The Tobacco Stains On His Toothless Lower Jaw Identified The Man I Was Looking For

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Marquette, Michigan

July 31, ’80

I biked in mostly rain today, but I did manage to perform a good deed. On the highway, I found some tools that had fallen off a semi-truck. Knowing that the tools were high quality and therefore expensive, and also knowing that the trucker probably was pissed when he discovered his tools missing, I reflected on the times when I had lost something of value. I would tell myself, “Whoever ends up with my stuff needs it more than I do,” or at least I hoped it happened that way. Keeping that thought in mind, I set out to play the middleman in order to make that hope come true.

I was a little disappointed at first since I couldn’t find anybody who I thought would be extremely joyful over a gift of tools. I needed to get rid of them, though. I didn’t need another thirty pounds weighing down my bike. I was thinking about handing them over to anyone when I road past a restaurant and saw a man and a woman getting into their car. The man was in a T-shirt, and, as I approached him, the tobacco stains on his toothless lower jaw identified him as the man I was looking for. I road up to the car and said, “I found these tools on the highway. I can’t use them, but maybe you can.” Then I handed him the tools. At first he appeared confused, even a little frightened. But, after he realized I meant no harm, he thanked me very kindly, and his wife even rolled down her window and voiced kind words of gratitude. I was glad that I had waited until I had found the right people to give the gift of tools. In fact, I was very pleased with myself.

I arrived in Marquette just in time to purchase an $11. bicycle tire. Prices got higher the farther east I went. I bought the same tire for $8.50 the last time. After I had bought my tire, I went up to Northern Michigan University and grabbed a shower. At the University, I met up with another biker. He was out of London, Ontario, on his way to Vancouver. We agreed to camp together, and after a pizza and beer at a local pub, we biked to a stretch of deserted beach just north of Marquette. The white sand beaches of Lake Superior were fantastic. We had no problem setting up camp, and enjoying the six beers we had carried back with us. We watched a big red moon come up over the lake — nice.

Not so nice, however, were the Lake superior mosquitoes. They tried to carry us away last night, and then today we have the man-eating flies to contend with. They’re biting my ankles through my socks about every four minutes– making me write faster and faster. I suppose I’ve enjoyed this beach long enough, anyway. I think I’ll go tell Rick I’ll be heading out instead of spending a couple of days here in paradise like we had talked about last night. All things considered, Lake Superior is still worth the hassle.

Aug. 1

Yesterday was a good day, as was the day before that, and the day before that. Michigan is a great State. Of course, it helps when the weather is good, too! The flies forced my quick departure from the beach yesterday, so I didn’t get a chance to acknowledge the great company Rick turned out to be. The two of us left the beach together, and went to the hospital where we ate a great breakfast for a reasonable price. We wished each other well after that, and I headed out for Munising, another fifty or so miles down the highway. It was already afternoon, so that was a good place to aim for, particularly since it was my last chance to camp on Lake Superior.

The bicycling was great. The weather was muggy, and occasionally the traffic was heavy, but that was the only drawback. I almost forgot, before leaving the last campsite, I thought I’d try swimming in the lake. Lake Superior is very cold. This time, however, the water was tolerable, even pleasant, after I got used to it. I enjoyed my morning swim tremendously. It was just me, in the middle of the lake, digging my toes into the sand, looking out at the miles of deserted shoreline. It was beautiful.

At the end of that gorgeous day, I went to a bar and had a couple beers, and ate a turkey sandwich. That was a great way to end the day. I also called home and set the date for my parents to pick me up–Sunday, Aug. 3, in St. Ignace. After I had made those arrangements, I felt strange. My trip was coming to an end, and it was a very heavy feeling. This had been a very good bicycle trip, but I’ll probably speak more on that later.

I just finished my last pancake and am about to begin another great day. There were no flies in the campground last night and hardly any mosquitoes. It doesn’t get any better than that!

The Subject Of Religion Never Came Up Until The Minister Got Up To Leave

St. Ignace Bar

Aug 2, ‘80

Well here I am, sitting in a $6. per night camp site–the end of the line, end of the road, the end of the trip. After I started throwing things away, I started feeling empty. In retrospect, the same type of thing occurred on my last bicycle trip. I hope my parents appreciate the fact that I’m not bicycling the best part of the trip — the home stretch. Tomorrow, I will meet them on the north side the Mackinaw Bridge.

Yesterday, when I reached Munising, I called information. I was looking for an old college roommate of mine. In the early ‘’70s we hung out together, and I wanted to pay him a surprise visit if possible. He was from Manistique, so I thought maybe he was still there. The operator told me there was a J. Fredrickson phone number listed, so that was good enough for me. I reconfigured my route and headed down to Manistique.

When I arrived, I went into a bar on Main Street and inquired into the whereabouts of Jimmy (Manistique was a small enough town for that kind of thing). The bartender informed me that he hadn’t seen him in a long time, but his parents lived in town. “Why don’t you get in touch with them,” he said. I tried calling, but nobody was home. The guy sitting at the bar drinking a beer told me he didn’t know what Jimmy was doing now, but three years ago he was working as a corrections officer in the prison system up in Marquette. Disappointed, I got on my bicycle and started pedaling east on Highway 2.

Highway 2 was enough to turn a bicycler’s hair white, especially when the bicycler in question knew there were better routes to travel. The traffic was so bad I had to stop bicycling early. I camped just off the highway, under some power lines. The next day it was more of the same. Michigan was a great state, but my opinion concerning the idiot’s driving the highways remains in tact — Michigan has more than its share of assholes.

Aug. 3

I had a good night last night. After my shower, I walked downtown and stopped at a couple of bars. At my second bar, Ken, the owner and ex professional wrestler, greeted me. He was a very funny guy. Another fellow came into the bar and sat next to me. After awhile, the bartender introduced the guy sitting next to me as the town’s Episcopalian minister. I found that surprising. He was my age, and he didn’t talk like a minister. After Ken bought a round of drinks, I returned the favor by buying a second round for the three of us. The subject of religion was never brought up; that is, until the minister got up to leave. He invited me to his morning church service. I was sure he wasn’t serious. I could see it in his eyes. The last thing he wanted was to have a Saturday night drinking buddy show up in the middle of his Sunday congregation. “Don’t be surprised,” I said, “maybe I’ll be there.” When I finished my beer, I said goodbye to Ken and headed back to my campsite. On the way there, I passed another bar where I had to stop for a pizza and beer. Hey, I was hungry.

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2 Responses to “The Tobacco Stains On His Toothless Lower Jaw Identified The Man I Was Looking For”

  1. Dag T Says:

    Again a great pic 😉

  2. white~sands Says:

    thanx

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