Thursday, September 6, 2018

Saturday August 4th

Early start today... We are right on target to get to the concert this afternoon, but we don't have any extra time and we have to make a quick stop for some sundries.  There is a heavy dew and it's down right chilly compared to the previous days so liners go into the jackets before we get on the road.  We didn't beat the sun up but we're not far behind.  Here is the first glimpse over the water a few minutes into the ride.


A little sleepy with helmet - jacket - gloves - pants - boots creating a cozy cocoon. I am peaking out, gathering impressions as the scenes slide by in the cool morning breeze...

A lot going on; arts festival...
... uncorked wine tasting ...
... people out and about.

As we road along a 'feature' slowly made it's way into my conscious and popped out at me turning into one of the most memorable parts of the ride today... the signs.   Lots and lots of vacation properties and there were certain stretches of road where the signs in front of each were so very interesting.  The light wasn't good so the photos are not 'good', but I think you will catch the essence.



Dogs, rocks, and fish.  Square, colorful, plenty of American flags, and even a 'non-sign'.  This is only a very small sample.  I had the camera on for just over a minute so, lets say a mile and as I went through the footage there must have been well over 100 examples.  After lifting 50 clips out of the video here are about 25 that seemed to capture that essence of that mile.


As we motored north moving back from the lake just a bit we came to this river and marina.  The early morning light, clouds, promise of the sea and reminders of the Siren call... Lorelei?

 Well, we are officially in the north woods :-)


Perhaps I shouldn't assume?  Having grown up visiting the giant talking Paul and Babe in Brainerd Minnesota I expect everyone knows that the reason there are no trees in the Dakotas is that Paul logged them all one season and that Babe is blue from that wicked cold winter. So cold in fact that spoken words froze solid at night so you had to wait til sun up to hear what was said the day before.

Hey... check this out!  Half way to the North Pole.  What to go?


Ok, so this was interesting right?  Crazy life guard!  How do I get that job...



This was delightful: came around the corner to this flag over the road.  Did someone phone ahead and tell them we were coming?  Can't really see it in this picture but the fire fighter was so enjoying his work.  Thanks folks for all your work.  After we went down a block it got a little more obvious - there was a bike rally going on.  When we stopped for gas I asked the attendant what was going on, she shrugged and said I don't know.  There's the paper maybe it says.  Wow, kinda l me - not so clued into community events.  Too funny.


No way this could have been planed right?



Well getting close to 'the bridge'.  Have to say that anticipation is growing a bit, while it's been good to travel there is a feeling near the end that it's time to stop and be at rest.  And the Mighty Mac is quite a way to finish eh?

As I replayed the video of the crossing this shot of the cables arching up and away struck me as a particularly notable.  It kinda all comes together and having another bike in the shot - what a sweet bonus!




Number two shot?  Almost a toss up between this and on in the center of the main span where the big top cables comes down to the road surface, but this wins.  The opposite tower in the distance looking through the legs is quite a sight to be sure.

Then we are home... Little house in the big north woods. Last little bit of travel down the narrow driveway between the lush green trees.  It's almost like they reached across us with their limbs brushing off the hustle and bustle of the outside world as we passed and linked together as a closing gate behind us, an island of serenity.



Sure hope you enjoyed this journey north with us.  Pictures never do the landscape and scenery justice, they really only whet one's appetite and stir the imagination to go see for your self.  I certainly hope that will be the effect of these little morsels.

All this new fangled stuff that makes sharing like this possible still causes me to sit back and oohhh and ahhh just a little even though I have worked in a tech industry for lots of years.  Take full advantage of it. Please.  Read the descriptions, look at the pictures.  Zoom in and out of the maps and explore the route.  But don't make the mistake of thinking that's 'it'.  Get out there as do!  Happy travels, hope to meet you soon on your adventure...

Additional pictures, stories, and details available on this interactive map... Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Friday August 3rd

We got up really late then had coffee with the host.  Turns out we grew up in the same part of the country, talked about kids, work, good conversation about this that and the other.    Left really really late!  Like 10:15.  Good thing we racked up some miles yesterday ;-).

Starting perception for the day is that we will be doing a ride through 'corn country' that is to say it will be straight and boring.  As we break out of the Appalachian mountains it was certainly true that the roads tend to straighten out and the landscape opened up to farm country.  What was fun to discover was that while roads were not full of curves it wasn't as nearly as monotonous as expected.

Speaking of farming... The place right at the end of the AirB&B driveway had a type of silo that I don't think I've seen before, or if so I don't remember it.


The way of filling I am familiar with is to use a blower which sends the fodder up a pipe and drops it in the top.  The arrangement shown here seems to hint that there was a time in days gone by that filling was done with a rope and pulley like the old loose hay in the haymow?  Anyone out there have experience or stories that speak to this arrangement?

Just down the road we came to this big rig who missed the off ramp.  Wow, that must have been quite a ride.  Then a little later a train wreck!  A not so subtle reminder to double down on attentiveness for sure...


Tummies started rumbling at about Bucyrus.  While Brenda was searching for eats I messed around with the camera and selfie stick - it's really hard with no display to imagine the results!  It was kinda fun trying to come up with shots that might work and even funnier to see the goofy results.  After a bit it occurred to me that they could be upside down right?  Just flip them when editing.  Ah ha!  At the end of a couple of minutes there were a few stills worth keeping. How does the saying go: even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while?

Well, unfortunately we were just a little too early for the Bratwurst Festival :-/, so we went for brunch at the Amish Vault. Oh the best part, did some people watching :-).  One of the gals behind the counter was sooo overbearing; drove the other three a little bonkers.  They would try to do something and she would cut in and 'do it right'.  Predictably after a while they just stopped trying.  Then there was the gal who came in with her girl friends for coffee.  She had an 'own the place' aura; got up and greeted nearly everyone that came in, real social butterfly... obviously 'the mayor' ;-).  On the way out as I was  putting my helmet on there was this movement in the store window.... hey, a person in there?  A little too much reflection to be a great shot, but still kinda fun and I think you'll get the idea.

Playing with the camera
Amish Vault - have to wonder about the name?
Wait, are those legs?
 Next stop Michigan! Slight digression here... one of the goals for the trip was no (or as few) freeway miles as possible.  The first night we put on a few freeway miles.  We were late, darkness descended, and the rain began so the reason for keeping on the back-roads was gone.  We jumped on I-66/81 for the last little bit of the ride.  As we approached Toledo we had the feeling again, best to get around the city as quickly as possible so I-75/475 it was.  The a little more 'big' US Highway to Blissfield MI for lunch.  Hey, can you think of a better place to stop?

So... really good vegi chili, ok stir fry veggies, terrible rhubarb/apple pie (so disappointing, but I ate it anyway so as not be rude! ;-).  We parked and walked past such a mysterious stairwell - what do you suppose is up there?  Then a quick look back down the block as we stepped inside, the town has managed to keep the old look; wonderful really.

Oh the stories these walls could tell...

Classic Mid-Western Small Town Look
Next stop: Owosso for gas.  Filling up and the guy next to me looks over at the license plate and says "so are you really from Maryland?".  The body language and tones all said you rode that thing here? Are you nuts?  Answer: Yes...  "I have a Harley, but I would never do something like that."  How funny, right?  But I do get it, it's one thing to run out for an hour to tool around a bit - quite another to ride across 5 states.  We chatted a bit, and he said too bad you don't need a place to stay in the UP, have a (brother?) who owns a place an hour north of St Ignace, you could have stayed there.  Not sure what that really meant was he really serious, but hey - pretty cool right.
As we drove through town I noticed a sign pointing to 'Curwood Castle'.  Hummm. Drove by.  Thought about it. Curiosity building; what kind of castle exactly?  Is it for real?  U-Turn.  Great choice!  No kidding fairy tale castle, check it out...

I can see the princess looking out a tower window...
So it turns out this was the writing studio of James Curwood.  Outside is this statue of him, thought it interesting to see a boy on the banks of river not 20 yards away fishing :-).



As we were walking around the grounds a guy an arm in a sling says "great day to ride..."  Not sure exactly how to respond so I said yes, hey, you'll need to get that arm healed so you can go too. "Yeah, maybe in August (hint of sadness)."  I backed away from the conversation...  How come?  Hummmm, Didn't I just read a sign about this yesterday (L2-14: River View (click purple camera)) and rather than lean in I pulled away.  Do I need to adjust?

Shortly after the castle we had our last bout of Interstate riding to get through Saginaw.  We have driven I-75 many times and oh had I forgotten just how 'fast' it is.  So the rainy mountains in Virginia reminded us of the Taunus Mountains of Germany (hey, Rob Jackson are you out there?  You were right, we like West Virginia) and now I-75 sort of reminds us of the Autobahn.  All the lanes 85-90 mph and jammed; white knuckle driving at it's finest.  While 'like' Germany, it's all American in the vehicle mix.  F-350 Super Duties pulling Campers, pontoon boats and SUVs all flying north.  Menagerie?

Bike did really well BTW, appears it can hum along in tipple digits all day long just as smooth as silk.  Well, I presume it could... All told we did about 40 miles in Virginia, 60 miles moving across the border from Ohio to MI then another 40 or so to get past Saginaw.  These three bits remind me why we very deliberately chose not to ride this way...

Couldn't help but notice our shadow as the sun dropped down towards the western horizon.  Running on ahead, almost a race...


... and in fact, it beat us to the Rooster Inn. Day three mostly done, machine and travelers at rest.  Come sit and share a story?





Additional pictures, stories, and details available on this interactive map... Enjoy!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Thursday August 2nd

Morning started out with heavy low-lying clouds.  I overheard the host talking with her husband about 'calling for heavy rain all day', shoot!


We got down the road an hour or so before the rain started.  Climbing up that first ridge it was just overcast with a few drops, second a little more, third full on rain.  So reminded me of Germany... twisty roads in the mountains with the cloud just overhead, sometimes running through the clouds/fog.  Rain off and on, heavy at times.

Clouds above, fog in the river valley below


I debated new rain gear before the trip.  I had some, but the pants leak.  Reputable brand, look good, feel good - and no obvious signs of wear or problems, just don't work.  So I read review after review trying to figure out if that just the way it is or if new would actually keep me dry.  Brenda ordered hers and we got out one time with it - worked like a champ.  Unfortunately by then it was too late so I just had the jacket.  All that to say with the summer/mesh riding pants it worked out fine.  Wet, but not terribly uncomfortable.  A little cold.  The first trickle down ;-).  noooooooo, then a little more, then well ok, wet now back to riding.

Rounding a bend in a place called Cool Springs brings quite a surprise.  A gas station, no big deal.  General Store, less and less common but in these parts ok.  A tractor boneyard - ah, really?  Fabulous and sad at the same time.  With the overcast sky and the heavy shadows among the trees it felt somber.  These machines consigned to a slow wasting death in the elements on display for all to see...






Gassed up and ready to continue... what will we find next?  Lovely roads, decreasing clouds, and?  A covered bridge :-).  How long does it take to get from Maryland to Michigan on roads like this?  Seems the key to this mode of travel is a relaxed perception of time.  Perhaps something to think about there?  I know, it's not limitless, I don't have that much, on and on. Yet...



Well, time to stretch the legs.  Coffee?

So, what does this 'cover' tell you about the book?
Surprised at what's inside?
Intriguing
On the way to the coffee shop we were stopped by a passing train... We pulled off the road onto a dirt parking lot next to the tracks to get a better look as the crossing guard came down, it was fun to 'be a kid again' hearing that big diesel coming, crossing bells dinging - then it came into sight; and the engineer waved and we waved back, just like the old days.  Gave me an idea. Would people do the came to us?

The train went by, the guards came up, all the cars the lined up shuffled over the tracks and on their way.  We started the bike and nosed back onto the road.  Right after the tracks we took a left, just because, and there on the porch were two old timers.  I waved and guess what?  They waved back.  It works.  Offer a gesture of welcome and it returns.  Not always of course, but it sure was fun to do and have the intimidate positive response.  Not just once, later in the day we waved at folks sitting out front and got another wave back.  A reminder to practice civility.


Next big stop: Velvet Ice Cream


 We stopped and got some good healthy picnic food in town before stopping then pulled in right at closing time so... ran to see the museum quick, got a cone for desert then had dinner on one of the picnic tables.  So nice.


On to our stop for the night...  Have to say I really enjoy the Air B&B stops.  What a wonderful way to meet interesting folks and have a personal experience rather than just another room in some long hallway.

What will tomorrows journey bring???

Additional pictures, stories, and details on this interactive map. Enjoy!