If life was "normal," meaning what we had planned for this summer, the week of August 30 is would be a very different week. I would be baking cookies like a crazy woman to take to Cleveland for the cookie table at the wedding of cousin David's daughter, Heather. In the time of Covid, things change. I will be missing this occasion we've greatly anticipated.
Meanwhile, Rick would be leaving on Saturday, the 29th or sooner; ride his bike, packed with his tent, new camp cookpot, and sleeping bag; take the ferry to Canada at Marine City, Michigan, and continue across Canada, up to Ottawa, down through New York and the Adirondacks, into Pennsylvania and wheel up in Cleveland the day before the wedding.
Well, neither of us are at the wedding. And since Rick, can't cross the Canadian border, he decided to take a bike hike to a place of the greatest social isolation -- Michigan's UP. He began planning the trip not long after we were certain we wouldn't be able to attend the wedding and when he learned the Canadian border closing was extended to September 21.
Eight days in the UP would not be without his challenges. He planned to meet up with an old work colleague from his Vista days, but most time would be in the wild. He would camp on the shores of Lake Michigan or in the woods. There might be bears, it could be cold or rainy. Michigan weather is dicey at this time of year.
He practiced using his stove and fuel to see how long that fuel would last. And where do you get more while you are in the middle of nowhere?
The phone was charged. It's only helpful if there is a signal -- and if he can recharge the battery. If there is a bike malfunction, there would be little chance of finding a bike shop.
I don't know why he does it. It totally freaks me out. He's a terrific rider and as he pedaled off, I had no doubt he would be safe. but I get worried about bad drivers, weather, and yes, the bears. But it's his thing, just like my painting little watercolors and taking pictures of birds and Lizzie is mine.
He was off, fully packed. Lunch in the back pocked (banana and leftover pasta); and everything else -- mask, sanitizer, dry socks, crossword puzzles, sleeping bag and tent, clean clothes, bike kit, extra food...every item carefully considered, because it adds weight to the back of the bike.
And finally, he took off on a damp, cool Saturday morning.
There was one little hitch he discovered after getting on the road -- and that was crossing the Mackinac Bridge to get to the U.P. Bicycles can't cross unattended. There is a number for cyclists to call and someone will drive you and your bike across. Makes sense. Sounds good.
Except that what he didn't know was that service was suspended due to Covid precautions. So, when he called, I gallantly said, "I'll drive you across the bridge and back. Meet you at Mackinac City in a couple of hours."
Now, this was a tough call for me to make because I have bridge-terror. I'm OK on many but the Mighty Mac freaks me out, partly (but not entirely) because in 1989, I was on that bridge in high wind conditions five minutes before a Yugo car lost control and was blown off the bridge. It took eight days to find the car in the 150-plus foot deep water.
What I didn't think about when I said, "Sure!" was that the day's winds were considered high (exceeding 29 miles an hour) -- not enough to close the bridge but enough to require that vehicles like those pulling trailers or boats and many others, to be "escorted" across. The speed limit was 20 mph. I was completely freaked.
Well, I met him. And we talked. And we both ended up back at the cottage. I felt guilty (Rick said I shouldn't) and he was deeply disappointed.
We stopped at a roadside park (aka roadside porta-potties, which I have to say were cleaner than a lot of inside bathrooms I've visited in my lifetime). The view was glorious as the waves crashed on the rocks.
It looks like there will be another bike hike this week -- staying in the Lower Peninsula. I wish him well, with safe travels, no Covid encounters and no bad weather. I'll miss him and be a little lonesome while he's gone. While we're both truly in social distance mode, and even from each other, we'll both be more or less in solitary!