Out Your Backdoor

Indie Outdoor Lore 'n' More



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Team OYB: Traverse City

July 31, 2011


We've now been camped in the huge Traverse City State Park for a few days. It's quite a village. Not a mini one, either. Seems like several hundred sites and maybe 1000 vehicles. Yet no noise or obnoxiousness. No one running any loud generators. Praise be!

There's a long beach in front of the park. And a bikeway behind it leading into town. Perfect.

100 yards away from one end of the park, on the bikeway, is a short sidepath to a very fancy little market, a pizzeria with wifi, and a semi-fancy restaurant (Red Mesa). A little further down is a massive and spic'n'span kiddy fun park, Pirate's Cove, with a ropes course, ziplines, gocarts, putt-putt, the works.

In the other direction if you go a couple miles there's a big modern library...and the town's two main bike shops! (Brick Wheels and McLain's. Why are they side by side? Convenient for us but seemingly odd for them.)

Martha had an art fair on the weekend. It was really hot. The promoters didn't seem to have any signs up in town. Hardly anyone came. Seems time to pull the plug on this city's fair. They should be told first, as several other of the better artists already didn't show this year. They must've known something was up. Or down.

The annual Film Fest is in town. But I can't hardly imagine sitting and watching anything. I'd rather get to know the town.

We visited the Right Brain Brewery for the first time. I had a half dozen samples and couldn't hardly decide what I liked best. It was all darn tasty. That's what hanging out in the sun, swimming, and biking all day does to ya.

I've been enjoying a glass of Campari beverage each early evening.

We had dinner last night at Slabtown Burgers -- our fave burger joint. But they were overcooked this time. Not such a biggie, though, for a fave joint.

I've been enjoying sightseeing the diverse and vintage tents, pop-ups, trailers, RV's, motorcycles and sundry other rigs at the campground. All boats and kayaks qualify, too.

I love all the posses of bikers and walkers that orbit the campground. Martha wondered if they ever leave the place. There's a constant flow of all ages and types, but sometimes groups of up to a dozen toodle past.

Saw my fave motorcycle yet yesterday: a rat bike homebrew stripped down beat-up chopper. It was a thing of trashed beauty, but I didn't get a pic. Long springer fork. Hardtail. Painting of Woody Woodpecker. Bare wires. He was gone in the morning. Oddly, a new Triumph Bonneville was parked at a tent right next to where the chopper was. Maybe it's the motorcycle part of the campground.

Another bike roared by Slabtown when we were on its porch that gets #2 in my ranks so far. It was a nice lean Bobber. Smallish engine. Near-empty frame. White with black wheels. Homestyle.

Only one other real vintage trailer in the campground. A little wooden teardrop with homebuilt kayaks just pulled in. Gotta check 'em out.

A mint condition Eureka Timberline is sitting pretty in an otherwise empty site. The first stand-alone tent. Pre-domes.

But, whew, I just haven't had any chance to do anything on this trip yet but trip stuff, and that only in small dabs. It's weird how hard it is to grab the horns of a trip. (It doesn't help that a huge novel has me in its grips: "Gormenghast," by Mervyn Peake. A grotesque, romantic, gothic tale of bleak life in a rundown castle. Surprisingly riveting. So, so atmospheric. A bit like Tolkien or Harry Potter but without magic, heroes, or little people. Just flaking, grey, dripping, bored eccentricity. Written in the 1950's maybe.)

I coulda gone to a filmmaker's party with Mike Moore the other night but I turned in early with the family -- the bikeway gate locks at 10pm and it's scary traffic with no sidewalk to get to the front side by bike.


So this is one of my first times sitting down, much less in range of wifi. I ate breakfast at 9am and it's now 3:30pm and I'm starving. How can I do any work?

The kids are going NUTS to explore CafePress.com and the jillions of products they could list at a store of their own with their own graphics applied. T-shirts, mugs, cards, bumperstickers: coming up! I guess we should just come here to the library and spend some time at it.

We plan to teach the kids how to play the Michigan national card game of Euchre tonight. We're trying to relax!

I'm doing the Monday Nite Ride up Mission Point with Brian Beauchamp, a local pal, and the CCCC -- Cherry Capitol Cycling Club. Who knows, I might bump into another old pal or two, like ol' Lars Welton.

[UPDATE TUESDAY: I did do the ride and got trashed. Still, it was a pleasant outing. And I *did* see old pal Lars! And new ski cohort Randy Smith. And old ski cohort Matt Vaijda. But I was a dummy in terms of ride selection. They had a bunch of groups going out and I pick the A-Group, of all things. I guess I just wanted to see how it went. But I coulda KNOWN! I've only ridden hard a couple times this season. Doh! But I knew that I could drop off and catch slower groups coming up. So I started with the fasties and after awhile realized that my saddle was 2mm too low, dooming me. It makes ALL the difference when you're on the ragged edge! I did strip off the kickstand and rear-rack from the old Trek beforehand but it twasn't enough. So I "let" them go and adjusted my saddle then hopped in with the B group. That went fine until a mile from the end when I couldn't pedal either the big gear or the small gear well enough to hang with the old timers I was with. Got dropped. My feet also started killing me. My touring shoes are slightly soft, causing hot-foot, a maximum pain. When not in sporty condition one must learn to accept non-sporty status.]

FYI, I heard from some neighbors that campsites in Canada are $40US a night, but that they have showers and are nice.

Wednesday after work might be a good time for Brian and I to go sea-kayaking with Karl Pearson in the Bay.

Karl went and saw the start of the AuSable Canoe Marathon last night. Luckee! He helped a team through the night, too, but they didn't make the cut-off at Mio Dam in the morning -- a tough thing for newbies to do. They got a 50-mile all-night taste, anyway.

A couple days ago a group of us paddled the Boardman on the edge of town. It was wild and lovely. I wish I woulda brought my mask and snorkel! I'm just DYING to go some freshwater river snorkeling! Maybe I'll go back.

We did have a couple tipovers on the water. There are a couple narrow, wavy sections as it gets closer to town. It was about our first paddle of the year so we were rough. I think a RUDDER would be a good thing on a canoe (but Karl disagrees). I had great luck with one that we had on a kevlar Sundowner years ago. Made handling a non-issue. Wouldn't that be nice?

In general I wish that the kids would go along with my attempts to get them to learn a few new basic skills this summer. Of course, when I suggest it, it means that it's then time to laugh at the idea of learning. Ha, Daddy is such a nut! Learning, can you believe it? How corny! I suggested that a few basic things that we could have fun learning this summer would be: *somersaults, *headstand, *diving-into-water, *running dive tumble (on grass), *a mile run, *daily calisthenics, *daily swim for a bit of distance, *seeing how far we can swim underwater. Stuff like that. Not just only splashing or floating around. Somehow it seems like trying a few of these basic skills would open the kids' eyes to other basic body position handling skills -- like not leaning a canoe upstream when turned sideways. Yeah, I know that one is not obvious.

Well, it's gorgeous. And we're doing good.




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