|A newly hatched cicada on our bags. I love its gossamer wings. Although we heard cicadas, bugs weren't much of a problem while camping though we saw horse flies near the river we camped by|
|Our bicycle posse in Saugatuck. The larger woman was a grad student who worked with my friend is in the yellow vest. Her excess weight was very hard to haul up those hills. I know the excess I have certainly is and I have less. The dark haired woman in back is our new friend. I am dubbing her The Maltese Lost .She is Maltese. On the first day, she followed a different ride's markings and ended up 35 miles away from where we were supposed to go. She hadn't taken the map book, had no idea where she was, and was out of water. She didn't have the HELP number in her phone. She did know that we were camping outside of Hart and called the campsite on her few remaining moments of her phone (no charger either). They had no idea what she was talking about (I need a sag!!!) but eventually connected her with one of the ride's organizers who rescued her.|
|one of the many sculptures along the Berry Trail|
|Berry trail outside of Whitehall|
|roller coaster at Michigan Adventure|
|Ships docked in Muskegon Bay|
On the 2nd day, we ate lunch in Fremont at a reasonable time for a change. Fremont is home of the Gerber baby food company. Just as I was thinking that I hadn't needed to walk up any hills much less use the lower chain ring, we hit Newago where we had to go up a very steep hill from a standing start only to have to go down a hair raising steep hill to the water where our camping supplies were left. We set the tent right next to the water. As it turned out, all the facilities were on top of the hill where we were supposed to camp but due to some miscommunication, the stuff was dropped off in the wrong place. No one was eager to take down their tents and set them up again.. Putting them up once is energy sucking enough when you have been riding all day. No bathrooms but there was the Muskegon river right there. Cool, clear and swiftly moving. Soon most of the riders were sitting in the river. Wish I took a photo of that. The cold water felt so good. Someone asked me the time. My display was blank. This watch, not old at all, was supposed to be waterproof to 100m and it leaked at 6 inches. $%#!!!
Later we took a moonlit (full moon that night which looked cool but I didn't want my phone wet) kayak trip on the river ending at our campsite. Was it wise to paddle in a river in the dark with many obstacles? It was light when we started but we were out there 2.5 hours. Many kingfishers darted in front of us hunting bugs. I thought I saw an eagle soar by. Early in the ride, we were to pull up on an island and roast marshmallows for s'mores but the current was so swift, we almost missed the landing. Someone had grabbed our rope to haul us in. I knew the water was swift near our final landing and obsessed about missing it. We were totally wet from inefficient paddling. We had been given a choice between canoes or kayaks. I am a much more experienced canoer but my friend wanted the kayak. In the low water areas, perhaps the kayak will be better. Also safer in rapids. Still we had different styles of paddling with her trying to control the direction by back paddling (putting on the brakes) whereas I would just change sides. As I had those 2 months in which I was not to lift more than 5 lbs after my surgery and then I didn't go out to the Y to lift like I usually do in the winter, my upper body wasn't as strong as it usually is. I was plenty sore that night. The DNR wouldn't let us bring the shower truck down but agreed to let us have a few bathrooms. At dinner someone asked if I had taken a shower. No, didn't want to walk up the mountain for a mile. Why ...do I stink? No not at all but you still have your bicycling clothes on. I told her I washed off in the river.
Day 3: Newago to Comstock Park 50 miles. This was probably our easiest day aside from the beach day as the 2nd half was on a smooth downhill path that was well shaded. I had taken this trail unpaved in the opposite direction (uphill!) with Josh, his buddy and his buddy's mother (very hard on her;she never came again). We stopped in Rockford, a very cutesy town full of galleries and good restaurants to have an excellent lunch. We camped at a school in Comstock Park, right on the northern edge of Grand Rapids, Michigan's second city. We were bussed to Whitecap Stadium, which is a triple A team associated with the Tigers. Seems like they had quite a crowd. Little girls wearing princess costumes got in free and got tiaras. We had a BBQ on the upper deck during warm-ups for both teams. I had a giant grapefruit shandy, not nearly as good as the one from the fancy brewery that I forgot the name of. It was fun but unless we bought a baseball ticket ($5), we were kicked out and bused back by an obnoxious Trump supporter ranting on and on about socialism then demanding a tip so he could have a living wage. Not on your life, buddy. See how Trump will take care of the 'little ' man. Our new friends lay under the trees talking about this and that until dark. Everytime the Whitecaps scored, there would be fireworks especially when a three run homer was knocked in.
Funny story told by a new friend. He owns an Amazon parrot that has an extensive vocabulary and knows when to use his words. He is also moody sometimes and wants to be left alone or he will bite. But he will warn before biting. Hurt Momma or Hurt Daddy depending on who it is. His voice sounds that of a child. They took him camping and the parrot was hormonal again warning them repeatedly he wanted his space. To someone walking by, it sounded to them like a child was pleading not to be hurt over and over. Soon a cop showed up wanting to see the child. There is no child, just a parrot in a bad mood.
Day 4: Comstock Park to Holland: 55 miles. This day was the hardest due to high heat and humidity and lack of shade and water. It started off fine winding through Grand Rapids Parks along the Grand River and through the downtown area at rush hour. I whiled away the miles talking to the Maltese Lost. They had us cycle too long through a nature preserve that I ended up even doing more miles as I missed a turn. Soon we were out in the country in the static, moist air with unrelenting sun beating on us. They advertised sag stops (to pick up water) every 15 miles but it was almost 25 miles if not more since I had been at one. Do I drink the warmer than piss 2 inches of water I have left? I stopped in the only bit of shade to consult the map to see how long I'd have to make it last. Unfortunately I failed to notice a steep hill that I didn't have the momentum to get off and started to walk. When you are riding, you get a bit of a breeze. None of that while walking. I felt weak and unable to get back on the bike. Someone stopped and gave me fresh water so I could go the next 2 miles to the sag where I rested a long while. Once I started up again, I noticed it was getting cloudy. Good.by the time I got to the third sag in the middle of no where. the storm warnings were blaring over the radio for 2 separate storms. We were able to get to shelter fairly quickly for both of them. A third storm was to hit us late at night. As I set the tent up under a tree, it could be hit by lightning. We were advised to sleep inside of the school which turned out to be awful as they shut the air conditioning off and the motion sensing lights were easily triggered. But I had good wifi for a change. We had gone back to downtown Holland that evening which was chock full of people attracted by the many street performers. We hit the breweries per usual.
Day 5: Holland to Saugatuck to Fennville: 25 miles. Our easy-peesy beach day. We were given the choice between 100, 50 or 22 miles. With the detour to the beach, that made it 25 miles. We slept in a little, walked around the artsy town of Saugatuck where Steve and I stayed right before my surgery in December Then we spent a relaxing day at the beach jumping into the waves of Lake Michigan. Warmer than that spring fed river. The artisanal gelato maker visited the school before we had taken off to downtown Fennville for yet more drinking. Toasted coconut almond fudge. Yum.
Day 6: Fennville to Fruitport 50 miles. 95 degrees at the finish though the last 10 miles were in the shade and the humidity was low. We were presumably riding along the Lake Michigan coast yet it was not visible at all. A disappointment. And just as we were almost finished, the markings were so bad, almost everyone got lost. I was going back and forth in circles for awhile cursing the organizer. Finally a pack of riders told me to join in as they knew the way. Gradually this pack morphed into just two of us. Finally he asked me Are we on the right road? I thought you knew the way! Nope just following the crowd. But in the distance I could see one of the rare markers so we were OK. I did save him from blowing by the last turn.
294 miles later, we were done. Twenty miles more than last year though a bit less than the year before. We ate at the nice restaurant in Spring Lake that my cousin had taken me to 2 months ago and then on the road again. But this time in a car.