Another interesting and complex day on the road. Actually, it turned out to be the hardest day both physically and mentally of the entire saunter.
I slept well but woke to rain drops pattering on the tent. It sounded miserable, but synthetic tent materials always have a way of making weather of any kind sound worse than it actually is. I forced myself from the comfort of my bag into the damp air. Besides packing away wet gear, the morning was calm and I felt ready for a day of riding. Engaged in a small world conversation with my camp neighbors who have a daughter who lives right down the road from us in Portland and who happens to go to the same bicycle pub we do. They were both in their seventies I believe the man said, but looked much younger. Maybe it was their spirit, sense of adventure and the VW Westfalia van keeping them young. They were driving from Tucson, AZ to Maine and then over to Oregon. Nick & Kim, get ready, it looks like a killer trip.
From then on the day was quite challenging. I threw my leg over the bike and a hard rain started almost in sync with my departure. Windy, cold, and rainy, my favorite mix. These conditions lasted for about 18 miles or so. A slow, cold Southeast headwind would remain throughout the day. But what found its way deep into my skin was the 30 some mile stretch of road without a bend or change of landscape to be had. Ugh, It felt like I was riding in place for days. Several times I retreated from the bike to yell some obscene meaningless phrase like "Fucking Hell of a road these assholes built. Who builds straight roads like This anyway!" In hindsight, I'm not entirely sure why this bothered me so much. Probably had something to do with riding 12 days solo, too much time spent in my own head I guess. Or the wind; wind drives entire cultures to go mad.
Meanwhile, my mother was planning to drive up and meet me in Naubinway, a town about 50 miles from the Mackinaw bridge. Little did she know a thoroughly crazed mind and terrible attitude was heading her way. When I got to Naubinway, mother now in route, the only place open was a small crumbly diner. When I opened the front door, a mouse or rat scurried by. I was tired of run down depressing places at the moment. Probably because I felt run down and depressing from the day. I turned around and walked out. The next town was too far for the hour and my strength. But, I called my mom and told her I was leaving and we would have to find a place along the road to stop instead. Luck would have it, 3 miles further a nice rest stop sat along Lake Michigan. By the way, I was inland most of the day when I thought I would be enjoying the long stretches of Michigan beaches. I was off a day. My mom arrived moments after I had with a famous UP pasty, oatmeal pie, and a Bell's Two Hearted Ale. Perfect! I'm a lucky son. We enjoyed a meal together and a walk along the shore for a few hours before she headed back home and I was left looking for a place to tuck my shelter in for the night. She called a few moments later to advise me that a campground was about 4 miles East. I packed up and decided to go for it. The sun was setting, however I had just enough time to make it. Thanks mom! You lifted me from a slump yet again.
Besides the thousands, and yes I do mean thousands, of Midges hatching, the campground was completely empty, well back from Hwy 2, and had beautiful sites all along the mighty lake. I found a place tucked back with enough cedars to block the wind but not too many to obstruct the view, and pitched. At this point I was thoroughly exhausted. All I had energy to do was brew a cup of tea and hang the food up before crashing in a sea of Midges. Again, thousands filled the inside of my tarp.
I slept hard, until the Ring Billed Gulls on Hog Island, just off shore, woke me at some late hour squawking about this and that. Then a pack of coyotes, quite nearby, started their kill yelping for quite some time. The screams, yelps, howls, squawks never stopped, even for a moment. And I slept little, enough though.