One of my dad’s favorite gifts was his annual state park sticker that granted us access to any Michigan state park he wanted to take us to. The best story is probably from the summer I was 8 or 9 and we visited Hartwick Pines, Traverse City and Mackinaw Island in the Little Gem. That story is for another time though. State parks have become part of my life again. This weekend I visited three.
The weekend started at Lake Lurleen State Park, practically in my own backyard. A group of us went out Saturday morning for a triathlon practice. I only did the swim because I was heading north in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day and the water was not too bad, though we all still wore wetsuits. I managed to get my wetsuit on right and completed my first open water swim of the season. It was a little slow going at first. I just wanted to make it to the first buoy and then see if I could make it to the next one. Though I briefly thought about swimming to the roped area, I remembered what it felt like to walk from that area back to the car. Not fun over gravel. Once I made it around the second buoy I was fine. My time was better than I thought it was going to be because it truly felt like I was out there forever.
Thanks to Gary for arranging everything.
Second try: Lake Guntersville
In the afternoon I headed to Lake Guntersville, planning on participating in the Lake Guntersville Triathlon Festival. The sprint and olympic triathlons were on Saturday morning and I couldn’t make it for either of them so I had opted for an aquathon scheduled for Sunday morning (1500 swim and 3 mile run). Last year it had been 40 degrees, pouring rain on the morning of the triathlon and I didn’t participate.
I arrived around 3:30 and checked into the Lodge. It was busy – a wedding, a reunion, and the triathlon were all taking place this weekend. I headed to the beach area to check the water temperature and remind myself where I needed to be in the morning.
The water was wonderful and the dock was not too high that I would have to jump off in the morning.
When I went back to the Lodge there were no places to park so I decided to head back into Guntersville for dinner. I was not sure what I would find but after driving a ways, I found several options. I settled on Wintzell’s and was delighted to discover that halibut was the catch of the day.
When I went back to the park, many people were gone or were leaving so parking was not an issue. My room faced the lake and I sat out on the balcony and watched the sunset.
I was quite tired. I guess the 16 hour Monday and 11 hour Tuesday finally caught up with me. I went to bed early and wound up sleeping through my alarm. When I think about it, I am not surprised. There are two things that make me sleep soundly and well – water and mountains. I was surrounded by both. Unfortunately I missed the Aquathon as a result. I was disappointed, but not devastated.
On Sunday morning the lake was just as beautiful as it was on Saturday. I enjoyed a few more hours of much needed relaxation before I headed onto the third park of the weekend trip.
Oak Mountain is about an hour away from home and I go there fairly often. It’s a great place to ride, especially when I want to do hill work. I know there will always be people out on the roads riding so I never feel uncomfortable going alone.
Sunday was the first really warm day we have had. It was in the 80s when I arrived and when I got in my car to leave, the gauge read 91. My primary purpose for stopping at Oak Mountain was to get hill practice since Barb’s Race and Augusta both have hills. As I was slogging up hills I had to remind myself that what goes up in one direction comes down in the other direction.
I made it all the way to the turn around point for Buster Britton and then headed back up the hill. As I was coming back down hills at 25-32 mph, I also reminded myself that momentum is my friend. That speed going down was going to carry me up the next hill. And it did. I had a pretty good ride and managed a total of 22 miles.
After thinking about it a few minutes, I decided to go run a few errands at the Summit before heading home. I don’t usually like to go in stores after I have been riding but I haven’t been able to get to the Summit and I knew exactly what I needed. I think the stop took all of 10 minutes and then I was ready to head back home.
Even though I didn’t get to do the race I planned on, I had a great weekend. It had started with a ride on Friday afternoon and ended with one on Sunday. I could use more weekends like this one.