Day 26; Wednesday, June 23rd, 1999
Start: Ludington, Michigan
End: Pemberville, OH
Clankity-clank-clankity-clank-CLANK - THUD - BOOM !!
Yow!!! OK, OK; I'm awake already! It's 4:30 AM. Yawn. Stretch. Rub my eyes. What the heck was that?
Turns out the ferry drops anchor as it comes into port, then pivots around to dock using the anchor line as a pivot point. The chains for the anchor run directly under my chair on the front deck. Wow! What an abrupt way to wake up.
The morning is cool and humid as I pack up my sleeping bag and Thermarest pad. I get the bike and myself off the ship and am cruising through the deserted streets of Ludington, Michigan by about 5:30 AM. Not much movement going on at that time of the morning, I see maybe a dozen, maybe only a half-dozen cars on my ride through town.
I take Rte. 10 east through the woods of central Michigan, grabbing breakfast at a little run down cafe along the way; then Rte. 27 south, picking up I-96 east towards Detroit in the Lansing area.
Somewhere along the way, the early start catches up with me. I stop in a roadside rest and take a 45 minute nap on a blanket in the grass.
Refreshed, I continue on; picking up Rte. 23 southbound at Brighton, Michigan, and taking that into Ohio, running into miles of construction and construction related backups and stoppages while in Michigan. Strange. All these people sitting around at one point on a 4 lane stretch on Rt. 23, staring straight ahead and not even acknowledging each other or making eye contact, just isolated inside their cars in their own little worlds.
Eventually, I cross the state line and enter Ohio at Sylvania. I begin to go past familiar places. It's a very good feeling to actually be in my own backyard / neighborhood again!
Northwest Ohio is table flat farmland, courtesy of the Ice Age glaciers, and the terrain isn't going to change anymore on this trip. Now it's mostly buildings that I use as landmarks. I slip through the Maumee/Perrysburg area on I-475/Rte. 23, over the rapids on the Maumee River where I learned to kayak so long ago, all of these sights seem like old friends now, silently welcoming me home as I ride by.
At the Rte. 23 / I-75 split I take I-75 southbound to Rte. 582 east, to Rte. 199..... then assorted arrow-straight county roads, past various woods, farms, and buildings, everything in it's orderly 1 mile square grids, each square filled with crops and with a drainage ditch alongside the road, into Pemberville the back way.
It's about 1:30 in the afternoon, my wife and son are at work and school respectively, and the house is silent. I put the bike away in the garage, put my helmet in it's normal place atop the bookcase, my 'Stich gets hung up on the back porch. I snooze on the couch, waiting - they aren't expecting me until late tonight or tomorrow.
Around 5:00 PM, I hear keys in the door, and I hide in the downstairs bathroom. My wife and son come in, my wife points out my helmet to our 4 year old son, I hear his little feet running fast up the steps. I sneak up the steps after him, motioning my wife to be silent as I slip past her, and when my son comes down the steps and runs into me he breaks into the biggest smile I've ever seen!! I didn't know a face could bend that far - he's hugging me tight, his head on my shoulder and his legs wrapped snug around my waist as I carry him down the steps and into the living room.
The three of us sit on the couch, my son snuggled in my lap, and my wife says "Glad that you're home, how was the trip..?" I don't even know where to begin, there's so much to tell, so I simply reply "Absolutely incredible, the most incredible trip I've ever been on! But it's sure good to be home.." and leave it at that.