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Thread: My Wife's Biker Stories from the Road. "ride IV Around some Great Lakes"

  1. #16
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    Day 10 July 28 Sarnia to Alpena MI



    In the morning the wind was still howling and the skies were very grey.
    Crossing at the US border was a piece of cake. I was apprehensive when we started up the bridge because of the wind but the posted speed is slow and the wind didn't blow us around too badly. Had a male border guard who was very nice and didn't have the need to make an ass of himself or me when I pulled up to his window. We turned onto highway 25 which follows the shoreline of Lake Huron. When a space opened up and we could see the lake .. yikes .. Lake Huron was an angry lady today! Huge white caps in that blowing wind! The temperature was in the mid-teens and within the first hour I had to stop and put on my electric jacket ... and then I had to plug the darn thing in!





    We stopped in Harbor Beach for breakfast at Al's Diner. The best cinnamon bread french toast ever! We met a cute young couple who moved from California to Michigan to escape the rat race. They had their tuques on and were a little surprised at the temperature. After breakfast we turned inland for a bit. Came out at Bay Port and then followed the shoreline of Saginaw Bay to Bay City where we had a bit of trouble finding our way but eventually did.



    At Standish we stopped at "Wheelers Restaurant" for a break. Garth tried their apple pie but it didn't make the grade, haha! We continued on highway 23 and drove through all of the small towns all along the coast of Lake Huron.







    We encountered a couple of screwball drivers along our way. One driver was constantly on their brakes. We were on a double lane and I was following Garth so I had a front-row seat. While driving beside him this driver kept hitting the brake over and over. They were prefectly clear to move ahead but they stayed put. I backed off to give lots of room because I wasn't sure what this game was all about. The driver then moved in behind Garth and again on the brakes. They looked like the most insecure driver ever and thank goodness they didn't stay there long. They moved out and passed Garth and eventually turned off onto another road. A while later we came across a driver that was definitely texting while driving. A young woman driving a "Navigator" style vehicle. She would make these sudden swerves and it was very disconcerting so we passed her and got out of her way!

    Travelling along the shore line one gets an appreciation of why so many folks would have their cottages/cabins/summer homes (or all year residences) there as the shoreline is so flat and offers alot of beach. There are also alot of for sale signs and even travelling through Bay City you get a sense that Michigan has definitely seen better days.

    We decided to end our day in Alpena which is on the upper west shore of Lake Huron. Found a great little motel called the "40 Winks Motel" and the password to the WIFI was "sleepwell"!



    Highway 23 takes you right along the waterfront in Alpena and it is beautiful. After supper we walked the waterfront and found the marina.







    An awesome walk which also took us along a residential area and we admired all of the old houses that have been shown alot of tender loving care over the years. And again my favorite tree!





    In the morning we chatted with another BMW rider, from Maryland, who had been at the National BMW rally in
    Minneapolis and was heading home. He works for a BMW dealership in his home town. A really nice fellow.
    After we checked out we found a laundromat and I finished up this story standing at the counter waiting for the laundry to finish, haha!



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  2. #17
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    Day 11 July 29 Alpena, MI to Newberry, MI


    With the laundry done we hit the road again

    .

    We continued on highway 23 which took us along some beautiful real estate on Lake Huron. At times we were no more than 75 feet from the water. The folks that have their cottages/homes that close must see some massive waves sometimes. At Rogers City a fantastic walk-way paralleled the shoreline and highway. We saw groups of runners, bikers, dog walkers and walkers. It went on for at least 10 kilometers and ended at the historical site of the "40 Mile Point Lighthouse".



    We stopped in Cheboygan and found a very unique coffee shop called "Your Spirit Bakery and Cafe".



    Garth ordered their signature pie which consisted of a layer of homemade caramel sauce, a layer of banana, a layer of thick coffee/chocolate sauce and all topped off with a layer of chocolate mousse. The pastry was very nice and he considers this a top "best pie" contender! All of the tables were colorfully painted with different "inspirational" quotes. It was a very cool place!



    22 miles later we drove into Mackinaw City! An absolute zoo! This little city has blown up into a major tourist trap! There is a zip-line in the middle of it all! We tried to find stickers and so had to park and make our way into some of the souvenir shops and after all that Garth could not find a sticker that featured the Mackinac Bridge, haha! Crossing the bridge was very cool on a motorcycle as it is pretty hugh. In the world this bridge ranks as the 5th longest suspension bridge!





    From the Mackinac Bridge we headed north to the Whitefish Point where the Shipwreck Museum and the Whitefish Point lighthouse are. This of course is famous because of the Edmund Fitzgerald shipping disaster. The highway to Paradise, which is the last small town before Whitefish Point, was not that exciting but the journey was worth it. (I need to mention that the roadway into Whitefish Point is a really nice ride. Windy and fun!) Inland the temperature reached 19 degrees but the closer we got to Whitefish Point the colder it got ... a balmy 12 degrees as we parked in the parking lot.





    Fog was also the result of this huge temperature change and the wind blew it on land in wild whispy clouds. It was crazy to witness and be a part of. Unfortunately the fog ruined the view of Lake Superior from all of the scenic outlooks. As we were posing for one of our famous "selfies" the fog horns of a couple of big ships sounded.



    Garth having visited this place told me that this is a very business shipping channel. Damn fog! I love watching the big ships! Some day I will return and it better not be foggy!

    After visiting the souvenir shops and picking up a few stickers we made our way back to Paradise and onto highway 123 to Newberry where we found the cutest motel, the Gateway Motel, and got a room for the night.



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  3. #18
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    Day 12 July 30 Newberry, MI to Houghton, MI


    What an awesome day!
    But before I get too carried away there are a few notes I need to add to yesterday's story.Garth felt that the animals were out to get him yesterday. First it was a deer who was at the side of highway on our left and was creeping out ever so slightly and then of course decided to go. It ran between 2 cars heading east and Garth heading west. Thank goodness that we all had time to slow down. This was deer sighting number 2 for our trip .. seriously that's it! We see more deer in our back yard at home!

    Then there was the big bird ... I think it was a hawk. It came flying out of the ditch, where it had been feasting on something, and it flew right into Garth's path and from my vantage point it really looked like its wing hit Garth's helmet but he later told me that it wasn't that close to him and that he had ducked because he was scared it was going to **** on his face shield, hahaha!

    Then there is Garth's retirement plan #94 ... to own a small motel with a small bar attached and to name the bar ... "Stickers"! And a patron would get a free beer if they brought in a cool sticker! Good grief!

    Ok now on to today's adventure. We took our time leaving as it was a very foggy morning. By the time we left though it was a beautiful blue sky but it was only 12 degrees so I had my electric jacket on and working. We stopped in Grand Marais MI for breakfast at the Sportsman's Bar and Restaurant ... it was so slow that we do not recommend anyone going there (plus we had the crabbiest waitress ever)! After breakfast we followed historical highway 58 and entered the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.



    Our first stop was the Log Slide and this is so cool I am quite sure that my description will not do it justice.



    This place where they used to roll the harvested logs down the sand embankment into Lake Superior is absolutely amazing! The soft yellow sand is really hard to walk in (but actually our motorcycle boots helped us out alot) but making your way through it so that you can see this place is a must-do!



    It is so steep down to the water, 400 feet down, that very few people actually go all the way down to the water.



    actual wagon used to haul logs to the slide


    But one can easily see that this would have worked nicely to get the logs to the water. We then went to the scenic overlook and that is where you get a full view of the entire area. The sand log slide is a very small sample of the massive sand dune that stretches along the Lake Superior shoreline for as far as the eye can see! And the whole stretch is at least 400 feet from top to water. This took me by surprise as you just cannot imagine that such a sand dune would exist in northern Michigan.



    Our next stop was Pictured Rock Cliffs and the Miners Castle. The Miners Castle is a sandstone formation that at one time looked like a castle but over the years huge pieces of it have fallen into the lake.



    The Pictured Rock Cliffs are steep colorful cliffs along the shoreline. They also go on and on. Lake Superior was the calmest that I have ever seen it and so there were quite a few groups of kayakers out admiring the sights from the water.





    There was hardly a whisper of a breeze. Today we were approached by many motorcycle enthusiasts and everyone wanted to chat ... it was just that kind of morning! Garth's collection of stickers is usually how these conversations start. We met 2 brothers who would love to own a couple of BMW's. They were so interesting to chat to as they have both travelled alot and the one bicycled through France at the same time as the Tour de France (he had great stories about watching the peloton come
    in). We chatted with a group of Harley riders (men and women) who were very friendly. We were also approached by a guy who told us a story about buying Suzuki V-Strom's with his buddy and that before they could travel around the upper Michigan peninsula his buddy was diagnosed with cancer. So their travel plans are on hold. He told us how his buddy tried to ride his V-Strom after undergoing a set of his chemo treatments but was too weak and dizzy and dropped his bike in an intersection. It was a very interesting morning and really enjoyable to meet new people who enjoy motorcycles.

    Historical highway 58 was a blast to drive! The pavement is only a couple years old so it is in fantastic shape. It is heavily treed in spots so there is a canopy over the road giving that illusion of driving through a tunnel. There are lots of dips and curves and you feel like you are swaying ... right and then left and then right and then left! Really alot of fun!





    Our next stop was Munising where we stopped for coffee and Garth went on a search for stickers. The sky was getting darker and darker to the west so we knew that eventually we were going to hit rain. Our goal was Houghton and beyond (although the beyond part was a stretch). As we drove through Marquette it started to sprinkle but then it ended so we thought we had driven around the rain ... nope! At the intersection where highways 28 and 41 split we stopped to add an extra layer of clothes and to get a snack and the sprinkle turned into more serious rain. I fixed up my iPod so that Brooks & Dunn could sing me through the rain and we hit the highway and man did it pour! An hour later we rolled into Houghton. Drove past some motels and into the city but soon realized that we needed to turn around and go back. We turned up a block and were faced with a street that went UP 4 tiers! Up and up and up and I thought "no f'ing way am I going up that street" ... what is plan B? Thank goodness there was a plan B and we got back on the main highway and found "Julie's Motor Inn".

    Down the highway was "Pilgrim River Steak House" that we walked to for supper and we had the friendliest and cutest waitress anyone could ask for.



    A wonderful way to end our wonderful day!

    Oh ya Garth's bike turned 50 today!!




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  4. #19
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    Day 13 July 31 Houghton, MI to Ashland, WI (the long way)

    We woke to a blue sky with lots of sunshine and the beginning to another really awesome day!





    We drove through Houghton and went north to a town called Copper Harbour which is situated at the end of the Keweenaw peninsula. Highway 41 is the only highway that goes up there and it takes about 45 minutes.



    It is a nice ride but the last 11 miles are fabulous!
    We had breakfast at the Tamarack Inn ...


    it was delicious and the waitress was so darn cute and happy (unlike our experience yesterday) she hummed a tune wherever she went! After breakfast we visited a gift shop and treated ourselves to a few items. Garth bought himself a copper bracelet to prevent any future arthritis!



    Before we headed back down highway 41 Garth put his Go-Pro camera on his helmet and videoed our ride out.

    Video here http://youtu.be/NS4IOQNvRO0

    We carried on through Houghton and headed south down highway 26 to the intersection of highway 38 where we turned west and rode to Ontonagon which is right on the shore of Lake Superior.





    We bought some gas,



    visited a shop that was filled with precious rocks of all sorts and then made our way to Gull Point where we had a snack and walked out onto the point to look at the lake and the scenery.





    In the distance were the Porcupine Mountains.



    On the point were rocks that had names scratched in them back in the 20s and 30s. Maybe from the workers in the 107 engineers who put in the highway? Who knows but have to go with the romantic.

    1921


    1932


    We drove through Silver City and then into the Porcupine State Park to have a look around.



    Followed another narrow windy road and watched a wild turkey come out of the bush and cross the roadway. Having explored all that we came to we set our sights on our destination of Ashland WI where we ended our day. Ashland is also on the shore of Lake Superior and is a very nice town of approx 8,200 people. It once had a thriving logging industry. We found a room at the Crest Motel and walked to Hugo's Pizzeria for dinner where they "bake them the old fashioned way" ... not quite sure what that means but Garth really enjoyed his pizza.



    After dinner we walked down the "Rail Trail" which is a paved walking/running/roller blading/bicycling path that follows the shoreline. It is well used and really nice. There is a shoreline restoration project underway with new trees and shrubs planted. We eventually found the marina and walked into it to have a peek at the boats.



    We walked through the downtown area and made our way back to our motel. The sun was setting in a hazy sky and its reflection on the water was quite pretty.We are only an hour from Duluth so our goal is the make it home tomorrow (Friday) night.





    The sun is setting on our trip around the Great Lakes




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  5. #20
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    Final Day and Wrap up

    Day 14 August 1 Ashland, WI - Dryden, ON (Home)

    Map


    Up early and on the road by 815. An absolutely beautiful morning a little on the cool side but perfect for motorcycling. Because we were only an hours away from Superior/Duluth we wanted to get there early to beat any heavy Friday traffic. Our timing was perfect as we rolled through at 930.







    On the way out of Duluth we found a great restaurant called Farley's Family Restaurant and had breakfast. The riding was fast (and this satisfied the little speed demon that lives within me, haha) as we stuck to the main highways so we could get home at a decent hour. We encountered quite a bit of highway construction but nothing that stopped us for long. These highways are in good shape so it was a smooth and somewhat effortless ride.

    Stopped at the Chocolate Moose in International Falls for a bowl of soup and then made our way to the border crossing. The lineup was not as long as we expected it to be for a Friday of a Canadian long weekend. The border guard was a young man who was more interested in our trip than anything and he chatted Garth up for a bit. That's the kind of border crossing we like!

    We stopped at the rest stop on the highway 502 and along came Garth's sister Colleen. She was on her way home from her day's work in the area. So we chatted with her a bit and then she zoomed off. Highway 502, except for the rough parts, is a great ride and we met a few motorcyclists on our way. We cruised into our driveway around 530 and we were both really happy to be home.

    A map of our amazing trip:



    Some stats from the GPS

    77 hours 19 minutes travel time - 5,983 kilometers travelled - 77.4 kilometers/per hour average speed



    Before we left I was worried about how much hot, humid weather we were going to encounter going so far south in the summertime. Well because of this weird and wonderful summer weather that we all are having we only had a couple days where it got above 30 so the humidity did not play a part at all. I was also concerned about the amount of summer traffic and we did experience that in certain areas like the vacation areas of New York,

    Lake Placid and the Finger Lakes. We will revisit this area of New York again but we will do it in the fall. The traffic should be less and the fall colours would be outstanding because of all of the beautiful trees they have.

    We had a fantastic trip. Thanks for riding along with us. Hope you enjoyed the stories. Until next time ...

    Denise and Garth

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