Last week, I completed my first trip around Lake Michigan on the motorcycle. I can't believe that I haven't had an opportunity to complete this ride yet, but here we are. It was a great trip with the MEWS riders.
Day 1 - Leaving Chicago
Getting out of Chicago is always the worst part of any ride. We left from Lansing, Indiana around 9:00 am and went east on I-80 through Indiana up to Michigan. A lot of the day was spent on highway until we reached M-22. It is a nice stretch up highway that follows the coast up towards Traverse City. Lunch was at Open Hearth Grille. It was a grille on top of a gas station, or may be a gas station under the grille?
After lunch we hit up the Arcadia Scenic Turnout, which had a great overlook of the lake. Very pretty.
We took a particularly nice route to end the day through Sleep Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I realize only now while writing this that it is part of the National Park System, and hence could have gotten me another stamp in my notebook!
We ended the day up in Traverse City. Weather was great all day, starting around 60 in the morning, to 80 in the afternoon.
Day 2 - Tunnel of Trees and Mackinac Bridge
Day two was certainly our highlight. After leaving Traverse City we hit the Tunnel of Trees mid morning. It was certainly the highlight of the entire trip. After that ride we then made our way up to the Mackinac Bridge. We stopped at the bottom of the bridge on the south side to check out the lighthouse and beach. There were midge flies everywhere. They were covering every surface imaginable. They didn't bite, but they were quite annoying.
The temperature dropped significantly up in this area too. It was only around 50 degrees when we finally crossed the bridge.
After the bridge (which has a toll!), we stopped at a restaurant called Truck Stop. Yup, that is all it was called. I ordered the perch, which was quite good. The rest of that afternoon we hit some rain and then rolled into Munising Michigan for the night. Dinner was next door to our hotel at the 387 Restaurant. We were the only patrons in the restaurant, but our waiter Jimmy was pretty great. They had a bunch of craft beers and I ordered a local wheat beer, which turned out to be pretty good. For dinner I had a sort of horseshoe, hamburger dish with a burger patty place over fries with cheese sauce. It was good.
Day 3 - Cold and Rain
We woke up the next morning to rain and cold. It was around 48 degrees in the morning and raining heavily. KSU was supposed to be 8:00 am and Matt was ready to go, but the rest of the group made the departure time around 8ish. I have come to realize that it is probably time that I look into getting a new touring suit for the rest of this summer. My Olympia Gear has served well, but I have a hole in my front right pocket and it has never been a truly waterproof kit. The August trip is going to probably require something new.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of photos from this day. It was a bit of a trudge through the rain in the morning. Morning breakfast was at a bagel shop across the street from our hotel at Bay Furnace Bagel Works and it was one of the better breakfasts of the trip. Lunch was Sweet Season's, where I had my first Pasty. It is a calzone type of dish with beef, potatoes and gravy on the inside. It was good.
The afternoon was spent running up the Door County Peninsula to the tip and then turning back around to head back down to Sturgeon Bay. We had a close call with some deer in the afternoon, where they got trapped on the median on the highway and then started running parallel to our group. Mark, had one dive in front of him and it's hind legs actually clipped his bike. We thankfully avoided what could have been a serious incident.
Dinner was at Woldt's Corner Pub and consisted of my perch and some cherry pie.
Day 4 - Illinois Traffic
Last day of the trip. As it happens with any trip, I think your mind is ready to be back home, regardless if you have been on the road for four days or four weeks. There is just something about knowing that you are a few hours away that makes you get antsy. We spent much of the day riding through the Kettle Moraine state parks and scenic byway. We hit a few closed roads, which caused some detours, but overall those are some nice routes.
Lunch was at the Knucklehead Pub and Grub, which I have actually been to before. We were pretty close to the border at this point. After lunch I decided to split off from the rest of the group to try and straight shot it home. We began to hit some rain in the area, and once that happened my patience evaporated and I wanted to just get home. Unfortunately, Tuesday rush hour traffic in Chicago had other ideas and I found myself stuck in traffic on I-355 for another two hours. Eventually I got home and collapsed on the couch after a hot shower.
Overall another great trip with the MEWS riders.