GAS GUY 2020 - (One Year at a Time)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Mar 14, 2020.

  1. Samspade

    Samspade Been here awhile

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    It's a good museum that gives a lot of information and history of boats on the Great Lakes. We also enjoyed the glass-bottomed boat shipwreck tour in Thunder Bay.
    #61
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  2. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Alpena and Hubbard Lake - (2 May 2020)

    The sun was lighting up this vivid three-dimensional mural. This caught my eye from quite a distance away and drew me in for a closer inspection; actually, I was still on the other side of the Thunder Bay River (just before it empties into Lake Huron), near the museum, when I spotted the colorful glow emanating from a cluster of buildings over in the historic district of Alpena.

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    Somewhere near the north shore of Hubbard Lake as the day was slowly coming to a close.

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    The south-end of Hubbard Lake. After a day of exploring, Turbo Jim and I squeezed in a few more miles by riding a complete lap of the lake before calling it a day and parking the bikes. We stayed at his sisters house on the north side of the lake.

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    #62
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  3. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Highbanks Overlook (3 May 2020) Huron National Forest:

    After passing through Curran (The Bear Capital of Michigan according to their welcome sign) we followed F32 to Au Sable Road (both of which were fantastic) and then navigated a dirt road back into this impressive Au Sable Scenic River overlook. This is a location that I was not aware of and am thankful to Turbo Jim for sharing it with me.

    The small gravel parking lot and entrance to the walkway leading to the lofty position overlooking the scenic Au Sable River.

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    The bright sun dazzles overhead in the soft blue sky as we make the short walk through the evergreens to the Highbanks Scenic Overlook.

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    We managed to show up while no one else was present so my first impression was one of immense solitude. There is a log fence running the length of the overlook with multiple benches to sit and stare out over the vast forested terrain of the Au Sable valley.

    There is also a set of winding steps, made out of short sections of railroad ties that are embedded into the earth, and these lead you down to the river bank. We walked down and observed some trout fisherman come floating down the river, under the power of the current, in a small boat.

    To the lost man, to the pioneer penetrating a new country, to the naturalist who wishes to see the wild land at it's wildest, the advice is always the same - follow a river. The river is the original forest highway. It is nature's own Wilderness Road. - Edwin Way Teale


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    #63
  4. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Yesterday, I finally got the GSA out for a small adventure ride, since installing the new tires. A friend, on a newer model "Wethead" GS, connected up with me, and joined in on a day of Michigan overlanding. Anyway, I'll get some more material posted soon, but wanted to share this picture in the meantime. This particular shot came out exceptional, which is saying a lot, considering the challenge of shooting in a darkened forest environment. The lenses on these smartphones are only capable of gathering so much light.

    It's deceiving, but he is actually riding up hill. This is the spot that I'd encountered in the spring time, when I came across the ford Ranger that was bottomed out in the ruts. The deep ruts are gone now. Actually, the surface conditions of this spot are different every time I pass through. Consider that at one time the trail through here was on top of the hill, and over the years of use, has eroded down and essentially become a deep trench. So, I parked my bike and hustled up on top of the high ground - in search of an interesting perspective.

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    #64
  5. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Out cruising around Ohio today. Super hot and muggy; it was 90 something. Good day of riding though. Doing some more bonding with the Twin-Cam. Had to get my dose of nature as well!

    - Cantwell Cliffs (Hocking Hills Region)

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    #65
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  6. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Jeff; have you got a picture of the view you are looking at? Never been to that area of Ohio.
    #66
  7. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Not straight out; it's not an expansive vista, it looks out into the forest as the terrain drops away. Here is a picture looking back from where I came; in the peripheral you can see the forest that I speak of (pretty sure it's Hocking State Forest). Yes, the fence is as far as you are supposed to tread, but I'm a rule-breaker and scrambled over a series of rocks to attain my vantage point. I chuckled when I heard a family come walking up to the fence and a young boy says, "Hey, look at him out there on that ledge (by then I had worked my way around further), I want to go over there." But he was quickly rebuked, "No, no, you can't go out there."

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    #67
  8. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    You must go! You could spend a weekend in that one area, hitting the multiple points-of-interests, and never getting bored. And want to come back. There is Old Mans Cave (perhaps the biggest attraction), Ash Cave, Rock House, Conkles Hollow, Cantwell Cliffs, and a waterfall that I forget the name of. And the setting and roads are incredible. People really don't understand what Ohio has to offer the motorcyclist and explorer.

    - "The Fat Lady's Squeeze" Some of this terrain evokes images of the Lord of the Rings.

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    #68
  9. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    Is this the area that I once heard is referred to as Ohio’s Grand Canyon?
    #69
  10. DeansZG

    DeansZG Adventurer

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    Was at that same spot exactly 2 weeks ago w/ the missus(although we caged it down there). The unfortunate thing was that her cataracts changed her depth perception...not for the better either. She had to hold onto my arm to steady herself almost the entire way.... Temps were a bit warmer & me being in the ROUND shape that I'm in, had me drenched into my underware.. We did manage to do two more shorter hikes throughout the area, but she was NOT pleased.
    FYI: Logan has a distillery in town now w/ 4 or 5 pots going.....tasty stuff:-)
    #70
  11. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    I've not heard of a specific area in Ohio referred to as the Grand Canyon. But Pennsylvania has a Grand Canyon; it's called the Pine Creek Gorge.
    #71
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  12. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Glad you two made it down there ... however you can and whatever it takes. Too bad about the wife's eyes. Passed through Logan, but didn't stop; will keep the coffee shop in mind for next time. Hotter than hell today. Saw 95° all afternoon, and even 98° for a while between Cincinnati and Dayton. Sheeesh!

    - My friend/co-worker/and ride-companion (on this run), Jamie, sucking down a slurpee - while trying to cool off.

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    #72
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  13. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Here is a picture I took of the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania" while traversing the Mid-Atlantic BDR in 2018.

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    #73
  14. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Thanks for the pics Jeff. I have been to eastern Ohio many times to the BSA rally near Stuebenville and ridden the excellent roads in that area. Will have to make a 3 or 4 day excursion to the Hocking hills when the border opens and I feel safe to do so.
    #74
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  15. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    My pleasure; pics is what I do. Don't know if I will make it back down to that area this year or not. Sooner or later, Kenichi is going to ride up from Florida for a tour of Ohio. You could join us if you would like, or I can let you know next time I go down (if it's before he comes up). Sometimes it's hard to coordinate, but we could see what happens. Or you may prefer to meander through the area solo, that is rewarding and relaxing as well. There is a lot to see down there.

    - Speaking of BSA motorcycles: Here is a very young Gas Guy, in front of the Williston house, when I lived there. I never stood a chance!

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    #75
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  16. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    Thanks. That is beautiful. Will put on my list.
    #76
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  17. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Perhaps the "Rock House" is my favorite location in the Hocking Hills!

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    #77
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  18. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area (24-26 July 2020) Green Road Dispersed Camping

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    The last (or only) federally designated wilderness area in the lower peninsula of Michigan. This area is also part of the Manistee National Forest.

    I've been wanting to explore this area for a good decade, but always end up shooting past it - on to some different destination. So, this is the first of many (most likely) trips, in search of all that this magical place has to offer.

    Feeling the need to escape the hot shop at work, with the stringent new rules of wearing a mask and glasses during our current pandemic, I've been taking some long weekends while getting lost. It would prove to be a hot and humid weekend, even on the third coast (of Lake Michigan) - but at least I wasn't in the garage.

    Another GS rider would accompany me on this 3-day ride. We've known each other a long time, but only ever rode together on a short day ride or two. This would be the first multi-day run. He had pieced together an adventurous overland route to our eventual area of operations.

    We met in Portland, which is another charming small town, but our breakfast rendezvous point (with a deck overlooking the river) had changed their hours due to the pandemic. So, on to Ionia for breakfast.

    As we entered town from the east, the Blanchard House caught my eye. A mental note was taken to return someday in order to further investigate the impressive home representing upper-class living of the late 1800's. We stopped into the historic section of Ionia on Main Street for breakfast at the Blue Water Cafe. The homemade breakfast burrito and half-order of biscuits with sausage gravy was stellar!

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    Originally opened in 1894, the last known tenants vacated the upper offices of the silver building (it shares a facade with the Graff building) around 1955. Those spaces remained unoccupied until around 2012, when the building was purchased and renovated into a pair of apartments.

    How we managed to build these grandeur architectural treasures back in the 1800's, in comparison to today's soulless structures, is beyond me.

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    As I roll through these small villages, I always look up! The tops of these buildings speak to the past. Those vintage red and burgundy colors, such as the center building, especially appeal to me.

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    Once we had entered Manistee National Forest and started to regularly encounter sand - out came the tire pressure gauge. It was time to dump the street pressures. The front Shinko 804 was dropped to a more favorable 25-pounds and the rear Mitas E07 was set at 30-pounds. Could've went even lower - but there was sure to be plenty of paved riding interspersed with the dirt and gravel, so a compromise had to be settled upon.

    We were finding some exciting trails through beautiful forest.

    -Southeast of Baldwin
    An interesting scene along a two-track; with an isolated stand of pines (that almost look like tropical palms) against the blue sky with white fluffy clouds. Idyllic overlanding.

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    Every so often we'd come across my nemesis: Sugar sand! Deep, silty, rutted, sections of sand. I'd love to tell you that I get up on the pegs and rail through that stuff. But I'm an honest man. Deep sand is the worst for me, especially on a big bike and because I'm not a fast rider off-road. Slow, smooth, and technical is my motto. If I try to ride my big adventure bike too fast for too long, I just end up getting worked up, wore out, and crashing. On the occasion that I do pick up the pace and get grooving in the sand, before long, fatigue sets in or I become inattentive as my mind wanders, and then the crash. So, now, I'd rather crash at a slower speed.

    -Sugar Sand Strikes Again!
    South of Idlewild in Manistee N.F.

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    -Traversing a Pine Forest
    Northwest of Baldwin; in-between Baldwin and Free Soil.

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    -"Tea Time" (Coffee Actually)
    Found a clearing just off the trail for tea time. Coffee actually. Instead of dragging out the full kit and going through the whole brewing process, I'd just snatch a bottle of black cold brew from the soft pannier. Whenever possible, I try to carry a few bottles of cold brew for just such an occasion. It's been so damn hot this summer, that it almost feels like it just came out of the stove.

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    -More Sand!

    Northwest of Baldwin; in-between Baldwin and Free Soil. En route to Nordhouse Dunes. Like riding on a beach.

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    Eventually, we found our way to Nurnberg Road which led us to our destination of Nordhouse Dunes.

    We followed Nurnberg Road (dirt) past the line of parked cars along the shoulder to the trailhead parking lot (which is small). The lot was full which explains the line of cars. These cars all belonged to hikers and campers. You can hike out and camp within the dunes, but you have to maintain a few hundred feet from the Lake Michigan shoreline. That is something I'd really like to do. Not sure if I would feel comfortable enough leaving my bike that far away and unattended. Might have to pursue that someday with a car.

    Off we went in search of Green Road; this is a rough dirt road that lies within the wilderness area. You are allowed to practice dispersed (free) camping along the shoulder of the road. There are various size and configurations of pull-outs along the road in which you can set up camp. The majority of the spots were taken, although we found a few that interested us, and finally settled for one at the northern end of the road.

    -Campsite along the north end of Green Road (Forest Service 5356)

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    In the process of searching out Green Road, we made a wrong turn. We followed the coolest winding gravel road over subtle elevation changes through pristine forest. It was a terribly narrow road that felt like a driveway. Turns out it was! It passed through private forest homes before looping us around and back out.

    Lake Michigan Recreation Area and campground was just a few miles west of our location. We went and checked that out, but like most any organised campground on Lake Michigan, it was completely full. But we could utilize it for a fresh water source to fill our bottles. We'd make at least a lite time to visit their beach also, which is a perfect sunset location.

    Throughout our stay, we would follow Lake Michigan Recreational Area Road out (east) to US-31 and a Marathon gas station/store/deli for most of our fuel, food, and drinks. They had great cold prepared subs, that they would toast and add any toppings that you wanted, including dressings; the turkey with American cheese topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, and banana peppers kept me satisfied. They also had anything you wanted to drink, alcoholic or otherwise. Delicious pizza too.

    On each side of the road (between the road and forest) leading to the gas station, was a deep irrigation ditch full of water. Almost every time I'd pass through here, a large crane (probably a great blue heron) would fly up out of the water and pace me on the bike, before flying up into the treetops.

    At camp, in the evenings, we would enjoy a small fire, fueled with fallen branches, sourced from the forest floor. We'd sip beer, chat, and swat at mosquitoes before retiring to our tents.

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    Woke the first morning to a deflated sleeping pad. Brewed some coffee and then wandered into the woods as nature called. The coyotes were raising hell out there in the woods the night before. They have so many different calls, and some are so weird. Sometimes they almost sound like a large bird. A hoot owl was calling out at night also. Other than those critters, the forest was eerily quiet. Abnormally quiet. While I've never been to that particular spot, anywhere else (comparatively) that I've frequented in recent memory, has much more birdsong and insect noise. Both nights were the same. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes were out in force. I'm sure the heat and humidity reinforced their voracious appetite. It was exceptionally muggy with dead air. I'm still raking my nails across my itchy skin as I write this report.

    While up on a slight hill behind camp, I noticed through a stand of pines, the sun illuminating a vivid, green, grassy meadow - still damp with dew.

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    The road (Green) into and out of camp was rough. It was dirt with soft sand in spots. There were deep, wide mud holes (mostly dry this time) that took up the whole trail, which in turn prompted campers to create work arounds along the edge of the forest. It all made for an interesting experience.

    That first morning we rode a few of the forest roads down near the trailhead (to Nordhouse Dunes) on Nurnberg Road.

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    It was still packed. We had considered hiking out into the dunes to take a look around, but it was about a 3-mile round-trip hike, and we had other plans for the day. That will be an adventure for a subsequent trip.

    -Vintage VW Microbus
    This marvelous throwback scene was happened upon while traversing Green Road (FS 5356). Note the Grateful Dead spare tire cover and the bicycle. That little bus is worth a small fortune today!

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    We took off in a southerly direction (skirting around Hamlin Lake) towards Ludington.

    We ventured up M-116 through the wild roadside dune formations en route to Ludington State Park. Big Sable Point Light resides there, but it is somewhat of a hike. That light will be on the agenda for another trip also. We scoped out the beach area and then on our way back through the roadside dunes (M-116 is the only road in or out), we pulled over on the shoulder of the road, and made a dash for the refreshing fresh water lake. It was so refreshing on this hot, humid July day. No towel, no swimsuit. Just stripped down to my underwear and dove into the blue water.

    Mile after mile of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline; this landscape didn’t look much different - even before the European settlers arrived.

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    We continued on down the coast in a southerly direction, stopping in Ludington for lunch. Then on through Pentwater to Silver Lake State Park (sand dunes) and the Little Sable Point Light. This area was way too busy. The sand dunes are a mecca for four wheel drives and flooded with vacationers; same with the lighthouse. Cars were lined up to enter both locations, which was a bummer because I've been wanting to visit that lighthouse fir sime time; it's special because it uniquely sits on the beach in a picturesque manner from what I can tell in pictures I've seen.

    Feeling somewhat defeated (thinking too much about current events) and fighting off a creeping bout of depression (somewhat normal for me) we started heading back north towards camp while seeking out some adventure tracks that Jeff Hunter has stored on his GPS. They started off somewhat lackluster. Dead-ends and long straight dusty gravel roads.

    -End of the Trail!
    East of Pentwater. Jeff Hunter pictured. Ain't getting over those timbers!

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    Then things turned around, and we hit a plethora of exciting seasonal and four-digit designated forest roads! My kind of roads. Dirt, technical, water holes, small patches of sand, a few boggy areas, some downed trees, a few workarounds. That zapped my melancholic mood and lifted my spirits.

    -Forest Road 6124 or 5011
    These were technical and engaging trails near Crystal Valley. Jeff Hunter on his Wethead; even wetter now!

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    We returned to camp satisfied with a diverse day of adventure: paved, dirt, gravel, forest roads, dunes, villages, swimming in Lake Michigan. And now to cap it off with another swim as the sun sets on Lake Michigan. This time at the beach in Lake Michigan Recreation Area.

    First I hiked up the many stairs to an observation platform. Too many steps for such a small view. The view was obscured by the treetops of the forest.

    But the beach was first class with a marvelous view and sunset. The initial plunge was so refreshing. It didn't take long before the water felt warmer than the air - as the sun was setting. I've heard that Lake Michigan is warmer than ever this year.

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    We woke early Sunday morning, packed our gear, aired up our tires, and departed separately, each finding our own path home. I'd elected to simply cruise the highway (US-31) down to the Interstate (I-96) and home. A stop was made in Ludington for a coffee and muffin on an outside table. There was an interesting couple there from Southwest Michigan who were avid van travelers. We shared a discussion over coffee as random people would stop on their way into the coffee shop to comment or ask questions about the imposing and muddy GSA (loaded with gear) parked next to us on the curb. One man stepped from his car, walked a circle around the bike, and said, "Nice to see you really using that machine, I'll bet 90% of them don't get used as they were intended," before getting back in his car and departing.


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    #78
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  19. TownPump

    TownPump Been here awhile

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    Truly great outing, pictures and write up. You cover a lot of good ground in Ohio and Michigan, always interested in seeing what interesting roads and destinations you find.

    I need to explore more of MI.
    #79
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  20. GAS GUY

    GAS GUY MILE EATER

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    Thanks for the positive and inspiring feedback, TownPump! Michigan and it's countless miles of coastline (especially when combined with the National Forests) makes for fantastic riding and adventures. With the changing new world, and the hit on the working man's economy, it's looking like I will be riding locally (Michigan and Ohio), much more often, into the indefinite future. That's not so bad, once you get dialed into what both states have to offer, you realize that you could spend the rest of your life searching out all of the nooks and crannies.

    Something I've realized after decades of visiting new and familiar locations - is that they are equally rewarding for different reasons: New places are exciting, but I've found that because there is so much to initially take in, that you end up focusing on the biggest draws and only have time to process the surface; often, shortly after I return ... it's almost as if it never happened.

    On the contrary, when re-visiting a familiar location repetitively, you start unraveling the depths and intricacies of the area; there is another kind of satisfying reward in that; one that you keep building on - every visit. It's easy to overlook those attributes while traveling, and cheat yourself out of so much potential. We all have our ups and downs. Often it's circumstantial (such as our current times). Sometimes we have to reinvent our techniques and modify our mindsets to extract the most from our touring time. For instance: I've been riding Ohio extensively for decades; long before I ever started photographing and recording the rides with any kind of consistency. I've a few pictures, but nothing extensive like the past 5-years. But my point is, even after all of these years, I think every ride down there gets better. Not because of the times, or the bike, but because of how I view things. My eyes keep looking deeper and my mind finds new and more sophisticated ways of processing the world.

    Another shot from that last Michigan ride:

    -A Boggy Trail
    A remote and soft trail, bordering a marshy area, just southwest of Whiskey Creek Campground. Had the back tire spinning, carving a trench and roosting soil high into the air - while searching for traction to propel me forward onto firmer ground.

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    #80