After a filling breakfast, including a decadent cinnamon roll, at the Holiday Inn Express, we rented a car from Enterprise and drove north to Ray’s Bike Shop in Midland. Prior to our trip, I made arrangements with the bike shop to shuttle us to Clare, the northern terminus of the Pere Marquette Trail. However, I never imagined that Joe, the owner of the three-store chain, would be our driver!Joe helped us load our bikes and then he took us on a quick tour of downtown Midland, including Dow Chemical & Founders Park, before driving to Clare. As we approached the trailhead (no obvious signage), Joe pointed out the Cop’s Doughnut Shop on Main Street. Since the temptation was too great to resist, we decided to make a short detour back to the doughnut shop before starting on the trail.
Unlike the previous day, the Pere Marquette trail was paved and had very few road crossings. Although the trail paralleled a highway, there was hardly any traffic. I quickly lost conscious site of the highway and became focused on the lush wildflowers and farmland which bordered the Pere Marquette. We passed by several soybean farms and small rural communities including Loomis where we purchased a sandwich at Todd’s General Store. Continuing on the trail, we were astonished by the abundance of flora (many more varieties than on the Illinois Prairie Path). It baffled me to see these flowers flourishing with no obvious human care or maintenance. We spotted Queen Ann’s Lace, milkweeds, Cone flowers, brown-eyed Susan’s, cattails, phlox, border plants, irises, goldenrod, daisies, and many others that I could not identify. Interwoven among the rainbow canopy of flowers were small aspen trees and majestic pines.
The weather was absolutely perfect for our 30-mile ride: mostly sunny skies in the low 70s with a cool breeze. On our drive over to Clare, Joe mentioned that this summer had been unusually cool. Typically, Michigan’s summers are warm and humid. Personally, we were grateful for the diversion from the norm.About 2/3 of the way through our ride, we decided to follow a narrow trail to Veteran’s Park. We located a picnic table in a scenic spot and ate the sandwiches that we’d purchased earlier at Todd’s General Store. After lunch, we followed the single track trail down to the narrow Salt River (not much to talk about) and looped back around to the Pere Marquette. As we approached Midland, the number of joggers and cyclists increased substantially. We passed several local parks and small restaurants before reaching our final destination at the farmers’ market. We noticed the Tridge, a three-way footbridge spanning the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee rivers, and decided to ride across.
We returned to Ray’s Bike Shop a little after 3:30, and Joe offered to grease our chains before loading our bikes back into the rental car. Based on our experience, we would highly recommend Ray’s Bike Shop to anyone traveling through this area. Next, we decided to do some sightseeing. We drove to the Bay City Recreation Area to get a glimpse of Lake Huron, and then we drove down to Bronnors, the largest Christmas shop in the world, located in a touristy Bavarian village called Frankenmuth. Finally, we drove an hour east of Flint to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron. We unpacked our bikes and rode along the Bridge to Bay trail while watching the sailboats returning to port and the numerous fisherman along the shore casting their lines into the strikingly blue waters.
As the sun set over Lake Huron, I was thankful that Joyce was willing to drive out of our way to witness this breathtakingly beautiful waterway separating the United States and Canada.
Driving back to Flint, we decided to try to make it to Flint River Crepes for dinner. However, we realized that we would probably barely make it before they closed at 10 PM. We decided to call them to verify their closing time and ask if we could place a takeout order. They took our order and assured us that we could pick up our Crepes even if we arrived a little after closing. We arrived a few minutes before 10, picked up our food and ate at one of their tables on the street. We split the Monte cristobalite and Derby Crepes and saved the strawberry chocolate dessert to devour upon returning to the hotel.
This was a long but rewarding day…lights out at 11:30 with our alarms set for 6:39 in the morning to drive down to Springfield, Ohio to ride the Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Joyce & Martha on Pere Marquette
Wildflowers on Pere Marquette
Blue Water Bridge