Day 13 – Vassar, MI to Croswell, MI – 60 miles

After a steak dinner last night, clean laundry, and a comfortable bed to sleep in, the stay was definitely a wonderful one. My dad’s friend in Vassar has a great family. I’m grateful for the stay.

After sending me off with some food and numerous offers for hot breakfast, I wanted to get going early in case of rain – which was forecasted later today. I figured on biking southeast toward Marine City, but a strong south wind changed my plans.

I ended up deciding to bike almost exclusively east to Lake Huron, then going south and taking the Blue Water bridge to Sarnia.

I ate at an excellent café in Brown City. The pork steak dinner was served quick and it was very flavorful.

The afternoon brought more bad luck – another broken spoke. The decision to once again not carry extra spokes backfired. The extremely rough roads I traversed in the northern part of the Michigan lower peninsula almost definitely can be attributed to the spoke breaking. Again I found myself using the spoke wrench to straighten it out as best I could and began limping along. I’d need to make it another 40 miles before another bike shop.

I made it to Cromwell without any rain :) My host for the night is part of the Cromwell EMS unit. We had great conversation. He bought me dinner at the restaurant in town as well.

I saw the one attraction Cromwell has:
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A swinging bridge!

My host has interest in hiking. After watching a video about the Continental Divide Trail, I think I may be hooked. Maybe my next adventure…?

Day 12 – Midland, MI to Vassar, MI – 49 miles

My hosts made me breakfast!  Very grateful for that.  They also set me up with a local guy at the Bicycle Headquarters bike shop in Midland who took time out of his day to go in to the shop and get my bike tuned up.  The wire for shifting was replaced, the chain was cleaned, and I also had him put on new rear brake pads as the old ones were getting pretty worn.  We had a great conversation.

Once the bike was tuned up, I was ready to rock and Rambow (my bike) was ready to roll.

The hottest day of the tour so far proved to be nasty in more than one regard.  The wind decided to be out of the southeast today – the exact direction I happened to be travelling.

A few miles from Vassar, I happened to cross an unopened bag of Doritos!  One of the very best roadside finds I’ve had while on tour.  It doesn’t quite match the quantity of Goldfish crackers I found on my 2013 tour (a 24 pack box), but it definitely matched in quality.

I bucked the wind all of the way to Vassar.  Thankfully it wasn’t a very long day planned today.

One of my dad’s work friends agreed to host me tonight. He and his family welcomed me nicely and gave me a great meal.

It’s looking like rain tomorrow…

We’ll see what happens. Maybe tomorrow will be the first rest day.

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We need more of these!
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Definitely less hilly now!
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Found an unopened bag of Doritos today!

Day 11 – Higgins Lake, MI to Midland, MI – 81 miles

A rather boring day today.  I don’t even have any pictures for it!

The first 40 miles of the day were rather hilly.  I took a break from the hot sun and ate lunch in a small town called Meredith at a pizza place.  The calzone I had was quite large – and quite good.
After Meredith, I headed south through Amish country.  They are great people.

All day I had to battle an east wind.  The only time there is an east wind it seems is when I’m biking.

In the town of Coleman, a bicycle trail called the Pere Marquette trail went east.  This trail is definitely the nicest bike path I’ve ever been on.

I took the trail all of the way to Midland.
Midland surprised me.  As a Community Development/ Urban Planning major, I often look at the design and layout of the cities I go through.  The houses in Midland were set far back from the streets with plenty of green space between the roads,  sidewalks, and houses.  The city also had many designated bike paths.  Very nice!

Staying with hosts again tonight.

Day 10 – Cheboygan, MI to Higgins Lake, MI – 98.8 miles

An early, cool start paid off today.

Ate a quick breakfast with my host before heading out.  I traveled south from Cheboygan on Old Highway 27.

The most interesting stop of the day came just south of Indian River at Cross in the Woods Shrine.

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This is an integral part of the tour.  Without God, there is no way I could do a ride across the country.  All that He has provided me both before and during the trips is what gets me through.
Because Jesus died on that cross and rose again, it gave us hope and frees us from our sins.  He died for us.  We need to live for Him.  I hope I can continue to live out that mission on this journey.

After Indian River, I encountered some hills and some very poor roads.  In Gaylord, before stopping at Arby’s for lunch, I had the first negative experience with a passenger of a car yelling out the window at me.  I didn’t really care and just kept on pedaling.

The sun and heat continued to fry me today.  I definitely do not need to work on a tan anymore.

The roads in the Lower Peninsula have been despicable.  Old Highway 27 and numerous others had no shoulders and severely damaged and patched road surfaces.  It made for very tough riding.

I also hit road construction that led me on a 4 mile detour just South of Gaylord.  Had to do about a mile and a half of additional, steep climbing.

After the town of Grayling, I couldn’t find a route to get to Higgins Lake without taking the freeway.  I tried both sides of Interstate 75 but to no avail.

I decided to bike on the interstate despite the no bicycle signs.  If the police did stop me, I would just tell them I couldn’t find another route to my destination.

I made it without a problem.

Made it to my hosts by the Higgins Lake area at a reasonable time.  They prepared dinner and we ate before going on a sunset pontoon ride with some friends of theirs.  The pontoon ride was wonderful.  Great people all around.

Hosts like the ones I’ve had really make bike touring as fun as it can be.

Day 9 – St. Ignace, MI to Cheboygan, MI – 36 miles

After a restful night of sleep, I pedaled down to St. Ignace and bought my tickets for a ferry boat ride to Mackinac Island.
The boat ride included a view under the Mackinac Bridge:

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After seeing the bridge, the boat took us out to Mackinac Island.  One of the best parts about the island – no cars!  Just bikes and horse-drawn carriages.

I took my bike to the bike shop to have them fix the broken spoke and straighten out the tire.  While the bike was at the shop, I ate at a pizza place and walked up to the fort on the island.

My bike was ready to go in an hour.  I then pedaled around for a little while to explore further.  This island is pretty cool.

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The coast of Mackinac Island

 

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Mackinac Bridge in the distance

 

After looking around the island, I headed back to the dock and took the ferry to Mackinaw City.  From there, I rode a bike trail to Cheboygan where I’m staying the night.

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Park next to Lake Huron

 

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Crushed limestone trail to Cheboygan

 

Day 8 – Munising, MI to St. Ignace, MI – 114 miles

What a day.
Started out pretty early from Munising and saw my last sight of Lake Superior for the tour.
I began what I knew would be a pretty long day.  A short climb out if Munising transitioned into many miles of flat land, crossing creeks perpendicular to the road.
After about 50 miles and only one small town between, I stopped at a restaurant to eat.
About 5 miles after the restaurant, I turned to head south on a road to connect with U.S. highway 2.  These 15 miles were tough as the south wind developed, especially as I approached Lake Michigan, blowing right into my face.
About 3 miles from a town called Engadine, there were two younger individuals, brother and sister I’m assuming, that were sitting under a tent at the side of the rural road selling treats.  I stopped and bought one of their homemade treats.  Great stuff.
From Engadine, only two miles remained before the highway which I took and started east again.  About 10 miles down the road, through terrible intermittent stretches of black bug swarms, my rear wheel started to wobble.  I immediately thought broken spoke – and I was right.
I wheeled the bike to the next driveway off the highway, unloaded the gear, and took out my spoke wrench.  I was able to get it straightened out relatively well, so I carried on.
The next state forest campground was only 4 miles from the spoke repair site, and that seemed like one of the only feasible spots for tonight.
Upon arrival at the empty Hog Island campground, the bugs swarmed me and the hefty camping price without showers made me decide to get back on the road and go another 12 miles for the next campground.
My eyes continuously glanced down at the rear wheel, hoping the slight wobble wouldn’t get worse.  Highway 2 remained flat, and the weather remained good; eventually I made it to the Lake Michigan campground.
$18 for a night in a tent with swarms of bugs and also no shower here made me think twice.  With only an hour and a half of daylight left (about 8:15 p.m.), I called 2 of the closest motels.  The first one wouldn’t budge on the rates, but the second one did.  Pointe La Barbe Inn, just west of St. Ignace was my destination.
So, as daylight dwindled, I rode my bike 13 more miles along the coast of Lake Michigan to the motel.

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Sun over Lake Michigan

$30 (just $12 more than a campsite with no electric or showers) got me a room with a king size bed.  I was very grateful.

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Those black, hazy extensions off of the trees are swarms of the black flies
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Overlooking Lake Michigan
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Some stretches of the shoreline looked like coastal shoreline of an ocean

 

Day 7 – Marquette, MI to Munising, MI – 43 miles

Sad to leave Marquette this morning!  Definitely my favorite city so far.

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The morning was beautiful.  Wind at my back, a bike path to bike through the cool air out of the city, and a shining morning sun set the scene for a wonderful morning ride in the UP.

DSCN2304Leaving Marquette

 

After some miles on highway 28 going east, I discovered a cool metal sculpture park that my hosts mentioned last night – Lakenenland!

DSCN2318Here are a few of the photos:

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A few miles before reaching Munising, I saw some Sandhill Cranes:

DSCN2323Once in Munising, I ate at Main Street Pizza.  The pizza and breadsticks were awesome.  On my way in the door, a lady noticed my cross that I was wearing.  When I told her that it was a TEC cross that I received at a retreat, she simply smiled and said “I know, I got one from a retreat here in Escanaba, Michigan”.

Very cool.

Inside while eating my pizza, an individual inquired about the trip and wished me luck on the journey.  One of the workers at the pizza place also wished me luck.  I am grateful for the good company of the people on the trip.

Another thing I quickly became grateful for was the Terrace Motel.  I wanted to go on the boat tour of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore this evening and I needed a place to put my bike during that time, so I decided to see what I could get a motel for.  Larry at the Terrace Motel was very helpful.  He even took a picture of my bike and myself and posted the mission of my ride, St. Teresa Orphans Foundation, on the Terrace Motel Facebook page.  I recommend the Terrace Motel if you stay in Munising.

I took a shower then decided to call to reserve a ticket for the boat tour this evening – but I did not get good news…they cancelled the tours for today because of the ice! :(  What a bummer!

A walk around Munising ensued instead.  A stop at the Family Dollar replenished my food supplies, for I would likely be camping tomorrow and my supplies were low.

wpid-img_20140527_173519_627.jpgI also happened to come across a Farmer’s Market :)

I did a quick Dairy Queen stop to enjoy some ice cream.  I’m going to call it an early night tonight and get an early start in the morning.  I’m going to try to make up some mileage tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather cooperates.

Day 6 – Baraga State Park to Marquette, MI – 70 miles

Awesome day today!
Got up early to check and see if and when it was going to rain.  The forecast said rain likely in the afternoon, so I set a goal of making it to Lake Michigamme campground.

Breakfast was only 3.5 miles from the campground at the Hilltop restaurant.  I set off at about 9:00 a.m. from there.

Leaving the town of L’anse, it was all uphill and against the wind.  But, by the time I made it to this little creek, it started to flatten out and the wind shifted in my direction:

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This creek was refreshing :)

I started to cruise.  With the wind at my back, the miles rolled by.  I made it to Lake Michigamme around 1:00, and there was no rain in sight, so I continued on.  In Champion I stopped at a gas station to get some Powerade and an apple.

I kept on wheelin’ all the way to Ishpeming for a quick stop at McDonald’s. Didn’t get much – just a McChicken.  The possibility of rain was nearing, so I hurried to get to Marquette.

My hosts were wonderful.  I took a shower when I got there.  After that, a tour of Marquette was in store for me.  The parks were awesome, the shoreline of Superior impressed me, and the food I had was great.  Also stopped at the Superior Dome – the largest wooden dome in the world and a U.S. Olympic training site.

Marquette is awesome.

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Shoreline by the park.

 

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Water was super clear!

 

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My friend who gave me a tour of Marquette.

 

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The fog over the lake was pretty cool. This is a rock that protrudes from the lake. It looks like the top of a mountain.

 

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Kayakers on the lake.

 

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Overlook of Marquette.

 

Day 5 – Porcupine Mountains State Park to Baraga State Park, MI – 59 miles

It was a hot one today!  86 degrees and nothing but sun.  The wind cooperated pretty well today.  It was largely from the southwest which gave a bit of a push.  I’m definitely glad I had it though because there were many hills to conquer today.
I ate at The Pit Stop in Greenland (the village not the country).  A side note off of that – I’ve noticed many Finland flags up here in the UP.  Finns must like it here.  It is kind of sparking my interest to visit Finland…maybe a future bike tour?
Another long expanse of trees on each side of the road and rolling hills continued for about 30 miles.  About 15 miles from Baraga, I came across a small village with a handful of houses.  If there was a store or gas station, a stop was definite.  Thankfully there was one.

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I didn’t think it was open at first, but this little convenience store did the trick.  I first had to find the shelves with stuff on them as much of the supplies were depleted.  I ended up finding a nice, cool fruit drink that I purchased and drank in the shade.

Not much else exciting until I ate at the Baraga drive-in.  The roast beef sandwich was awesome, topped off with a chocolate malt.  The server was very nice as she seemed pretty surprised at what I was doing (but granted, there aren’t many people who aren’t surprised). I started talking with a guy next to me and found that he just got back from working at the VA hospital in St. Cloud, only a few miles from where I live!

About 1/4 mile up the road from the drive-in, Baraga State Park became my home for the night.

Here are a few pictures from around Baraga:

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A snake by the showers!

 

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Keweenaw Bay – Lake Superior

 

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Day 4 – Ironwood, MI to Porcupine Mountains State Park, MI – 67 miles

How nice it was to sleep in until about 8:00 a.m. this morning. I walked over to the Uptown Café for breakfast – they do have the best blueberry pancakes!

Left Ironwood at about 10:45 a.m. The riding wasn’t too bad. There was only a slight wind and it was from the southwest – perfect for pushing me along :)

I met another touring cyclist today! He was from Canada. We stopped and talked for a few minutes. Once again it was great to see another like-minded individual.

The sun continued to beat down as I crossed into the eastern time zone. Much of the landscape looked the same for many miles – trees on each side of the road and some rolling hills – until I saw Lake Superior. I had to fight some wind for a few miles which is common by the lake, but the fight to get there was totally worth it:

DSCN2147There was even a guy fishing!

 

I figured I’d take a picture on the sandy beach.

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The Union Bay campground in Porcupine Mountains State Park had good reviews on Google so I decided to set up camp here. I knew that it was only a few miles to the Lake of the Clouds overlook, so I quickly put the tent up, dumped my gear inside, and headed up. Up up up. 7 miles up to the view – and the view was totally worth it:

DSCN2169 DSCN2171The way back was easy cruising at 20 mph downhill.

Back at camp, the second can of chili for the trip lended itself well to my appetite. I talked with some of the neighboring campers. Great people up here. Maybe Michigan can share the “Minnesota Nice” slogan :)

The day wasn’t over yet however. Sunsets over Lake Superior are my specialty! Here is one of them:

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Day 3 – Lyman Lake, WI to Ironwood, MI – 98 miles

Started early today.  After a great stay with my hosts last night, I could tell that I slept on a bed and not the ground in a tent!

It was rather calm this morning as you can see by this picture of Lake Nebagamon:

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Is this picture shown upside down?

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I stopped in Brule for some food at a café then headed east on Highway 2.

After 35 miles of unrelenting sun and numerous hills, I reached Ashland.  Just before reaching Ashland, I came across another cyclist who was cycling around the country.  We exchanged cards and talked for a bit.

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View of Ashland on the lake.

In Ashland, I had a quick bite to eat at Big Ben’s Famous Gyros.  A very cool place.  While eating, I had a conversation with 3 local college students.

My goal was to make it to Ironwood, so I pedaled on.

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Mining used to be a large part of industry up here.

I reached Ironwood at about 7:30 p.m.  After eating, taking a shower, and just starting on this blog post, I easily fell asleep.