Archive for July, 2015

From Door to my front door

Friday, 24th July 2015; 10:22 am

It was a little weird starting my pre-dawn ride home from Ludington after sun-up. On previous rides I’ve had the roads to myself at the outset, which has been nice. But traffic wasn’t too bad this morning, at least until I got to Muskegon during rush hour. (At least I didn’t have the dense fog of last time, which required me to ride 20mph with my hazard lights on due to visibility.)

I rode pretty much non-stop, pausing only for an occasional navigation reminder, and stopping for gas in NW Grand Rapids. It took me a little over three hours.

The house is just as I left it. The plants are a little droopy, and the fridge needs restocking. And I think I’m gonna do me some laundry.

Night on the Badger

Friday, 24th July 2015; 6:33 am

The crossing in the Badger was delayed a bit by some equipment – it looked like the lower stages of a Saturn V rocket – that had to be maneuvered off the ship. I retired to the museum, which serves as the “quiet room” on overnight crossings. It was mostly quiet, aside from recurring engine noise and an older couple who would comment to each other from time to time. I woke just in time to catch the dawn over Ludington.  We’ll be docking soon, and I’ll get to see if my amateurish tie-down of my scooter worked. (I was the only motorcyclist this time.) Then I’ll be off on a quick 100-mile ride home. 


Evening in Manitowoc

Thursday, 23rd July 2015; 10:30 pm

There is not a lot to do in downtown Manitowoc on a Thursday night. I knew that. The shops are all closed, and the place I had dinner last time has a closing time of 9:00, which must be earlier than before. Which is OK because it was a bit “up scale” for a scruffy nerfherder like me. The pizza place I hung out at on my first visit is gone. But there are few bars-and-grill to choose from; I went with Capone’s on 10th Street over the “legendary” place that serves chicken wings, chicken wings, and chicken wings.

But how did I get here? It was a Long and Winding Road (just one of the many songs to play in my head (and mouth) along the way.

But to be honest, there isn’t much to tell about the ride south. Some of it was retracing the route north, but I did my best not to. I’m a big fan of The Road Less Traveled, and it really does make all the difference. Especially going by scooter, which puts you in the environment like a car does not, and slows you down like a motorcycle doesn’t, enabling you to see and stop for things like this little tableau: 

It also makes it easy to detour and stop at low-key attractions, such as a county park with a little cliff-jumping spot that apparently attracts lots of screaming kids and tweens on a Thursday afternoon.  
I found a number of roads with names like “Lakeshore” and “Lakeview”, which were more enjoyable to ride than the ones named “WI-57”. One of them… not so much, though. After passing a bunch of farmhouse and cottage places, I noticed an unassuming sign that advised that beyond that point the road was off limits to the public, with hefty fines, and the potential wrath of the U.S. Army upon violators. I stopped and turned around, recalling that there had been a road on the map called “Nuclear Rd”.

I wish I had more to say about the towns I passed through, but frankly there wasn’t much to most of them. Sturgeon Bay has a critically acclaimed theatre company playing on the half-desolate Main Street. As a weak echo of Manitowoc’s WW2 sub in the harbor, Kewaunee has $1 tours of an old Army tugboat.  
The Wisconsin coast of Lake Michigan is definitely different from Michigan’s. i saw signs along the side of the road offering waterfront lots (you could see the Lake from there), just waiting for someone to clear some brush and start building. It’s not unusual to see rows of corn or wheat separated from the Lake by just a line of trees and a rocky beach.

After the north wind of a couple days ago, of course now I got a south wind. Being so close to the Lake, and with the settin sun, it got a little chilly, especially as I “opened it up” and went 50mph on the last bits of state highway into Two Rivers and then Manitowoc. But not too bad. All in all: a good – long – day of riding.

Made it to Manitowoc

Thursday, 23rd July 2015; 9:15 pm

Once again, I’ve found myself racing the sunset on my way into Manitowoc. Not that I’m in a hurry – I have nearly five hours before my boat leaves – but I don’t like riding unfamiliar roads after dark… especially because it makes it harder to read street signs. 

I actually made it here a little earlier than the previous two times. Chalk it up to better planning and a shorter distance to ride today: well under 200 miles. Even so, it was an elapsed time of 12 hours (including over an hour on the Washington Island ferry, and lots and lots of stops to stretch my legs and relieve my saddle-sore butt).
I’ll post more later; I put off having supper, knowing that I’d have time to kill here, so it’s time to do that. 

Washington Island

Thursday, 23rd July 2015; 2:53 pm

You wouldn’t expect the end of the road to make me stop, would you? I’m all about the islands, if they have some good riding on them (or if they don’t). 

My original plan was to take the car ferry to Washington Island off the end of Door Peninsula, then the little passenger ferry from there to Rock Island, where I’d stay at the state park. I figured that with the shortened schedule, I still needed to make it as far as Washington Island. And I’m glad I did. 

Washington is a fairly big island, several miles across. Maybe imagine Mackinac, but without the tourists. It has tourists, of course (the main industry) but not throngs. There are only a few ferries shipping people to and from the mainland. They also ferry vehicles, but only maybe a dozen at a time, which means that traffic on the island is pretty sparse. Good roads; a mix of woodland, natural fields, and some farms; and an assortment of beaches and shops and harbors to check out. 

Also a lookout “mountain tower” in the middle, which I mustered both the breath and the courage to climb. 


To Land’s End

Thursday, 23rd July 2015; 11:41 am

With the rain ended and the roads drying it was a pleasant ride up to Northport, the farthest point on the Door Peninsula. I stopped and detoured along the way for some nice scenic views. Including a fun twisty road that went on like you see here for almost a mile.