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Author Topic: Lake Michigan Loop  (Read 1855 times)
Dan
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« on: October 04, 2010, 06:00:12 PM »

Last week I had returned from my three day trip around Lake Michigan.  I travelled 880 miles in three days and saw some spectacular sites and rode through some very twisty-lonely highways.

Day 1 - 298 miles
I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to make the ferry dock by loading time of 5:15 am.  The boat worker commented how tiny my Nighthawk was because of the distance to the tie-down points.  I was sandwiched between two much bigger Harleys.  The trip on the Lake Express Ferry is quite pleasant with very comfortable accommodations and a food counter.  There are tables if you want to work and play cards plus they run a movie to keep you occupied if needed.  The boat landed about 9:30 Michigan time so the journey took about a half longer than I had thought.  I exchanged some pleasantries with the other riders, we shared our respective journeys and we were off.  Before leaving one of the riders told me that part of the concrete lanes are closed on the Mackinac Bridge and that I will have to travel on the metal grating for a portion of the crossing.  I tried to put that behind me as that was about 300 miles away and for a different day.  So I take off to wind my way through Muskegon and off to parts unknown for me.  I hit a lot of road construction trying to leave the city and felt like I was riding in circles for about 40 minutes before I was off on my way.  For the most part the first day was nice but for the most part not too spectacular.  While you could start seeing some of the fall colors it was mostly green.  The scenery really started picking up as I got off HWY 31 and onto the twisty windy roads that hug the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.  The weather was near perfect as the day wore on, I was even able to shed a few layers and wear my summer riding gloves.


Tied down and ready to go.


Loved the look of the barn floating in the waving field.


Sandy beach pull-off.  I decided to take a break for a photo opportunity here.  I was traveling down a windy road but was stuck behind a very slow moving car.  They had the same idea as I and we both pulled over.  I hopped off the bike and reached in my tail bag to get some photos and I must have spooked the driver of the car.  They took off without looking and almost hit another car that was traveling down the road.  I don't know if they thought I was some BA biker about to pull a piece out or what?


Huge sand dunes.  Look at the size of the houses on the right compared to the dunes on the left.  You really have to be there to appreciate the scale of the dunes.


Barns and bikes!


These fellas were investigating my bike but started to swim away as I got closer for a photo.


Stopped at a Mexican restaurant for lunch.  Taco buffet was on the menu... that thing in front is called an enchilada bake.  Not so good.


Overlook facing south.


The colors of Lake Michigan were truly striking today.  Look out at the horizon line and see the curvature of the water.  I don't know if that is the curvature of the earth or is it an effect from my 35mm camera lens?


I'm halfway to somewhere.


The Mackinaw Bridge... I'll deal with you tomorrow.

Day 2 - 348 miles
Well where to start... from getting the courage to cross the bridge to my 100 mile detour to fierce winds off the lake to being stuck in a standstill of traffic to almost running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere and finally getting caught in a rainstorm.  It was by far the most challenging day of the trip and probably the most rewarding.  The weather was so very fickle from the dark and ominous morning to the bright blue skies that changed over to dark and back to blue again until I hit the rain showers.  A friendly local gave me the suggestion of going off my planned course to Tahquamenon Falls which took me to the shores of Lake Superior, well beyond my planned route but turned out to be the highlight of the trip.


Dark ominous clouds swirl around the Mighty Mac viewed from the UP.  It took me thirty minutes of putzing around Mackinac City before I finally decided to cross.  The crossing was nerve-wracking but not for the reasons I had thought.  Conditions were just about perfect, it was still early in the morning and there was almost no wind and that was a major relief because it was fairly gusty towards the end of the ride the day before.  As I approached the bridge I was feeling confident deciding early on that the metal grating would be ideal as it would keep me from the edge.  Well it turns out that I had no real choice in the matter, construction on the bridge forced traffic to the metal grating as I was told by the other rider the day before.  Here is where I got lucky.  I was caught single file with a fully loaded semi two cars in front of me.  Turns out semis can only travel at 20 mph on the bridge under full load.  So there was no traffic to the side of me because the land was closed and very slow speeds over the bridge.  Almost all my stress factors were eliminated, I even enjoyed the view from time to time.  However the metal grating did have it's way with me and my bike and seem to be worse on the descent side of the bridge as I found it more and more difficult to hold a straight line.  A few pucker moments as the bike slid back and forth but I've been in worse scenarios.  By the way, I was able to ride the concrete at certain points and it is much more desirable even if it is closer to the edge.


The Mystery Spot!  How could I not explore.  Just a few miles down HWY 2 after crossing the bridge and heading west.  I didn't take the tour but got a hat, shot glass and t-shirt.  The friendly worker suggested I take a look north towards the falls, perfect time of year as the color should be near peak.


Better pay attention to the signs around here or you will find yourself swimming!


I felt like I was riding through a canyon of fall colors.


After riding along the shores of Lake Superior I found my way to the lower falls.


The foam and still water almost look like ice and snow.  During parts of the season you can rent these boats and paddle to the falls in the distance.


Colors were bursting everywhere now.


The Upper Tahquamenon Falls.


Standing at the edge.  The park service built a sturdy deck that goes right to the edge of the falls.  You can almost reach out and touch the rushing water.


Fierce winds off the lake.  As I made my way back to my original route along highway 2 I was blasted with winds off the lake.  Twice I had to pull over and compose myself as I was exhausted and started to make poor input decisions that were blowing me all over the road.


Waves crashing against the rocks.


Finally further inland and away from the high winds.  This was the last photo of the day though I regret it.  USG18 is a road that leads out of the UP and into Wisconsin where it turns into HWY Z.  Absolutely stunning and lonely ride.  Virtually barren of any civilization it is here where I miscalculated my fuel consumption and almost didn't make it to the next fill-up.  When I finally did fill up the storm clouds started rolling in.  I was about an hour and a half from my destination.  I also forgot to pack my waterproof riding pants.  The weather was a tease as I could see the clouds breaking up to the south but my route kept me in the wet weather zone.

Day 3 - 232 miles
I got an early start today as I wanted to get home early.  Today's ride was a bit cool and a touch windy at times but very enjoyable.  I'm somewhat familiar with the roads leading out of Post Lake, Wisconsin so there weren't many surprises.  That doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun, HWY 55 is a hoot to ride on a bike big sweepers and a few tight technical turns means you can ride virtually full speed as you twist through the national forest and reserve.


The early morning light on HWY 55.


Even more remote HWY 52 showing it's beautiful autumn colors.


Looking skyward.


There were areas of big sky as well.


Along the Wolf River.


Freshly paved and striped HWY 55.  I had about 15 miles of this pristine road to myself.


I love the light enveloping the Nighthawk in this photo.  Good thing the light blows out the detail as the rain the day before made a mess of her.


The waters of Kenesha Falls.


The swollen banks of the Wolf River.


I really liked this shot.



That wraps up the trip report.  I touched the shores of Lake Michigan, Huron and Superior.  It was at times challenging but very rewarding.  The heavy winds took their toll on me and exhausted my energy more than I thought it would.  I'm so glad I took the advice to visit the falls as HWY 2 is a rather boring ride for the most part.  If you travel in the UP head towards the north, you won't be disappointed.
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Didiki
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« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 06:19:03 PM »

Great trip Dan and beautiful pictures.

You know, we could come up with a visually stunning book about our trips and the best places to travel to by scoot or bike.

________
Dick
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2010, 06:22:42 PM »

Great tour report -- fantastic photos -- thanks for sharing.
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billg
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2010, 06:28:27 PM »

Dan, a wonderful story!!  And pictures!!  Glad you enjoyed your adventure.  Reminded me of some of the places I've visited during my times in Michigan.  Thanks for taking us along!!
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paul
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2010, 07:53:52 PM »

Very nice Dan. I was up at Point Nipigon last October. It is a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for sharing.
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johnp
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2010, 07:57:50 PM »

Great read, great pictures, thanks mate.
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Maggie
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2010, 08:09:48 PM »

Great trip and report!! I am ready to go UP!
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« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2010, 09:14:01 PM »

Great stuff Dan, looks like a wonderful trip. Love the photos, on first view my favorites are the barn, falls and clouds over corn, which is the only crop I can ever recognize.
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davew
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« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2010, 10:38:52 PM »

the pictures were terrific Dan
liked the tunnels on the Wisconsin side
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BradinBurnsHarbor
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« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2010, 11:44:37 PM »

Great post and wonderful photos.  Thanks for posting those.
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Buffalo
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2010, 01:52:45 AM »

Good trip report, I enjoyed it. 
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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2010, 03:21:53 PM »

Well done!
+1 on going north to Superior. How about the 94 steps down to the edge of the falls....then the same 94 back up.
And that stiff wind would sometimes feel like an invisible hand was batting you around!!!
Thanks!
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« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2010, 05:24:04 AM »

Awesome picks, I live in lower Michigan and I want to do something similar next riding season, own a 2008 Yamaha Majesty and I know from other reads she's  up to the task that's for sure. I have gone a few places but mostly local but that looked fun. Nice job and trip.

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