Day 52 – Van Riper State Park to Marquette (Total Miles = 893.65)

So, we were good today.  We stayed on the highway all the way to Marquette.  Well, most of it.  There was a beautiful trail Ken and Maryann told us about that was paved called the Iron Ore Heritage Trail, which we found and took.  The Tour Da Yoop, Eh route had another gravel portion on the route, but we said no way!  Aren’t you proud of us!?

Plus, I was so excited about getting to Marquette.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I lived there from 1975 to 1979.  I had moved there to go to Northern Michigan University.  I was just 18 years old.

That said, the ride was less than prestine.  Honey Badger’s tire held out great!  The Traveler, though, came up lame and we had another flat tire about 5 miles out from Van Riper State Park.  Thank goodness, Ken’s tube was correct and we were able to get the tire changed without fanfare.  Good, good stuff…until we got lost.

So, we found the Iron Ore Trail and it was fantastic.  A rails-to-trails route, I wish we had more time, because the trail had interpretive signs explaining it’s historic role in Michigan’s iron ore and lumber industries.  We were happily riding along, and I was relating some details of my time living here, when a portion of the trail came out on a road.  We missed the re-entry onto the trail.  After we realized we missed it, we looked at the map and saw that we could meet up with it ahead.  So, instead of turning around, we continued on with our newly mapped route back to the trail.  Turns out, the road we needed to use was closed for repairs.  We figured we could get around whatever minor roadwork was going on, after all, we had done it before.  This time our luck ran out.  The road was flooded where they were building a bridge.  No way, no how, were we getting through that road.  Only one other route was an option and it would have been an additional 20 miles.  There was nothing more to do than turn around and go back.

It was at this point, that I began to waver.  The ride from where we lost the trail was hilly.  We would have to tackle the hills..again.  Our easy 30 mile day would now turn into 42.  We would now have to make time in order to get to the car rental before it closed.  We could have been riding the glorious trail right now, but we made a wrong turn.  We turned our bikes around and headed back the way we came.  My lip started to quiver and then full on tears as we rode.  Back up the hills, I pushed as hard as I could to make our mistake go away and be forgotten.  We made it back and easily found the trail again.  But, as soon as we turned onto it, the crying turned to blubbering.  I could not turn off the tears.  I told Ken how beautiful the trail was, and cried even louder.

Everyone has a story and the plot of my entry into adulthood began here.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I came here to get away from home.  My childhood was wonderful early on, but later it all fell apart.  I was ignoring the hurt and emptiness I felt by filling it with drinking and drugs.  My mother wanted me to go to school in Detroit, but NMU was the only college I applied to.  She reluctantly agreed, and I readily flunked out.  I was drinking, smoking pot, playing pool, skiing, and was the happy-go-lucky party girl.  I met a yooper guy who worked at the ski hill…he would let me ski for free.  We were soon married…I was just 19.  Him and I moved to Little Lake and lived in a trappers shack, with no electricity, a pump for water, a woodstove for heat and cooking, and an outhouse for a bathroom.  We had a waterbed that lay on the floor and the walls of the bedroom were used as the frame.  When winter came, the pump froze, the waterbed sloshed with ice, and I was gathering snow and melting it on the stove for water.  By this time I was 6 months pregnant.  We moved to Negaunee and soon the wonder of my life came along…my daughter Sarah.  At that time, when you were on welfare, they put the husbands to work in order to get the subsidy.  My husband worked for the welfare check, while I toted the laundry in a red flyer wagon to the laundromat, with Sarah propped on top.

The memories of my years in Marquette were overwhelming me.  They weren’t sad memories, although I had never been proud of my younger self.  I guess I was just letting them go.  It dawned on me as I rode and cried, that I have always wanted more for myself, but mostly for Sarah.  It was during these early years that the Lord carried me.  I remember as a child when the Lord entered my life, but He had long been forgotten in my childhood strife.  Yet, He never let me go.  If I was giving up on my life, He wasn’t.  My life motto has been:  Make Good Use of Bad Rubbish.  That is what I did.  I may have been bawling because, with God working behind the scenes, I was able to pull myself out of a bad place and make something of myself.  Sarah is the finest proof of that.  She is a woman who loves the Lord, cares for others, and works hard.  She makes a difference in people’s lives.  Had I not been in Marquette, there would be no Sarah.  God’s plans for us are perfect…If you Trust Him, you can trust them, then you can trust yourself.

Day 51 – To Van Riper State Park (Total Miles = 851.65)

We said goodbye to Sam, who was hanging back a bit to enjoy a swim, and headed to our next destination, Van Riper State Park.

Right out of the gate we saw two bald eagles hunting.  Of course we stopped, and gaped, and oohed and awed, over the wonder of another eagle.


You all are going to be so disappointed in us!  We did it again.  We followed the tour route and it lead us to Herman Rd.  The route guide warned us, but we decided to do it anyway.  We thought, since this road is in the middle of nowhere, we might see some wildlife…a moose, a deer, wolf, bear, a chipmunk?  Nothing.  I think we saw one bird!!  We endured a wretched 8.5 mile gravel road for nothing.  No reward at all!!  Why?  Why did we do it again?  Why, oh why??  Let me just say again, it was wretched.  I swear!!!…we won’t do it again!

It was probably the stupid Herman Road that caused my flat tire.  We had finally come out to the highway, the one that was smooth, flat, and had a roomy shoulder…that we could have been riding aaalll this time, but nooo…we wanted to see the non-existent wildlife…forgive me…I was saying, I had a flat.  No problem, we prepared and expected this would happen eventually.  We pulled into a small parking lot across from a convience store to change the tire.  We unloaded Honey Badger and turned her upside down, then removed the old tube and pulled the new one from our repair kit.  Except the new one had the wrong valve.  It was a valve for a mountain bike and was too big to fit in Honey Badger’s rim.  Okay, backup plan, repair the tube.  We looked, we listened, we could not find the hole in the tube.  Ken walked over to the store to see if he could fill a sink with water to find the hole by the bubbles, but the sink did not hold water.  Second backup plan…new road angels to the rescue!  Well, no, it wasn’t planned, but God came through again!!  He sent Ken and Maryann to our aid.

These two knew something wasn’t going according to the plan.  They had stopped at their local convenience store for…wait for it…Ice Cream Cones!, when they noticed our situation.  They graciously offered to take us and all of our gear to their house so that we could fix the flat.  We packed their truck full of our stuff, our bikes, and ourselves, and were ferried to their home to make repairs.  Ken and Ken were able to find, not one, but two holes in the tube, and repaired it in short order.  Maryann and I talked family, work, and retirement.  Maryann is a math teacher and plans to retire in a few years.  They both mountain bike for pleasure and enjoy a wide variety of local trails.  To us, they were our rescuers, our road angels, and we know that their hometown has 2 special people in their midst.  They opened their hearts and home to two strangers needing help, and we so appreciated it.  We decided to take Ken up on his offer to drive us to the campground which was about 4 miles away.  Once there, I cooked dinner and we promptly went to bed.

Two Bald Eagles.

One Eagle On The Lookout Post

While The Other Gets Ready To Fish

The Only Wildlife I Saw On Herman Road!

Honey Badger Waiting For A New Tire

Ken And Maryann Our Road Angels.  They Have A Beautiful View Don’t They?