Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day Six—Back to the Good Ole USA

Today brought me back to my country, the USA. While I liked being in Canada, for something slightly different, it’s good to be in the USA. Contact in other countries is more difficult. No texting with certainty (works sometimes, sometimes not), no phone email, and phone calls that are roaming (had 5 calls from Greg Fishel, warning me of severe thunderstorm warnings on Saturday!—as if I could do anything about it.

But tonight I’m in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. When my wheels touched Michigan, I reached one of my goals; I have now ridden in 49 of the 50 states. All this in 8 years of riding is a big accomplishment. I never set it as a “goal” until I got close to doing it, but it’s an accomplishment now. I think I have ridden 135,000 miles on a bile in the eight years I’ve been riding. Have been in several countires (Canada, Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and a couple countries that won’t come to mind now). I ride a lot!

The day started nicely. Pretty sunrise, cool temperatures (50 degrees), and very minimal traffic were present when I left Thunder Bay this morning. It was a good morning to ride.

The terrain changed from yesterday’s ride to today. Much more hilly, with a lot of ups and downs as the road wound around Lake Superior. I had thought I would see a lot of the big lake, but the road got near the water only a few times. And the biggest surprise is that there are huge coves all along the way. Somehow I had pictured it as being one big lake, like an ocean. Instead, it’s riddled with coves and has lots of islands lining it’s shores.

There were several places where there was a sandy beach, but most of it is rocky where the water meets land. Sometimes big boulders, sometimes fist-sized rocks. Quite a variety.

As I rode east, the sun began hiding behind clouds more and more, with the last five hours being sunless. Clouds thickened and darkened, finally with drops falling on the bike and me. The last 60 miles or so were in the rain. Some fairly heavy, and some light, but pretty constant over the miles. And it stayed cool, with temperatures ranging from 60 in the beginning to almost 70 at its warmest to 58degrees when I arrived in Michigan. But with the bumblebee and long sleeved shirt, I stayed warm.

The last mile was the toughest; crossing the bridge from Sault Ste Marie, ON, CA to Sault Ste Marie, MI, USA. It is a two-span bridge over several bodies of water leading to the USA. At the base of the bridge is the checkpoint to arrive into Michigan. As I said earlier, it was raining. And, traffic was backed up about a half-mile, waiting to go through the checkpoint. So, there I sat on the bike, waiting in traffic, with it pouring down rain!

The bumblebee is very effective in keeping me dry. I felt two damp places in almost two hours exposure in the rain. When the rain began in earnest, I stopped to put on my three-finger gloves. They fit over regular gloves, and are almost waterproof. While they look funny, they do a good job of keeping hands dry in a pouring rain in cool temperatures.

Finally I got to the checkpoint. All went well, except the guard wanted to know the license plate number, and I don’t keep up with that. At the checkpoint going into Canada, the guard let me roll forward so he could see it and then I rolled back to his “office”. Today, he ordered me to get off the bike and call it out to him. Not wanting to have a problem, I did. But it wasn’t easy because I had pulled over pretty close to the window, leaving little space for me to get off and back on. Also, I was afraid the bike would tip over. The sidestand is too long now since I had the bike lowered, so parking it is tricky. It was almost vertical when I got off; it should be leaning against the stand to keep it up. It didn’t fall, so all was well.

The motel was a mile or so south of the border crossing.

The ride today was good, but the rain kept it from being very good. Most of the day was excellent.

Tomorrow—explore they Upper Penninsula of Michigan.

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