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.

3 thoughts on “Day 52 – Van Riper State Park to Marquette (Total Miles = 893.65)”

  1. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts while I drink my morning coffee!! It’s the first thing I look for when I plug in my computer. Thanks for giving me a wonderful way to start my day!! Can’t wait to hear more about your (mis)adventures when I see you! P.S. Laughed so hard. I’ve been to Gay and the Gay Bar!!


  2. So beautifully written Dani. I love your honesty and willingness to share this portion of your past. From lost and vulnerable to lovely and victorious, by the grace of God. You and Sarah are the most amazing individuals, perfect examples of the perfect fruition of God’s good plans. Thank you for sharing this portion of your journey, then and now!


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