Sunday, August 22, 2021

Bye Bye Wisconsin, Hello Michigan

 Hello Friends and Family Members,

Wish you were here! 

"Now, how I wish I had someone to talk to. I'm in an awful way." These lyrics from Another Saturday Night by Sam Cooke come to mind.

Moments like these are bound to happen when traveling solo or living solo.  

I think it is happening today for a few reasons.  I just came off of a whole bunch of time with my sister close by and her friends and my new friends and some old friends visiting and family visiting...

Then I had a wonderful visit with my friend Diane in Marquette, MI.   I have some fun stories to tell about that experience, so hang on through this first part.

The second reason I am probably feeling alone is that I arrived here at Petoskey State Park near the upscale town of Petoskey.  It is a beautiful area on the coast of Lake Michigan.  But the campground is so full of families and extended families and couples meeting up with other couples.  The air is filled with smoke from the many campfires, the air is filled with laughter and conversations of which I am not a part.

So anyway, I am looking forward to meeting up with Regis and Cindy Hampton next week (Linda T. had to cancel out due to car repair scheduling).  After that I will be spending some time with Jean Hawks and Keith May riding trails in Pennsylvania.

In the meantime I am adjusting again to being solo.  I expect it won't take me long, especially when all these weekend campers go home and the world around me quiets down.

Don't feel sorry for me.  I have been having a great time most of the time.

In fact I have so much to share with you that I am going to have to pick and choose the moments and stories.  You won't want to see the zillions of pictures I took.  Each one I took I thought of you and how I would share that moment or that story with you.

So let's get you up to date!


Bye Bye Wisconsin 2021

On my last day in Rhinelander area I went for a nice ride exploring.  The spring where my sister used to fill jugs for her drinking water has been damaged by a tree, I think.

The big hill by Hat Rapids where George and Mary and I used to struggle to climb on our trikes wasn't too awfully hard after a month of riding these hills.
How many frogs do you see in this sludge?  I counted five,  I was surprised they could survive in that gunk.

I took a road I have passed many times thinking I should ride it some day.  Well it was someday.  I think I avoided it  because it was called High Tower or Fire Tower Road and that probably meant a challenging hill.  Sure enough, there was a big steep one.  I stopped on the way back down to take a picture of this welded figure sign.  

Does Payton live on the hill or does he run or ride up the hill?  It was a tough hill, worthy of a name.

That evening Mary and Arky came to visit.  While we were sitting there sipping our wine, Lisa and Mark Tepp, my seasonal-camping neighbors from my 2020 time at Camp George Campsite, popped in to say "Goodbye" and "Safe Travels".

In the morning I it was foggy out.  Google told me I only had a little over three hours of driving to get to Marquette.  At the rate I go, I knew it would take me most the day.

The day before I had checked the air pressure on the tires and the lugs.  I can't believe this, but this is the first time I checked the lugs even though I have been carrying around a big lug wrench since I got the Weeroll.

Just when I crossed into Michigan I stopped at a small wayside park.  I stretched my legs and saw that a spider had made it's web on the back window of Lilac and it had traveled with me to Michigan.

When I got back in the car, the car would not start.

You know how an gas engine goes re re rrrrrr when you start it?  Like the gas cyclindars are turning slow, one and then the other and then they get enough momentum to fire at the right rhythm.  It's like the engines says, "one, two, threeeeeeeeee" and then the engine hums.  Well I have had this periodic problem with the van for about a year.  I turn the key and it goes "re" and then nothing. 

Once I called my mechanic and he came to tow the vehicle he got in and it started right up.  We took it to his shop and he replaced the starter.  He was sure it was the starter.

But it happened within a week of getting the new starter.  Before I left on this trip I had my mechanic (highly recommended and used  by several friends) look the van over and get it ready.  I mentioned the problem.  He said he had no clue what it was.

I said it was OK because now I knew that if I waited a bit it would start.  Sometimes waiting long enough is the problem.

So in this remote wayside in Michigan I tried the tricks that I have tried before.  I am sure it is just coincidence that it started once after I had opened and closed the door.  But I tried that a couple times.

I finally gave up and tried to calm myself because I did buy AAA roadside assistance before I left.  I called them... but while I was on hold I was trying to figure out where I was so I could tell the clerk.  They don't seem to put addresses anywhere on the "You are Here" maps.  At least they had that map.

I arranged for a tow.  Walked around a bit, then tried it again.  The car started!   I canceled the order.  Now I had to drive the rest of the way without stopping for gas or to pee or to eat (and I hadn't had anything to eat yet this day).

I had a reservation at Marquette Tourist Campground.  It was a great location, right on the trail close to downtown.  After I got Lilac situated I noticed the tree next to it was split all the way down to the roots.  I sure hoped there wouldn't be a storm while I was there, I was not re-hooking the trailer up to move it.

After eating a bit I rode the trail to Anytime Fitness.  It was the first two-story one that I have been in.

I stopped at a convenience store on the way back to camp and got enough for a big supper.

Diane had recommended Tourist Park and while I was there I thought of how much Regis and Cindy would like this park.  It has lots of dirt bike trails and is an easy ride to downtown coffee shops and Lake Superior.  Most the spots are well shaded and roomy.  I was in site 100.

Diane was going to come camp one night with me and said she would arrive Monday morning so we could ride.  While I was waiting for her on Monday, I called a well-rated auto-repair shop nearby and made an appointment to drop my car off on Wednesday.

Diane arrived and we had a great time.  It was like having my own personal tour guide.  She had it planned out.

The first day we got both bikes on her back bike rack and we drove up to Negaunee.  I say up because it is pretty much all downhill from Negaunee to Marquette.  It was a good idea, we were both a bit worried that my van wouldn't start when we got back to camp so we could go pick up her car that was parked in Negaunee.

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail has a lot of information about the iron ore mining in the area.  We ate our picnic by a nice park made next to an old quarry, I think.

We rode right into downtown Marquette to the Food Coop.  Diane had brought me some fresh basil pesto, and I got some veggies to make a pasta-veggie dish for supper.

We rode a loop through town and along the lake front.  These lovely condos were across the street from Lake Superior and covered in lovely flowers.  It was a perfect day.

After supper we went down to the lake to watch the sunset and we got to sit in the Lifeguard chairs.  I started yelling at the imaginary swimmers.  "Stop throwing sand!", "Get back inside the ropes!"

Diane had built the fire so it was ready to light.  While she was taking on the phone, I took the liberty of lighting it... and whoosh!   It was huge, the wood was dry.  Diane was on the other side of the trailer by her tent and saw the sparks flying.

There is flooding in Florida.  My friend Connie had to pump water out of her yard in Florida.  But here in Marquette the grass is dry.  Next fire would be smaller.

Talking about fire, that reminds me of another story from my time with Diane.

On Tuesday morning Diane showed me her nifty kayak holder.  If you are getting weaker and want to continue kayaking, consider this gadget to help you get that heavy awkward kayak on the roof.

The next day we rode right out from the park and went right to Presque Isle because they block off the roads to car traffic in that park on Tuesday mornings.

We passed a ship getting loaded with iron pellets from the one remaining mine in the area.  We would see the ship several times during our rides by that area.  It took all day for it to load it seemed.


It was lovely and quiet.  Diane told me about how the college kids come up on the rocks and jump in.  There are lots of jumpers, she told me.


Diane said it is one thing to get the courage to jump, it is another to survive the shock of the cold water.  Lake Superior water is very cold, though by the shore today it was nice.  Diane said that is due to climate change, it never used to be this warm by shore, and in some places they are getting vegetation in the shallow waters because it is getting so much warmer.  Arg!  There is that Climate Change again.

I told Diane about my Climate guilt.  Flooding in parts of the world, record temperatures, rampant forest fires, and here I am driving around adding to the green house gases.  She said that some mutual friends of hers said they used to feel responsible and tried altering their life, but then they looked around at the world.  Those who don't have enough and are desperate to have more, and those characters they see in Walmart and they realized we are doomed.  So they are living their lives like they want (traveling).  "Party like it 1999," I said, quoting the song by Prince.

As we were leaving the black rocks area some woman walking by said, "Is that smoke?"

We looked and it appeared a stump just inside the edge of the woods was sending up a stream of smoke.  Diane investigated and it was burning!  Someone had taken hot coals from the grill and dumped them onto the hollow of this dried up stump!  I grabbed my water thermos and put out the fire, but the smoke remained a bit.  The woman called someone to tell them about the fire.  Diane and I biked away and met up with the fire truck as it was entering the park.  Diane waved him down and gave him directions.  "Hey we saved Presque Isle from a forest fire!" I said.  Wow, we wouldn't want what happened out west to happen here!

The trail took us to many beautiful spots along the big lake.  Then when the trail turned away from the shore into a congested area, we turned around and headed back to downtown Marquette for lunch.


 While we were there we happened to run into Diane's sister!  How serendipitous is that?  Her sister lives down state but had visited Diane just before I arrived in town.  Her sister was exploring and enjoying Marquette a couple more days.  We were all amazed that we happened to be on the same street at the same time.

Afterward I suggested Diane and I bike back to Presque Isle to see if any jumpers were there.

Oh boy!  What a different place.

I thought about jumping, but when I got wet near shore I experienced the shock of that cold water and I decided to leave the fun for the rest of the crowd. Instead I just jumped up and down in the knee deep water so I could tell you I jumped.

On the way back to camp we passed a coal plant they took out of commission and are tearing down.  They said that coal is no longer as cost-effective as the other forms of generating electric power.

Diane and I said our goodbyes until we see each other in Florida this fall.  Diane might get there before I do!

That evening I was walking the campground and I saw this cute camper.  It looked like a woman alone was camping, someone to talk to.  I asked about her camper and she said it was a 2007 and the company no longer makes them so it is hard to get parts.

We chatted a bit and I talked with her lovely poodle mix (Labradoodle I think.).  She said she was going on a tour the next day and is nervous about leaving Baily in the trailer in the heat for so long.  I started to walk away after our conversation when it hit me that I could let her dog out for a walk and check on him.  I turned back and offered, she accepted.

So Wednesday I took my car into the repair shop nearby and rode my bike back to the campground, where Baily and I hung out much of the day. 

When I picked up my van the owner didn't charge me anything.  He said it was a loose battery connection.  

Marianne was very grateful.  She brought over a tea towel she had made as a gift, but told me I could refuse it if I don't want stuff.  It was adorable, but I refused.  I wished I had taken a picture so I could show you how cute it was.  She also painted her trailer.  She is an artist.

The next day I was sorry to leave the area, there was so much left to explore.  My route took me through Munising where I found the coffee shop that Diane had told me about.  It is attached to like an art gallery.  The picture below was in the bathroom.  Next time I visit I will do the glass bottomed boat tour.  There are a lot of wrecks at the bottom of Lake Superior.

It wasn't long and I was at the northern shore of Lake Michigan.  Kind of muddy looking in that area.

I got to my campsite in Petoskey State Park with the car only refusing to start twice.  But each time it was only one try that failed.  The second turn of the key and the engine rumbled to life.

The bike trails are great hear and I have at least one story to tell you about my time here, but it is getting late and I am driving further south in Michigan tomorrow.

In the time it has taken to write this (I started last night and rode my bike most the day today) my mood has lifted.  It might be that the weekend campers are gone, the place is quieter with less noisy parties that I am not invited.  

I will be in touch.  Thank you for your comments, your emails, and for being my traveling companion.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Endings and Beginnings

 Life flows on, sometimes we are starting something new, sometimes we are saying goodbye to a time or people or activity.

I have a friend, Ron F. on Facebook is now unable to bike.  Biking was such a big part of his life (like mine).  He vacationed around biking, he belonged to several bicycle communities.  

Now he is reaching out to me and others that are visiting trails and areas where he and his wife have biked.  He shares his experiences, and in that way hangs onto his identity.  

I don't know why that came to mind when I start thinking about leaving Rhinelander this year.  I depart on Sunday, August 15th.

It feels surreal to be leaving my sister and her husband and the people and activities I have connected with here.  I plan to return a little bit next year.

Flowing on, I am so excited to meet up with friends that I know from Florida!

I will be meeting up with Diane in Marquette, Michigan.  We will bike and camp together.  I was going to meet up with friends Tony and Colleen too further south in Michigan.  But they let me know that with the COVID surge they were canceling and going to stay isolated at home.   I totally understand.

It is what it is, and I will enjoy my alone time between visiting with Diane and meeting up with Regis and Cindy H. and Linda T. in Ohio.


We had a few rainy days.  I walked between raindrops on some trails in Almon Preserve.

I came across a small fir tree with messages clipped to it.   Information about the park which was donated by the owner and naturalist.  There was info about different the Pilated Woodpecker, the loon, the otter, and other animals found in the area.

 After my last QiGong class I invited three amazing women to come have coffee with me and see my trailer.  I had asked each one to share a story of when they were very afraid and they did it anyway.  Wow!  What stories!

From left to right: 

Rose - who continues to run an antique business and has traveled extensively and still rides motorcycle.  I feel bad that I don't remember her over-coming fear story.  I think it had to do with fear of heights.  Or it may have been something about Venezuela.  Rose loves to dance and I regret that I didn't get out and dance with her this season.

Dotty - who gently teaches us Q-gong.  She went three years in a row for a six weeks and taught English in three different countries.  Russia and Lithuania and... I don't remember the third.  In Russia she got stuck when her visa wasn't in proper order.  It was very scary.

Susan - who I met shortly after she lost her husband to cancer.  She told us how when she started a new upper-management position for a company they threw her in cold by sending her immediately to represent them at a conference.  "If you can't bombard them with facts, dazzle them with bull shit", or something like that.  She worked at a very big company and she told me, "I wasn't in the mucky-muck but I was in the muck."

My sister Mary got away to visit with a friend and chill.  One day and night away from care-giving isn't enough.  While she was gone I watched over Arky and took Dave to his favorite restaurant three times.

Dave and I spent a few hours sitting on the deck in looping conversations, though a few times it got very deep.

He realized he had dementia on this day and asked me if he was going to die from it.  He wanted to know how it would kill him.  He thanked me for helping take care of him while Mary was away.

Wow! He often doesn't know about his need for help and his growing need for supervision and assistance.  But that day he was very aware of it.


The people in the house next to my campsite are so friendly!  Tim and Laura asked if I would like to kayak with them one evening.  They have three kayaks.  They took me out for a paddle around part of Lake George.  It was lovely.  We saw a family of Loon with two babies and spotted an Eagle a couple times.

 Then when they were leaving to go back to work in Wausau, they offered me use of their kayak so I could paddle Lake George in their absence!

It just so happened the next evening the water was lovely and smooth, so I went exploring.  

I passed an area that looked like an eroded cliff, which seemed strange for this lake.  I looked closer.  Remember when we had some wind and storm warnings when I was camped in Mary's yard?  It missed us, but hit the Lake George area.  The cliff isn't a cliff at all, but a row of trees that fell over, their roots pulled  up the earth.



I moved the bikes into my screen tent to empty out my van so I could load up Mary's Kayak.  I was going to use it for a New Comers Kayak Ride.  

As it was there were only three of us.  But Jane and John had been to Alaska twice and had information to share.  She said she would send me her itinerary.

We enjoyed our exploration of a lake and a creek.  Then it started to pour.  After trying to hug the tree-lined shore for shelter, we gave up.  They headed for the boat launch and I continued exploring in the rain.


Back at camp I dined out of the rain in my kitchen/garage screen tent.


Yesterday I had my evaluation at Anytime Fitness to find out if the workouts I was doing were doing me any good.

The good news is that I gained muscle in my upper body and improved my performance on a timed test.  The bad news is that I gained some fat in my left leg... oh so that is where all that ice cream went.

Thanks to Sydney my trainer at Anytime.  She made it fun with variety, challenges, community and great cheer leading.  

Sydney gave me three work outs to take with me on my continued journey.    She visited my blog and shared with me her blog (which she hasn't written in for a while.)  I am sharing with you this blog post of her entitled Boobs are Killer.   An interesting read!

After this picture we went back to wearing masks at Anytime.  The staff's masks match the lovely purple floor.  I love that.

Speaking of COVID precautions, I am noticing more masking up around town.  

I have heard that insurance companies are investigating if they can charge more for people who don't get vaccinated for no reason, since these hospitalizations with COVID are costing them so much.  Hmmm, stay tuned on that one.  I like that it would be private companies incentivizing.  

I just remember that when I was a child in order to attend summer camp or public school I needed to get a physical and get my shots up to date.  Vaccine requirements are nothing new.


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...