Archive for July, 2013

Safely home to ride another day

Friday, 19th July 2013; 12:55 pm

I stopped at the dock for the Badger to cancel my reservations with them. That was just before 8:00am, which is when they ask you to arrive for boarding for the morning crossing. There was already a line of a couple dozen vehicles (including a couple motorcycles) waiting to get loaded. Apparently it’s a lot busier for the daytime crossings than for the overnight I did four years ago. I only get $25 back for today’s ticket, but I’ll get the full refund for the crossing I was supposed to take 9 days from now.


You can’t see it well in this photo, but a cute little touch is that they have the emblem for US-10 on the entrance to the ship.  US-10 officially ends at the dock and resumes going west in Manitowoc.

To keep it simple, I mostly stuck to the obvious route home. After a detour for the lovely Lakeshore Drive I took yesterday on the way into Ludington, I stuck to Business US-31 (the traditional roads running parallel to the highway itself), passing through Hart, Shelby, New Era, Rothbury, Montague, and Whitehall. After getting through Muskegon (an ugly multilane highway) and Muskegon Heights (someone please give them some money for roads), I took Airline, Apple, and Leonard, a series of roads roughly paralleling I-96, through Fruitport, Nunica, Eastmanville, and Lamont. Leonard Street, of course, becomes one of the major thoroughfares of Grand Rapids once it enters Kent County.

There was a stiff wind of 10-15mph from the SW most of the time, which often slowed me down.  Even so, stopping only for gas and the occasional navigation assessment, I made the trip in a little over 4 hours. I know, I know: it’s foolish to ride that long without a break, for the bike’s sake if not my own. I wasn’t in the mood for sightseeing today.  I abandoned my plan to faithfully retrace the more scenic route I took on my way out of town on my very first excursion… because it isn’t time for that yet.

Once home, I cancelled the state park reservations that I could.  I was too late to cancel tonight’s; if I’d been more decisive I could’ve cancelled it last night.  And I don’t get a full refund on those that I could cancel.   My reservations for the Isle Royale Queen are just far enough in advance that I’ll be getting an 85% refund.  So that’s some money lost, but not a lot.  For what it’s worth, the repairs on the scooter shouldn’t cost much.

So.  Here I am, home.  9 days early.  Guess I’ll unpack, which will take 10 minutes.  Then un-hide the valuables I stashed, in case someone noticed that I was away from home: another 10 minutes.  I have a family get-together on Sunday that I was going to have to miss.  Then I suppose I’ll go back to work on Monday, and use those Planned Time Off days some other time.

Next year

Friday, 19th July 2013; 6:45 am

Well, I’ve slept on it, and the option I’m most comfortable with is to put this trip on hold, and do it next year.

The uncertainty of whether the brake is going to hold up like it is, is something that I’d rather not have to worry about. For the next 1200 miles. And this has me thinking again about some other things about the trip that I might do differently, and I think that’s for the best.

I will do it in 2014.

I slept alright last night: warm but tolerable. It’s a pleasant breezy 79F this morning; it’s going to be another hot one. There’s some rain coming from the west, but I might make it home before it comes through.


A hot time in Ludington

Thursday, 18th July 2013; 9:59 pm

OK, enough playing Hamlet for now.

It’s cooler here than at home, but not by a lot. It’s 10pm and still 85F. The forecast for tonight is for a bone-chilling 77F. Im expecting to sleep on the sleeping bag tonight, not in it.

Fortunately there’s a bit of a breeze, so it isn’t too oppressive. Of course the breeze means I have to take extra precautions tonight to make sure nothing blows away. The ground at my campsite is pretty hard, making it difficult to get stakes in to keep the tent taut in the wind.



Thursday, 18th July 2013; 6:40 pm

There was a bit of a line to register for camping at Ludington State Park. While I was waiting my turn, the soft tar that passes for pavement in the parking lot melted in the heat and my bike tipped over. The word got passed along fron someone who saw it, and I heard it as I was finishing registration.

I ran back to my bike and picked it up. No major damage. Probably a quarter tank of gas leaked out, but fortunately not into the storage area with most of my clothes. The biggest problem is that the right brake handle is bent. Still usable, and the brake appears to be working fine, but the bend is noticeable. Unlike when I broke a brake handle four years ago, this is the important brake: the one that does most of the work.

I haven’t decided what to do.

I could continue as it is, with some additional risk. Or I could try to get it fixed. Or I could go home and call it off (for this year).

I have until 9am tomorrow (when the ferry leaves) to decide.


In other news, I thought I’d seen on a map that there was a road out to the Au Sable lighthouse, so I tried riding there after making camp. Turns out it’s a dirt/sand road that’s closed to traffic. I hiked part of the way (it’s two miles), but it was hot and I was sweaty, and I didn’t feel like going the whole way, so I turned back.

Analyzing the metaphor is left as an exercise for the reader.

Late lunch in Ludington

Thursday, 18th July 2013; 3:19 pm

The first time I rode to Ludington (in 2009), I followed the Lakeshore and stopped in every town along the way; that was kinda the point of the trip. This time I took a more direct route, without so many stops. So I’m here already at 3pm.

Since leaving Fremont, the scenery became less farmy and more woodsy. Some of it was familiar from previous rides north; I paused to check my map in the parking lot of the place I had lunch in June. I didn’t stop there for lunch (even though it was past noon) because I’d already decided to do a late lunch when I got to Ludington, before proceeding on to the state park north of town. I’d intended to pack my usual lunch of carrot sticks and apple wedges, but forgot. I’m also carrying a small stash of granola bars, so I subsisted on those until now.

Even though I’m not hugging the shoreline this time, I did end up doing the last 30 miles along the Lake, and found a beautiful residential ride I’d taken before, called Lakeshore Drive. A twisty route through the woods and cottages with glimpses of the Lake and and an inland lake on the other side. So much nicer than the highway a couple miles to the east.

Once in downtown Ludington, I picked a restaurant from the UrbanSpoon app on my phone: Jamesport Brewing Co. Don’t worry, I’m only having one 12oz. ESB with my sandwich. 🙂



Thursday, 18th July 2013; 12:34 pm

I made it to Fremont in about 2.5 hours, which is pretty good time. I’m about halfway to Ludington.

A mostly uneventful ride so far. A closed road sent me backtracking on a 3-mile detour. Otherwise lots of riding along huge flocks of corn and giant herds of apple trees.

There’s a baby food festival on the Main Street, which is closed and taken over by portable amusement park rides, traditional arcade games, and food vendors, right out of the mid 20th century. Some of the surrounding farms are owned by Amish families, for a touch of the mid 19th century. And somewhere around this town is the headquarters of the Michigan American Family Association, which is right out of the mid 12th century. It’s like a time warp.