Day 16: Cereal City

Date: June 11th, 2019

Miles Traveled: 70

Weather: Mostly sunny, gorgeous

Physical Status: Tired-ish

TL;DR: A lost phone, disappointing waterfalls, a red brick road, and the land of cereal and balloons.

This morning, I woke up late at around 6:45am, quickly packed up my tent, and rolled out of my stealth camping spot at around 7:20am… just as seniors and faculty of the local high school started to roll in.

Phew…

I rode through downtown Chelsea, Michigan and decided to stop at a bakery called… well, “Chelsea Bakery”:

There, I got a delicious homemade cinnamon roll and an apple fritter:

Mmmm… My arteries.

As I munched on my breakfast, I witnessed a number of elementary and middle school aged kids enter the bakery, greet the person behind the counter, ask for a particular donut, and trot out the door with cheery smiles on their faces. Based on the interaction between the baker and each kid, it seemed like this was a morning routine for the kids, which was quite a wholesome thought.

—–

After setting out on the road, I continued West for a couple of miles along a mix of rural and suburban roads. As I was pedalling along, I suddenly noticed something out of the ordinary along the highway shoulder. A pink-ish brown rectangle with a black circle and small silver insignia layed flat on the pavement.

Squeeeeeee.

My bike screeched to a hault as I pulled on the brakes. After reaching down to get a closer look, I noticed the most iconic of logos:

The Apple logo.

It was an iPhone 7. The screen was somewhat cracked, but the phone was still in pristine condition. I pressed the power button and was surprised to see the screen light up with life.

It worked.

There was 15 missed calls from a person named Mindy, so I called Mindy back on the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hey Mindy, I’m a stranger and, as I was biking along, I actually found this iPhone on the side of a road called East Michigan Ave. Do you know who this belongs to?” I said.

“OMG! Ummm that’s actually my work phone. My mom is driving around looking for it. I’m at work right now and can be there in 45min. Will you be around then?” she said.

“Yeah, so I’m on a bike trip at the moment and won’t be able to hang around, but what I can do is put it in the mailbox at <address> and you can drop by and pick it up. I’ll send you the address and pictures of the location. Does that sound good?”

After four frustratingly vague back and forth calls later (calls that made me question whether this person really wanted their phone back or not), I sent the address and GPS location of the phone to Mindy, her father, and her mother with pictures of the house and mailbox. I then placed the phone in the mailbox, called Mindy back one more time, and continued along my route for the day.

About a mile later, I was getting back to my groove and suddenly a car pulls up beside me.

“Excuse me, are you the bicyclist that found an iPhone?” an older lady hollered from inside the car.

It was Mindy’s mother.

“Yeah! What’s up?” I replied.

“Do you have the phone with you?” she asked.

“No, I left it in the mailbox #6948 back there. I sent Mindy the address. It’s just about a mile back. Did you not find it?” I replied.

“I opened the mailbox and it wasn’t there…”

Puzzled, I biked a little over a mile back to the mailbox as Mindy’s mother followed me in her car. As I pedalled along, I began to question myself. Did I send Mindy the right address? Was there a typo? Did I read the mailbox number wrong?

I rode up to the mailbox I placed the phone in and lo and behold, the phone was still there.

Turns out, Mindy’s mother just read the mailbox number wrong and mistook “6980”, the number of the house directly next door, for “6948”. Frustrated but keeping my cool, I handed the iPhone to Mindy’s mother, wished her well, and went on my way.

At least Mindy will be happy,” I thought. Sometimes paying it forward includes a little extra effort on your end, ya know?

Not even five minutes after I continued along my route, I rotated one of the shift levers on my bike to shift gears.

*Click*

Silence.

*Click*

Silence.

*Click*

Silence.

Huh, that’s odd.” I thought.

I slowed to a hault, examined the lever, and immediately knew what the problem was: a frayed shifter cable.

Damn. “No good deed goes unpunished” as they say.

I hopped off my bike, rummaged through my bag, and found a replacement shifter cable. Fortunately for me, this kind of mechanical issue is a pretty simple fix, provided you know what you’re doing.

10 minutes later, I was just about to tighten the new cable and screw in the rear derailleur bolt when I see a lady suddenly walking along the highway towards me.

Silently, she walked along the shoulder of the highway looking down at the ground in front of her.

“Hi, are you the guy who found my iPhone?” she said.

It was Mindy herself.

“Yup, that’s me!” I replied.

She took my hand and pulled out a 20 dollar bill.

“Thank you SO much. You have no idea how much you saved me from a world of trouble. Take this and have lunch on me,” she said.

And with that, we shook hands and she walked back down the highway.

People are cool.

—–

I continued along the highway for quite a few miles and noticed on Google Maps that there was a landmark of some sort called the “The Cascades” near Jackson, Michigan. Seeing as it was only a mile or two off of my route, I figured I’d check it out.

After stopping at Wendy’s to replenish some much-needed calories (thanks Mindy), I pedalled along and eventually arrived at a fairly large park.

Behold, “The Cascades”:

Apparently, “The Cascades” is a cascading man-made waterfall built in 1932 by a businessman named William Sparks.

To be honest, the falls were a bit of a disappointment… when I went, at least. Although The Cascades apparently features brilliant light shows at night, the water wasn’t actually running when I arrived.

Oh well.

—–

Shortly after departing from the falls, I hopped on a beautiful bike path called the “Falling Waters Trail”, which snaked through a number of forests, fields, and wetlands:

I then continued on to a very rural part of the state and enjoyed the views of farmland and picturesque cumulus clouds:

After making it back to civilization, I happened upon a downtown area (in a town I can’t quite remember the name of) featuring lots of red brick.

Like, LOTS of red brick:

As I pedalled past vintage signage like the one depicted above, it felt as if I had just entered a portal and been instantly transported to a small town in the 1930s. It was kind of surreal.

—–

After biking many miles through rural roads in the hot sun, I decided to stop at cute lil’ ice cream shop called “Side Track Ice Cream” about 7 miles from Beaver Creek, Michigan, my destination for the day. Having been a former ice cream scooper and current ice cream afficionado, I have to hand it to this shop… they have one of the best, if not the best, ice cream volume to dollar ratio I have ever seen. And this wasn’t your typical ShopRite brand ice cream.

This was good ice cream.

…or maybe I was just really, really hungry. I’m not quite sure.

This was $4.50 and yes, that’s a waffle cone:

I swear I have never devoured ice cream so fast.

I then hopped back on my bike, pedalled a couple miles, saw this neat sign, and continued along some absuredly busy highways to Battle Creek, Michigan.

—–

After arriving in Battle Creek, I met my awesome my hosts, Jane and her parents, Al and Jane, at their home. Jane’s parents ended up generously treating me to a dinner with their friends at a local restaurant appropriately called “Friend’s”. It was there that I was informed of Battle Creek’s nickname, “the Cereal City.”

Apparently, the city of Battle Creek is home to Kellogg’s, Post, and Conagra Foods, three large cereal companies that have operated there for decades. As such, there is a festival held every June called National Cereal Fest where thousands of Battle Creek residents and tourists alike come together and enjoy a free cereal breakfast courteousy of the aformentioned companies.

Besides cereal, Battle Creek is also known for its annual hot air balloon festival.

But, I mean, who gives a shit about hot air balloons when you get free breakfast for a day each and every year?

I’m kidding. Hot air balloons are dope.

I also learned from Jane and Al that in Michigan, people are known to pay for each strangers’ restaurant bills, which was so wholesome to hear (something which I later witnessed myself).

Al’s friend was also informed me that he was a good friend of James Earl Jones, known for his voice roles as Darth Vader in the Star Wars film series and Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King, back in college.

Ya know, the dude who struck fear into the hearts of children when he uttered the words “NO, I am your father” or “LONG LIVE THE KING…”

Yeah, that dude.

—–

Tomorrow, I’ll be riding 40 miles to Gobles, Michigan, where I’ll be staying with a young couple who lives about 2 miles off of the Kal-Haven Trail.

Until next time!

One thought on “Day 16: Cereal City

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