Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I made it! Not without misery…

 I made it to the falls and pulled into camp at 7:00 p.m.

The campground required online reservation and I only had one line of cell service so it took me  half hour to get registered.

While biking toward camp I was dreaming of food, a bicyclists fuel, and the last of my snacks and lunch had been devoured a couple hours ago.  

I decided I would set up and then ride two miles down the road to get some supper.  But once I was in camp,  there was so much to do.  Then it was too late, I didn't want to ride the country road in the dark after eating.  

I got to use my mini propane burner for the first time!  I was glad I had packed a back-packer's meal.  A packet of cajun beans and rice.  I added peanut butter and I my hunger was satisfied.

Right now I am writing to you as I am straddling my bike at the intersection of Hwy 2 and Hwy 64.  I was checking the map and saw I had two lines of cell service.  So I thought I would upload some pictures and let you know I am still alive and not laying on the side of the road somewhere. (The risk was real!)

Dogs have discovered I am here.  Though they are tied up, they are barking and baying.  I got to get moving … more later.

***






Ok,  I am in a safe place and have WiFi now for an hour or so.

Yesterday I left you when I was tired already from the ride and I discovered that the road Googlemaps was going to take me down was a private road and had a gated entrance.  

I had to ride back the way I came and ride further up a highway to another road going north. When I came to a fork in the road I took the one that had new pavement and a shoulder because I remembered the guy that gave me directions told me the road I was on turned to gravel.

That choice probably added another 10 miles to my ride.  When I was at the entrance to Notre Dam I only had 17 miles to the waterfall. A few miles after the wrong turn I had 27.  That was after retracing my ride and going about six miles further down the road.  What I discovered is roads and services are scarce  this far north.


I passed into Michigan.  I had eaten my lunch and was hungry again.  I kept stopping to rest.





By the time I arrived at the falls it was 4:00.  My water was almost gone.  I have a water bottle with a good filter but I have not used it yet.  The waterfall water was warm, I decided to not use it.  I was hungry too.  My dreams of sitting by the falls for a while didn’t come to fruition.  I added my pee to the area, took pictures, and I hiked back to my bike.

After the falls I headed for Gogebic County Park near White City, MI.  I took a shortcut on a gravel road (Cutthrough Rd) and it occurred to me that I could slip and fall in some of the loose gravel spots.  I wondered how long it would be before someone discovered me.  No cars passed me in that road.  I was so exhausted.  My back hurt, my shoulders and wrists and hands hurt.  I was afraid I would make a mistake in handling the bicycle and fall.

I kept having to stop and stretch to keep from cramping.  An hour from the campground I drank the last of the water.  I passed a sludgy swamp and decided to tough it out instead of drink that, no mater how good the filter. 
 


As I was pitching my tent I kept in mind that the weather wouldn't always be so pleasant. What would it be like if I was pitching and taking down in the rain? 

People stopped by my campsite.  “Where are you headed?”

I answer that I don’t know.  They think that sounds great.  Me, I am just tired.  

My first night in the tent and I didn’t sleep well even though I kept dreaming while I was riding of pitching my tent, sliding in right away, and sleeping soundly.

Here are some more pictures from yesterday.

The view from my tent.

It was a pretty park, but the water spigots are oddly placed.  They expected that I would run a hose from my spigot across the adjacent campsite to my trailer.  No hose, I kept having to walk across the adjacent site.

I washed out my shirt and bra at the spigot.  Only it won’t dry overnight.  I dipped into the water with my clothes on.  I had been riding on roads at the end with little shade and it was 86 degrees.


How does one pack and unpack and cook their meals in the rain?

My expensive water filter I was afraid to use.

I went to bed as soon as the mosquitos started biting.  Dang!  The young couple next door invited me over to share their campsite.  Once inside the tent I tried to close the rain fly and many mosquitoes got into my tent.  All night I experienced buzz and bite and imagined bites.

More later, I have more riding to do today, and I still don't know where I am going!



Monday, July 19, 2021

Bicycle Tour Da Falls… or Not

 I decided to bike to some water falls.  When I googled waterfalls near me, there were quite a few.  It appeared the closest one in the cluster was Kakabika Falls near Watersmeet and White City.

I packed up last night and then put my bike bags in the van so I could get an early start.  Google said the falls was 44 miles away and then I have to bike to a campsite which is another 12 miles.

This morning I was up and loading the bike by 6:00 a.m. a bit nervous.  I am used to using googlemaps for getting around.  But what happens if I need to re-configure my route and I don't have cell service?  I don't have a paper map, and if I did, even the detail maps don't tell me what roads are passable or bike friendly.

Last night I made a turn-by-turn list for me to follow.





 

First I moved the van to make it harder to steal Lilac if some bad person was so inclined.  I almost knocked over the bike!  




Starting from the campground I couldn’t get around doing some miles on Hwy 51.  A two foot shoulder and fast traffic.  I was much more relaxed once I got on the lower traffic County Highway M.

I met up with a Villas County trail along M. The are not rail trails and are hilly and curvy.  The hills are steep and require anticipating the gearing.  If you don't get it right, you will be walking up the hill.

Sorry about the order of the pictures.  I am doing this on my phone while sipping a lemonade.  My iPhone is putting all the pictures at the top.  I have to cut and paste them to the right location.  Not going to happen right now.  I am taking a break from the ride after I hit a snag.  



I was only about 17 miles from my first destination, Kakabika Falls..  I was anticipating riding by the Notre Dam Environmental Education Center and their church.  But went I arrived at Nortre Dam road there was a sign telling me it was a private road and there is a gate to keep me out.  

At this location my phone didn’t have service.  I saw two young boys pull into a yard with their small ATV's.  I followed them into their yard and found their parents outside too.  I asked them how to get to Hwy 2.  The man showed me his cell phone had the map and he told me. I would have to retrace my route, go East and then North.  I was tired already and this detour might add 10 miles.  

On the detour I stopped at a sign pointing down a road to a resort and restaurant.  I debated, but decided to pull in.  I am taking a break .  It is 11:00 a.m.  I am going with the the flow.  This is a nice place to sit and write to you!  If they had camp sites, I might even stay!  I have cell phone service!

Bents camp resort.  



Sunday, July 18, 2021

Getting Ready - Trial Solo Bike Tour

 I said goodbye to my friends Sandy and John this morning.  Lilac and I headed to a campsite in Villas County, Wisconsin.  There is a network of connecting bicycle trails here.  One goes through Boulder Junction. The trails here are paved, curvy and hilly.  The area is planning more trails too.  It's a popular biking area with touristy towns, lots of clear lakes, and ATV trails.


Lilac in our campsite by a babbling brook.



The Trail Tour Plan is non-existent.

I have not decided where I will bike.  The destination will be another campground for trying out my tent and sleeping bag and such.  I am about 75 miles from Lake Superior, says Googlemaps.  A bit too far at this point in my training.  I may drive to a town and find a place to park my van overnight while I ride to That big lake. We’ll see.  

I will post from my phone if I have cell service.

For now the campsite Lilac and I are in has a road between it and the lake.  There is a beach, and I have a bubbling little stream next to my site helping to drown out the road and boat noises.

It is supposed to rain on Wednesday so I think I am riding out on Monday.

Next post will be on this mini tour. 



Friday, July 16, 2021

Moments... then planning and preparing for more moments

Life can go along and all the blessings, the joy and fun can seem ho-hum after a while.  Then something happens, a goal is reached, a plan takes shape, a fork is decided on.

The thrill returns.

Today is just such a day.  

I have been in the Rhinelander area now for over a month!  

Long enough that mushrooms are growing inside my screen tent.


West Bay Campground is wooded with lots of maple, oak and birch.  The campground is mostly quiet.


Three times I have driven to the Bearskin Trail and rode the trail.  Two of those times I rode solo from the woods into the town of Minocqua.  

The trail is 18 miles long and has a crushed gravel surface.  One end is in the bustling and touristy town of Minocqua, and the other end is out in the quiet woods near the the intersection of Hwy K and Hwy 51.


I love the stories of the early rail days that are told on the kiosks along the trail.  When they were trying to create a causeway through the swamp to Minocqua for the railroad they would dump loads of sand and gravel until they no longer sunk.  Once, they had a portion they thought was solid and they had several horses and mules pulling loads over the causeway when part of it sunk and they lost the wagons and the animals in the deep muck.

Once the railroad was operational, one of the trains derailed when crossing a long bridge over a swamp.  The engine and three rail cars fell into the swamp.  The workers arranged for two cranes to come and help pull them out.  While pulling, one of the cranes also fell into the swamp.  After much effort they finally gave up.  The kiosk says that if you poke a long pole down about 50 feet in the right place you will hit solid metal.  The peat and muck go about 90 feet deep.  Wow!

One day I spent getting stuff together for the bike tour I am planning on doing on the Allegheny Gap Trail in Pennsylvania in September.  I packed up the bike and decided I needed a smaller and lighter-weight sleeping bag and a few other things.


I found an expandable bottle holder that I bought at the local bike shop.  It will fit the water-filter bottle I have.

I think I will be able to fit everything into two bags and my tent bag.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  The key is to keep the food items small.  No big bags of popcorn!



A new friend I made while biking here let me try her two-wheel electric bicycle.  I didn't care for the electric, but I loved her comfortable handles.  I bought a pair, they were too long, I cut them to fit my bike.


It is interesting that I wanted to stay at a place on the water and with a beach.  But I have only gone swimming in this lake one time.  One evening I sat on the dock and read while the sun went down. 


I try to keep eating healthy on this trip.  I still manage to eat a lot of junk food, but each week I make a big pot of veggies.  One time I boiled some eggs in the same pot at the same time.  I don't mind eating these veggies several times a week when it is so easy to just add sauce and heat up in the microwave.
 

In early July I drove back down to Waukesha, Wisconsin.  A friend had passed this past winter and they were having a life celebration.  I had known this man through our Newcomers Club (that was still having potlucks 27 years after we were new to town).  

I left Lilac in the campground and stayed in Waukesha with friends Mark and Jane.  Mark was good enough to meet up with me when I got to town and ride the Glacial Drumlin Trail and a few country roads.  It was a great ride and made the day in the car seem so easy.

Besides seeing people I knew from our Newcomers Club, I was able to meet up with the three woman friends who had agreed to read through the rough draft of my third book.  

I received some great advice and of course lots of edit marks.  Thank you beta-reading ladies, Sandy, Jeri, and Kathi.  I haven't even begun to start working on the book.  I am living life right now.

On my last morning in Waukesha, Mark and Jane and I went to breakfast and then walked over to the Farmer's market. 


 
Even though I saw Sandy in Waukesha, it was great to have them come stay at the same campground with me!  

We have hiked together and John and I biked about 16 miles on the Bearskin Trail while Sandy hung out in Minocqua.  Sandy is nurturing an injury that prevents her from riding right now.

We dined at a cool restaurant with outdoor seating with Susan Watson.  She is that new friend I told you about with the electric assist on her two-wheel bike.  We had a super time at supper time, laughing and getting to know each other better.


Pictured are Sandy, Sue, and John at CT's Deli in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

***

While all this activity was going on I was contacted by snowbird friends, Denis and Frankie.  They were looking for a place to rent near Inverness and the Withlacoochee Trail in Florida.  Did I know of any places?  

That decided it. I had been toying with the idea of not selling my place, but renting it out while I am gone so much of the year traveling.  I contacted a rental management company that was recommended to me by a friend and neighbor.  Thanks Linda!

I am going to rent out my home to seasonal or short-term renters (3-7 months).   That way I will have some time each year to go in there if I choose to.  The paperwork is done.  I still have my deposit in at the Oasis RV Park in Inverness where I plan to stay this winter, hopefully with Lilac (my trailer).

My sister asked me why.  

I said that living in Lilac is simple.  It is more outside time.  And the money from the rentals will help pay for some renovations to my home... or more travel.  AND I get to experiment and experience what long-term living this way feels like.  

It is definitely something I couldn't have done with George.  He would have wanted more luxury, stuff, and room.  I would have needed a bigger everything to fit two people.  This is just right for one... at least for now. 

***

Another goal I have been working on is jumping up on a box.  I am up to five risers on the step.  Today I tried to do a metal step of the same height.  I did it three times and then I began to doubt I could do it.  I lost my courage and with it the ability to take the leap!  Isn't that something?  Instead I had to switch over to the rounder softer step.  Then I jumped up on it for three sets of eight.  Go figure.

The picture is only four risers.  I have since added a riser.


I bought another few weeks of training.  I am getting stronger, but the chin ups and push-up goals are still waiting to be achieved. 

***

I reserved a U haul in Washington, D.C. for the end of our bike trip on the Great Allegheny Gap Trail and the C&O Trail.  We will use it to haul us and our bikes back to our cars in Pittsburg.  I tried renting a van, but I couldn't find any that fit our needs and was available.

I mentioned to Joan that maybe we will have so much fun we will just turn around and ride back to our cars.  She was thinking the same thing, but said to keep the U haul reservation just in case.  We are both going to leave our schedules open just in case...

***

In a day I move onto a different location but still in this area of Wisconsin.  From that new campground home base I am going to set out on a mini bike tour to test my equipment.  I haven't routed it yet or decided which direction to go.  We'll see what happens... of course I will let you know. 

Just as I am leaving this area, my friend John LaFave is going to be doing the Pedal Across Wisconsin (I think that is the name of the ride) and will be in Rhinelander!  We will be just missing each other by a few hours.  Later this week his ride will be in Boulder Junction.  Maybe I will be there too.  I don't know.

***

My friend Bev who was in my Creative Writing Class in high school suggested I look over my posts carefully to catch more of the grammar and spelling mistakes.  I am trying to do better.  It takes a few hours to do one of these posts.   Sometimes the internet is crappy.  Sometimes the post is sandwiched between activities.  

For example, I took my bike in for maintenance and now I have to go pick it up before the store closes for the day.  I am reminded of a wall decoration... "Bless this Mess".

Well, I just wanted to fill you in on stuff.  

I am missing my Florida folks.  Gosh, I want to list you all and send you love and hugs.  

I want to thank Connie and Jerry for the surprise calls and texts.  Thanks to Ann who has been advising me on what to expect on the bike tour in September.  Thanks to those of you that respond to this letter and comment on the site or send me an email.  It is great to hear from you!

I hope you too are finding things in life to celebrate and bring you joy and gratitude. 

 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Are You A Volunteer Critic?

It is nice to be in one place.  No days spent packing up and driving to the next place.  
 

Physical Training

 
I have mapped out a nice nine-mile route that I ride my bike on several mornings a week.  Eventually I will add weight and practice the hilly route loaded.  
 
I am training my body for the 300 plus mile tour I will be doing in September with friend Joan.  We will be riding the Allegheny Gap Trail and the C&O trail.  The C&O Trail has some very rough surfaces, so I am training on my two-wheel bicycle.  Since I arrived in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, I have not even removed my recumbent tricycle from the van!

I set some physical goals for myself and went to meet with a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness.  Sydney is a slim young woman with a physical training degree and a cheerleader inside her.  

I told her I wanted to be able to jump up onto something.  I told her that I was afraid to even jump onto a rug for fear of catching my toe.  Well, I guess that was negative self-talk because the first day of training she had me jumping onto a step and by day three I had raised it up.  (Beating my chest here.)

Instead of one trainer one trainee, the training is done in groups.  Even though the exercises she gives me are personalized to my goals and abilities, she shows me what to do watches to see if I got it right, then goes onto the next person in the group.  
 
I like it and already I can feel I am making a little progress.
 
Goals are to:
  • Strengthen core and shoulders so that putting my two-wheel bike into the van isn't such a struggle and going to cause me injury;
  • Be able to do two perfect unassisted pull-ups;
  • Do ten wide and ten narrow mens-style push-ups;
  • Do down-dog to up-dog back to down dog with chin sweeping the floor ten times;
  • Be a faster, stronger rider in prep for the September tour in Pennsylvania;
  • And be able to jump onto something a foot or higher.


Improving on Book One

Yesterday I called my friend Jean in Mississippi.  She is slowly making her way through my first book, Alzheimer's Trippin' with George.  I laughed because I really know the book is too too long.  Even with pictures, 600 pages is too dang long!

Then I asked Jean if she would help me by making notes of where I could cut stuff out.  She was happy to.  She said she would mark the pictures too.  A ten, she said, would mean definately keep, and a one means it isn't needed.   Yay!  Some help with purging!

That is why on this third book I am glad to have a few volunteers to look through the first draft and advise me on what to add, what to take away, and where I could improve.  

Sometimes critics can stop us in our paths, but I already published the first two books.  My friend Margaret was a big help with the first book, helping me round out the beginning and the ends and catch a lot of grammatical errors.  

But it is time to go back and create a second edition, clearing out the fluff and focusing the storyline.

If you would like to help by volunteering to mark up your copy of the first book or making some notes and emailing them to me, I would love it, really I would!

Since the first book is the first book in the Trippin' series, it has to be good enough to tempt people to want to read the second and the third, right?  

I have so much to learn and do.  The days fly by! 

Progress on Book Three

I mailed out the first draft of Book Three to the three friends that volunteered to help me by reading through and catching flaws and making suggestions.  I am excited to see what they come up with!  Catch the errors!  Praise is good for my ego and suggestions for improvements will help me think through how to change it for the better.

My sister gave me an impassioned mini-speech about how I need to follow my heart and say what I need to say because that is what some people out there reading my books need to know.  Call it divine guidance or universal kismet.  I am driven for a reason, she said.  Don't let others tamp down what I need to write.  I love my sister!  She lifts me up.

Sister Time

This spring my sister's dog passed.  Spirit was a lovely quiet small dog. After Mary and Dave experienced the heart-breaking void for a while, Mary went in search of another small dog.

Arky is a wonderful little dog.  My sister is facing some challenges with needing to house train Arky.  (They are making good progress on that front.) Arky has a passion for chasing squirrels and chipmunks causing her to sometimes flip when she reaches the end of her leash. This instinctual drive to chase small things makes it impossible to have Arky off-leash unless she is in a fenced in area.

I have enjoyed my time taking Dave, my brother-in-law living with dementia, and Arky to the dog park.  Arky is pretty good at fetch, and chases what we throw with such speed and persistence she is an inspiration.

One day Mary and I took the kayaks up the Pelican River and floated back down.  Mary wanted to try taking Arky.  I had seen how Liz's dog, Diego, rode so well in the kayak.  Arky too, is going to turn out to be a great kayak dog.  We need to put a platform or rug on the front of the kayak for Arky to sit or lay on.  


Meeting Up with Others

I was riding my bicycle through the campground where I had stayed last year, Lake George.  There I saw the seasonal campers I met last year.  They were out having their morning coffee and cigarettes.  I stopped to chat and this year I got to hug them.  I invited them over to my place for a happy hour on a Saturday night.  

They are still young enough to have to work, so they are only around during the weekends.  

Lisa told me that over the winter a mammogram showed she had cancer!  She went through a mastectomy.  I later texted her a picture of a woman with lovely tattoos over her mastectomy scars.  I told her about a picture in my doctors office that made a deep impression on me.  A shirt-less woman with one breast removed is looking up at the sky with arms lifted high in a joyful prayer of gratitude. 

Last year Tom insisted on building me some stairs for my trailer.  They were wonderful and sturdy and I am sure kept me from injury. This year my camper isn't sitting as high, so the old stairs he built for me and I left with him to store, won't work.  Tom insisted on building me a new step.  One day I came home from my wanderings and there it was, a new, wider safer step.  Thank you, Tom!

Last year I rode bicycle on the Three Eagles Trail with the Northern Paddle and Trail group (NPT).  This year I joined them again.  They only ride about 16 miles.  So I arrived early and stayed late and biked 32 miles on that lovely trail.  

We went of ice cream in Three Lakes.  They had these suckers with real crickets in them!




I loved chatting and riding with new bike buddies, Mary and Susan.


 It was fun riding with them.  I have sent in some dates and times to NPT for other rides on the Bear Skin and the Manitowish Trails.  I have also signed up for a hike with a Northern Adventures Meetup Group.

A few days after our ride, Susan texted me and invited me to come to her beautiful home in the woods on a lake.  Susan makes stained glass art and I had expressed an interest in seeing her work.  I took Arky with me (I was doggy sitting that day).  I got to see her lovely work and she showed me how she works with copper instead of lead.  Pretty stuff!  And a lot more talent for selecting colors and transparencies that I would have.

We went for a walk on a narrow path in the woods.  Susan has a labor-doodle and Arky and he were playing and jumping.  Not streets around, and we were on a peninsula, so there was water on three sides.  I took the leash off Arky and let her run.  She was so funny, leaping high over ferns.  It was funny and cute until she disappeared over a knoll and didn't come back when called.  

Oh no!  Losing the dog?  It was a scary few minutes until she came trotting back toward us on the trail.  Lesson learned.  A bit more training in the come-when-called department is needed.  

 

Early Morning Messages

Yesterday my sister was able to spend a day with her visiting friend because I was here to have supper with her husband and make sure the dog was walked and fed.

Dave and I went to the dog park.  There Arky met up with Jake, a dog just a bit taller than she is, with longer legs.  They zipped and zipped around the park.  It was amazing the speed and energy they have!

I then drove us to Dave's favorite food place, Culver's.  He loves their fish dinners and always, always gets a chocolate malt.  I am always tempted to get a shake or malt too, but then I would defeat all my efforts of the day to not gain weight.  One sure way to gain weight is to get into the habit of sipping on shakes or malts.

We took our take-out meal to Hodag Park and dined while Arky wound his leash around the legs of the table.  I kept sneaking glances at Dave's chocolate malt, tempted to ask for a sip.  Then I told myself that Dave would be nice enough to allow me a sip, but then would probably never dine with me again.  Ha ha.

Our meal was interspersed with Dave expressing his gratitude for the free healthcare he gets from the VA.  "Though I worked my but off for four years, it's nice to get some pay-back," he says.  And then, "I don't know where Mary went."

Mary had gone for a pontoon boat ride with her friends.  

Later as we sat by the lake and watched a few pontoons float by way out, I wondered if one of them might be Mary and her friends.  Later I learned, one of them was and they were dancing!

Earlier in the week Mary had asked me if I had noticed a difference in Dave from last year.  I remember asking the same question of others who came to visit after not seeing George in a long time.  We need reassurance that the decline we see is not just our imagination or us just getting tired.  Care-giving while losing someone is very tiring.  

Yes, I had seen the progress of cognitive decline in Dave since last year, I told her.  As I write this I remember that Dave is a very private person.   I hope he won't mind about me writing this. 

Later, Mary and Dave and her friends visited my campsite.  It was good to see them, though the visit wasn't long enough, Dave decided it was time to go.  Keep 'em happy! When they need to go, and you can go, then go!

This morning shortly after my alarm went off, my cell phone alerted me that I had a text message.  It was my sister expressing her gratitude for our friendship.  Awww.  I am where I am supposed to be.  Content in my Weeroll.




Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...