#131 Da Yoop!

Fleeter Log #131
Da Yoop!
2008 August 6-18

While Texas is setting records with over 40 days of triple digit temperatures, I'm thinking that it's too hot here in Virginia even with highs only in the mid 90s. I am feeling the need to find some cooler weather. A study of the Weather Channel shows that Michigan's Upper Peninsula is enjoying highs in the 60s - 70s. I could use some of that!

So there seems only one thing to do . . . Fleeter to the north!
This map is created by a satellite tracking device I carry while riding.
(See Fleeter Log #128 for more details.)

Day 1, Wednesday
August 6, 2008
670 miles

Ohio's Triple Nickel

I hope to leave early enough to be in the mountains before the heat sets in on the eastern side of Virginia. The RT is packed and waiting in the garage, already pointing toward the street, when I set the alarm for 5am and hit the pillow sometime after midnight. I am anxious to get back on the road, but so tired that sleep comes quickly. At 6:04am, it's 72 degrees as I pull out of the driveway into a light fog. Two and a half hours later the fog thickens and almost qualifies as rain as I make my way past Cheat Mountain in West Virginia. Later in the day, I did find rain before making it to the other side of West Virginia.
(click on any photo to enlarge)

It's 316 miles down the road before my helmet comes off for a lunch stop in Belpre, Ohio. After a quick chicken sandwich, I head for some Ohio twisties. Ohio Route 555 is known as the Triple Nickel to two-wheeled riders looking to do some leaning. It's a freshly paved, twisty road through Ohio's farmland. The twists are often blind and the locals seem to be used to having the road to themselves because they often take their share of road right out of the middle. The road demands that you pay attention to your line and look as far ahead as you can through the curves. And at least once I almost catch air . . . could have easy enough if I had been riding more aggressively. But I'd rather make it to the end of the 555 still on two wheels than risk plowing through the ditch because I was riding risky.
"If they can put a man on the moon, they can certainly build a building that's shaped like a basket," declared Dave Longaberger. Where else would you expect to find the office headquarters of a world famous basket company? The seven floor building houses 500 Longaberger employees and is listed as the World's Largest Basket Building.
After taking a sprint down a section of the Ohio Turnpike, I scoot around Toledo and roll into Michigan just before sunset. I am on schedule to arrive at the Sleep Inn in Milan for the night when traffic comes to a standstill just 11 miles from my exit. Argh!
My arrival is delayed by only 15 minutes. I pull in for the night after dark at 9:10pm. I'm glad they're expecting me. I rode 670 miles today and less than 100 miles of it on freeway. West Virginia slowed me down some with rain and construction in the twisties of US50 across the state. I'm ready to stop for the night after arriving in my target state.

Day 2, Thursday
August 7, 2008
444 miles
Old Mission Peninsula

Even though I am now in the State of Michigan, I am still miles away from my "touring destination" of the lake area and the Upper Peninsula. Today my goal is to make fast tracks to the Traverse City area where I will then slow down and go into "sightseeing" mode. Therefore, 237 miles of I75 takes me flying past Ann Arbor, Flint, and Saginaw. At Camp Grayling Michigan National Guard Military Reservation, I turn east making way to Traverse City by zig zagging along small roads until I enter the city at the south tip of Grand Traverse Bay. These secondary roads that I find myself on the the Grayling area are the worst roads I've ever been on! It's like armored tanks must routinely travel on them! Duh! Do you think?! My advice is: Don't Choose Fletcher Road near Grayling, Michigan unless you want to test your shocks and jar the teeth out of your head!

I make a quick run west of Traverse City to the Sleeping Bear Dunes for the NPS ink stamp then reverse my route back to Traverse City. Considering the time of afternoon and my plans to visit the Old Mission Peninsula before ending my day in Petoskey, I decide to keep moving to the Mission without delay. The Dunes on Leelanau will be a worthy destination to spend more time the next time I travel by this way.

The Old Mission Peninsula lies just north of Traverse City and juts out into the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. It is only 18 miles long and narrow enough that at some points of higher elevation you can view water on both sides.
There is very little commercialism on the peninsula. It's all about the orchards! There are only two places to eat, that I saw, and no fast food, convenient stores, strip malls, or gas stations. The most numerous commercial ventures were the farm stands on the side of the road selling the locally grown fruit and produce. I also saw some B&Bs and wineries.

After my leisurely lunch, I continue my northward trek through the orchards of the peninsula.  Next stop: Old Mission Lighthouse on the 45th Parallel.
 (click to enlarge to read sign)
Built in 1870, the lighthouse has been owned by the Old Mission Township since 1948.
The 45th Parallel lies just north of Old Mission Point. This is the latitude line that marks the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator. This will not be the last time I come across 45th Parallel signs on this trip.
Riding back down the Old Mission Peninsula, I had to stop at a fruit stand. I've been riding through groves and groves of fruit trees and couldn't leave the peninsula without trying the famous local fare.

The Red Tart Cherry. Michigan is the #1 tart cherry producing state in the US, producing 70%--75% of cherry groves of the "Cherry Capital of the World" = Traverse City. 

It's Sweet Cherry harvest time and the going rate is a little basket for $4. I couldn't see myself eating that many cherries, so I talk the teenage girl minding the stand into making a mixed basket of cherries and plums. I try a couple right there and then understand what all the cherry fuss is about! I pack my fruit treasures into my topcase for easy access and continue down the road.

Leaving the Traverse City area, I head north on US31 following the shores of Lake Michigan. The gusty wind blowing in off the lake reminded me a couple times to pay special attention when I slowed the RT to a stop. Without the stability of the moving mass of the RT, the winds play havoc with balancing over 600 pounds on two small rubber patches. I'm glad I have more foot on the ground with the lowered suspension!

Charlevoix is a touristy, but pleasant town on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. There is a canal connecting the two bodies of water with a lighthouse on the Lake Michigan side.
Shooting into the late afternoon sun created a challenge that I chose to work with rather than against. I rather like the results.

I make my second fuel stop of the day before stopping for the night at the Comfort Inn in Petoskey. I'm loving the large, 7.1 gallon fuel tank on the RT. This leaves more time to ride and enjoy the sights rather than looking for the next fuel stop. Tonight I munch on cherries and plums in my motel room. My coke turns into a cherry coke--can't get any better cherry coke than this! Tomorrow I will start with a full tank of gas and use it to take me through the Tunnel of Trees and across the Mighty Mac to the Upper Peninsula!

Day 3, Friday
August 8, 2008
215 miles
The Mighty Mack Bridge

Even though loaded and near ready to pullout from the Comfort Inn in Petoskey before 8:00am, I was delayed by a very friendly maintenance guy that wanted in the worst way to give me some old towels so I could clean up my bike. I think it bothered him more than me that it was kinda grungy looking. He finally talked me into it. I took a small wet washcloth and wiped it down and followed up with a towel to dry it off. It was nice to have a cleaner windshield to see through even though I am generally looking well over it. It was also nice to have the cases cleaned up around the handles so that my hands didn't get so dirty every time I got into them for something.
Ready to pull out from the Comfort Inn in Petoskey. Check out that sparkling windshield.
A friendly pirate at the local putt near the hotel.
From Petoskey, I take MI119 known as the "Tunnel of Trees" for obvious reasons. This is a narrow, twisty road that follows the eastern shores of Lake Michigan offering alternating views of the lake from high above the shoreline to a dark, shaded tunnel through a thick forest.
The tunnel of trees ends at Cross Village, MI where the legendary Legs Inn is located.
Legs Inn is a restaurant created in the late 1920s by Stanley Smolak, a polish immigrant, and is run by the Smolak family. The back of the restaurant includes a dining patio that looks out over the lake. I didn't get to see the inside -- it's closed at 9:45am.
The name Legs came from . . . look closely . . . do you see them? . . . the old stove legs used to line the edge of the roof of the building.
Just too many photo ops to pass up! Stanley Smolak was an artist that used local trees in his whimsical creations that are still found in and around the restaurant.
Next stop is Mackinaw City at the upper tip of lower Michigan.
This is where the five mile long Mackinac Bridge crosses over the Straits of Mackinac to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Riding across the Mighty Mack you can look to the east to see Lake Huron or look to the west to see Lake Michigan. The Straits of Mackinac connects these two huge lakes.

Built in 1892, Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse looks out over the Straits of Mackinac . . . and now it has a great view of the Mackinac Bridge. 
Time to head to the U.P. and the land of the Yoopers! The inside lanes are made of grates to provide a place for the crosswinds to blow "through" the bridge rather than whipping the suspended road into a twisting, turning ribbon of pavement.

The Mackinac Bridge opened in 1957 and is the longest suspension bridge "between anchorages" in the Americas at 8,614 feet in total length.The length of the bridge's main span is 3,800 feet, which makes it the third-longest suspension span in the United States and twelfth longest worldwide.
Once successfully across the Big Mack, you get to pay for the experience -- in this case $3.
And for that $3 entry fee, you may now enter the land of the Yoopers! The locals living on the Upper Peninsula (UP) are known as Yoopers while the Michiganders from the lower peninsula or mainland are called Trolls (those that live under the bridge) by the Yoopers.
It was during my first stop in the UP about 2pm, when I thought I'd check my cell phone for messages, that I realized that I was missing . . . my cell phone. Since I couldn't specifically remember checking my pocket for the phone OR making my last sweep through the motel room that morning--both which is normally my routine, I'm guessing that the phone is likely still connected to the charger and plugged into the semi-hidden plug on the other side of the TV at the Comfort Inn in Petosky.
Without a phone, how do I call back to the motel to ask if they have found my phone? Easy answer - I stop at the Quality Inn just two blocks from where I realize that I am missing my phone. They feel for me in my dilemma, let me know that they find cell phones left in rooms almost daily, and offer to let me make the call on their desk phone. Both chains are part of the Choice Hotel group which may, or may not, have encouraged their cooperation. I get a hold of last night's host and, yes, they have my phone -- found right where I thought I must have left it. With permission to make another call, I make arrangements with UPS to do a prepaid pickup and deliver to me by Next Day Air Saver to my hotel where I will be staying in Houghton. Since today is Friday, Sunday will stretch out this delivery by a day. But I decide to pay extra to have it delivered to me with a Monday morning 10am guarantee. This will only delay my trip by a couple hours with a delayed start on Monday -- instead of getting an early start of 7am-8am, I will get packed and be ready to go when the phone arrives by 10am. Not much of an adjustment to my schedule. It's all still good--just $40 out of my pocket for my oversight this morning.

Continuing west on US2, I ride with Lake Michigan immediately to my left. Not much traffic and smooth, straight pavement tempts me to lean on the throttle, but I have been warned: there are no freeways on the UP and there are NO FREEWAY SPEED LIMITS on the UP. So I set the cruise to a hair above the limit and sit back to enjoy the sun glinting off the water. A few cars fly around me, but most seem to be honoring the Yoop limits. Sure enough, before too many miles I see two patrol cars set up with the radar in action. Glad I'm enjoying the view rather than trying to make up the time I lost while making cell phone shipping arrangements.
There were plenty signs advertising The Mystery Spot, but alas, it is still a mystery to me because I didn't stop to learn more about it.
I see on the map that Curtis, Michigan is in my general direction of travel. With a reasonable zigzag of my route, I can see what Curtis has to offer. I'm hoping for at least a post office photo-op. Seems the biggest interest is fishing and drinking. For a town about 4 blocks long, they had no shortage of places to buy an alcoholic drink -- I think you had at least one option on each block. The town is squeezed between two lakes. This no doubt, explains the interest in fishing. The post office closed at 4:30pm and it's about 5pm when I pull up, but I take an extra 30 minutes or so to write out the postcards I have collected over the last two days. It will be worth the effort to have CURTIS on the postmark cancellation.*

*Note about small town postmarks: Apparently you can't count on someone in THIS postal office to ACTUALLY POSTMARK the mail dropped in their mailbox. It was reported to me that at least two postcards' cancellation was from another post office (in Michigan at least) about 100 miles away. So much for me taking time to write out the postcards on the steps of the Curtis post office thinking they'd all get CURTIS cancellations! Oh, well. Those of you receiving one of these special postcards . . . now you know the rest of the story!
With the CURTIS delay already on the clock, I start making my way down, what very well may be, the most boring highway in the UP -- Highway 28. The 25 miles from Seney to Singleton seemed like no less than 100 miles. The road was straight, the pavement level, and nothing to see but the Goldwing trike in front of me. I arrived at my motel about 6:30pm, checked in and inquired about a good place to eat supper. Without hesitation, the clerk recommends Sydney's about 5 miles down the road in Munising. I unpack, turn on the room's AC, and head into town. I pass by Sydney's, but choose to make a quick couple miles to the other side of town and see what Christmas in Michigan is like.
Seems this USED to be the mailing station, but it has been abandoned and no longer kept in good repair . . . OR, maybe it is just a seasonal posting station.
After my failed search for the magic of Christmas, it's time for supper.

Day 4, Saturday
August 9, 2008
184 miles
Da Yooper Tourist Trap

It was a pleasant 61 degrees, but the skies are overcast and the ground is still wet from the rain during the night when I pulled out of the Comfort Inn parking lot a bit after 9am. The plan today is to spend some time roaming along the shores of Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Park.
This sign was up in Munising at the visitor center. I don't think Texas has much over the Yoopers when it comes to bugs!
Munising Falls is one of many waterfalls in the area. I took a short hike up from the visitor center just outside of town. 
Sand Point located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore across from Grand Island. That's Grand Island you see in the background behind me. If you look close, you can see the sand bar on the right side of the photo . . . hence the name "Sand Point."
Miners Castle is a formation caused by the water of Lake Superior eroding the sandstone shores. If you look closely, you can see the hole at the bottom part of the formation. Water would rush in and out with each wave. You can see the white of the wave pouring out in the next photo. www.nps.gov/piro/
Yes, even Yoopers have Dairy Queens, but I chose to try some of the local fare unique to the U.P. just down the road.
My friend, Barb, was just here in the U.P. in June and spotted the source of the proclaimed #1 Pasty in the U.P. -- I felt that if I'm going to try something new, I should try the best they have to offer. The pasty (past-ee pronounced with a short a is a common meal up here in the U.P., though I had never heard of it until Barb talked about it.

Okay here's my opinion on the pasty: Maybe just my taste buds after living in South Texas (TexMex country) and Orange, TX (really close to Cajun country), but I thought the pasty was horribly bland. It would have needed more than just salt and pepper -- more like at least Tabasco to wake it up. It just didn't do much for me -- too bland. Of course, I understand that these Yoopers like their food on the bland side, but I prefer mine with some sort of taste to it. Maybe someday I will try it again, but if I do, I'll have the salt and pepper handy and maybe a small bottle of Tabasco within reach. I wonder if the Dairy Queen HungerBuster burger would have been as bland?

Pasty History: Story goes that way back when, the miners commonly took pasties for their underground lunch. They would hold the edge of the pinched crust with their dirty hands and eat right up to the pinched crust. When they had eaten all the stuffed part, they'd toss the dirty crust away. Lore has it that these tossed crusts were not wasted. They were left behind to feed the ghosts of miners that had lost their lives while working underground in the mine.
I like to collect rocks from places I visit. I usually take a photo of the rock in its native environment so I can remember where it came from. This time, I also found a piece of driftwood with an area scooped out making a perfect presentation piece. I found so many rocks, I couldn't decide which I liked best . . . so I kept them all. These are my Superior Rocks!
I found these rocks while following along the shores of Lake Superior on highway 28 between Munising and Harvey. It's about 63 degrees and this is the high of the day! My idea of going north for cooler weather is working out nicely.
I take a slight detour in Marquette to see the waterfront area.
After riding through Marquette, I took US41 toward L'Anse. But before I get there, I see the infamous Da Yoopers Tourist Trap. I feel pulled toward it and find myself "trapped" by the allure.
Da Yoopers are a friendly group . . . especially if you are spending money in the U.P. and plan on going home when you are out of money.
They advertise "free bathrooms," but you might want to be careful which one you choose to use
. . . the upper or lower.
I'm riding directly into the late afternoon sun when I ride into Houghton about 6pm.
I'll stay here at the Travelodge in downtown Houghton for a couple nights.
At 7:30pm after getting checked in, unpacked and settled into the room, I decide to walk across the street to Ambassador's (the building just behind the Travelodge sign in the above photo) for a chef salad. Highly recommended!

Day 5, Sunday
August 10, 2008
150 miles
Copper Harbor on Keweenaw


Each morning I say, "If I only would go to bed earlier, I could get an earlier start on the day." But I'm a night owl and it's hard for me to get to sleep any earlier than midnight . . . often it's closer to 2am. Maybe one day I'll be able to be a few miles down the road by the time the sun rises. But, alas, not today.

Under bright, sunny skies with 59 degree weather, I head north for a day on the Keweenaw Peninsula. I decide to make a counter-clockwise loop around the peninsula, so leaving Houghton I cross the bridge into Hancock and make a right on hwy 26 to Lake Linden.
Lake Linden isn't a large place. One will soon learn that there are no cities north of Hancock . . . I don't think any of the towns even qualify as large towns. Just the kind of touring I like to do. But if you have a small fuel tank, you might want to fill up before getting too far into the Keweenaw.

In Lake Linden, I make my way west northwest as I angle over to the waters' edge. Not too far down the road, I come across the Gay Bar. Sure enough in the small town of Gay, Michigan ... they have a bar, hence, the Gay Bar. Looks like a large old house at about the busiest intersection in town.

Between the small towns of Gay and Betsy, I find a small lakeside park where I am only a little hesitant to pull into the deep sandy/gravel road for a closer look. Before having the seat lowered, I would have just kept going and think "what a cool place ... if only I felt comfortable getting off the pavement ..." This is my reward for taking the "rough road" turn into the park.

Shortly after leaving this park, I see some folks parked in the ditch and bent over rummaging through the low bushes. At the second car I see parked with people in the bushes, I decide to stop to see what's up. Seems that the blueberries are in season and folks (these are on vacation from Marquette) are out picking their fill of fresh blueberries. I join in and get enough for a serving. Now that I've had breakfast, I continue on my way.

I continue through Betsy and loop to the left over to US41. However, I learned from the Marquette folks that US41 is closed just south of Copper Harbor, so I'll need to turn back south and then look for the connecting road over to Eagle Harbor and highway 26 on the other side of the peninsula.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
The harbor of Copper Harbor. The waters of Lake Superior are clean and clear!
Highway US41 runs from just past Copper Harbor 1,990 miles to Miami. When you ride the start of US 41, you will have "threaded the needle" so to speak.
The following photo will explain that concept:
Going back through the main drag of Copper Harbor, I decide to take lunch at the Tamarack Inn.
Since I came into Copper Harbor on highway 26, I decide to head back on Brockway Mountain Drive to enjoy the views from the upper elevations.
This is one of the first pullout views on Brockway Mountain Drive. Looking out over the town of Copper Harbor with the Copper Harbor Lighthouse on the island near the center of the photo.
The highest part of Brockway Mountain Drive offers a great view of Lake Superior. On a clear day you can see Isle Royale Island.
If I had to choose only one route, I would have to flip a coin. Brockway has a horrible road surface, but offers a handful of super great views. Highway 26 has great pavement, lots of pullouts, and great views around every curve all the way to Copper Harbor. I'd recommend both . . . even if you have to make an extra loop between Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor to catch them both.

South of Eagle Harbor on Highway 26, I come to Eagle River. By now, I'm ready for a break and ice cream is sounding good. This general store in downtown Eagle River serves me up two scoops on a cone. (I had a hard time choosing only one flavor)

I sit on the porch eating my ice cream and visiting with Jack, the owner of the store and the scooper of the ice cream.
During my chat with Jack, he told me of some of the "ways of the Yoopers" and I learned that living with snow is a way of life up here. As a way to relate this fact, here's an example: If they wake up to fresh fallen two feet of snow, the school will have only a one-hour delayed start. Can you imagine?! Two feet would shut down a whole city for a week in Virginia!
Back on US41, I see this snow fall meter. The arrow shows the amount of the record snowfall during the winter of 1978-79. That winter they had a total of 390.4 inches = over 23 feet!
This pullout offers a nice view of the Keweenaw Waterway between Calumet and Hancock.
My observations of the Keweenaw: Very little commercialization--most any store, motel, fuel stop, etc. is a mom & pop type operation. Very refreshing atmosphere! The last Walmart is back in Houghton. I saw a Burger King in Calumet, but the rest of the Keweenaw to Copper Harbor and back is all no chain-type operations; no Subways, no Arches, no 7-Eleven, no recognizable chain names. There's not a lot of opportunity for fuel stops from Calumet to Copper Harbor. If you see fuel and even think you might need it, you better get it. My 300 mile range on the RT was no problem, but most motorcycles don't have the luxury of such a large stock fuel tank.
This ended my full day of riding (almost 12 hours) and a mere 159 miles.

This is what happens when you are in full flower sniffin' mode -- it takes almost 12 hours to go 150 miles. But the day was full of photo-ops, blue berry pickin', ice cream lickin', front porch chattin', rock huntin', scenic viewin', etc -- All worthwhile activities!

Day 6, Monday
August 11, 2008
226 miles

Originally, this day I would be packed up to move down the road at a reasonable hour, but since I am separated from my cell phone the schedule has been altered. This morning I will be waiting until the guaranteed delivery of 10am before I am able to continue on my way. I have the RT packed up and am sitting in the lobby having coffee at 9:30am waiting for the UPS truck to pull into the parking lot.

At 10:15am I see the Big Brown truck making it's way down the busy commercial street, stopping on each block as it makes its way closer. When I see it doesn't pull into the Travelodge parking lot, I walk to meet it across the street to ask about my Air Saver, 10am guaranteed delivery. He knows nothing about it. This could be a problem.

I return to the Travelodge where the desk clerk let me use her phone to start making calls to check on the status of the delivery. I learn that the Comfort Inn at Petosky did indeed get the phone boxed up and sent off in a Big Brown truck on Friday afternoon. In a call to UPS customer service I was told that this shipment was a "ground shipment" scheduled to arrive by Thursday. Thursday?! I calmly ask the rep to look at how much I paid for that ground shipment. There was a pause. I asked if they might see a problem yet? Indeed, they did see the problem. I was charged for an Air Saver with 10am delivery, but the box was marked as ground delivery. Nothing to be done until it shows up at another terminal and the next terminal it's due to show up at is the local Houghton terminal sometime during the night or early morning. It's set for a Tuesday (tomorrow) delivery with no guarantee of time. I don't want to wait until tomorrow afternoon to get it. That would mean a delay of two days before I leave Houghton. I propose a possible solution -- when my box reaches the local Houghton terminal, it gets re-classified as a 10am delivery and the charges get reversed and credited back to my credit card. This seems to be an agreeable solution to both of us. Nothing else to be done about the phone or lack of phone. It is what it is. Now I have the rest of the day to go play.

It's already 11:30am when I start my adventure of the day. So I make it a short loop to include Ontonagun and Porcupine State Park.

I pull into Ontonagun, MI on the shores of Gitche Gumee during the noon hour.
The Gitche Gumee Landing shop has a very good selection of local rocks, minerals, etc. Lake Superior was called Gichigami by the Ojibwewe Indians. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called the lake Gitche Gumee in The Song of Hiawatha.
Today's another easy, slow day so I decide that a leisurely lunch is in order at what is obviously the locals' lunch spot.

I even have a couple of local riders come up and ask the routine questions . . . Where you from? Where you been? Where you going? James, the Harley rider, even gave me his card with his contact info -- just in case I needed any help while up this way.
Next stop: Porcupine State Park, affectionately known as Porkies.
The park is named after the mountains off the shores of Lake Superior that the native Indians named the Porcupines because of how they resembled the animal. www.porcupinemountains.com/
This namesake was hanging out in the visitor center.
Lake of the Clouds is the pride of Porcupine State Park.
Can't argue with the view . . .
After wandering around the Porkies and the western shores of the U.P., it got to be 8pm before I made it back to my motel room for the night.

Day 7, Tuesday 
August 12, 2008
244 miles


Since my departure will be delayed again today as I wait for the Big Brown truck, I decide to incorporate breakfast (a real breakfast) into my day. I had heard that there was a good place just down the road. I ask for directions and head that way.

This is the view of downtown Houghton as I leave the Travelodge parking lot to walk the few blocks to the restaurant.
It's good that I got directions to the restaurant. This is it on the corner, but you notice that there is no name advertising that fact. All the locals already know where it is and there's a wait to get seated. I guess they really don't need to advertise.
Suomi Bakery & Restaurant
There was a wait, but the food and service was worth it. I just loaded up on coffee during my wait.
And when I walked back outside ... what should I see, but a Big Brown truck. Yes, this time he knew about my delivery! But no, he didn't come to find me to make the delivery. He had already left it for me at the front desk of the Travelodge.
Here's a sign you won't see very often!
NO ETHANOL in this fuel!
Military Hill Roadside Park near the Ontonagun River provided a nice rest area and retro cool water pump available to travelers.
It looks like a nicely graded dirt road, but it isn't. This is US highway 45 being repaved. The whole stretch of road was getting worked on at the same time. It was like this for over 10 miles.
Watersmeet, Michigan: Home of the NIMRODS!
Now we know where they come from . . . the school of the Nimrods!
I cross into Wisconsin and another state gets its color.
I land for the night in Abbotsford, Wisconsin at the Sleep Inn as the rain clouds build. I manage to pull my gear off the RT and get the cover on as the large drops started to fall.

Day 8, Wednesday
August 13, 2008
409 miles
Door County


Day 8 on the road starts at 8:30am as I pull out eastbound on Wisconsin highway 29.

Can you tell I'm in Wisconsin? I pass farm after farm complete with cows, silos, and fields of corn. Stereotypical Wisconsin . . . I was lovin' it, even if there is a misty rain in the air.
I read somewhere once that the exact geographical center of the northern hemisphere is right here in Wisconsin. So I set out to find it.

And here it is . . . in a cornfield near Athens, Wisconsin.
From the 90th Meridian, I continue eastward toward Green Bay. It's raining as I pass through Green Bay and head north into Door County of popular tourist fame.
Riding through Ephraim, it was obvious by all the people that this was the place to be. So I snapped a photo over my shoulder as I rode past. But it's too many people for me. I'm sure it's good, but I'm ready to ride to the eastern side of the peninsula where I've heard there aren't so many tourists. 
On my way to Baileys Harbor on the east side, I pass Gordon Lodge on North Bay, but I only stop long enough to take a couple photos -- looks too rich for me.
When I see a sign pointing to a Rustic Road, I recall that Wisconsin has marked a number of Rustic Roads all over the state. WisDOT has a program where they will reward motorcyclists with a patch and certificate if they document where they've ridden a minimum number of the roads. This will be photo number one of my collection.
Here's the kind of place you can likely see me stopping -- the roadside rest area. This particular rest area lies on the 45th Parallel. Exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator . . . there's a marker designating it is so.
This park is the Wisconsin Motorcycle Memorial, built to honor the riders whose "earthly days of riding have come to an end." Notice the small parking spaces? Just right for motorcycles.


Here, I stop on my way leaving Door County to fulfill the prophecy.
With my cheese curds in hand, I may now go forth ... further into the land of the cheeseheads.
About 25 miles down the road, I see this small pullout near the shores of Lake Michigan at Wayside Park south of Algoma. I back into a parking slot and pull out my cheese curds, wheat thins, and a bottle of water. I enjoy my Wisconsin snack as I contemplate that about 70 miles across the lake is Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City and how it was less than a week ago I was fleetering on those Michigan shores. It's getting later in the afternoon so I saddle back up and continue on south, planning to arrive at my friend's house north of Milwaukee before 7pm.
Now I can say that I've fleetered to Alaska ... Wisconsin.
The rain stopped teasing and started pouring as I rode through Sheboygan. The last 50 miles or so of my day was a wet ride, but the rain let up as I took my exit into Thiensville.

Thiensville is 1 mile in length and bill themselves as "a mile of service and smiles."My friend of over 20 years, Toni, has a room waiting for me. I will layout here for a couple days before heading back home to Virginia.
Toni's dog, Nikko, stands guard (or sits as guard) over his house and the RT.

Day 9, Thursday
August 14, 2008
173 miles

I'm staying at Toni's house in Thiensville for a couple nights. I met Toni in Austin, Texas during my college years, but haven't spent much face to face time with her over the past 20 years since she moved back to Wisconsin. It's been on my list of things to do . . . visit Toni and see Wisconsin. Finally, with this trip I'm getting to do both.

Toni went to work early and left me to set my own schedule for the day. Today's goal is to meet up with another friend for lunch. But first, I'm going to make a stop by BMW Motorcycles of Milwaukee on my way to meet Rebecca.
I've been on the lookout for a new pair of riding boots. I bought the ones I've been using online and even after sending them back to try another pair, I've never been happy with the fit. And now the last couple times I rode in a heavy rain, they leaked. Time to start shopping. Even though I didn't think I needed a high dollar BMW pair of boots, I tried on a pair here at BMW of Milwaukee. They had my size, I liked the way they fit, AND they were on a darn good sale! Sold! I wore them on my way out and strapped my old ones to the seat where my duffel bag usually sits.

My new BMW All Round motorcycle boots. So . . . do my new boots make my feet look fast?
I ride over to Rebecca's house and then we ride together to Hooligans for lunch. After lunch, I follow Rebecca into downtown Milwaukee, where she shows me the waterfront.

The new Calatrava Museum is a crown jewel on Milwaukee's Waterfront.
Rebecca waves good bye as we part ways and I head off to ride the Kettle Moraine that she recommends as a good ride.
I find the Kettle Moraine north of Milwaukee and start following the scenic drive through the forest. The forest is known for the unique terrain formed by the glaciers when they flowed over the area.

Since the moraines left gently rolling hills in the area, you can imagine the what a fun terrain this is to ride on a motorcycle. Special find along the route is the Dundee Mill located in Dundee.
The Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive takes me by some nice Wisconsin farm country.
St Michaels Church at Graham Corner near Greenbush.
At Glenbeulah, I turn southeast back toward Port Washington.
On the way, I find the answer to the famous question: Where's Waldo?

Day 11, Saturday
August 16, 2008
345 miles
Rustic Roads of Wisconsin


The RT stays in Toni's garage all day on Friday as Toni and I visit. She takes me on a tour of the "Mile of Smiles" and some of the neighboring communities. It is a good day spent re-connecting with a dear old friend.

Saturday, I pack up and say good bye to Toni and Nikko, then pull out in search of more Rustic Roads.

North Lake, Wisconsin
I made a quick Gatorade stop in Delafield.
Rustic Road 90 is truly a rustic road, as in gravel surface.
WI Rustic Road 90

I cross the state line into Illinois at 6:30pm and start making my way east to I30.
The sun goes down as I ride south toward Bloomington, Illinois.
It's 9:35pm when I pull into the Quality Inn of Bloomington. It's a slow night -- I have the whole back wing to myself.

Day 12, Sunday
August 17, 2008
440 miles
Rabbit Hash


I take a delayed start this morning just because I can. I know I will be on the freeway over half the day so I won't have as many distractions to slow me down. I leave Bloomington, IL at 10am after chatting with a couple from McKinney, Texas in the hotel parking lot. No matter where I go, I can always find something in common with someone without much effort. This connection was made when the Texans noticed my Texas patch on the arm of my riding jacket.

I leave Bloomington/Normal, Illinois on I74 and stay on it all the way across Indiana. About 4:30pm I cross into Kentucky just west of Cincinnati, Ohio and follow the Ohio River as I ride south on KY hwy20.
Tucked away in the Northwest corner of Kentucky on a road you would not be on unless you were lost or knew of the gem in the area, I find a sign that I am indeed on the right path.
Just before entering the last curve that will put me at my goal, I am requested to honor the historic area.
The final turn opens up a view of a glimpse into yesteryear.
For the past 177 years, Rabbit Hash has sat on the banks of the Ohio River.

There apparently was time after a flood in 1947 that Rabbit Stew was very plentiful in the area.
You may think that Rabbit Hash is far removed from the hoopla of politics, but not so. The upcoming election has everyone atwitter in who may win the election. Locally, it is such a tossup that there is no way to guess the outcome until the last vote is tabulated.
Here's a photo of one of the campaign posters. Lucy is running for the coveted post of mayor of Rabbit Hash. It is a very high profile position that comes with much responsibility.

Rabbit Hash also has a spot in the Underground Railroad history.
Corner of the dance hall / art studio.
There is no doubt that motorcycle riders have discovered Rabbit Hash and make a habit of spending time here on the weekends.
After leaving Rabbit Hash, I make my way across the Ohio state line and was surprised to see this water tower. It was later explained to me that Florence takes great pride of their location in SOUTH Ohio.
Post note: I was notified by a loyal Fleeter Log reader that there is a bit more to the story of this water tower. Seems that this is a City water tower that sits adjacent to the Florence Mall. Used to be that the tower was painted "Florence Mall" until a lawyer took the notion to sue the City for advertising for the Mall on city property. So the City solved the problem with a minimum of of wasted strokes and paint. Now you know the "Rest of the Story" as Paul Harvey would say.
Over a 100 miles down the road (mostly OH hwy32), I pulled into Piketon, Ohio for the night at dusk.

Day 13, Monday
August 18, 2008
422 miles
Point Pleasant, WV & the Silver Bridge


After getting a quick lesson of how Ohioans divide themselves into Northerners and Southerners, I leave Piketon, Ohio behind. As I ride eastward on Ohio hwy 124, I review the division of Ohio and wonder if the Mason-Dixon Line extends that far west. If not, where do they draw the line when determining who's a Yankee and who's a southerner?

When I pull into Rio Grande, I turn my thoughts to Bob Evans and home cooking.
The homestead of Bob Evans.
Bob Evans Farms . . . where it all started before Ohio shared Bob Owen's home cooking with the rest of us.
I love seeing the barns painted for Ohio's Bicentennial celebration in 2003 scattered across the state.
By 10am, I cross the Silver Memorial Bridge into West Virginia.
Point Pleasant is located where the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers come together.
I pull into downtown and make my way to the historic park down on the waterfront.
I could tell you about the significance of the location during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, or even WWII, but I think you may find the story of the Silver Bridge more interesting.

The Silver Bridge built in 1928, spans the Ohio River from Ohio to Henderson, WV. This bridge collapsed in 1967 killing 46 people.

Local lore went nationwide when a book turned movie (The Mothman Prophesies) was written about the "mothman" that supposedly had been sighted in the area and had warned of the pending bridge collapse.

The Ohio River and Kanawha River confluence is a busy thruway, but I didn't spot any moth-type creatures. US33 across West Virginia has become a common fleetering route as I cross the state coming and going on my fleetering excursions. Today I stop at this small foot bridge for a closer look and a quick photo-op.

My last meal on the road . . . I stop at the Gateway Restaurant near Seneca Rocks, WV for a late lunch.
One of the agate rocks I brought back from Lake Superior.
The petosky stone is the State Stone of Michigan. It is found only along particular shores of Michigan -- the northwest shores of the lower peninsula. They are hard to spot because they look just like a normal limestone when seen along the lake's beach. But when polished, the fossilized coral shows through.

A cross section of the Petosky Stone showing the limestone look as seen in the natural state and the inner core that shows through after polished.
My necklace that I put together as a souvenir of my trip to Da Yoop!
A petosky stone with a piece of copper from Copper Harbor.

Total Da Yoop Trip: 
3,929 miles through 8 states in 13 days

Copyright 2008 Fleeter Logs


  1. Great trip report Clay with an "e". I grew up in the Kettle Moraine area and use to have land in the U.P.. This brought back some good memories. Fleetering sure beats rolling down the slab any day.


  2. Great stuff! I always enjoy reading your blog. Lot's of really good pics too. Well done!

  3. Loved this post!! So many roads we've shared. Brought back so many memories from the UP, WI and OH. Took lots of notes of new places to add to my list too. I've gotta take the ST on the Lake Superior Circle Tour--the SV loved it and it was my favorite among the Great Lakes! Great read!