Sunday, June 26, 2011

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head

Donning our bright yellow rain jackets, the ten of us left Charlevoix heading for Mackinaw City about 73 miles away. The first 17 miles were along a gorgeous bike trail skirting Lake Michigan. And, yep, it's still raining.

We are in the Petoskey area, which coincidentally is where Petoskey stones are found :) They are fossilized coral with a fascinating honeycomb pattern on them, and are found along the beaches of Lake Michigan. Jeanne knew the general vicinity to look, so we stopped to do a little rock hunting. I know, I know---I'm a grown woman and I still collect pretty rocks. Jeanne found one right away. Continuing through the town of Petoskey, I saw a cute house with rocks neatly surrounding their flower beds. Gotta be Petoskey stones, right? The owners had found a bunch!

Cool, huh?

Here are some awesome pictures, showing what they look like after they're all polished up.

The town of Petoskey, also, had some adorable Victorian style homes.

How cute is that?

Breakfast at Johan's in Harbor Springs
Mike Roon, Shane, Joy, and Mike

Townhouses in Harbor Springs

You may need a bike to ride from one end of your boat to the other.

Harbor Springs

The picture I really wanted to get was standing behind these chairs looking out at the lake. But on closer inspection it was loaded with poison ivy. Instead, I got a nice photo of the chairs with Joy coming back to see what's distracted me now.

Shortly after I took this picture I was given a nice, little pep talk to try and focus so we could get to our destination---Mackinaw City.
What?! And miss everything?

Lunch stop in the town of Goodhart. Can these towns get any cuter?! This is our fearless leader, Mike, and one of the fearless followers, Jeanne.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the Road Again

Finally. Let's get this party started. Riding about 68 miles today from Ludington to Beulah, Michigan. Did you know that Lake Michigan has 116 lighthouses? They're not just for oceans anymore. (Spoken by a person from a land locked state.) This one is in Manistee.

And just around the corner (literally) is this cute neighborhood.

These daisies are everywhere. I have to keep myself from gathering them by the handful. I do, however allow myself to pick a pretty flower here and there, and wedge them onto a spot on my handlebars.

These dainty irises are all over the place, too.

One of the hardest parts of these rides is that we don't have enough time to stop and look at everything. For instance, what do you think is at the top of this staircase? No time to find out.

I did get sucked into this cute little store though to buy a postcard. And a sticker. And sample a piece of fudge :)

Thankfully, some construction workers pointed out some poison ivy to us. All I could remember is something I learned in Girl Scouts: "Leaves of three, let it me." I am certain they saved us from some kind of nasty rash. Thanks guys!

Pretty innocent looking, isn't it? It's everywhere!

We really haven't had very many great views of Lake Michigan yet. Just a peek, here and there. But this one was breathtaking. Oh my!

A few weeks ago we were watching a piece about golfing in Michigan on the Golf Channel. In between highlights of fabulous golf courses, they would show other interesting places to check out while you're in the area. One dining recommendation was The Cherry Hut in Beulah, Michigan. Their motto seems to be "Anything is better if you add cherries to it." Anything. The Golf Channel highlighted their cherry hamburgers. I had my mouth set for one of those all day. Would it be sweet? Have a different texture? Would I see red bits of sweetness when I bit into it? Joy and I shared one for lunch. Turns out it did taste good and was quite moist, but we had to ask if we had really gotten the cherry hamburger. So, it tasted about the same as a regular hamburger, but lower in fat. Other items on the menu: Cherry BBQ Pork, Cherry Jelly and Peanut Butter, Cherry Chicken Salad Croissant and, of course, just pick your favorite dessert and they have a cherry version of it.

And if you like your cherries inside and out, in the ladies room you can use complimentary cherry hand soap, cherry lotion, and cherry perfume.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

We're Back in the Saddle Again

After a verrrry loooong winter we're back at it. We signed up for a tour with Mike Roon owner of Michigan Coast Riders.  We are going to ride our bicycles counter-clockwise around Lake Michigan. According to my travel guide Lake Michigan is "the third largest of the five Great Lakes in surface area. It is about 300 miles long, an average of 75 miles wide, 118 miles across at its widest point, and up to 925 feet deep." Starting in Muskegon, Michigan, our route will take us just over 1000 miles (assuming we don't get lost) and 14 days. That turns out to be about a 75-mile bike ride every day with one day off. There are nine riders with three support crew members. We, somehow, tricked our good friend Joy Hunter into riding with us. This is her first time riding anything like this. We, also, get to reconnect with our pals, JB and Loren, from Maine. JB rode the East Coast with us last summer.

Yesterday we met up with the team and our bikes were assembled by, Shane and Brad, our talented mechanics. My bike, affectionately known as Gladys, had a bent derailleur acquired upon shipping. Shane was able to bend her back into shape and I think we'll be ok. (Cross your fingers.)

We took the bikes out for a little warm-up ride. I had been craving stroopwaffels (a yummy, syrupy, Dutch cookie) and ta-duh! we happened upon a cute Dutch Bakery in Muskegon----owned by an authentic Dutchman.
One of the best parts of these long bike rides is eating. We're always on the lookout for our next snack stop. And by "we" I guess I actually mean me.
It's always so fun to meet and talk to Nederlanders. Mike practices a little Dutch and pretty quickly we have some new best friends. This little bakery was decorated with klompen (wooden shoes) and all kinds of Dutch trinkets. 
This is Lake Mona. So far, we haven't actually seen Lake Michigan. We understand it's just like the ocean, but you can drink it.

Sunday we didn't ride. We watched the other cyclists take off from the hotel, then we went to church. According to my father-in-law (and Disney), "it's a small, small world." We attended the Spring Lake Ward. It was just two miles down the road from our hotel. So, we walk into the chapel and sit down. I look up and there is Ken Otto, the ophthalmologist I served with in Cambodia last summer! What a great surprise to see him again. I had forgotten that he is a Michigander.

A huge part of the fun of these bike trips is the people you meet---whether it's the other cyclists, or random people along the way.

And the food.... Just tryin' to be honest.

Tomorrow is our first day riding. We are excited to get going!

For more photos see the Michigan Coast Riders blog, and also here.