Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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A world class ride/ Gaylord to Mackinaw

Robert Downes - August 25th, 2008
This sure seems like a good place to run into a bear, you think as you roll through the forest north of Vanderbilt. The bike trail skirts the Pigeon River Forest and the trees are thick as a jungle on either side of the path, which runs like an arrow through the green.
Alas, there are no bear sightings today, but tomorrow you spot a porcupine waddling along the new Gaylord-to-Mackinaw Rail Trail, which is a dream come true for Michigan cyclists.
The 62-mile trail opened in the fall of 2007, wending its way through deep forests and along the Sturgeon River and Mullett Lake, all the way from Gaylord to Mackinaw City. Paved with crushed limestone and about eight feet wide, the sparkling white trail is smooth and fast -- ideal for mountain bikes or hybrid cycles (no skinny tire bikes need apply, unless you’re up for a wobbly, white-knuckle ride). In the winter, the trail becomes a pathway for snowmobiles.
The Top of Michigan Trails Council reports that the route has already become “one of the premier cycling trails in the Midwest,” and any weekend rider is sure to become a swift believer.
Running along an old rail corridor, the trail was made possible through a $2 million federal trail enhancement grant obtained by the Michigan Department of Transportation, in addition to many local contributions.
The trailhead is located a mile north of Gaylord at the soccer field on Fairview Road, just off Old M-27. You park overnight at the field alongside the cars of other riders.
The seven-mile ride to Vanderbilt is surprisingly fast. And before you know it, you’re in Wolverine, another 10 miles or so farther on. Here, you spot kayakers paddling down the Sturgeon River, which runs for several miles along the trail.
The stretch to Indian River is one of the most scenic in terms of wild country. But what’s this? Signs of civilization: a Burger King greets you as you roll out of the forest at Indian River, and just across the way lies a McDonald’s. Oh well, a little coffee and a sandwich can’t hurt a weary rider...
Farther on lie the tony cabins of Topinabee and then 15 miles of Mullett Lake’s shoreline. Hmm... should you take a splash at the park in your cycling shorts? No, pedal on, pedal on...
Hard to believe, but with a full load of camping gear on your poorly-fitting mountain bike, you start to tire outside of Cheboygan, with Mackinaw City still 12 of the longest miles you’ve ever ridden in the distance. You feel out of place in Mackinaw City, walking around in your sweaty cycle clothes amid scads of tourists and their kids. Fortunately, a spaghetti dinner is regenerative, as is a camping berth at Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping about three miles from town.
After a refreshing dip in Lake Huron, you find yourself riding through dreamland as the sun goes down outside your tent. (Memo to self: be sure to stay at one of Mackinaw City’s budget hotels next time, instead of dragging along all this danged heavy camping gear...)

Those who plan to ride the trail are advised to be prepared for any situation. The consequences of poor planning sink in the next morning as you roll into Cheboygan with air hissing out the side of your tire.
There’s nothing worse than a sidewall flat, since it can’t be fixed with duct tape, and replacing the tube will simply result in another blow-out in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, you learn that there are no bike shops in Cheboygan -- the nearest store is 30 miles away. Fortunately, there is a humongous K-Mart, and they sell bike tires reinforced with Kevlar. You buy two and are soon back on your way.
But what’s this? For some reason it’s tougher going back, and you have to ride in an easier gear. Reason? Mackinaw City is at 590 feet above sea level, but Gaylord is at 1,349 feet elevation. That means you climb 759 feet on the way back, with most of that elevation being the last stretch between Wolverine and Gaylord.
But somehow you make it, waving to fellow cyclists on the way back. You’ve rolled through half a dozen towns and some of Northern Michigan’s most scenic forests -- a fine weekend adventure, and all free, one might add. This is one trail you don’t want to miss if you love cycling.

For information on the trail, check out the Top of Michigan Trails Council website at www.trailscouncil.org. The site includes a map and notes on each stretch of the trail along the route.
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