Monday, July 23, 2012

A Michigander on the Michigander: Part Three

The Daily Routine: After a few days of this, I felt like this is my life now and forgot all about how it feels to sleep in a real bed at night. I hear zippers about 5:30 am just as it starts to lighten. I try to doze until 6. I grab my coffee mug, bag of toiletries and biking clothes, find a potty, grab a coffee from Rosie, and eat a leisurely breakfast. Then I clean up, don the biking clothes and return to my tent homestead. I pack everything up and take the tent down. Hardest part? Trying to make everything fit in the bag. The biggest enemy are air bubbles formed by not folding the tent properly. The bag that holds my tent, pad, sleeping bag, chair and books is the biggest and heaviest. Fortunately it has wheels and I can fit the lighter clothes and toiletry bag on top of it. The trucks don't open until 7 and often there is a line to get in it. We have to climb a scary, maybe slippery ramp with our bags (balance issues). I can throw the lighter bag up high where they want it but need help heaving the heavier bag. I then get water and am on the road by 7:15. Rasta Man does everything in the reverse order packing things up before breakfast. I did that once as rain was supposed to come early and the dining hall was some distance away (biked there). I bike until 2 or so although on the short day, we were in town by 11 am. Once I get into camp, I am loathe to get on that bike again until the next day even if it means a whole lot of walking. I set my tent up as soon as possible to dry it as usually it is sopping wet from the dew (except for the windy night) and then take a shower as I am usually dripping with sweat and grime.

Starry nights: Especially in the smaller towns (especially Atlanta), there are no competing light sources. One night I got out of my tent and just stared at the zillions of stars. On the night the Northern Lights were predicted, it poured.

Rainbows: On the morning out of Onaway when there was allegedly zero chance of rain, we see the Western sky lit up with rainbows (see my photo). Beautiful. Then it drizzled for an hour but I didn't care. Less sweat my body would need to produce.

Wildlife: As we were in the elk capital of Michigan, elk sightings were almost guaranteed. According to the elk map, we weren't really in the prime area. No elk, no deer even though I see lots of them on my training rides. I did see a dead porcupine. I heard turkeys in the tall grass adjacent to the trail, but when I stopped to investigate, they went silent. I heard loons in Indian River but couldn't see them. I thought I saw the beaver swimming near its elaborate dam near Vanderbilt.

Dehydration: This was a big problem for the first three days. I have ridden when it was 90 before long distances but it didn't seem to bother me. Maybe because it was so humid too or maybe because I am now so large or maybe because on the trails, I am not treated to the breeze I would generate on the open paved roads. I had a hard time with my water balance. I would sweat copious amounts. Back in the showers, salt would fall from my face. One day I knew my headache was due to an electrolyte imbalance. I didn't need to pee on the rides, not a good sign but convenient as I hate waiting for a portapotty. Also it meant I didn't need to get up in the middle of the night (not fun when camping). But it cooled down. One day I worried it would become too cool ( I hadn't packed any warm clothes as the long range forecast did not predict any coolness. This forecast was wrong by quite a bit).

Rain: Unlike the southern part of the state (and most of the Midwest), this area has had plenty of rain as evidenced by the lush grass and crops. Lots of the rain fell on us (and downstate remained hot and dry). Travelling up to Mackinaw by car, it poured from Gaylord up to Indian River. We had a few hours of sunshine in Mackinaw City in which we were able to walk to the beaches and parks but around 6, yet another hour of torrential rains. Fortunately it was dry (sand drains well) when we set the tents up and we went to Wilderness St. Pk for the sunset (too cloudy). From midnight on, it rained steadily until 7 am. The tent could not handle it. It drizzled Monday morning and rained most of Thursday. Friday, our last day, it was cool and sunny with the wind on  our back. Perfecto!

Stay tuned for final thoughts...

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