Sunday, 6 July 2014

On Big Two-Hearted Day

Students of American literature may get the reference to a certain short story by Hemingway set on the other side of Michigan's Upper Pennisula. It has been a good day which could have been better.

I left Boulder Junction just after a rain storm had past.  Shortly afterwards, the road opened up into a long straight showing a series of three dips and hills close in front. I called out the Simpson's line: "Ay-yay-yay! No me gusta". Then a doe appeared in the road in front of me, so I called to her "Tu me gusta!" She hesitated before bolting from the lunatic barreling down the road towards her. ;-) That sort of sums up the day.

It was cool but humid. It was mostly cloudy so I didn't bother with sunscreen. I stopped to pull on tights after 20 km as I felt a chill only to discover that one should first brush off the wet sand stuck to one's legs before doing so.

Shortly afterwards, I chanced upon a pair of road cyclists just setting off in the other direction. We stopped a chat for a bit but between the arrival of one them's wife and mosquitoes, we didn't chat long.

At lunch in a crazy excuse for a mall in Phelps, I decided I would try to further than my goal of Caspian, Michigan, subject to the availability of lodging as rain was forecast for the night. This made me make a wrong turn after lunch which took me a couple miles out of my way.

After returning to the correct road, I was rounding a corner near a wetland when I spotted what took to be two deer in the grassy bog.  Not so, they were large birds that I first thought might be emu, then concluded were sandhill cranes!  One of the birds ducked down behind a hillock of grass while the other kept a close eye on me. My theory is that there might have been one or more chicks hidden in the vegetation.  I stopped and pulled out the binoculars to get a better look, as well as take a few second rate pictures. (My camera is poor for zoom shots.)  Their bodies were "deer" colored (ochre) and they had red crests one their heads. Unless anyone can think of a better match, I am convinced they were sandhill cranes.  A little while later, after having crossed the border into Michigan, I came across some wild turkeys who scuttled into tall grass before I could deploy the camera.

A little later, the sun came out. I stopped to put on sunscreen only for a rumble of thunder to arrive. Riding before the wind and hoping to beat the rain to Caspian, I poured on the coal. I made it before it fell in earnest and found a gas station C-store with lovely big eaves to shelter Leonardo under. As I was taking the handlebar bag off the bike, a motley group of kids arrived bearing a box of returnable cans and went inside. I followed in their wake. I pondered what snackerel would suit me as a certain confusion reigned to the dismay of the 20 year old cashier. After they left, she apologized to me. I said I didn't mind as I partly waiting out the rain.

Once snack enabled, I went outside to consult my sources and to phone ahead regarding a room for the night. The first two places I phoned were in Crystal Falls (about 20 miles further on) and closed. More's the pity as it was only 3 o'clock and there wasn't anything in range beyond. I did find a room at the Chicaugon Lake Inn about 5 miles further on.

I then noticed a smiley face painted on Caspian's water tower. I was about to take a picture when a man got out of a minivan with a bike rack on the back asked me if he could pick my brain about bike touring! His name was Mike. He was from the Chicago area and he was scouting the area for a possible Boy Scout ride. I confessed that all that I really knew of the area was based from a few days experience, road maps and my Adventure Cycling maps. I showed him the latter which intrigued him, as he was a member of Adventure Cycling and had been for about twenty-five years. In fact, his honeymoon had been to cross the U.S. on a tandem in an Adventure Cycling organized trip! (He is still married after twenty-three years.) However, he didn't know about their maps. I gave him one of my cartes de visite with the url to this blog on it. After some more chitchat, I rode off, only remembering a couple of miles down the road that I hadn't photographed the smiley face. I didn't go back.

The inn turned out not to have a restaurant nearby so I inquired about getting some boiling water for my freeze-dried "just in case" food. A solution was found. A few minutes later, one of the owners came out of the office in her wheelchair as I was schlepping bags to my room. She said she was about to drive into town so would I like her to pick up a salad for me! Yes, please!

It has been an odd day in a good way.  And I remembered to email Alice a happy birthday.

1 comment:

Margo and Chris said...

Sandhill cranes?? Wow, you lucky lad!