Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mind In Circles

 OMG!  What a trip!

Last I wrote to you I was telling you about the first day of my test fully-loaded bike tour.

If you missed that,  here is the link from the post during a break in riding on Monday.  And here is the link to the post sent during the ride on Tuesday.

Now that I am at a place with cell service and a bit rested, I will tell you the rest of the story.  

I figured out the miles I did that first day:  76 plus miles.  Bike tours do that all the time, sometimes 80 or 90.  But I don't do that, especially not fully loaded with tent and sleeping bag and cooking supplies.

George and I did 80 miles one day on our ride from Illinois to Florida.  It was because of an error in my planning.  We were hauling trailers behind our trikes.  Nothing hurt because those trikes are comfortable! We were staying in motels so we were not hauling tents, but I had my laptop.  We were exhausted after 80 miles and we decided to stay an extra day to rest up.  And George kept saying, "I am not doing this again."

We were by ourselves and could change our plans on a whim.  That isn't the case on these organized tours.  You gotta go the miles they tell you to go.  Another thing about that trip was I had the comfort and security of George with me.

I already told you I was exhausted by the time I arrived at the campground on Monday night.  Did I tell you I was only able to sleep three hours?  Beside the buzz and bite of mosquitoes, I missed having two nice pillows.  One is used for my head and one is placed between my knobby knees so my knees and hips don't hurt.  

I packed one tiny pillow in a stuff-sack because, well you just don't have room on a bicycle for everything you want.  As it was I was stretching my panniers to their limit.  I thought I would use my down jacket for the second pillow.  By the time I realized I had left it in my bike bag, I had already let way too many mosquitoes into the tent.

In the morning (Tuesday) I was up and packing at 5:30 a.m.  There was a chance of rain on Wednesday (64% chance).  There were more waterfalls in the area.  I had intended to stay or stay close by and go visit a few. But I didn't want to volunteer to see how learn how to pack up my tent or set up my tent in the rain.  The tent has a screen top before I put the rain fly on.  How does one do that?  I read about a tent where you put the rain-fly up first and then the tent underneath it out of the rain.  But I have spent enough on this bike tour experiment, I am not going to get a different tent!

Packing up I found the plastic sheet I put under the tent to keep the bottom of the tent dry did it's job, but the plastic sheet was wet.  If I am riding long miles every day how will that ever get dried out?

As I was packing I pondered going further north, but I was a bit spooked by the previous day's experience and the lack of cell service made it difficult and time consuming to map my way to anywhere.

I used my camp stove to boil water to make coffee.  I am pleased with my camp coffee maker.  A sack that is propped up over my coffee mug.  I sure hate to decide I don't like this after getting some pretty nice stuff for this kind of adventure!

I decided to head back toward Villas County.  First I had to find breakfast.  I am used to riding without breakfast, but my body (mind?) was wanting to start the day with fuel and human contact.  

I pulled out before anyone else was up.  I wished I had been able to chat with more folks.  This campground was open and the people were easy to have little chat's with.  Laura and Dontien my neighbors were still snuggled in their tent.  I thought about leaving them a card, I realized my contact cards were stored in a pocket inside my pannier.  It was too much work to pull them out.  I will have to move some to my front bag next trip for easy access.

I headed for a breakfast restaurant about 12-16 miles south in Marinesco, MI.  Once when I noticed I had cell service I responded to a text from Connie and Jerry by calling them.  That was fun.

As I pulled into the city, I crossed a bridge and saw an Eagle in a tree not far.  I stopped and walked back to get a second look.  Wow!  "This is going to be a better day," I thought. Yesterday I had only seen one deer, crows and robins, squirrels and chipmunks.  Nothing as impressive as an eagle.

The iphone I have doesn't take such great pictures, especially when I zoom in.  I use it to grab memories, not make art.  But it would be nice to have the ability to do both.

After the bridge I enter town.  I have three cell phone service stripes!  I look for the restaurant.  Closed on Tuesdays.  All the other restraurants were bars and not open until 11 a.m.

I mapped my way to Presque Isle and began riding again.

"Not a repeat of yesterday!" 

I turned around and found a cluster of homes with barking dogs, rusted out trucks, and a few Trump 2020 signs and an "F___ Biden" sign.  A young father was outside with his son.  I asked about the road block.  He said it was open all the way to Presque Isle.  

I began riding again and saw a turkey with some babies.  Again, I thought, well maybe this is going to be a better day.

A nice smooth and low-traffic ride all the way to Presque Isle.  I rode 17 miles to get to breakfast.  It is a good thing I took the time to make my coffee before I left.

I got to Presque Isle.  There was construction there.  I stopped at the chamber and asked where I could get breakfast.  It turns out the Supper Club I had found on Google only serves on weekends.  There are no breakfast places open on Tuesdays.  I asked about a convenience store or gas station.  Yes, they had one of those.  

I had to walk through the construction area to get to it.  An orange, two cheese sticks, and a granola bar, I was now fueled and ready to ride some more.

I still had not decided for sure where I was going.   My next destination was Manitowish Waters, where I had been before and I knew there were restaurants there, choices.  And I really wanted to sit down with food and beverage and WiFi access to let all of you know I was ok.  I kept wanting to get closer to Lilac so I wasn't strapped with doing another long day.

I was mighty proud that on this hilly back road out of Presque Isle, fully loaded, I made it up most the hills without having to walk or turn around to shift.  And proud that I passed a young (30ish) woman on a road bike with padded shorts trying to keep up with some guy.  I passed him once too, but I think he was slowing down for her.

The first restaurant in Manitowish Waters that I stopped at, I got off the bike when a man yelled at me that it was closed.  He was the owner and came over to tell me that they have been super super busy this season.  He ran out of food on Sunday.  But he is closed Mondays and Tuesdays to get other stuff done around the place.  I asked him if there were any other places open.  He pointed across the lake to a place he called Pea Patch.

The Pea Patch had WiFi, they were super buzy and told me it would be 40 minutes before I got my food.  "No problem," I told them.

Pizza and Salad and beer.  I decided to go as far a Boulder Junction and get a motel room.  As I rode I anticipated clean sheets and big pillows and a hot shower.  

A couple on Ice trikes passed me and I suddenly missed my trike.  I haven't been riding it because I have been trying to train my ass to ride this up-right/crank forward bike for the Pennsylvania bike tour.  Now I want to give up and go back to having fun on my trike.  Not that riding this bike is bad... at least not for the first 30 miles.

There were not motels available at Boulder Junction!  They are full up this time of year.  I went to the convenience store and chowed down a payday candy bar and chocolate milk as my consolation.  Wow!  That did the trick!  As I rode I felt good, I felt fast.  (Well, the wind was behind me.)

I pulled in next to Lilac after 7:00 p.m., raised my arms high in celebration!  Yay, I made it!

I had a shower, even made a nice fire.  Home sweet home.

And I slept soooo goooood!

At six this morning the alarm went off and then my phone rang.  It was my sister Mary!  She said she just got done reading my blog post and she would come get me if I needed rescue.  It was wonderful to hear from her.

Later this morning a man stopped by my camp.  He said he and his friends were concerned when they didn't see me and were going to call the police if I didn't come home soon.  It is nice to be noticed.  I told them I had told the campground host when I checked in, but the campground host waved me off.  He doesn't care what campers do.  

Anyway the man that stopped by chatted for a while and invited me to join him and his wife and the couple across the way for the campfire tonight.  They are making Jiffy Pop.

It is time for me to stop typing.  This has taken all morning and into the afternoon! Of course I stopped to eat and clean and do a repair.  But now it is time to go ride to a liquor store or something and get something to share around the fire tonight.

Thanks for all the comments and support on these posts.  They mean so much to know you are there and watching. 

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. 


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...