"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

First days on the UP

Our Route: St. Ignace - Gould City - Nahma 

The first section along US Route 2 presented several surprises. After that it became a heads-down grind until we reach Manistique

Total Miles: 116
Max. Grade: 3%


Last view of the Mackinaw Bridge as we head west along the
Lake's northern edge
Whatever I expected to see riding on Route 2 across the Upper Peninsula it was not what I found – at least not for the first 40 miles coming out of St. Ignace. Remember I said that we’d be leaving the dune country behind once we got to Mackinaw City? WRONG! Remember I feared that we’d have no place to eat, little water, few rest areas and nothing but endless vistas of trees? WRONG! The road from St. Ignace at least to Naubinway surprised me completely. We road through miles of gorgeous, untouched dunes with spectacular views of Lake Michigan to our left.
Stopping for a short break along Route 2

The day – perfect: sunny, warm enough and with that most beloved tailwind to push us along.  The road, while busy with truck traffic (some rather LARGE) sported a nice, wide and very clean shoulder.  And while it was true that services come less frequently than in other areas, we still had plenty of food and rest stops.

Northern Most Point

Just before reaching Naubinway we crossed the Northern Most Point on Lake Michigan. Aside from its geographical significance, it also marked the politicalboundary of what Congress declared "Michigan Territory" in the 1806. All else to the west was designated "Indiana Territory."  Ten years later, in 1816 the boundary was push further west to the Mississippi in a move consistent with the US policy of pushing the Indiana tribes further and further away from white settlement areas. But, to us the point marks a significant milestone on our journey. Two weeks ago we were near the southern most point while at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Surprisingly this northern point is almost as sandy as its southern counterpart. The vegetation is a little scrubbier, a little shorter, but similar in type despite the fact that their climates have to be drastically different, particularly in the winter. 

Along with reaching the Northern most point, we crossed our mileage half way point somewhere around Manistique. In many ways it seems unbelievable that we've come all this way just one pedal stroke at a time. When we look at the distance on the map, when we compare where we were from day to day it doesn't look that far. But, when we have the opportunity to gaze across the vast water scape to places past, they appear SO FAR AWAY!!! Hard to image that we actually were there not long ago. 

These days our orientation is in constant flux. The Lake is no longer stable in one place. It has moved from being on the east when we left home, to being north then west for a long time and now generally south. Yet its direction moves more frequently than that we we go up and down various small peninsulas and around large and small bays. The sun being out until almost 10:00pm doesn't help much either and stays mostly to the south. My traditional sense of direction is getting turned topsy-turvy for sure. 

Robb fixing my flat tire & battling bugs along Rt 2

The Long and Tiresomeness of Route 2

Once we left Naubinway the road turned straight west and moved away from the shore. And I mean STRAIGHT - miles and miles of STRAIGHT, FLAT and busy road. The body gets weary of riding in the same position mile after mile, with little visual distraction and no hills to climb or descend. We long for the steeps of the earlier days. The riding becomes more of a mind game than a physical one. We take whatever chance we can get for even a small break. Thankfully the weather has co-operated and we haven't needed cover from either rain or heat. But still the road goes on. 

Riding the boardwalk along the shore near Manistique

1 comment:

  1. What wonderful descriptions you're painting of your excellent adventure with my amazing brother, Will. I've read every one and it's the next best thing to being there with you. Thanks for sharing it with us. Stay safe. - M.E.