Motorcycle Trip around Lake Michigan
Day 1. Tuesday, June 23 Traveled 232 miles
Started on 694, we wound up taking a detour on 36, but without any problems. When we got to Stillwater, there was a crash on the bridge. So I think we stopped in Stillwater and goofed around and by the time we got back to riding the traffic on the bridge was flowing again.
We took hwy 64 which was a nice road, and quite scenic. The scenery being trees. Many many trees. We stopped at the Cedar River Wayside and saw a turtle. We were to the point of needing gas because there are not a lot of towns on this road. Checked our phones and we went off our route a mile or 2 and got gas at Bloomer (hwy 53).
Got back onto hwy 64 and traveled to Merrill,WI. Spent the night at the Badger Inn.
Day 2. Wednesday, June 24,2015 Traveled 212 miles.
Left at 8:30 on a sunny day day. We saw 3 deer and 3 fawn. The road is still very nice, lots of trees, not a lot of traffic. We stopped at Mountain for gas and saw 1 more deer.. Stayed on 64 and headed for Marinette, where we stopped for lunch and then, unfortunately took the wrong road to Escanaba.. Well, we took the non construction route, but we meant to take the road along the lake.
Somewhere about that time it started to rain. We stopped at a very nice city/county park in Gladstone, put the tent up in the rain and then the sun came out. However after checking our phones we noted that rain was definitely coming so we got back on the motorcycle, drove 10 miles back to Escanaba and then ate dinner at Arby's. From there we drove to the theater in the pouring rain (only a couple of blocks) and watched Jurrasic Park. I liked it. When we came back out, it had quit raining. We drove back to our campground, and got ready for bed.
Day 3. Thursday, June 25, 2015. Traveled 165 miles.
The sun was just starting to come out as we were heading out around 9:15. Last night we saw a Baltimore Oriole near our tent site and while traveling today we saw 2 sandhill cranes and 1 baby crane. So we are on hwy 2 now and we stopped at Manistique for breakfast. It was a rainy on and off kind of day. We crossed the Mackinac Bridge. Before that we went down to the information/visitor center and took pictures of the bridge and just looked at the neat stuff. The sun was out.
The bridge is pretty neat although you do have to pay some fee to cross it. There was construction on it, but it wasn't much of a problem. It was quite an incredible bridge, and quite amazing to cross it, especially on a motorcycle. We stopped at the Mill Creek campground on Lake Huron. A huge campground. I mean huge. We walked all over the place. To see what they had there. They had walking paths and we went out onto the jetty and just generally all over the place. This place even had a huge amount of land that they hadn't even converted into camping areas yet. They were extremely well organized.
We also met a guy here who was riding his recumbent bike, but he also was a big Harley guy. He used to drive a Gold Wing, but he switched back to a Harley, as it's just in his blood. He was a nice guy, enjoyable to talk to.
Day 4. Friday, June 26. Traveled 204 miles.
As we started to leave at 9:15, even though the sun was out, the fog was starting to come in. It was quite chilly. We heard the foghorn. We are now on hwy 23 which skirts Lake Huron. The thing we have noticed all along is that riding across WI was quite pretty with all the trees. But riding along the Lakes, all we frequently see are trees and they don't seem so pretty anymore. Not because they're ugly but we want to see the lake!! That's the reason that we're driving around it.
We stopped in Cheboygan for breakfast. And then we stopped to see Lighthouse 40. Very interesting. We even got to climb up to the top and see the lighthouse lenses. We stopped in Au Gres (city) in the city campground. It was nice. We were between 2 big trailers, but we never even saw those people.
We drove into the city a little ways for dinner and then went out to where the (Au Gres) River dumps into Lake Huron. It's like a park and you can walk way out on the jetty. It was pretty neat. Then we came back to the campground and I walked across a little ditch behind our site to a playground and park, and checked out the river from over there.
Day 5. Saturday, June 27, 2015. Traveled 250 miles.
This was a crazy day. We left about 9:30 and traveled across the state of Michigan from Lake Huron over to Lake Michigan. I didn't mark the roads down, but we started on regular highways and wound up traveling on quite a few freeways. We got a little confused sometimes, mostly because of construction, but we did good. It was extremely windy, but the VTX travels so much better in the wind as compared to our scooters.
We did travel through Grand Rapids and stopped at their Welcome Area. It was a nice place, plus we looked at some maps and checked out information about Lake Michigan sand dunes.
We continued a little further to Saugatuck and stayed at a Best Western. Saugatuck is a very ritzy kind of place. We tried going into the city to find a place to eat but the traffic was unbelievable, not to mention that there is no place to park, so we headed back and as we got out of the craziness we found a place for dinner.
Day 6. Sunday, June28. Traveled 107 miles.
We had a big breakfast at the motel. We left at 9:30 and it was 67 degrees. We traveled south heading for Warren Dunes State Park. We had reserved a site the night before. And since it was such a short distance, we got there early in the day, we were able to set up our tent and we went right to the beach.
Now this place is unbelievable. First to get their, from our campsite you have to drive out, like you're leaving the park, but then you turn on the “beach” road, along with 5000 other people. When you get to the beach area there are 3 huge, separate parking lots and there are many vendors selling food and some trinkets. On the left of the road are the parking lots and the 3 mile long beach( that even allows dogs at a part of it). And on the right are the sand dunes. The highest one is 260 ft high and there are 6 miles of hiking trails. I think it's something like 2 miles wide and 3-4 miles long.
We naturally climbed the highest peak. It was awesome, of course it was super hot out. We didn't walk very far, but we got over a couple of hills and you could see where you could walk, what looked like forever. And there's like all kinds of people up here. Anybody can go anywhere. We walked over onto the side hills and watched the families that would trudge up the big hill that we did, and then all the kids would go running down.
But we walked back over to the beach and walked quite a ways; me thinking that after a while there would be fewer people. Well that never happened. But we had a marvelous time, none the less.
We headed back to our campsite and again there was just a steady stream of cars coming in to the beach. We went out again later in the evening to see the sunset, and there were still cars coming in. There were too many clouds to see the sunset though.
Then this was a Sunday and clearly ¾ of the restaurants had to have been closed. But we drove on, just a little further and were most fortunate to find a really nice restaurant. It was just there as we were driving so we stopped and had a wonderful dinner.
Day 7. Monday, June 29, 2015. Traveled 118 miles.
Today we were heading to Battle Ground. We checked out all the maps, and talked to people about the best route and everyone said “421”, because I-65 had a lot of construction going on. We had to go through Michigan City and we checked those maps for correct routes to get to 421. Well, everything went great except for the part where we went through some pretty heavy rain for about 30 minutes. The road was pretty good, not much traffic but we had have to wait for 3 trains, in 3 different parts of 142. Unbelievable!
Made it to Mary Jo's house without any problems. We went out to eat; Jos' drove and she showed us all the flooding. At one place where the Wabash overflowed its' banks, the river is up in the fields and it looks like the river is miles wide. There are a number of roads closed because of high water.
Day 8. Tuesday, June 30 No traveling today.
Went to Clegg Gardens. MJ sprained her ankle. John came in close contact with a deer, while trying to find a faster, easier route to our car.. Had a great dinner at some restaurant.
Day 9. Wednesday, July 1. Traveled 236 miles.
Had an easy day, from my perspective. We took hwy 24 west to I-39 and headed north to Rochelle. Spent the night at a Super 8. Good weather, traffic was ok.
Day 10. Thursday, July 2, 2015. Traveled 137 miles.
It was a strraight shot on hwy 251 from Rochelle north to Aunt Gloria's house in Rockford. We stopped to visit for a little while. Then we headed for Watertown.. We spent a couple of days assisting Greg with his house.
Day 11, 12, 13 in Watertown
Day 14. Monday, July 6,2015. Traveled 325 miles.
We took I-94 like we normally would do. Things were going fairly well and then as we neared the I-39 turnoff/Portage turnoff it started to sprinkle. So we pulled off to put on our rain suits. And it did rain. It cleared up again on and off.
As we approached the 94-90 split, we decided to take I-90 to LaCrosse, which in itself wasn't bad, but we decided to have lunch in LaCrosse and their was major construction in that area. First it was very tricky to figure out how to get to where we wanted to go; primarily because of the construction and poor signage. It's the old – everybody who lives here knows how to get there.....So we did finally get to our preferred destination (McDonalds) and had lunch with wifi. We were also able to easily get back onto the road but then there was more construction of I-90, in both directions and it was like a maze, and single lane in each direction. Somewhat of a nightmare. Got through that okay and we decided to take the scenic Mississippi byway on the Wisconsin side, so we crossed back into WI at Winona and took scenic 35 north along the Mississippi.
This was also fine. There were storms brewing however, the sky was quite spectacular with dark clouds and the wind was ferocious. We did go through areas of rain, and areas of dryness..I just remember that it was a most beautiful drive, no more construction, and observing the weather was as exciting as observing the scenery. As we approached closer to the Twin Cities area we noticed fog, or haze and couldn't quite figure out if it was from the rain or what was going on? After we got home it was confirmed that because of the exceptionally strong winds, what we had seen was the haze from the forest fires in Canada.
We crossed back into MN at Prescott and then took hwy 10 to 61 to I-94 and got home without any problems. When we got home our rain gauge was at 2 inches!
It was a very nice trip; it just seemed to go so fast. It was quite nice just sitting and not having to worry about driving. Although it was hard to just sit there for any long amount of time. So we would stop frequently for little rest stops.
The sand dunes were my all time favorite. We need to get back there again. However I was truly disappointed because it was so hard to see both Lake Michigan and Huron because the trees have grown up so much. But it was still a wonderful trip. Camping was lots of fun too. I had a good time.