Posts Tagged ‘home’

No lands left to conquer?

Friday, 19th July 2019; 5:43 pm - Location:

I’m not finished riding.

Riding the highways all the way around Lake Superior was going to be more aggravating and stressful than fun. And I’m not likely to add a lot of new territory to my map, because it takes increasingly long to get beyond it. Besides: riding in Michigan is the best. 🙂 I don’t have anything planned at the moment, but I will be doing another big ride.

In the meantime… one of the things I do regret about cutting short this most recent ride are the destinations I didn’t get to. The Apostle Islands have been on the fringes of my exploration for a while now. And I was looking forward to popping in for a few hours on Isle Royale.

I was tentatively planning a more substantial visit to Isle Royale in 2022, on the 20th anniversary of my first visit. But now I’ve decided to do it next year. I’ll leave the scooter behind, and just take the car across to Wisconsin on the Badger, check out the Apostles, then drive up the coast to Grand Portage.

I’ll take the Minnesota ferry across to Windigo on the west end of the island, as I’d planned to do this week. But instead of taking a 4-hour hike, I’m going to explore some substantial trails that I’ve missed in my previous visits: the Feldtmann Ridge Trail, the Island Mine Trail, and the Minong Ridge Trail. That’s at least 4 days of hiking, probably more like 6.

One of the reasons I was thinking of doing it in 2022 was to give myself time to get in better shape for it. I did a couple days of fairly easy hiking on Isle Royale about five years ago, but the Minong Ridge especially is pretty challenging, and I know I’d be unhappy trying to do it in my current condition. So I’m going to need to get started on training.

I’ll keep y’all posted as plans develop. I’m off to the gym.

Give me a home, where the internet roams…

Saturday, 8th June 2019; 2:49 pm - Location: ,

I already knew from 5 years ago that T-Mobile had none-to-poor service in the UP, but I figured I should check again. But when a company representative admits that they don’t have coverage in an area, no roaming deals, and no plans to add it, that’s a pretty good clue to look for alternatives. 🙂

Both AT&T and Verizon claim adequate service in the US areas around Lake Superior, and a cheap option for roaming with barely adequate service in that part of Ontario on one of the Canadian networks. AT&T’s coverage looks a little better (they were my barely adequate carrier on my first ride through the UP in 2009) and they offer a pre-paid plan with more data than Verizon, so I’m going to swap in a month of AT&T service for $50, then cancel it afterward. This means my regular number won’t work, but my secondary VOIP number (which works over any internet connection) should still work (at times) if anyone needs to contact me.

Packing addendum

Friday, 8th June 2012; 8:52 pm - Location:

My packing list for the three-day ride I’m starting on Sunday is essentially the same as I used for the longer ride last year, but with fewer changes of clothing. But there is one item I’m adding: a belt.

I wear jeans when I ride, because they provide a measure of protection in the event of a spill. But the jeans I wore last year are getting too big. You see, I’ve lost 15 pounds in the last several months, and when I walk around in those jeans, they tend to slide off my hips, and I have to tug them back up. I do have some older jeans with smaller waist sizes, which are better for walking around in, but I haven’t lost quite enough weight yet to wear those comfortably for hours on a scooter. So I’m bringing the fat jeans… and a belt.

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.

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.

Tent Revival

Saturday, 14th April 2012; 2:46 pm - Location:

I have replaced my lost/stolen tent. To briefly recap for those who missed last year’s thrilling adventures: at the far end of last year’s big ride, I discovered my tent was missing. It had either fallen off the scooter, or been taken off the scooter, some time during the ride from Ann Arbor to Lake Erie, and I was forced to sleep at a Motel 6 and ride straight home the next day. 🙁

The thing is, I really liked that tent. It wasn’t perfect, but it was as close to perfect for my needs as one could reasonably expect without custom-making something. It was light (3lbs), it was easy to set up, it provided good rain protection, it packed up small… and did I mention that it was light? Great for scooter camping and perfect for backpacking. Although it was starting to show a little bit of wear here and there (and some bloodstains from mosquitoes I swatted too late), it was still perfectly serviceable.

Fortunately it was fairly easy to replace: I bought a new one just like it.

Well, not exactly like it. The exact same model isn’t still available a decade later, but Sierra Designs still makes something very similar, a direct descendent of my old tent. It’s called the Light Year 1. The use of the phrase “light year” makes me cringe a little, because it has nothing to do with interstellar distances, but I accept it as a play on words. It is, after all, a very light tent. But not a year-round tent. It’s officially a 3-season tent, and is clearly not designed for winter use. The "1" refers to its sleeping capacity: 1 person. Just barely.

The most obvious change is the color: the olive rain fly and floor are now mostly a dull steel blue. And the white roof… is black netting. The most unpleasant surprise I had after buying the previous tent was the discovery that it offered less protection from the outside air than I expected. The tents I’d used in years gone by had been designed to hold in warm air. But this tent had multiple netting panels that (if not for the rain fly) left you exposed to the open air. That first cold night in it was… unexpected. But it wouldn’t come as a surprise in this tent, which makes it quite clear that it’s not going to keep you warm, because aside from the floor and a bit around the sides, it’s all netting. If you want any privacy (like in a state park campground), you need to use the rain fly. Nice if you’re camping some place hot and dry, I suppose. But I rarely camp in those places. Not a problem, though. I’ve long since learned the lesson that it’s your sleeping bag that keeps you warm, not the tent. And I’m OK with the darker color scheme: it’s less conspicuous, and hopefully not too dark inside.

They also changed the way the tent is held up. The old model was simple: two collapsible aluminum poles that fit into four grommets, and the tent had hooks that attached to those poles to hold it up. Then several stakes held the rest of the points in place. Most of those simple hooks and grommets have been replaced by plastic devices that connect to each other, and a ball-and-socket holder for the poles. They’re probably sturdy enough, but if they fail they’ll be useless… unlike the old systems, which could be replaced or repaired with a little improvisation and stitching. The simple stakes have also been replaced with a new brand-name engineered design which I hope offers some improvement besides just looking cooler.

I haven’t set it up properly yet. (I’m a little self-conscious about setting up a tent in the front yard.) But I’ve put all the pieces together in the living room, without the stakes necessary for it to stand up. So at least I know the parts are all here, and they fit. According to online reviews of this new tent, it’s a little taller inside than the old one, which will be welcome if true. I trust that it’s as well-constructed as the old one. And I’m sure that after a few times putting it up and packing it away I’ll get over the differences in design.

By the way, I picked it up at Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus for $170. Since I already knew what I wanted, I could’ve saved a little money buying it online, but it’s so important to have actual brick-and-mortar stores with knowledgeable staff for camping equipment like this, and locally-owned ones are the best kind.