Friday, July 10, 2009

Muncie and then home

On Thursday morning the four of us visited Uncle Jim's grave with Aunt Jane before heading east. After a torturous ride for just a few miles on I-74 (where the interstate was down to one lane and was stop and go for several miles) we exited and took a short highway to US-24. After all the ugly construction and rain of the vacation so far, it was nice to have a straight, paved road and for a change, dry conditions.

We stopped for a break in Gilman, Illinois and talked for a bit with Ted and Wanda before going back to the bikes and hugging one last time. Soon after entering Indiana, we would split and take different routes home; Ted and Wanda would swing past a nursing home in Attica, Indiana to see an old friend of David and Ted's mother, Lottie Casner.

David and I continued east to Lafayette, Indiana on absolutely horrible US-52. As soon as we could, we got on I-65 and then on Indiana 28 which runs almost as true and straight as US-24. It was a delight. Also of interest were the small towns that make up the heartland of Indiana.

We got to my parents in Yorktown, Indiana around 5:00. My mom, figuring we would be tired, had cooked for us and invited my brothers over - to see the main attraction - me! This morning we went with my parents to their monthly condo association breakfast and after we headed home.

In the past when riding our motorcycles home from Muncie, we rode the back highways. Today we just wanted to get home and as fast as possible. We took interstate all the way. We were home by 2:00 p.m.

We rode 2,500 miles in the 14 days we were gone. Except for the rain, we had a wonderful time. In fact, because of the rain, there were some things we didn't get to see (like the Soo Locks) so we plan on going back some day to the UP. Hopefully we will have better luck with the weather next time.

Aunt Jane

Waking up early on Wednesday morning, Ted went to the restaurant on the corner and bought coffee for him and Wanda and also me.

After loading up the bikes, we headed out of Milwaukee; a much easier task than riding into or around Milwaukee. Not long out of Milwaukee, the rain started again. We stopped for breakfast at a Perkins and continued on into Illinois. The I-90 turnpike was busy, as expected, but we made it to I-39 and headed south. By now the rain was heavy and steady. After a short trip west on I-80, we took Illinois 29 south to Peoria. This should have been a scenic drive along the Illinois River but with the rain, we barely caught an occasional glimpse of the river. In Henry, soaking wet, we pulled into the parking lot of a small diner and all four of us ordered soup. The food was down home great and everyone, including the other patrons, were very friendly. Soon it was time to get back on the road to Peoria.

In Peoria, we stopped at a Wal-Mart so Ted and Wanda could shop for replacement rain gear. Theirs had fallen apart from the constant use on this vacation. Then it was onto Hanna City to see Aunt Jane.

Aunt Jane Davis is the only aunt or uncle David and Ted have on either side of the family tree. It was so great seeing her again. Aunt Jane and her husband Uncle Jim were motorcyclists with the Peoria Motorcycle Club for years and were avid Harley enthusiasts. She really enjoyed looking over our bikes and hearing about our adventures. Later, we showed a slide show of the pictures we had taken including the Harley-Davidson museum. Of special interest was the history of the Jack Pine races and Bruce Walther. Uncle Jim was the "hack monkey" for Bruce Walther when he rode in the Jack Pine sidecar races. The Harley museum has Bruce Walther's bike and sidecar on display - more than likely the exact same sidecar the Uncle Jim rode in.

That evening we all went out to eat with Aunt Jane, Jane's daughter Janice and her husband Dick along with Janice's son Michael, wife Bridgett and sons Ethan and Cody. It is a shame that we don't get together more often and most often for funerals. We need to change that.

More about Milwaukee

While we were at the motel in Milwaukee, I decided to wipe off our bikes after a week of riding in the rain. After dampening the rag, I heard some commotion coming from outside. I rushed out just in time to see an old man trying to back his car into a parking spot right beside our bikes. However, he was way off and just inches from backing right into David's bike. His wife was on the sidewalk and screaming at him to stop. He was ignoring her so I went to the driver's window and got him to stop. I told him he was about to back into a very expensive motorcycle. He said "I don't want to" and I assured him I didn't want him to. Wanda was on the sidewalk with the wife and let me know the backup lights were still on. It appeared he was going to continue backing unless we could stop him. I offered to back the car for him. In the meantime, his wife was telling him to just park the car somewhere else. He didn't want another spot because the spot he wanted, next to or on top of David's bike, was in front of their room and he didn't want to carry the bags from two spots away. The old man finally figured out how to put the car park and got out. His wife then got behind the wheel and moved the car over two spots. The old man, still cussing his wife, went to the room. I felt a little sorry for the couple so I offered to help her carry the suitcases to the room. She then told me "I hate it when he drinks too much." YIKES!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our day in Milwaukee

Today David and I started the day with a wonderful breakfast at the same restaurant we went to for lunch yesterday - Genesis. It is just a short walk away and the menu has a lot of choices with a Mediterranean theme. I had an Italian omelet that was hard to finish as it also came with hash browns and toast. After we told Ted and Wanda about our breakfast, they decided to go also - and they don't often eat breakfast.

As soon as we felt rush hour might be over, we headed downtown to the Harley-Davidson Museum. The ride downtown was hectic - apparently rush hour never ends. The museum wasn't difficult to find and we really enjoyed all the displays and the history associated with the Motor Company. While most everything was geared to the motorcycle enthusiast, and particularly Harley fans, there was something for everyone. One of my favorite exhibits was the display on Harley-Davidson and the War Effort. A bike we had never seen before was a Shore Patrol Harley designed and built for the Navy. The entire museum is very well done and definitely worth the trip to Milwaukee.

Tomorrow we head to Illinois to visit Aunt Jane.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wisconsin for family and H-D

After a couple days of no internet, we are once again connected.

We had a wonderful Fourth of July in Copper Harbor. The weather was around the mid 70s and although the fireworks didn't start until 10:45, all six of us managed to stay awake. The little town of Copper Harbor put on a fantastic display of fireworks out over the harbor. I cannot even imagine how such a small city can afford to buy the fireworks needed. I guess part of the money comes from tourists like us!

On Sunday, we packed up and started our 200 mile ride to the south. Wanda's sister Angie has an "Up North" place in Crivitz, Wisconsin and invited us to spend the night there. It was perfect as Sunday was also Wanda's birthday and she got to spend the time with her sister. Dale and Vicky went with us to Angie's but had reservations to take the overnight ferry from Manitowoc across Lake Michigan to Ludington Michigan. They left soon after supper and birthday cake. Angie's husband Tom took us out on the lake for a sunset cruise before we called it an evening.

This morning we rode to Milwaukee. Not far out of Crivitz, we stopped for pictures of the 45th parallel maker. We continued south and I cut off of I-43 ahead of Milwaukee to try to avoid the downtown traffic. My route took us a little farther west of where we needed to be but we picked up US-41/US-45 and took it into the west side of Milwaukee. That is when the traffic came to a complete dead stop. We crept along for a few miles until the I-894 lanes took us to our exit and a couple of turns later, our hotel.

While not fancy, the motel is conveniently located. We might go to House of Harley dealership later this evening. Tomorrow is definitely Harley-Davidson Museum day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth on Keweenaw Peninsula

Today's weather is picture perfect. The highs around 70 and best of all - no rain!

We started out early today with a trip up Brockway Mountain (elevation 1337 feet) for some beautiful views. Then we rode M-26 along the west coast line of the peninsula to Eagle River. We then headed east all the way across the peninsula to the small town of Gay. We stopped for a while and talked to some locals as they set up for their Fourth celebration. We then rode the east coast line to Lac La Belle where we ate lunch in an out-of-the-way place called Bear Belly Bar & Grill. The setting was gorgeous and the food was great. Finally we rode back to Copper Harbor and out the the "Beginning of US-41" sign for some pictures. Now is nap time so we can stay awake for the fireworks tonight. (It doesn't start getting dark here until about 10:30 p.m.)

Every little town we rode through today was celebrating the Fourth big time. In more than one town we had to detour for a parade. In one town I think we were considered part of the parade. In Gay, they told us the year-round population is 22 but today they expect to have 3,000 to 4,000 people in town for food, raffles, and fun. In Copper Harbor (year-round population is about 80) their Fourth of July crowd is usually 10,000.

We also found out the that the one-room school house here in Copper Harbor is still in use as a school house for grades K-8. At a Lac La Belle gift shop, we met a young woman who went to school here. When she went, about 11 kids were enrolled. Her little sister goes to school here now and there are only four kids in the entire K-8 school. Her mother, also in the gift shop, said it is like home-schooling but better.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunglasses - Finally

Yesterday, while at Munising, David and I took the Pictured Rocks boat tour. The boat goes out into Lake Superior so the passengers can see the Pictured Rocks National Park. Although the cost of the tour was some what expensive, it was well worth it. This is the only way to see the rock formations. Since the area had experienced storms in the past several days, the lake was quite choppy - as in six foot waves. Our boat did heave and pitch quite a bit and there were several passengers also heaving. David and I did just fine and we got several pictures. Be sure to check out the Picasa web album from the link below. Because the sea was so rough, the boat captain made a decision to turn the boat around at just about the half way up the shore point. Because he turned around, we got a refund of half the original cost of the tour. Not only did we get to see these magnificent cliffs, we did it for half price!

This morning's weather forecast called clear skies; the first since leaving home a week ago. However, we packed our bikes in a cold drizzle (48 degrees on the bank thermometer). Our original plans were to ride to Marquette and eat breakfast there. David, Ted, Wanda, and I decided to try and wait out the rain and ate our breakfast in Munising. Dale and Vicky went ahead to Marquette with plans for us to meet up with them at the Wal-Mart. The rain continued until we were just past Christmas (about 10 miles out of Munising) so that was good. However, the road then became crappy - as in they took off a layer of asphalt in order to repave so we drove about 10 miles on gravel, potholes, and scored roadway. We eventually made it to Marquette and met up with Dale and Vicky.

We continued on to Houghton for lunch and stopped at a little cafe right down town. Since Ted had never had a pasty, I insisted he order one. David and I split a pasty. They were good but are an acquired taste. If you are ever in the U.P., be brave and try one.

After lunch we finally were able to take off the rain gear and put on sunglasses. With me in the lead, we went on to Copper Harbor. The drive was beautiful. There is a portion of U.S. 41 that they call the "Covered Drive." David was able to take some pictures of us riding through the tree tunnel.

Tonight and tomorrow we are in the little town of Copper Harbor. It is at the very tip top of the Keweenaw Peninsula as it juts out into Lake Superior. Our latitude here is about the 48th parallel. Our rooms all have little patios on the backside with an unbelievable view of the lake - we are right on the lake. Tomorrow the town really celebrates the Fourth of July big time with a parade and fireworks. We will be able to see the fireworks over the lake from our rooms!

The pictures: