Archive for August, 2011


Tuesday, 16th August 2011; 3:53 pm

Rockwood, Michigan lies on Lake Erie at the mouth if the Huron River, which I have followed (more or less) since leaving Ann Arbor. It’s just a bit south of Detroit, and on my trip down the east coast of Michigan I stopped and turned homeward just north of Detroit. Nothing against Detroit; I just don’t enjoy riding thru cities, especially big ones I don’t know my way around. I get lost enough on country roads.

Rather than going directly from Portage Lake to Ann Arbor, I steered northward a bit, taking in more of the Waterloo area, including the town of Waterloo itself, which is little more than a large bunch of neighbors. I tried to take a look at the other campground in the rec area, but a dirt road stopped me. I’ve ridden on them, but I don’t like to. I didn’t get as far north as Hell, but I’ve been there before and once you’ve been there, there’s not much point in going again. Unless there’s an biker rally or something.

On the way thru Chelsea I texted Jason, a fellow scooter forum member at, to finalize our plans to meet for lunch. He suggested Bagger Dave’s a sandwich place he likes, and I met him and his wife Jen(?) there. I’d allowed some extra time for figuring out missed and wrong turns in the city, and got there on time. We had a nice conversation about scooters and travel and Michigan. We agreed that we live in two different states with a common government. He complained about the secret pockets of conservative prejudice in SE Michigan, and I told of the pockets of liberal tolerance in West Michigan. It was cool to see a forum regular in person; I shall have to think of more tattoos when I read his posts… I don’t know what revisions he will envision reading mine. 🙂

I forgot to ask them for pointers on how to get out of town, and found myself on a route which not only required doubling back a mile, but also dumped me on a dirt road. It was a reasonably hardpacked dirt, but I’m pretty sure one of the bumps I hit are when the key to my scooter got bent; I must have hit it with my knee. It still fits, but the handle is at an angle. I’m hesitant to try to bend it back, because it would be a major headache if it broke off. Even so I now have to be extra careful with it.

Note to fellow travelers: a “metropark” is open to the public but charges admission. So much for the scenic riverside route I’d hoped to take part of the way down the river, and the first place I tried, to get a view of Lake Erie. Fortunately Wayne County has a small rundown park where I can stop, snap a couple pictures of a crane (the bird kind) and bring the blog up to date.

The image upload has been really unreliable the last several tries. I’ll keep trying it, but if there’s a shortage of photos, that’s why.



Tuesday, 16th August 2011; 1:34 pm

For some reason, hitting 11K miles isn’t as exciting was hitting 10K was.



Tuesday, 16th August 2011; 10:19 am

I did NOT stay here last night.


Waterloo sunrise

Tuesday, 16th August 2011; 8:25 am

There’s a classic scene in the TV series “All in the Family” in which Archie observes Meathead putting on his socks and shoes, and with his trademark curiosity and wisdom, tells him he’s doing it wrong. Meathead puts on one sock, the corresponding shoe, the other sock, then the other shoe. Archie illustrates the folly of this with the example of a house fire, in which case Meathead might be interrupted and run into the street with a bare foot, hopping around on the other. Meathead counters that if it’s raining Archie will be standing there with two wet feet; his will both be dry.

When using the wet-floored showers at a state campground, Meathead is correct.

My sleep last night was interrupted briefly when I woke with my left arm tingly-numb. Which is just similar enough in sensation to the symptoms in my left fingers before my recent surgery to cause a brief half-awake panic. I rolled over, restored circulation to my arm, and went back to sleep.

It’s a pleasant sunny morning, and I’m slowly breaking camp.


Evening around Waterloo

Monday, 15th August 2011; 6:34 pm

One problem with state recreation areas is reflected by their name. If you’re there to DO something, they’re great for that. But even though they are often quite pretty, there isn’t so much to SEE (as compared to a state park). Thus it is with the Portage Lake campground at Waterloo. I’m not here to swim or boat or fish. I’m here because there isn’t a state PARK in the area. So after making camp and seeing what there was to see, I got on the scooter and DID.

The first order of business was supper. It seems the most-recommended restaurants around here really are all bars. At least they’re bars too. Tonight it was the Village Inn in the village of Grass Lake, which is in the direction that I wasn’t looking, didn’t look like much (such as not even having the name out front) when I got there, but it had good local recommendations online. It’s bar food, but good bar food, including (tonight) something that was not deep-fried.


Afterward I just rode. Riding out the daylight, really. I headed west almost to Jackson, then took the road that follows I-94 back east, coming back to Portage Lake from the other direction as I’d come this afternoon.


There was still some daylight left so I went for a walk along a nature trail with an annoying number of mosquitoes (which will still swarm and still fly into your mouth, even if you’re wearing repellent), and a twilight look at the lake. Sitting still outside invites too many mosquitoes, so as darkness falls I have retreated to my tent.

I like my tent a lot. It weighs almost nothing and packs into a tiny space. My pillows are bulkier. It’s easy to set up; you can get by with the two collapsing poles and three stakes if you have to (but using all 7 is more secure). It has kept me dry thru torrential rains on Isle Royale, where there simply Are No Motels you can go to if your tent fails you. It doesn’t hold warmth very well, but that’s a sleeping bag’s job, so that’s OK. The one thing I don’t like about it is that it’s impossible to sit up straight in it. If you sit in just the right spot, you still have to bend your head down a little to keep from pushing at the roof. The tight space is adequate for sleeping, but kinda sucks when you’re awake and using it as a mosquito shelter. Like now.

Facing my Waterloo

Monday, 15th August 2011; 3:57 pm

“At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender,” are the opening lyrics of ABBA’s hit single “Waterloo”, so that even listeners who slept through History class will understand what the central metaphor of the song is.

Waterloo is also the name of a state recreation area northeast of Jackson, Michigan. It is where I am camping tonight, in the Portage Lake unit. Like Fort Custer last night, it’s far from capacity, which I suppose is to be expected on a weekday. It’s a shame, because even with abysmal fuel economy of these apartments on wheels that most “campers” use, it’s a pretty inexpensive vacation, especially this close to…pretty much every major city in the state. Their loss. I reserved a site far from the beach, figuring it would be quieter; the sites near the beach are mostly taken, however.

The detour thru Irish Hills was pleasant enough. Not exactly “scenic” but enough trees and turns to make it more enjoyable than straightlining between cornfields and the occasional crowd of beef. The lakes I saw were mostly of the surrounded-by-cottages/homes variety: more likely to be appreciated by tourists staying at lakeside hotels to go boating than by me.