Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bike Trip Tuesday #5-Going the Extra Mile in Michigan

We'd enjoyed our visit in Canada and now it was back to the USA. Christy's parents had recently moved to Michigan so they were our first stop. They had put out signs and balloons to welcome us. I still remember her mom running down the driveway to hug her and welcome us all when we arrived. After meeting the family it was really obvious to see where Christy's naturally bubbly personality had come from. Her mom and dad and brother were just sweet, hospitable people who could not do enough for all of us. They indulged us in every way they could.

By the time we had reached Michigan we had covered around 1000 miles as a unified group and were really feeling like a single unit. We decided to make matching t-shirts to show visually that we were all one group. We cut stencils and spent all night in Christy's parent's garage hand painting the shirts. Extreme fatigue set in and we were overcome with great silliness that led to the formation of the 'Caveman Dogbashers Club.' The name designated the way we often smelled after pedalling in the hot sun and the need to fend off aggressive dogs with bike pumps when the dogs decided to give chase. A special pocket insignia was designed and added to the t-shirts that obviously fit so very well.

I really have to say the good folks of Michigan were consistently among the most generous and welcoming. As I mentioned, we spent a lot of nights sleeping on church floors. In Alpena we had a hard time finding a church and when we asked the last one, the pastor (the guy on the motorcycle) said he'd need to call his trustees and check with them before giving an answer. He responded by saying no we could not stay in the church building because the one trustee owned a local motel and he wanted to provide 3 rooms free of charge to us. We were astonished by the generosity. The lady at the bottom of the picture was someone we met a few night later. The church we asked that night said they'd let us stay in the private school affiliated with the church so we could have access to a locker room with showers. This lady was given the key to let us in and out. She offered to bring us all pizza at her own expense that night. I had already cooked and knew darned well how much food our group could eat and since she was a single mom working for a private school I knew she couldn't have too much extra cash on hand so I declined for the group. When the group got wind of that I thought they'd lynch me. Note to self: never deny hungry cyclists the opportunity for free pizza. She saved my neck my bringing us the makings for ice cream sundaes instead and the next morning at 6am bringing us all bread she had baked that was still warm. Again, I was just astonished at the incredible kindness and selfless service to us.

We eventually made it to the top of the lower peninsula and decided to take a day trip to Mackinac Island, which allows no motor vehicles except emergency vehicles. We had not planned to spend the night on the island but part of the group missed the last ferry back due to a misunderstanding. We had nothing with us except the bicycles and a few bucks for the day. The accommodations on the island are not exactly cheap. Greg and Mr. Lime had the brilliant idea to ask a gardener at the governor's mansion if we could sleep on the mansion porch. The request was met with stunned silence at the audacity and then hearty laughter. We found no churches. Then someone contacted the Lion's Club. The fellow there was happy to let us sleep in the building and found our dilemma a bit amusing. He thought it was even funnier that our sleeping arrangements would be as depicted in this picture. The red thing is some dusty old stage curtain we found and the blanket was one long huge thing we all fit under. There wasn't really a lot of sleeping that night but there also wasn't any hanky panky. It was just more or less a night of dusty, musty discomfort, but we were grateful for the guy who let us use the floor.

Finally, as we travelled though Michigan we kept seeing signs for 'pasties.' Initially I thought the fine people of MI must be a bit progressive in their thinking to so openly sell the sequined, tasseled nipple adornments favored by strippers but I was laughingly corrected in pronunciation. It wasn't PAY-stee. It was PAH-stee. Pasties are a meat pie that are quite popular locally. Once that misunderstanding was cleared up we decided we had to taste some. We asked around for the name of the best Mom & Pop place to serve them and were directed to 'Ruth's Pasties.' We were quite disappointed to arrive just after they had closed. The owners, in the picture, asked about our group since they saw several of us wearing our new shirts. When we explained how we had come to Michigan and how we'd been referred to her she said she was re-opening just for us. They cooked us pasties and we ate until we were near to bursting. Good eating!

I must say, (and it's not just because I have several Michigan readers who also have distinguished themselves as one fine and caring lot of people) if these various folks are any indication of the true culture of Michigan I think it would be a fine place to call home.


G-Man said...

That was a fine of a tribute to our great state, as any natural born Michigander could have done..Thank you Lime for sharing this leg of your great adventure with all of your friends.
And FYI, I've tried BOTH types of pasties, and I prefer the Baked kind!!

Breazy said...

Your trip sounds like so much fun. I bet it was hard and weird at the end of the trip to go back home without the rest of the group there with you. I can't wait to hear more of this trip.

I too have been to Michigan and I liked it, the majority of the people I came in contact with were very nice indeed!

Have a good day!

Cooper said...

Just catching up..when you say "bike" you mean Schwinn as opposed to Harley, right? (showing my age here) That's awesome. I have a fried who did a bike trip with his dad from Canada to Mexico down the West coast. He had a blast and met great people. Michigan is a kewl place. Spent 10 weeks there once and one of my bestest blogging buddies lives there. Just watch out for those "Michigan Lefts" on some of the busier roads...Ride On!!!

~Tim said...

What a great segment of the story!

Dorky Dad said...

Mmmm ... pasties.

I went to Mackinac for my honeymoon. The place has special meaning to me. Beautiful area.

And what a predicament to get into on the island!

Diesel said...

You know what's sad? I grew up in Michigan, and I've never been to the U.P.

Also, next time I recommend Mattress Police t-shirts.

Jocelyn said...

Pasties. Don't even get me started on the greatest comfort food known to, well, me. I had a pastie about six weeks ago that I'm nowhere near over.

Not that I need to get out more.

Sounds like a great trip; my husband biked from Seattle to Mpls some years back, and that trip is constant fodder for conversation. (without it, we'd have lots of long, dead air between us)

S said...

I've done the floor tour!

KFarmer said...

Your trip sounds like so much fun! Love the pictures too. :)

Anonymous said...

I love your pictures and your narrative of your journey Michelle.
Fantastic, I've really enjoyed this.
I love the pasties too, you can get meatless ones and they're delicious.

MONA said...

LIME! I love your travelouge!

It is so interesting! You sound really adventurous & you look great tin those pictures!

Thanks for the story. I cant wait to hear some more!:)

steve said...

You take the greatest trips!! :-}

Hypersonic said...

Pasties!? Of the cornish kind? Full of chunky potato, meat and spices?

I think I shall move to MIchigan.

jillie said...

What a great story. I love reading about your adventures on this trip. I'll bet those sundaes were the bomb!! What a sweet generous gift that lady offered to you with the pizza as well. And kudos to you knowing that she was a struggling mom and politely declined. Not too many people would be thoughtful enough to do that. I've had pasties before and they rock!

Oh and btw....HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY to you!! xo

Paul Champagne said...

Michigan sounds like a great state. I wonder if the people have changed? Hope not.

MyUtopia said...

What a wonderful adventure! One of Michigan's former congressman, David David Bonior and his wife once walked all the way to Mackinac. He wrote about it in his travel log, http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=17384

As a born and raised Michigander who has been all over the U.S. and some of Europe, Michigan is still my favorite place to not only live but to visit as well.

bsoholic said...

I've never had a pastie, and I too would of though it was those nipple things. HA!

I suppose every region has things unique to the locals. I need to travel more.

BTExpress said...

Sounds like you all had a ball. Thanks for taking me along for the "ride".

rose_michelle said...

I think it's the people you meet that can make an adventure memorable. I definitely want to hang out in Michigan ... I wonder if there is some way to make a business trip out of it. Then I can play and get paid!

P.S. I'd take either kind of pasties!

RennyBA said...

What a great bike trip and a lovely story - all of them, not only this #5!

You know I love biking and you really seams to enjoy every step:-)

lecram sinun said...

Lovin this trip.

SignGurl said...

I love pronouncing it "pay-stie" because it drives Mr. Sign crazy.

The other coast of the state (west) is the most beautiful in the world. If you ever get a chance to see Lake Michigan, I'd recommend it.

This trip had to be so amazing for you and your group. It had to shape the beautiful person you are today.

snowelf said...

Goodness Michigan bloggers--I knew I liked you--but what other secret deliciousities are you hiding over there! :)

Lime--what a fantastic trip!! I would love to do something like that!


barman said...

I know I left a comment! Which way did it go? There are good parts and not as good parts of Michigan and it's people. I am glad you had a good time. I know for a fact that there are many Michigan people that would love to see you how hospitable we can be.

Pasties, pastys... one I love to eat, the other I am not all that familiar other than one person I work work with used to wear a this top that had tassels on it. Now while this is not pasties, it sure reminded me of them. Oh and anyone that has not tried one, a pasty can be vegetarian or have meat. Either way they are very good especially with some gravy on them.

The west side has to be one of the best for you see that is were a lot of our wine country is because of the unique climate there.

Craig said...

You stayed in Alpena! I am so flattered. Glad you were treated so well by my old homies!

Mackinac Island is one of my absolute favorite places in all the earth!

And pasties. . . Mmmmmmm. . . I'm sure Ruth made the real thing, with rutabagas, and NOT potatos. . .