Happy Labor Day friends and family! We hope you’re all enjoying wonderful, relaxing weekends with the people you love. This week marks the unofficial end of summer and also our fourth full month of living on the road! Overall, this may be one of the coolest summers either of us have ever had, especially growing up in Arizona. We’ve had very few instances where we’ve really NEEDED air conditioning on this trip, with the exception of South Dakota…and actually it’s pretty hot as we sit here writing this. But summer is winding down and we’ll be welcoming the arrival of cooler days, though sad about the days getting shorter.
What a week it’s been! As we look back to start our recap, it seems that we say this a lot about most places we visit, but northern Michigan has really knocked our socks off! It’s so lush, green, and has a kind of homey feeling about it; it’s also been the most glorious place to do our training. We started the week still in Traverse City, spending Tuesday recovering from our long bike ride the day before and getting our cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and work done. Wednesday we had planned a fun day of sightseeing…but not until our training was done. We must have been a sight to see, we unloaded our stationary bike trainers in a parking lot behind Target and rode intervals for an hour before quickly reloading the bikes and taking off to run intervals for another hour. We definitely got a few strange stares as we peddled our legs off in a parking lot but hey, it was a shady spot and got the job done!
Once the training was over, we showered up, put on normal people clothes, and hopped on the motorcycle. Just north of Traverse City is the Old Mission Peninsula. It’s about 17 miles long and it ends at a lighthouse…but in between Traverse City and the lighthouse are about a dozen different wineries! We leisurely rode through the super green vineyards, gazed at the water on either side of us, and chose two different wineries to stop for some tastings (just two and just the tasters, Jim was driving after all!). They’re known more for their reds up here and apparently had an especially good year in 2012, when they had an extra long, hot summer. So we sampled a few and they were pretty good, though in all honesty they weren’t the best. They seemed to be lacking the full bodied flavor we tend to prefer, so we sadly didn’t take any bottles back with us. We also asked the pourers about what it’s like up there in the winter, they both only work there seasonally as everything basically shuts down during the winter. So weird. As beautiful and green as it is up here, it’s so hard to imagine everything turning white and it being freezing for half the year; it reminds us why we don’t live in the midwest or the eastern part of the country. After the wineries, we headed to the lighthouse…where we were a little underwhelmed. It was a nice lighthouse but possibly the prettiest part of it was the water it overlooks. After wandering around there for a bit, we headed back to Traverse City for an extra fancy dinner at the Olive Garden! It had been yearsssss since either of us had been to an Olive Garden but we found an old gift card in one of Jim’s boxes when we moved and figured we should use it. The Olive Garden is where we had our very first date back in 1998, Heather’s first date ever, so it was a bit nostalgic really! After dinner, we decided to drive north to the town of Petoskey and as we were driving, we finally had proof of the spider who has taken up residence inside/around our backup camera. For months, we’ve been seeing his webs in the camera as we drive down the road but this time, we actually saw him front and center! We’ve named him Earl and decided he can stay…as long as he doesn’t come in the house. Ew.
Thursday and Friday we had a little more of an opportunity to explore Petoskey. Yet another adorable, all American looking town with a cute little downtown area not far from the marina. We mostly spent these two days in the library getting some work done…in case you’re wondering what all this “work” business is about, Jim’s coaching website is coming along really nicely and Heather is helping Jim’s sister with her website and will also be starting a course in grant writing this coming week. No doubt you all assume we’re independently wealthy, but we’re not retired yet and are still using this time on the road to pursue some goals.
Saturday brings the start of another big training weekend as we’re building toward Ironman Florida in only two more months! Apologies if we’re including too much about our training, it’s just such a big part of both our time spent as well as our method of exploring the local areas. We had actually put off our swim on Friday, which just meant we had to double our efforts on Saturday. That’s what happens when you procrastinate though. So we sought out a beach where we could get in a nice long swim and found an amazing state park that had enough room for Bertha to take up five parking spots right on the water! It was a beautiful, sunny day but with a slight chill in the air, so we decided to throw on the wetsuits for the swim. Big mistake. The water was still warm so the wetsuits made it a pretty hot swim. But man, was it beautiful, truly one of the best open water swims we’ve done (well we’ve said that about every swim in Lake Michigan, it’s just truly the best). After the swim, we had some lunch, took a little nap, and relaxed in the RV lakeside for a couple of hours…until around 5:00 when it was time to head out for our three hour run. Yay. Once again, Michigan pulled through with an incredibly gorgeous path coming out of the state park where we could run with no traffic, no stoplights, and instead just endless trees and water views. It. Was. Amazing. We got back just after sunset, ordered a large pizza, and crashed for the night.
We slept in just a bit Sunday morning, still feeling tired from the big day we had yesterday. But we eventually rolled out of bed, took care of some RV chores (we have to dump and fill the tanks every few days) and prepared ourselves for our upcoming long bike ride. We finally set out on the bikes around 2:00 with the plan to ride north along the coast and into the Tunnel of Trees, which we had read was a beautiful place to drive or ride through. It didn’t disappoint! It’s about a 20 mile stretch where the trees come together over the road to provide endless shade and you can catch glimpses of the water in the breaks between the trees. The only downside was that no shoulder exists for cyclists, so we were riding along with traffic, luckily it was a pretty quiet day. We took a different route back home down a highway with possibly the worst shoulder one could ever ride on; it was full of potholes, road debris, and was not at all fun to ride on our racing bikes. Five hours later, as the sun was just setting, we pulled up to Bertha, happy to be home but excited about another adventurous ride. The night was topped off with a delicious sun-dried tomato and basil orzo, some wine, and really sweet movie called “Begin Again”, if you’re at all interested.
That about sums up the week! We had planned to get into the Upper Peninsula this week but will be heading up there rather quickly in the next couple of days before circling down to Wisconsin for a wedding next weekend! We truly appreciate you all following along on our adventures, we’re having such a wonderful time and are thankful for your support and encouragement. Love to you all!
Total RV Trip Miles: 6,933.4