Archive for February, 2013

Committed to the Wild

Thursday, 28th February 2013; 10:43 am

I’ve just gone through and made all of my campground reservations, for both the 5-day/4-night trip between here and Grand Traverse in June, and for the 11-day/10-night trip to Isle Royale and back, in July. I’m now almost $250 committed to these trips.

That doesn’t mean I have reservations for every night, though. In fact, I’ve only reserved 9 nights for both trips. What’s still un-reserved are:

  • On the first trip, two nights on the Manistee River at campgrounds that aren’t part of the state parks, and don’t accept reservations. One of those doesn’t even charge.
  • Two nights on Isle Royale. The campgrounds there are always first-to-get-there-gets-it, which has always worked out for me.
  • One night on the S.S. Badger, doing the “red-eye” crossing of Lake Michigan on the way back. I’ll need to reserve this soon to get the best price, but I haven’t yet. (I’ll also need to reserve the Isle Royale Queen for the crossing to the Island and back, but that isn’t a sleeper.)

The general choice of places where I’m stopping each night was determined mostly based on geography: here’s the route I want to take, so here are the state parks that are the right distance apart. But within each state park, when given a choice, I took the most rustic option. If there was a loop of the campground without electricity, I picked a site there. If the sites all had electricity, I chose one as woodsy and out-of-the-way as I could. The theme of the year is roughing it. Each trip is going to include two days hiking and camping in the wild, so why not keep the camping experience for the riding days similar? I’m also considering cooking at the campgrounds instead of going into town for supper on riding days, but that would introduce some new logistical challenges (food, cooking fuel), so I’m not sure about that.

(The only exception to the most-rustic rule was Ludington State Park, the first night of the second ride. They have some walk-in tent-only sites off in the dunes, but those are about a mile from the road. I need to get to the dock pretty early the next morning to take the Badger across the Lake, and that would require setting an earlier wake-up alarm and rushing a bit. I don’t want to do that.)

Making it official

Friday, 22nd February 2013; 12:28 pm

It’s official: I just made the first nonrefundable commitment to the big ride for 2013.

The first night of my trip up to Isle Royale is going to be at Ludington State Park, chosen mostly for its proximity to the port that the S.S. Badger departs for Wisconsin. It’s also a really popular lakeshore park, which gets booked up in the summer. As I was finalizing my budget, and checking to see how much each night’s camping would cost, I discovered that there were only two sites still available for the night I intended to stay there. That date is in July. And it’s February.

So I reserved one of them. I haven’t officially received approval to take the time off from work, but that’s a pretty safe gamble… and at worst I’m only out 35 bucks.

When I stayed at Ludington four years ago, I got a no-electricity tent-only site, but all of those were already taken for the night I want this year. There were just these two. I know I didn’t make my reservations earlier in the year back in 2009, because I didn’t even have the scooter yet in February.

The two remaining sites were decent options for my purposes; the reason these particular ones weren’t reserved yet was probably because they’re small (one was limited to two tents, no RVs). But they were each reserved the night before and after. I think the park does have some sites that are not reservable, which are available on a first-come basis. But I’ll be arriving late in the afternoon, so I can’t take my chances with that.

So $35 down… just another $1000ish (mostly lodging, food, and a couple ferries) to go.