Day 2: Nestoria almost all the way to Seney: 120 miles
I awoke well rested and still rather full of fish and Old Milwaukee from the night before, so hit the road and belted out a quick 30 miles before stopping for breakfast in Champion at "François' Cafe" where I was immediately greeted by a wide open door. In fact, it wasn't so much wide open as falling of the hinges. This did give me an opportunity to learn the local pronunciation of "François" when a waitress told another "Hey, give Frankie a call and let him know the door fell off the restaurant".
"Super Dave" was already on the case and fully removing the faulty door from the closing mechanism and setting it aside. Dave is one of those people that you really only get an opportunity to meet when you're riding a bicycle. His Trek was parked next to the restaurant as well and he's the type of person you can only refer to as "a character". He asked about my trip and told several stories of his own about some serious long distance tours and his racing exploits. Very cool guy, I see his Trek parked in front of Frankie's from time to time and should check in.
Besides, and I'll just go ahead and ruin the build up of one of the central themes of this trip when I say that Frankie's has some of the best blueberry pancakes ever. They managed to walk the fine line between a slightly crispy without being greasy outside with a light and fluffy inside. Well done and perfectly executed. Even if I wasn't carrying my usual reserve of pure maple syrup.
I used several chunks of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail to navigate the Ishpeming/Negaunee/Marquette area. Cool trail through some really interesting old town and mining ruins. And certainly beat trying to navigate the highways in this area.
I picked up M-94 south of Marquette and came across another sight that you really only notice when on a bike. I've probably driven by the sign 50 times and never given it a second thought. Turns out to be an interesting historical anecdote.
In Chatham, I stumbled across the annual Chatham Country Fair which was going full tilt when I arrived. I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to fill up on healthful foodstuffs such as Funnel Cakes, Elephant Ears, and Walking Tacos. I spent a while hanging out by the tractor pull, but honestly- this old Farmall had everybody pretty much beat on the slick turf from last night's rain.
Lots of other cool stuff to check out too:
I pressed on with the intention of camping or maybe grabbing a hotel room in Munising, but just outside of Munising something odd was happening.
See, usually when you cyclotour in rural areas people just think you're weird and sometimes go so far as to question your upbringing, employment status, and even sexual orientation while using colorful metaphors yelled from swiftly moving pickups. Outside of Munising though, people were giving me a wide berth on the road, and even waving at me. The familiar buzz of oversize BFG Mud Terrains preceding the cloud of diesel exhaust was conspicuously absent.
It was seriously weirding me out.
Once I got to Munising, I found the town was booked- 100%. Not even a tent space at the overpriced KOA nor a manger was to be had. It was then that I figured things out when I started noticing all the "26.2" stickers. I was amongst my peoples: retarded endurance sports junkies. Marathoners, in this instance.
With no options for stopping in Munising, I pushed on towards the Seney Stretch. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a long, straight, flat section of M-28. 25 miles. Perfectly flat. And perfectly straight.
Traffic was light, so I amused myself with my camera.
Just shy of the rest area, I found a large, open field and set up camp for the night. With setting sun and wildflowers in bloom, it made for one of my best camping nights on a bike tour yet.