Motorcycle Camping and Invading a Formidable Canadian Tick Castle in the Rain

- Detroit, Michigan -

The last 48 hours have yielded a range of highs and lows; like being on an old, loud wooden rollercoaster. Or, on my bike.

After I replaced my clutch cable, sorted a few electrical problems, and adjusted my idle and carburetors, I felt I was making progress. Great progress for me as I was finally getting over my fear of tinkering with my bike. You see, I've been fumbling along, not fully embracing the opportunity to learn more about my bike and I knew this trip would help set me on the necessary track to get over some fears and get a handle on something I've always wanted to know more about. 

On my list of, 'What I Wish My Dad Taught Me,' learning the ins and outs of cars and bikes makes the Top 20. I drempt of passing greasy tools back and forth, talking of fuel lines, enhancing performance and other such things mechanical folks speak of. So, I thought this trip would force the issue a bit and I would hopefully pass down my own hard-won lessons to my (hopefully future) son or daughter, if they fancied it. 

Well, any of the positive feeling I had of making healthy strides got a blow to the gut when I saw that my muffler had cracked and was barely holding on by two centimeters of chrome. Not good. Especially not good when you're 30 miles away from the nearest stoplight. In rural Canada.Surrounded by skunk road kill. 

That was my morning yesterday. It looked a bit like this. 


The night before I camped on the Canadian coast of Lake Erie after seeing the raging Niagara Falls, watching the throngs of plastic poncho-wearing tourists get drenched and processing my last interview in Vermont. 

My conversation with Max was really moving and insightful. After his father died, he read for a few weeks straight all that he could about suicide and shared some pearls he found useful in processing his father's death. We talked of the method our fathers chose to take their lives (like most men who die by suicide, guns) and inferred what that said about them and what he'd read about that. This is something I had wanted to talk more about but hadn't. It was good for me and I was grateful he brought it up and opened up about his own thoughts, feelings and perspective. 

Anyhow, aspects of our dialogue kept spinning in my head during a few long rides and as I pulled into a desolate campground, hoping to make camp before the fast-approaching rain hit me. Again.

I found a dreamy campsite - willow trees providing extra rain cover and a nice fire pit. I set up my tent with a smile, whistling Van Morrison's 'Domino' and when I returned to my bag I found hundreds of ticks -HUNDREDS. 

Campsite 5 was an inhabited tick castle and I was an intruder they knew how to deal with. Within seconds I shook out, stamped out and beat down as many ticks as possible. It was war and all I could think about was John Goodman in 'Arachnophobia' and winning this war with a grin. 

But, I didn't win. I'd like to think of it as a draw. Regardless, I was reminded of how nature always wins. Always.

Smartly, I retreated to Site 7 and re-set up my camp as the first drizzle fell. It was my third day of cold rain and bone chill. I had had enough and needed some semblance of warmth. Immediately. 

I got on my bike and headed to the park store to get wood - the only store within 20 miles. It was closed, and wasn't opening for four days. I could see my saving grace: Dry firewood in a barb-wired, eight-foot gate. 

I climbed it like a wet cat being chased by a one-eyed junkyard dog named Brutus. Once inside, I assembled a small stash to give me warmth for the night, threw it over the fence and returned to camp to make a fire in the rain. It was glorious and gave me the warmth I needed to help me tuck-in for a long night of cold, windy rain. 


As I type, I'm in an adorable cafe in Detroit praying that my friendly mechanic can create a patch of wonder to hold my muffler on and keep me on the road (and save hundreds of dollars and days of waiting). 

While l'm here, I'm hoping to explore Detroit with old friends and have an interview with Fox TV here about my project and to support Detroits's branch of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with their annual walk to help raise awareness about suicide prevention on the 21st. 

Please send good thoughts to my mechanic and the organizers of the walk! I'll report back.