We are firmly in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan right now (I’m writing this from the Munising Public Library while we wait for a boat tour of Pictured Rocks National Park), and it feels LEGIT like we’ve biked a long ways these days. Michigan! It felt pretty monumental for me when we crossed into Minnesota, I think because that feels like the start of where I know basically nothing about the country anymore. And now that we’re in Michigan, damn, it feels even farther.
Distance is a funny thing these days. Maybe a week ago, I was scheming a blog post that I never ended up being in a library to write where I talked about slowing down. It felt like we were (intentionally) slowing and were still going to slow down a bit: some of that was to take some time around the headwaters of the Mississippi River, where we camped for two whole nights at Itasca State Park and then went only like 40 more miles down the road to Bemidji State Park; some if it was to see an old coworker and then play a little in Duluth around my birthday, and some of it was plans that didn’t work out anyway (i.e. to go to Isle Royale). For a second, it felt like, yeah, we’ve come really far, we still have more than a month left, so now we’re gonna play.
But then it started to feel like we still have soooo much country left, and do we actually have time to play? This is the push and pull of a long-distance bike trip, where you’re never quite sure what the conditions will be like, or how you’ll feel, or how much hill you’ll have, or if you’ll find something amazing that you want to stick around for (like swimming in Lake Superior, for example, or taking a somewhat significant detour to stay in a friend’s cabin by the lake;) So now it feels a little like we’ve tipped back into “must bike far” mode — which is a funny thing for me to say today of all days, where we’re chilling in Munising and taking a boat tour, ha.
All of which is simply to say, these are the kinds of things that go on in the back of my mind as we’re traversing the country. The tension between seeing things and getting places; the delicate balance of when to stop and when to push. I’d say sometimes we nail it and sometimes it feels more like a self-enforced slog, but on the whole I think we’re nailing it (or at least hitting it;) more than we’re not.
(we crossed into eastern time sooner than I was expecting! Somewhere in the UP)
In other news, I finally made myself a spreadsheet of mileages that I pulled from my caltopo map, and we’ve biked almost 3,000 miles so far! (Actually, by the time I add on what we’ve already biked today, we’re over 3,000 miles). So that feels pretty awesome! We’ve weathered our first ginormous lightning storm, where it dumped rain and thundered and lightning-inged on us for hours and we finally pulled over at a “roadside park” (Michigan’s rest stops up here) and camped under a not very tall but rather waterproof pine tree to ride it out for the rest of the night. Don’t worry, there were many other trees that were much taller around, ha. (We’ve seen lots of other storms, but nothing that big and that wet all at once). We’ve also been bitten by many mosquitoes, though they are not as bad as I was fearing, and the flies haven’t been as bad either.
As always, there’s tons to say and not enough time to say it when typing at a public library, but there you go, random from-the-road update. :)