Archive for July, 2012

The showers at Clear Lake State Park

Monday, 23rd July 2012; 10:13 pm

Things I Don’t Like About The Showers At Clear Lake State Park

  • There is no little shelf to put your soap on. It’s the floor or hold it.
  • There is only one temperature. Even though they have those dials which both turn on the water and adjust its temperature, the only water that ever comes out is hot. Which isn’t very refreshing at the end of a day in the 90s.
  • the lights and fan are controlled by a motion sensor… in the drying-off section of the stall. So every couple minutes you have to stick your hand around the curtain and wave.
  • You can’t aim the shower head. Like to stay out of the water while trying to adjust the temperature.

Things I Do Like About The Showers At Clear Lake State Park

  • There are showers at Clear Lake State Park. After hiking around Tahquamenon Falls, riding a bike around Mackinac Island, and close to 200 miles of scootering in hot weather, that counts for a lot.

The showers at Clear Lake State Park win!

South from the Straits

Monday, 23rd July 2012; 9:38 pm

I didn’t waste time in Mackinaw City. It’s 90% tourist stuff, and I’ve been there before. The park next to the bridge is nice, but it gets old. So I headed eastward on US23 toward Cheboygan. “US” normally stands for “UnSafe” in this context, but this one isn’t bad… for a US highway. I’d already ridden it a few times, when I did my Lake Huron ride. Having that stiff tailwind from the Straits helped. And it was just for 15 miles.

Heading south for there is an expedition into poor choices. The northeast Lower Peninsular isnt quite as bad as the UP in terms of having only one option for getting somewhere… but it’s close. I’d picked out a route along the Cheboygan River to get off M33 for a while, but it turned to dirt after a few miles. Another river route a little later turned out fine. (Tomorrow will pose similar challenges; M33 would get me there, but it’d be dull at best and miserable at worst.)

Clear Lake State Park is 10 miles north of the nearest town, and especially since I was running late, it made sense to stop in the town before for supper: Onaway. I’d identified the Woodwind as an option before leaving on this trip, and it was a good choice, a nice family restaurant and pizza take-out (Onaway is a small town) with kitschy gifts for sale. The bourbon-grilled turkey sandwich with bacon on multigrain bread hit the spot. So did the two glasses of cranberry lemonade. (Which I drank along with more than half a gallon of water from my travel bottle this afternoon, all without needing to pee. I sweat a lot today.) And really snappy wifi-enabled Internet access.

I arrived at Clear Lake a little before 7. I’m at the less-populated end of the campground apparently. My site didn’t have a picnic table (nabbed by someone for another site) but they brought me one pretty quickly. The park is on an appropriately-named small lake surrounded by woods. The hiking trails were surprisingly straight and wide… then I realized that they are cross-country skiing trails. I chose this park for its location rather than its character, but it’s definitely more my style than the one in Cadillac.


Across Mackinac – last time

Monday, 23rd July 2012; 3:24 pm

Conditions for crossing the Mackinac Bridge today were… not ideal. No rain, but… hot, 28mph winds, and the outside lane is under minor construction (as I’d seen a few days before, going the other way). I asked at the tollbooth to confirm that last point, which was the last straw. Wind plus metal grate was more than I wanted to deal with. The attendant called for a truck.

While I was waiting, Smokey arrived. He was stern about the fact that I didn’t belong on I75, period. I assured him that I’d just gotten there for the tollbooth, and that I had a ride coming. He checked my driver’s license, of course, but left after the Mackinac Bridge Authority truck arrived and confirmed that they were taking me the rest of the way.

The two young men in the pickup didn’t have tie-downs or much understanding of how to secure a scooter, just a rope and unpracticed knot-tying skills. But they were friendly and we went looking for the gear I said was necessary (after securing Flash enough for a trip to another part of the bridge compound). In the end we borrowed a coworker’s personal tie down strap, plus another knew how to tie proper knots with the rope. Meanwhile I talked with them about my scooter and my travels. They seemed suitably impressed… with my insanity. One was amazed that I drove a scooter around Grand Rapids, as if it were some freeway-choked metropolis like L.A.

As it turns out, most of the right lane was open, and I wouldn’t have had to ride on the grate. So the hour that all of this took… probably didn’t need to happen. But I’m not upset; more important that I got across safely then having the satisfaction of doing it myself.


Around Mackinac

Monday, 23rd July 2012; 1:06 pm

My main activity on Mackinac island was to rent a bike and ride it around the island, along the shore. It’s an easy 8 mile ride, so I got a basic one-speed. It was fun, and I took an hour and a half to do it. It took a little getting used to coaster brakes, and the fact that I have to swing my leg over instead I’d stepping through on my usual ride.

I also visited Fort Mackinac, which I’d skipped on my previous two visits to the island. I obviously haven’t done everything there is to do on Mackinac, but I’ve hit all the major attractions.


Straight to the Straits

Monday, 23rd July 2012; 9:22 am

I need to nominate Flash (my scooter) for a medal. Rechecking the route into St Ignace this morning, I discovered that I’d misremembered the distance. It was really about 8 miles farther than I thought. Normally that’s not a big deal, but this time I actually had a deadline: one ferry each day detours under the Bridge, and I wanted to be on that one.

Fortunately I was almost ready to leave the campsite, so I got in the saddle, opened the throttle all the way, and didn’t let up. There were a few stop signs where I needed to turn, and I slowed down a little to make those, but let’s call those “rolling stops”.

This was a “don’t spare the horses” scenario, and Flash performed like a champ the whole way, even getting me a smidge above 40mph for a few stretches. I think it’s the new spark plug. We made it with literally no time to spare: I claimed my Internet-purchased ticket at the office, and the clerk walkie-talkied “one more” to the crew, so they wouldn’t pull the gangplank and cast off without me.

The ferry ride was pretty neat, getting to see the Bridge (and a bunch of sailboats) from an unusual perspective. No pictures taken with the phone (too hard to hold onto), just the good camera, so those will have to wait until I get home. Until then, here’s the fort I was warned not to fall off. 🙂


EDIT: Here are a couple pictures of the Bridge:

Brevort morning

Monday, 23rd July 2012; 7:37 am

I had a brief scare last night, when I found that the inflatable mattress I’d inflate an hour or so before was no longer inflated. I blew it up again and looked for the leak, but found none. All I can figure is that I didn’t tighten the valve enough. It stayed inflated all night.

By the way, I’ve been a little frustrated trying to figure out how to deflate the pad for packing. No matter how much you try to squeeze the air out, there’s always some left, which makes it hard to fold/roll up. Then it dawned on me to just do the opposite of what I did to inflate it. Duh.

Despite the prediction of possible rain, it’s been clear since I woke up at 6. I have just enough time to get to St Ignace for the morning ferry that goes under the Bridge.