Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I See Fields! - Day 2

The atmosphere was dense and sticky when I awoke the next morning.  Curling clouds of fog laced the parking lot and blocked out the horizon.

I collected my clothes from their location in bathroom purgatory and found that two out of three items had submitted to their fate and dried over night.

The third article, my shorts, still had a feeling of being slightly wet.  I attempted to dry them with the hair dryer, but found it only made the room smell of burning chamois so I opted to bag that set of shorts for the time being. 

Worse case scenario,  I would rewash and hang them out again that evening.

I picked my way through the hotel to the complimentary breakfast and loaded up my plate with fruit, scrambled eggs and some suspect sausages.

I crowned my dish with a bleached white, flour enriched bagel and returned to my room to eat and take in the morning news...err...in all honesty...to take in an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Oh...how that Buffy got herself in and out of those tangled webs with Angel...

It took me back to the days of getting ready for school, eating breakfast half in a daze, watching Buffy re-runs and wishing I could be going anywhere but school.

Well...this time, I was definitely going to be going somewhere that wasn't school.  I never would have imagined back then that I would be riding my bike across Michigan.  Oh the places we will go...

After packing up the rest of my gear, I gulped down the last of my in room coffee and exited stage left.

This morning was actually the Labor Day holiday and I expected to ride into parades or some sort of small town celebrations, but either my timing was off or everyone else was experiencing second Sunday.

Either way, my first thirty miles went by in silence as I routed through each of the small townships that lined my path.

I pit stopped at a McDonalds/Gas Station combo and watched awe struck as the sun broke out from behind the clouds and lit those golden arches ablaze. 

Nothing says good morning like a McDonald's truck stop bathroom.

At this point the wind had started turning into something of a crosswind, but I geared down and spun away with my legs as I waited for my gps to tell me when to turn off my current stretch of road.

For some reason, this current stretch seemed to go on and on and on...

It was like covering the flats of the Macomb Orchard Trail.  Flat, scenic, but just enough mind numbing dullness to make your butt fall asleep.

I opted to combat this with a little tunage and turned on my playlist.  Please note, it is awesome:

Guardians of the Galaxy, "Awesome Mix Volume 1"

"Hooked on a Feeling" - Blue Suede
"Go All the Way" - Raspberries
"Spirit in the Sky" - Norman Greenbaum
"Moon age Daydream" - David Bowie
"Fooled Around and Fell in Love" - Elvin Bishop
"I'm Not in Love" - 10 cc
"I Want You Back" - Jackson 5
"Cherrybomb" - The Runaways
"Come and Get Your Love" - Redbone
"O-h-h Child" - The Five Stairsteps
"Escape" - Rupert Holmes
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Marvin Gaye

The sun would fade away and leave me, alone on a bleak asphalt road and then it would burst back out again and make colors dance across the rows of corn and soybean fields.

Gravel, pavement, gravel, pavement.

I road a straight line for over twenty miles as I hedged in on Grand Rapids.  Not wanting to give in to my minds desire to turn left or right at upcoming stop signs, I focused instead on thinking about what it would be like if this were a hilly road.

How much cursing would I be doing if this was a steep climb into thin air?

On a country road in Michigan, my greatest challenge was a tingly bottom.

And then, my gps lady said, turn right.

I was ecstatic!

As I basked in the glow of my accomplishment of turning right, I noticed the wind was picking up and the sky was growing darker.

All appearances pointed to a storm rolling in.  I pulled to a stop and fished out my jacket and sorted out my rain covers for my Thule panniers.

Now, I have been in many a storm on my bike. 

This particular incident was like sitting under a bathtub faucet, fully open, with the wind brow beating you back and forth.

Thank you X-1 headphones for making waterproof equipment!  I didn't have to hesitate for a moment or worry about interrupting my gps lady.

Not really wanting to stop and get chilled, I slow rolled forward and continued to slog through into downtown.

Within ten to fifteen minutes, the storm was over and I was on the other side of Grand Rapids heading out of town.

However, I appeared to be in a "sketchy" area and I started toying with the idea of pulling my whistle out.

Irrational fears make you paranoid.

And then I hit a slow climbing gradient that made me forget all about things that were sketchy and instead, I started thinking about how right I was to be thankful there were no mountains in Michigan.

Just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling...

Soon, I hit the Musketawa trail and it was like embarking on the final leg of running the bases.  Twenty one miles of tree lined pathways leading me right into Muskegon.

I day dreamed for a segment about what to have for dinner, what the hotel would be like, what my slightly damp shorts might be smelling like since I locked them in my bag.

The sun came back out and enveloped the richess of the leaves turning colors as they were falling to the ground.

I spent a full five minutes telling myself to stay focused on the present and to take snapshots of this day in my mind instead of worrying about what the next day might bring. 

So often I find that my focus has wandered away from enjoying the present, that I have to remind it to embrace the significance of what is happening here and now.

And then I burst free of the Musketawa trail and entered into the Muskegon area.  I routed my way through the streets and decided to stop for a pizza for dinner on my way to the Shoreline Hotel.

I strapped my prized dinner to my rear rack and completed the last two miles of day two, neatly rolling up to the front foyer of the Shoreline Hotel.

Straightening out my helmet, I walked into the lobby and proudly stepped up to the desk to check in.

In my peripheral vision,  I saw an antique water dispenser filled with chopped up fruit.  The glass was sweating beads of deliciously fresh cold water droplets and I practically started salivating while looking at it.

Just be cool...just be cool Dana.

I completed the check In process and checked my step as I casually rolled my bike over to the dispenser.

Hand shaking with excitement, I filled up a cup and slurped/gulped it down.

It was the best water I've ever had.

Nonchalantly, I discarded my cup and walked over to the elevator.  I was going all the way up to the top and it looked fancy...

To be continued...

Day Two Stats: 

Mileage 110
Hotel Cost: $122.09
Food: $5.99 Little Caesars

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