Never been to Michigan before and they hate Ohio State as much as I do, so I need to check this place out.
My plan was to ride up and camp in Michigan for a long weekend of searching for good roads. I was planning on making the trip by myself but had a couple buddies (STLTiger and his brother Luke) contact me two days before my departure and said they wanted in on the action. Hmmm, fours days of solitude on my bike and the woods, or drinking beers with my buddies at the end of a long day.......................easy decision, especially considering that bears have been spotted around a couple of the areas that I plan on visiting. I don't have to outrun the bear, I just can't be the slowest. ;D
Ben asked me to come up and stay with them the night before we took off so I could start off as rested as they would. But first I had to finish up my honey do's before taking off for St Louis, which included mowing the yard in 105 degree heat. I kissed the kids and my wife good bye and took off for the city that is known for it's Provel cheese and also the defending World Series Champs. My bike was loaded to the hilt, I wanted to have cold beverages whenever I stopped, so I took a full size 36 litre cooler to haul some local St Louis brews and plenty of water. The tent is behind the cooler and my air mattress is in the blue bag underneath the cooler. Needless to say I wasn't exactly roughing it.
Friday morning at the crack of 7 am we are standing around the bikes as the last few items are loaded into bags or strapped on.
Ben rides the 109 and Luke has a 2011 C14.
We hit the road and unfortunately have to burn a ton of interstate to get to our first night's camping spot just north of Muskegon. Slabbin' it on the interstate gives us plenty of time to work on our charade techniques as we point and laugh at all of the idiotic people that should probably never get behind the wheel of a car much less pilot said car at 70 mph down a crowded four lane. Other than self absorbed cagers, Illinois doesn't provide any memorable events until we got east of Chicago and stopped in Tinley Park for some Al's Beef. (I forgot to take food pics dahmik) Very greasy since they dip the whole sandwich into Au Jus before rolling into the paper, but it was oh so good. We ended up getting to our campsite around 5 pm and set up for the evening so we could commence with the important stuff like supper and beer drinking. We went into a little town just east of our campground and had a great supper at a place in Fremont called the Moon Star cafe. Once we finish up eating we all decide that a trip to WalMart is needed to get ice, beer, and a chair for Ben. We come outside and Ben can't get his helmet lock to release his helmet. After fiddling with it for about 20 minutes he decides that he is just gonna hack saw it off. FYI: Kewl Metal helmet locks are garbage.
Campsite where beer and cigars were consumed and many lies were told.
Saturday morning we were the first campers up and around (sorry for the loud [ish] bikes, campers). Our goal was to find some good roads en route to our destination for the night. We found them, but the traffic was pretty bad even in the more rural areas up around Arcadia and Franfort. There were a couple spots on M-22 where we had a great time and really enjoyed the smooth sweepers. Once we got north of Holland there was always nice scenery to enjoy (to bad I don't have the photo skills to accurately convey what I saw).
Arcadia had a beautiful spot to overlook Lake Michigan and snap a couple pics.
Luke is in the high viz jacket, Ben is in the middle and I am the dork in the "storm trooper" Alpinestars.
After meeting up with everyone for the northern Michigan ride in Traverse City (pronounced Trah-vers, not Tra-verse as I was corrected by the girl in the McDonalds) we spent some time on the interstate but also managed to find a couple good roads to break up the monotany of the slab. We ended up on a road called Tunnel of Trees, and I call it deathtrap alley for good reason. There is sand and rock in EVERY single corner. Other that that it was a very nice, scenic road that led us straight into Leg's, a Polish joint that had so much varish on it's wooden decorations that they have to own stock in Minwax. We stepped out onto the back deck and I was blown away by the view. If you have ever seen the movie Step Brother's
you will know what I mean when I say it was like the "*Friggin'* Catalina Wine Mixer."
Thanks again for the great meal and after dinner entertainment Russell!
We got into Mackinaw and stayed within spitting distance of the Mackinaw bridge (gateway to the U.P.). We had a nice campfire on the beach and once again drank beer, smoked cigars and swapped many lies.
Sunday morning we get up and start our trek into the wilderness that is the U.P. But first we have to eat breakfast and pay $4 to cross the Mackinaw bridge. Breakfast was at a cafe in the downtown area and the Pastie (pronounced pass-tee, not pays-tee). It tasted alot like a frozen pot pie and was later told that a good Pastie is much much better, I guess I will have to wait for the next trip.
Looking down through the grated areason the Mackinaw bridge isn't adviseable, but that is why I just had to do it. Once into the U.P. we hit the road and started north towards Taquamenon State Park. The falls were nice but highway 123 west of Paradise was a pretty good road for steaming through some fun sweepers. The highlight of my trip had to be H58 that we hopped on just north of Newberry and took it all the way until it met up with 28. This road had to have been designed by a motorcyclist or at least someone with a love of good curves. It was nothing but fast sweepers and perfectly manicured landscape. The vegetation was cut back far enough to give great visibility through the corners and inspired a level of confidence I have rarely felt on an unfamilar road. If it wasn't for the group of Harley riders going 20 under the limit I would have probably never even used my brakes for the whole road. I think they call it Hurricane 58.................whatever, it is a great road!
After 300 miles of riding we were ready to set up camp and do the normal supper, beer, cigar, story fabrication thing (see a trend forming here?). We pull into the campground/hoarders paradise, that is known as Gitche Gumme just east of Marquette and I commence to nearly dump my loaded down bike in the sand that is all over the main entrance area. Great, hopefully the whole place isn't like this. Sure enough it is. We pull up to what looks like the main office and I walk up to check it out. After peeking my head in and seeing that it was a billiard/rec room/hoarder storage I came back out to the bikes in time to see an older guy walking towards us with what appeard to be a t-shirt and that was it. NO PANTS! He waved and said "hold on I'm coming". Oh crap this crazy guy runs the joint. He commences to tell us that he built the place up from nothing and I am just thinking that he parked a bunch of old cars here and cut down a couple trees to build a cabin or two. He offers us some water from his "Artesian well" and said that it keeps him young. When we tell him that we were gonna go into town for supper he tears his desk apart looking for a phone number to a pizza place and tells us to save our gas and just have them deliver. Should I take dining advice from a senior citizen with no pants? No way, this guy is nuttier than squirrel turds! Into Marquette we go.
We had been hearing that the smoked fish is excellent up the U.P, and we had to get some before heading home. Well every stinkin' store that we stopped at was out! I was beginning to think that smoked fish was an elusive creature kinda like sasquatch or the Chupacabra. Or maybe it was just the fact that it was Sunday and they were sold out........ either way I was bummed since I really wanted a snack (fat guys gotta eat right?). Well our wishes were answered when we finally got into Marquette for supper we asked our lovely waitress at Aubry's (awesome pizza and wings) where to find smoked fish. She told us "hold on a second another waitress grew up here and can answer that better than I can." The other waitress came out and let us know that on Sunday's it is hard to find it unless we go to a certain grocery store. Econo foods here we come. With full bellies of pizza and wings we commence to picking out our evening snack. I picked the salmon and the brothers got trout. The salmon was a little salty for me but it was very good non-the-less. The trout was excellent with a less salty flavor and will be my pick the next time I am in the area.
Back at the campground I run into Mr no pants, and surprisingly he had all his clothes on this time. I said "Well, you do have pants!" And he went into a 5 minute speech about how being naked helps beat the heat (not exactly what got me through Iraq). I was just grabbing the wood that we bought and heading back to the campsite. I loaded up the wheel barrow and headed back to our site.
We broke camp around 7 am the next morning and started the long trip home. Besides a bee in my helmet and couple of suicidal deer we had a pretty uneventful trip south through Michigan. We got into Wisconsin around 10 am and it was like somebody turned the thermostate way up. It had been low 80's all weekend in Michigan and it was 95 by 10 in the Cheesehead state. After several hours of suffering through construction zones we found some open road and cracked the throttles headed south. Everything was great until we got about halfway through Illinois. Ben's bike had developed a problem with either the fuel filter or something else that was neutering his bike. He could do 65 but that was about it. Other than that the interstate was fairly boring and I ended up getting home and being welcomed by my kids.
All in all it was a great trip and I look forward to my next one. I will have a central hub that way I can leave my gear at the campsite and go tear up the local roads. It has been over a month since I made a trip to Arkansas..................
It was great to meet everyone and as always it was a pleasure to see Grandpa Tractor and his alien space craft than somehow gets through the corners and is a hoot to watch as he showers sparks everywhere. I really look forward to my next 109 get-together.