Archive for August, 2009


Saturday, 15th August 2009; 10:27 am - Location:

The Badger arrived on schedule at 5:30am, about an hour before sunrise. I got Flash out of the hold (the tie-downs had worked), and scooted off into the pre-dawn darkness. I had a little trouble getting one of the tie-downs off; in wrapping it around the headset of the bike, I’d managed to tie it in a simple knot snug around the center pole, so I had to poke around to pull it loose. I didn’t wait for sun-up to get underway; I just headed home, by the same route I’d used to get to Ludington a week earlier. Although the forecast is for a hot day, it was foggy and chilly most of the way home. I stopped for gas, and to take a couple farmland-in-the-mist photos, but pretty much rode straight through.

Home was as I left it. Of course I knew the computer system was OK, because I’d been using it remotely. But it’s always nice to see for sure that mail delivery was suspended, the place hasn’t been burgled, I didn’t leave the toilet flushing, etc.

I’ll be going back through the blog, fixing tpyos, embellishing comments, and adding more photos (not just the lame iPhone snaps). And I’ll have some follow-up to come.

Badger Badger Badger

Saturday, 15th August 2009; 1:35 am - Location: ,

I had an unwelcome surprise when I got to the Badger. The web site explained that people with motorcycles had to “bring two tie-downs per bike”. Fair enough: I bought a set and lugged them halfway around Lake Michigan for the Badger crew to use. The surprise was that the passengers are expected to secure the bike in the hold themselves. Um… why would they assume I know how to do this?

I’ve never even put my scooter on a truck, let alone knowing how to secure it on a car ferry (which I’ve never been on in my life). Sure, the principle seems obvious, but that’s a long way from being able to do it. (Kind of like… riding a motorcycle?) I searched with my iPhone for an online “how to”, and tried my best to improvise. Unsuccessfully. Fortunately a crewperson took pity on me and showed me that my tie-downs had been threaded wrong in the package, fixed them for me, and showed me how to tighten them (that part I could’ve figured out). But it was frustrating and embarrassing, and could have been avoided if they’d said what they meant: I needed to find someone ahead of time to show me how to do this. Instead they implied that all we had to do was “bring” the accessories needed to do what I thought was their job: transport us and our vehicles safely across the Lake.


Friday, 14th August 2009; 11:27 pm - Location:

“We don’t need no steekin’ badgers,” you say?

Of course we do.

Racing the sun

Friday, 14th August 2009; 11:25 pm - Location: , , , ,

Although I left the final decision until I reached the scheduled campground, I proceded from Escanaba as if I were going to take the Badger at the end of the day. Although J. W. Wells State Park was nice enough, I concluded that I was ready to go home, so I went into the ranger office and canceled my reservation (getting some of my money back).

From that point on I was in a race with sun. I wanted to get to Manitowoc before nightfall, because I don’t like riding at night especially if I don’t know where I’m going. I still had to stop for fuel of course, and I stopped… Quite a lot actually. I had to stop to take a photo at the Wisconsin border of course. I stopped when I saw a trio of cranes wandering along someone’s lawn by the side of the road.

And I stopped more times than I can count for navigation. The Wisconsin DOT royally screwed up the route I’d planned to take from Marinette to Green Bay (especially around Peshtigo), and none of my navigational aids knew how to deal with it. The GPS actually sent me into a subdivision with no outlet, telling me to “turn left” at the end of a dead end street. My preplanned itinerary and iPhone were almost useless. For example, Google Maps clearly showed a road that no longer exists. I ended up taking US41 for much longer than I wanted; at least it’s so screwed up at the moment that not many people are using it in that area. The GPS came in the most useful in getting through Green Bay. I just told it to take me to Manitowoc, and dutifully did as it told me. One hazard of this was that I wasn’t conscious that I’d left the city altogether (as opposed to taking a road along the outskirts as I would’ve otherwise), so I didn’t make a point of getting fuel first (as has become my habit). Fortunately I found a gas station before I ran out.

I had my first real spill at the station, in the gravel pulling out of the lot. I slipped and dropped the scoot. At about 2mph. All it did was knock the mirrors out of alignment and spill a little fluid. I hope. I got some bumps and a little scrape. The slacks I’m wearing will now have to be removed from office duty, due to a little tear.

The odometer rolled over (again), to 3000, in Rockwood WI.

I reached Manitowoc just as the sun set. This left enough twilight to successfully find the dock and get my reservation changed to tonight. This left a few hours to kill in town, which I’ve spent wandering the streets and the grounds of the maritime museum (which has a real decommissioned naval sub, built here), and getting a sandwich and a couple beers at the “family fun” Pizza Pit, one of the few places downtown still open and serving food. Several bars, but I wanted a meal.

Christmas to Escanaba

Friday, 14th August 2009; 10:43 pm - Location: , ,

(I’m catching up a little here from this morning.)

I got up before 7 this morning and went to the bay to watch the sun rise over the lake. (You can do that here.) I was surprised to discover that the name of the campground makes moe sense than I thought. I assumed it was call Bay Furnace because it was between Furnace Lake and the bay. In fact it’s named for the ruins of a huge iron smelting furnace on the site, the last remaining from the mining heyday of the UP.

I was unsure about the viability of the route I’d chosen at home using teh Googol, so I asked one ofthe forest service employees if Autrain Forest Lake Road was paved all the way. He said that no it was a dirt road. But the satellite images had all the telltales of pavement: darkish color, a lighter shoulder, and even a hint of a yellow centerline. So I scooted out to it and asked the young woman at the coubte of the gas station near the north end ofthe road, and she assured me that it was paved. She was right. I’m guessing the guy at the campground misunderstood which road we were talking about. The gas station was an old general store with “antique” pumps that not only didn’t take credit cards (pretty common in the UP) but had spinning wheels for the meter. I had to do the math to figure out my gas mileage because it only said “0.7” which isn’t precise enough for a 1gallon tank. The road turned out to be a highlight of the day: winding through the woods with almost no traffic. I even ran across a waterfall.

From then on the riding got a bit boring. Not bad, mind you, just unentertaining, riding for miles and miles on a straight line. Traffic wasn’t bad, so cars etc could pass quickly and easily. The weather got a little wet, however, raining off and on as cloud systems blew through. That’s another thing: there was a pretty persistent wind of 5-15mph out of the south (or so). At a wind-diminished speed of 35mph plus 15mph wind plus no sun plus temps in the 60s, it got chilly. Still, with not much to stop for (just gas again) I made good time. (I almost stopped for a buck on the side of the road, but he would’ve fled into the woods by the time I got a camera out, so I didn’t try.)

I finally stopped for lunch in Escanaba, at an old-car themed place called Hudson’s. Good sandwich, but the pile of fries was a little overwhelming, and I actually left some on the plate.


Friday, 14th August 2009; 1:08 pm - Location:

I’m at a crossroads, so to speak. I have to decide whether to continue the trip as planned or to ride on to Manitowoc today and catch the ferry a day early. What prompts this is mostly the fact that I’ve seen everything I wanted to see, and the road ahead just doesn’t look interesting enough to spend 2.5 whole days on. I’m also coming down with a cold, which could also cut down on the enjoyment of being on the road. The ride from Munising to Escanaba (where I am now) was… mostly unremarkable. On the other hand, Manitowoc is another 150 miles from here. That’s 5 hours of riding yet today, and it’s 1pm. The only hard deadline is the ferry departure after midnight. Realistically I want to get to the city before nightfall around 9:30. (I’m pretending everything is on Eastern time.) I can put off a decision until I get to the planned campground for tonight.