Sunday, June 19, 2005

Timms Hill, Wisconsin (1,951)

20th High Point Visited
39th Highest State High Point
21th Most Difficult

Returning to Ohio from Duluth, Minnesota we took a slight dtour to see the sights of Wisconsin's highpoint.  Unlike Michigan in the middle of nowhere, there were  few others visiting the park where the highpoint is located.  One couple we talked to said they "just saw the highpoint on the map and decided to check it out."  It was pretty well signed and easy to find.  I carried Parisa in her car seat upwards to the summit.  We paused on the way up for a few photos. 

On the summit we were surprised to find two towers.  An observation tower for visitors and right next to it a higher tower that looked climbable, but we did not.  We first located the USGS marker which was in the center of the base of the higher tower.  We then climbed the stairs to the top, checked out the scenery and headed back to the park to get back on the road.  Heading south we made our way to Madison, Wisconsin for an evening bike around the lake.

Timms Hill (1,951), Wisconsin - State Highpoint #20

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Grandma's Marathon (Minnesota)

June 18, 2005
32nd Marathon, State #26 (Age 37)
Duluth, Minnesota

This was a long weekend road trip for the whole family.  Actually the first road trip and first marathon for my new baby daughter.  We left from Ohio towards Minnesota via the upper peninsula of Michigan on Wednesday evening.  Our first stop along the way was to visit Grandma Whitt since she had not seen the baby.  

We spent the night in Ann Arbor and headed north and couldn't resist stopping in Frankenmuth, Michigan, a little German town.  We drove through the the downtown area and made two stops.  First Bronners, the largest 362 day a year Christmas store and Zenders, an authentic German restaurant.

We continued further north and crossed the Mackinaw Bridge to the upper peninsula of Michigan.  We drove along Lake Michigan taking in the beauty of the coastline until we were tired of driving.  We had packed our mountain bikes and baby trailer so, biked about 20 miles along some back roads and out to the coast for some photos.

We ventured on having dinner and trying a "Pasties".  These seem to be a northern Michigan thing.  Depending on which side of the peninsula you live there are different condiments to complement the glorified pot pie.  We pushed on and made it to the home of Northern Michigan in Marquette.  This set us up for the next morning to find the highpoint of Michigan.  For more on this adventure see my highpoint blog.

Finally rolling into Duluth on Friday afternoon we checked into our hotel and headed to the expo.  Downtown was super busy with the nearly 15,000 runners plus families.  There was a 5k Friday night next to the expo which added to the chaos.  The expo was large as well as the pasta party.  I picked up my packet as we headed back to the hotel which was across the river back in Wisconsin and had dinner at a steakhouse next door.

Race morning came quickly and because of the point to point course and the crowds it was recommended not having your family and friends at the start line.  A shuttle stop was next door, so two hours before race time I boarded the school bus and headed 26.2 miles out of town.  The start line was full of excitement as busload after busload of runners unloaded.  I sat down with a group of runners and relaxed to pass the time.  This is when I realized I forgot to put on my championship chip.  Opps.  I stopped by a booth for support, but they said tough luck.  I found a cell phone and called my wife at the hotel and asked her to bring my chip to the finish area.  Bags were well organized to transport morning clothing to the finish line.

The start of the race was prefaced with two F-16's flying overhead and a DJ playing great music.  There was also an old train with VIP's next to the starting line that headed back to town when the race started.  The start line was fenced off which you would think it would be hard to cut, but ends up it was pretty easy as I made my way up front to not be penalized as much by not having my chip.  I started only 1:25 back.  In addition to not having my chip, I had sent my heart rate monitor in for battery replacement and didn't bring a watch for my own splits.  I was excited to see giant yellow balloons in the sky as mile markers the whole race.  The course was relatively  straight, so always easy to see the next mile marker way off in the distance.

The course was along Lake Superior pretty much from start to finish.  Very scenic.  Slight rolling hills were not too much of a burden.  The only clock along the way was at 13 and 15 miles, which was a bummer without having my watch.  Support was terrific along the way with lots of fans, especially the closer you got to town.  Once in town the streets were completely lined with cheering fans.

I met up with my wife just shy of the finish line, picked up my chip and crossed the line, received my finisher shirt and medallion.  I was beat and rested for a bit.  Great snacks at the finish line.  Massage was packed and I didn't feel like waiting in the sun so made my way to the nicely organized meeting area and met my family.  The whole finish area was jam packed with people supporting their favorite runners.  We found a little pizza place along the course downtown and had a nice lunch on the patio and watched the rest of the runners come through downtown.

After an afternoon nap we headed out to a bike trail that was a converted railroad track and did an out an back route.  After a shower we went back to the finish line where live bands were playing all night.  We found a great Italian restaurant for a relaxing late dinner.

On a scale 1..10 this race was a 10!

On the way home we found Wisconsin's highpoint.  For more information on this adventure see my highpoint blog.  We made it as far as Madison Wisconsin where we got the bikes back out and biked around town and around the lake downtown.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Mount Arvon, Michigan (1,979)

19th High Point Visited
38th Highest State High Point
24th Most Difficult

I had planned on running Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota and since we decided to drive, we had two routes to choose.  Either through Chicago or via the Mackinaw Bridge and through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I talking Homeyra into taking a break from her endless studies preparing her dissertation to join me for the road trip.  We didn't know if we would ever get a chance to see this part of the country and wanted to stop in Michigan so my grandma Whitt could see Parisa for the first time.  Yes, this would be the first road trip for the whole family (including Parisa!).  We left Wednesday after work and made it about 10:30 p.m. to grandma's house in Tecumseh, Michigan.  Grandma was delighted that we stopped to see her and that she got to meet pretty Parisa.

The next morning we ventured further north stopping in Frankenmuth, Michigan, a little German village and had lunch at Zehnders after stopping at Bronners Christmas store.  Making our way further north we crossed the 5 mile Mackinaw Bridge and ventured through the U.P.  We realized we couldn't make it to the highpoint so we stopped and had brought with us our mountain bikes, so we trailered Parisa about 15-20 miles through the Michigan wilderness on a hardly traveled back road.  A great ride, no traffic and no bugs!  We saw lots of signs for "Pasties" so had to try one for dinner.  We drove till dark and made it within 100 miles from our highpoint destination. 

Friday morning we awoke and headed towards L'Anse, a nice small village/town along Lake Superior.  We stopped and asked an old lady for directions and she had been there so confirmed our path.  Here's where the adventure really began.  Following the directions in the highpoint guide took us 16 miles outside the town where we turned down a dirt road.  Homeyra was driving the ML320 4WD all terrain vehicle and loved every minute of it.  Without her car we wouldn't have been able to make it down all the logging roads to the trailhead.  The road narrowed and became steeper and bumpier the closer we got to our destination. 

We came to the end of the road and signs that read only 1/3 mile to the highpoint.  We were thrilled because we thought we would have to walk a couple miles through the dense woods and mosquitoes.  We wrapped Parisa (Homeyra's blueberry) in a bug net and tucked her in my gortex jacket as ventured uphill on the old logging trail/road.  It was very muddy, but we were on the summit in no time.  We were surprised we reached it so fast and caught the whole hike on video tape!  There was a register on a tree and both a blue sign marking the highpoint and a USGS marker.  We made it back to the car with only Homeyra getting 3 bug bites (she's sweeter than me!).  Another high point done! 

Mount Arvon (1,979), Michigan - State Highpoint #19