Breakfast with Monkey

January 17, 2017

I forgot to add one other anecdote concerning the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, which culminated on Day Five.

Throughout the adventure, Monkey was with me. In fact, most of the pictures I took, Monkey was in them. Like this one:

whitefish_1

I think it was during a meal break, probably Day Three, when my co-adventurers wanted to know why Monkey gets to look at all of the sights but never gets to eat.

It was a good question. I think the answer is “I forget to bring him into the restaurant.”

Day Five, we’ve just loaded up the bikes for the ride home. A quick look at Google Maps pointed me to a local breakfast restaurant (it was very good, a bit pricey, but very good). After we arrived, I remembered that Monkey could use breakfast, too. After all, he’d been with us the entire time and had yet to eat.

I brought Monkey into the restaurant and propped him up on the table with us.

As the waitress was taking our orders, I jokingly ordered an orange juice for our stuffed friend.

It wasn’t taken as joke.

breakfast_monkey

And it wasn’t free, either.

Which was fine, because our little mascot was very thirsty!

I wonder if he can order off of the “Children’s Menu?”


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Five

January 13, 2017

Here it is, the last day on the tour. We aren’t exactly happy when we mount up in the morning, knowing that this will be the last day we ride on the Circle Tour. After five days, and talking about just saying “Eff it, let’s keep riding,” we head south and east. Not a lot of things to report, as it is all highway as we head home.

Day Five:

day5

See? All highway. While we were rocking the Ohio Turnpike at 70+ mph, it was still awful boring. Thanks to my bluetooth headset, at least I have some music to lessen the boredom.

Total miles: 337

After switching the bike off, one last picture to remind me of the trip:

odometer

Five days seems like a lot, but trust me, the trip was too short. We decided that in 2017, we are going back to the Upper Peninsula. This time, since we’ve ridden some amazing roads on the way to the UP, we’re going to ride I-75 north, to minimize travel time, and spend more time exploring the east, central, and western parts of the UP. Perhaps make Newberry, MI, the base town for exploration of the central and eastern areas. Then, find a town in the western part, and explore that area. There’s so much to see and do, this seems to be the best method to properly ride the UP.

What We Learned:

  1. Gas stations, and towns, are few and far between. Be smart, gas up when the opportunity arises. Or, even smarter, map out the gas stations along your route.
  2. The Upper Peninsula has spectacular sights and vistas. Once you’re here, you’ll want to spend more time exploring than you’ve budgeted. A return trip is most certainly in your future plans.
  3. To go with the gas stations point, above, there are long distances between the places you want to visit. I hope you have a comfortable saddle. If not, spend the money. Your ass will thank you. Also, you may want to do some longer trips to prepare yourself.
  4. Gas stations are few and far between.
  5. Just because your GPS or Google Maps tells you that there is a town just up the road, there may not be a gas station. Small towns are norm in the UP.
  6. Don’t count on your GPS, Google Maps, or having cellular coverage in all areas of the UP. Bring an actual map with you.
  7. Everyone we met, with the exception of a few (Newberry hotel operator, customers in a bar in Iron Mountain) were gracious and happy to talk to us, happy to provide directions, and very happy to recommend dining options. You’ll make some new friends in the UP.
  8. If you’re looking for souvenirs, like patches, pins, and stickers, the small stores that you see along your route is where you’ll find them. As a bonus, you’ll be supporting local businesses. And, the staff is used to seeing and interacting with bikers.
  9. The SS Badger is an excellent, relaxing way to avoid Chicago traffic. Remember to bring your tie downs. And since it is a part of US 10, it “could” count into your mileage. We didn’t count it, but you could. 🙂
  10. We averaged 377 miles a day.
  11. Gasoline averaged $2.48/gallon.

endofearth

Links:

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – No Reservations and Day One

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Two

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Three

Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Four

Bonus Link:

As it happens, RoadRunner magazine has an article on riding the Upper Peninsula. Take a look for more professional photographs (no monkeys) and text.

RoadRunner Magazine – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Northern Exposure


Lake Michigan Circle Tour – No Reservations

January 11, 2017

This is a post that I’ve been meaning to write for a few months. Okay, it’s been five months. Specifically, since the last week of August, 2016. Better late than never. This will be the first in a series concerning an excellent ride (mostly) around Lake Michigan.

The riders:

theteam-michigan

(left to right, me (with Monkey), CJ, and Doug)

The tools:

  • EatSleepRide – Probably the premier, free, motorcycle GPS app. Recorded progress, share location with others (like those watching our progress from afar), also has CrashLight, which will text someone, or 911, if your mobile phone detects that the bike has crashed.
  • Waze – Route GPS, updated by the crowd, provided best routes, police locations, and more.
  • Google Maps – When Waze wasn’t doing a very good job. It’s always good to have a backup GPS.
  • The Weather Channel App – You’re on a motorcycle, you need to know the weather.
  • Sena 10S Bluetooth Headset – Handsfree, motorcycle helmet bluetooth headset. Allowed me to follow along with Waze’s directions as well as listen to music. First time using a headset, now I can’t imagine travelling without one. Easy installation, easy setup, paired quickly with my iPhone.

Preparation:

This was not an Arctic Circle run and we wanted to be as flexible with our time as possible. We roughed out the route, the stops, and the deadlines (ferry’s do not wait for those that are tardy). Plus, we didn’t want to be beholden to specific overnight stops. Thus, we spent all of three hours planning the tour. At first, we were simply to circle Lake Michigan. But after our first, and only meeting, we all read more about the tour and were sidetracked by what we read about the southern shore of Lake Superior. From that, we knew that we really wanted to see Copper Harbor, Michigan. In the end, the plan was to ride the western shore of Lake Michigan, until we crossed the Mackinac Bridge. At that point, we would head northwest to the southern shore of Lake Superior and ride that to Copper Harbor. We made no reservations at any hotel, we were going to ride until we decided it was time to locate suitable overnight accommodations.

In addition to the above, we spent a lot of time on the website, Lake Michigan Circle Tour. A great resource for the route as well as things to see and do along the route. Finally, I bought and brought along three additional items. Weather proof maps of Michigan and Wisconsin (again, on a motorcycle, you need backups and items that can be subjected to water) and the book, Ride Michigan. The book was extremely useful to determine what would could see and the best motorcycle routes to take along the way.

Day One:

mi_day1

We met at Cracker Barrel, in Sheffield, OH, for breakfast. Afterwards, we rode the turnpike into Indiana, then turned north into Michigan, Sturgis, MI, specifically, for lunch. If you ask yourself “why Sturgis?” then you aren’t a biker in the United States.

sturgismi

This turned out to be a most fortuitous stop. Using Google Maps, I found a highly rated, local restaurant, Boundary Waters Kitchen and Bar. We just happened to parked out bikes in front of a barber shop. Since three bikes can cause an auditory commotion in a tight area, the owner of the barber shop came out and greeted us. As it turns out, he is biker and had just returned from a trip to the Upper Peninsula. And he had photos, real photos, in a book, to show us. We had a great time talking to him and he provided us with a lot of excellent tips and places we needed to stop and see.

During lunch, he came into the restaurant with a list of things we should see. That was really cool.

A little ways outside of Sturgis, it started to rain. A very light rain. We didn’t stop to gear up, just rode through it.

Then we hit the east coast of Lake Michigan and turned our bikes north. We stopped for gas, and rest, but didn’t stop to see anything, as we were headed to Ludington, MI for our first overnight stop. Rode into town, hit Lake Michigan, and, as luck would have it, a hotel on Lake Michigan had room for us. Ludington is also the town where you can catch the ferry across Lake Michigan. We’ll see Ludington again in a few days.

Total miles: 405