71.77 Miles / 2609.28 Total Miles
]1591 Ft. Elevation Gain / 89,943 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
We had a long day ahead of us as we pulled out of the campground, this morning. There was hilly terrain and a cross wind to contend with, but Chris was with us to shake things up, and his change to the dynamic took our minds off that. He and Ed were moving quicker than I was willing to sustain, long term, which was fine, but it had me bringing up the rear all day long.
For most of the first 33 miles, we followed the Lake Michigan shoreline. Often, we couldn’t see the lake, due to houses and tall, dense trees, but it was right there–through the trees. After Pentwater, we rode inland, till we reached Muskegon.
Hart had the first Veterans Memorial I’ve seen that honors women. The right marble slab, depicts a woman soldier, which was good to see. Women in the US military have been a factor in all of the more recent conflicts.
We hopped on the Hart-Montague Trail, a rails-to-trails path, just after Hart, and rode it through Shelby, New Era and Whitehall.
The trail was a busy place. We saw more people walking and cycling, today, than we have seen walking and cycling during the entire trip to this point. Somewhere after the trailside art above, I received a text message from Ed. They were stopped at an ice cream shop right on the trail. I was skeptical, thinking he and Chris were pulling my leg, because they know how much I love ice cream. But just a short distance ahead, I ran into the Country Dairy Farm Store, a popular stop for cyclists using the trail. It wasn’t really lunch time, but the timing wasn’t going to be right when we reached the towns up ahead, where we could eat lunch, so we ordered food, instead of ice cream.
This was a great stop! Being a dairy, the Farm Store served bottomless milk with their food, so I might have overdosed on chocolate milk. I had already drunk a pint earlier in the day at our morning stop.
As we approached Montague, we started to notice matching t-shirts on people who were hopping on and off the bike path. There was some kind of event going on. Turns out, it was a huge pub crawl for bicyclists, the Pub Pedal. At the Whitehall VFW, there were dozens of bikes and bike riders standing by to quiz me on my tour.
Approaching Muskegon, the scenery changed to mid century industrial. Our maps showed us riding along a large inlet of Lake Michigan, which I thought would be a lovely waterfront. Wrong! Instead of a beautiful lake and boardwalk, there were piles of salt and coal, a mothballed foundry; a mothballed coal generating station, a mothballed factory of some sort, and a toxic waste site that is so bad, it probably can’t be remediated. Everything was run down and dirty, which is not what I was expecting for an entrance to Muskegon. On a positive note, they supposedly have a plan and are working toward cleaning up the eyesores.
Due to crossed communication wires, we cancelled what looked to be a really nice Warm Showers opportunity, to stay in a motel, that turned to to be a complete dive. Even with us flaking out on them, the hosts, Doug and Barb, offered to meet us for dinner. Well, during the day, that offer changed to them fixing us dinner. Doug picked us up at our motel and took us to their lovely home. Dinner was an incredible 6 course meal prepared by Barb, who is an amazing cook. Doug prepared the salad, which was a work of art. We sat out on their deck and chatted about bike touring, bikes, recipes, and other fascinating topics, then Doug took us by a grocery store on our way home, so I could pick up a few items. What a gracious couple! Doug and Barb: Thanks for your kindness and generosity! We truly enjoyed our time talking to you, and loved your home cooking. I hope I can see you again someday, sometime, somewhere.