Day 12 of Gavin Smith’s fundraising ride for Ecojustice includes more rain, economic decline and some of the best riding of his trip. He’s still averaging more than 100 km per day, but his cleanliness is beginning to slide into funky town.

Day 12
June 22
Distance Travelled: 140.97 km (Jen and John’s house, Marquette, Michigan)

Woke up to more rain. By the end of the first minute on the road I was soaked, as in just-climbed-out-of-a-lake soaked. The day had turned into a foggy mist by the time I hit the “Seney Stretch,” a 60-km stretch of Highway 28 that shoots straight and flat through wetlands and forest. It’s punctuated by a few small towns where a lot of the buildings seemed to be closed or abandoned. There’s definitely a sense of economic decline along some of the stretches of road in this part of the country.

I had trouble getting a hold of my Warm Showers host because there are basically no more pay phones in the U.S. I had to stop at gas stations and ask to use their phone. At the third gas station, I confirmed that I had a place to stay. Then I saw what I think was a wild turkey on the side of the road. Is that what wild turkeys look like? I don’t know.

The stretch from Munising to Marquette was probably the most beautiful riding I had done so far, even under grey skies. The highway comes down a hill toward Lake Superior and then snakes along beside sandy shores, in and out of forests dotted with cottages. The air was cold and fresh off the water and reminded me of the ocean. I made it to Jen and John’s house, who live with their two daughters Leandra and Althea on the shore of Lake Superior, surrounded by trees.

Jen did calculations for a land surveyor in town and John was a professor of wildlife biology and Northern Michigan University, particularly interested in migration patterns of Canadian geese and woodcocks. They were wonderful people and they let me use their washing machine, which was excellent because hand washing my clothes was starting to make me smell like a hockey bag.

I think we’re all grateful that Gavin was able to wash his clothes because there is more rain on the way tomorrow and a lot more land to traverse. On Day 13, he leaves Marquette reluctantly, rides for part of the day and then makes camp on the shore of Lake Michigan.