Bike Trip - August 18 through 29, 2002
Part A - Western Washtenaw County
Sunday we finally packed up our two tents (Jim snores), camping mats, down bags, propane stove and small wok (with bowl for a cover), small pressure cooker, millet, oatmeal, lentils, dried mushrooms and apricots, and clothes, and LOTS of plastic bags for when it rains as our panniers leak. Jim and Sindi pose with their bikes behind Sindi's apartment ready to go. You can see some of the other bikes that we have collected.
We spent almost two weeks going in a large circle, visiting friends and a few complete strangers, all of whom were incredibly kind to us. I wish to thank, in general, everyone who gave us a place to sleep, cooked food, and garden produce to take with us. We had an unbelievably nice trip and cannot imagine any part of the world that would have been more hospitable. The good-quality dirt roads were nearly car-free, and flat except near Waterloo State Rec Area, the weather was for the most part perfect, and there was a large variety of things to see.
Monday we were fed homemade pancakes (Jim always remembers our trips by the food) and then played with Dorothy's computer. She can now download and view photos so we also took a few photos. You can see Sindi with the cat and also Carl and Pam and Sindi . Pam is the pony equivalent of 100 human years. We also picked lots of blueberries and had another wonderful vegetarian supper with garden vegetables. Dorothy and Carl grew up in farm country and grow and preserve lots of their own food. They also, despite various health challenges, just built their own large shed during one of the hottest summers on record. They really put us to shame - we cannot ever seem to get our house built.
The first night I learned why you have to be careful not to let the groundcloth extend past the tent (it acts like a bathtub), why you should draw the fly taut (otherwise it touches the uncoated tent roof and rain goes through) and why you should pitch the vestibule when rain is likely (so you can open the tent door and let out the condensation that otherwise collects on the tent roof and rains down.) Down bags make great sponges. In the morning we dried out the tents .
After arriving at 9:30 (in the dark) we pitched our sleeping bags in the new post and beam barn which Richard built for potato storage (bermed lowest level), drying garlic (middle walk-in level) and practicing music (upper level), and joined Michelle, Brendan and Richard etc. in the daily supper feast of local produce. Somehow there always seem to be about 10 people at the farm. We wish it were not a whole day's bike ride away.
We also set up a replacement receiver and CD player (which Jim had fixed for them) and Jim's housemate Joel brought out some speakers for it. The original system that we gave them is somewhere around. We took away a broken amp and two dead VCRs. We skipped the demolition derby at the Chelsea Fair (in which people intentionally smash old cars.)
Jim weeded the grape arbor. He wore long pants and long shirt because he was told there was poison ivy. He is not good at plant identification. For the next two weeks he was very very itchy, and covered with impressive red blotches. Now he knows that poison ivy oils can go through clothing.
We asked customers about a place to camp in the rain - Bridgewater Town Hall (a cemetary with locked building), Clinton Town Park (lots of picnic shelters but 2 hours away), someone's yard to the east, and then a pole barn 2 miles west. We left in light rain and arrived in a torrent - the driveway was a river. The pole barn is being built by the owner (lumber yards are a good place to meet professional carpenters). His wife came to make sure we had water and introduced us to the llamas in the yard next to the barn. They were quiet, clean and friendly. You have to shear them with their neck fur left on when your kids bring them to 4H shows (along with pet pigs). Their next-door neighbors have pet peacocks that sound like a child being tortured. We had a very dry night's sleep (with mosquito helmets over our heads as we could not pitch our tents on a concrete floor), then said goodbye to our neighbors (note the yellow plastic toy construction machinery) and headed south to Lenawee County and Tecumseh.
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Continue to Part B of this trip