I’ve been on the road for one month. Well, one month and one day if you’re sticky with the numbers. I’ve been lucky – or maybe unlucky depending on how you look at it – to have almost zero rain. There was a brief thunderstorm in Alberta about three weeks ago and two nights with rain overnight while I was already camped out in the safety of my dry tent. I made up for that drought today.
Before the pouring rain started, one of the bays before hitting Little Current. These clouds were the friendliest I saw all day on Manitoulin.
I was hoping to cycle 240 km to get to Batman Campground, about midway down Manitoulin Island. What was I thinking? I was mostly drawn to the name to say “guess where I stayed…Batman Campground!” What I had anticipated as another day of work really turned out to be a day of human connection.
Good morning Lake Huron!
I usually feel like I’m in control of how this trip is going. I can plan the distance, the route, the start time, and even the end time to a certain extent. There are some things that are beyond my control, mainly weather-related things like headwinds and temperatures. I have yet to develop Storm’s mutant super powers, but I wish I had them every time I hit a headwind. It would be tailwinds, every day, all the time.
I seem to have a hard time with these rest days. It’s a balance between letting my body recover and the desire to explore. Today, the balance was shifted to exploration. I had good intentions of being recumbent for most of the day, but after a few hours of Kimmy Schmidt and RuPaul on Netflix, I was itching to get going. Last night, I described Sault Sainte Marie as a bustling metropolis after traveling through these tiny 100-person towns over the last week. By noon, I was ready to check out this metropolis and see what it had to offer.
Before I die…I’d like to complete this bike ride. A variety on answers and life goals on this chalk board.
I was in the middle of a deep sleep when I heard what sounded like a child being pulled in a wagon. I checked the time – just after 3 am. I guess that’s what happens when you’re camped next to the washroom. Foot traffic to and from the facilities was inevitable. I looked out of the tent window and was surprised to see that a group of four young adults had arrived. With their flashlights in hand, they were setting up camp. It took a noisy 45 minutes before they finally stopped rustling plastic, chattering, setting off their car alarm, and waking up almost half of the campground. I was tempted to enact my revenge with a noisy tent takedown at 6:30 am, but figured that would make me just as inconsiderate to the other campers.
I used to roll my eyes every time my mom would tell me to eat breakfast or remind me that it’s the most important meal of the day. Although I was lucky to have a BBQ food cart right next to the campground last night, it was certainly not open at 8 am. The camp office and store? Closed. Of course, I picked a campground that wasn’t in a town or city. So, I stubbornly did what I had done so many mornings and figured I would tough it out until I found a half-decent place to stop. Fasting, it makes you stronger, right? No, it just makes you grumpy.
About a week ago, I met that huge group of riders who were cycling to end poverty. Eric, one of the riders, was from Michigan and kept talking about the “UP”.
You can imagine it went something like this:
“No no, I mean, what’s UP?”
“No no, I mean, what…is…the…U…P?”
He explained to me that it’s the Upper Peninsula. It also the name of an excellent animated movie, but let’s not get distracted. The Upper Peninsula is this stretch of hilly land that hugs three of the Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, and Huron (sort of). I don’t know where it officially starts, but I started seeing signs for it today.
The usual scenery on today’s route. No big deal.
Another powerful thunderstorm passed through shortly after midnight. It was similar to the one I had experienced in St. Malo with buckets of rain and a crazy lightening show that lit up the ceiling of the tent for 45 minutes. A few cracks sounded dangerously close. I just stayed on my sleeping mat, low to the ground, insulated by my sleeping bag. I don’t know if any of those things are actually protective (I don’t understand physics and electricity), but I led myself to believe they were. As you can see, I survived. In the morning, the sun cleared away the clouds and I needed to dry off the tent before hitting the road. I began decorating the picnic tables with various pieces of the tent. During that process, I met my RV neighbour, Jake, and his two dogs. He’s a former submarine operator. I’ve met people with all sorts of interesting history. We traded stories before he headed into town. I finally got myself organized and hit the road just after 11. This wasn’t the best day to delay departure since the sun was out and the temperature was rising. Although, all of these days feel cool compared to the 30+ weather during the first two weeks of the trip.
Never mind the deer and elk, watch out for the local dogs. I found this exiting Wildwood Campground Road.
Having spent three days in Minnesota, I’ve finally figured out the accent. To start, you must drop the “g” from every “ing”. Throw in a few “oh yeah” and “oh gosh”. It’s a lot like Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin Alaskan accent. It seems to apply here too. Today marked another step – I moved out of Minnesota into Wisconsin. This was exciting for a few reasons. To cross state lines was another sign of progress. I have reached approximately 50% of the total distance…hard to believe that I need to do another 3200 km…. Most importantly, Wisconsin is known as the cheese state. As a proud fromagophile (yes, this is part of my own lexicon), this seemed like the state where I would be happiest.
Hello Cheese State!
I found the bugs…better yet, the bugs have found me. Minnesota has not been as dry as the Canadian legs of my trip. The marshes and lakes are the perfect breeding ground for these annoying little creatures. I felt safe – from the bugs at least – behind my shield of tent netting. Armed with DEET and cat-like reflexes, I locked myself away as soon as dusk hit last night.
My lonely site at the Big Winnie Campground