Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marquette to the Porkies

 Day 88 – Marquette to Baraga ~ 78 miles

We woke up this morning and had an awesome breakfast of eggs, toast and coffee. We want to send a huge shout out and thanks to Nancy for being such a gracious host! After breakfast we packed up our things and headed toward the huge climb out of Marquette. It ended up being about 6 or 7 miles of climbing before the terrain began to level out a bit. We made it up after a while and then we were cruising along pretty good. It was a nice day weather wise, blue skies and a wind that wasn't to bad. And the shoulders were comfortable.

We got a bit separated at one point and its just our luck that Kris got a flat. And it was his trailer tire. Zach was a bit ahead at that point and a driver that saw Kris fixing the flat pulled over to let Zach know that Kris had stopped. So Zach turned around to see what was up. The culprit was an inch long screw that worked its way into the tire and punctured both sides of the tube. We got the tire patched and pumped back up and we were off again. We were also hoping to see a moose today, but no luck.

We stopped for lunch at one of the only gas stations around and had a shitty meal. After eating we continued on, and at some point made the turn back north to head toward the Keweenaw Peninsula. We are so close to Duluth at this point that one of the road signs we passed had Duluth on it. We made our way toward Baraga and stopped in L'anse for dinner and breakfast for the morning. After stopping we biked about 5 more miles to the Baraga State Park Campground. Its not a bad little campground right on the Keweenaw Bay, but it is awful tonight. It just so happens to be the weekend of “Christmas in July”, an event where people bring and set up there Christmas decorations in the park. It is really pretty gross that State Parks even allow this to happen. Its basically just RV's with giant snowmen and christmas lights. Such a waste and it totally takes away from the natural experience of the park. So we got a site as far from the madness as possible. We showered, ate, drank a few beers from the Keweenaw Brewing Company, and waited for Bre and Andy to show up.
They arrived around 9:30 and it was so amazing to see them. It is the first time Zach and Bre had seen each other since the beginning of the trip. We stood and talked for a bit and then got their tents set up and went into Baraga for a few more beers and some food. We spent the rest of the night talking around the campfire before heading to bed. Tomorrow we are heading 30 miles north to Houghton/ Hancock area.

Day 89 – Baraga to Hancock City Campground ~ 33 miles

We woke up around 9:30 or so and got our things packed up and ate some breakfast. Bre and Andy drove to Houghton while Kris and Zach biked. We all left right around 11 and headed north. It was a pretty nice ride, following the shoreline of the bay for a good chunk of the way. We only had about 30 miles to go so we waited to have lunch until we got to Houghton. As we arrived into town we passed right by Michigan Tech and headed into downtown to meet our friends and have lunch. We chose a seafood and grill called Joey's. We all enjoyed our food and each others company. After we paid and walked out we realized that Kris's trailer tire had gone flat again. We fixed it and then headed across the river on the lift bridge to Hancock. Google gave us the wrong directions to the camp so we called the campground and got the right directions.

We arrived and got a site for two nights. We set up camp and then the four of us went down to the river for a swim. We swam for a bit and then showered and decided to head back to Houghton and go to the Keweenaw Brewing Company. We went right next store to the brewery and got some pizza and brought it over to the brewery to eat. The brewery encourages that, which we thought was pretty cool. We spent the rest of the night at the brewery, sampling beers and playing cribbage and Apples to Apples. We had a great time. Kris was the champion and sampled all the beers.

After the brewery we headed back to the campground and had a fire and then went to bed. Tomorrow is a rest day!

Day 90 – Rest day: Hancock

Zach and Bre woke up before the others and went for a walk along the river. The other two were just getting up as they got back. The four of us got in the car and headed to find breakfast. The first place we stopped was packed and had a line out the door so we tried Perkins, which was closed down. Our third and final decision was to get groceries and head to McLain State Park to have a picnic of sorts. It was a good decision. The park is really nice, right on Lake Superior. We ate and then attempted to go swimming. It was to shallow and rocky and there were fish eggs floating everywhere in the water. We got out.

We headed further into the park to check out the lighthouse. That was also a good decision because we were able to walk out onto the breakwater and jump out into the cool clean Lake, no fish eggs. We were about to walk back in when we saw people jumping off of the lighthouse platform into the water. We had to do it. So we scrambled the rest of the way out to the end on the boulders and swam out to the lighthouse. There were ladders that went up to the platform, but someone, probably the Coast Guard had cut the bottom rungs of the ladder off so swimmers couldn't reach them. It took us a bit but we were able to find a way to get up. We jumped off into the water and it was a lot of fun. After swimming we headed back to the campground.

At that point it was time for Bre and Andy to head back home. It was really hard to see them go, but we are really happy and thankful that we got to spend the time with them. And we have to remember that we are going to be back home in a week. After they left we headed into town and picked up groceries for the night and morning. We spent the rest of the night charging gear and relaxing. Just before bed the rain moved in so we hopped into to avoid getting wet. Back on the road tomorrow and headed toward the Porcupine Mountains.

Day 91 – Hancock to Union Bay Campground ~ 68 miles

We woke up this morning and kind of dozed in and out of sleep while the rain fell. When the rain stopped we got out of the tent. We had breakfast and headed south. We had another hill to climb out of Houghton just like the one out of Marquette. Not something you want to do right away in the morning. And to make matters worse we had a brutal headwind. We eventually made it to the top. We were split up at this point. Kris was a machine and blasted up the hill. We didn't see each other for another few hours. The headwind was so bad. 15 to 30 mph gusts directly at us. It continued like this all day.

Not only was the wind bad but the hills were pretty much nonstop as well. You know its bad when you have to pedal to move downhill. There wasn't much to see and we weren't able to stop for food until we reached Ontonagon. Once we got there we stopped for our late lunch and got groceries for the night and morning.

We biked out of Ontonagon and headed about 12 miles or so into Porcupine Mountains State Park. We found the first campground we came upon and called it good. We are exhausted after today. We set up camp, ate, and then showered. After showering we played a couple games of Polish golf, or testicle toss as most call it, on the neighbors set. The campground host gave us some wood after we told him the story of the trip, so we are spending the rest of the night around the fire.

Tomorrow we are meeting up with Mona's (Kris's girlfriend) Dad and sister and they are going to bike with us for a bit. We are headed back into the Central time zone for the last time tomorrow, thankfully, and are staying in Ironwood. It will be our last day in Michigan! We are so close to home we can smell it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Days 78 - 87 Milwaukee to Marquette MI

Day 78 – Kohler to Green Bay via Kewaunee ~ 86 miles

We woke up this morning at 7 because Alex and his wife had to head to work this morning. So we got up and headed upstairs to make ourselves some eggs with the food that they offered us. Anyone who knows us knows that it isn't our style to wake up that early, but it was nice to start the day early for once. After eating we got our things together, said our goodbyes and took off down the road at around 8. We had so much fun riding with the guys from Fat Kats and hope to see them again.

We headed through Kohler, past the unknowingly famous Kohler products headquarters and north toward Manitowoc. Being that it was still pretty early the traffic was minimal and we were able to make it to Manitowoc pretty quickly. We stopped to refill our water and then took the bike trail along Lake Michigan up to Two Rivers where we decided to wait on lunch and keep going. We got on highway 42 and continued to head north toward Kewaunee. It was so hot already even though it was only about noon. As we were nearing Kewaunee there was a storm front coming in and all at once the wind totally switched directions and the temperature went down about 10 degrees. Even though we were now fighting the wind it was awesome to have the temps cool down a bit. Once we reached Kewaunee, our destination for the day, we stopped for lunch and picked up groceries for the night and morning.

After doing our chores we headed toward the campground which was about 5 miles out of town. We got there just as the clouds were moving in and rain was starting to fall. We went in to pay for our site and they told us it was $38 per night. We went outside under the awning and thought about what to do. We ultimately decided that it was to much to pay for a spot to sleep on the ground. We waited until the rain and lightning slowed down and took off toward Green Bay. Good thing we started early this morning. At this point we had done about 65 miles.

We took a straight as an arrow country road that took us basically the whole way to Green Bay. It was a nice 20 mile ride, especially because it was a quiet road and the rain that came through cooled down the air temps. Once we reached Green Bay we looked on Kris's phone for a public campground, and found only RV parks. We decided to find a cheap hotel. We found one for 45 bucks! We checked in and ate our dinner...cans of soup and crackers.

We are going to try to catch up on some sleep and since tomorrow is going to be a shorter day we are going to stop and check out Lambeau Field! We will be heading to Oconto which is less than 40 miles from here.

Day 79 – Green Bay to Menominee, MI ~ 64 miles

We got ready this morning to the tune of Cool Runnings. We headed out the door and headed west towards Lambeau Field. We made our way through the city and eventually found it, shimmering off in the distance. We were proud because we had found it by smelling the air for all of the trophies! When we arrived we met a big group of cyclists that were biking around in Door County. We talked with them for a bit then snapped some photos and took off. It took a little while but we made it to the northern edge of the city and started to take some side roads following the highway north.

The backroads were nice and flat with very little traffic but we were tired and Kris had a migraine. We were also fighting the wind in our faces but we eventually made it to Oconto where we decided it was time for lunch. Someone gave us directions to where there was some fast food but all there was was McDonalds so it had to do. After lunch we headed north again and after an hour entered the town of Peshtigo. This town has some history with bad fires. There was a huge fire in the area at the same time as the Chicago fires so no one really knows about it. Once we were in town, we found out that the bridge on our path was out. It was looking as though we would have to brave the freeway as there were no other bridges over the river for many miles. We stopped and asked if there was another way across and we found out that there was a bike bridge across the river nearby.

We found the paper plant and went behind it to find a very rocky but manageable bike path. The bridge across the river was an old railroad bridge where someone had laid boards down to make it into a bike bridge. Pretty scary but we made it across and went on our way to Menominee. When we passed through Marinette we stopped and rented a couple new movies for the night. We passed over a bridge and were in Menominee but more importantly back in Michigan, finally in the UP.

We quickly purchased groceries and went to the campground, which was just behind the grocery store and right on the river. We checked in and set up camp. The rest of the night we ate dinner and watched Wrath of the Titans and 21 Jump street. Both were very entertaining. In the middle of the second movie it started to rain so we put everything away and got ready for bed. We then finished the movie and fell off to sleep.

Tomorrow we are heading to Escanaba, MI and there doesn't seem to be too much in between the towns. We will pick up lunch in the morning to have along the way somewhere and hopefully traffic isn't too bad as there is only one highway to take.

Day 80 – Menomonie, MI to Escanaba ~ 63 miles

After it started raining it didn't stop, it kept on right through the night. We would wake up periodically to find that out. And when we finally decided it was time to get up, guess what, it was still raining. That is the worst to start the day out in the rain. Luckily there was an indoor space for us to eat our breakfast. We ate in the dry space and then braved the rain while we packed up our gear. It also sucks to pack up the tent wet because you know its going to be wet when you put it up that night. We had to look on the bright side and realize that at least it was fairly warm out and if anything the rain was washing the salt off of our bike clothes. After packing up we headed out at about noon and stopped at the grocery store to pick up lunch for the day. We are headed to the land of small population.

As we headed north out of town we quickly realized that today was going to be a rough one. The shoulders were uncomfortably small and in combination with rain and semi traffic it wasn't the ideal situation. Scary is a good way to put it. We rode as carefully as we could at the mercy of the traffic coming up behind us, checking our mirrors as often as possible to see what was approaching. We rode for about 30 miles or so until we reached a state park where we knew we could eat our lunch under the cover of a pavilion. We ate and then used the hand driers in the bathroom to attempt to dry our bike gloves and warm our hands a bit before we headed out again. Luckily for us the rain had stopped by the time we left.

We continued on and the sun began to fry off the clouds. We biked the same distance we had before lunch to reach Escanaba. The biking was much more enjoyable now that the roads had dried up and the drivers less distracted. Unfortunately we crossed back into the Eastern Time Zone and we lost an hour. So instead of it being 4:00 pm it was now 5:00. Once we got into town we stopped at the grocery store to pick up supplies and headed to Culver's for dinner. By that point we were dry again and the sun was shinning, even if it was going down. We biked the last few miles to the campground just on the northern end of the city. We got our site and ate dinner.

We had a decision to make. Our plan was to continue east toward St. Ignace and then head north to Tahquamegon Falls SP and then west to Muskallonge SP and Grand Marais. Unfortunately when we planned the route we didn't realize that the county roads to and from Muskallonge SP are gravel. To far of a distance for us to go on gravel roads. And we don't want to spend the last weeks of our trip zig-zagging and backtracking on roads all so we could see a couple state parks and minimal amounts of shorelines. We know the state parks we are missing are nice but we feel that our time would be better spent on Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a place that neither of us has been. So tomorrow once we reach Manistique, MI we are going to take Highway 77 north to Grand Marais to spend a couple days checking out the Lakeshore and then get back onto our planned route. It was a tough decision, but we think its a good one and we think we deserve to spend a couple days really enjoying an awesome park.

Tomorrow we are headed to Manistique, our last day on Lake Michigan.

Day 81 – Escanaba to Manistique ~ 65 miles

We woke up this morning to a nice sunny blue sky, a great sight after yesterday morning. We ate our breakfast of our usual bagels and nutella, oranges, and a special treat of poptarts! When we got into camp last night the office was closed and nobody bothered to ask us for the fee this morning, not that they should have to ask us, so we rode away without paying. Oops.

The riding conditions we much more pleasurable this morning. Sunny skies, cooler temps, wide shoulders, and a nice tailwind for a good chunk of the day. We took advantage of it and made awesome time. It really feels good to go fast pulling our gear. We spent most of the day biking through State and National Forest, keeping our eyes peeled for the lone moose. Some smaller hills, but nothing to fret about. A pretty straight forward day of riding. There are very few populated centers up here so we took advantage of a c-store when we saw one at about half the distance of the days ride, right at the northern end of the Big Bay de Noc.

We ate our lunch and then continued on towards Manistique. Unfortunately the campground is about 4 miles short of town so we had to bike into town to get dinner and breakfast and then bike back to Indian Lake State Park. Once we got to camp we paid the fee and headed toward our site. As we were going we saw a few bike tourists at a site and stopped to talk. We found out that they were two different parties of bikers. One is a guy from Washington who is going to grad school in Madison, WI and biking to Thessalon, ON where his family has a cabin. The other is a party of two girls from California who biked from the coast of Washington to Whitefish, MT and then took the train to Milwaukee and are biking around the UP to meet their friend in Glen Arbor, MI. They offered to share their site with us, so we gladly accepted and got a refund from the park office.

We set up camp and sat and talked for a bit while we ate dinner. The other bikers went to bed early because they are going to get up early to make it to St. Ignace tomorrow which is about 90 miles east of here. After dinner we showered and did some filming, read magazines, and listened to an retired Conservation Officer, who has since become an author who writes about his experiences working in the field, give a talk.

Mosquitos are bad tonight so we are writing this from the safety of the tent. Tomorrow we are headed north. Today was our last full day on Lake Michigan...on to the final stretch of Lake Superior! We will be hitting the 5000 mile mark in the next couple days! It will be a huge achievement for us. We are excited to see Pictured Rocks and be back on Lake Superior!

Day 82 – Manistique to Grand Marais ~70 miles

At some point during the night it started to rain. The two other groups of bikers that we stayed with were up and out of the site by 7 am or earlier. We took the other route, as we usually do, and slept till about 9:30 or 10. The clouds hadn't made up their mind whether or not they were going to keep letting water out or stop and let the sun shine. It continued to rain on and off while we laid in the tent. Kris bravely got out first and went down to have coffee and doughnuts at the camp hosts site, and packed his things while he waited. It took a while for Zach to get out, but he did around 10:30 or so and packed up the tent while the rain had stopped for a minute. We left camp around 11 or 11:30 and headed back toward Manistique and Highway 77 where we would head north.

It was about a 25 miles ride to our turn north from the campsite. And by the time we reached Manistique the rain had stopped completely and the sun was beginning to come out. As we turned north we began to encounter some hills. We had to cross the drainage line between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, so we expected there to be some hills. It was fairly hot once the sun came out so we slowly cranked our way up and over the divide.

We planned to stop in Germfask for lunch, but when we got there we discovered that everything had been closed down. It didn't look like the small town was doing so well. So our only options were to eat the cheez-its that we had with or push on to Seney to get a real lunch. We chose the latter. We pedaled past the Seney National Wildlife Refuge on our way and hoped to see a moose. No luck. Once we got into Seney we stopped at one of the local diners in town. As we pulled up we met two cyclists that were on their way from Toronto to Winnipeg. They were going to stay the night in Seney and partake in the local town celebration that was going on that night. We went inside and ate a decent lunch. Kris had a chicken strip basket and Zach had a patty melt. After lunch we headed toward Grand Marais. The air was really hazy today and we would later learn that it is smoke from a fire up in Canada.

The road to Grand Marais was quiet and mostly straight as an arrow. We spent most of that section riding apart, but as we approached town we rode together and pedaled as hard a we could to reach the Lake. We flew down the hill into town and as Lake Superior came into view we were yelling and screaming with excitement and joy. We were just so happy to be back on our lake! We stopped in at Lake Superior Brewing Company, the local brew pub in town, and celebrated our achievement with a beer. After that we went to camp which was only a couple of blocks down the road, set up our tent, and then went and jumped in the lake. It is warmer that it usually is for some reason. But we aren't complaining. After changing we headed back to the brewery for dinner and some beers. We headed back to camp after that and headed to bed. Zach had to use the rest room and was sitting down doing his thing when someone went into the stall next to him and said “ya'll want to hear some tunes while we sit here. I got the stuff” and he proceeded to blair gangster rap. The best part was that in the far stall there was a man in his late 60's or 70's that had to sq

Tomorrow we are headed just about 12 miles down the road into Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to spend a few days resting.

Day 83 – Grand Marais to Pictured Rocks Campground ~13 miles

We woke up around 10 or so and ate breakfast and then biked the ¼ mile into Grand Marais to pick up groceries for the next couple days. We are headed into the National Lakeshore and there are no supplies between here and just outside of Munising. We picked up just enough to last us until our arrival in Munising.

We headed out toward the lakeshore and about 4 miles down the road we passed the 5,000 mile mark of the trip! Kris made a sign out of a cheez-its box and we celebrated on the side of the road, holding up the sign for cars to see as they passed. One car stopped and the guy got out and took our picture. It was a great spot to pass the mileage marker. Just after we passed 5000 miles we reached one of the visitors centers for the park. We stopped in and looked around and picked up some reading materials.

After stopping we continued on and then stopped and the Log Chute overlook that is just west of the Great Sable Dunes. We walked the short trail out to the chute. It is a 500 foot drop down to the lake at about a 45 degree angle. Easy to get down, but incredibly tough to get back up. It is called the log chute overlook because it is the site of an old log chute that they used to use in the late 1800's and early 1900's in the days when they were logging the red and white pine off the land. They would send the logs down the chute to the lake where they would travel over water to the saw mills. Legend says that the logs would travel fast enough and with enough friction to start the chute on fire sometimes. The view of the dunes from the chute was amazing. We could also see the Au Sable Lighthouse from our perch.

After stopping we headed into camp which was another few miles down the shore. We set up camp at the lower campground and got the last site available. We immediately went down to the beach and went swimming. The water in the lake is unusually warm. We swam around the site of one of the old shipwrecks in the area. It has since washed to shore and all that remains are the beams of the structure of the ship with the metal rods sticking out everywhere. After swimming we went back up to camp and got all of our things situated. After that we took the 1.5 miles walk down to the lighthouse. We got there just after 5, which was the time they closed, and the ranger on duty kindly gave us the key to the tower. So we thanked her and headed up to the top for our own private tour. We got to check out the old Fresnel lens, no longer in working condition, and walk around the outside of the tower. Although the old lens isn't used anymore the tower still gives off light for ships today. The Au Sable light house was built in the mid 1800s and was manned by the coast guard until 1958 when the house was vacated. The stretch of land along the coast in the region is known as the Graveyard Coast and is now home to more than 40 shipwrecks. Ships during that time used to sail using a technique called “coasting”, which is when they would sail close enough to see land. The problem with using that technique in this region is that there is a sandstone bar that protrudes into the lake for up to a miles and is only 6 feet deep in many spots. Not a good thing for big ships. The area along the dunes in also notoriously known for being foggy.

After we checked out the lighthouse we went back to camp and made dinner. Our neighbors in camp happened to be the brother and his wife of one of the brewers from Fitger's. Small world. So we spent the rest of the night hanging out with them sitting by the fire, drinking a bit, and playing Phase 10. It was a good night. Rest day tomorrow.

Day 84 – Rest Day – Pictured Rocks

We woke up around 10:30 and after breakfast headed down to the beach. The waves were huge today so we spent a great deal of the day getting tossed around by the water, body surfing and playing rodeo with the massive boulders in the water. That is how the majority of our day was spent. We are burnt. Tomorrow we are headed to Munising.

Day 85 – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to Munising ~ 38 miles

We woke up and at the last of our food supply and headed down the road towards Munising. No more than a mile down the road Kris's back tire exploded with the sound of a gun going off. He had noticed something wrong with it, but thought he could ride on it. Somehow the tube had exploded sending the tire bead shooting off of the rim. It ended up flaring out the rim in two different spots. Luckily we were close to an overlook so he walked the bike to a spot where we could get out of the road. Upon closer inspection we realized that we didn't have the tools to make the bike rideable. The rim wasn't going to hold the bead of the tire. So our only option was to have Kris catch a ride the 35 miles into Munising where we were hoping there was a bike shop...there isn't one. We stood there on the side of the road for a while trying to get someone to take Kris and his gear. Eventually we decided that Zach should just bike toward Munising because Kris was eventually going to get a ride and probably beat Zach there. We wished each other luck and Zach headed down the road. About half hour after splitting ways Kris passed Zach in the back of a truck. He had found someone to give him a ride!

We met back up at the Subway in Munising. Kris had borrowed a vice grips from and auto repair shop and bent the rim back into place in the two spots that it had flared out. Obviously not perfect, but it was the best he could do with the supplies he had and no bike shop. Always problem solving. After subway we got groceries and headed to our campsite just west of Munising. In camp we met some nice folks next to us and chatted for while. Kris later met the Lenos, a couple from Cloquet. They invited us over to their camp and when we went over they had made us a great dinner and offered beer as well. We spent a good chunk of the night swapping travel stories and looking at pictures of the flooding in Duluth. We eventually called it a night but at least it is cool and we can get some good sleep.

Tomorrow we are headed about 40 miles to Marquette where we are going to spend a couple days. We are hoping that Kris's bike is up for the trip. All he can do at this point is take it slow and try to make it to Marquette where we know there is a bike shop. On top of it all it is supposed to rain over an inch tomorrow. Great....time to get home.

Day 86 – Munising to Marquette ~ 40 miles

At about 6am this morning we woke up and it looked as though the rain was coming earlier than 11am. We decided to sleep as we were very tired and not up to pedaling on such little sleep. An hour or so later the rain started and we eventually got up later after that. We packed as quickly as possible and headed over to the bathrooms where we packed properly and ate breakfast staying dry. We talked to a couple of film makers before we took off and got some good ideas for shots and when we start the long editing process. Kris took off early as he would have to go slow and Zach would soon catch up. He left in the pouring rain followed soon by Zach. The rain kept up for an hour but then cleared up the rest of the way to Marquette. We soon met back up after the rain and made our way into town along the lake and on a rail trail.

In town we found our way to Nancy's house and met her close friends who were staying in the backyard. They were working on a lake stone mural walkway in the front yard, it was really beautiful. Kris headed straight towards the bike shop next door and quickly got his bike fixed. He had to buy a new rim, money he didn't want to spend but the bike is now fixed and he can travel faster. We spent time back at Nancy's cleaning our bikes and drying off all of our gear as we waited for her to arrive home. We also got showered up and relaxed. She eventually arrived and we hung out in her house chatting over some beer and snacks. She made some pizzas and then we ate dinner with her friends in their motor home. Dinner was great, just what we needed. After dinner we decided to go looking for ice cream with Nancy but the place was closed. So we headed up to the Oar Dock Brewery and hung out there for a while. We stayed a little longer but nancy had to go home because she worked in the morning. When we arrived back home Kris slept in the tent and Zach slept in Nancy's van that she had prepared for him earlier.

Tomorrow we will enjoy a rest day and check out the town, maybe even see the new Batman movie, which we have been drooling about.

Day 87 – Rest Day in Marquette, MI

We woke up this morning and started to do much needed laundry. After that was all said and done we headed into town and got lunch and coffee at 3rd Street Bagel. After lunch we headed a couple of miles up the road to the movie theater. Zach had lost his bike lock key but luckily Kris had brought his so we were all set. The movie was fantastic and we would definitely see it again. We made our way back to the bagel place to look for Zach's keys but they were no where to be found. We then headed back to home base and there they were lying in the grass.

We decided to walk out on the breakwater to the lighthouse. The first part was all cement and pretty easy going. Maybe took about 5 minutes to get out there. The second part was all huge boulders with slippery seagull poop on them so we had to be careful. It was also a longer stretch and maybe took 20 minutes. We hung out at the lighthouse for a while then headed back. A seagull flew within a couple of inches of Kris' head and tried to grab him. We made our way back to the house and had a great dinner with Nancy. We will probably spend the rest of the evening hanging out and getting ready for a 70 mile day tomorrow.

Tomorrow we are heading to Baraga, which is about 25 miles away from Houghton. We will meet Zach's girlfriend Bre and his friend Andy tomorrow at the campground. We are excited to see them.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 67 - 77 From Gary to Milwaukee

 Day 67 – Petoskey to Traverse City ~ 70 miles

We woke up around 9:30 or so and reluctantly began to pack up our things. We felt comfortable there and really didn't feel like going anywhere. Sharon went to the store that morning and got us a few things for lunch! So awesome. We sat around and talked for a bit and then decided it was time to take off. Unfortunately Zach realized that he had a flat rear tire...another slow leak. So he had to fix that before we did anything. Ended up having to put the tube in the sink to find the leak. It was hard for us to go and especially for Kris to leave Mona, but it was time.

We rode the trail all the way to Charlevoix! It was a super nice trail and allowed us to stay out of the way of traffic as well. We reached Charlevoix pretty quickly and busted through town without stopping. We wanted to stop, but there were just to many tourists there. It was ridiculously busy. After the town we had to get back on the road because the trail had ended. Which ended up really sucking because the shoulders turned to shit. Very narrow and lots of traffic. We stopped at gas station somewhere along the road and at lunch in the shade. A guy in a pickup stopped and talked to us for a bit. He was a local and enjoyed riding bike. It was nice of him to stop, that kind of thing is what makes our trip.

We powered on toward Traverse, and were making great time despite the hills. They were just the right size and spaced just about right so we were able to cruise down one and make it to the top of the next without to much hassle. But it was also extremely hot and we were sweating profusely.

Just outside of Traverse in Acme we picked up the T.A.R.T trail and made our way into the city. Kris's Iphone plan had been turned back on so were were able to use the GPS to help us navigate to Irma's house without to much hassle. Irma is a member of the CCCC (Cherry Capital Cycling Club) which is based in Traverse City and she graciously offered to host us. Traverse City and the surrounding area produces about 80% of the cherries that are sold in the US. However this year is a bad year because of the strange spring we had in the midwest. We arrived at here house sometime around 5. We ended up cranking out 70 miles in about 5 hours today, averaging over 14 mph! Not to bad.

We showered and and relaxed and then headed to the Filling Station, a local brew pub and eatery, and had pizza and beers with a bunch of people from the local club. We had a blast and drank our fair share. And the pizza was amazing. We stayed out pretty late, but were feeling pretty good and didn't want the good time to end.

We are heading to Oneckema tomorrow and a few of the members are going to ride with us about half the distance. Should be a lot of fun and we are really glad it all worked out! It was really nice meeting all of the folk that came out to talk with us.

Day 68 – Traverse City to Onekema ~ 83 miles

We woke up at 9 or so and got ready to go. It was our plan to leave at 10 and meet everyone who was going to ride with us at 10:30. We had breakfast and then headed toward town to meet up with the other riders. There were about 8 of us or so in the group. We headed out of town in a tight pack and made our way across the peninsula to the main part of Lake Michigan. We were shooting for Empire. The terrain was mild with the occasional monster of a hill. This part of the state is known for its hills. We stayed pretty close as a group and stopped every so often to re fuel and then continue on. We are pretty sure most if not all of the members that were riding with us are twice our age, and they were giving us a run for our money. It is really awesome to see them so stoked on riding and staying in shape.

Irma gave us some chews called Shot Blocks, which are basically caffeinated fruit chews. They did help when we took em, but man they made us crash later in the day. We climbed a huge hill just outside of Empire and slowly got to the top where there was a lookout called Inspiration Point that looks out toward the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore and Glen Arbor. It was beautiful. We made our way into Empire and then stopped for lunch as a group.

We stopped at a local tavern called Friendly's. It was really good food and super busy. We had to wait before we got a table and stood outside eating Cherries and having a pit spitting contest. After eating we said goodbye and parted ways. We had hit the coast and needed to head south. At that point we had done about 40 miles and had to do another 40 or so to make it to our destination. We had a blast with everyone that came out to ride with us and they kicked our butts.

We were beat and slowly made our way south. It didn't help that we were getting into some enormous hills. Just like the north shore of Lake Superior. The weather was cooler than it had been, but it was still way to hot. We were sweating uncontrollably again today. Hill after hill we climbed and crested and then cruised down the otherside. At the tops there were great overlooks of the dunes further north. Zach hit his top speed of the trip at 38.5 mph heading down from the top of one of the hills a bit north of Onekema.

We arrived in Onekema around 7 and headed into town where we were being hosted by Roger and Leann Burger. Leann was going to be in the U.P for the week, so it was going to be a guys night! We arrived and showered and they had prepared a dinner of venison spaghetti, salad, and some awesome bread. It was delicious and just what we needed after a long day. We were exhausted.

Once the sun began to go down and the temps dropped the three of us sat outside on the porch and enjoyed the beautiful view of Portage Lake. We had a quiet night and enjoyed the conversation and turned in around midnight. Going to be a shorter day tomorrow.

Day 69 – Onekema to Charles Mears SP (Pentwater, MI) ~ 55 miles

I don't think we realized how tired we actually were after yesterdays ride. We ended up waking up at 10:30 this morning...a bit later than we had planned and we could have easily slept longer. Hell at this point we could sleep for a week if given the opportunity. We went upstairs where Roger had already made coffee and had a breakfast of cereal, english muffins, and a Kashi bar. We packed up and by the time we were ready to go it was almost noon.

We said our goodbyes and headed south toward Manistee. We had a blast with Roger and thank him and Leann for their amazing hospitality. Luckily the hills on the south side of Onekema are a bit smaller. We headed down a really beautiful shore drive and made our way into Manistee. On the other side of the city we got onto the country roads to avoid highway 31 and the Sunday traffic.

We slowly made our way to Ludington, where we were planning to stay at the State Park. We ended up stopping at a Little Cesar's for a hot and ready pizza. We each ordered our own...haha what a mistake. Bbbrrrrhhh. That was the sound of throwing up a bit. We ended up just eating the pepperoni and cheese off of the last few pieces and left. We decided that we were going to push on a bit further south toward Pentwater where there is another state park.

Just south of Ludington we hooked up with Lakeshore Drive and had a nice ride into Pentwater. We stopped just outside of town at a store and picked up a few things for dinner. It is a beach oriented park so after we arrived we headed to the beach for a swim in Lake Michigan. It was amazing and totally refreshing! After swimming we ate our cans of soup and then headed into town for an ice cream treat.

Beautiful sunset over the Lake tonight. Hopefully the breeze continues tonight so we can have a decent nights rest. We are headed to Muskegon tomorrow. 5 days away from seeing family and a rest day at Illinois Beach SP...can't wait!

Day 70 Charles Mears SP to JP Hoffmaster SP (Muskegon, MI)

We woke up and got our things together and biked into Pentwater to find breakfast. We ended up stopping at a grocery store and picked up a few small things to hold us over until lunch. The weather was nice. A bit cooler, so it was bearable at least. And the wind was at our back for a good portion of the day. As we made our way toward Muskegon we had to utilize Kris's phone to help us navigate. The main route south along the shore went in and out of freeway so we couldn't be on it. And unfortunately for us the roads right along the shore cut inland to go around the bays and harbors that litter the western shore. So we ended up taking countryside highways to head south.

There were hills that we had to deal with but they weren't to long or steep so we powered up them pretty quickly. Kris's odometer hasn't been working either and despite his efforts to get it working nothing has done the trick. So we are looking for a bike shop along our route. We ended up stopping for lunch in Whitehall, which is at the eastern end of one of the long bays of the lake. From there it was a fairly quick jaunt to Muskegon.

Once we reached Muskegon there was a pretty nice trail that lead us into town. We looked up a bike shop that wasn't to far off of our route and began to head that direction. We have been going through some really nice towns along the western coast of Michigan and were pretty thrown off by the shape that Muskegon seemed to be in. Maybe we missed the downtown area, but the infrastructure of the city really seemed to be in disrepair. And it didn't seem to be the most bike friendly city. Maybe its because we were there during the end of the work day, but it was really busy and nerve racking trying to bike through the traffic. We ended up giving up on our search for the bike shop and headed further south to a grocery store to pick up dinner and breakfast for tomorrow morning.

After stopping we headed out of town to the state park. The park was really nice. The campground was set back from the dunes a bit so you had to walk through them to get to the beach. We set up camp and waited for Kris's cousin CD, wife Molly, and 9 day old baby son Jake, to show up at the camp site to say hello. They are living in Grand Rapids at the moment and made the drive over to see us. We sat and talked for a bit and then they had to go because it is apparently a lot of work to take care of a nine day old boy! Congratulations to them!

We went out to the beach to enjoy the sunset, which was amazing, and then sat in camp and had a couple beers that we weren't supposed to have in the park. It made them that much better. We are headed to South Haven tomorrow to stay with Deanne and Roger, a married couple that contacted us and offered us a place to stay! They are even going to meet us and ride us into South Haven to their home.

Day 71 JP Hoffmaster SP to South Haven, MI ~ 64 miles

We woke up at around 10 this morning. A bit later than we should have, but thats what happens when you stay up later than you should. We quickly ate breakfast and headed down the road. Pretty nice weather again today! We were still dealing with the freeway today so we had to ride a good distance on the side roads, which we prefer anyways. We stopped in Grand Haven at a bike shop so Kris could get his bike computer checked out. Unfortunately there wasn't anything they could do to fix it so he bought a new one. From Grand Haven we hopped onto Lakeshore Drive and headed south. We like biking on Lakeshore Drives because they are usually quiet roads with really nice homes and beautiful scenery. Pretty much the case with this one.

We underestimated our distance to Saugatuck, which was where we were going to meet Deanne and Roger and we had to stop for lunch because we couldn't wait any longer. We were supposed to meet them at 2, but we didn't end up meeting them until 3. Luckily we were meeting at the Saugatuck Brewery so they were able to have lunch and we were able to have a beer once we got there. It was a really nice facility and the beer was really decent. After sitting and chatting for a bit the four of us headed down the road to South Haven. Deanne's daughter works at a local coffee shop in South Haven and and apparently served the lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers this morning. Apparently he frequents the area...and he was on his bike! Good man.

We made our way toward South Haven and Roger and Deanne led the way showing us the nice back way to avoid as much traffic as possible. They are a very bike oriented family. Both Roger and Deanne ride their bikes to and from work year round and even have a trailer for going to the grocery store and doing other errands. We made it to their house after stopping at the coffee shop where their daughter works and got some ice cream.

Once we made it to their house we had a mug of Oberon (Bell's Brewing) from the keg that they had waiting. We showered and then sat down for dinner. They prepared an amazing dinner of pork loin in the crock pot, carrots, brussel sprouts, cheese rolls, baked potatoes, and watermelon. It was so amazing and we ate until we couldn't anymore. After dinner we sat in the living room and watched some TV for a bit and then walked down the street to use the internet at Burger King for a bit to catch up on a few things.

We came back to the house and then hung out for a bit longer before bed. We can't thank them enough for being such awesome hosts. Tomorrow they are going to ride with us south for a ways as well. We are heading into Indiana tomorrow as today was our last full day in Michigan until we reach the UP.

Day 72 South Haven to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore ~ 70 miles

We woke up this morning around 8:45 for the breakfast that Roger had prepared. It was pancakes with real maple syrup, sausage links, and scones. A great way to start out a morning. We packed up and the four of us took of around 10. We were cruising along pretty good and then Deanne got a flat. She ended up calling her son Pat to come and pick her up. We said our goodbyes, unaware that we would see her again for lunch, and then the three of us continued on South. Roger was planning on riding with us until he felt like stopping and then Deanne would come and pick him up.

We continued on down the Blue Star highway and got a call from Deanne saying that she wanted to meet us for lunch. We stopped briefly in St. Joseph and then continued on toward Stevensville which is where we were going to meet Deanne. As we were sitting on the sidewalk contemplating our route south a guy named Bob came up and said hello. He had heard about us through the League of Michigan Bikers and has been following our trip! It was awesome to talk to him and a really humbling experience to know that people are watching what we are doing. Just after talking with him we ran into Deanne and we went to the Cracker Barrel for lunch. We ate and then said our goodbyes and then went our separate ways. It was so nice to meet them and we really appreciate everything they did for us.

We reluctantly continued on south. We are really tired and we think it has a lot to do with our ride our of Traverse City. We don't think we have fully recovered from that day. Unfortunately the quality of the road went down as we continued. Our only real option was to deal with the bad shoulders and traffic otherwise we would have had to go way out of our way. Somewhere along the way we passed over the Michigan/ Indiana border and entered back into the Central Time Zone. That is awesome because we gained an hour. We are probably going to use it for more sleep. It also means that we are that much closer to Chicago!

Not long after we entered Indiana we entered the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which is where we are going to spend the night. We stopped for groceries at a C store and then went to camp. It is going to be a quiet night and we are going to bed early to get an early start tomorrow.

We are heading through Gary and into Chicago and we will hopefully be stopping at the Velodrome in Chicago to check it out! We are super excited for that and to be in Chicago! Zach's parents got us a hotel room right down town, not far from the Navy Pier. We are going to check out that and the “bean” in Millennium Park. It is just really amazing to us because Chicago hasn't even been in our thoughts for so long because until now we were still so far from it. Now we are going to be there tomorrow! It is just really amazing to us to think about how far we have come! Going to bed exhausted and excited!

Day 73 – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Downtown Chicago ~ 59 miles

This morning is was so hot and we got ready as fast as possible and left the campground. We got onto hwy 12 and headed towards Gary, IN. We soon passed a nuclear plant and US Steel. We marveled at the fact that the National Lakeshore was sandwiched between Power plants and large industrial areas. We entered into Gary and the roads were terrible. We quickly picked up our pace to get through the town. We went through some very bad neighborhoods where most of the houses were falling down, vacant, and in very poor shape. We made our way away from those areas as fast as we could then entered into the industrial area as we headed towards Illinois. This area was just as bad with lots of truck traffic and industrial smells that quickly gave you a headache. We soon passed into Illinois without even knowing it. We didn't see a sign and were not able to celebrate. Just after that we found a bike path that brought us out to a beach where we could see the miles of industry we passed. This was the first time we saw the lakeshore since we left this morning.

After the beach where people were bravely swimming around the industrial plants we found the Chicago Velo Campus where we were to meet people. The campus boasts the shortest and steepest track in the country, almost a 50 degree incline at the turns. We interviewed the volunteers and learned of the owners grand plans to turn the old US Steel grounds into a luxurious area full of apartments, stores, and a massive enclosed Velodrome. It will be incredible when it is done and turn a hard hit area into a brand new place, breathing life back into the area. After we watched the volunteers do some laps which thoroughly scared us they graciously offered to let us try it. We had to fill out some release forms and then take our pedals off our bike and put them onto the track bikes we were to use. Once we got the bikes on the track, an old track racing coach arrived and gave us some great pointers on how to survive. He made us feel very comfortable getting ready for the track. The bikes are fixed gear bikes so you have to keep pedaling in order to not get launched off the bike. It took us a while to learn how to ride them and how to slow down as you cannot coast which is what we have been doing for the last two months. After many laps getting used to the bikes we were ready to try it out. Zach went first and did great. Then Kris went and we marveled at how thrilling it was. You go so fast and it was so scary on the turns being 10-15 feet up on a 50 degree slope. You just had to keep pedaling as fast as you could in order to not fall off. The G-force pushed you up higher as well but the hardest part was getting off the track going incredibly fast and trying to slow down. After a couple more tries we had to go on our way towards downtown. We said our goodbyes and headed north, quickly finding the bike path along the lake.

We followed the path into downtown where there were bikes and people everywhere. We made it to downtown where we passed a running race and then the Taste of Chicago. No wonder there were so many people! We passed by the “the bean” and navigated the swarms of people to our hotel. After checking in and bringing all of our stuff to the 33rd floor, we showered and headed out back to Millennium Park. We filmed “the bean” and some other features in the park. After that it was time to eat. We split up and Zach went to get snacks while Kris ordered the famous deep dish pizza from Giordano's. At the hotel we spent the rest of the evening relaxing and getting ready to navigate the rest of the town in the morning.

Tomorrow we will be heading through the city and the suburbs to Illinois Beach State Park to meet Zach's family and camp with them. It will be a great time and we will have a rest day the next day. We survived Gary and downtown Chicago and will make our way towards Wisconsin and Milwaukee.

Day 74 – Chicago to Illinois Beach State Park ~ 56 miles

We woke up at about 9:30 and ate the second half of the pizza that we couldn't finish last night. Still good even though there wasn't a fridge to keep it cold in. After eating and getting ready we slowly brought our things down the elevators to the bottom floor. That was at about 11:30 and we were scheduled to meet people down at the entrance of Navy Pier at Noon. After trying to figure out Chicago's multi level downtown we figured out how to get to Navy Pier. Once we got there, we couldn't find anyone who looked like a person looking for us. After biking around through the crowds, we met Jimmy who biked from inland to meet us and bike with us a ways. He had lots of great questions about bike touring as he was planning a trip as well. Right before we left we met Kathy who also wanted to join us for a little bit.

We headed north along the the bike path and soon noticed that there was a large storm from barreling down on us. We said goodbye to Kathy and then headed on to the end of the path with Jimmy. Right as we said goodbye to him it started to rain. We had to go into the city to continue on the bike route and thats when the lightning and incredible winds started. The lightning was so close at times that we took shelter under a Subway until the storm passed. We headed back into the rain and navigated through the puddles and the city. We kept biking along through the suburbs and stopped in Highland Park to have a late lunch and wait for the next storm system to pass. We made the right call as it didn't hit us and we just had to deal with a sprinkle.

We found a bike path and took that for many miles. Once it started heading west we decided to get off it and head back towards the lake. The road took us past the naval base and a few power plants. Sheridan road was really hard to follow as it ended then started up again a few blocks later but we eventually made it to Illinois Beach State Park. The campground was huge and it took a while to find Zach's family but we finally made it. They had a welcome sign made and we took some pictures. Kris got to meet the whole family. Zach's parents, aunt and uncle, and his other aunt and partner were there. They had everything we needed too, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, and sheets. Not to mention the endless amounts of snacks and meals.

They quickly started dinner and we were all soon eating pulled pork and all the fixings. There was a fire ban but luckily they had brought an electric grill because you couldn't even use propane stoves. After dinner we went to the showers and then hung around in the night talking about our trip and the plan for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we will have a rest day and it seems we have some great plans. It is a much needed rest day as we have not had one since July 4th in Petosky.

Day 75 – Illinois Beach State Park ~ Rest Day

We woke up this morning to the family making breakfast. It was going to be a very hot day. It rained this morning but we didn't seem to notice. We had eggs, bacon, muffins, and fruit for breakfast. After breakfast we headed to the Jelly Belly jelly bean factory for a tour. It was fun riding the train and learning about jelly beans and how they were made. At the store afterwards we sampled jelly beans and it was amazing how accurate they were. We even tried some of the gross flavors like rotten egg, barf, centipede, canned dog food, and pencil shavings. Each one was so close that you spit it out right away and almost threw up.

After the tour we headed to a laundry mat to do some much needed laundry. After that was done we headed back to the campsite and headed to the beach to go for a swim. The water was really nice even though there was a store coming in. The southern end of Lake Michigan this year is 10 degrees warmer than normal. The sun soon came out and then we headed back to camp and had a late lunch and went straight into dinner. We had a great steak dinner and then once again sat around and talked about the trip and random conversations came from that. The bigs were terrible and it was so hot so we all soon went to bed.

Tomorrow we are going to finally make it to Wisconsin and Milwaukee. We will be staying with Kris' long time friend Grace in downtown. Hopefully the rain will not hit us tomorrow even though the region needs more that a few inches. Most people have already lost their crops.

Day 76 – Illinois Beach to Downtown Milwaukee ~ 50 miles

We woke up this morning and had another great breakfast of sausage and blueberry pancakes. After breakfast we tore down camp and packed up our gear to head out. After saying some long goodbyes we got in the saddles and headed out of the park. Five miles down the road we entered into Wisconsin and celebrated. We then battled the heat and followed the lakeshore towards Milwaukee. We eventually hit the lakefront trial and headed into downtown. Right before we arrived, Kris' chain went into the spokes and broke off the piece of plastic. It got stuck in the freewheel and turned it into a fixed gear. We looked for a bike shop and found one but the guy was rude and wouldn't so a 2 minute fix until close. He wouldn't even lend us a tool for a quick fix. We headed into downtown and found Grace's apartment. We met her sister and the new baby before she took off. After getting our stuff into the apartment and showering we headed into town to see the sights and get some dinner and of course some beer in Beer City USA.

We went through Bastile Days and checked out the scene. We then went to the Milwaukee ale house and had some great beer and dinner on the river. We then walked along the river and went to an irish pub where we met Grace's friends and some people who wanted to give us advice for our route tomorrow. We played dice which is a popular game played in Milwaukee and then met Grace's boyfriend Nik who is one of the cities Alderman. We then headed to city hall where we interviewed him in his office about great lakes issues. After the interview we went to another pub and spent the rest of the evening there before heading back to Grace's apartment to go to bed.

In the morning we will meet Jon from Sheboygan and he will bring us up to Alex's house where we will spend the night. It will be nice to have someone who knows where to go because the route seems to be confusing and hard to follow tomorrow.

Day 77 – Downtown Milwaukee to Kohler, WI ~ 62 miles

We woke up this morning and got ready for the day. It was so hot outside and we were not looking forward to it. We went down to Bruegers Bagels and had breakfast. We then went out to the lakefront and met Jon in front of the Children's Museum. He and Kris quickly fixed his back tire and then Nik showed up to bike with us as well. We said goodbye to Grace and then headed north out of town. We navigated the twists and turns of the Lakeshore drives and then Nik showed us a secret shortcut that took us through someone's backyard and onto a secret trail. After looking out at the lake near Concordia College we said goodbye to Nik before heading towards Port Washington. In Port Washington we stopped for lunch that Jon picked up for us and then headed down the road and stopped to get some cold drinks for the ride. We soon found the Interurban Trail and headed North where we soon met some other members of the cycle club Fat Kats. We had a good crew going as we headed down the trail. We stopped for poweraids soon after. Jon's temperature gauge on his speedometer was showing over 100 from the pavement temps. We made our way to Sheboygan then Kohler where Kris got his first trailer flat. He made it to Alex's house before it was too late.

At Alex's house we showered up and Kris weighed himself. He has lost 35 pounds since we left on the trip! We then enjoyed a grill out with a bunch of the cycle club and their families talking about mountain biking and racing. We spent the rest of the evening hanging out and cooling off after the extremely hot day.

Tomorrow we are heading to Kewaunee and then Greenbay. We only have a couple of days left in Wisconsin and then we will finally be in the UP. We have 20 days left and cant believe where the time and miles have gone! We will be back in less than 3 weeks and have logged over 4600 miles as of now!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 59 through 66

Day 59 - Lake Huron Campground to Port Crescent State Park ~ 70 miles

Today was a very hard day! We left the campground this morning and it was already scorching hot. We hopped onto the highway and headed towards Harbor Beach. At Harbor beach Kris waited a while for Zach and he finally showed up. He had a slow leak and had to find an air compressor in Forester to fill back up. At this point we are both out of CO2 canisters and Kris has the only bike pump. Once we met back up we went to Subway for lunch and then used Kris' bike pump to try and fill up the tires more. This is where we found out that the pump was broken so we went across the street to the gas station to refill the tires. We then set off on the detour that the people across camp from us last night told us about. It took us inland a ways and we had a strong headwind. It was so incredibly hot but we made it to the next town of Bad Axe and stopped to get more water, cold drinks, and sit in the stations AC for a while. It was there that we found out that it was 97 degrees! No wonder we felt so awful!

After we left Bad Axe we headed north and were hoping that the wind would give us a push with the direction change but it didn't. It switched back into a headwind and we battled on towards Port Austin. Kris got a flat tire about 6 miles before the town in the middle of nowhere. We went to the nearest house and got in the shade from their trees. No one was home but we started to repair the tire when we realized that our pump had broken earlier that day. Kris tried to fix it but to no avail and so Zach offered to take the repaired tire up the road to find some air. About 10 minutes later he was back and we were soon on the road again.

We soon reached Port Austin and got some supplies for dinner at the grocery store. The state park was only a few miles past and we soon made it there. The campground was very full but we found a nice site right next to the water. We celebrated surviving the day by immediately going for a swim in the big lake. After walking about ¼ mile out into the water it was finally deep enough to swim. It was great but we reflected on the fact that lake Huron is showing major signs of the water levels dropping in the great lakes. You can see where the old shoreline is and how far it has dropped. After the swim we went back and made chili-mac and then chatted the rest of the night before dozing off to sleep.

Tomorrow we will head to Bay city where someone who contacted us earlier hopefully will have a place for us to stay and it wont be as hot!

Day 60 – Port Crescent to Bay City, MI ~ 65 miles

This morning we had breakfast, packed up and headed out of the park. About 3 miles down the road Kris had another flat tire, seems to be a slow leak. There was nothing around except for a canoe outfitter. They luckily had an air compressor and we were soon on our way again. We passed through many nice areas and houses with beautiful sand beaches. We got a bit separated during the day and weren't able to stop together for lunch. Zach stopped and got pizza at the last opportunity but Kris didn't, thinking there would be something in the next town. There wasn't! We eventually connected back up about 10 miles outside of Bay City.

We later arrived in Bay City and didn't have a message from the people who wanted us to visit so we had to figure out our next move. We decided to find the next state park and pitch a tent there for the night. In downtown we found a coffee shop and checked the email to see if they maybe had messaged us but there was nothing. We crossed the bridge over the river and found a cheap motel. There was no one at the counter and decided to leave. As we were leaving a lady walked by and told us we didn't want to stay there because thats where all the registered sex offenders stay. We quickly left and and made our way towards the state park. We stopped at a small market next to the park and got our food for the night. As we were getting ready to leave an older bearded man stopped us and asked about what we were doing. After a small conversation he said we could camp out at his place and take showers which was only a couple of blocks away. He seemed nice enough and trustworthy so we followed. When we arrived his yard was full of old antique cars and motorcycles, a museum of sorts. He took us through some thick underbrush to the backyard and we set up camp. Just think of Narnia. The neighbor boy was around too to who spent days hanging out with Dave and helped keep us company. Dave showed us the house and all of his collections, there were a lot of them but some really cool things. We took showers and spent the night listening to Dave's stories from his life ranging from run ins with Timothy Leery to space shuttle launches. Before we went to bed we watched music videos that he had cued up on his TV. One of the most interesting people we have met on the trip. Can't thank him enough for sharing his time and space with us.

Tomorrow we will have a short ride to meet Tom and Lois DiMuro just down the road. We have been in contact with them for months and are very excited to finally meet them and spend the day at their house! Today we finished the Thumb of Michigan!

Day 61 – Dave Who's House to the DiMuro's House near Standish, MI ~ 44 miles

Dave woke us up at 7:15am to tell us that the coffee was on and about the break news that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were splitting up! We were sad only for a moment and then laughed as Dave kept talking about now it was his turn to have her! We had coffee and packed up for the day. The neighbor boy came over and they were going to bike us down the road. As we were leaving Zach had another slow leak in his back tire that he hasn't been able to fix so we had to use Dave's compressor and fill his tire before setting off down the road.

Dave biked us around the neighborhood and showed us a great view of the Saginaw Bay. We said goodbye at the store where we had met the night before and parted ways. We continued on for about 4 miles where Tom and Lois where waiting for us in the parking lot of a McDonald's. They had drove down to meet us and Tom was going to bike with us to their house, where we were going to spend the night. It was great to finally meet them.

We headed out and had a decent ride along highway 13 with really spacious shoulders. We were able to chat side by side as we rode along. It was about a 40 mile ride to there house and we only stopped for a water refill because we were making pretty good time. As we reached the town of Standish we got off of highway 13 and were on the backroads to the DiMuro's home. We arrived sometime between 1 and 2pm and sat on the porch and had some beverages and ate an awesome lunch of hotdogs, coleslaw, and some amazing black bean dip that Lois makes. She is going to send us the recipe and we are glad because it is so good!

After lunch we started to work on our bikes and other issues. Kris's pump hasn't been working so he tried to fix it. He and Lois ended up going to a store to find a replacement O-ring. It sort of solved the problem, but the pump still isn't working at 100%. Its going to get sent back. We spent the rest of the afternoon servicing and cleaning our bikes to get them running in top shape again for the next few days. Kris put a new tire on the back because the old one's tread is pretty much gone.

After that Tom and Lois started to prepare dinner and we sat around the table outside and had some more beverages. The prepared an awesome home cooked meal of steak, potatoes, corn on the cob, bread, and salad. Just a treat! It was exactly what we needed and enjoyed every bite!

After dinner we sat in the living room and watch a few episodes of Pawn Stars. Lois made us home made ice cream out of strawberries and bananas. They went to bed around 9 and we stayed up for a while longer and watched the TV and Zach tried to find the slow leak in his back tire...patched it...but it still leaked.

We went to bed around midnight after watching Zoro. It is so nice to be sleeping in a nice bed under a roof. Tomorrow we are headed to Harris State Park.

Day 62 (July 1st) – DiMuro's home to Harris State Park ~70 miles

We woke up this morning around 9am and headed down for an awesome breakfast of french toast and bacon that Lois had prepared for us. We ate like kings and slowly got ready for the day. Tom went out to check the air on our tires one last time before we left and came in to tell Zach that his patch job on the rear tire didn't work. He ended up giving us a brand new tube so Zach could continue without worry. Before we left Lois played “witch doctor” (inside joke) and treated us with essential oils, Thieves oil to be exact. She put it on Kris's feet and on Zach's shoulders. She didn't need to be messing around with Zach's poison ivy foot. She even sent us with a small bottle so we could use it to treat our sore throats that have been bothering us for the past few days.

We packed up and they even gave us some power balls that they had made for energy. The three of us left around 11. Tom was going to ride with us to Tawas, which is on Lake Huron. We rode about 35 miles to the city and had a great ride. We were on country roads that were nicely paved with little traffic, so we were able to ride side by side for a majority of the time. We reach Tawas and Lois had stopped at a few places to find us a replacement pump and a few tubes. That was so nice of them to do for us and we can't thank them enough. We reluctantly parted ways, but we hope to see them again. We had so much fun spending time with them. It really says a lot about some one who opens up their home to a complete stranger.

We continued North on highway 23...back on the awesome shoulders and stopped for lunch in Oscoda. We stopped at Subway as we were eager to see what the new sub of the month was. We were disappointed when we saw it was the Buffalo Chicken. After a few rough incidents we don't trust the chicken there anymore. But we ate there anyways and then continued on our way. The time and miles flew by today because the wind was sort of behind us, it was nice and sunny, not too hot, and we were able to have conversations as we rode next to each other.

We reached Harrisville, passed the State Park entrance, and went to get groceries. We just got something small and a couple things for breakfast. We headed back to the park and got our site. It is really busy here because of the 4th coming up and isn't ideal, but it will do. Nothing we haven't dealt with. We were going to swim, but the water here doesn't look to pleasant to we are going to wait on that, but the beach is nice.

We are headed to Rogers City tomorrow to Presque Isle and from there it is only a few days to Petosky and our rest day! We are starting to realize that even though we still have a ways to go our time on the trip is beginning to dwindle...bittersweet. Just passed 3800 miles today!

Day 63 – Harris State Park to Hoeft State Park ~ 78 miles

Woke up this morning and got ready for the day. We ate breakfast and then headed out towards Rogers City. We had a nice large shoulder today and saw some great inland scenery as the road took us away from the lake for some time today. On our way to Alpena we passed the 45th Parallel which is half way between the equator and the North Pole. We stopped for lunch in Alpena before taking off again towards Rogers city. We quickly made it to the turnoff for Rogers City and decided to take the business route instead of the highway. We stopped at a extremely large Limestone quarry that we dubbed the Grand Canyon of Michigan. It was huge and went on for almost a mile at certain points. We made our way into Rogers city and didn't find anything in terms of a grocery store. We stopped and asked for directions just to find out that the grocery store was on the main highway so we had to backtrack.

After the grocery store we headed to the state park which was only a couple miles down the road. We made it to our campsite and decided first things first, lets go for a swim. The water was great but we had to walk out a ways. After a long swim and hanging out on the beach we went back to camp to get ready for the night. After setting up camp, dinner, and showers we decided to watch the sunset and do some more filming. We learned that Michigan has more shoreline than the Eastern seaboard and touches 4 of the 5 great lakes. It also boasts more historic lighthouses than any other place in the country. We also learned that Lake Huron, even though not the biggest has more shoreline than any of the other great lakes. All in all we learned a lot from Hoeft State Park, one of the top 5 state parks in Michigan!

We went and watched First Ascent, a really neat climbing movie and then dozed off to sleep. We were awoken at around 1am to thunderstorms. We quickly got everything under the tent and attached the rainfly before hopping back inside as the rain started. Hopefully it will let up by morning when we head to Mackinaw City.

Day 64 – Hoeft State Park to Mackinaw City ~ 56 miles

This morning we waited for the rain to let up before getting ready for the day. The wind was supposed to be at our backs but it didn't seem to be that way. After we got ready we headed out and battled some huge hills, hot temps, and strong headwinds. There was literally nothing until we hit Cheboygan 35 miles down the road. In Cheboygan we stopped for lunch and decided to press on to Mackinaw City, which was only another 20 miles or so.

Once we reached Mackinaw city we had some great views of Mackinac island and the Mackinaw bridge. We proceeded to go down the strip looking for the cheapest hotel. We finally found one and were able to escape the heat. Once we got settled in we headed closer to the bridge to do some filming about it and the island. The bridge really stands out as it is over 500 feet tall and 5 miles long. The island is really interesting because there is an old hotel where many famous people have stayed and there is also an old fort. The entire island has a car ban so people commute by walking and there is a great bicycle culture on the island too. After we filmed we stopped at a brewery and which had over 350 microbrews to choose from from all over the world. We then went back to the hotel and ordered pizza and hunkered down for the night. We were also able to dry off all of our wet equipment and relax and avoid all the rowdy 4th crowds in the campgrounds.

Tomorrow we have another short day to Petosky where we will meet up with Mona, Baker, and Mona's family for a couple of days. We are excited to see them and to watch some fireworks and celebrate America's Birthday!

Day 65 – Mackinaw City to Petosky (Sharron Frost's House) ~ 55 miles

Happy Birthday America! Before we took off this morning we ate hot breakfast and then watched a documentary about Washington crossing the Delaware river during the revolution. This got us ready for the day. Hopefully people will be watching out for us on the roads this holiday day. We headed out of town and were already dripping sweat. After the first 30 minutes it seemed to be over 90 degrees. We decided to turn off the highway and head towards the water to be away from traffic and the heat. Soon we hit some Monster hills that punished us for miles. We also realized that our main camera was broken and its shutter wouldn't open. Hopefully we can fix it later. We then passed the North Country Trail and marveled in it's glory.

When we finally reached Cross Village we stopped for Powerade and then went on our way. We instantly hit The Tunnel of Trees, which is 20 miles of one way road with two way traffic that winds through trees that are overgrown over the road into a tunnel. We followed this and enjoyed the windy road but more importantly the amazing views of Lake Michigan and cooler temperatures. Somewhere around half way through the road we hit the 4000 mile mark. We were very excited and have been waiting for it! We made our way into Harbor Springs and it was complete chaos having been in peace for the last 20 miles. The 4th of July was in full effect in that tourist town and we quickly left.

We made our way towards Petosky and once we were there we called Mona and she gave directions to Downtown. We made it through some crazy traffic and then met up with Mona. It was great to see her and the Frosts. We had to climb one more hill in the heat but we finally made it to Sharron's House. We had some great late lunch foods and conversations. There was a parade that was going to start at 6 and it was getting to be about that time. Zach was able to take shower before it started but Kris waited until afterwards. It was great because the parade went right in front of her house. We sat down and watched the parade and enjoyed. Al, Sharron's husband showed up and we then grilled out before the fireworks started. We got all packed up and quickly made it down to the water to watch them. There were people lighting large lanterns and releasing them into the air. It was a beautiful sight to see with the setting sun. The fireworks were great, especially being able to watch them from the Pier, looking back at shore where they were being launched from. We talked to a few people and one of the guys made a donation to the trip. It is just great talking to people that take a genuine interest in what we are doing. After the fireworks we walked back up to the house and on our way we walked past a cupcake shop that Sharon had gotten cupcakes from earlier. As we walked past they asked if we wanted some to take home...free of charge. We said of course and they gave us a dozen specialty cupcakes of all varieties to bring home. They all look amazing! We are heading to be thankful for friends and family and feeling completely content. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! Rest day tomorrow!

Day 66 - Rest day, Petosky

We woke up this morning around 9 or so. Kris and Mona spent the night outside in the tent last night so they could be with their dog Baker. They ended up putting on the rainfly at about 5 in the morning because it began to lightning and thunder. Sharon had to work this morning so we lazily made coffee and breakfast and took our time getting ready for the day. And of course sampled a few of the cupcakes from last night. It did rain a bit but it didn't last long. We gathered our things together and started to walk downtown for a day of strolling.

We made it downtown and stopped at a local cafe for lunch. They had great sandwiches, and everyone seemed to know it because it was super busy...especially because of the holiday week. After lunch we walked to a children's clothing store called Circus where Sharon is working. We stopped in to say hello and then continued on our way. We stopped in a bunch of the local shops and eventually made it to the ice cream shop. We sat in the shade and enjoyed it. It was extremely hot today, definitely in the 90's plus humidity. We walked back up to the house and then decided to head down to the beach. We were about to take our first swim in Lake Michigan on the trip. We went down to the beach and swam and laid in the sun. It was great. 4 out of the 5 lakes complete (swimming wise).

After swimming we went back to Sharon's place and we had dinner...in a couple stages. First came the brats and corn on the cob. Then we decided it wasn't enough so we ordered pizzas as well. Great combo. Sharon also gave each of us a session of massage therapy treatments as a gift. It was absolutely amazing. After all of the stress both physical and emotional it was exactly what we needed. Such a treat!!!

We aren't ready to get back on the road tomorrow, but we have to keep truckin'. We are headed to Traverse City tomorrow. Should be about a 70 mile day.

We have had a blast here in Petosky and we just want to say thank you to the Frost family! They have treated us so well and we appreciate all they have done for us. It is going to be hard to leave and hard for Kris to leave Mona, but one more month and we will be home again.

We just feel so fortunate and lucky to have so many great and generous people looking out for us. It has made the trip!

Lets hope for good weather tomorrow with a nice tailwind...