Posted: 24 August 2020
Part 1 - Michigan: The Lower and the Yooper.
This 1998 two week summer vacation started out with a 7 hour drive to the Mt Pleasant area of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Betsy's sister Charlotte and her husband Joe had rented a cabin there and had invited us to spend a few days with them.
After our stay with Char and Joe we headed north to the Upper Peninsula with our camping gear, hiking boots and skinny dipping attire.
Let's hit the road!
The Great Adventure: (Travels with Mike and Betsy - 1998)
Saturday, June 13th
We left Morgantown about 8:00 a.m. It looked like a beautiful day, but soon clouded up and we had intermittent rain throughout the trip. Rt. 250 was a mistake - too much traffic and no place to pass - and the turnpike was a nightmare. It was a relief to get to the small quiet roads of Michigan! We drove through small, quiet towns with a plethora of antique shops - how's that for vocabulary, and saw some beautiful old homes.
Had a little trouble locating Char and Joe, but we finally found their nice little cabin and were soon drinking beer on the deck.
Mike and I made supper - mastacioli with peppercorn feta, tomatoes and spinach with salad and garlic bread.
Char and Joe went for a boat ride, but Mike and I watched the end of an episode of the X - files and crashed early - we were pooped!
Sunday, June 14th 1998
I'm sitting on the deck with a mug of coffee watching the quiet water and listening to the robins. It looks like it will be a beautiful day and I hope that guy I see down on the pontoon is getting it ready for us today.
We sat and relaxed and drank coffee and had a wonderful morning. We had eggs and bacon and melon for breakfast then Mike and I went for a walk. We passed mulberry trees that were loaded with millions of mulberries and we picked part of a bag full, but they're pretty bland and not my favorites.
When we got back, the pontoon was ready so we packed towels and beer and munchies and headed out. It was so relaxing! We drifted and Mike and Joe fished. Joe got a fish hook stuck in his finger and had to cut it off (the hook, not his finger) and push it through. Yuck!
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
This and the next 3 photos are scans of prints Betsy's sister Charlotte sent us.
I can never seem to get my pole at the right angle!
Sisters - Betsy and Char relaxing on the boat.
The cabin had a nice deck which Joe took full advantage of.
In the late afternoon we went to the Willow, recommended by Bob Heisrodt. It was a dive! There were guys in there changing tires! But the beer and jalapeno poppers and onion rings were good. We grilled supper and went to bed early for ***.
Bob Heisrodt (lower left) at Deckers Creek Rail-Trail Clean Up
This is the only photo I could find of Bob. I am not sure where I first met him. Bob was a carpenter and did some work on the house we built on Hornbeck Road.
He was a good natured fellow, quick to smile and also well read and conversive on a wide range of topics.
Over the years I lost track of Bob and then one winter I came back from a trip and Bob was gone. That was in 2011. Cancer. I miss him still.
Monday, June 15 1998
We got up early and left Char and Joe around 7:30. We stopped in Mt. Pleasant for groceries, gas, etc., then headed to the U.P. After looking at maps, we decided to camp at Three Lakes Camp Ground.
Our beach front site at Three Lakes Camp Ground.
Only one other site in the campground was occupied and we got a primo beach front site where we were able to skinny dip. The water was great - cool and shallow so you could walk way out and still not have it be over your head.
It was pleasantly bug free and we cooked dinner and took a walk in relative comfort, but then the hoards of insects started to arrive. So we took a final dip and took the cooler, books, knitting, postcards, etc. into the tent which we had set up right by the lake. We could sit in our little nest and watch a loon paddling on the lake!
Tuesday, June 16 1998
Morning dawned clear and not too buggy. As we sat by the lake with our coffee, we heard loons calling.
We packed up the car, then went for an hour long hike along some little back roads. A bit buggy, but breezy and beautiful. Before we left, we took a fast swim at our "private beach."
We drove on towards Grand Marais down back roads (what else are there?) and saw beautiful views of Lake Superior. We camped at 12 Mile Beach camp ground in a nice site above the beach. After supper we went into Grand Marais to make a phone call and ended up at the Lake Superior Brewing Co. where we enjoyed Sandstone Pale Ale. Then home to the camp ground to set up the tent, watch the sunset, *** and hit the hay!
Wednesday, June 17 1998
It's about 5:30 p.m. and we're sitting at the Lake Superior Brewing Co. waiting for our wings and pizza while we sip on Sandstone Pale Ale. We're sitting out in the sun looking at Lake Superior and resting our tired feet - after 13 miles of hiking! We started in the morning with a 5.2 mile hike from our campsite to 7 - mile creek. We hiked through chest high bracken fern and feasted our eyes on beautiful views of Lake Superior. Back at the camp ground we dined on buckwheat cakes and maple syrup.
We hiked a section of the North Country Trail along the shores of Lake Superior.
Beautiful Lake Superior.
We then drove to Hurricane River camp ground and hiked out to the Au Sable Lighthouse (3 miles round trip). The old houses out at the point where the keeper and assistant keeper once lived were wonderful. I'd love to spend a week in one of them! The beach was much rockier here and really beautiful. We saw lady slippers, Linnaea and coral root.
The next 3 photos are from our 2017 trip to Michigan and help illustrate some of what Betsy mentions in her Journal.
The beautiful rocky shores of the south shore of Lake Superior which we enjoyed on our Au Sable Lighthouse hike. Compare this with the sandy beach above. Lake Superior has it all!
The banks of the Au Sable dunes. The light house sits out at the very end of the point.
The Au Sable Lighthouse.
Picturesque, don'tcha think?
After a rest and quick break, we hiked 5 miles round trip to our camp ground and back! Boy were we tired. So we hopped in the car to come to Grand Marais for pizza and beer - ahhhhh!!!
But the surprise was yet to come. We got back to the campground and on one side of us was a family with two little kids, and in the sites to the other side was a large group obviously ready to party! So after a brief pow wow we pulled up stakes and stayed at Alverson's Motel in Grand Marais.
Thursday, June 18th 1998
We had breakfast in an old refurbished diner a couple blocks from the motel. Grand Marais is such a quiet, non commercial little place and I hate to think of it turning into a tourist trap, but as Mike said, with a brewing company and diner it's well on its way. We had planned to stay at a campground in the "upper" lower peninsula but couldn't find one we liked. We drove along Michigan 61 to Gladwin hoping to find a little motel there, but it was a really strange funky little town with only one motel that we definitely did not want to occupy. Our last resort was the next town past 27, Harrison. We stumbled across a little motel called the Lakeside Motel. All they had left was one little cabin - perfect despite the road noise. We threw on our suits and went down to the "beach" to swim and sit in the sun.
The cabin had a kitchenette so we were able to cook supper there and make coffee the next morning. Really a nice little place for $42.00!
Friday, June 19th
We took our time leaving the Lakeside Motel - watched an old "cop" show on TV. We went straight down the interstate towards Ft. Wayne, stopping at the Coldwater WalMart and Goodwill where Mike found an old ice crusher for 1.99.
Why did I take this photo? This is one of 4 slides I found for this trip. Did we stay here? Neither Betsy or I have any recollection of the place and she does not mention it in her journal. A mystery...
We arrived at Mother and Daddy's early afternoon. We cleaned out the car and regrouped our stuff so we would be ready to go the next a.m. Mother had delicious roast beef for supper.
~~~~~~~~~ BONUS Photo ~~~~~~~~~
Betsy Jane Beal - 1981. Somewhere in Michigan.
This photo was taken the Summer of 1981 on the very first of many trips to Michigan we have enjoyed over the last 40 years.
In 1980 when Betsy and I were still getting to know each other I gathered up all the camping equipment and the brand new North Face VE-24 tent and drove to Cleveland Heights where she was sharing a house with two other librarians.
Before Betsy got home from work I had pitched the tent in the living room. Surprise! She was suitably impressed. I think...
We then headed up to Michigan for some serious courting! Such fun. And yes, Betsy did entertain me!!!
And so ends Part 1 of our 1998 "The Great Adventure".
Next comes Part 2 where we ended up spending most of the time spinning our wheels.
Part 2: The Great Adventure
Spinning Our Wheels
By the time 1998 rolled around Betsy (48) and I (46) had a few miles under our belts - bicycle miles that is. At least we thought we had enough to try something different. Enter GOBA - the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure! As in "The Great Adventure".
Of course neither of us had ever been on a 300 mile, multi-day bike tour before and had no idea what it was going to be like. But we were soon to find out.
I had been going on hilly road rides on a regular basis. Betsy? No so much. So in order to get ready for GOBA she started a training regimen which included riding her bike to school on a regular basis.
Although the ride to Betsy's school from our house was just barely 7 miles it was a hilly seven miles as you can see from the elevation profile above. It wasn't long before Betsy had her "GOBA legs" on and she was ready to ride.
The SW Ohio route for the June 1998 GOBA had 3100 registered riders. The ride was set up so you could either stay in public facilities, camp or make your own arrangements such as hotels. Air BnB did not exist at the time. If you chose to stay in public facilities your overnight gear would be transported to the site for pick up. We spent all but one night - Friday the 26th - in hotels, which meant our camping gear rode in the truck the entire week and was used only once.
Here is the daily route, mileage and public accommodations.
Saturday June the 20th: Celina@Mercer County Fairgrounds
START 49 miles
Sunday 21st: Sidney@Sidney HS
Monday 22st: Brookville@Golden Gate Park
Tuesday 23rd: Oxford Talawanda@HS
~ Wednesday the 24th Oxford Layover ~
Thursday 25th: Eaton Eaton@East ES
Friday 26th: Tent Camp - Versailles@Varsailles HS
48 miles FINISH
Saturday June the 27th: Celina and depart for home
Total: 300 miles. Whew!
The 300 mile route was relatively flat but the unseasonably warm weather and punishing head winds took their toll on us.
Let's get rolling! Here are Betsy's journal entries which are in italics and my comments and photo captions in plain text.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
Saturday, June 20th 1998
We left Mother and Daddy's in Fort Wayne around 10:45 and arrived at Celina shortly after noon. We checked in at the Celina Motel, a slightly seedy place, then we registered at GOBA. We unloaded our luggage and rode around a little. It was hot!! We walked around town a bit, saw a beautiful old church, bought beer and ordered a pizza.
About 6:30 we headed for the campground to look around. The bike parade through town was pretty interesting!
With 3100 hundred participants we saw both people and bikes of all shapes and sizes. This couple on the tandem made some signs which played to some of the remarks people make about "The Captain" who rides front and steers and shifts, and "The Stoker" who takes rear position and peddles only.
Their signs say: "Stokers are Shiftless", "S.O.S Stokers on Strike!" and "Captains are Controlling".
Q. What do you call the person who rides rear position?
Ha, ha, ha...
Another tandem couple all decked out for the bike parade and Bike Float competition.
There was what seemed like an endless line of bikes.
This was the scene at the Barbershop Quartet performance.
We had ice cream at a church at the end, then listened to a barbershop quartet for awhile. We rode along the lake front before we headed back to the hotel.
Sunday, June 21 1998
5:30 came early! We got our stuff together, left the motel, and stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. Talked to GOBA people there.
As we started out on our route, there was already a steady stream of riders.
Our terrain was pretty flat, so that was easy, but we had a good head wind which was hard to push against. We stopped for lunch and morning and afternoon snacks. When we rolled into Sydney we were thrilled to see a pool at the Days Inn! There were lots of GOBA people there and we talked to some of them at the pool.
We had dinner at the Holiday Inn and fell into bed exhausted. No *** tonight!
We saw a lot of this. Lines. Lines for snacks, lines for the porta potties, lines for water. I guess that is what you get when you have over 3000 riders. But really, it was not so bad. Those 3000 were spread out over many miles and that thinned things out a bit.
Shown here is a rider helping another rider who has cerebral palsy exit the porta john. If you click on the photo you can see the two bikes are joined together. The rear one was set up for the fella with cerebral palsy and the front one is a more or less standard recumbent trike.
There was at least one other person on the ride living with cerebral palsy including Pete Zeidner (above) who was somewhat of a celebrity in the cycling and the CP communities.
In 1993 Zeidner started the Pedal with Pete Foundation in order to raise money for cerebral palsy research.
In late 2015, Pete’s grand notion was accomplished: cumulatively the events had contributed more than $1,000,000 to cerebral palsy research. To make this milestone even more grand, Pete completed his autobiography: “It Sucks to be a Gimp: Pedaling to Freedom” within the same year, and turned over the subsequent publishing and profits to the Pedal with Pete Foundation, and thus, cerebral palsy research. Over the course of the last 9 years, the Foundation has supported 26 grants. This is only possible because of the generous donor, sponsor, and volunteer contributions, and the rider and walker commitment to the events held in Kent and Columbus, Ohio, and Emmetsburg, Iowa.
Pete passed away quietly in early 2019 at the age of 60. The Pedal with Pete Foundation is honored to continue his legacy, partnering to fund cerebral palsy research.
Source: The Pedal with Pete Foundation
Monday, June 22 1998
We were slightly sore this a.m. After a "free" continental breakfast we joined the stream of riders. It was a beautiful morning-clear sky with haze hanging over the fields and farmhouses. Meadowlarks and redwings called from the roadsides. The terrain was more rolling and took a pretty heavy toll on us. At one point I heard two bikers conversing as they passed us. "It isn't that I didn't train enough," said one to the other. "It's that I didn't train at all!"
We met the other bike Friday couple-that was fun!
We took more rest stops than the day before. We met an older couple at one shade stop who had hiked in Europe with a camper and bike Tuesday.
It was always a mob scene at the rest/snack stops.
We were both really hurting when we got to Motel 6 in Englewood. Mike's knees hurt and I was chafed in all the wrong spots. What luck, another pool!!! We went to the pool, did laundry since a beer emptied in Mike's pannier, and had an early spaghetti at Bob Evans.
We went back to the room and pool, showered, and finally ended up in a Holiday Inn bar where we had free veggies, dip and hot wings and conversed with an interesting drunk and met his parents.
Tuesday, June 23rd 1998
We got up around 5:30. It had rained during the night and was cloudy. We ate at Bob Evans then headed for Brookville around 7:00. We got turned around a bit and by the time we got to Brookville it was 8:30. We rode from the edge of Brookville down a great paved bike trail to the campground, which we noticed was right next to a Days Inn.
The ride was cooler than the day before, but hillier too! We were both pretty sore and Mike's knee was hurting, but he began to feel better as the day went on.
"I've fallen and I can't get up!"
At one point Mike had to "go" so we stopped along a woodsy section and Mike went into the bushes. I heard him exclaim something but I couldn't make out what he said. When he came back out of the woods he was waving something and yelling "Look what I found!" It was a five dollar bill. Beer money!
We passed up going to the beach at Hueston Woods State Park because it was down a hill and we didn't want to ride up again! Luckily, the Scottish Inn had a swimming pool!!
Mike went "grocery shopping" and came back with donuts, beer, wine and Pringles.
(I forgot to mention that we stopped at a couple neat old cemeteries to rest, one with a very old church still in operation.)
After a swim, we went to the Chinese Dragon Buffet. It tasted good but we both had problems with it later. The whole restaurant was full of GOBA people - it was really hopping!
These back country roads of western Ohio are mainly used by farmers and there was very little traffic.
Speaking of farmers - this place had a nice pond and rope swing which many GOBA riders took advantage of on this hot day. You can see Betsy about to hit the water.
"Ahhh... that felt great!"
Wednesday, June 24 - Our "Day of Rest"
We "slept in" till 7:00-it was great! We lounged around, got coffee from the office, ate donuts and relaxed. Finally a little after 9:00 we made it across the street to the Phillips 27 Restaurant for breakfast. We got there just in time because the place was soon packed with hungry GOBA folks.
We then walked into town and down to the campground and it was hot, hot, HOT! We were both sweating bullets!
On our way back towards the good ol' Scottish Inn we passed a house with lots of hostas and they were all labeled. So Mike knocked on the door and the woman came out and showed us around. She said the hostas were from her mother-in-law who was a hybridizer. She also said we were the third GOBA people who had stopped by.
When we got back to the motel we planned to swim, but the pool had been invaded by a family of very large and noisy redneck types. We did not know it but the hotel owner allowed locals to pay a fee and use the pool. Lucky us. Mike said they looked like West Virginia transplants. I stayed in the pool for about an hour, but Mike could only stand it briefly. He hung out in the cool motel room.
Finally at 4:00 we headed into town again to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church for the Vegetarian dinner. Dinner was a huge helping of black bean enchiladas with Spanish rice, salsa, salad, drinks and dessert all for $5 a person. We sat with an interesting couple from Reading, PA and had a good conversation.
After supper we went to the park to listen to music and watch people "battle" with big padded mallets on a bouncy rubber mattress? A bluegrass band was going to play, but we headed back.
The rednecks were still in the pool! I went for a short swim anyway. Maybe they plan to spend the night out there. Later I joined Mike in the room for *** and then to bed and a good night's sleep.
Not surprisingly we saw acres and acres of corn and soybeans.
Once again, my journal ends before the end of the trip. Here is what I remember from those years ago.
Our day of riding to Versailles was another hot one! And tonight, our last night on the road, would be spent camping in an open field with all those many other GOBA riders. Camping items and overnight gear were transported by truck from site to site. Some overnights were on the floor in high school gymnasiums and some were actual tent pitching sites. Since this was our first long distance, multiday bike trip, we decided we would stay in the relative comfort of hotels, however the last night's destination did not have a motel within rideable (for us) distance. So there we were, riding through the heat, and not looking forward to setting up our tent (aka oven) in the middle of an unshaded sea of other tents.
As we rode through town on our way to the camping area, we passed a nice looking bed and breakfast and we thought perhaps we were saved after all. But apparently we were not the first hopeful GOBA riders to knock at the door. The proprietor said she was sorry, but she was full up and had even agreed to let another desperate couple sleep on her screened in porch.
Oh well, on to the campground. I don't really remember setting up the tent. I do remember the huge shower houses and rest rooms on wheels that had been set up to service the campground. I also remember the town swimming pool. That pool saved us! We paid our admission and were given wrists bands that would allow us to come and go from the pool for the rest of the day. And that is just what we did. Walk around, come back to the pool, walk around, come back to the pool. Many other GOBA riders were doing the same thing and you could pick them out there in the pool. They were the ones with wrists bands who weren't swimming, just standing there in the cool water with heat glazed eyes!
We found a bar for supper, hoping for air conditioning, but their AC was out and the fans they had set up did little to dispel the heat. Finally we filled up Mike's bike pannier with ice and beer and retreated to the campground.
The next morning we broke camp and returned our gear to the truck. We then had a very interesting blueberry pancake breakfast. You stood in line for your pancakes and the guy cooking them would flip them from the griddle through the air and you were expected to catch them on your plate. Luckily we did!
On our last day we heard a siren and then an ambulance went by. Apparently someone had fallen and was injured badly enough to need medical attention and transport. Not a good way to end a ride.
That was our last day of riding, covering the 48 miles back to our starting point at Celina and then on back to Morgantown.
And so ends our "Great Adventure"!
~~~~~~~~~ BONUS Photo ~~~~~~~~~
Photo: August 1989: Ektachrome 100
For those of you who read about Betsy's recent spider encounter while kayaking this photo will be relevant.
Could this be one of the 8 legged beauties which decided to hitch a ride with her?
Maybe. Maybe not...
See you next time for another Oldie Moldie...
Mike and Betsy