I'm sitting in the comfort of my parents home trying to think of a way to wrap up the last day. It's a tough thing to do it seems. Usually I don't blog or really even think about trips while they are in-process. This is a first for me. Sometimes, I wait up to a year to share thoughts and pictures from a trip like this. Why? Well, I think it has something to do with how slow my brain processes experiences. It's like reading a book, and thinking you understand it, then a week rolls by and some little daily thing happens and you think "oh shit, the Valley of Ashes, duh!" I listens to several audiobooks on my trip and the Great Gatsby was one of them. Anyway, the point is, thoughts and emotions need to marinde for awhile before I believe you can truly understand them.
There are some interesting things reflecting daily shares with oneself though. For instance, the edges of the experience are sharp in the mind. Time doesn't have time to soften the memory of an intense moment. One of these moments would be when I stopped to walk down to the wonderful beach on Lake Michigan along Hwy 2; the vast cloud of Caddis Midge flies and the sensation of hundreds landing on my body as I tried to hurry through was both creepy and meditative. I wouldn't describe the experience as comfortable, but it was unique and strangely acceptable for a moment anyway. Over time, I might even completely forget this experience, besides a simplified version of how many bugs there were. Another experience was how, for the first time since the beginning of the trip, when the Macknac Bridge popped into view, I felt as though I was going to make it. The tendon and knee issues that plagued my thoughts starting on the 4th day gave me little confidence that I would roll up to this massive bridge on 2 wheels. That felt damn good.
Unfortunately, you can't ride across the bridge, you must be transported. The bridge authority who gave me a lift did not seem to keen on cyclist. He seemed a bit put out and made a few comments such as "Are you riding on the roads, why don't bikers ride on the dirt next to the roads instead. Seems safer for everyone." He could have been genuinely concerned but his dark sunglasses and rough approach made it difficult to get a read. What was interesting to me though, was when he dropped me off. He was sporting a Red Wings cap. Gina and I happen to be huge fans of the Wings. I asked him his thoughts on the playoffs, and the flood gates opened with conversation. About 30 minutes of hockey talk actually. Nice break and good conversation. Go Wings!
There is an incrdible bike path that connects Macknaw City to Indian River; it's mostly a pressed gravel mix though and my tired body was done with it after a few short miles. I jumped onto Hwy 23 along Lake Huron. There was a cold breeze that slowed me down and caused my knees to begin steadily aching. After 14 miles, 23 cuts inland to Cheboygan. Now there was only 20ish miles left until my home town. This last leg was a true highlight of the trip. Everything was familiar to me, my knees and tendons loosened up in the warmer inland temps, and I knew I was going to make it all the way to my parents front door.
I rode fairly slow and steady to take in the last moments of the trip. When I reached Topinabee, about 12 miles from the place of my youth, my parents pulled up along side me for a bit of support. I continued on to town to meet them at the Dairy Mart after a short visit to a swimming hole I used to hang around most hot days as a teenager. The ice cream hit the spot, never tasted so earned. An easy 5 miles took me the rest of the way to White Rd. and the Sturgeon River where my pops met me on his bike.
The ride started at my good friends house in Minneapolis 13 days back and ended at the house of my childhood. The longest bike trip I've done thus far; it dished out all sorts of experiences my way, some good, some bad, and all interesting. Paul told me that he wouldn't be surprised if I just started to find my rhythm and felt the urge to continue on the last day. He has 6 months of experience traveling with his partner through South America on 2 wheels; he was absolutely right. I would need 3 or so days to rest up, but could see continuing for another few months. That being said, I miss my family in Portland, A-Lot. I need to get back to running a business. I need to get back to a relaxing weekend bike tour through wine country with Gina and some close friends in just over a week. And I need to eat ice cream, lots and lots of it.....