DAY 23 (7/3/05): Luther to Traverse City, MI 83.8 mi. 
Today's ride was mostly through state and national
forests, with a few farms thrown in at the end.  There
was noticeably more traffic on the roads due to the
holiday weekend.  Traverse City itself was a total
madhouse due to the annual Cherry Festival, which
draws thousands of people to this big cherry-growing
region.  For me it just meant that the bike path that
I was supposed to be on through the city was
completely occluded by sunburned tourists eating ice
cream.  So, I got a little lost and wound up at a
laundromat, which certainly wasn't a bad thing.  I
took refuge there and did my laundry, and then when I
left I stumbled onto the bike path that I was supposed
to be on anyhow, and got out of town.  I camped at a
little private campground just outside of town away
from all the noise, which was nice.  Sadly, it didn't
have a shower, but otherwise it was no problem.  I
didn't have much to eat since I was to off-put by the
tourists in Traverse City to go in and look for food. 
But, I did have Ramen Noodles and cherries, so all was
not lost.

DAY 24 (7/4/05): Traverse City to Elk Rapids, MI
10.4mi (REST DAY).  I celebrated independence day in
the little town of Elk Rapids, not far from Traverse
City.  My Big Ride Across America and New Zealand
touring buddy, Maggie, is from there and her father,
Dario, and his wife, Eileen, still live there.  I
rolled up to their front door at around 11am, after
being deluged by an early-morning thunder storm.  They
were in the middle of breakfast, which was good timing
as far as I was concerned.  After eating basically
everything on the table, I took a much needed shower
and then was treated to a fishing trip in Dario's
boat.  Although nobody caught anything, it was very
pleasant for me, since I just sat there and drank root
beer while being driven around the lake to various
scenic points.  After the fishing trip we walked
around Elk Rapids a bit, and then Eileen made us a
very nice dinner.  Their house is totally immaculate,
making me realize how thouroughly uncivilized I have
become over the past month.  With the lure of an
actual bed nearby, I was unable to stay awake for any
fireworks, but I don't view that as a tremendous loss,
since I slept very well!

DAY 25 (7/5/05): Elk Rapids to Petoskey, MI 87.0mi. 
This morning, after a nice breakfast and coffee with
Dario and Eileen, I hit the road once again, on a
shortcut recommended by Dario, which took me through
acres of cherry trees laden with fruit on my way back
to the main route. For many miles after that I
followed the shore of Torch Lake, which was really
beautiful and green with lots of nice looking homes
tucked in around the shore.  After I got away from the
lake, I had to go up an absolutely tremendous hill
that came basically out of nowhere.  At the base, the
road was full of switchbacks, so I barely noticed the
climb at all.  Then, all of a sudden, as if they had
run out of money to pave switchbacks, the road went
directly up the face of the hill.  The grade must have
been more than 15% at the steepest points, because I
was pedaling with all my strength in my absolute
lowest gear and I was wondering if either my eyes
would pop right out of my head from exertion or if my
front tire would lift off the ground and I would go
"arse-over-tip" right back down to the bottom again. 
Fortunately, neither of these occurred and I crested
the hill at a mighty 2mph.  At the top it was all I
could do to steer myself onto the shoulder, rest my
elbows on the handlbebars, and gasp for a few minutes.
Once I had recovered, I rode down to Boyne City,
where I took Dagny to a bike shop for her first
mid-tour makeover: a new chain and new handlebar tape.
From there, I rode on past some huge Victorian-style
vacation homes on the lake just past Petoskey, and on
into Petoskey state park.

DAY 26 (7/6/05): Petoskey to Brevort, MI 75.7mi.  At
long last, I left the lower peninsula of Michigan
behind today.  I rode along an amazing piece of rode
known as the "tunnel of trees."  As its name implies,
this rode runs through woods so thick that the
branches of the trees meet over the rode, making it
cool and shady to ride.  It's also a scenic route with
very little traffic, which made for pleasant riding. 
It was a bit of a shock, after such a peaceful
morning, to roll into the tourist town of Mackinaw
City, where I caught a ferry across the straights of
Mackinaw to Mackinac Island.  From the boat I could
see the I-75 bridge that connects the upper and lower
peninsulas (at 5 mi long, it is one of the longest
suspension bridges in the world, and with only two
towers it is really a sight to see).  Mackinac island
is a terrifying place.  It sounds great because there
are no motor vehicles allowed on the island.  However,
there are sooooo many tourists, all of whom have
rented bikes, that it is really not a good place for
cycling.  Imagine Commerical Street in Provincetown,
but 5 times busier than you have ever seen it, and you
will have the right idea.  Anyhow, I left as quickly
as possible on a second ferry which took me to St.
Ignace, on the Upper Peninsula.  From there, I rode
the main drag of the UP, US-2, for 10 or 15 relatively
peaceful miles to a USFS campground in Brevort.  The
forests here are beautiful, although the campground is
so close to US-2 that you can here the trucks roaring
by through the trees.