Posts Tagged ‘tawas’

Reflections at half way

Sunday, 18th July 2010; 9:56 pm - Location:

Obviously the trip hasn’t been going perfectly, but that’s to be expected. I might argue that it’s the point. (And since I’m the one who chose to do this, I would win that argument.)

Some people take trips to relax and take it easy. That’s fine, but it’s rarely my intent. I do it (among other reasons) to get away from my regular life and to challenge myself. It’s succeeding.

In some ways this is how I’d like to live: active for hours at a time, eating only to stay fueled, early to bed/rise, doing something different every day. Bit it’s also full of my biggest anxieties: unfamiliar places, all new people… traffic.

Traffic on this trip has generally been less stressful than last year. Some of that is probably my greater confidence level, but it’s mostly just the route I’ve been taking. (Riding US-2 across the UP with all the semis was… scary.) I rarely can keep up with traffic. But oncoming traffic is light enough that most of the time people can pass me quickly, sometimes without even letting up on the accelerator.

But some people are pricks, incompetent drivers, or both. The worst tend to be people towing campers or boats. They don’t grasp that they have 30 feet of vehicle behind them, and start to pull back over into my lane as soon as they can no longer see me out the passenger window.

To some people traveling like this is an insane unnecessary hardship. But to me it feels a bit like cheating. I’m not carrying my gear myself, I’m eating in restaurants (or store-bought sandwiches) rather than carrying and preparing my own meals… I’m not even walking from site to site. That’s doing it the right way. To be honest, I had another trip in mind (hiking in the Rockies), but decided I wasn’t in good enough shape for it. I’m not as young as I used to be either, and I have to allow for that. I consider myself lucky that I can still handle sleeping on the ground. As long as I can, I will. And when I can’t… I’ll adapt some more.

More rain at Tawas Point

Sunday, 18th July 2010; 9:48 pm - Location:

It started raining lightly with a little thunder and lightning around 8:30pm. I held out for a while in my rain coat at the picnic table under the tree, but when it started to rain in earnest after 9, I quit the field and retreated to the tent.

Then at 9:30 it got ugly. I can’t see how bad, but I can hear it drumming on the tent’s rain shield in waves. Plus the lightning. And wind. I’m looking a some radar images (how could one travel without weather radar?) and it’s bright red. But I can see on radar that it’s just passing thru. And the forecast for tomorrow is partly sunny and only 10% chance of rain. Ah, Michigan!

Rain (and sun) at Tawas Point

Sunday, 18th July 2010; 8:10 pm - Location: ,

You’d think I’d learn. I dropped a glove again (the other one) looking for a place to eat in Alpena. I noticed it was missing after lunch, and found it the same way. {sigh}

Stopping in Alpena turned out to be a good choice and a bad choice. It was good because it delayed me while some rain blew through ahead of me. (The steady headwind delayed me by about 5mph as well.) The road was often freshly wet, and even though I don’t like riding on wet roads, it’s better than riding on wet roads in the rain.

It was a bad choice because my timing was wrong for arriving in Tawas. It started raining during my approach to the park, and by the tine I got to my site, it was pouring.

Not knowing how much of this I’d have to put up with, I decided to pitch the tent. This is a nerve-wracking thing to do in the rain, because while it’s going up – before the rain fly is in place and adjusted – it’s vulnerable to the rain. Fortunately I’ve had a lot of practise putting up this tent, so I managed it without getting the interior or sleeping gear substantially wet. I stayed out of the tent, however. My “partial shade” site was a great help, giving me “partial rain shelter”. The main reason I didn’t take refuge in the tent is that it’s a kind of a commitment. I can’t take the rain gear into the tent with me, and if I leave it out it usually gets too wet to use. If it was close to bedtime I’d relent and commit to being in the tent till morning… but not at 4:30pm.

After about an hour, the rain tapered off, and the park came back to life. Tawas Point park is kind of like Holland State Park, more of a beach destination than a wilderness experience. It’s big, and even though the sites are a decent size, it still feels a bit like a while bunch of RVs (and tents) stacked row upon row. (On the other hand, the city park in nearby East Tawas has the RVs packed in almost side by side on cement “pads”, with one row of them separated from M-23 by just a chain link fence. Still the city park is packed, with some people apparently setting up summer cottages (on wheels) there.) The state park is located on a long sandy hook that forms a bay with nice shallow swimming beaches. The sandy point also makes it a prime bird-watching site, and the only nesting ground for piping plovers east of the Straits. I’m no serious bird-watcher, but I enjoyed hiking the trail.

I’m at the half-way point of the trip, which means it’s time to do laundry. There’s a coin-op laundrette near the park, which helpfully bought ad space in the park’s map/brochure. So I’m sitting with nearly all of my clothes in the washer, wearing just my shorts, my jacket, and my camp shoes.

There’s more rain coming soon. The forecast said the probability was dropping from 60% to 30% around now. It was wrong. So it’s back to the camp site, and when the rain hits, hunker down for the night.