Archive for March, 2009

Setting a date

Wednesday, 11th March 2009; 6:03 pm - Location:

I’ve set a date for my trip, and requested the time off from work. The date was – in the final analysis – a simple decision to make… because I didn’t have much choice.

At my new job, vacation time is gradually accrued as part of their Planned Time Off program. For every two weeks you work full-time, you earn 3 hours of PTO, to use for vacations, personal days, whatever you want to call it. So I did the math to see when I’d have a full week of PTO, and the answer is that I’ll have 42 hours as of Friday, 7th August 2009. I don’t want to wait any longer than I have to, so that’s when I decided to go.

So I put in the PTO request, and it’s official: I have 10-14 August as paid days off. With the weekends before and after added, that means I’ll be on the road 8-16 August.

You’re going to… what?

Tuesday, 3rd March 2009; 4:06 pm - Location:

I’m going to scoot (part way) around Lake Michigan.

At least that’s the plan. I… er… don’t actually have a scooter yet, for example. But I’m getting one. (Update: See About this rider for an explanation of why I got what I got.)

Once I decided to buy a scooter, my mind started to wander, considering the things it would enable me to do (besides my daily commute).  I could take a road trip up north, I mused.  Then I started to do some rough calculations, of speed and distance and range, and it occurred to me that even at a leisurely pace of 100 miles a day, and taking the quieter and slower roads along the lakeshore itself, I could get all the way to Mackinac and back in a week.  Or what if I kept going…?

Well, getting all the way around Lake Michigan would either take too many days or require more time spent riding every day than I really wanted.  But the S.S. Badger runs every day between Manitowoc WI and Ludington MI, providing a nice shortcut across the Great Lake.  Perfect. Total distance (not counting the ferry ride) should be about 1000 miles, a little over 100/day.

I’ve done things sort of like this before.  The summer after graduating from high school, a friend and I did a 6-week 1000-mile bicycle tour of Britain.  More recently I’ve taken a few week-long solo backpacking trips.  This wouldn’t be as physically taxing as either of those, but those past lessons about planning itineraries and packing light seem like good preparation.  Michigan has a great state park system that offers plenty of places to sleep along the way.  I’ve stayed at the state park up in Copper Harbor, before and after my wilderness excursions on Isle Royale, where my neighbors included lots of rolling cottages that will dwarfed my Chevy Metro and one-man tent, and my scooter will look even smaller in comparison. But I’m OK with that.

But the most important thing is that I haven’t done anything quite like this before. I’m a creature of habit, and cautious by both instinct and hard-learned experience. But I have an urge to push myself beyond those comfort zones, and this here is my current challenge.