Pere Marquette River
Woke up this morning and fell into a blues song. The ferry ride across Lake Michigan only takes four hours. Managed to sleep through most of them, but at 5:00 AM the steward came around banging on all the staterooms to wake people up. We were all booted off the boat at 5:30 AM. It's dark and raining hard. I was hoping for an early start, but it's too dangerous to ride. Lightning flashes every couple of minutes. I wouldn't even try riding the short distance into town for breakfast. Sat around the ferry terminal for nearly two hours. Wo Yeah.
The rain tapered off enough to ride at about 8:00 AM. Still, it's wet, cold and windy (a headwind, of course). Riding east on US Highway 10 is hell. Heavy traffic for the first ten miles. The craziest shoulder I've ever seen. It's more like an asphalt sidewalk. Every cross street has a curb on it. They're shallower than a typical curb but I still have to slow down and ease into them. I'm coated in truck spray. Wo Yeah.
This is not the most scenic part of Michigan. Plenty of abandoned hunting lodges, burned homes, and destroyed mobile homes. The nicest parts of the highway are in the Manistee National Forest. This is the first rural area I've seen on the entire journey that wasn't entirely populated by white people (with the exception of the Indian reservations). The sky clears up a bit later in the day, but I don't feel like riding far. Reed City is the first serious town, but it's only 50 miles so far. I decide to turn south on a Northland Drive and head for Big Rapids, 60 miles north of the more famous Grand Rapids. I pass by a half dozen modular home sales outlets. So this is where they all wind up. I stop in at the Big Rapids Chamber of Commerce for directions to a motel. The staff working there tells me I just passed two major trails. I saw one of them but I thought it was just for snowmobiles. Turns out, I saw the undeveloped portion. Turning south at Reed City meant I passed an east-west trail that would have been ideal. It's 15 miles back, which means wasting 30 miles tomorrow. It sounds like too much work. Wo Yeah.