Archive for May, 2012

Southwest attempt #3

Thursday, 31st May 2012; 1:34 pm - Location:

I’m beginning to feel a bit of deja vu here. But I just made reservations for the southwest-Michigan ride, which begins 10 days from now. I’ll be staying at Pokagon State Park in Indiana on the 10th, and VanBuren State Park in Michigan on the 11th.

I made pretty much the same reservations (different sites) last year, but had to cancel them when my tent disappeared. I didn’t actually make reservations for the ride I planned a few weeks ago, since it was before Memorial Day and the campgrounds were wide open. Neither campground is even close to being fully reserved at this point, but the selection of sites is certain to narrow between now and then. Also, I may be arriving fairly late in the day at each of them, which would probably limit my options even further.

So now I’m committed. The long-range weather forecast for the 10th through 12th is currently sunny and temps between 60F and 90F, which should be nice enough. But forecasts for nearly two weeks out are notoriously unreliable, so for all I know I’ll be riding in 45F rain.

Burning Falls

Wednesday, 30th May 2012; 11:30 am

Forest fires… touched off by lightning, empowered by a record-setting warm winter with little snow (and thus dry vegetation), and further enabled by budget-constrained fire-fighting forces in a remote territory with few roads (air power from Minnesota and the National Guard have been called in)… have been disrupting life at the northern end of my itinerary for this year’s big ride.

This was the view from space a couple days ago:

Tahquamenon Falls State Park (my northernmost camping site, also location of the last remaining old-growth forest in Michigan) lies under that stream of smoke. This past holiday weekend, the park was closed as a precaution, reopening (with some areas still off-limits) a few days later, when the danger from smoke and ash subsided. The fire still burns.

But my plans remain unchanged.

First, it’ll be several weeks before I ride north. Even the worst-case scenario would be that current fires run out of fuel before then. Second, even if the worst happens, and the forests which inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem of Hiawatha burn… I want to see what becomes of the place, and pay my respects, documenting the destruction if need be. Third, the Falls themselves will remain, regardless.

A date with the Amish

Wednesday, 23rd May 2012; 9:34 pm - Location:

I’ve set the date for a 3-day ride finishing up last year’s big ride. To be honest, I’ve actually already set a date and cancelled it. Now I’ve set a new one.

I originally planned to do this ride – down to the NE corner of Indiana, following the border west thru Amish country, then heading north to the Lakeshore and following it homeward – the weekend before Memorial Day. Two factors caused me to postpone. First, the weather was looking anywhere from miserable to simply unappealing in the days leading up to it. There’d be winds from the south for the whole ride south, and up to 90% chance of thundershowers and chilly with an inch of rain possible on the full day of riding. I wouldn’t mind this as part of a week-long ride. I even expect it. But not for most of a ride. Second, I just have too much work piled up at the day job, and with my coworker about to leave for his wedding and honeymoon, it’s only going to get worse. So I cancelled. Fortunately I had no campground reservations or anything else like that, so it was painless… financially. The weather turned out to be… meh-woulda-been-OK-I-guess. Still coulda used the days off, though.

But what’s done is done. I’ve rescheduled. Instead I’ll be taking the same trip three weeks later, after the coworker gets back, June 10-12. Because it’s after Memorial Day, I might have to make reservations… but I’m also specifically avoiding the weekend (just Sunday and Monday nights), so maybe not.

The big ride up to Tahquamenon Falls is still scheduled for July 18-25. Vacation time approved and campsites reserved, so even if there’s some inclement weather in there (and I expect there will be), it’s still on.