7) Days 9 - 15 Brighton, Michigan - Indiana Dunes State Park

posted May 7, 2012, 10:49 AM by Ali Burke   [ updated May 9, 2012, 9:59 AM ]

We are almost in Chicago ! Just a days pedal away... right now we're staying at Indiana Dunes State Park... and taking the day off.  Our flight to Anchorage is not until Friday May 11... so we'll have a couple of days in Chicago to explore the city...  

It has been an exciting week...the weather changed dramatically from quite cold to extremely hot... in a matter of a couple of days....This post is rather long...so feel free to scroll down to the bottem for the photo album :) 

Day 9 (May 1, 2012) - Brighton State Park, Michigan - Grass Lake, Michigan 69 km

Today was beautiful riding...country roads, rolling hills...not much to complain about ! We slowly packed up and left our 'rustic' campsite at Brighton State Park...the whole time we were there we did not see one staff person... oh well.   We weaved our way through the park and headed towards a rail trail...once we got to the trail we tested it out for a couple of kilometers and decided that it was too 'traily' and opted for the slightly longer, but probably faster,  road... We stopped for lunch and visited the library in Stockbridge, Michigan...we met a super nice librarian who asked us about our trip, and actually thanked us for coming to his town ! 

We continued down the road to our warm showers hosts in Grass Lake... we had a lovely evening with John, Ruth and their awesome daughters Charlotte and Roz.  They are such a warm and generous family, and they also love to bike ! They have two tandems that they take out with the girls, and they also helped to design a bike map of the county - which they gave us a copy of !   

On the Road to Grass Lake

Day 10 (May 2, 2012) Grass Lake, Michigan - Twin Pines Campground (near Mosherville, Michigan) 55 km

It was forecasting thunderstorms and hot temperatures in the afternoon, so we thought that we would ride for the morning and set up camp before we got too wet (and/or electrocuted)... On our way to the campground we passed through Jackson, Michigan... which we learned is the birthplace of the Republican Party...we didn't stay too long...  We arrived at the campground that we had hoped to stay at, only to discover that it was closed - what a surprise !  We continued along and found another one...Twin Pines.  This video does a good job of explaining....

Twin Pines

We decided to hang around until someone showed up...a little while later someone did come out of the house...he was extremely friendly, but said that we would have to wait until his brother got back to see about a campsite.  He introduced us to the campground dogs, and asked us how much we pay for beer in Canada, he said that the campground was started by his father... and that it was the best campground in all of Michigan...it seemed a bit of a stretch, but we agreed that it was a pretty great campground.    As we waited for the rest of the family to show up, it got hotter and hotter...but no thunder or lightning...  a couple of hours passed and we finally asked if we could just set up camp and settle up with the family when they arrived... He agreed and we did... 

It was getting so hot by this point (probably about 30+ degrees)...that I (Ali) decided to go for a swim in the little river / stream... It was so strange to be relishing the cold weather, when just a couple of days ago we could see our breath....weird weird weather....

Day 11 (May 3, 2012)  Twin Pines Campground - Pokagon State Park, Indiana !   79 km

Today was one of those days that felt a little evil...particularly at the end of the day...  The temperature continued to be hot hot hot...it was hovering over 30 all day, and the sun was strong!  To make things more exciting we had a wild head wind (40 + km / hour) in farm country... But, the day didn't start out all bad...we were wearing shorts and t-shirts for the first time... and it felt like summer - however, as the day progressed we began to crave those good old cold and wet days... But we inched along the road, through Amish country and passed into Indiana in the afternoon. 

Sometime in the afternoon,  we stopped in a little roadside shop for some much needed Gatorade...the shop-keeper and a couple of other guys were pretty amused to see us out riding on such a hot and windy day...when we told them where we had pedaled from he swiftly replied "Well, idiots are born everyday..."  I guess that sometimes this whole biking thing doesn't seem entirely rational.  Feeling rejuvenated (for about 10 minutes...) we pressed on towards the state park... We stopped in Fremont to get some groceries and met a lot of very friendly folks.  We finally made it to the Park and crashed hard.  

I think that when cyclists give their daily distances we should also include a 'feels like' distance...  today although only 79 km, felt like about 120...eek!

Here's what the wind was like: 

Against the Wind....

Day 12 (May 4, 2012) Pokagon State Park, Indiana - Goshen, Indiana 98km

After about 12 hours of sleep we were ready for another day of heat and head winds.. and we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't quite as hot or windy as the day before.  We biked pretty much directly west towards warm showers hosts in Goshen, Indiana.... Today we passed through, what I (Ali) dare say might be the friendliest part of America I've ever been to.  It was largley in Amish country, with picturesque farms and homes abound... Everyone that we saw smiled and waved.  We ended up on a gravel road at one point in the afternoon, and a van stopped a long side of us asking if we were lost... they gave us directions to the closest paved road and some advice on the best route into Goshen.  Close to our destination, we were stopped to fuel up with granola bars and a truck pulled up beside us, the driver got out, introduced himself, and said that he worked at a nearby Organic Farm and that he was making deliveries, but that we should swing by and get some free turnips !  Unfortunatley it was in the wrong direction, but we were pretty floored by the generosity.    The kindness continued when we reached our hosts Tari and Tim's house...again, such nice people !  There was, in fact a local festival in town and their son was in a bike race that evening... we watched part of the race with them, and then went back to their place were they offered us great food and conversation.   My (Ali's) heart was really swelling with all the kindness...it made me so so happy :) 

Day 13 (May 5, 2012) Goshen, Indiana - Potato Creek State Park 56 km

Since we had about a week before our flight, and not too much distance we decided to make it a half day and head to a nearby state park.  Tari and Tim made us pancakes in the morning and rode with us for the first 15 km... on their super cool tandem recumbent bike !  We continued along relishing the wind at our back and made it to the state park by lunch time....  I (Ali) did have some minor gear stress....rubbing, clicking, annoying...but seems like we fixed that for now.  We had a quiet afternoon at Potato Creek... and rested up !  

A friend we met on the way to Potato Creek: 

A Bicycle Loving Cat

Day 14 (May 6, 2012) Potato Creek State Park - Indiana Dunes State Park 82 km

We headed out first thing, very very pleased to find that we had an even stronger tail wind today !! Hooray Hooray !   We clipped along at a good pace all day... it was lovely ! Early in the day as we were pedalling down a small road we came across a curious farm... we have seen a lot of horses, donkeys, and ponies at the farms .... but this farm also had a zebra and a camel !  We stopped and watch for awhile as the zebra, donkey and pony chased each other around... each using thier signature kick - donkey = back kick, zebra = side kick, pony = actually ...just running away... 

We continued along, and stopped for lunch and groceries in La Porte, Indiana.  Some locals warned us of a storm coming through and we certainly saw the clouds getting darker... we pressed on, but did get hit by a small thunderstorm for about an hour... But by the time we reached the park it was clear again....

Day 15 (May 7, 2012) Day Off in Indiana Dunes State Park

Well... last night was a wild wild wild thunderstorm !  We could feel the thunder in the ground, and it seemed to go on forever ! But in the morning it had passed and it hasn't started raining again yet... but looks like it could any minute ... So we are just hanging out at the library... going for some walks and taking it easy today before we head into Chicago tomorrow !! Yay ! 

Brighton, Michigan - Indiana Dunes