"We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." ~Oscar Wilde
"Adventure is worthwhile in itself." ~Amelia Earhart

August 17, 2008

Summer 2008 Bicycle Tour - June 25

(I took video of the thunderstorm but my camera simply does not do night shots. In other words, it came out terribly. Which is disappointing because it was actually a beautiful sight.)

June 25 - 74 miles

Maybe I just picked a bad day to camp there or a bad location to set up my tent but Runkle City Park was LOUD last night. I set up my tent near a baseball diamond that seemed to be the gathering place for the town's teenagers. All their conversations could be heard until the park closed at ten pm. I was amused by one conversation:

Girl One to Girl Two: Omg, don't worry about her. She's just jealous of you. You're so much cooler. I mean, look at your friends and look at hers!
Girl Two: OMG! I know!
Me (thinking): When did I enter an 80's teen movie?!?

Anyway, I woke up at 8am with the sun shining on my tent. It was nice not to feel the bitter 50-something cold for once. Soon after, I packed up and walked back up the Hill of Death and got back onto US Highway 2. In Iron Mountain, a small city of 45,000, there was a 'Michigan Welcome Center' where I picked up a few travelogues and maps. I was originally planning to spending the night in town but it was still early and I figured I could make it another 20 or 30 miles. Down the road, I stopped at a restaurant and was talking to the waitress and a guy at the counter about my trip. I found out Escanaba was only 27 miles away. Though it was getting late (7pm), I decided to try to book it and ride through the night until I got there.

Around 9pm, It was pretty dark as I passed the Island Resort & Casino, a glittering complex large enough to be the Vegas Strip. If I were sensible, I would've stopped there. But we all know I'm rarely sensible. Since the highway had a wide, paved shoulder and because I had decent lights, I thought it would be enough to continue on through the night. I did not, however, account for...rain. A few miles down the road, clouds far to the north of me began to rumble and light up. Remembering the soaking I'd gotten a few days beforehand, I grimaced and began to look for shelter. In Sanders, MI, I spotted a bus shelter to my left. Behind it was a town park with a playground and some picnic tables. I sat at one of the tables and waited.

To the north of me, the clouds continued to flash. Above, the skies were clear and, as the night grew darker, stars began to peek out. While my knowledge of the constellations is weak, I was able to pick out the Big and Little Dippers, something I never would've been able to do in light-polluted Minneapolis. To the east, small industrial buildings and a gas station stood next to the highway I'd just deserted. To the west, there were a few Victorian homes, some small retail shops, and some railroad tracks. At one point, a horn sounded in the distance and a few minutes later, the railroad crossing sign began to ding and light up. Thirty seconds later, a freight train headed north (probably to Escanaba) roared past.

The storm never hit Sanders. It passed harmlessly by. I could feel it pumping its humidity into the air that was growing chillier by the minute. Around 3am, I got tired of waiting, left the park, and tried to continue down the highway. I got a mile before I realized it was too unsafe. Even with lights, the pitch-black night made it difficult to see the road. I pulled into the driveway of an industrial building and waited there as the sky grew lighter above me.

I think this was a restaurant and/or bed & breakfast.

Not sure which river this was. It's probably just outside of Norway, MI.

Went a little farther than I expected?!?

Have I mentioned how much I love the tackiness of roadside America?

Really! It's fantabulous!


The Fearless Blog said...

Each state, city and town has its own quirkiness I guess. This makes for great pictures, though. Love the giant and the white bear. They are a first for me. The architecture of the restaurant or B&B is fabulous. What a lovely structure. I still can't get over you being out there in the dark, in the storms, on the road...all by yourself. I am curious to know why you did this and how is it that you were so unafraid and confident.

Titania Starlight said...

I liked that Norway pic. I did not know you could get to Norway so quickly, just by land! :o)~

That is a beautiful bed and breakfast.

Ferd said...

GREAT story and GREAT pictures! What fun!!
Twitter was cool, but just did not do justice to your experiences. I'm so glad you are posting these!

fren_ace said...

great pic.
all are cool...
visit also my blog if you have time

Berryvox said...

TFB - I'll write a quick post about that. :)

Titania - That B&B/restaurant was beautiful. :)

Ferd - That's partly why I was cursing myself for buying a desktop instead of a laptop. Writing by hand was annoying.