Friday, August 19, 2011

Wednesday: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (state park campground)

On Wednesday morning I rode from Ionia State park into Lansing (Michigan's capital). I settled on a view of the capitol building and set my easel up on a sidewalk next to the community college. School was out of session for the summer, so I had relatively few visitors during the course of my painting. A couple people did wander by, though. One woman questioned my choice of subject matter:
"You're painting the capitol?"
"Why'd you put those telephone poles in?"
"Cause they're there."
"But those telephone poles are ugly, and paintings are supposed to be pretty."

After I'd finished painting, I headed east out of Lansing towards my destination for the night: Sleepy Hollow State Park Campground. The campground (like all the Michigan state park campgrounds I've experienced so far) was overwhelmingly populated by Winnebago-style campers and trailers. I wheeled my bike into my campsite, and, drained from 67 miles of biking, guzzled the 'Red Stripe' made lukewarm from an hour in my handlebar bag. As I teased the last few drops out of the bottle, a man walked up tentatively. A faded green 'Mountain Dew' t-shirt stretched itself around his pear-shaped torso, and a half-moon of white belly spilled out over his jeans. "Hey," he said.
"Where's your car?"
I pointed to my bike.
"Shit...well you're welcome to come sit by my campfire if you like."
He turned and ambled back toward his trailer, hitching up his pants every few strides in an unsuccessful effort to cover his yawning plumber's crack.

I considered his offer for a few minutes, and then, throwing caution, good sense, and everything else a solo female traveler is supposed to have, to the wind, I joined him. He unfolded a second chair and tossed me a Corona, apologizing for the lack of lime. A tiny, walleyed pug bounced over to sniff my ankles. "What's your dog's name?"
"Why Org?"
"Cause he looks like a caveman."
We sat staring at the popping flames. "I'm Jen," I offered. "Mike," he coughed, lighting a cigarette. Mike didn't talk unless I asked him questions. So I did. Turns out Mike was on vacation from his job as a trailer park lawn mower in Owosso, MI. He'd lived his whole life in Owosso, except for one year living in Florida with his first wife. "Didn't like Florida," he said. "Too swampy. Too hot. But gators are kinda cool". In the fall Mike hunts deer and squirrel. I said he must be a pretty good shot to nail a squirrel. "Yup," he said. He hoisted himself from his chair and turned to pee in a bush three feet away. When he had finished he wiped his hands on his pants. "Well," I said, "I'd better get going. I've got an early morning tomorrow. Thank you for the beer." "No problem! It was really good to meet you," and he grabbed my hand for a damp handshake.

Wednesday's mileage: 67
Total trip mileage: 605 (not doing decimal places anymore)

Thursday: went through Flint (Wow. Just wow.) Will blog about this but I need a solid 2-3 hours to get it all down. Coming soon.

Today (Friday): biking into Detroit, where I will be staying for a few days. David Byrne, 'Talking Heads' frontman and author of 'Bicycle Diaries' (read it, it's good), likens biking into Detroit to biking into the apocalypse.

Painting of Lansing's capitol building with "ugly" telephone poles

Lansing sign

Doctor "available" in Lansing


  1. You are so inspiring... can't wait to read more!

  2. Any idea why they call it "Sleepy Hollow?" Maybe Mike was Brom Bones in disguise.

  3. just funny. I'm diggin' your reports, Jen.
    damp handshake guy - seriously!?

  4. Someone did not plan on "marijuana" having 9 letters.