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alone this evening

August 9, 2006

As Marcie is off for MCAT class and the rest of the house won’t be spending nights here any time soon, I’m alone this evening, and figured I’d type a long update. It’s been a while since I really rambled on here, and I do enjoy rambling.
So travel. Here’s a list of the people I can think of who have been traveling lately:
Myself, brother, and dad: A2-Traverse City-Elk Rapids-Harbor Springs-Mackinac City-A2-Adrian, over the course of a week. And I’m back here in A2 again, of course. Both Adam and Zack went from A2 to New York City, and Zack has returned. Yin on the other hand went from NYC to A2 and back – we’re trading boys. Katie just left for Okemos, and then is on her way to Wildwood in Canadia this weekend, to return a week later. Darren is heading home before going to Indy for a convention. Steph is back in Adrian from Pittsburg for a couple of weeks. There may be others, but that’s a pretty impressive list. Everyone is traveling, and for once I’m part of that group, which is quite exciting.
I’m listening to Bach’s third violin partita, and I really may buy it. The prelude is beautiful and playable, and it’d be such a nice challenge to learn.
Interlude here of depressing news, though I’ll keep it short. Landis is indeed a doping moron, having failed his second blood test. Absolute fool. His title is or will be revoked.
The primary depressed me. I voted on the republican ticket to try to get the moderate incumbant a chance against the crazy right guy running against him, and failed. Ugh. Also, Lieberman lost and is now having to run as an independent in the general election in November. Dumbitude.
Enough sad news.
Dad and I were talking about what you learn from bike trips, and I do believe I’ll try to go on them with my kids. It’s obvious things like how to pack a tent and ride and traffic, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s road skills that helped me learn to drive. It’s map reading skills that kick ass. It’s common sense and problem solving, independence, personal responsibilty, and a love of simplicity. It’s just sinking in how much these trips have changed me. I’m so glad I went.

This brings me to an actual discription of my trip. Wow was it great, though too short. Wednesday was a mess of driving, so we’ll skip to Thursday.
Thursday morning we woke in Traverse City to clear skies and moderate temperatures. We struck camp and I discovered the challenge of our largest gear bag. This sucker prolly comapares in weight to a person, and I ended up carrying it to the truck. It was so heavy the shoulder strap kept coming off, which just amused me, but I hauled the sucker up into the truck to be carried to our next camp. Then we got on our bikes…only to stop and fix a flat on Matt’s bike. Back on the bikes we got on the road around the Old Mission peninsula. The following link may or may not take you to a map of the area we rode: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Traverse+City,+MI&ie=UTF8&ll=44.803276,-85.457153&spn=0.223622,0.692139&om=1
We went halfway up the east side of the peninsula right next to the water, enjoying a beautiful view of the east arm of the Grand Traverse Bay, before crossing over a delightful little string of hills to a rest stop midway across the peninsula. Down a step hill past the rest stop we found the west side of the peninsula and the west arm of the Bay, which was just as beautiful of a view as the east. The water in the northern LP on Lake Michigan is always clear, and this area is no exception. The amazing thing about that stretch of coast was the drop of: about thirty yards out the water went from blueish-turquoise to dark navy. It must drop off like a cliff right there.
After Old Mission we meandered down a bike path (back in Traverse City) and took a cut off the route to go swimming on a wonderful state park beach. We found a subway for lunch, being now about twenty-two miles into the ride. After lunch we headed off towards Elk Rapids, again wandering on roads near the coast, enjoying perfect weather. It was warm, and I began to wonder if I should put on more sunscreen, but we didn’t stop after lunch so I didn’t get the chance. We pulled into Elk Rapids after forty-five miles or so of riding, and I felt surprisingly good considering how poor shape I thought I was in. One point about that area: the lakes there are almost unnaturally turquoise. Like, they are almost exactly the color of a turquoise stone. It was unbelievable. We found our bags and I grabbed the big one again, deciding that I had a great way to carry it: I looped the small handles over my shoulders and carried it like a back pack, which worked really well except for the fact that I’d gotten sunburn on my shoulders and that hurt like the dickens. I carried it though, without dropping it. Bag 1, Marie 1. Tie game.
Thursday. The long day. Seventy miles, most likely hilly as we were going through Petosky and somewhat away from the coast. I was worried about the miles, and definitely worried about the hills because my knees had been hurting. If the previous link worked, than this one will show you the area we went through Thursday: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Harbor+Springs,+MI&ie=UTF8&ll=45.276819,-84.839172&spn=0.887104,2.768555&om=1
From Elk Rapids we went along Torch Lake, which is the long narrow lake to the east of Elk Rapids on the map. This day was a little bit warmer, and I was wearing a new tank top Mom got me special for this trip. Riding along Torch Lake was wonderful though. The road meandered up and down along the lakeshore, eventually getting us to the narrow spit of land between Lakes Torch and Michigan. From there we wandered inland a bit, not making it East Jordan where the Wall (the most epic climb in Michigan, and I’ve totally conquered it) is but heading about halfway there, before turning north and getting into Charlevoix for lunch. Then came a long meandering into Petosky along a bike path that at times was a glorified sidewalk, fighting traffic into town along M31. We didn’t even get to go far enough inland were some of the big hills in the area are, including one magnificant ridge I did back on my first bike trip when I was nine. Past Petosky, though, things got better, as it was a wonderful stretch of road through land conservancies and a state park. Then we were coming into Harbor Springs, which is always a good ride. The richest of the rich in Michigan live in Harbor Springs, and I love the spandex-clad cyclists taking over town for an evening. We pedel right up the beach drive there, in front of houses that are three times or more the size of my place here in A2, looking at their yachts and sailboats. Then we turned right and BAMN there was a hill! After that fun time scandalizing the neighborhood by not being rich, I’d kinda forgotten about the possibility of more real terrain before the end of the trip, and there was this huge hill straight up into the school! What a way to end a seventy mile day.
The only other thing of note about Harbor Springs was the fantastic playground. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a better one.
The third day of riding was all familiar territory, and great fun at that. Here’s the map link:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Harbor+Springs,+MI&ie=UTF8&om=1&ll=45.604671,-84.757805&spn=0.440986,1.384277
We road out along lakeshore drive from Harbor Springs, which first takes you right next to the beach. Then after a few miles it climbs up a bluff until you’re a hundred feet or so over the water, looking out at the clear blue of Lake Michigan. There’s more land conservancies and unoccupied land, so it’s all wooded with pine, poplar, birch, spruce, oak, and some maple. The lake peers at you through the trees, wondering if you’re going to come visit, but that can’t come ’til later as there’s no beach on this stretch of road. A little further north we went through Cross Village where there used to be a souvenir shop that sold the feathers we put on our flags for our first bridge crossing eleven years ago. Beyond Cross Village there’s the beach on the south end of Wilderness state park. This may be the most perfect beach I’ve ever seen. The land around it is grassy dunes of pale sand, and it’s a short hike through the dunes to the beach from the road. The water is as clear as anywhere else up there, and there are rocks on the beach. It’s not littered with rocks, but rather just enough to keep me interested. There’s skipping stones, colorful stones, and I found a fossil that Katie found interesting. We didn’t take time to swim, but we did wade a bit and enjoy the air before hopping back on the bike. From there the road leaves the shore and wanders inland in long perpendicular stretches. The wind was at our backs and it was our last day of riding, so we kept pushing the pace a little more and a little more. Past Wilderness the road turns towards Mackinac more directly and the wind picked up preceeding a storm. I’d spent all week braking whenever Matt coasted, so I started telling him to pedal faster, I didn’t want to break. I just kept on him to go faster, and then I’d pedal faster, and we picked up the pace more and more. Then Dad hopped on the bandwagon and raced Matt into the school, and we got to sprinting nearly thirty mph before we turned into the drive into the school. :-)
The next day we rode around Mackinac, which was very fun though I don’t have a lot to say about it. If you’ve never been, the ferry ride is worth it, just to see a place where there aren’t any cars. We climbed the hill up to the Grand Hotel, which was a good time, and then got lunch and went back into town. We found another great beach, just west of Mackinac, where the swimming was really fun, and then hopped in the car for a lot of driving.
So that was my trip. I wish I could do that sort of thing more, ’cause nothing beats a bike trip for relaxing and exercise all at the same time.

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