Basil and I took advantage of our stay in Northern Michigan by joining Dr. Diarist’s father and his mountain bike on a ride. We started at Greilickville, nominally just north of Traverse City, and rode down past the grounds of the old Traverse City State Hospital. Once an insane asylum, it’s now undergoing renovation as part of the Historic Barns Park project.
We cycled past, and over, the Boardman River, and eyeballed a wonderfully rickety old railroad bridge. It looks impossibly ramshackle, but, as Dr. Diarist’s dad pointed out, it did the job for a very long time.
The one we crossed looked far sturdier, and though handsome, lacked the essential character of the older one. The trend in these pedestrian/cyclist bridges is to build them pre-rusted. I’m unclear on why this works, but it’s certainly aesthetically pleasing.
Overcast skies made for glossy reflections in the water.
I wasn’t the only one snapping away. Dad is a far more dedicated photographer, and gets much more artful results. Logan’s Landing is in an area of the city that is mostly light industrial; having all that lush greenery, the teeming lake, and a slew of well-maintained bike paths in such a mixed area is quintessentially Northern Michigan. There’s so much to see, and so much of it is purely beautiful, sometimes where you’d least expect it.
These branches brought Japanese brushwork to mind, though that’s definitely not a Japanese scene.
The Boardman is home to a substantial swan population, and to signs warning humans to avoid feeding the fowl. Those delicate, graceful, birds can snap a finger with one crunch of a powerful beak — and it’s not a great idea to get in the way of those wings either. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger with feathers.
Otherwise, it’s not a violent scene. Basil and I were lucky to arrive before all the autumnal hues had completely faded. Not that there’s a bad season in Northern Michigan; some are just whiter than others.
We turned around in Acme at Bunker Hill, thrillingly marked with a railroad crossing, though train-less while we were there. Passenger trains may be coming to the area though; this was the week passenger service began from Chicago to Grand Rapids, and there’s a concerted effort underway to run a line from Ann Arbor to Traverse City.
Across the street stood a fantastic reminder of how enduring the flamboyance of fall can be; a tree can lose a phenomenal number of leaves and still be stunning.
Back in Traverse City, we ran into a precursor of the season-to-come. In Northern Michigan, pre-winter preparations are taken seriously. A skiing exchange and demonstration was scheduled for the next day.
Straw was laid down, and snow brought in by a tractor trailer. An end-loader collected the snow from the truck, and brought it around to the field.
That was a fine end loader, and, as repetitive as it was, the job looked like fun.
I ask you, who wouldn’t want a pet end-loader? Look at that form! (Also, it’s red!)
Basil was focused on the actual store, just across a parking lot. He knows that Brick Wheels, sponsor of the event, is now a Brompton dealer — but our visit to his compatriots there would have to be another day; rain was threatening, and none of us were really geared up for the change in weather.
On we went, back to the Leelanau Trail Head, its wonderful caboose, and beyond. We rode along Grand Traverse Bay, but I didn’t stop for pictures, as the storm was gathering with some speed.
This was a perfect ride, and notable for the many surfaces we traversed. (It is Traverse City!) Basil rode on asphalt, loose gravel, packed gravel, tiny gravel, packed dirt, packed mud, oil-packed dirt, cement, wooden ties, grass, trails, streets, roads, a highway and maybe more. He certainly encountered more textures than he’s ever experienced on any previous single ride. I nearly spilled on loose gravel, but was saved by my Brompton, and found that deep thick mud slowed Basil’s tires considerably, but nothing stopped him.
That Basil — he can do anything! (I think Dad’s mountain bike was impressed, though he kept it to himself. Or herself. Hard to tell when a bike isn’t a Brompton. Dad’s not talking, either, though I like to think that we may bring him over to the Brompton side eventually.)