The dust has settled on my Upper Peninsula adventures and before I returned to my regular schedule content (and weekly posting schedule) I thought I’d supply a brief afterword regarding my trip.
We had a great time and although the trip was more about biking, camping and exploration than about coffee, there were definitely some memorable and fun coffee moments along the way. Luckily for me (and you), my father-in-law, his camera and his superb photographic eye made the trip with me. Here are a few of his photos and the stories that go along with them.
Our journey began in Manitowoc Wisconsin, a city that is about 40 miles southeast of Green Bay.
Even though we are Chicago Bears fans, we couldn’t ride our bikes through Green Bay without taking the opportunity to visit Lambeau Field. It was a Sunday morning, and fortunately for us, the Packers were the Monday night game (I’m sure it would have been mayhem had they been a Sunday noon game).
Somewhere along the ride, an idea was suggested. We should brew some coffee at Lambeau.
After a few detours and wrong turns, we found the stadium. I was surprised by how many people were visiting on a non-game day. We circled the stadium looking for the statue of Vince (Lombardi) and enjoying the spectacle.
When we found the statue, there was a nice grassy area out in front with a waist high bar separating the stadium parking lot from the adjacent street and sidewalk. I stopped and dug my stove, kettle, Slim Mill and Aeropress out of my pack. We had found the perfect spot for our impromptu brew bar.
As the kettle bubbled and we snapped a few pictures, I set up my Aeropress on the brew bar. Before long I was lounging in the warm sun enjoying some Quest Coffee. Visiting the Packers stronghold proved to be an enjoyable experience and I had the opportunity to make my first and probably last “Lambeau-Press.”
The Mug of Prodigy
Over the next couple days as we traveled through the Upper Peninsula, an issue with my bicycle developed. A small wobble in my back wheel turned into a bent wheel fiasco that required constant attention and monitoring. If I had not brought a spoke wrench, we would have been stranded and forced to either turn back or call for a rescue ride home.
I should probably note that my brother-in-law, who came for the first leg of the trip, recommended that I get the wheel checked out as soon as possible. Due to a good dose of foolhardiness on my part and some timing/circumstantial issues, I neglected to find a bike shop before we entered the barren no-bikeshop wasteland of the Upper Peninsula … oops.
After some trial-and-error, I figured out the most efficient way to check my rear wheel and correct the bend was to place my bicycle along the guard rail of a bridge and roll it forward, stopping to check the spokes and alignment along the way.
It was during one of these maintenance (and picture) stops that I found the mug.
We had stopped to take a few pictures of an incredible view overlooking the Mackinaw Bridge. After taking advantage of the photo op, I began to roll my bicycle along the rail and assess our situation. We were trying to decide if we should pony up the money and time to take a ferry over to Mackinaw Island where a bike shop was guaranteed or to continue on our journey another 60 miles to Petosky where there were a few shops.
As I was working on the bicycle, I looked up and there in front of me on one of the posts was an off-white ceramic mug. It had clearly been sitting their for some time, but the timing of the discovery combined with it’s unique shape (it’s a good looking mug) left no question whether to bring it with. I ran a bungie through the handle and added it to the pile of stuff heaped on the back of my bike. We headed for Petosky, the lucky souvenir mug in tow (welcome to Mugshots little buddy).
Coffee gear, cold brew and coffee along the way
If you read my pre-trip post, I had some grand ideas about coffee on the road. I brought 4 different ways to brew coffee as well as a small cast iron skillet and a pound of green coffee. I did use all four brewing methods (I even made my handlebar bag cold brew) but in reality, a single pour-over brewer would have been enough.
For my next trip, I think I will invest in a SnowPeak folding dripper and probably leave the Melitta and Aeropress at home. I will also probably take a pass on the cast iron skillet and greens. I really like to roast coffee while camping, but will probably save that for car camping so I don’t have to think about that skillet as I’m cranking up a hill at 4 mph (I did not end up roasting ANY on the trip).
The cold brew was a great success. It was enough of a hassle that I put it off for nearly the entire trip but it turned out great. The cloth filter from the Hario Woodneck worked perfect for filtering the grounds and the quality of the cold brew had me wondering why I didn’t give it a try sooner.
We stopped at a few places for coffee along our ride. There were a few delicious and also some much needed cups of coffee (including one from a Holiday gas station). One roaster stood out: Higher Grounds Trading Company of Traverse City. I did not have the opportunity to visit their establishment, however, I was able to try their coffee two separate times.
That French Place in Charlevoix had a special blend that really hit the spot. It was the perfect complement to a beautifully executed buckwheat crepe.
Bottomless Higher Grounds coffee also greeted us a day later at the Bear Claw Cafe. If you are ever hanging around Interlochen looking for breakfast or a good cup of coffee, the Bear Claw Cafe is where you want to be.
Adventure in Life is Good But…
Justina Chen, a young adult author, is attributed with the quote “Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee even better.”
All-in-all the tour was a great success. We made it to Petoskey where I was able to purchase a new wheel. The weather was beautiful. We had one rainy day, which made us all the more grateful for hot coffee and and our campfire. We ate our fill of Gustafson’s smoked fish and had a pastie (U.P. specialties). I returned home with a greater joy for being outside (as well as coffee outside) and of course, I was grateful to return to my family, home and manual brew bar where consistency is possible.
All pictures were supplied by Ken Englert. Check out his work on Flickr. He has some amazing wildlife and nature pictures as well as some great ones from various events.