July 29th: Day 1
What a long day! Last night the beautiful weather got a little more exciting, and a storm came through. The torrential downpour was kind of relaxing at first; I like storms and I was cozy and dry in my tent. However, a big sustained gust of wind threw me off just as I was falling asleep. My tent seemed to collapse, so I thought one of the stakes must have come up. After a couple minutes of hoping the problem would resolve itself, I put on my raincoat and went to fix it. But... the tent was completely fine. The wind was simply holding the side down. If I had procrastinated for a few more minutes I would have stayed dry.
This morning, I was up at six and ready to go by seven. This early there was no traffic in Muskegon, so the half hour on the street to get to the Musketawa trail was easy. This trail is pretty flat with just a slight uphill grade, and is paved. It mostly goes through farmland, passing by crops and crossing dirt roads. There were enough trees that it was cool in the morning shade, but enough sun that I found a box turtle enjoying the hot pavement. I stopped in a small town to get some ice; I do love to have ice in my water when it's hot if I can get it.
I listened to an audiobook and the time went by quickly until I reached Grand Rapids. Approaching the city, it became quite hilly. My pace had been a bit slower than expected, so by the time I got to the park I wanted to have lunch at I was starving. This was at mile 42 of the day. I had crackers, smoked fish, and cheese, but I'll admit I did feel more like a nap than more cycling afterwards.
Generally, Michigan slopes downward near the coasts and has a higher elevation in the center of the state. It also trends higher the further north you go. Going north from Grand Rapids on the White Pine trail, I did notice the slope on the bike, and really appreciated the little downhill sections that happened occasionally. It is a beautiful trail, mostly wooded and well paved. I took a few short rest stops, and made it to the campground I had planned on around four. I was proud of a long day!
Unfortunately, I hadn't thought to call ahead to the campground. I knew they were open, and it was a Wednesday; surely they wouldn't be full. It turned out that because of Covid the park was only allowing self-contained RV camping. Yikes. There was no other campground within twenty miles on Google Maps, and no motels in the town. I was contemplating my Lyft options when the campground called back. They told me about a campground up the road a ways that was still offering tent camping. Wonderful!
I found the spot a few miles down a surprisingly busy dirt road and was very happy to set up my tent, eat my gruel, and most importantly take a shower. It was a good day.