Lake Michigan Circle Tour – Day Four

January 13, 2017

The sadness begins, as we know that we are heading home, the Upper Peninsula already a (great) memory. We now have a destination that does not wait for those that are tardy, a ferry crossing of Lake Michigan, so that we do not have to ride through Chicago and all that entails when you are on two wheels.

Day Four:

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As you can see from the route, it isn’t all that spectacular. However, we did make one memorable stop, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI.

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Monkey does the “Lambeau Leap.” I laugh every time I watch this video.

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Monkey found himself a girlfriend.

A quick look at the time and all shenanigans ceased; we have a ferry to catch. Off to Manitowoc, WI, for the boat ride across Lake Michigan.

The SS Badger

This is a proper ferry, not like the ones that take you to Kelleys Island or Put-in-Bay.

We made it with about 40 minutes to spare. Motorcycles park in a special queue, as they will be among the first to get on the ship. Do not forget your tie downs, they do not supply them for you. After securing our bikes, we had 4-1/2 hours to eat, explore the ship, and simply relax before it arrives in Ludington, MI. The ship is actually a part of Route 10, which is really cool.  Also, it’s a 72 mile ride across the lake. Much like cruise ships, this one has a cafeteria, a movie theater, a cruise director (who runs the games and other entertainment), and, if you want an upgrade, private cabins. We opted to find our comfort where ever we could (cheaper). Not quite to midway, we all agreed that while this was a wonderful method of travel, we would’ve preferred to be on our bikes. Basically, it meant “nap time.”

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Where I had to go to get this picture, it nearly cost me getting the bike on the ship. Much to the amusement of my biker “friends.”

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CJ relaxes on deck.

Once we off loaded in Ludington, we headed south for our last overnight stay in Michigan, in Muskegon. Once we unloaded our bikes, we went in search of dinner. As it happened, this was the first meal we would have at a chain restaurant. All of our other meals were eaten at local establishments. Without my knowledge and much to my chagrin, Doug told our waitress that it was my birthday. After finishing our meals, here comes the waitress, dragging what is best described as a saddle mounted to a saw horse. They coerced me into sitting on the damn thing, placed a cowboy hat on my head, announced to the restaurant that it was my birthday, and proceeded to regale me with the “Happy Birthday Song.” Much to my “friend’s” delight and amusement, I was totally embarrassed.

And that’s another reason why I travel with bourbon in my luggage.

Total miles: 261

 


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:

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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