6/28/2014 – 435 miles – NC to OH
And we’re off on another moto-adventure! The biggest one yet. Somehow we pulled this off, and we’re actually on the road, riding to Alaska.
All day Friday was spent with final preparations and packing the bikes, and we made a decent start by getting on the road at 9:30 Saturday morning. In our excitement to get to Alaska, we’re willing to bypass excellent riding closer to home to save time and make some distance.
The first day if our adventure is a boring ride north up I-77 through WV in an effort to put on some distance. We’re headed to Alaska by way of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (it’s totally on the way). The UP seems like an interesting spot on the map we’ve never been to and know nothing about, and this trip is as good a time as any to check it out.
We reached Columbus OH near the end of the day, and in the rain. Dealt with the usual difficulty of urban navigating and traffic, plus we couldn’t see the lanes due to combination of construction (which was moving lanes) and the rain obscuring the pavement markings (couldn’t tell the difference between old and new lane markings). Was less stressful than expected, and we were through quickly. Lack of good camping opportunities and rain meant we rode until we were tired around 8pm, and then grabbed a hotel.
6/29/2014 – 474 miles – OH, MI, Upper Peninsula
The next day we were on the road at 8:30 from the hotel to continue our mad dash to the UP. Weather started as sunny with scattered showers, but we mostly stayed dry. The weather front pushed east through our lunch break, and we continued our blast up through the center of Michigan behind the front in gorgeous sunny weather.
Its getting a bit windy. Roads are flat and straight through the farm country, and we battle buffeting from the wind. We see several wind farms, all appearing to be active and making lots of power. Connected back up with I-75 headed for the Mackinac Bridge crossing to the Upper Peninsula. Stopped for gas before crossing the bridge, ended up talking with a Klim rep on vacation with his wife. (Klim makes the brand of moto suits we are wearing. She noticed our gear and came over to talk to us). He reps in WV, and knows the dealer and specific sales rep I bought my TR650 from. Yet another small world moment, these seem to happen all the time. We talked bikes and gear for awhile. He’s the second guy we’ve talked to at a gas station today that has a motorcycle his wife doesn’t know about.
Crossed the Mackinac bridge to Michigan’s upper peninsula late in the afternoon. $8 toll, $4 per moto.
Why are there so many axles/wheels? We saw quite a few of these in the UP, what are they carrying? Why so many tires?
The UP is like a seaside town. It’s a bit touristy, but fun. It might exist entirely for recreation, I’m not sure. There are lots of RVs. We headed west on Route 2, and kept seeing signs for fudge, smoked fish, and pasties. Decided that’s what was for dinner, even though we don’t what pasties are. Plus, the Klim guy says he likes to go to the UP to eat the smoked fish, so we figured we should try it. The homemade pasty was delicious, like a pastry crust with various fillings. The one we had was similar to shepherds pie, with beef, pork, vegetable, and potato filling. The smoked white fish appearance was doubtful, but it was delicious. Even Kevin enjoyed more than he thought he would (he, for some reason I’ll never understand, doesn’t really like seafood). Bought dinner from one of the many little roadside buildings, chose one near the campground. This one was an old looking little country general store, that sells food and liquor, among other general items. We also learned that people from the UP are “yoopers,” and people in mainland Michigan are trolls (they live under the bridge). You can rent cabins there too, which might have been smarter. The mosquitos were horrendous. We chose a campsite right on the shore of Lake Michigan. The view was incredible, but camping next to fresh water is probably stupid, although I doubt it’s possible to not camp near water up here. When the wind picks up, it keeps the mosquitos down, but it doesn’t stay up all the time. DEET works like a charm, but you have to cover every square inch. You can’t leave untreated skin exposed for long. (Wait, why do we camp again?) We shut ourselves in the tent ASAP. The waves from the lake drown out most other sounds, other than the seagulls.