Farewell to Michigan

Thursday, West Lorne Ontario (to be posted when I have Wi-fi access)

We bid a not-so-fond farewell to Michigan. The poor quality of the roads was exceeded only by the poor behavior of the drivers. I was buzzed by more pick-up trucks in 24 hours than in several prior years combined. This morning I was buzzed by a small city bus, which moved over to the fog line to nearly clip me, then back to the yellow line after passing. Another rider said he couldn’t believe how close a pick-up truck came to me yesterday. A different rider was taken out by a pick-up truck, which struck her with its mirror. After a visit to the ED, she was back on the bike for part of today. Even the roadkill ran to skunks in Michigan.

Entering Canada via the First Nations checkpoint at Walpole Island (via ferry), I noted no more barn-sized Trump 2024 banners and no more republican candidates trying to out-trump the man himself. No more MAGgots with posters or hats wanting to take America back.

Wednesday evening I noticed a beautifully-foreboding black sky and went in to get my phone for a picture. Radar showed storms passing us by to the north as the moved southwest to northeast.

By the time I got back to the door with the phone, the rain had begun. By dinner time the radar showed a mass of storms extending all the way to St Louis, MO and headed our way. It looked like a long, wet night ahead.

After dinner it let up briefly and I made my way to the tent. During the hard rain, my rainfly was overwhelmed and rain dripped onto my sleeping clothes. Plan B went into effect.

I put all clothes away, closed all zippers, covered luggage with plastic bags, and settled in for the night. The thunderstorms passed in a few hours and we settled in for gentle showers (which made getting up to pee easier).

By morning my sheet and sleeping pad were wet and the tent was soaked. I packed everything away, wondering about getting it dry for tonight. Indoors is an option tonight (Thursday) but not Friday through Sunday.

The forecast, which had been for rain all day at both ends of our journey as of last night, now showed showers in the afternoon. A bit of blue sky appeared and the sun shone as we left at 7 AM.

Clouds soon filled in, but winds were favorable and the road was flat and straight. I covered 90 miles in 5 hours and stopped for coffee in town, as I had not seen the gear trailer pass me.

The espresso machine offered hot chocolate or French Vanilla. I couldn’t get coffee-flavored espresso so I bought a small cup of brewed coffee and a brownie. They didn’t take credit cards and I don’t have a debit card. I asked if she took American dollars and she said yes, as her boss goes to the US frequently and uses them. While the exchange rate is 1.28:1, she gave a rate of 1:1 and didn’t seem to understand that charging me $4 US for a $4 Canadian transaction meant she was charging me >$5 US. I said, “No wonder you accept US dollars. You’re making a lot of money this way.” She actually seemed to think she was doing me a favor.

Near the hosta capital of Canada

The dew point is >70 degrees so it is incredibly humid even when it is not raining. The rain is currently just water leaking from the sky occasionally. The projected thunderstorms are not yet here. I don’t have wifi access, nor Canadian cell phone service, so the inaccurate forecasts are not available to me. We have >90 miles ahead of us again tomorrow, so I’m hoping for a break in the rain for riding and setting up camp.

I dried things as well as I could under the circumstances. Since I’m inside for the night, at least they’ll stay that way.

Food, glorious food!

After arrival at Jellystone Park, we went for a swim in the pool, then joined Gaspar for a sampling of Michigan beers. Gaspar had ridden with us for a few weeks but had to return to his usual life. He lives in Michigan so he joined us for the afternoon, dinner, camped with us, and after breakfast he drove Brian to the airport. Brian had crashed and broken his pelvis. After evaluation in the ED, he spent a couple of nights in a hotel before flying home.

Dinner was in one of the two family restaurants in Frankenmuth – after a family feud, the dissenting members opened a place across the street from the original family restaurant. The Trail Boss being an egalitarian sort, we had dinner on one side of the street (the newer place) and breakfast on the other side of the street.

Dinner was fried chicken and mashed potatoes (or vegan chili), with green beans, sauerkraut, relishes, breads, salad.

Breakfast was served in a formal dining room with white linens, freshly-squeezed orange juice, the best coffee we have had in six weeks, oatmeal, eggs, sausage, ham, French toast with fresh fruit and freshly-whipped cream; easily the best breakfast of the trip and I think I will declare the competition over.

The buffet
Breakfast is served!

It was warm and dry at night – no need to grab a blanket in the middle of the night, and a dry tent to pack.

We rode out through the covered bridge and into the countryside. There was a light overcast so we didn’t see the sun until we were near Memphis. There was a strong breeze from the south and we were headed south and east.

About 40 miles in we turned directly into the wind. I was looking for a place to go to the bathroom. (Michigan is pretty open with frequent houses so not the best place for a roadside pee.) I was also at my limit for riding without some food.

The Hammerhead passed me, with the Man in Black close behind, along with their sidekick King R. I planned to let them pass. The Man in Black pulled up next to me, offered words of encouragement, and gave me a push onto The Hammerhead’s wheel. She pulled me through the wind to the gas station/convenience store a few miles up the road, where I figured to use the bathroom and buy a snack. The sign on the door said “No Public Restroom”. I made it across the highway to the other gas station before my bladder burst. A snack and a cold coffee drink got me to picnic.

Leaving picnic we rode a few miles and turned back into the wind. It was going to be a struggle for the next 30 miles. A few miles in, I met The Hammerhead going the other way. She said, “It’s much more pleasant this way.” I wondered if she were going to ride this section twice just for fun.

A few minutes later, The Man in Black appeared, following her. A few minutes later they reappeared from behind me, towing two other riders. I joined on behind and eventually our group grew to nine as they led us into the wind. At the 65 mile water stop, I stopped and they continued on. I would have the last 15 miles alone, mostly into the wind. I said, “15 miles – that’s just a ride around the lake. I can do that any time.” So I did.

Riding into Memphis, the pavement deteriorated badly. The Trail Boss said it was bad ten years ago and just keeps getting worse. I think this is how they enforce the speed limit here.

There is a heat advisory this afternoon and thundershowers possible tonight. Then again, there were thundershowers possible during the ride and I am in Memphis dry.

My suitcase inside the tent wasn’t heavy enough to hold the tent down, so I had to hold it with one hand while staking it down with the other.

I went out to batten down my tent and saw an amazing dark sky. The air was still. I went inside to get my phone, which was charging, to take a picture. By the time I got back to the door, it was raining. I decided to forgo the picture.

Tomorrow we cross the border into Ontario. If there is no Wi-fi there may be a day or two without a post, as I don’t have an international cell plan. I know where there is Wi-fi in Niagara Falls for the weekend.

Local politics

On the ferry across Lake Michigan I saw a guy with a hat saying “Trump 2024 – Take America Back”. I didn’t think I had to ask from whom and for whom. I chose not to engage in conversation. Today I saw a campaign sign that said “Trump 2024 – Save America”. The same two questions did not need asking. A yard sign around here says “My Governor is an idiot”. There are a couple of variations on this one. A candidate (Tudor Dixon) calls herself an “America First Real Conservative Republican”. It might have said “true”, not “real”. I can’t verify it now.

I figure “America First” must mean she wants to focus on improving social services, invest in infrastructure, maybe establish a National healthcare system. That would be putting America First. I do not think that is what she means. (I know that’s not what she means.)

Turns out she has been endorsed by Betsy DeVos (of the Amway fortune and the Trump administration). Since DeVos resigned from T’s cabinet after the failed insurrection, one of Dixon’s opponents says he is the true conservative because DeVos is “an anti-MAGA turncoat” and he is “an outsider and businessman like President Trump”. He is also awaiting trial for his part in the failed coup. T endorsed Dixon.

Five other Republican candidates were disqualified for fake signatures on their nomination papers. Attempted vote fraud is real and being perpetrated by multiple Republicans.

By the way, Dixon won the primary and says “Thank you President Trump. It’s time to elect a real woman in Michigan.” I’m not sure what that means about the current Governor, who is a woman and seems to be real, or all of the other women who have been elected in Michigan over the years. I guess they are real and are women but are not real women. Who knew?