Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sault Star Article Update

The article that the Sault Star published about my trip never got posted online but I have posted a scanned copy of the article here for those of you who are interested in reading it.

Monday, July 03, 2006



Saturday, July 1, 2006
Sunday, July 2, 2006

Posted on July 3, 2006

I apologize for the tardiness of this final posting. It's been Canada Day holidays up here and the library, where I get access to Internet, was closed. Also, my trusty helper, Suzanne, was too busy and could not get to the Blog this time. But I am now posting this from the Library computer. By the way, we were surprised to find the article about my journey published so quickly (today, July 3) in The Sault Star (on line at see the "Algoma" section); the reporter did a fine job.

I will now pick up with where I had left off, earlier:

So, it’s come down to the final entry to this Blog that Suzanne created for me, “Bob Rides Into the Sunrise.” I am sitting in the screened porch of our cottage on St. Joseph Island, writing these notes on my laptop. The St. Mary’s River, linking Lakes Superior and Huron, is in front of me. The boat I’ve been mentioning that Lynn transported sits on the beach, tarped, ready to be launched when we get ready. It’s sprinkling with the threat of some big stuff off to the West on its way in. I enjoy the realization that I am not out on the road somewhere at the mercy of the weather. It’s wonderfully quiet here, with some birds chirping. Lucy, our dog, is at my feet. Lynn is doing the laundry. I’ve just gotten through mowing down some big, thick growth to make a couple of paths we can use. Music from the iPod that Suzanne loaded with 35 days of music is playing in the background. I’d have to say that life is good here.

My trusty bicycle sits to the side on the porch. I am aware of developing a kind of love affair now with my bike. We have been through a lot together on this trip, gotten very close, and I have a dependency on it. I kind of feel like my bike also is dependent on me (healthier to think of all this as an “interdependence,” I should think), and it just sits there wanting to go for yet another ride. It is denuded of its panniers. Instead of looking like some sort of pack horse, as it did, the bike now looks sleek, ready to take off. It has a certain beauty to it. Now free of its weight, the bike is agreeably lighter, too, and much better balanced. I plan to ride it here, avoiding my SUV, except when Lynn and I and the kids (when they arrive in mid-July) go out together, or when we need to haul garbage to the dump or go out for the ever-needed supplies.

I want to capture in this entry some recollections of my journey, now that I have some time and a bit of distance. As with any significant event that one has experienced, I’m sure there will be new revelations as time goes on, but this is where I am now…

First, as I am writing these notes I must say that I hurt. I think this is more related to PMR-prednisone than it is to the bike trip, although my quads yesterday were sore to the touch. Because I am not jumping up in the morning, and immediately (after breakfast and prednisone) and riding, the stiffness and discomfort of morning is more noticeable and more difficult to get rid of. So, I would have to say that the constant cycling action, 7 or 8 hours a day, had a positive effect on my health.

I have not crashed. I have been able to take part in some of the usual cottage opening up chores I always do. This is good, as there is a lot to do when a place has sat all winter in the middle of the North woods on a big body of water.

Yet, I also have been unable to sleep well, still. Very fitful. Why? My hypothesis is that I have not yet uncoiled from the very tightly focused energy I must have mustered to complete the 700 mile trip in 10 biking days, with my bike being fully loaded. Looking back, this “project” was one of the most intensely focused physical and psychological ones I’ve experienced. Running marathons also certainly qualifies, but they last for just a few (highly demanding) hours. The hike I did a year ago on the Appalachian Trail also qualifies, and even though it was just 5 days long, I returned much more beat up from it than I had anticipated being possible. With this “ride into the Sunrise,” I put myself on a very tight and rigorous schedule because I was goal-directed: to see sights along the way but, ultimately, the priority was to successfully make the journey from my front door in Cincinnati to my front door on St. Joseph Island at a fairly demanding pace. It became clearer to me that this was not a leisurely tour, although it had its moments. Rather, it was a mission needing to be accomplished.

And, I did it! Having heard by phone from friends who have been so congratulatory and apparently amazed at the speed by which finished the journey, I have become proud of having completed the trip, coming through unscathed, covering the fairly vast distance much faster than I had planned.

What else stands out? Most of what I will discuss can be found somewhere in the previous Blog entries, I suspect, and you may recall some references.


Conversations along the way with waitresses, motel clerks, fellow diners at restaurants, people I bumped into by chance, my friends and family who supported me all the way. Just a few examples might give a sense of what I mean. Right away on moving up one of the big hills (Gray Road) to climb out of Cincinnati, I will remember the old lady who was sweeping her porch and, when she saw me stopped on the side of the hill to catch some air, yelled out words of encouragement and of caution. Mr. Homan, from Coldwater, Ohio who came out of his shop to find out what I was doing, where I was going, and was so interested and friendly. Mr. Moore and his cronies at Bubba J’s in Paulding, Ohio and before that, the ladies at Los Gallitos who took the time to map out a less heavily trafficked route out of town. Suzanne, who joined me for 2 days on this ride, along with her boyfriend, Pete, who couldn’t ride this time, but maybe next—what a great Daughter-Dad trip! And for all of her great support along the way when we would talk by phone and she would keep my Blog going, and how she would scour Google to give me some alternative routes and possible places to stay up ahead. Zack, who is working this Summer at Georgetown U and could not come on this trip, who was so helpful during all the planning for it. Rob, the AmeriHost motel clerk in Ionia, Michigan who let me use an office computer to log into my email and keep up my Blog and who volunteered to have my rancid bike clothing be washed along with the daily motel wash. Doug Lamb, who came all the way from Bloomington, Illinois to catch up with me in Ionia, Michigan, no doubt at some sacrifice. My brother-in-law, Chuck and my sister, Mary, who also joined me in Ionia and then Chuck rode with me for 2 days up and down the hills, along the heavy traffic, down the country roads, and Mary would join us for great milk shakes along the way and, at the Homestead in Six Lakes, Michigan we laughed so hard at the sign which warned, “Some day you will find yourself…and wish you hadn’t.” The Super 8 motel clerks in Evart, Michigan who turned their Meeting Room into an overflow motel room for Chuck, Mary and me when there was no other room in any Inn, anywhere around. Of course, Lynn, who also joined us for a night in Ionia as she went out of her way on the course to pick up our new boat in Fenton, Michigan in her march to the Island—and for all her love and support throughout this journey, my planning for it, doing it, and now recovering from it. Although I really do not know him (yet), Marshall Eldred advised me to check out the “Lakes” area of Michigan (Petoskey, Harbor Springs, etc.), instead to the more direct inland route I had been plotting. The “Angel of Rudyard” was very special to me, appearing out of nowhere to guide me to a motel I badly needed that was on no one’s map, getting me to the Library email service, showing me a spiritually oriented book while at the Library, and then suddenly disappearing. The kindness of other strangers all along the way who, when I asked about my unknown whereabouts (usually on a side road with no signs or when coming suddenly on several options, none of which were marked) would point me in the right direction (most of the time!). And, of course, everyone who followed along on the Blog and participated, you were very encouraging. Steve and Marcia even plotted my planned itinerary with my actual route….. Donna Schell, the Sault Star reporter, her genuine interest in my story and her impressive interview once I arrived on the Island. I will look forward to what her Editor does to her story in an upcoming edition of the Star.


Walter Alston, the famous Dodger manager’s, marker in Darrtown, just outside Cincinnati. So near, but it took this bike trip to find it. Mark Center, Ohio, just a cross in the road, where we met the Postmaster and a most colorful local resident, posing for many pictures and lots of stories. I loved the little towns, I am very partial to them having grown up for several years in one of the smallest. Greenville, sorry I had missed the sandwich shop that has been extolled by Al Dye in the Blog, but I did see Annie Oakley’s statue. Van Wert seemed very pretty. Hillsdale, Michigan was a picture postcard of a spot, a place one could easily curl up with. Albion also seemed pretty (the latter two towns are college towns), but the impending Tornado warnings and heavy rain Suzanne and I had to deal with registers more heavily. The simple beauty of the “Wayside Chapel, where passersby can find some needed solace, along side Route 66 outside Marion, Michigan. The highly refined beauty and friendliness of the Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs area where I was a “resorter” for two days will remain with me as will the quietly unfolding majesty of Route 119 around Lake Michigan to Mackinac City, with spectacular Lake views, sand dunes, the Tunnel of Trees. Being transported over the Big Mac Bridge, because one cannot walk or ride a bicycle over it, was sort of being treated like royalty…The Northern Country Inn at Rudyard, Michigan whose sight I was so happy to see after so many miles, with the bed pillow aphorism to be followed: “Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much.” The side of the road, which I mentioned in an earlier entry, which at times was as if we were “riding with the road kill;” squashed, dead deer, possums (vicious teeth), raccoons, snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, wood chucks. On the main highways, which are direct but fraught with the terror of fast-moving large vehicles of many kinds (tractor trailers, RV’s, buses, motor homes, pick up trucks, not to mention speeding autos), the road side contains the animal residue and also bits and pieces, chunks of detritus—metal scraps, bolts, mufflers, tire treads, glass shards, screws, nails, etc. any and all of which can be bad news for a bicycle. The roads I spent a lot of time on: Route 60 in Ohio, Route 66 in Michigan…The “higher risk” highways I traveled will not be missed: sections of US 127 in Ohio and Michigan (from Van Wert to Paulding was especially harrowing, as is 127 out of Cincinnati to Hamilton), Rte 131 from Kalkaska to Mancelona, Michigan, parts of Highway 17 East from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario toward St. Joseph Island turn-off. These are places a cyclist could too easily wind up in trouble very quickly due to limited space, fast-moving traffic, huge vehicles. Coming upon the St. Joseph Island turn-off from Highway 17, finally, after all those miles and all that pumping, and feeling relief and joy at my cottage.


Flying down a long, steep hill at 35 miles an hour. And making it safely, too! Cranking up the same, long hill a few minutes before not topping 6 miles an hour and working very hard, in “Granny Gear.” Of the two, though, I prefer flying to cranking, bu there is a real sense of accomplishment in climbing the mountain. My legs getting stronger as time went on. Peaceful interludes on the back highways, crossing fields of gold and green, hills and dales, trees and lakes on all sides at times, hearing nothing but singing birds and my own breathing. At times of “flow,” bursting into songs and being surprised at what came out, mostly old ones from the 60’s and 70’s: Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, and even John Denver…at the end of the day, noticing I had come 80 miles, or 70 miles—not the 50 I had been trying for. Being able to locate in my packs what I needed—a tool, a map, my rain jacket when the rain hit—was a wonderful feeling. Searching for what seemed to be forever to find something was too often my experience, but certainly it was a part of my experience to be remembered. Laughing and sharing common moments with my “guests” who went way out of their ways to join me for parts of this trip. Knowing that I was being cheered from afar by so many friends and family was, and is, a deeply comforting and satisfying feeling. Realizing that “I can do this,” this very demanding and challenging adventure of 700 miles, despite the heavy load, despite the PMR, despite the threatening weather, despite the hills, despite the saddle sores, even despite my age…this is an empowering awareness. And, maybe finally (at least for now), allowing this journey to stand as a kind of metaphor for my approaching retirement, with its challenge, adventure, uncertainty, beauty, and threat—riding toward the sunrise, not the sunset, as life goes on.

I am reading two books right now, each given to me by my sisters for my 62nd birthday, and signaling the occasion of my impending retirement as well as the big bike trip that was upcoming. Julie’s is called, Bicycle Love: Stories of passion, joy and sweat. Mary’s is called, Goal-Free Living: How to have the life you want NOW! I am valuing these books. The first one is a collection of juried short stories about rider’s experiences with their bikes and their journeys. In one of these stories, Joshua Craine Anchors quotes Ernest Hemingway who said, “nobody lives their lives all the way up except bull fighters.” I agree with Anchors, who questioned the great writer on this viewpoint. On my ride into the sunrise of 70 mile days, complete with full panniers, I have to think I was living very close to “all the way up.” Each day was a contest, every mile was a challenge, sometimes a real gut check, sometimes a job that I had to do, and other times a period of joy. When at my best, I developed an “at-oneness” with my bike, with the road, with the air around me along the way. That feeling is to be treasured, and serve as a touchstone for life itself. Regarding the second book, I want to view my next stage of life as a period of “goal-free living.” Not being tied to and directed by goals to be met, around which there is a pressurized atmosphere. I want and need there to be meaningfulness, but my “goal” is for it to evolve through a more spontaneous, inner-directed existence that is connected to life opportunities. I want to develop a new relationship with Time and to experience my life as a more open, emerging state allowing me to be more observant, more in touch with the environment and with others. I would like to be more like Mr. Moore from Paulding who, you may recall, sat in Bubba J’s restaurant and joyfully talked with others and seemed to be very much in relationship. Not that I will sit, only (or to imply that is all Mr. Moore does). I need challenge, a lot of it. So, there will be continuing professional challenge, writing and consulting and through Charting Your Personal Future (see, if interested). There will be more time to sit and think, dream, or just hang out--and to be at Rosebush Cove, our Canadian cottage, as well as in Cincinnati. There also will be physical challenge, I hope, with more bike trips, or maybe duathalons, kayaking, travel, boating, or--who knows? I very much am attracted to the notion of, “Who Knows?”

Last, I offer my sincere thanks to all of you who followed along, who came on board along the way, who were with me, as Sam Gladding had promised at the start of my ride into the sunrise, “every step of the way.”

Bob Conyne

Thursday, June 29, 2006

12th Day on the Road: Destination Day!! Rudyard, MI to Rosebush Cove! (72 miles)

TOTAL MILES TRAVELED: 699.2!! Pretty close to my 700 mile estimation. This is according to my bike odometer, of course. Who knows how accurate it really is.

Hello everybody,

Well, I made it!! So I'm here now at our cottage and it feels good to have finally arrived. It was a wonderful adventure all along the way. In this entry, I'll just talk some about what happened today and in a follow-up entry I will try to make some concluding comments.

Let's go back to last night, briefly, in Rudyard, MI. I had dinner and then breakfast this morning at the Varsity Grill. In fact, it was the only restaurant in town, as far as I can tell. I wanted to mention especially the waitress Jamie, who stands out for her cheerfulness and her effective way of interacting with her customers (especially her older ones!) She plans to go into geriatric nursing - this ability should do her well. One more comment about Rudyard: as I remember "the angel" about whom I spoke last night - in my motel there, the Northern Country Inn, there was a pillow on my bed with crocheted words as follows: "Live well, laugh often, love much". Maybe that's prophetic, another work of the angel of Rudyard.

Now on to my day's trip. I returned to the Old Mackinac Trail, quickly found a detour sign and it seemed to lead to nowhere because it took me about 5 miles out of my way. I think it was the work of the devil. With the assistance of a passerby, I found my way back to the Trail and proceeded to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Now it seemed like I was starting to get close, because of the Sault. My task though, was to find out how to get across the International Bridge. With assistance from Bobbie, and her colleagues at the Comfort Inn, I was directed to the proper way to enter the International Bridge and to avoid I-75. I found that it was possible to bike over this bridge, as opposed to the Mackinaw Bridge before. So I did that, and arrived at customs. I was sandwiched between a semi and a pickup truck as I approached the custom's agent. He asked me what was in my bags and then, realizing I was not a security risk, he talked to me about my bike, my trip, how much weight I've lost (I don't know myself how much!), and the fact the he also has a Cannondale bike. The line of vehicles in back of me did not seem to be an issue in this conversation.

Upon leaving Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, via Highway 17 East, I was joined by another biker and we rode together for about 6 miles. He was about 20 years of age, from Manitoba, and was biking to Montreal to take 5 days of French classes. Elliot, the biker, talked to me about the Mariner's Code and its connection with bicyclers. He saw a connection because when sailors would pass on the open seas, they would communicate with eachother about how things were going, if there were any problems, what they had learned, so forth. So when he comes across another biker, which usually is rare, he likes to check with them and talk about how things are going. So we had a nice discussion. And then he went to toward Montreal, on his naturally faster pace.

From the Garden River Reserve, I called Lynn and asked her to call Donna, the Sault Star reporter to advise about my arrival to the Island turnoff, which I thought would be around 2:15 in the afternoon. So I continued on my trek toward the Island and encountered a very long, demanding incline at the Laird hill. I also found Highway 17 to be, in many places, quite risky for bicycling (little space, many large vehicles). I arrived at the turnoff at the anticipated time and both Donna and Lynn were there to take pictures! They took pictures at the turnoff, at the bridge entrance, at Kent's Corner (where there was a welcome to St. Joseph Island sign - not for me, for all visitors). Donna then bought me an ice cream cone which I really appreciated since I was very hungry from not eating lunch. We then met at the cottage, where there were more pictures taken. This was for me a very exciting event!! Donna conducted a one hour interview and had found material in the blog to be very helpful. She asked many very good questions.

Later in the evening, my friend Steve called and we talked for quite a while. He obviously had read all of the blog material, had followed the whole trip very closely and asked a number of very good questions as well. He was amazed that I was able to do this whole trip at such speed and being so heavily loaded with weight.

I did want to mention, because I don't think I've said this before, that the idea of going to the "Lake Area" (Petosky, Charlevoix, Harbor Springs) was Marshall Eldred's suggestion and it was a very good one. But now, it's great to be at my destination, our cottage. Lynn has everything shaped up or shaping up with some new remodeling underway. Everything looks very nice, although there is much additional work to entertain us as we get ready for the rest of the summer.

For now, I am rejoicing on having made this journey successfully and am looking forward to getting some sleep!! (Which as I have mentioned was difficult for me to get during my trip for some reason.) Finally, before I follow up with another account in the next few days, I'd like to recount that this was a 700 mile trip that I was able to do at about 70 miles per day. I was able to arrive on Thursday instead of Sunday with two days of rest that were unplanned for. So all this seems quite surprising to have been able to have done this.

I will go to bed without the thought of having to get up in the morning and bike 70 miles, which will probably be a good thing, and give myself time to digest the experience.

Until later, Bob.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

11th Day on the Road: Harbor Springs to Rudyard, MI (80 miles)

Hi, Everyone,

I was parked at the side of the road, lamenting the loss of my wonderful biking goggles somewhere along the way (and retracing my ride by 3 miles, to no avail), also having just missed two calls from Suzanne, and wondering where in the world could a motel be (aall this at 79 miles out...) when a car pulls up behind me on the berm. I couldn't quite make out who was in the car, as I was not wearing my glasses. Should I be wary? Should I be welcoming?

Closer inspection showed this driver to be wearing a big smile and he had a cheery voice. He was wondering if I needed help. In the matter of 1 minute he greatly lifted my sagging spirits. He pointed me to a motel just 1 mile up the road, sort of hidden, not on any maps, "but pretty good, just 4 rooms..." Then, he said the public library had email! I got both a room and to the library in Rudyard, where I am now. My "angel" was just sitting next to me here in the library for a few minutes, working on his own material...

Well, that is a highlight, don't you think?

I left Harbor Springs at 8:00 this morning, thinking I might get to Mackinaw City, at the foot of the Big Bridge, to spend the night. Route 119 around the lake from Harbor Springs to Mackinaw City (and Cross Village, the home of the legendary Legs Inn, which was not open when I came through) is very beautiful, and largely without traffic, kind of rolling hills, with vistas of Lake Michigan, sand dunes, and the "Tunnel of Trees" that line the road. Rain seemed to be falling ahead of me, not on me, and I was untouched, largely, all day. I got to the Big Bridge in 4 hours and found out how to get across; no bikes are allowed. I called the Bridge Crossing Authority, and after about 30 minutes an official maintenance vehicle appeared to take me across the 5 mile span. A good $2.00 spent. I decided to keep going, through St. Ignace, passing up scores of motels to take a chance on finding something along the rather forlorn back way to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on the "Old Mackinac Road." (By the way, spelling is interchangable: Mackinac or Mackinaw). It was here, along the way, that I lost my goggles and came upon my "angel."

I stretched my trip today because I had badly overspent in Harbor Springs, at $150 per night, with the extra night to heal my derrier (it largely worked, you will be relieved to know, so I won't have to discuss it again!). By cutting out one night due to extended miles today, frugality can reappear. I tend to like frugality, usually.

So, after 630 miles now, I am now looking at the probability--again, weather permitting--of arriving at my cottage tomorrow! Not Sunday, as originally planned, not Friday, as I had begun to think, but on Thursday. I will need to alert the newspaper reporter to the change later tonight.

I began this journey on June 18, unsure about many things. I didn't know if I would have what it takes to complete it. I was afraid my PMR would prevent much of an effort and I would be in considerable pain. I wondered if my itinerary would hold up at all. I wondered if I would be able to come any where near finishing this journey within the 2 weeks I had allotted for it. I was fearful of getting hurt, of breaking down, or of my equipment breaking down out in the middle of nowhere. I was concerned about getting turned around on some back roads and losing lots of time. I was even more afraid of getting run over by a semi. Lots of angst, as you can see. (As I list these concerns I am well aware that the trip is not over yet and any of these things could still occur...hmmm). Well, to this point, anyway, my concerns have given way to a kind of brightness and joy. Hey! This has worked and it has been a wonderful adventure.

By the way, I learned while using email at Harbor Springs that the UC Board of Trustees, in its infallible wisdom, approved my appointment as Professor Emeritus. I am grateful for that, but--hey!! doesn't "Emeritus" seem really ancient?!

I hope all of you are fine and life goes well. I apologize for being unable to respond to comments many of you have posted on this Blog. I have very limited access to the Internet on this trip (and at the cottage, once there) and then just a short time is available. But, for all of you who are following along, I really appreciate your interest and support!

Til next time,


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

10th Day on the Road: Resting in Harbor Springs

Hi, All,

I am writing this entry, one of the few I've been able to write directly due to inaccessibility of Internet. Suzanne has been taking notes over the phone for all the rest and doing a wonderful job! Thanks, Suzanne!!

Today I grounded myself in Harbor Springs, Michigan. I have a flaming "saddle sore," and am generally kind of tired, so it seemed OK/necessary to take this step. Besides, Bob Wilson advised me to spend some time in this town (and in Ionia, Michigan, a previous stop of mine), so what choice did I have, anyway? I'm using Neosporin and First Aid Cream and resting, watching the Brazil-Ghana and the France-Spain World Cup matches, and the Weather Channel...

This morning I went to breakfast at a spot recommended by our neighbor, Buzz, which is "The Anchor." Sort of like "The Echo," in Cincinnati, he told Suzanne. It was wonderful, and Jessica, my waitress, was helpful telling me where to find Internet in town. I took a picture to be shared later.

Rest of the day I laid low, trying to rest and heal. Finally emerged to pick up my developed pictures, from Ohio to just south of here, and to write this Blog entry. Great pictures of Suzanne and Pete, and Chuck and other sites -- including Walter Alston's home way down in Darrtown... Somehow, very regretfully, I did not get a picture of Doug, but hope he stops by at the cottage later in July....we can make amends.

I had to buy safety pins to tighten up my pants, as I seem to be shrinking during this trip. Yes, I am eating, but burning around 4000 calories a day.

Once again, I got my biking clothes washed today at the hotel (well, it does cost $150 per night!). So, this should help my rear end problem (sorry!), with bacteria from sweaty biking pants.

The other day I provided a listing of some activities common to many small towns in the Summer. Now that I am presently in the "French Riviera" (my term) of Northern Michigan, here are some others: 44 golf courses (some 20 or so that are public), chamber music, opera, festival concerts, vesper concerts, juried art shows, Trillium Festival, soccer tournament, car show, Summer Solstice Art Show, salmon derby, jazz weekend, yacht race, summer theater, and many more. So, one can see how balance can occur in the world...

For dinner, to save some $$, I bought a bottle of cheap red wine, some cheese, and got an apple from the motel. Another form of balance, for the motel cost...


Now, I want to conclude for today by saying something about my destination of this trip, St. Joseph Island, where we have our family cottage. Why would I travel some 750 miles by bicycle to go there?

Well, St. Joe is the opposite, I suppose, of where I am now (not that there is anything wrong with that!). It is basic, simple, harkening back to an earlier time. For those needing or wanting alot of external stimulation, other than from nature, this would not be the place to come.

I happened upon the Island in 1973 on my way to a 3-week NTL training experience in Bethel, Maine. Totally by chance. One thing led to another, as it can sometimes (Al Dye holds that my life has been one series of accidents), and I wound up buying a Lot in the Military Reserve about 5 miles from Richards Landing by putting down $50 and then paying off over a few years. Bob Courtney was the owner and we have been good friends with Bob and Jennifer and their families ever since. Then I met Lynn the next Fall at ISU and the rest is history (this is a very shortened account!). We cleared the land, had Donnie Adams put up a structure in 1976 (the same year my sister, Julie, and her husband, Bernie, trucked our old 1959 Thunderbird boat out to us from Upstate NY). We will celebrate these two events, as well as my retirement from UC, on July 15. Lynn and I were married on the back "lawn" (I use that term loosely) in 1980. Our children, Suzanne and Zack, and our dogs (sorry) Luvie, Roscoe, and now Lucy, all love this place. In fact, Suzanne and Zack have been drawing up plans for years now about how they might enhance it--there is, indeed, alot of room for enhancement but we are doing well, all the same.

But, what does the Island mean to me? To me, and all my family, it is the touchstone of our lives. Full of blood, sweat, tears and some $$. And good Island friends. Peace. Beauty. Simplicity. Cool weather. Lwelleyn Beach chapel and friends there.
So, I thought I might honor St. Joseph Island, in my way, by bicycling from my front door in Cincinnati to my cottage front door (232 Military Trail) on this trip.

I now expect to arrive, butt and weather permitting, on Friday, June 30 (what would be my Father's, who died at 49 years of age, 90th birthday). To you, too, Dad, goes this journey....

Love to all,


Monday, June 26, 2006

9th Day on the Road: Kalkaska to Harbor Springs, MI (74 miles)

Now I'm at 544.1 miles (of about 700 total)!

Hello everyone! To start off this morning, there was very good news from the motel clerk at the North Country Motel in Kalkaska, who told me that he didn't think it was going to rain today and that the trip to Charlevoix was mostly downhill as one moves toward Lake Michigan. I said to him "this is REALLY good news!" After breakfast, I set off from Kalkaska to Mancelona, which is 14 miles away on 131. It was a terrible, harrowing, scary venture because there was no space, there was a drop-off, and extremely heavy traffic and it amounted to 14 miles of terror.

At the Route 66 turnoff in Mancelona, I proceeded to Charlevoix. That trip was very beautiful with mountains around me but involving many long downgrades. So the clerk was right. In the last 10 miles of the trip there were, however, several ups and downs, but that was okay. I did, though, begin to develop a deriare problem... I got quite sore, and over the next 30 miles or so this became very painful. In fact, it may be necessary for me to take a day off tomorrow to try and heal, but we'll see.

So I entered the very upscale lake towns of Charlevoix, Petosky and Harbor Springs, where I am staying tonight. Harbor Springs does not have traditional motels; these do not fit into their self image. So finding a place to stay in Harbor Springs, which is a most beautiful place, turned out to be a challenge. I found one, and if it does not break my bank totally, I am at least grateful to have a nice place to stay. By the way, in this upscale tourist area, people who visit are called "resorters". One of the very nice things from Charlevoix to Petosky, and for part of the way from Petosky to "Harbor", was the existance of bike trails. So from Charlevoix to Petosky, I took a 17 mile bike trail, avoiding very heavy traffic. This was terrific.

On my trip today, in addition to my saddle sores, I hit a kind of "wall" at about 35 miles or so into the trip. I had to push hard to keep going. It reminded me of two things: First, a favorite poem of mine by Matthew Arnold called Thyrsis. My favorite line from that poem is the following:

Why faintest thou?
I wandered til I died.
Roam on!
The light we sought
Is shining still.

The next is the "Conyne Family theme song". This is a song by the Eagles called "Take It To The Limit!" These two rememberances also connect with Winston Churchill, who said something like "Never ever ever ever give up!" So these things all together helped me press on, as well as all the many nice things my friends and family have said to me throughout my trip.

The last point to mention is that I was just called by a reporter from the Sault Star, which is the newspaper of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Sault Star is planning to cover my entry to St. Joseph Island and to take pictures and write a story about the event. That should be a lot of fun! The reporter I talked with also told me that the St. Joseph Island Township Council Agenda this month will include my trip -- I'm not sure what that means!

When will I arrive on the island? Well, perhaps Friday of this week, weather permitting (it looks very stormy every day of the week).

Til next time, Bob.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

8th Day on the Road: Evart to Kalkaska, MI (70 miles)

I am now at a total of 470 miles and am about a day and a half ahead of schedule!

I noticed Mark Pope's recent comment about practical matters. Mark is right, I find it difficult to think big thoughts on this bike trip because it is so demanding of my continuing focus and effort. There is just a lot to get through every day. It reminds me of Forrest Gump and his three years of running. When people asked him for his big thought toward the end of his run, he said something like, "I'm pretty tired, I think I'll go home now." I find I need to just focus on coping with the various changing riding conditions every day, planning the next days ride and get organized for it, and there is not a lot of time left over for processing the meaning of it all. On the other hand I do like the simplicity of it - the ability to maintain a close focus on what you are doing and not deviate from it.

Now, regarding today's ride. Chuck rode about 50 miles with me and then Mary picked him up and they left to go home. It was a wonderful time to ride with him and to see my sister, and now there are no more planned social events or people riding with me. I made a decision to leave my sleeping bag, my pad, and my tent with Chuck and Mary instead of carry them with me. This is to lessen the weight that I am carrying, hoping that I won't need these items as I move into a more touristy area. There *should* be motels, I hope.

Along the way, today, (and I think I've seen this before) a person can buy almost anything because along the roadside so many things are for sale. Cars, boats, farm equipment... It's like a large roadway garage sale.

The temperature is in the low 60's. It's fairly nippy, so I must be in the north. The weather over the next three days is forecasted to have showers. This is not particularly welcomed in my view, because today I rode through about 25 miles of steady rain on the way to Kalkaska. Kalkaska, itself, seems to be kind of a drive through town. Many lanes for traffic so cars can just speed through, or so it seems to me. The big thing here that I've seen is the national trout memorial. A large statue of a rainbow trout leaping from the water that was dedicated in 1966 by the assistant Secretary of State.

Last night in Evart, Chuck, Mary and I went to the Relay for Life event (an event that Suzanne was in last spring at UC). There were maybe 100 luminaria bags, each one inscribed with expressions of rememberance and love for someone who has died of cancer. For example, "I love you grandma". Some people walking were cancer survivors. It was quite moving. I noticed in Kalkaska today that they are also having one of these events coming up. Here are some other events that Kalkaska has scheduled for the summer, and they may be similar those in other towns in the north: Free Fishing Weekend, Strawberry Social, Celtic Festival, Bluegrass Festival, Area Horse Pull, Pie Auction and Music, Fireworks for July 4th, Sidewalk sales, Area Antique Tractor Gathering, and County Fair.

As for my health, I have been logging a lot of miles and hours on the bike. My PMR seems to be quite in control, surprisingly. I think my legs are getting stronger so taking the hills is somewhat less fatiguing, but this is hard and demanding work at times. Nothing wrong with that!

Tomorrow, I plan to head to Charlevoix or maybe beyond to Petosky or Harbor Springs, depending on traffic, terrain, weather, etc. It's possible up in there somewhere I may take some extra time to look around, see what's there, and be a little bit of a tourist myself. We'll see.

Till next time, Bob.