Date: June 13th, 2019
Miles Traveled: 56
Weather: Rainy, cold, and windy in the morning… Beautiful in the afternoon.
Physical Status: Hanging in there.
TL;DR: China buffet.
Today, I awoke at around 6:30am on the couch of my previous hosts, Jakob and Kate.
Teddy, their dog, was wide awake and proceeded to greet me by the only way an energetic dog knows how: sprinting at the speed of a peregrine falcon, leaping up onto you, and giving you a “pre-shower shower” (TM) with their tongue:
Today, I would be continuing West along the Kal-Haven Trail to South Haven and then traveling North along the coast of Lake Michigan to Holland, my destination for the day.
After packing up things, I said goodbye to Kate and their little one, Isabelle, (Jakob had already left prior to my lazy ass getting up), and set out on the road at around 7:30am.
Unfortunately, the weather was a bit rainy this morning, but it wasn’t anything too crazy. I have a rain jacket for a reason, after all.
After getting back on the Kal-Haven Trail, I proceeded to ride in a light drizzle for a few miles, which, contrary to what one might think, is quite enjoyable. For me, at least.
In the rain, the leaves glisten with a subtle sheen, the colors of the forest become noticeably more vibrant, and all the sound around you is muted by the white noise of millions, if not billions of water droplets skydiving into the Earth. It’s almost meditative, really.
And then… then it got miserable.
The “light drizzle” I enjoyed for the first couple of miles became a full on rain rain, the temperature was cool to begin with, and the wind picked up considerably.
It got cold.
Although my torso and arms were dry, my hands, legs, and feet were at the mercy of the elements. My gloves, shoes, and socks, soaked by the rain, made my hands and feet almost go numb. The wind made the already 55 degree weather feel that much colder.
I biked through puddles of water, wet dirt, rain, and wind for miles with no civilization in sight. My bike was caked with dirt and grime.
Finally, after about 15 miles of pedalling, I found a church with an outdoor roof.
“Phew, finally a place I can dry off for a bit,” I thought.
After attempting to open the locked church door, a nice person from within answered and let me inside.
Taking refuge inside the church, I checked Google Maps to see where I could get some warm, hearty food to along my route. Somewhere where I could potentially wait out the rain.
And then I saw it. A little marker on the map read “China Buffet“.
“An all-you-can-eat buffet of traditional Chinese dishes,” the description read.
I read further.
“5.2 miles away.”
“That sounds amazing.” I thought and proceeded to start navigation.
After drying off briefly, I went back out into the wet and proceeded to haul ass to China Buffet. My hands went numb. My feet were in puddles.
None of it mattered. The only thing on my mind was “China Buffet”.
4.3 miles left.
3.2 miles left.
2.6 miles left.
1.4 miles left.
I rode South into a strong headwind and pedalled up a small hill with cars whizzing by. And then I saw it:
China. Fucking. Buffet.
I took shelter under the roof in front of the restaurant, locked my bike up, and took all my valuables with me into the building.
As soon as I stepped inside, I did everything in my power not to laugh.
Here I was with wet spandex, a soaked rain jacket, legs and socks splattered with dirt, shoes that squished, and tousled wet hair stumbling into a quiet restaurant playing traditional Chinese music:
The contrast could not have been more priceless.
“A bit wet out there today,” I said to the waitress. She laughed and seated me at a booth on the right side of the restaurant.
For the next two hours, I proceeded to gorge myself on a whole variety of Chinese foods available at the buffet. Lo Mein, fried rice, egg rolls, ice cream. They had it all.
People were probably judging me for my appearance and lacking table manners. But honestly? I didn’t give a shit. I had earned this. I had made it to China Buffet.
After chowing down on three full plates of food, I waited out the rain for another hour or two and set off North to Holland.
RIP, my bike.
Despite the unfortunate weather this morning, the sky cleared up in the afternoon and I was rewarded with nothing but beautiful weather for the rest of the day:
I rode along the Blue Star Highway for a couple of miles, turned onto a road called Lakeshore Drive and decided to stop at a park by the lakeside:
Best. Decision. Ever.
After diverging from the coast, I continued along U.S. State Bicycle Route #35, stopped at a farmer’s market that sold CBD (I kid you not), munched on some tangerines, and made it to Holland at around 6:00pm.
There, I met my lovely hosts for the night, Jim, Bobbie, and their daughter, Geneva. Jim and I discussed a number of topics, including the time he spent in Bolivia doing humanitarian work, hobbies, the garden out back, and various bicycle tours he’s done in the past, while Geneva was doing an interview (or talking to a colleague?) upstairs (Bobbie rolled in later in the night).
Jim mentioned that his daughter, who also just graduated college, did a cross country bicycle tour when she graduated high school and when we met during dinner, I swear it felt like this for a brief moment:
Okay, fine, she was rad.
Shoutout to Colin McHugh for finding this gem of a clip.
Tomorrow, I’ll be traveling 37 miles North to the Muskegon-Milwaukee ferry, setting sail across Lake Michigan, and staying with another Warmshowers host in Milwaukee.
Until next time!