Day 23 – July 10: To Barothy Lodge (Walhalla, MI). That Dam Route

by Jeff

32 miles  48 miles

After today’s ride, we wouldn’t have to get on our bikes for five whole days… everybody was excited! Turns out that we camped in clearing surrounded by poison ivy, so it was a little worrisome keeping Caleb and David out of the foliage. I woke up early and hiked down to the Manistee River: it was gorgeous. At one point I startled some deer who were resting not 20 feet away from me. Some other campers testified that the fishing on this river is amazing; I’d love to come back and try it out sometime in the future. Growing up fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan and its tributaries holds some very special memories for me.


The beautiful Manistee River

We didn’t have the chance to shop for breakfast the day before, so we just emptied out all the food we were carrying from our trailers and panniers. Breakfast included beef jerky, granola bars, a couple apples, bananas, fresh-picked wild raspberries, a Cliff bar, and other sundry items. A true smorgasbord!


Our campsite at Tippy Dam. Breakfast is served!

We left around 11AM, not in too much of a hurry because Google Maps showed that we only had 32 miles to go. Hooray!

Just northwest of Tippy Dam lies the quaint town of Brethren. The sign welcoming us to Brethren made the claim, “The best little town by a dam site!” That, of course, made us all chuckle, and the kids began quoting Percy Jackson and his friends (from the Lightning Thief series). They looked for such places as “the Dam Snack Bar” and “the Dam bathroom”. (Ha, ha)

Now, as we approached the Dam, the road passed by a ranger station. Just beyond the post was a sign indicating that the road ended at the bottom of the hill. What? We stopped and spoke to the ranger, who said that Homeland Security had closed the Dam to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic. NOOOOOOOO!! Google maps showed our route going across the dam; now we would have to go completely around it!

“You Shall Not Pass!” -Gandalf

Our 32-mile bike ride just increased by another 10 miles. At least. It will forever be known as that Dam Route.

Embittered by this information, I was surly for the next 3 hours. (Just keeping it real). Google, you have failed this biker! (Any Arrow fans out there?)

By mid-afternoon, I had finally swallowed the bitter pill and began to believe again in the goodness and sovereignty of God. We even met a couple of bikers on the road who had done quite a bit of touring, and they rode with us to a local grocery store so that we could pick up some food for lunch. They were very nice, and it was fun to have some other company as we rode.

The grocery store in Dublin, Michigan is no ordinary place. Believe it or not, it is most known for its jerky. They have every type of jerky imaginable: beef, chicken, turkey, pork, ostrich, alligator, buffalo—just to name a few! The flavors were just as diverse: Spicy, cherry, teriyaki, honey, BBQ… the selection was crazy. They make jerky all day, every day, and ship it all over the United States. We tried a couple of flavors and settled for the Teriyaki beef jerky, which was excellent.

Our route this day took us by a number of lakes and natural areas, another beautiful excursion in the Michigan countryside. But we were very focused on our destination, if only for the pizza that we knew would be waiting for us. After a couple more detours, adding 16 miles to our trip, we finally pulled into the resort, Barothy Lodge, around 7:30PM, where we were warmly welcomed by my family (in spite of the fact that we were grimy and sweaty). So fun to see these people who are dear to us at the end of a long day of biking!

This annual reunion in Michigan began 15 years ago, just after my father died. Seeing all of his family at the funeral (in 2000) gave us a deeper desire to reconnect with my aunt, uncle, and cousins who knew and loved my dad. We’ve been able to attend many of these reunions, and they have become such a highlight for us and the kids. We all knew what the next five days would hold: rafting and tubing on the Pere Marquette River, swimming in the pool, abundant and delicious meals, and lots of games, including kickball, Frisbee, water balloons, corn hole, and so much more.

We made it!


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