Port Huron, Michigan: In today’s 88-mile ride we completed our trek across peninsular Michigan, arriving at the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, in the early afternoon.
The scenery during today’s ride was deja vu: more corn and soybean crops and family owned farms (and naturally, barns), and a string of small towns. What makes this day stand out are conversations I had with two locals.
About midway in today’s ride we cycled through the pretty little town of Yale, the self-proclaimed bologna capital of America. (Bologna, in case you’re wondering, is a particular luncheon meat made of pork and other stuff). I quickly discovered bologna is serious business in Yale. Each summer the town holds an annual bologna festival; we missed it by a week. We were told there’s even a bologna museum in Yale, but that turned out to be alot of bologna.
But not to despair: at the CJ Restaurant in town, we became acquainted with local royalty. We chatted with Diane, the gregarious 1993 Bologna Queen of Yale. There’s also a King, a Princess and a Prince. Diane told us being Queen was a really great experience and it was difficult to step down from the throne. She explained that the Bologna Festival is an important fundraising occasion for Yale, with the funds used for scholarships, a parade, and town beautification. Diane raised $6,000 during her candidacy for Bologna Queen. She also painted CJ’s Restaurant and a house and even held a children’s day which featured a guest appearance of a “big purple friend.” She did receive a death threat on kids days, as someone complained about having to hear the Barney song one time too many. It was great meeting Diane today. To me, she personifies the Bologna Festival and small town Michigan.
This northerly route we’re taking really capitalizes on some interesting towns. On this trip I’ve now been to the bologna capital of America; the corn capital (Mitchell, SD); the cycling capital (Sparta, WI); and the jackalope capital (Dubois, WY). Plus I’ve been to two state capitols: Boise (ID) and Pierre (SD).
The other memorable conversation was with a local cyclist, Dave from Attica, who was out riding and we struck up a conversation while pedaling in the same direction. He is very close to his goal of cycling 3,000 miles this year, and explained that he now has alot of time on his hands after his retirement from General Motors. GM closed the Pontiac plant where he had worked for many years. Across Michigan stories such as Dave’s are unfortunately too common as the structural dislocations in the automobile industry play out here.
Tomorrow we cross into Canada.
Day 39 Summary:
Day 39 route: Birch Run to Port Huron, MI
Day 39 mileage: 87.88 miles
Cumulative mileage: 2,922.48 miles
Day 39 climbing: 800 feet
Cumulative Climbing: 82,235 feet of climbing