Archive for August, 2009

Pictured Rocks

Thursday, 13th August 2009; 10:58 pm - Location: ,

This afternoon I scooted out to Miners Castle (part of which collapsed a few years ago) and hiked a short section of the Lakeshore Trail, which is also part of the developing North Country Trail (similar in spirit to the Appalachian Trail). Beautiful land (and lake), and it does make me want to hike it properly.

Although I strive to be the antitourist, the best way to see Pictured Rocks is from the water, and since I don’t have time to rent a kayak and do it myself, I chose to take a $33 cruise. Understand that I have a tendency to not allow enough time for things, and it didn’t occur to me that the cruise might fill up. I thought I was doing well when I got there about 15 minutes before the cruise I wanted (5pm) and went to the ticket booth. There wasn’t a clear line, but a family of four whom I think got there after me took the last four seats. {sigh} I suppose that’s better overall than me getting one, then them being one short. The needs of the four outweigh the needs of the one.

So I booked the next cruise at 7pm and used the intervening time to scoot out to Christmas, MI and set up my tent at the Bay Furnace campground of the National Forest Service… kind of a low-rent version of a State Park. I also took the time to have dinner at the Navigator Restaurant a block from the dock, where my waiter may have been the gayest (or at least the prettiest) young man in Munising. Good food but boy howdy they charged a lot for a Labatt.

The cruise was worth the time, expense (I guess), and sacrifice of my principles. I still want to kayak it, but it gave a sense of the lakeshore that you simply cannot get from on land. My t-shirt caught some notice. One little girl pointed out to mommy that I had a map of Michigan on it. A young woman simply said she liked it. A woman my age tried to explain to her non-English-native friend what “Bi-Peninsular and Proud” meant. She didn’t explain the subtext. Which is too bad because it really isn’t clever unless you think of it in terms of the gay/bi pride movement.

The batteries in my camera ran out, which was a little distresssing because these were already my backup batteries. I’ve been gradually recharging the main set using the 12V socket on Flash. I switched back to them, but I have little idea how much charge they really have. I’m also a little nervous that I’ve been asking too much of Flash’s electrical system, charging both my iPhone and now the camera batteries. Flash has been difficult to start today, and a couple times I had to use the kick-starter. So I’m discontuing the battery recharging and trying to do the iPhone only when the engine is running. I bought a set of AAs for the camera.

Manistique to Munising

Thursday, 13th August 2009; 12:39 pm - Location: , , ,

I made an extra trip into Manistique just after sunset because I’d forgotten that I wanted to refill my oil, and knew I might not be going that way the next day. The Zephyr station on the edge of town had some, and my timing was good because it had room for nearly a quart.

I got off to a fairly early start (8:30) and headed to Palms Book State Park. It’s the site of a Kitch-iti-kipi, a huge natural spring which emerges at a constant temp of 45F year round. They have a raft on a cable that visitors can use to look down into it. I was there at 9am and only 4 other people arrived while I was there.

The ranger there advised me about roads north. As I feared, the route I’d selected was not paved all the way, so I opted to go back around the south side of the lake and take M94. They were doing the same one-lane altetnating thing as on US2 but there was very little traffic. It was a very nice ride, at least until Shingleton where it merged with traffic from the east.

I grabbed lunch in Munising at Harvest Home Cafe which is a very “home business” place (they take orders and give you the bill on a spiral pad of paper) that has a variety of wraps and sandwiches and such. This gives me the afternoon and evening to explore Pictured Rocks.


Wednesday, 12th August 2009; 10:18 pm - Location:

Today was the first day of the trip that didn’t add multiple counties to the map. All it added was Schoolcraft County (the pink one). But to be fair I’d only touched the corner of Mackinac County (orange) yesterday, and look at how long it is! I spent most of the day trying to get clear of it. Tomorrow will be another one-county day, adding only Alger County to the north. (What’ll be really disappointing will be the day I spend mostly in Wisconsin, which won’t add any counties to the map.)*

There’s a sign on US-2 directing visitors to “Historic Manistique”. Sadly this appears to reflect the fact that there isn’t much there in the present. The tiny downtown district was almost deserted at 6pm, with a few closed businesses and most of the rest looking… tired. I managed to find a few restaurants and ended up in Marley’s Bar & Grill. I was feeling a bit flush after the day’s ride, so I limited myself to a single Bud Light instead of maybe two real beers as I’d normally have in the same situation.

I got a little bit of sunburn on my forearms through the mesh of my jacket before I realized it was happening. The back of my neck feels a little raw, but I’ve been putting sunscreen on that since the sun came out, so I hope it’s just camera strap rash.

I’m undecided on what route to take to Pictured Rocks tomorrow. There’s a state road (M94) that’s reportedly under construction, or backroads that may or may not be paved. I’ll be taking M94 for the last half either way. I think I’m probably running low on oil by now, so I bought some today.

*A disclaimer about the map: I generated all of the updates before I left, and programmed the web site to change it automatically. If I don’t get somewhere the map will still change.


Wednesday, 12th August 2009; 4:58 pm - Location: , , ,

I got underway out of St Ignace fairly late: 11am, but it was with clean clothes, so it was worth it. Plus it’s “only” 100 miles today. I stopped at the famous Mystery Spot just west of St Ignace, which was a harmless several minutes and $7 spent. It’s all obviously perceptual illusions, but it’s interesting how they pull them off.

As I was leaving I saw I’d just passed 2500 miles on the scooter. That’s 600 on this trip.

I had another incentive to stop there beside the tourist trap. I was about to enter one of those god-forsaken stretches where they’re repaving, closing one side of the highway and alternating one-way traffic in each direction. I was “lucky” enough that traffic coming out of the Mystery Spot was let go at the front of the column of stopped westbound traffic. I went WOT to the end of the construction zone and pulled over to wait for the frustrated cagers to pass me. And waited and waited. The good news is that after they were stopped I had the highway (at least my side of it) to myself for a while. I did my best to stay ahead of the next batch, unitil I got to Brevort, where I stopped for lunch at the White Tail Resort (a simple motel and roadside restaurant) and watched a bunch of cars, RVs, and trucks go by.

Today’s ride was about 90% US-2. All-in-all, it went about as well as I could reasonably hope for. When it wasn’t being artificially clumped together by construction traffic was light enough to spread out. This means not too many “gangs” of vehicles wanting to pass me one after the next, and there was little enough oncoming traffic that they rarely had to wait long to pass me. Most were responsible about it. I hate being passed by semis but at least they’re professional drivers who know how to do it responsibly. Except for one. He tailed me way too close, to the point that I stuck a thumb out backwards telling him to back off. He did, a little, but when he passed me he didn’t do a full lane change and he started to pull back to the right before he’d fully passed me. Fortunately I’d already slowed when I saw him at my left elbow, so I didn’t have to take my chances on the shoulder. I laid into the horn at him once I was safely behind him.

The shoulders along 2 are all rumble-stripped, which is a great safety feature… but not for me, because they make it hazardous pulling my bike onto them. There were a couple times after lunch when I pulled over to let an advancing column of vehicles pass quickly, but didn’t need to more than that.

MDOT gave me a little break by sending us all on a detour through a county back road with a speed limit of only 45. Later I chose another similar detour from a map at a rest area, which added a few miles to the trip, but they were pleasant ones. I stopped to help push an SUV out of the soft dirt, but the young woman in the group took over the driving and got them out by… using reverse.

I arrived in Manistique fairly early: 4:30. Indian Lake State Park is another open campground with little privacy. Some of the sites don’t even have a single tree on them. Mine is a tent-only site most of which is about 6ft above the surrounding terrain and plenty of trees. My nextdoor neighbor is a motorcyclist, which is unusual; his bike is a few times the size of mine, and his pop-up tent-trailer is much roomier than mine. The campground isn’t full but fairly close.

Not ALL people are turds

Wednesday, 12th August 2009; 9:06 am - Location:

Not ALL people are turds. This morning I chatted with the leader of a trio of boys camped between me and the Afraidofthedark family. He didn’t comment on the previous night’s exchange (if he was there he was in his tent sleeping) but struck up a friendly conversation. He’s from Marquette and was there with his son and two nephews as a reward for helping him plant some trees. We talked about the scooter, my itinerary, etc.

No rain (or hint of it) last night, but a heavy dew this morning. This is why I put a rain cover over everything left out of the tent overnight (except the scoot). It was cold last night, to the point that I had to mummy-up in my sleeping bag, compared to a sleeping with the bag unzipped in Ludington. It’s largely the northern Lake, I’m sure. The forecast for today specifies two high temps: one inland (79-84) and another along the shore (75).

My ride for today is pretty simple. It maps out at just over 100 miles, 80 of that on US2. Really no way around that, ad in this part of the state there isn’t much point in building lots of back roads. There isn’t any place back there to go.

I’m doing laundry before I leave this morning. The rain gear is exempt, and I’m wearing my shorts and riding jacket. Everything else got dumped in the machine at a laundromat on State Street by the water.

People are turds

Tuesday, 11th August 2009; 10:52 pm

People are turds.

To reinforce that fact, the family two campsites over have two high itensity lanterns lighting up the whole area. I can almost read by them, and they blind me everytime I turn that way. I politely explained to the parents that the lights were distracting, and the turds simply ignored me.

Meanwhile there’s a family across the road with a bunch of young children who are clearly too young for camping, and a father whose response to their crying and other “misbehavior” is to swear at them.

Thanks for the reminder of why I try to get away from people, and why I don’t like campgrounds where I can’t get away from them.