date: 7/24 to 7/25/09
distance: 773 miles
total elapsed time: 36:15 (including overnight stay)
moving time: 15:30
Friday July, 24th
Saturday July, 25th
As expected, It rained through the night. Thankfully it fell only overnight. The bike was happily under its new waterproof cover. I stepped out in the damp crisp morning to chamois as much water off as possible to give it a chance to dry.
After a shower and some preliminary packing, I went down to the lounge to partake in the free (as in included in the room rate) continental breakfast.
The night before I arranged to meet Roger to finish our chat. The conversation was much better than the onion bagel and bowl of cereal. We talked motorcycles until almost everyone had finished their breakfast and left. We could have probably talked bikes all day.
One of the most interesting tidbits I learned about Roger was that his name full is Roger Slater. He came to the United States From the UK to import Laverda Motorcycles. Laverda motorcycles were made until 1985 then had a rebirth in the 1990s. In 2000 Aprilia purchased the brand who then was ultimately purchased by the Piaggio group (Moto Guzzi, Vespa, etc.). The net result of all the acquisitions was that Aprilia tried to ruin the brand by importing cheap Asian scooters under the name then Piaggio retired it. (At least according to Wikipedia.) Considering my age and relative late entry into the motorcycle world, I no longer feel guilty about not having heard of the brand. From what I have read though, these machines were truly something.
I am really fortunate to have met Roger. We have exchanged e-mail regularly since returning to our respective homes. After convincing me that it was a good idea to take on the BMW R1200 maintenance myself, Roger “coached” me through valve adjustment and rear transaxle lube change by e-mail alone. “She” runs like a champ now too! Thanks Roger!
Out of the Motel parking lot I headed north on Michigan 110. I was hoping to follow coastal roads most of the way until I passed a car spiritedly and immediately was alerted the need for gasoline. Gotta love the idiot lights.
Thinking back to when came into Manistee on the day before, my three priorities were lodging, food, and fuel (in this exact order). It seems after I finished with food, I forgot the last one. The problem was that I thought that I gassed the bike up – but obviously didn’t.
I nervously watched the “miles remaining” count down mile after mile. Thankfully, I never ran out of gas. This is the exact reason I keep the Garmin Zumo GPS with me. Its good for directions but even better for finding gas, food, etc. The Zumo guided me to the nearest gas station which was, unfortunately, nowhere near where I wanted to be. I headed for a filling station in Onekama then began trekking back to the coast.
It wasn’t long after returning to the coast that I received my first treat. Off to my right after passing row after row of vacation homes stacked up like cordwood, was an unforgettable view of Chrystal Lake. Views like this are what I came here for!
Moving on, I come across the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Out of nowhere appears this massive sand-dune. I’ve seen mention of this before in other travel blogs, but soon learn that it is a pay to enter attraction. Since I wasn’t interested in climbing the thing, and only wanted to snap a photo and move on I proceeded to turn around. The only good turn-around was the ticket gate. There I learned you could ride the dunes. This sounded interesting enough to hand over the compulsory $ 8.00 motorcycle fare.
I have to admit that the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive was pretty neat. As you can tell by the attached tracks, the roadway (1 lane, 1 way) wandered around all over the hills and allowed for some unbelievable views of the dunes and Lake Michigan. I’ve kept this and most of my posts light on photos so that you too have a reason to go see it for yourself.
Out of the dunes, I headed north to the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula – but not before stopping to get a bite to eat. Just south of Northport I ran across Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern. Sign me up! I had an tasty Reuben and a glass of iced tea. Although I was very much the passing tourist, Fischer’s felt like the local hang-out. Would recommend it to anyone.
It was a gorgeous ride to the tip of the peninsula. I was concerned that Northport would be a tourist town. It turned out to be a tiny little burgh with probably less than 1000 residents. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in for an unfortunate surprise just up the road.
Several hundred yards before arriving at the highly anticipated lighthouse, I was stopped by a Michigan State Park Ranger demanding ransom. She wanted $ 8.00 dollars for me to park my motorcycle and walk around the outside of the lighthouse. After explaining to her that I only desire to photograph the outside, she responded that this was the cost of an “vehicle pass which would grant me access to all 98 Michigan Parks.” She forgot to mention that this was only a DAY PASS! For your entertainment, I have attached a photo of the “tax booth” to the interactive map.
Though I, no doubt, could have afforded the $ 8.00 fee to see the lighthouse, I was a bit irked that the State of Michigan overlooked the fuel taxes, bed taxes, and sales taxes I had spent (and would spend) while vacationing in their state. After all of this, they want me to pay a fee to simply snap a photograph of the outside of a lighthouse? Not a chance.
In hindsight, I wish that I had been thinking a bit more clearly. With a cooler head, I would have parked the motorcycle along the road and walked in to snap my photograph. Maybe next time.
I had planned to run US-31 up through Petoskey, then cut around Harbor Springs on US-119 to the tunnel of trees. The route so far was more developed and crowded than I had hoped. I had previously heard that the Tunnel of Trees tended to be crowded and slow during peak season. I decided to skip all of this and join my (lovely) wife, Erica, in the UP.
The only touristy city I really had to suffer through was Traverse City. Traffic-light after traffic-light following disturbingly loud Harleys and packs of idling cars wore at me. Once through this area, it was smooth sailing all the way to Mackinac City.
I’ve crossed the Mackinac bridge by car several times. Nothing compares to crossing it on a motorcycle. If feels so much longer, taller, and higher off of the water when hanging out on two wheels. I loved it!
Shortly after crossing the bridge, I arrived in the very quiet, un-developed, open, and not-so-crowded, heaven called Hessel. After coming through the resort towns I’ve left long behind, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
“Now, where’s the beer?”