WITH MAY GONE IT’S OFF THE BIKE FOR A WHILE. On to my June goal (to be announced shortly) but there are still some memorable May moments to report. So without further ado, here are highlights from bike trip #3 (May 18-20), along with the answers to the mystery photos I posted earlier.
Friday: Thinking of Mom
Union City bills itself as “a slice of American Pie”, so who are the first people I meet there? A couple from Down Under, Colin and Pam Tuck. They split their time each year among the U.S., France, New Zealand, and their home in Australia. They get around in an RV, which they have in each location, and on bikes (see the left side of the photo) for short trips in the areas where they stop. “We’re gypsies,” Pam told me. Nice life if you can get it.
The Daily Grind, the coffee shop where I met the Tucks, is elegantly appointed (see their Facebook photo – follow the link) and has great sticky buns. This place is definitely on my “return visit” list.
I worked hard to keep the village of Schoolcraft in the route, because it had both a bike shop and an Underground Railroad house/museum. Unfortunately the house was not open when I visited, but I encountered quite a variety of other houses in the village. Here’s a sample:
I could definitely live here.
No thanks. (Across the street from the second house. )
Small towns in Michigan tend to have a conservative flavor, so you can imagine my surprise when I entered downtown Three Rivers and spotted these two stores:
Mom, you have one guess what her name is. Synchronicity at work?
Now tell me, how can any red-blooded son pass by a shop named Love Your Mother? It’s referring to Mother Earth, and sells all kinds of earth-friendly products made from renewable sources. Naturally, I had to pick up at least a little something for my own mother. But should it go on her car, or on mine?
World Fare is a fair trade store that carries items from all over the world, but its focus is on products from less developed areas.
Crafted in the West Bank.
The idea is to give farmers, craftsmen, and artists a market for their goods while paying them a fairer price for their goods. The shop works with established and reputable distributors to make sure the products they carry were purchased using fair trade principles.
Saturday: Keeping Up with the Jonesvilles
Coffee, pastries, and science fiction. Who could ask for more?
My first stop was the Swallow’s Nest coffee shop and bookstore in Quincy, a village that according to Bill Swallow is struggling to find an identity, with the much larger city of Coldwater just five miles away. “Quincy people go to Coldwater to shop,” he said, “but not many Coldwater people shop in Quincy.” Bill told me about the annual Q-Town day of races (5K and 10K), set for August 24 this year. I’ll be there.
After a short swing through Allen, the self-proclaimed antiques capital of the world, I rode into Jonesville – smack into their annual Riverfest. Here are a few photos to give you the flavor of it all (click to enlarge).
This place goes all out.
So “small town” – and good cookies, too.
The men of the 7th prepare to save the Union.
I spent a lot of time at the Civil War camp set up near the museum. The men and women I met here are reenactors who go to several events each year. Their unit is based on an actual regiment (7th Michigan) that saw action in several battles, including Gettysburg. They are looking forward to the events scheduled for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg next year, and encouraged me to check into it. To see what a soldier’s tent, weapon, and mess kit might have looked like, click the thumbnails. (Items are accurate reproductions.)
So what does the woman pictured below left do for fun when she’s not supporting the Union Army? See the photo on the right. Yep, she did that on her 70th birthday, and plans to parasail next year. Not bad for someone born in 1790! Another woman in the group is a runner, and we swapped a few stories. They wondered about my strange outfit, though, and the “two-wheeled buggy” I was riding.
Just outside Tecumseh Sunday morning. (There’s a skydiving school there.)
Sunday: Young Entrepreneurs
The big excitement on Sunday turned out to be at my first stop in Clinton (see my AnnArbor.com article on the subject, which explains why this firefighter is wearing pink), but there were other memorable moments. On my way to Adrian, while looking for the entrance to the Kiwanis bike trail, I came across this sure sign that it was nearby:
Recalling my own experience selling roadside lemonade as a kid, I naturally had to support them. But whatever happened to the cup of lemonade for a quarter, I wondered – and then, while leaving Adrian:
An amazing demonstration of the power of visualization! Now, whatever happened to those guys who showed up at your front door with a check for a million dollars…?
My final stop for the weekend was the village of Manchester, perhaps best known for its annual World Famous Chicken Broil. The coffee shop and restaurant where I had breakfast was closed, but Frank’s Place was still open, and my wife and I celebrated with some good hoagies. I happened to mention my bike tour and mission to our waitress, and soon we were speaking with Denise Collins, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Jim. They’re most known for pizzas, she told me, which is one reason why they stay open late in a small town. They bought the place four years ago, including the recipes, and their son is the main cook.
Denise (left) shares her thoughts of life in Manchester.
She talked about the challenges Manchester faces, challenges that are shared with many of the towns I visited. But she said a couple of new businesses were going to open soon, and thanks to a recent grant the village was installing new sidewalks, light poles, and trees. So hopefully things are picking up there.
Coming soon: a summary of the entire month, with what I learned, and some “best of” lists. Stay tuned!