If you’re going to have a friend join you on a bike trip, it is mighty handy if he just happens to be a bike tour operator. Especially if you are in his home territory. And an all around good guy, like Jim.
We had already spent one day making our way north along the western shore of Michigan. It was enough to impress us with the Lake Michigan views and fine sand beaches. And I was enamoured with the brilliant blue-green color of the water, reminiscent of the Caribbean. We discovered that many towns were built on lakes, small bays or rivers adjoining the big lake. They frequently afforded appealing views with boats bobbing in marinas. And in between were orchards laden with ripe red apples, farm stands, peaches for sale, scenic farms and woods lining the road.
Our rendezvous point with Jim was Arcadia. A tiny village, it boasted both a nature preserve and a beautiful town beach. With free time available, an afternoon for doing your own thing seemed in order. Rich eagerly headed out in search of birds in the marsh. I spent my time walking the beach with the roar of the waves in my ears and the wind on my face. We finished just in time to meet Jim for dinner, and capped off the day with a splendid sunset over the lake.
Our morning departure as a threesome was quite a wake-up call. We had reached the coastal sand dunes, and as they rose steeply above the water, so did the road. Our initial few miles were straight up, ending at an overlook with long views up and down the coast. No one but me was willing to climb the steps to the top. But it was worth it. The low sun was just beginning to illuminate the trees below, and the clear blue skies and enhanced the deep color of the water.
It was a grand day for cycling and necessitated taking time to enjoy the sights along the way. Having three people meant more interests. More ideas. More reasons to stop. A photo opp for Rich. A rest stop for Jim. A lighthouse or two for me. One looked like a toy, but Point Betsie Lighthouse was quite nice.
We were grateful to learn that Jim was a very agreeable traveling companion. Despite the dire weather forecasts for morning, we threw caution to the wind and stuck with our plans to camp that night. For our reward, we scored the only campsite in the DH Day National Forest Campgound with a water view! The fact that they had only primitive campsites (outhouses and water faucets, period) was no problem. Our beautifully secluded spot also had beach access. With Jim leading the charge, we were soon swimming off our day’s sweat and rinsing our cycling gear all at once in Lake Michigan! I certainly never expected to swim in the lake on this trip. And had we been on our own, I’m not certain we would have taken the plunge. It’s a good thing that by then there were three.