Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alternate Plans

Egg Harbor  in Door County Wisconsin
It seems this travelogue is taking longer than the actual trip!  But if there is anyone still interested in reading about the final miles of our trek through Michigan and Wisconsin, I'll put the finishing touches on this and move on to other subjects.

Giant Hiawatha statue in the city park in Ironwood, Wisconsin.
After our drive up the Kewneenaw Penninsula, it was our intention to head down to Ironwood, Wisconsin, spend the night there, then the next day head up to Bayfield and on to the Apostle Islands. After a long day of riding we arrived at our motel, found a local restaurant for dinner and as usual spent the evening planning the next leg of our journey.  But when we turned to the Weather Channel and saw the forecast for severe storms in the area that we'd be traveling, we decided to change our plans.  It was disappointing because even though we had lived in Wisconsin for several years, we'd never had the chance to explore that part of the state.  But riding in heavy rain, with lightning and strong winds did not sound like a pleasant way to spend the last few days of our vacation. 

The next day, we got an early start as we headed east towards Door County, our alternate destination.  The best app on our iphones is the live radar weather map.  As long as we had good phone reception, we could stay ahead of the storms and plan our route across the state.  It wasn't but fifteen minutes after reaching our hotel in Green Bay that the heavy rain began.  We'd made it just in time!  The next morning, the clear blue skies were back and we could enjoy a trip up to the tip of Door County.  As you can see in the top photo, we had a beautiful day to enjoy a motorcycle ride and all the sights of this tourist mecca. Luckily the crowds and traffic during the week aren't too bad.

Though it had been over ten years since we'd been here in Door County, we didn't see that a lot had changed.  Wilson's Ice Cream shop was still the place to stop for a great lunch (or ice cream!) in Ephraim.  We sat under the awning and enjoyed our sandwiches and watched the activity at the beachfront park across the street.

After a day of riding, sight-seeing, and even a little shopping we tried one of the traditional things that tourists do in Door County.  Pelletier's is just one of the restaurants that offers the Fish Boil, but probably one of the most popular. You can click on their link for a full description of the "event" and the meal.  Which is basically just whitefish, potatoes and onions.  Maybe not the best meal we had on our trip, but still one of those things you just have to do when visiting the area.  The cherry pie that comes with the meal was wonderful though!
I thought you might like this pretty Wisconsin dairy farm photo.  Of course, buzzing by at 60 MPH on a Harley does not make it easy to get a good photo. 

We timed our departure from Door County to arrive in Sheboygan, Wisconsin around lunch time.  After a quick stop at the nice Harbor Centre Marina where we kept our boat when we had one, we were happy to find that one of our favorite restaurants of all time was  still in business.  Il Ritrovo has the BEST wood fired pizza!

So good, that I forgot take a photo until after we'd eaten half of it.  The waitress tried to tell us that one pizza only serves one.  But with the bruschetta, this was plenty for the two of us. 

Other than racing the rain storm, we'd had wonderful weather on this trip.  But by this afternoon, the heat was back on.  Once we got on the road, it wasn't too bad, but as we headed south to Milwaukee we hit road construction. For those of you who ride motorcycles, you know the joys of sitting in traffic on a hot Harley!  We were happy to finally get to our daughter's condo in northern Illinois, and even happier that her new air conditioner had been installed! Her college roommate and her cute little baby were visiting too, so we were lucky that there was room at this inn!   One food group we hadn't yet enjoyed on this trip was Mexican.  So E recommended a local place called Rudy's Mexican Grill.  We'd been here before, but I think it was so cold and rainy that I didn't really remember the food.  But this time I had the Tacos James - steak and shrimp tacos.  Yummy!   

We've never ridden the Harley through the Chicago area before, and we weren't looking forward to it much this trip. But it was either that, or take a looooong detour around the city and add several hours to our trip home.  So we got up early and hit the road.  I don't think we've ever had such an easy trip through Chicago - car or motorcycle.  But it was about 7:30 am on a Saturday morning and we lucked out with the light traffic.

Passenger's view of the Chicago skyline

The temperatures began to soar the closer to home we got.  The the last 75 miles brought back the necessary rain storm dodging again and we donned our rainsuits for the first time since we'd left home nine days before.  Home again!  Another trip is planned for August.  I think we'll be recovered by then and ready to tackle the highways again! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Far, Far North

Upwards to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan we went and  covered lots of miles in this day of riding.  I'm not sure how far it is from St. Ignace to Munising but we managed to get an early start as this was only our first stop of the day.  Now we could add another Great Lake to our trip.  The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore of Lake Superior is a big draw for this area.  Of course in the winter, many folks come up North to snowmobile.  Unfortunately, we got here before the morning fog had a chance to burn off and decided not to try to take one of the boat tours to view the rocky coast up close.  This rock formation is called Miner's Castle. 
We did hike down to get a better view.  That felt pretty good, after a long morning on a motorcycle.  The temperatures were pretty nice too but we noticed that the mosquitoes were hungry here!  I don't have many photos for the rest of this day of travel but we continued on to Marquette, Michigan where we took a little shopping break at Bald Eagle Harley Davidson.  (A couple days later, I realized I left my credit card there.  But the nice young lady who waited on us calmed my nerves when I called and it was waiting for me in the mail when we returned home. Thank you!)  I am often asked if I ever fall asleep on the back of the bike.  The answer has always been no because even though I'm wedged into my "saddle" pretty good, I've still got a fear that if I did doze off, I'd scare the driver with the sudden shift in weight and he'd lose control!  Sometimes it is quite an effort to stay awake and with smooth roads, pleasant temperatures and the XM radio set on our favorite station, this afternoon of riding was a challenge.  Luckily, D never has this problem!  Our stop for the night was Houghton, Michigan.    The next morning before we headed up the Keweenaw Peninsula, we stopped at a local restaurant for breakfast.  The Suomi Restaurant and Bakery is known for their Finnish influenced menu.  I tried the pannukakkua, which is baked pancake that is actually more like custard (served with fresh raspberry syrup) and the nisu bread (kind of like cinnamon bread but with cardamon instead).  Very yummy! 

We left our trailer at the hotel so we could take one of the scenic, though rustic drives.  The Keweenaw Peninsula is as far north as you can go in Michigan.  It's amazing how much later it stayed light here.  In Houghton we were still wearing sunglasses at 9:45 pm.  This area was once full of thriving copper mining communities.  Now it is camping, fishing and sightseeing in the far north woods that bring the people here.

The farthest North that we've had the bike was the little town of Copper Harbor, Michigan.  It's also the beginning of US 41, which runs all the way to Miami, Florida. Now that would be trip to challenge us!
One of the many lighthouses that we saw along the way. 
Sorry, it is taking me so long to get this trip posted.  I hope to finish up soon.  Then back to blogging about something crafty !  Thanks for riding along again!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Come Ride Along

You are welcome to ride along with us as we continue our motorcycle ride up the western coast of Michigan.

I think this was probably a wonderful time of the year to enjoy the sights along the way.  Of course Michigan is known for all kinds of agriculture.  Probably the most famous is the blueberry crop and we did manage to stop at one of the many roadside stands.  I didn't think fresh fruit would make it all the way home so our only purchase there was a jar of sugar free blueberry jam.   
This was also the season for cherry picking.  We actually saw more cherry orchards than anything and many were of the "you pick" variety.  Can you tell which trees are cherry trees in the photo above?  They were truly bursting with color!  

We drove up through  the Old Mission area in the Grand Traverse Bay were many of the Michigan wineries are located. However, it was Sunday and they weren't open yet and  I  would have had to wait until after noon to buy a bottle of wine at this cute little General Store.  ( I did try, but was a couple of hours early!)

Oops, these two photos are not in order as to our route, but I did want to include them.  Lake Michigan is a boater's heaven.  The clear beautiful blue waters on the eastern shores draw many vacationers, especially from the Chicago area.  The marinas over here are very nice and this one  in Ludington  holds some memories for us. It's a long story, but we visited here in our own boat with a group cruise across Lake Michigan from Wisconsin many years ago.  An adventure that we'll never repeat, but one that we'll never forget.

After stopping for lunch in Ludington at nice little brew pub near the water, we noticed that a tire on our trailer was going flat.  Luckily, there was a tire repair place right downtown, near some cute shops.  So I browsed while D was in charge of tire repair!  

Up to the U.P.!  This was my view as we drove across the Mackinac Bridge.  What you can't tell though is how hard I was hanging on because it was VERY windy.  The water of the lakes, Michigan on the left and Lake Huron on the right was beautiful. The grated roadway in the left lane was a little disconcerting when riding on a motorcycle however. 

We spent the night in St. Ignace at the Best Western Harbour Point.  It is a nice motel with Lake Huron views that we'd recommend if you're in the area.  After dinner (and a small delay concerning a dead battery that I really don't need to expand upon) we drove to the end of a street in this small town and found a beautiful view of the bridge at sunset. 

I'll leave you tonight with this photo of  some of the residents of the lake shore at our motel.  More to follow soon.  Thanks for joining us on this leg of the trip!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Miles and Miles and Home Again

Another road trip is history.  We covered many miles again, well over 2000 !  And my body (and especially my bottom!) is happy to be back home again. 

With no set itinerary we have the option of heading in a general direction, then taking in whatever scenic area we desire.  The only requirements for this trip were to head north to where the temps were a little cooler and to take in some sights in Michigan that were new to us.  Since we began our trip on the weekend, we did make motel reservations for the first two nights, but after that, we let the weather and our moods determine the next stop.

The photo above is of Windmill Island at our  first stop in Holland, Michigan.  Of course the tulips were no longing blooming, but still a nice view from the entrance to the park.  We didn't drive on in, but if we're ever in the area at tulip time, we certainly would.

Day two took us to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  We found this to be one of the prettiest parts of our visit to the western shore of Michigan.  If you're ever in the area, be sure to take the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  And if you are brave enough,  you can slide down the dunes to the beach, then risk a heart attack as you climb back to the top!  We know our limitations so did not attempt! They do have some nice trails and observation areas that are more our speed.

A family tradition has begun.  The requisite photo of our traveling feet.  Motorcycle boots seem a little out of place on the sand dune but at least no sand between our toes here!  My sister and brother-in-law were in Alaska around the same time and sent photos of their feet on the glacier. 
More to come on the remaining miles. I should have begun this post earlier in the day but I have a date with a grandson tomorrow, so I need to rest up for a busy day.   To be continued........

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On the Road, Once Again!

Tomorrow morning, we'll be loading up and heading up the road on the Harley.  Please rain, stay to our south!  With any luck, I'll try to get a blog post or two on here along the way.  We've been looking forward to another long road trip ever since we recovered from the last one!  See ya later!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Three Grandsons!

My, how things have changed since July 4, 2009!   With the addition of two more adorable little boys this past year, our house was certainly "popping" with grandsons this past weekend! 
One of my goals was accomplished though!  I managed to get a photo of all three of them together.  Of course you can't see the feather cat toy that was entertaining the one year old and the dad that was bribing the two year old with the iphone or hear the funny sounds made to get the baby's attention! But whatever, it worked !

The handsome brothers, W (3 months) and J (23 months).

The Birthday Boy! 

More highlights of the weekend (in totally random order and  more that aren't mentioned!) .....kabobs on the grill, E from the Chicago burbs,  a new potato salad recipe, toys, home made cherry pie, a red tricycle, a trip to the petting zoo, iphones, great-grandparents, toys,  a quilt shop, french toast, a first birthday party,  hot dogs, the movie Cars, computers, birthday cake, kiddie pool, Dr. Seuss,  adult beverages, "denim diapers", woodworking, blackberries, toys, pizza, and family!