Saturday, September 14, 2013

Little Traverse Wheelway Bike Ride in Petoskey, Michigan

This morning we woke up to brisk 45 degree temps, but another beautiful sunshine-filled morning.  We knew we were going to love riding in this weather, but also knew we'd have to wear a bit more than t-shirts and bike shorts!  So we bundled up in long pants and long-sleeved shirts and jackets, and headed out from the casino--thanks, guys, for the free parking spot!!--to the marina in downtown Petoskey where we parked the carhouse.  By the time we got out and got ready to ride, it had already warmed up some and we realized we didn't need to be quite so bundled up as we had thought.  Anyway, there's this wonderful paved bike trail that is over 20 miles long, called the Little Traverse Wheelway, and it came right through the marina parking lot.  We found a good shady spot to leave the RV and headed out toward Harbor Springs, about 10 miles away.  It was just a fabulous ride, along the lake, through the woods, sometimes crunching through the multicolored maple leaves that have already fallen.  Even though there were a couple of places where the trail was right by the road, most of it was completely separated from the road.  It was just a spectacular ride into Harbor Springs, where we stopped for a water break at a little picnic area by the marina there.  As we rode down from the main road there to the picnic area, we passed their city hall/municipal building, where there is this spectacular bronze sculpture entitled Patriots, depicting several school-aged children, all looking up, with one little girl looking up into her sister's upturned face, to see what to do.  All these figures are arranged in a circle around the actual flagpole outside this building, with the flag flying.  Just a very moving scene, and today there was enough wind for the flag to be blowing full out and it was just so special!   After resting for a while, we headed back toward Petoskey, but soon after we started we came to this long steep hill that, frankly I had forgotten about as we were coming down it on the way into town, since we were focused on how to get across the main road into town.  Anyway, we got a bit of a late start on preparing for it, and we had a little catch up to do in terms of getting into the right gears. But, even though Trisha thought she may have to stop and walk the bike up, she got her bike under control and made it up the whole hill without having to stop!!  Really impressive, and by the time we got back we had gone 20 miles!  Man, if you had said to us 6 months ago that we would be riding 20 miles we both would have laughed out loud!  Though I've done a couple of rides back in Albuquerque of over 30 miles, this is the longest that Trisha has done since we did 16 in Duluth, Minnesota.  So proud of her, and we had just a fabulous time.

We got back and decided that our morning's efforts deserved a lunch that someone else fixed, so we looked up vegan friendly restaurants on Happy Cow, and found a natural foods store that also boasted a lunch buffet with hot dishes and salad bar.  I called to find out where they were located, but the person I talked to had a little trouble explaining where it was in relation to where we had parked.  So we thought we'd just drive the RV to find it, but fortunately I looked it up and saw that it was only 3/10 of a mile from where we were, so we just walked.  And was it another great find, in several ways.  We had wonderful vegan soups, tomato and Thai corn and tofu chowder, and quinoa with eggplant ratatouille, plus chickpea dahl, and curried tofu, accompanied by Moroccan mint green tea--delicious!!  After lunch we decided to look around the market and came across some wonderful treats, like dark chocolate covered quinoa--little nuggets that had just the right amount of chocolate and somehow managed to have the quinoa quite crunchy, a delightful little treat!!

As luck would have it, as we approached the checkout line we went to was staffed by a young woman with the most unusual and beautiful pendant necklace.  When we complimented her on it, she explained that it was a turquoise stone set into the middle of a slice of a pinecone, and lacquered over to a high shine, and the stone somehow glows in the dark!  Well, it was just the most incredible and unusual piece we had ever seen and just so spectacular.  She told us it was from an eco friendly company called Third Eye Pinecones, so tonight after supper we looked them up on the web, and it just blew us away.  The story of the guy who started the company is amazing, how he got the inspiration to start this project from a fall from a pine tree, where he was living in a treehouse he had built, 9 stories above the ground. During the night a windstorm blew him off the deck, he fell all the way to the ground, woke up the next morning near death, and crawled for hours with 6 broken vertebrae, multiple broken ribs, punctured lungs and smashed teeth.  Someone found him and got him to a hospital,  and after a long recovery, he became inspired to start this company.  Now, every time a necklace or other piece is purchased, they, along with a non profit partner called American Forests, plant a new pine tree, now have planted more than 43,000 trees.  Anyway, you should go to their website and be amazed. We were so glad that we had this experience--we had gone through another clerk's checkout line to pay for our lunch, so we started to that line again when we were paying for our groceries after lunch; but somehow, it happened that her line was full, so we randomly chose this woman's line.  Had we not done so, we would not have seen her beautiful necklace; had we not commented on it, we would not have learned of this remarkable company and source of such beautiful and unique pieces--some might say this was all just coincidence, but we happen to believe it's not coincidence at all--just like so many other experiences we've had on this amazing journey, I think it was the spirit guiding us to this woman's line, and prompting us to comment on her necklace.  Anyway, it was really, really cool!

So on we came to Mackinaw City, where we're spending tonight.  We had planned on taking our bikes on the ferry across to Mackinaw Island tomorrow, but the weather prediction is for rain, so we may just see some of the things available on the combo ticket here in Mackinaw City and then go to the island on Monday, which, at least for now, is showing much better biking weather.  That's the wonderful thing about this trip--we can just change our plans and spend another day someplace when the need arises--stupendous!!  Cooked some black rice for dinner tonight, and we had bought some extra chickpea dahl from the Grain Train, so we had that for dinner, along with a big salad, topped off with a little chocolate covered quinoa for dessert--what could be better!! And the very helpful woman at the visitor center--in contrast to the jerk we had met at the Sleeping Bear visitor center--told us about this Mackinaw City Campground, much less expensive than the other private campgrounds in the area, where we are enjoying the cozy carhouse, as the temperature falls, with the lovely aroma of some soup simmering on the stove that we'll have for later in the week--here with the most beautiful and wonderful woman in the whole wide world--it just doesn't get any better than this!!!

Driving to downtown Petoskey from the casino this morning, on the way to the starting point for our bike ride

 This gorgeous Little Traverse Wheelway trail!!
 The lake on one side . . .
 Beautiful trees on the other!

 Here we are, zipping through the crunchy fall leaves on the ground!
 Beautiful house we saw, coming into Harbor Springs
 Patriots statue

 The beautiful flag, unfurling in the wind!
 The colors of the lake are just stunning!

 Love these bright red berries behind the picnic area where we stopped after 10 miles, in Harbor Springs marina
Just having too much fun!!

On the way back to Petoskey
 Some of the gorgeous houses along the way in Petoskey

 Tree loaded with crabapples, just waiting to be turned into jelly!!
 More shots of some of the lovely homes along the lake as we drove out of Petoskey, en route to Mackinaw City

 Scenes along the road to Mackinaw City

 Billboard advertising the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, where no cars are allowed, only bikes--can't wait to go out there!!
 Coming into Mackinaw City, view of the start of the 5 mile long bridge that's the only way to get to the Upper Peninsula from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

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