the roomy beautiful site at Baker for a beautiful shady site, albeit somewhat smaller at Itasca State Park four hours northwest, known as the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Itasca is a compound name using parts of two Latin words; “veritas caput” meaning "true head". It was a lovely drive ending in a lovely park. We picked up enough groceries on the way for dinner of salad with avocado and ham and we’ll go into Bemidji Friday for the rest of our needs, which are extensive since Mark and Katei will join us Friday night through Sunday afternoon. We ride our bikes along a very hilly path back to the visitor’s center to help us plan our visit and enjoy a quiet evening together.

Friday morning was cereal and raspberries before putting the kayak in the water for a couple hours of paddling and watching loons that Cheri and I both just love. There is a ten MPH speed limit on all boats, so there is no skiing or wave runners on this large, three armed lake, just a few pontoons and a fishing boat here or there. We head into Bemidji to the hospital for me to get a check of my PT/INR (clotting factor) before lunch at the Ground Round, go ahead and give this a pass if you get to Bemidji, and then did some other errands and grocery shopping. The kids arrived at about 8:30PM and I had the fire going for a try at grilled pizza tonight. I set up a topping bar and grilled the skins just a bit before everyone loads his/her own. I do the grilling for everyone but Cheri, I manage to dump hers in the fire, but we replace it and everyone declares the experiment a success!

Saturday starts with bacon and blueberry pancakes, and then we hike a mile to a fire tower that allows folks to climb the stairs for a look at the area from 100 feet above the hilltop it was built on. We all made the climb and really enjoy the view from up there. We got back to camp to pack a picnic lunch that I strap on my bike, and we all ride the two miles or so to the headwaters where folks walk across the Mississippi River which is about twenty feet wide and two feet deep here. We find a picnic area for lunch of cheese, crackers, salami, and salmon spread before heading back to the crossing area where we watch a young couple “march down the aisle” to the beat of a bagpipe, and the men were all in kilts. We get back to camp for some quiet time and a nap for most and then pack another picnic, this one of wine and pupus and we rent a pontoon boat for a ride on the lake. We saw a pair of loons in which one individual was swimming in a wide circle, maybe fifty feet, around the other and calling to it; some sort of mating display I imagine, but fun to see. A great time is had by all, even though I moved incautiously forward and nearly swamped the boat, causing three of the four wineglasses to go overboard. I saved the wine though! Back at camp Mark and I conspired to grill Brazilian steaks (crusted with rock salt) that make a wonderful dinner to end a great day.

Sunday morning I scrambled some eggs with left-over potatoes and asparagus and fried up some sausage patties to fuel the group. We decided to ride our bikes to the beach for a swim after Mark and Katie moved their tent into the sun to dry. We had a very brief shower overnight and they wanted the tent to be packed dry. We just chilled out all morning at the beach and then went back to camp for them to gather their stuff, all dry, and they left about 2:00PM for the Mini-apple.  Cheri and I took the truck along the Wilderness Drive and saw the biggest white-tail doe I’ve ever seen; I thought it might be an elk, but we didn't get a good enough look at it to know for sure. We drove out of the park to get some gas and a few groceries before getting back to camp for hamburgers that were very good and I sat down to catch up on work and my blogging. I’ll have to stop somewhere tomorrow to upload it, but I wrote for about three hours, trying to remember all the great stuff we’re doing on this trip.

Temperance River

We were awakened at 3:00AM in the morning by a little intruder making noise in our dining tent, and we decided from the amount of stuff consumed, it must have been a raccoon or two, because two full bananas (only the skins were left) along with a sandwich bag full of snack bars, one wrapper for which was found nearby. We’ve had numerous chipmunk intrusions, and some squirrels, one crazy one that attacked Uncle Bill’s trailer, but this is the first raccoon. We had a leisurely morning taking down and packing the truck before showering and we left beautiful Itasca about 11:00AM. It turned out to be a longer drive than we had thought, with a road construction delay during a detour on the way to a Starbucks. We had a late lunch at Fitzgers Inn that Mark had suggested for the wild rice vegetarian burger. We both had one; Cheri was impressed, and I wasn’t. Then we stopped by a DD&D place called the Northern Waters Smokehaus and bought some smoked salmon for dinner which turned out to be excellent on a salad. We got set up at Temperance River just in time to relax with some wine and eat our salad.

We needed to do laundry today and decided to see Grand Marais in the bargain. We bought some fudge, a t-shirt for Cheri, a “third-eye” mirror for me, and a small frying pan at a camping store that also gave us suggestions for an afternoon paddle in the kayak. We had packed a picnic and ate that down by the beautiful bay in Grand Marais and headed west to find the lake. We got turned around and had to get further directions at the town information kiosk, but soon were on our way up Pincushion Mountain and found the access point for Northern Light Lake. We put the kayak in the water and found ourselves on a long, river-like arm of the lake and thought: “Right around this next bend, we’ll see the lake, or maybe the one after that.” It was about fifteen minutes before we saw it, and it looked big and rough with a pretty good windblown chop, and there was still a point for us to round before we could see the whole lake, so we decided to paddle at least that much further. About half way to the point Cheri saw an animal on the far shore, so we headed that way to get a better look and decided it was the size of a moose, so we got really excited and paddled all the way across the lake, at least half-a-mile and fifteen minutes in a quartering sea for a better look, and when we got about 200 yards away it moved up into the brush, and as it did, we could see the white tail of the biggest deer either of us has ever seen. We explored that shoreline hoping for a repeat appearance but then started the long paddle back to our car. We loaded the kayak back on top of the Chevy and drove about an hour home to Temperance River. We had in mind to take our wine and steaks, and the grill etc. down the short walk to the lakeshore, then decided to drive instead and set up camp away from camp at a picnic table there with a beautiful view of Lake Superior. We had a lovely time and some delicious salt-grilled steak along with campfire potatoes and mushrooms, and hung out there until it was time to get ready for bed.

Wednesday dawned bright and beautiful and we loaded the bikes for a sight-seeing trip to Gooseberry Falls, again packing a picnic lunch to take along. We toured Tettegouche State Park
on the way, then finally arrived at the most popular park on the north shore and found parking at the picnic area and biked back to the visitor’s center. After a look at the falls, and people doing stupid things in the rushing water, we saw a movie about the north shore parks and picked up a gift for Cheri from the gift shop; a much needed Lake Superior coffee cup and a CD of loon music. We struck out to the north on the Gitchi-Gami bike trail but soon the hills took away Cheri’s will to ride, and the darkening skies replaced it with fear of a thunderstorm, so we turned back and made for the truck as quickly as our muscles could take us. We got back just in time to stay dry, but worried about the weather back at Temperance River where we had left some windows open to air the tent. Then the storm hit, and it was so severe that we started thinking about what we would do about our wet belongings when we got back there, including stopping at a Laundromat to find their hours of operation. But half-way back, we turned off the windshield wipers and saw that the roads were still dry, and hurried home to close up, and again managed to stay dry as the storm reached us ten minutes after our return! Whew! We sat in the dining tent reading for a few hours listening to it rain and then decided to go out for diner tonight rather than tomorrow as we had planned. We got quite a bit of rain, enough so that water was running into the dining tent under the sides, and the temperature was easily twenty degrees cooler than it had been. The sleeping tent was high and dry, as was the restaurant at the Lutsen Resort, where we feasted on whitefish and walleye after a short wait in the bar where we had wine and artichoke dip as a warm-up. Folks were lighting campfires on the beach as we left the restaurant and headed home and to bed.

Thursday was “clean-out-the-fridge” day for a scrambled breakfast and then break out the hiking sticks to tour the Temperance River Gorge on foot. It is a truly gorgeous place and we hiked about a mile-and-a-half up the gorge toward Carlson Peak,  but turned back and returned the way we’d come to enjoy the river some more. After more “clean-out-the-fridge” for lunch, Cheri hiked to the showers and I took a little bike ride south to Schroder to see Father Baraga’s Cross, and north to Tofte just to see the bike path. I returned just as Cheri was driving out to her appointment at the nearby spa, and I relaxed before hitting the showers myself. Cheri reported a nice facial at Superior Waves Spa in Tofte, and said it was more luxuriant and relaxing than the high-end spas she occasionally visits back home on Maui. On the way home she stopped at the ranger station for ice and wood we needed tonight. We again loaded stuff in the Chevy and set up camp-away-from-camp at a table and fire-pit near the shore and thoroughly enjoyed wood-grilled pizza for dinner. Even without electricity, we’ve really enjoyed Temperance River State Park and the whole north shore area, and we have promised each other future visits here.

City Life, Again

Originally we would have been on our way to Pine Island Lake for the Brown family 4th of July celebration, but our putative host, Grandma Velda, has some medical issues that prevent her from hosting our visit, and we have made alternate plans in the Mini-apple. We got a reservation through Mark at the Comfort Inn in the same building he and Katie live in, so we’re heading there today (Friday, July 6th). It was a typical breaking-camp day, though we were up early and so got an earlier start for the five hour drive ahead. We got to the hotel and dealt with the parking situation since we require a special space not in the underground lot with has a seven foot height limit. We freshened up and called Mark about 4:00PM and he asked us to come up to the apartment for a special pupu he had prepared, fresh ahi sashimi that was fantastic. We’ve decided to do a food crawl tonight; guacamole and a drink at Mama Rosa’s, then crab cake and shrimp cocktail at Oceanaire, and then the best burger in Minneapolis at Vincent’s. Everything was delicious and Steve Brown was able to join us for the first two stops, and it was good to see him.

We really like our room at the Comfort Inn which comes with free breakfast but we’re invited out to Hell’s Kitchen for breakfast and to see Church of Cash perform, but not until 10:30, so I went down to the free breakfast at the Inn to take the edge off. It was great to see Jayder and the CoC, and breakfast was really good. Ben Buckhan is coming up from Des Moines to hang out today and when he arrives, we drive out to Hudson, WI to spend some time at the beach on the St. Croix River. I joked that we had driven all the way to Wisconsin just for the pleasure of walking back to Minnesota because the beach is off a causeway two-thirds of the way to the MN shore. We get back to the city just in time to go to Junior’s dojo for the MMA event on TV and a Brazilian BBQ. We drink too much (except Cheri, the DD) and the food was great and the fights were fun, right down to the main event in which Anderson Silva beat Chael Sonnen to retain his title and thrill the crowd we’re with. Mark and Ben take center stage after the fight with a scrimmage of their own, but eventually they run out of gas and we get home and to bed about midnight.

Ben came down to crash the free breakfast early to catch his tee-time today at 10:00AM, and Mark and Katie join us later for the same, and it’s declared the best free breakfast ever. After the omelets and waffles are gone, we prepare to leave and get the kids to help us carry everything down to the car and say our tearful good-byes, and we’re off to Milwaukee. The drive is somewhat depressing because of the drought being suffered by all of Wisconsin, and I call my buddy Josh Parcel to commiserate with him when we stop for lunch. We check into the Red Roof Inn near the airport and visit a restaurant called the Branded Steer and had a good steak for dinner.

We’ve got some extra time before our sailing today on the ferry and visit downtown Milwaukee in the historic third ward where we find a Starbuck’s before some walking around and we get a suggestion from a local couple and visit Benelux for breakfast. I have Pannenkoegen, a cross between a pancake and a crepe and enjoy it while Cheri enjoys an egg-white omelet with spinach and mushrooms that looked really good too. We get to the ferry to find they’ve made a mess of our reservation, and we have a few hours of worry, but they make space for us stand-by and we make the crossing as planned. Never again will we trust an unconfirmed reservation with just a scribbled confirmation number on a scrap of paper. We arrive and get to the campground just in time for a dinner of nachos and then get Skip to take us for a ride in the pontoon boat and see the eagle that rules one end of Muskegon Lake. Later we have a campfire and some wine and retire to our dining tent to sleep, having chosen to go with a single tent these two days.

I‘m invited to go for a paddle along with Skip but sleep late instead. Skip gets back just as breakfast is being served and we read a while until Kris and her girls go to the beach and Skip and I decide to hike the three miles or more round trip to the eagles’ nest. It’s a beautiful day and we enjoy the woods and the dunes and find the nest and a rather smelly mess under it where they have dropped fish bones, turtle shells and lots of eagle poop. The fledglings have apparently left the nest though since there was no activity in it that we could see, though we thought we heard the fledglings as we approached the area. We got back to a nice dinner of grilled teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapple, green beans, mac & cheese, and asparagus spears baked in phylo that were delicious. Unfortunately, Vickie must leave us this evening as she has applied for a new teaching job in a new city; inner city Detroit. We have another campfire complete with s’mores until Cheri breaks up the party to go watch the ferry leave for Milwaukee after which we get back and head straight to bed.

Today is a work day as we head back to Hemlock and prepare to store much of our camping gear and take some stuff with us to Drummond Island for the swan-song of this vacation, at least as far as Cheri is concerned. We hung around camp after bacon and waffles that Karen cooked for us and packed up our stuff and headed out about 1:00PM. We had an uneventful drive and started the business of cleaning up and storing our stuff, and cooled off twice in the pool. I also did some work on the stuff I’ll need on my bike tour, contacted the local bike shop about some work I need done, and had an unwelcome call from Thrifty Rental Car that will require a trip to the airport to clear up tomorrow.

Hemlock to Drummond and Back Again

We lost an entire day to the idiots at Thrifty Car Rental on Thursday; they threatened me with charges of car theft if I failed to deliver their car back to DTW as soon as possible. Cheri rode down with me and we turned the car in and walked over to National to get a car for the rest of our time here, and as it happens, we got another Chevy Traverse, though with fewer bells and whistles than the one we had.

We spent most of Friday getting ready to go north, and lounging n the pool which is perfect right now; refreshing but very pleasant to be in for an hour or two. We went out to dinner at The Farmer’s Home Tavern here in Hemlock, known far and wide for the best hamburger in mid-state Michigan, it’s always a pleasure to come back home again!

Saturday finds us back on the highway heading for Gaylord and a 24 hour date for Cheri with her high school posse (Gail Robinson, Patty Diedrich, and Ruth Wood) while I grab a bike ride and bunk in at Diedrichs even though John is already visiting up at Drummond, and Patty will then ride up with us to join him there. I had a good ride on the Little Traverse Wheelway with some rain in the middle, and then a downpour just before I finished. I stayed in for dinner after finding fresh bratwurst from Toski Sands that I know John must have selected just for me.

Sunday we have a pleasant drive with Patty, stopping at Bell’s Fishery in Mackinaw City for whitefish that will be our dinner. I won’t catalog the entire week in the beautiful log cabin that we stay in there, but we alternate kayaking and biking while making a log of the freighters that we can identify from our perch on the St. Mary’s River. We eat good food and drink some wine, read some books and talk story with Cheri’s family. We paddled in Pike Cove, Glen Cove, and Sturgeon Bay; biked and hiked and played with Mom and Dad C’s new mutt Roxie. It was a good week with good weather until Saturday when the wind kicked up, but we spent most of that day getting ready to leave on Sunday. It was a good week.

Then it’s a day with Pat and John in Harbor Springs that includes the best meal of the trip (escargot, Caesar’s salad; whitefish for Cheri and walleye for me). Then back to Hemlock; drop the bike off in Saginaw for some updates and jump in the pool when the 95 degree weather made unloading the car and cleaning up uncomfortable. Cheri will be on a plane Thursday while I’ll be heading north for a fishing trip and my bike trip. I won’t be blogging during that period, but I’ll tell you about it after it’s over. Aloha until then.

And North We Go Again

I pick up the bike with the new crank and sprockets on Wednesday, and the drought here in central Michigan broke with two inches of rain that night so we listened to thunder and rain as Cheri finishes packing. It was still looking like rain Thursday when I toss the bike in back of the Traverse so I can return the car and the lady to MBS in one trip. We say our good-bys outside the gate and I go off to retrieve the bike and do the paperwork at the rental office. As I’m leaving the airport it is just sprinkling, but it’s raining hard in a few minutes, so I get good and wet on my ride. Getting wet isn’t a big deal, but poor visibility for both myself and the automobile operators around me can be and I change my route to some lesser used roads when I can, and arrive home safely less than two hours after Cheri’s flight. I finished my packing and read and did some business communicating, and rested most of the day.

On Friday, I rode the loaded bike to Hemlock to get a fishing license, selecting the single-day option for $7.50, almost certainly a waste of money given my history with fishing. About 3:30 Skip and Lenda arrive to pickup the boats and we’re on our way north. We stop for a Subway and arrive around 7:00 leaving plenty of time to set up the trailer and put the pontoon boat in the water before bedtime. I accept the invitation to sleep on the couch rather than setting up my tent, and I sleep very comfortably until Skip wakes me at 6:00 for some fishing.

I feel about fishing as I’ve heard Ron White talk about hunting: “It’s cold outside and you have to get up early and it’s not worth it.”  But I dutifully roll out at 6:00AM with Skip and fold myself into the kayak and paddle out on the lake. It’s beautiful with the mist on the far shore, loons calling out to us, some deer in a cleaning nearby, and the water smooth as glass (but still not worth it). I’m pitching and retrieving a spinner bait which mimics an injured fish which a pike or bass might want to eat and an hour goes by without much action. Only a nibble here or there until I happen to throw it in exactly the right spot and a monster pike (from my perspective) grabs it and runs. I was so surprised that I probably didn’t take up the line fast enough and he wrapped it around a log down in the water, but it held and he wore himself out and was taking a breather near the surface when Skip was able to get him in the net. Twenty-four inches is the minimum to legally keep and Skip declared him to be twenty-five and onto the stringer he went! Skip later got a large-mouth bass to keep and our morning was a success! We paddled in for breakfast and picture taking and Skip filleted both our fish for a starring role at dinner tonight. We all went out on the pontoon later with little luck, then Skip and I went out after our great fish dinner in the kayaks again. I boated two more pike, but neither that was big enough to keep, one just slightly under, the other what they call a hammer-handle about 18 inches long. Skip got another bass for the freezer and we call it a day just before dark.

Sunday morning Skip goes out as usual but since my license ran out, I have a perfect excuse to stay in bed, and do. About 9:00AM he’s back in without anything to show for his morning, and I am packed up, breakfasted on Lenda’s bacon and eggs, ready to get on the bike. This promises to be my hilliest day on the road, but it’s not too bad into Atlanta and my first rest stop. Between there and Vienna it is ten really difficult miles, all uphill and down, some really steep and some over a mile long, but there’s a nice store with good fresh pizza and I take a long lunch break. The lady in the store says the hills are behind me, and it turns out to be mostly true and I have an easier ride the eighteen miles left into Gaylord. I didn’t want to overdo this first day, so decided to stay near Gaylord and I ride out to the county park on the west side of Otsego Lake (6 miles) after stopping for groceries to carry. Later I ride back to town to dine and watch the Olympics on TV at Big Buck’s, so I end up with over fifty tough miles for the day.

I didn’t sleep too well; this being the first night on the Big Agnes mattress in a couple years and roll out around 7:30AM. Packed and breakfasted, I hit Gaylord about 9:00AM and ride past Patty’s old house and hail her father, Bill Hanson, then pass Cheri’s old house and get on the North Central State Trail. It’s a pleasant ride particularly with the five miles or so downhill right from the start and after passing through Vanderbilt, I’m in Wolverine before 11:30 but decide to stop for lunch. There’s a nice bar with a TV tuned to the Olympics and have a very nice BLT; perfect! The thirty miles up to Aloha State Park go pretty well though I’m beginning to tire and I’m set up and cleaned up and read until about 7:00PM when John calls. He and Patty can’t come out for dinner as we had discussed, so I ride up to the little store here and pick up a sandwich and go back to my reading. About 8:30PM the storm clouds are gathering and I am invited to my neighbor’s awning to watch the lightning across the lake and rapidly approaching from the west. I had battened down the hatches and crawled into my tent as the first drops fall. It is a big storm raging on the other side of the thin fabric with thunder, lightning, rain, and winds over 50 MPH. I was surprised that I didn’t blow away but in the morning I was still there, and must have slept because I distinctly remember waking up. Awnings were down all over the campground and my neighbor ended up with his awning pole through the windshield of his van.

I break my fast on granola bars with peanut butter and Gatorade and head toward Onaway on the North Eastern State Trail now; same crushed limestone surface on an old railway bed. Road crossings are few and far between in general, and of course, the trail is quite flat. I get to Onaway and find the laundromat and some lunch before heading out again. I was thinking about  staying at Onaway State Park, but its five miles off the route, and I think I might do better. In Millersburg there’s another local park, but again five miles off route and there’s no place for a decent dinner, so I press on to Hawks where I know there is the Night Hawk Inn. I have dinner, but there are no campgrounds around so I hit the trail again and look for a good place to renegade camp. I find a good spot and while I’m still not particularly at ease, I make do for the night, and get up and out early.

It’s about 7:00AM after the mile or so to Metz and I have breakfast on a picnic table behind the church. I hadn’t seen much wildlife up to yesterday but riding into the evening last night, and again early this morning changed that in a hurry. I saw an eight-deer herd last night and five more individuals this morning, which sorta justifies the deer blinds you see just about everywhere around the trail in this part of Michigan. Today is cool and overcast and I’m hoping for something warm in the thriving metropolis of Posen where most of the buildings are available for rent, but settle for chocolate milk, and that more to qualify as a customer for rest room use than my desire for a cold drink. Just before Bolton I run into a bicycle tourist from Bay City who is very interested in my trailer, and no wonder as he’s pulling a big old Burley two-wheeler. He said he got rid of his Yak because of poor handling, and I reported the excellent manners of my Extrawheel. I took to the road for the smooth surface from Bolton to Alpena and arrived about noon, found the fairgrounds, set up, cleaned up, and headed to the Maritime Museum. There was a boat tour leaving soon that sounded fun and was okay; lots of good information, but not much to look at. Back to camp to nap and read and then to the Olde Owl for dinner and Olympic TV, and tried the pesto pizza with anchovies and artichoke hearts. Good and salty to require more beer. I am back to camp just before dark and into bed.

I awoke on my day off to light rain, so I make the campsite safe and head to Micky D’s for breakfast and a warm, dry place to read until the Besser Museum opens at 10:00AM.  It’s a nice, eclectic museum/art gallery and I enjoy it until about 1:00PM and head back to the Maritime to catch some of the offerings in the theater there. About 4:00PM I rode back to camp, then explored the bike path a bit and found a nice bench for some reading as the weather had cleared and about 5:30PM I head back to the Olde Owl for a repeat of last night sans beer. I stretch out a BLT and fries with Pepsi and one glass of wine and get back to camp well before dark and turn in.

I was up early again on Friday and was done with a leisurely breakfast at BK by 8:00AM and hit US23 south for Harrisville. The road was smooth and flat for speed and comfort, and wide for safety, until Ossineke when I run into a few hills, but I’m in Harrisville at 10:45AM. It was cool again and I was disappointed that Subway didn’t have any soup, so had a kid’s sandwich and read a while to warm up. She said they only had soup in the winter, and I didn’t bother pointing out that it was a mere 72 degrees outside. It was flat and fast into Tawas City and I was there by 3:00PM and decided to get off the road to avoid the Friday afternoon traffic, and found the Tawas River RV Park and made that home for the night. It’s on M-55 west which is called Hemlock Road so it feels like home. It’s just over a mile into town where I hit a place called Wing It and they make a good burger to go with my Labatt’s and some TV. Back out at Hemlock Road I text Cheri, call Mom, then leave a voicemail for Randy, who called back and gave me directions to their campground (State road from Omer to Sagatoo road to Foco road).

I took my time packing with under fifty miles today and left around 8:30AM. My first stop is at a beach park at White Stone Point and I notice that one of my slippers is not where it should be stowed so I call information for the number and call the campground to ask them to ship it (it arrived as I’m writing this a week later). I got a coke in Au Gres and look at the river a while, then onward to Omer; stop at the fruit market at the corner for cherries and follow Randy’s directions with confirmation from a clerk in Pine River and arrive about 1:00PM. We go down to the pool, then play putt-putt and retire to the camp for dinner which are calzones without sauce, just ham, cheese, and onions in the dough and they’re pretty good. The kids went off to watch karaoke, while R&M walked the dogs and I journal-ed and repacked for tomorrow. I’ll let Randy carry my trailer and one pannier, keeping one for essentials.

I awoke about 7:00AM and had been warned that they sleep late, so I got ready and hit the road without saying good-by. The forecast is for cool and windy which I guess would suggest a northwest wind; it’s west instead but no trouble as I head south to Kawkawlin before I turn into the wind and onto a rough Beaver Road. Things slow down considerably then and I’m tired when I get to Freeland for some lunch. From there its old hat; Freeland-Gleaner-Frost-Raucholz-Ederer-home. I have five days here in Hemlock to play pool-boy and spend quality time with Mom, then it’s an early morning drive to Detroit thanks to big brother and on my way back to Maui. Thanks for coming along for the ride; see you next time. Aloha and Mahalo.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spring 2011

Spring 2011
The important winter season is past as well as the adventure that was Mark and Katie's wedding. They were married at a beautiful private beachfront property south of Makena and everything was perfect and wonderful from the party at our house, through the sunset cruise rehearsal dinner, to the weather that afternoon, right down to the gorgeous sunset and mai-tais. Then the earth shook causing a huge tsunami in Japan and a warning and coastal evacuation of low lying areas on Maui from the end of the reception until early the next morning. Mark and Katie had three people with them in their hotel room for the wedding night and we had a house full of wedding guests that couldn't go back to their beachfront condo's. There was little damage on Maui from the six foot tsunami that affected mostly the north shores and things were soon back to normal. All of our many guests have gone home now, and we're focused on our trip this summer. We finally have airline reservations and car rental lined up, so we can start putting together a schedule that is meaningful. Here's how it's going to go and pay attention because there'll be a quiz later:

Fly into Detroit May 29th for a week of visiting and packing the car with our toys and camping equipment.
Road-trip toward Denver by way of some friends places in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.
Camping etc. near Rocky Mountain National Park and to visit daughter, Michelle.
Camping near Yellowstone National Park (Camping in National parks is limited to rustic sites only, and Cheri is an "electric lights and hot shower required" kind of camper.)
Road-trip back to Minneapolis to hang with Mark and Katie and to visit friends.
Fourth of July with Katie's family at the Brown family lake estate.
Ferry ride across Lake Michigan and back to Hemlock for a delayed Beyersdorf wedding reception (7/15) and a Cornish wedding in Lansing (7/16).
A week watching freighters and enjoying a house on Drummond Island, Michigan.
Send Cheri back to work on Maui (7/26), while i enjoy a bike tour in Michigan.
8/6 - Life of leisure is over.
None of this is cast in stone as yet, but is a pretty good estimate for right now. If you have suggestions, now is the time. Thnks for tuning in, and I'll talk to you again in a month or so. Aloha.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Road West - 2011

Air Travel – Avoid at All Costs
Thursday, June 2, 2011
We had a real bad time in Chicago on the way to Detroit. The flight from Maui to Dallas, and then Dallas to Chicago were the usual, uncomfortable but bearable to get where we wanted to go. Our first choice would have been to skip Chicago all together and fly Dallas-Detroit, but the vagaries of airfare pricing sent us to O'Hare and we got stuck.
A huge thunderstorm rolled in an hour after we arrived, two hours before we should have left, and soon planes couldn't get where they were supposed to be and pilots were stuck two hundreds miles, or two hundred yards, from their next assignment, and everything went to hell in a hand-basket. Our flight was cancelled and we were standby on two others ten minutes apart (gate-to-gate) so I sat at one and Cheri the other as they delayed first this one and then the other all through the day and into the night. We finally decided to pack it in and spend our own money on a good night's sleep at the Hilton. Great decision since they cancelled both flights eventually and American didn't give away any vouchers.
We had a nice time at the hotel, and the line was out the door thirty minutes after we registered, so one thing went right that day. The next day we thought we were in for more of the same but we finally got on the plane and into Detroit. I hadn't called about the rental car and who knows how much that might cost me at the end of the trip, but they had the vehicle we wanted and we made our get-away to the next night-mare.
We were to visit Cheri's parents, and we got there just fine but the power was out; the storm had blown down trees and electric poles and the whole town was without power, and their back yard was littered with tree branches up to six inches in diameter. We ignored it that afternoon and all went to visit Cheri’s brother in Clinton and had a nice evening, but came home to darkness and flashlights. Tuesday we cleaned up the yard and then cleaned out the freezer and refrigerator after the power came back mid-afternoon. Fun, fun, fun. All day the running joke was talking about the migrant labor all the way from Hawaii, but the joke was on us.
Wednesday morning we managed to escape Mason and got to the farm about noon. Hamburger gravy and mashed potatoes for lunch, just to remind us we were back home on the farm, then it was back to work for me to get our toys out of storage and set up the tent to sleep in since Mom had two grand-daughters also staying a few days. It’s been a nice time so far though the wind last night kept us awake and in doubt of our safety for a few hours.
Today we’ve got errands to run; Cheri needs to visit a weight-watchers meeting and I want to visit a bike shop for some parts. Cheri has reached her goal weight and is a life-time member of weight-watchers now and gets in for free, but she has to weigh in once a month to keep that status. Its okay, the meeting is held close to the bike shop, also close to Olive Garden where we had dinner last night: boy was that yummy!
It’s about 7:30AM and I’m the only one up. So I might have to get on that bicycle for a little ride; at least as far as the cemetery to visit Dad. Eighteen years gone and I still miss him. I hope as many people mourn my passing and remember me so fondly when that time comes. See you next time.

Another Storm
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Our errands on Thursday work out well all around and in the evening the families gather at Mom’s house for a celebration of Cheri’s college graduation, which was very nice indeed. We had some wine and talked and laughed just as families should. Friday morning, Mom had a procedure on her eye and is supposed to rest quietly the rest of the day so Cheri and I take the bicycles out to the Saginaw Valley Bike Trail and do the fifteen mile round-trip to St. Charles, with lunch thrown in.
Friday afternoon we pack the tent and start packing the Durango for our departure Saturday. Later in the day the bike shop calls and they have finished the cog installation on my new wheel, though I’ll keep the lighter weight wheels on for the first part of the trip, I make the drive to Bay Road yet again. Kari brings her kids over having missed last night’s shindig, and later Skip and I go out for a crop tour.
Saturday we get loaded up and leave the farm close to 10:30 and go to Hemlock to visit Kelly to repair Cheri’s manicure, and I get a haircut in the bargain. The trip to Indiana goes well with good weather and we arrive in Greentown to look around about 3:30PM. The apartment where we first lived looks the same as it did, still clean and neat though the courtyard is much nicer with the trees having matured nicely. The house we used to own at 626 Elliott Court also looks good with a new front porch and upgraded siding. It’s pleasant to see the care these properties have received since we left. We stop at Windfall on the way to Mike Floyd’s place and arrive to see him lighting up the grill.
After a tour of the house we chat over a beer and watch the hummingbirds congregate around his feeder which seems to support at least four individuals, they are beautiful in flight! Scott Gunning drops by to join the fun and we enjoy wings, brats and steak off the grill with a bottle of Oliver wine, a small winery nearby. As we’re finishing the meal the storm starts with very heavy winds, up to 70 MPH we are to hear later, and we are able to watch from the porch because of the many trees surrounding Mike’s house. The power goes out soon after the first winds came and stay out all night and the next day. As darkness falls the rain starts and we get about an inch before it slows about bedtime. Mike, Scott and I had a great time renewing our friendship and watching the storm.
Sunday morning we breakfast on more delicious meat off the grill, steak, bacon and sausage, along with some melon and strawberries, and Cheri reports that the Kona coffee made with Mike’s French press is fabulous, and she drinks three cups. Mike and Scott run off, supposedly to get some water for toilet use and are gone an hour and a half. In the meantime Cheri and I pick up branches all over Mike’s lawn, another bout of migrant labor. We leave about 11:30 and head toward Kokomo just to see how that town has changed, and then it’s off to Gifford, IL, to visit Clyde and Skip German. We get a tour of the house and town, and their beautiful church before a good farm supper of roast beef and all the trimmings including apple cobbler with ice cream. We spend a quiet evening talking and I catch up on the blog and some reservations for later in our trip.

How much longer…?
Thursday, June 09, 2011
We leave for the long road west about 9:00AM after a pleasant visit with Clyde and Skip and set the Garmin for Blair, Nebraska, about halfway to Denver. My old friend Mike Claywell has a very comfortable home in Blair, and we meet his wife, Kathy and one of their two children, Cameron, just out of college. We feast on good Nebraska beef hamburgers and later Cheri scores a ride with Mike on his Honda Gold Wing touring motorcycle. I’m hoping for an offer to drive it, but I’m not surprised that it isn’t offered, it is a beautiful machine and he is right to protect it from a rookie like me. I haven’t ridden a motorcycle in thirty years and it wasn’t anywhere close to the size of this bike.
We have a very comfortable night and hit the road about 7:30AM the next morning, find a Starbuck’s for Cheri and head west again, or still. We get to Gothenburg about 12:40PM and meet Celeste Nelms, another old friend from Monsanto, for lunch at Walker’s Steakhouse. We gain another hour at the Nebraska line, not having seen a tree in fifty miles, and enter eastern Colorado where most of the land appears to be used for grazing. We arrive at the Safeway store near Michelle’s place to shop for supper, having received the news that her apartment was a no-food zone until we arrived. She has a cold but we have some wine and pupus before going out to the Noodle Factory for dinner. She has given us her bed, and it is wonderfully comfortable, and we sleep very well indeed.
Wednesday is sunny and warm and we have a relaxing morning before going out for a bike ride to Michelle’s workplace a few miles away. She is holding down the fort alone so we wait for her to finish signing up a new resident before we can see the model of the apartment she is going to rent beginning in August. It’s a bit smaller than her current apartment but $100 cheaper and they appreciate that she is willing to move to the property she has been assigned to. She also helps me with some scanning I need to send back to Kihei. That night we go to Baker Street Bar and Grill for dinner where she has many friends, and have a very nice meal, and a free drink.
Thursday we find a beautiful bike path along the South Platte River and ride twenty miles on the bicycles before lunch at Gunther Toody’s Diner (I swear that’s the name of the place) and we drive to a winery called Balistreri’s about eight miles away. They are in the middle of a construction process but we have a nice time tasting some wine and talking to the vintner’s granddaughter. We buy only one bottle because it’s a bit pricey but we want to collect a few bottles for Drummond Island later in the trip. Later tonight we’re going to meet Michelle’s workout buddy, Darrell, and go have some sushi. We haven’t met the boyfriend yet, I guess he’s busy. We catch up on laundry getting ready for the cold weather camping we’ll start tomorrow. See you in the mountains.

Rocky Mountain High
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Michelle has Friday off to attend the wedding of the boyfriend’s friend, so we have a leisurely breakfast with her and pack up the truck. It is a pleasant drive through Boulder and on up to Estes Park and we roll into the KOA in early afternoon to find a tiny campsite, barely able to hold our two tents leaving the truck in overflow parking or in the way of other campers, but nothing else is available so we set up and head into town to lunch and buy provisions. We find some very good, very big sandwiches at a place called Great Shakes and save half for dinner later and get out groceries in Safeway and head back. I reconnoiter on the bike and then Cheri and I ride to the visitor center, which I found to be very commercial, with little information about the park, and much about town and the various businesses. It turns out that this is the visitor center for the town of Estes Park, and not for Rocky Mountain National Park.
They didn’t have any blueberries at Safeway so we have raspberry pancakes for our first camping breakfast and they are great. Michelle is supposed to come up this afternoon after work, so we go for a bike ride and go out to the Park visitor center and start planning our visit and use of the park, and buy a couple guides for information on easy hikes and the Trail Ridge Road. Michelle calls and cancels because of her cold, so instead Cheri and I go out for a wine tasting at Snowy Peaks Winery and then out for dinner to a place called The Other Side for Rocky Mountain Trout and have a very nice dinner; they have the best onion soup I’ve ever had. I’ve had trouble sleeping at night, I think, because of the air mattress we use; the little pump doesn’t get it hard enough for me to be comfortable in my favored position.
Michelle calls again Sunday morning and now she’s remembered that she had promised to accompany Corey and Logan (boyfriend and his daughter) to the zoo so she won’t be here until just before dinner. We decide to put the kayak into Estes Park Lake, and the gal at the Marina lets us do that for ten bucks and we have a real nice paddle, at one point going through a five foot culvert under the highway to another part of the lake; the views are incredible. Got the kayak back on the truck without much trouble now that I’ve done it once, and all locked down with all the straps secured; they sometimes rattle against the roof at higher speed. Michelle arrives and we have wine and pupus and I cook steak on my little gas grill along with some foil pouch potatoes and veggies and we have a nice meal. Latter we borrow a fire pit at a nearby unoccupied site and have a camp fire.
Monday we decide to drive the Trail Ridge Road which goes over twelve thousand feet of altitude and gives a wonderful view of much of the park, not to mention the many different environments represented here including sub-alpine, above the tree-line, seldom accessible by automobile. There is still ten feet of snow in some places and we take a couple short hikes in the cold and wind before hitting the Alpine Visitors Center which is beautiful and has the most shopping of any in the park. We continue on to Grand Lake and in the process come across a baby moose with her mom about fifty feet away from our vantage, and then later, a bull moose who decides to cross the road not ten feet from Cheri’s camera. We continue to see wildlife and grand views of the Never Summer Mountains on the west side of the park, and marvel again at the snow still left high up. They usually hope to open the road and Alpine Visitors Center on Memorial Day, but received snow and drifts up to twenty-two feet in mid-May, so just opened last week. We take Michelle out for dinner at a nice Italian restaurant right on the river here in Estes Park and have a wonderful meal before we send her back to Denver to earn a living, it’s so nice not to have to worry about that for a while.
Tuesday was our day for a hike up in the park and the unusual season again gets in the way as many of the better trails are snow covered and impassable still, but lower elevation routes are available and we do two shorter hikes (Bear Lake and Alberta Falls) totaling three point one miles instead of the three mile route I had chosen earlier. We do more site-seeing before returning to the KOA for some work that needs to be done by each of us, not least of which is to update this blog to keep you up to date. We’re going to do the steak and foil wrapped veggies again tonight, so I’m going to close this and get busy with the grill. Aloha for now.

Wildlife Galore
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The nights are chilly up here and I’m still not sleeping all that well on the air mattress. We’ve decided to put the kayak in the water this morning, so we paid the marina’s fees and put in about 11:00AM , and there is already a breeze kicking up a bit of chop. Cheri gets splashed a couple times, but we still get around the lake, including ducking through that five-foot culvert into the south channel. We chase some ducks and geese and have a pretty good time. Later we drive to the Wild River Basin portion of RMNP for a short hike and drop in at the Long’s Peak trailhead for a half-hour hike up that daunting climb before getting back to Estes Park. We pick up some Rocky Mountain Brook Trout and sweet corn at the market and I pan-fry it and it is really good.
Thursday was scheduled for a bike ride before heading down to Denver to spend an evening with Michelle, but the weather is just windy and nasty right from the get-go so we just load up and head down the mountain about 11:00AM. We stop at Target for Cheri to get a CD burned with her photos to date, and pick-up a new gas grill since ours wouldn’t accept a new bottle last night. We get into Denver and stop at the supermarket to pick up supplies and I cook seared ahi tacos tonight, and we get to meet the boyfriend, Corey who I find to be a very pleasant dinner guest and we talk about motorcycles mostly; I used to race enduros and he is the retired world record holder in the quarter-mile drag bike, pretty impressive.
Friday we want to ride more of the South Platte Bike Trail that we were so taken with last week and we drove into town to Confluence Park, but couldn’t find a parking area and finally after many twists and turns, pull into REI’s huge store downtown that also abuts the path. After some shopping we head out and have a very nice ride, though it tends to be pretty industrial down by the river, then on the way back we get caught in a shower and spend half-an-hour under a bridge before continuing on. We finally got good and wet, but still had a nice ride before coming back to the store for more shopping. That night we met our old friends Don and Jackie Dolin with daughter Ashley for dinner at Lodo’s bar and grill and enjoy renewing our friendship. We were planning to drive back to Estes Park afterwards, but cooler heads prevailed and we accepted another night on Michelle’s wonderful bed where I sleep like a baby.
Saturday we return to the park about 11:00am and Cheri wants to shop, so she goes off to town and I head out for a bike ride. Everything is either uphill or down up here and I don’t go too far, but get an hour and a half in before coasting back through town to catch Cheri at the Starbuck’s; surprise, surprise. Afterward we meet back at camp for our usual lunch of turkey sandwiches on diet bread and spend kind of a lazy afternoon before going back into town for some wine tasting at the Colorado Winery and have a very pleasant time for an hour right there on the river which seems to have risen half-a-foot since Wednesday. Michelle comes up for dinner of salad and hamburgers which I had to fry because I couldn’t get the new grill to light, but they were delicious anyway topped with sautéed mushrooms & onions and cheese.
Father’s Day was to be a hike and though Father got little sleep, it was primarily due to a cough I picked up, we went through with the plan. We wanted to do the Bear Lake-to-Bierstadt Lake hike that we missed on Tuesday and against the advise of the rangers who claimed lots of snow, we had a wonderful time, even though we were racing a storm toward the end of the hike, we stayed dry. We had a lovely picnic at Sprague’s Lake, watching two elk just across the creek, and on the way home saw some bulls with big racks out in Moraine Meadow. Afterwards I needed a nap and the girls went shopping and I started to catch up on this blog. Tonight will be more wine-tasting at that same place, and dinner out. They just got home and showed me a gift they picked up for Skip, and one for me; a T-shirt with an elk and the inscription: “Here Elky, Elky.” a play on our moose-calling two years ago in New Hampshire. I’ll close now and head of to dinner. Tomorrow we leave Estes Park behind for a few days in Yellowstone National Park area in Wyoming; see you then!

Grand Beyond Description
Friday, June 24, 2011
The winery was closed so we went to a place called Poppy’s Pizza and Grill and had good salads and individual pizzas and each carried away half, while a storm raged outside including small hail, and the forecast is for more tonight. We had a respite from about 8:00 until 9:30 and built a campfire, and were just about out of wood when it started sprinkling again, and we trooped off to bed. It rained steadily through the night but dawned beautiful and warm in the morning. However there was a pond between Cheri and I and Lake Michelle in which floated Michelle’s bed; the old tent leaked pretty badly, so badly that we decided not to pack it up but just roll it up and toss it in the dumpster. We’d been talking about replacing and this will force us to do so.
Monday is a travel day and Michelle had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment so she’s gets away and we pack up and head out despite my cold. Last evening I had plotted out the distances and decided we would stay the first night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, there being little other opportunity for lodging close to Yellowstone, and we could see Grand Tetons the next morning before going on the rest of the way. We had a pretty good driving day, about an hour of bad weather and Cheri did most of the driving due to my illness, We drove through some gorgeous scenery across lower Wyoming, then came into the Jackson Valley (known as Jackson’s Hole) and saw the Tetons for the first time, still dressed in their winter finery and were blown away. Driving the few miles south into Jackson Hole, we also saw a tremendous herd of bison, and another big herd of elk along the road. We stopped and Cheri walked to within fifty feet of one buffalo who strayed close to the road. The town of Jackson Hole and our lodging for the night at the Snow King Resort were lovely as well and we had a great evening.
Tuesday morning we started at the Grand Tetons Visitor Center with a nice film introduction, and a ranger talk about the wildlife in the park. There is also a pretty bike trail that we see on the way out and we make the scenic one-way drive on the east side of Jenny Lake which also supports bicycling, so we get the bikes off the truck and take a short ride. Jenny Lake is just magnificent and its sister String Lake is a lovely stop for our picnic lunch. We decide that we want to see more of this park before leaving and forego our plans to see much of Yellowstone. We find a campsite at Colter Bay that is perfect, complete with a bear locker, and make plans for kayaking and biking on Wednesday after a trip up Signal Mountain on our way to camp. There is a nice camp store and not many restaurant choices, so we’ll cook our own dinner despite Cheri’s misgivings about attracting bears, just some soup and a sandwich this evening. We’ll sleep in the screen tent and store everything with any kind of odor in the car or locker.
We feast on blueberry pancakes Wednesday morning before driving back to String Lake to put the kayak in. The paddle around String Lake is glorious with a new and more beautiful facet of the Grand Tetons seen at each new angle. We get the kayak loaded just in time for lunch and take it (lunch) with us as we bicycle back toward Jenny Lake again, and we find a flat rock on which to dine with the most beautiful pictures God has ever painted vying for our attention on every side. This day has been what our trip was meant to be; filled with beauty and adventure, and of course, togetherness. We get some good Wyoming beef for hamburgers tonight, cooked over the wood fire, just like the mountain men use to do. The only problem in this park is that there are just four showers for the whole place, (300 sites) so the line to get one is outrageous notwithstanding that they charge $3.75 per shower, so we make do with sponge baths back at camp. Another camp fire concludes our limited time here and we’ll start the arduous trip back east and on to Minneapolis tomorrow morning with just a scant drive-through of the eastern part of Yellowstone National Park.
It rained overnight a bit, though we stayed dry and it’s a good day to break camp. We break our fast on cereal, fruit, and yogurt, then we’re on the road again. We had gotten into Grand Teton on a day they were not charging the entrance fee, but we got caught for the week-long pass just to enter Yellowstone on our way out; but Grand Tetons has been worth every penny. We made a poor decision not long after leaving the park as we drove east through the wilds of Wyoming, when we disregarded the Garmin’s instructions to turn north to Billings and I-94 when we both thought the faster way would be to continue east toward I-90 at Buffalo. The topography and road construction on our route cost us three or four hours and will make us half-a-day late to our rendezvous at Minneapolis, but we feel confidant of Mark and Katie’s forgiveness, particularly because we know that Mark has a poker game scheduled that evening too. We found a good meal at an Applebee’s in Gillette, WY. and slept at a Day’s Inn nearby.
Friday is another beautiful day though poor Cheri has taken over the cold bug that I got from Michelle, but we are making steady progress eastward, with Cheri driving, and me in the passenger seat with a blanket enclosure so I could see the computer screen to bring the blog up to date. We stopped for lunch at the Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, a huge combination tourist trap/emporium that was entertaining in and of itself. I think every person in South Dakota was in that place when we were, but we got a sandwich and left only footprints on our way out. See you when we get to Minnesota.

Minnesota, eh?
Monday, June 27, 2011
We made Albert Lea (a city south of Minneapolis) on Friday night and had dinner in a nice place called Trumbles, and got the last room in the city by all accounts because of some “Red Power” thing going on (International tractors, I guess). It was only $50 including breakfast, so not too bad. It was only a few hours up to Mark and Katie’s place and we were there by 11 :00AM and enjoyed catching up with them a bit and watch the wedding video they got less than a week ago. We went for a bike ride all together to Minnehaha Falls in southern Minneapolis and rode back downtown on the train, then went out to dinner at their favorite restaurant called Café Maude and had a really good meal.
Cheri and I were up first on Sunday and walked to Caribou Coffee six blocks up the street for an oatmeal breakfast. When we got back, folks were starting to stir and we just hung out until 1:30PM when we were to leave for the graduate party of Katie’s cousin, on her Mom’s side, and Cheri and I had been invited to come along. Her Uncle Rick and Aunt Linda have a lovely house in Coon Rapids and there was good food and drink and conversation until about 6:00PM when we headed back to the city and grilled chicken wings and teriyaki steak for sandwiches, one of our favorites. We had a great time together and slept well on the airbed on their living room floor.
Monday was another travel day and by 10:00AM we were on the road again for Bemidji to camp and visit some old friends from church that moved there years ago and we haven’t seen for quite a while, Mark and Vickie Wangberg. We had to stop enroute to shop for a new tent, and found a Gander Mountain in Maple Grove and bought one. It’s only eight by ten and Cheri is accustomed to bigger, but I impressed on her that the problems we encountered with the last one were exacerbated by larger size (difficulty in assembly and rain-proofing). We arrived in the beautiful park about 3:00PM, got set up and went back to town for supplies. I cooked a nice spaghetti dinner here at camp before we called Wangbergs and made plans for the next day. I’ll go for a ride in the morning and we’ll meet them later in the afternoon. I’m disappointed we won’t be able to see the girls, Hannah and Katelyn, but they are both away for the week. It rained much of the time we were setting up and eating, but turned off dry and cool for the night. See you tomorrow.

We’ve Been Kicked Out of Better Places Than This!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Tuesday was as beautiful a day as it could be with the sun shinning and high seventies for the temperature. After pancakes with both raspberries and blueberries, I set out along the Paul Bunyan trail that runs seventy miles south from the park, all asphalt and beautifully out in the woods most of the time; I rode about twenty miles south before turning around. I saw some of the city of Bemidji in addition to a little red fox, and a good sized white tail deer along the way. It seems amazing to me that they have such a trail this far north, but probably it gets more use in the winter by snowmobiles that by bikes in the summer. When I got back to camp, Cheri was out so I took the opportunity to have a short nap after getting cleaned up and shaving, etc. About four-thirty we drove to the Wangberg’s home, right on Lake Irving, and after catching up a little, we took some cold chicken and salad out in their boat and toured the lakes and had dinner just floating. I didn’t realize that the mighty Mississisip’ flows north from Itasca State Park, through Lakes Irving and Bemidji, before turning southeast toward Grand Rapids, then south through the twin cities and on down. Later we boated up the Mississippi to its northern-most point before coming back to Lake Irving, and we got some wonderful pictures of loons with their young, very close to the boat. I’ve always been fond of loons and it was really great to see them up close as we did. It’s unfortunate that we’re not going to get to Itasca State Park this trip as we had hoped and had even reserved a camp site; more about that later.
Wednesday dawned clear and bright again though poor Cheri can’t shake her cold, now thinking it has become a sinus infection, so we take a very short ride out to Bass Lake and then find a medical facility for her to walk into to see about some medicine to help her, and we find a very nice clinic and the doc agrees with her and prescribes Amoxicillin. Later we go back to Wangbergs for a kayak trip with Vickie up the Mississippi and bean soup for dinner, which is very good. They have a beautiful view from their back porch that we enjoy before an early exit so Mark can get back to his office; they are leaving town tomorrow and he needs to prepare.
Thursday is the day we got kicked out. The Minnesota legislature and the governor aren’t playing well together right now and they have allowed the state to run out of operating funds, so they are closing the state parks. The one time during the year when the state parks operate at a profit, but the ranger came around today and said everyone had to leave, even Hawaii visitors, which I thought was rather rude, but there it is, and our Itasca trip will have to go by the wayside since that park is also closed, and the gates locked. We arranged with Mark and Vickie to take over their house in their absence, so we have a place to stay, but after we ride the 18-20 mile round trip into town for coffee this morning, we spend the afternoon packing up the truck and we move into the Wangberg home, which is lovely. We’ll get our laundry done and have a very comfortable camping experience indeed, thanks to the generosity of our friends.

Fireworks Galore!
Thursday, July 07, 2011
We catch up a little on the Women’s World Cup and the Wimbledon Final and get our suitcases repacked for the trip to Cushing and the Brown cottage at Pine Island Lake for the holiday. We really enjoyed the Wangberg’s beautiful house on Lake Irving for the past two days, and ate every available meal on the lanai overlooking the lake. Such good friends!
We head out Saturday morning after doing some shopping to make sure we have enough food to contribute to the festivities and arrive at Cushing to find only a post office and a few houses, where we had expected to buy ice, but we go on and close to the lake there is a bar that sells us twenty pounds of cold-in-a-bag, and we find Velda’s cottage without much trouble. We decide that we’ll be more comfortable if we set up the screen porch for our bedroom, and get that task done along with unloading the bikes, refrigerator, and kayak. Mark and Katie are out skiing and when our tasks are done, I catch a ride in the boat to watch the action up close. Katie is successful in dropping a ski to slalom a bit, while Mark still hasn’t mastered that skill.
Sunday morning, Cheri and I are up earlier than many in the group and have a nice paddle on a perfectly calm lake before breakfast. Mark and Katie also get a ride in the Freighter Racer before the skiing and tubing create too much wave action. We have a quiet day reading, napping, and watching the skiers until a communal supper in prelude to the fireworks display. There are three or four people at this lake that buy illegal aerial fireworks, one of which is Steve’s Uncle Andy, and Steve helps out with setting things off, so Mark secures the boat for us to go out on the lake for the best view. It’s a heck of a competition and Uncle Andy is crowned the champion but there were five competitors in total and three of them each set off more rockets than we usually see in a community sponsored show, so it was a tremendous show around this little lake in the wilds of Minnesota.
Monday morning, I’m out earlier than even Cheri and have a short paddle all by my lonesome on a less-perfect lake surface, and find a little cove full of water-lilies that is accessible via a three foot wide channel through the trees, which is fun, but I wonder if I’ll make it back out, the lilies are so thick. I have no luck finding soccer on the TV, so read until it’s time to take down the tent and load the truck; Cheri is hoping to get back to Minneapolis and stay with the kids one night before we camp outside the city, while I suspect it will be difficult to break away from Curt and Gail Holt’s in time to do anything but bother them tonight, and I turn out right this time. We arrive in Osakis about 3:30 and Curt is just so excited to see us that it is impossible to get away, and poor Cheri finally accepts their offer of a bed for the night rather than the long drive in traffic just to bother the kids. We take a boat tour of this huge lake, over ten miles long covering some 6,000 acres. Curt had a fast boat and we get back to their place right in town, and on the water and have Swedish meatballs for dinner with them before trying our hands at fishing for northern pike or walleye. I told them that taking me out in the boat was the same as conceding that no fish would be caught, and I was right again, unfortunately. That night the town was putting on their fireworks display so we got another helping of last evening’s entertainment, sitting out in their boat for fireworks. It was very pleasant as we went back to the house and watched a video of a concert they had gone to in Branson, MS of six brothers named Knudsen who do acapela music. It was a great show but kept us all up late.
Tuesday morning we had a light breakfast before Curt had to get out another favorite video of a comedian they had seen, to show us “just one clip” and we ended up seeing nearly the whole thing. Curt’s enthusiasm was so endearing that we couldn’t disappoint him. We finally got on the road on this gray kind of Tuesday for a couple hours driving to the campsite I had reserved in Carver Park near Victoria, MN but it turned out that “rustic” means no showers here and Cheri gets on the phone and gets them to switch us to Baker Park near Maple Plain where they have showers, matter of fact, they have the nicest showers we’ve ever seen, and the rest of the park is beautiful as well, with big well maintained sites and ice & wood available. We get set up and head into Minneapolis to see Mark and Katie and we go to dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, with Kelsey along for the ride. It’s a very nice evening, and we got to watch some more of the wedding video, including my performance of “This Is the Moment” that I was pretty pleased with overall. We gave Kelsey a ride home and found our way back to Baker Campground for the night.
There are really nice bike paths around the campground and around neighboring Lake Katrina (6.2 miles), and we take a ride after apple pancakes for breakfast. Later we read and nap before going shopping for the dinner we’ll make tonight when the kids drive out to visit. Curt gave us a big filet of northern pike from his freezer and we add to that with some steaks, potatoes in foil, and grilled asparagus after fire toasted bruschetta and a couple bottles of wine. Everything is delicious, if I do say so myself, and we have a great time visiting around the campfire. They have work tomorrow so about 9:30 they are on their way and Cheri calls Michelle while I retire early.
Cheri wants to spend a day at Mall of America which is about twenty miles away and I prefer to do just about anything but that, so she takes the truck, and I ride my bike into Maple Plain to a diner that has Wi-Fi and hook up the computer to update this blog, and touch base with my team back in Kihei. Things appear to be going fine without me, understanding that this has both good and bad connotations. Mark calls and invites me to join him for disc golf and I look at possible routes to get there by bike, and I’ll probably try to join him for that. I'll talk to you'all later

Back home to Michigan
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I ride back to camp and look at the route to Bryant Park and decide I’d better leave right away. It looks like about 25 miles, but I’m going to use bike paths that tend to be slower and less direct. It’s a lot longer than I had expected and at 5:30, the appointed hour, I’m still a few miles away and I call Mark to let him know, then fifteen minutes later, I can’t find the right place and he has to come find me. His friends Jeremy and Billy are there and the course is packed but we find a hole to start on and things go well after the first couple of holes, especially when I hit a lucky toss that lands a few feet from the pin for the first birdie of the day (all holes are par-3 on this course). We play until about 7:30, not quite a full eighteen holes and Mark drives me back to the campground and we have a sandwich around the fire Cheri has going, another good night, but I’m beat.
Friday night we’re going into the city to take Mark and Katie to dinner and we have a paddle in Lake Independence in the morning. It’s nice though the lake is greenish with algae, we do see some loons and enjoy the time on the water, especially as the sun warms up and we take shelter under overhanging trees close to shore. Skip’s kayak cart comes in handy as we had parked a hundred yards from the launch. It’s back to camp for lunch and to clean up a bit before going into town. We arrived about 3:00 and waited in the skyway for Mark to get home. We walk to Target to meet Katie and go to a shop for pedicures for Mark and I, both pedicures and manicures for the girls. They have decided to try a new place for dinner called Chino Latino, which sounds Latin, but is actually based on food from around the world and close to the equator, so there are some Polynesian dishes included. The food is served family style and is great; jerk chicken, Asian ribs, pot stickers etc. We leave pretty early since tomorrow is a long day.
The big thing today is the Minnesota Reception in Coon Rapids, and Cheri and I have orders to arrive at 5:00PM to help decorate, but we take a bike ride in the morning on the Luce Line State Trail that I was on for a while Thursday. It’s a gravel surface but still pretty good for bicycling and my wider tires do well on it (Cheri's are wider yet, perfect for this application). We ride about 10 miles which is probably equivalent to 13 or 14 on pavement, and then head back to camp to rest and clean up. We’ll be packing up tomorrow for the trip to Michigan, so we consolidate the coolers into one and throw away some stuff we won’t be using and clean up the back of the truck, then head north and east for the party. Decorating takes only a half hour or so, and we go over to Christi (Katie’s sister)and Bill’s place for pizza and to dress for the occasion. Mark uses his wedding shirt and fedora, while Katie has a white dress and a bird-cage veil to mark them as the happy couple. They have a group playing Hawaiian music the first hour or more and then Mark’s friend Jayder has his band “Church of Cash” which is a Johnny Cash cover band on stage and it turn’s into a real party. They had planned not to serve any food, but Cheri and I counseled against that and agreed to finance meatballs and chicken wings for the latter part of the party and a good time is had by all though I don’t drink anything because of our need to get back to the campground which is a forty minute drive. We help clean up and get everything loaded in Mark’s truck and get them safely to Christi’s house for the night, and head home about 1:00AM.
Sunday we load up pretty leisurely after sleeping late; it rained early in the morning, but by the time we got up is was sunny and nice. We used the last of the pancake mix, syrup and fruit for breakfast and headed into Minneapolis one last time and spend some time in the pool which was just what the doctor ordered for all of us. Then about 5:40 we left for the ferry some five hours distant in Manitowac, WI. We tried a Taco John for a bite to eat (just like Taco Bell) and saw a lot of deer, one ran across our path a few seconds before we got there at 60 MPH but the Garmin took us right to the ferry. We had booked a stateroom for the extra fifty dollars and it was well worth it; we were asleep before we were out of the harbor.
Monday started early when the steward knocked on the stateroom door twenty minutes before Ludington. Cheri got a picture of our truck being driven off and a half hour later we were in the Big Boy for breakfast on our way to Traverse City to visit friends. We stopped for a catnap as it rained on the truck, then on to find Gail. Not surprisingly Garmin couldn’t find the right house because Gail had handed the phone to ten year old Jordan to repeat the address and there are 17 streets named “Incochee” something or other and that’s all we had been given. We met Gail where she was shopping and followed her to Heather’s place, a gorgeous new home and pool with four kids and we had a nice afternoon. Later we went to Nikki’s for BBQ chicken and sweet corn supper after I’d had a short paddle in her kayak.
Tuesday breakfast was bacon and eggs thanks to Gail, then we were on our way to Hemlock with a side trip into Traverse for some shopping. Back in Hemlock we mostly caught up with Grandma and Uncle Rob, then the big deal was dinner at The Farmer’s Home tavern that has been recognized for many years as the best hamburger in Saginaw county, and they are good! We started out with just the four of us, and somebody said “Why don’t we call Uncle Skip, then Kari called and was to meet us, then Kelly and Matt and their kids, so by the end of the night it was fifteen people at dinner together. Uncle Rob had offered to pick up the tab back when it was just four folks, and I think he got stuck for the whole bunch of us, poor guy!
Wednesday was a great day for rest and relaxation, and Rob and I watched the Women’s World Cup semifinals with the USA beating France, and Japan over Sweden in two good games. It will be the US and Japan in the finals on Sunday. Tonight was to be dinner out and we chose Sullivan’s, an old family favorite that we hadn’t visited in a while and is under new ownership, and we had a really good time, and good food.

Wedding Bells and Island Hopping
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Thursday was devoted to getting the farm ready to host the party tomorrow, so I was on the riding mower all morning, while Rob did the trimming. I came close to dropping it in the ditch but managed to get stopped and had to enlist Rob and his truck for a rescue, but otherwise business as usual. I also set up our tent and air beds for use tomorrow when Mark, Katie, and Michelle would all be here to sleep. I’m sure we must have eaten something, but I don’t remember any of the meals that day.
Friday was again devoted to getting ready for the party, and to welcome Mark and Katie about 9:30AM, they having followed our lead, arriving on the overnight ferry into Ludington. When they awoke from napping, Rob and I took them to the Farmer’s Home for lunch and then bought some beer and supplies. Kari, Sam and Charlie were the first to arrive well before time pleading the need to leave early and we were shocked and overjoyed when Leslie came in the door, having been told repeatedly not to expect her. Attendance was excellent with a number of cousins coming to wish the happy couple well and renewing long over-due acquaintances. We counted forty people all told, which surprised me.
Saturday morning, Michelle arrived safely at about 2:30AM as expected and later I cooked sausage and pancakes for the crowd. We watched Mark and Katie's wedding video before caravanning to Mason for the wedding of nephew Chris Cornish to long-time girlfriend Aliyah Shusterman, who we know very well from previous camping trips. About 150 people gathered at the Michigan State University chapel, where Cheri and I were married exactly a month short of 38 years ago. It was a nice ceremony including both Christian and Jewish traditions with a swanky reception at the nearby Kellogg’s Center on campus a few miles away. We ate well, drank some, and danced until the wee hours before trooping back to Bill Sr.’s house in Mason.
Sunday we’re on the road again having said good by to Michelle and her whirlwind visit at about 2:30AM, and again caravanning with Mark and Katie to Drummond Island where we have rented a house for the Cornish family get-together. I listened to the World Cup Final via satellite radio and hear Team USA lose in a shoot-out to the Japanese women. Bryan and Cheryl catch us in De Tour waiting for the ferry to Drummond and get settled in with a dinner of Texas BBQ brisket.
Monday is bacon and blueberry pancakes before heading up to Potagannissing Bay for a day in the kayaks; Bry and Cheryl have their own and we rented a tandem for Mark and Katie. We take a lunch and have a perfect day on the water, just warm enough and calm as can be. Grandma and Grandpa arrive about 6:00PM and we have a nice dinner of whitefish steamed with vegetables in foil packets (similar to fish en papillote).
We have a very restful Tuesday watching freighters and reading. Friends; John and Patty show up about 10:30AM and we spend the day talking and enjoying this beautiful place. Bryan brought fajitas for dinner all the way from Texas by way of the freezer, great flavor if a bit chewy. All in all a relaxing day.

Yak, Yak, Yak, Bike
Monday, July 25, 2011
Wednesday dawned breezy and cool and I skipped my bike ride to hang out with John and Patty after a short yak-paddle in the Potagannissing Wildlife Flooding, and to help Cheri with her new pastime; to record freighters seen from the deck, trying to see the names with binoculars and looking in the book for the year they were put in service and the length. We log in a 1,004 foot long ship which is the longest allowed through the Soo Locks just up the river. We talk about driving up river on the de Tour side to Neebish Island where the shipping channel is very narrow, so you can see them closer up and eat in a bar John’s customer owns, but John decides to get back home earlier to be ready for work Thursday. Kevin, Sue, Rachel, Bill and Debby all arrive later and we have spaghetti dinner and good conversation.
Thursday we load the bikes on the truck and head to the east end of the island where there are flat roads with no traffic, and a good chance to see some wildlife. We see one deer and after our twelve miles I let Cheri drive back alone while I add another sixteen miles to the bike ride, and feel pretty good on the hilly terrain across the center of the island. Thursday is pastie dinner, and much of the talk is about the proper way to eat these delicious Cornish (from Cornwall) meat and potato pies. Bill claims to be a purist and advocates only a little ketchup on the side while Debbie and I maintain that gravy is required for the most enjoyment.
Friday is another day for yakking and we convince Bill, Deb, Rachel, and Sue to rent a couple tandems and join us (Cheri and I with Bryan and Cheryl) for a day on the water and we head to Scammon Cove to see a couple of ship wrecks, and we have a great time, and even I have a bit of a “red opu” (sunburned stomach) after. Back at the house some wine is opened and smoked whitefish dip is passed along with seared ahi before the steak and chicken kabobs that brother (in-law) Bill has prepared.
Saturday we are going to lose two families; Bry and Cheryl need to get started back to Texas, and Kevin, Sue and Rachel decide to bail out too. I’m not much for drawn out good-byes, so I head out on the bike for a few hours and return around noon just in time to see Kevin and Sue leaving. Later Cheri and I go for one last yak attack at the county park. Dinner was good grilled burgers and a very pleasant evening.
Sunday we load up and hit the ferry at 9:10AM by fiat of Northern Properties (out by 9:00AM). We stop in Mackinaw City at the Hush Puppy store where Cheri buys new shoes every year. We arrive back in Hemlock about 2:30 to unpack and swim in the pool. It’s back to the salt mines for Cheri early Tuesday so that’s the focus for tomorrow as well. On Thursday I’ll begin my short bike trip so I won’t talk to you again until that’s all done. Aloha.

The Bike Path North and West and Back
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Skip volunteered to give me a ride to Midland so he could ride the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail with me for a while, as he hadn’t seen it yet. It was perfect early; the rain had stopped and no wind to impede our progress. We started at the Tridge and rode northwest all the way to Coleman, including a tour of the Arbutus Bog along the way, before Skip turned back and I forged on toward Traverse City. There is a five or six mile gap in the trail at Clare so I have to ride M-115 to the trailhead. Then I stopped in Farwell for a Coney dog, and drop in at the same Rite-Aid store as last year to buy a notebook that I’d forgotten to pack, same as last year. The path after Farwell is great; no highway noise and enough tree cover to blunt the southwest wind that has picked up lately.
With the fifteen mile head start, I figured to make Reed City today, and would have, but fate intervened. There were a couple guys just turning around eight miles short of Evart and I rode and talked with them into Evart, particularly about the trail surface of the White Pine Trail north from Reed City. I thought that we might have a beer together in Evart, but they decided to bail and I stopped at O’Malley’s alone for old time’s sake. While I had a Killian’s Red beer, I called ahead to the Reed City Motel to find no vacancy, and no other lodging options close to my route, so I booked a $48 room with the bar-keep, figuring a shorter day might serve me better for the remainder of the tour. I went upstairs to shower and change before heading back to the bar for dinner of potato and leek soup and Irish Boxty which is potato pancakes with cheese, bacon and scallions. It’s a small room and twin bed with a shared bath, but good enough for who it’s for; I take a long walk down to Riverside City Park by the beautiful Muskegon River before I hit the hay.
I’m up Friday around 7:15 and start my morning routine, which is to pack up my shit and get out of Dodge. First stop is Foster’s Supermarket for a long john, a peach, and Gatorade for breakfast before I hit the trail. The light west wind is still with us but I enjoy the ride. There is a really nice overlook of the river a few miles out and a minute after that, I see a deer on the trail ahead. I take the advice of the two guys yesterday and turn north at Hersey to take 180th Road, aka the Mackinaw Trail, north and immediately start in the hills. I begin to think that the surface of the trail would have to be really bad to make me choose this route up hill and down dale. At Slaybaugh Corners there is a nice park and I take a break, and just up the road I come across an aid station for a ride out of Traverse City for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the first riders are just arriving at mile 70 in three hours of riding; awesome!
At Leroy I detour to see what the trail surface is like for myself, and find that it is paved, and I ride that into Tustin where the girl in the store tells me it’s paved from Leroy into Cadillac, much nicer than the road I’d been on. The trail is great until it disappears without a trace in Cadillac and I’m on my own. I find my way through town and stop at a Mancino’s for a sandwich and eat only half of the half-size I’d ordered and save the rest. It’s 3:30 and less than forty miles left so I decide to go all the way into Nikki’s tonight. The Garmin wants me to pickup US-131, even though that is limited access, so I take Mitchell Road north to Manton, it’s somewhat hilly but not too bad and then 131 becomes available and I’m in Fife Lake about 5:15. I play phone tag with Nikki and find that she will be out of the house all night celebrating her birthday instead of welcoming me; off I go. Fife Lake Road starts out with some small hills, then levels out, and Supply Road is not as bad as I expected, just a couple big steep ones, but I persevere and arrive at 7:15, after about 12 hours on the road. I clean up, eat my left-over sandwich, and settle down to read with the ball-game on TV.
After the long day yesterday, I need one to just rest and relax and I start with a leisurely paddle in the kayak after a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. Gail and Nikki come out for lunch at Peegeo’s, and I decline an invitation to join them at Heather’s to avoid the noise and confusion, so they leave me alone for the rest of the day. I have another half sandwich left over from lunch and I supplement it with a couple brats, sans bun, that I find in the fridge. At sunset I go back out in the kayak to see if any loons show up to feed, but Daisy (the dog) follows me out into the lake, so I turn around to call her back in and leave her and Molly in the entryway of the house. When I return, I find that the dogs jumped against the doors setting the latch which I had left locked, so I was locked out of the house, no phone, no key, just my own ingenuity. I notice one window around back that is unlocked, so I take off the screen and open the window to climb inside. I go on line on Nikki’s computer to reserve a room in Cadillac for Monday evening and fill the evening the same as last night, the Tigers winning again.
Sunday I opt for a ride into Traverse City and the TART path that runs all the way up to Sutton’s Bay in the Leelanau Peninsula, and follow it about halfway out; I don’t want to abuse myself too badly, and going back through town, I’m surprised to have Nikki and Heather pull up into a parking lot in front of me, and we chat a while. They suggest a better route to the house and I make it back in one piece and stop at Peegeo’s again for lunch. Later Gail and Nikki take me to the Bayside Tavern between Traverse City and Acme for dinner, which is very enjoyable. Later a young man named Dave, that Nikki is seeing comes out and steals her away for a party, and Gail and I drive into Traverse for the free film showing of “Mrs. Doubtfire” as part of the film festival. We all go separate ways after the movie; Heather to her place, Nikki’s brood to Grandma’s, and Nikki and I to Chandler Lake.
When I awoke at 8:00AM, Nikki was up so I started packing and she insisted that she cook my breakfast; a strawberry smoothie and scrambled eggs that were very good. She left to go walk some hill with Heather, and I left to ride some alone. It went well back to Fife Lake the way I’d come, and then to Manton where I had lunch in a Subway. It was almost 1:00 and I wasn’t so much hungry as in need of a rest and to take off my shoes. There were more hills than I had remembered south of Manton, but soon enough I get to Cadillac and used the Garmin to find the road along the north shore of Cadillac Lake, then toured Mitchell State Park. It’s about as I remembered from camping here years ago, not one of my favorites. I used the Garmin to find the Rodeway motel and for a budget room, it’s clean and “good enough for who it’s for”. I grab my book and walk toward town for dinner and go on past the Chico’s Tacos to a park about a mile from the motel and sit down to read a while and look at Lake Mitchell. There is a nice restaurant nearby and I ask someone that had just exited if it was any good, and he said it was their favorite, so I went in to just look at the menu. It looked really good so I went in and ordered bruschetta and a bottle of wine, then the wall-eye with mushroom sauce and corn and potato hash. It was delicious and I stayed until the wine was gone and my book about half. I walked home and enjoyed the book some more, and called a budget motel in Farwell that had a vacancy. We’ll see how the Surrey Motel is tomorrow.
I woke up about 7:30, my usual time, and watched the news as I packed and ate two pieces of left over bruschetta (it wasn’t as good as the wall-eye). The forecast is heavy showers and winds from the south gusting to 30MPH, just what I didn’t want to hear. I venture forth anyway and it’s calm and dry along the south shore of Lake Cadillac, then onto the beautiful White Pine Trail. The rain starts, nice and gentle still without wind and I enjoy it into Tustin where I stop for breakfast at Julie’s grill. I eat only half of the half-order of biscuits and gravy, and they are definitely not up to Aunt Debbie’s recipe. The rain has stopped as I return to the trail and continue south, enjoying the cool, overcast conditions. About halfway from Cadillac to Reed City, at Leroy, the pavement ends and I continue on the gravel surface. It’s pretty smooth and my tires handle it okay. I stop for Gatorade in Ashton, and the surface gets looser and less pleasant to ride on as I get closer to Reed City. About three miles out, I notice a road parallel to the trail and transition to that route into town.
It sprinkles on and off, mostly off, as I make my way into Evart where I find Mishler’s Drive-In complete with car-hops and frosty mugs of draft root beer. I have a good Coney dog and really good onion rings with two mugs, and I even borrow a hose out back to wash off some of the mud from the trail. The bike path takes me all the way into Farwell and I have to back-track two miles to the Surrey Motel, and I wonder as I’m arriving if I’ll have to go back to town for food, but the girl at the desk calls a place called the Birchwood to make sure they were open, about half-a-mile away. It’s still raining and getting on toward 5:30 so I go down there before cleaning up and have good meatloaf and a surprising BLT soup with bacon and tomatoes in the broth, garnished with lettuce, better than it sounds. Back to the motel for reading, writing and watching the Tigers on TV, a throw back to my past as a Tigers fan.
They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m rolling a bigger gear today, but that may just be the tail-wind for the first time this trip. I’m on the bike path a few miles, then on M-115 into Clare, and back onto the bike path down to Coleman for breakfast about 9:30AM. I get the corned beef hash omelet and it’s good, though the chocolate milk tastes a little funny, not bad but funny. I figure with breakfast at 9:30, I can forego lunch, and Mom likes to eat early. I’m guessing that I’ll be in Hemlock by 2:00 or 2:30 and it’s quarter of when I walk in the house. I get a coke out of the fridge and prepare to jump in the pool. I wish I could figure out why I go on these trips; it can’t be just because it feels so good to come home, but that may be part of it. I’m going to take the bikes into a shop this afternoon for some adjustments and a new chain on mine, and just a check-up for Cheri’s. Then I have to hang everything up in the garage and think about packing for the trip back to Maui. It will be good to get home to Cheri and the dogs, and even the folks at work, but what a great trip this has been. Thanks for coming along. Mahalo.