WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Wanderlust 7 - St. Ignace / Mackinaw, Michigan
Date: Sat, 07 Jun 1997 20:22:37 -0700

Wanderlust 7 - St. Ignace / Mackinaw, Michigan

It's in the genes.

So there was this rather small 10 year old boy who loved to investigate and explore. He had just inherited the hand-me-down of his cousin's three speed English bicycle because Cousin Mo got his driver's license and was done with 'childish things'. Now Mo could cruise up and down main street all night. But the boy was fascinated by the freedom the 3-speed offered. It could go down hill without wobbling like the old Schwinn. It could actually be shifted -while riding!- to go up hills easier. The World lay open before him.
     The next Saturday morning he decided to go. Early in the morning he told his mother he was 'going for a ride'. And he set out ... exactly for where he wasn't sure. His parents always went somewhere and came back by precisely the same route. They never took a different road. He almost didn't know where to go. So he stopped at a gas station, but they wouldn't give him a map. "You know where you are you dumb ****!". "Ok, sir, would it cost me just to look at it?" The man relented. The world not only lay open, now the boy could see where it went.
     He set off. He went over the bridge and down the roads he had only ever been driven on. He actually went "all the way to hell and back" as his Aunt described the little town down the river. He crossed back over another bridge his parents never took because that's not the way they went to get there, and he came up back roads he thought he remembered but wasn't quite sure of ... he got home in time for supper, covering all of about 50 miles.
     His mother was unpleased. "Where the **** have you been. I've been looking for you for hours!". Proudly, "Well, Mom, I went over to ___ and down to ___ and back." "Don't lie to me, no one would go that far on a bicycle!" Personal triumph was unrequited.

Wanderlust sets in early. Either it is understood or unbelieved.

It occurred to me sometime today that I actually could be making all this up and you never would know the difference. Hello? Any cynics out there? Do you realize the what the tie is that binds us to believe this is true? The tie, surprisingly enough, is not motorcycles, and it is not having traveled. It is the Internet.
     I've said this before at a couple of other Internet BMW Riders gatherings (Death Valley, Alpine Texas, Lost Coast) but I want to repeat it. The Internet is molding the shape of our society. Some see it early, some don't, but the Internet has become the town square where we meet those alike us to share our common understandings. The basic good nature of the human species now has a 'road map' just like that little boy. And it is being used to explore people that would otherwise never be found. The Internet has restored my _very_ cynically repressed trust in people. I can't believe how well we react to each other having never really met.

Ok, ok, I said I wasn't going to go philosophical, like Bob Higdon did in his summer tour. But I am astounded by the offers to visit, stay overnight, sleep with the wife (JUST KIDDING!) that I've received simply because I've told people I'm traveling. It seems at last I have a family who understands. Thanks. (If Mom were alive, I don't think she'd be pleased. :)

It has actually been a quiet travel day. After staying up way too late answering all the cow comments, I got a late start and forgot the time zone changed only 10 miles down the road ... so I was even an hour later. Normally, it would have been a problem. But (rub it in) when you don't have a schedule, you're never behind. Anyway, I did get to traverse the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the first time. This is one of the few regional areas of the US I haven't seen before. My observations are: it could be a part of Canada and no one would know (not even the Canadians). Remote. It is at once over developed and undeveloped. It is lovely, and hidden from view. There are hundreds of miles of roads within a stone throw of a beautiful shore ... but for the dense woods you don't know that. The north shore reminds me of a mini-Maine coast: rugged, rocky, and treed to the waters edge. The south shore reminds me of Cape Cod in the '50s: Soft curving beaches, gentle slopes to the water, and clusters of motels interspersed with inaccessible waterfront. I like it. I think? But the roads are not inspiring.

I blasted through Bessemer, but it was not a furnace today (pun pun). In fact, it was damn cold. I even stopped to put on my IBMWR sweatshirt and my heavier jacket. There was a dense fog off the Lake, so I can't really say how scenic anything was beyond the berm. Although I haven't talked much about the weather, this June has so far set records for 'lowest highs' in a lot of areas. I kept seeing signs "Bridge may be icy" ... and wondering.

As it turns out, I am riding under the protection of Greek gods. The Weather Channel tells me there is a very unusual "omega block" hovering over the central US. It is so called because the path of the jet stream resembles the shape of the letter Omega. Omega, as I remember is the end of the alphabet. It represents completion and perfection. Just to be on the safe side, however, I hung out in a coffee shop for an hour this morning to give the storms their chance to play. Thus with heavenly arrangements, time zones, and fog, it was a short travel day.

But getting back to Bessemer, just outside town there was a sign about the "all city garage sale on May 17". Can you just picture it? What friendly, help-your-neighbor people. Everyone goes to someone else's garage and cleans it out ... of course they take the stuff back to their own to store it until next year. Nothing actually changes, it is all just rearranged. Ah, Americana.

Then it was on to Michigamme. This is Boris and Natasha country, because the topic on everyone's lips is "Where is moose?". Moose hunting is the thing here. I stopped for gas and fell into conversation with a lovely, petite, 20-something Yooper. (Oops, better explain. The Upper Peninsula is the Yoo P. The people call themselves the Yoo-Pers ... Yooper.) She was telling me how she got her well developed biceps from carrying her own 30-06, 10 days of rations, and camping gear on her annual hunt. She also kindly explained why the vanilla ice cream with squashed peanut butter cups in it is known here as Moose Tracks. You see, moose eat light grass and their, um, err, ah .... is sorta orange-ish with a little brown. Ah, Americana.

It is black fly season in Michigan. Except for the time inside with Ms. Moose, I made this an Iron Butt competitive gas stop. No wasted motion and nothing done standing still that could be done rolling. Maybe 3 minutes from key off to key on.

Finally, Moosie was surprised that I would travel so far alone. (*She* hunts 2,000 pound animals for a week in the Michigan winter and thinks *I* take chances ??) She asked "Are you alone!?" I said, "No. My motorcycle is my friend. We are traveling together." Although I do not anthropomorphise machines, it does seem there is a spirit to a bike that is treated well and asked to do only what it can. Also, I didn't think she could take the truth that I am really traveling with 2,000 people looking over my shoulder and one special friend who says she is 'hiding in my computer' and riding just behind me along the way.

P.S. I heard from my Sioux-Lakota advisor. I have now earned the name Shunkmanitu (shoonk-mah-nee-too), literally 'dog in the wilderness', but it translates to what we call the Coyote - what the Lakota call the: Traveling Dog.

FuelPlus statistics: 320 miles, 5:47 engine run, 56 mph average
Sam Lepore, San Francisco, 1988 R100RT and 1995 K75RTA

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