Sep 2: Ann Arbor

Sep 2: Ann Arbor

[sent to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on September 2, 2004]

Hi, folks! I'm safe and sound in Ann Arbor, MI, where I visited with some college friends last night, and where my sister will meet me for the next few days.

Battle Creek is much the same as when I interned there 7 years ago; the biggest change is that Kellogg's and Post have moved a lot of their manufacturing overseas, most notably Kellogg's Corn Flakes, which are now made in Mexico. That shook people up a bit.

The trip here from Battle Creek was uneventful... I covered about half the distance on Monday, so Tuesday was a very short ride to a campsite in the over-hyped "Scenic Irish Hills." I spent most of Tuesday afternoon doing some overdue maintenance on my tent, then woke Wednesday morning to find that a heavy dew had undone all the careful drying. So I waited a couple hours for the tent to dry again before heading into Ann Arbor.

Q: (Regarding Wisconsin produce) You didn't eat the bison and brats raw, did you?
A: Of course not, silly! The bison was jerked, and brats seem to be served -- cooked -- wherever food is sold in Wisconsin. I think it's a state law.

Q: (Regarding beer) Is there a DUI for cyclists?
A: Yeah, it's called Losing One's Balance And Smashing Into Something, or LOBASIS for short. I drink only rarely, and never during the day.

Q: Are the rail trails only for bikers, or can walkers use them too?
A: They're certainly open for use by walkers, but most of them cover longer distances than most people could comfortably walk, so I've only seen walkers close to towns and other parking places. Actually most of the trails are also open for use by rollerbladers, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiiers, though their appropriateness for any of those uses obviously varies with the seasons.

Q: I wonder, if you called ahead, whether any UU congregations would welcome an itinerant lay preacher/autoharpist who might be allowed to camp in somebody's yard with the prospect of an _indoor_ shower?
A: I tried that during my last bike trip two years ago, but I found that church staff were reluctant to volunteer anyone's home, even their own. I had better luck showing up to Sunday services and introducing myself, though getting to a church in time for a service without being all sweaty was a challenge.

Q: My 7yr old son has a question for you...Why does your bike look different than mine? (He has your standard kid looking bike!)
A: The kind of bike you usually see is historically called the "Safety frame," since it was more safe than the ones with big front wheels that came before. Nowadays they're more commonly called "upright" bikes, because your feet are underneath you as you ride. The kind of bike I have is called a "recumbent," because that's the Latin word for "lying down," and some recumbent bikes make you look like you're lying on a sofa. Mine is more like an easy chair or a car seat, so it's properly called a "semi-recumbent." Some people ride recumbent bikes for their speed -- the fastest bikes on Earth are recumbents. But I'm more interested in comfort. Upright bikes make my wrists hurt, which is bad for typing and other daily activities. Once I started riding a recumbent, it was so comfortable I thought, "I could do this all day long!" Then I thought, "Hey, if I did it all day long, I could really get somewhere!" The main disadvantage of recumbent bikes is that they tend to be expensive, which is why they aren't made for kids. But I have seen a kit that lets you turn a kid's bike frame into the front half of a recumbent bike for an adult!

That's all for now. Take care! --Ben

Ben Thu, 09/02/2004 - 09:38

to Shady Acres, MI

to Shady Acres, MI

I headed southeast out of Battle Creek toward a campsite I had called yesterday and found to be $18 a night for tents, which is cheap by Michigan standards. However, I got there by 2:00 and decided to keep riding to another place that also looked good. I figured if it was too expensive, I'd just keep going all the way to where I planned to stop tomorrow night ($17) and spend two nights there instead of one.

But the second place turned out to be very nice. It's called Shady Acres, on Crispell Lake south of Jackson, MI. It's far from any highways, so it's very quiet. The owner was amused to hear I'm from Minneapolis, since she just returned from a vacation there.  The only trouble I had was finding a spot to pitch my tent that didn't reek of fuel spilled by a previous camper.

As in most private campgrounds I've visited in Michigan, most of the RVs seem to be here at least half the year; many have decks and even additional rooms built onto them. I tried swimming in the lake, but it was full of weeds.

Total distance: 45.61 mi

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Ben Mon, 08/30/2004 - 00:00

to Scenic Irish Hills, MI

to Scenic Irish Hills, MI

I was pleased to have found tonight's campground while I was doing research at Keith's... it's a private campground right next door to W.J. Hayes State Park, which my DeLorme's Gazetteer notes is in the "Scenic Irish Hills" and has hiking trails. I called the campground from Battle Creek, and they said they'd charge me $17 a night, which is a bargain by Michigan standards. So that's part of why I went so far yesterday: to get closer to tonight's stop so I'd have time to hike.

Right after I left Shady Acres, about a mile and a half down the road, in the middle of nowhere, I found a UU church. What it's doing way out there I don't know. It claims to belong to the town of East Liberty, which isn't on the map. But had I known it was there, I could have camped for free. Clearly I need to do better research. ;-)

I stopped in Brooklyn, MI to do some errands. It's a nice size town: large enough for a serious supermarket and a big-box discount store, but with a healthy downtown of manageable size, its own newspaper (weekly), and so on.

As soon as I left Brooklyn I saw signs for the Scenic Irish Hills. Oh boy! Got to my campground... golf course. Packed up my hiking stuff and rode to the state park... no hiking trails, just a beach. No hills, either. Lots of picnic tables, though. Well over a hundred. One for each Canada goose to sit down with a seagull. Why so many tables at this park's beach and only three at Holland State Park's beach, on Lake Michigan?

So I spent the afternoon doing some overdue maintenance on my tent and trailer. The tent has gotten mildew, and I hope the soapy sponging and thorough drying the care tag recommended makes a difference, 'cause otherwise I'll have to buy another tent soon, and probably another every few months for the rest of the trip.

Total distance: 18.42 mi

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Ben Tue, 08/31/2004 - 00:00

To Murphys', Ann Arbor, MI

To Murphys', Ann Arbor, MI

I woke this morning to find that a heavy dew had undone all of yesterday's careful drying. I knew it would be a short ride into Ann Arbor, so I got coffee and waited for the sun to rise and dry the tent again. Got on the road around 10:00.

The ride into Ann Arbor was fairly quick and uneventful; I got in a little after 3. Stopped to use a phone book and was able to get my bearings very easily; found a library, a bookstore, and a photo shop to make some postcards, and I still got to the Murphys' house early.

Anne and Bill's place backs up against a forest that's kept wild for use by University bio students, so they get lots of wildlife in the back yard but can always go for nice walks! I walked around in it while waiting for them to get home from work and nearly got lost. We went for dinner at a deli that's known for its corned beef sandwiches, but like a fool I ordered smoked salmon instead and was kind of grossed out. Then we walked around downtown and got chocolates for dessert. Bill and Anne are headed for Worldcon in Boston tomorrow morning, so I was lucky to catch them!

Total distance: 31.57 mi


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Ben Wed, 09/01/2004 - 00:00