Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Going to Da Yoop! Part III: Riding into Michigan

Today we headed into Michigan to arrive in Traverse City in time to join my brother-in-law Ron at his friend's for dinner. Along the way I had Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on my route, since I just can't seem to stop collecting national park stamps! This is just a few miles east of the hotel, so we don't have far to ride for this first stop. It's a brand new visitor center and we stopped only long enough to get my passport stamped before heading back out. Construction on I-94 had traffic badly backed up so we opted to stay on local roads until nearly MI, where we hopped back onto 94 to head north. After that it was interstate all the way to Grand Rapids where we met my sister and also met an MTF member who lives between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo for lunch. The closer to Grand Rapids we got, the prettier the terrain became. Rolling hills covered in rich green, bordered by thick forest.

We met at a Steak n' Shake on the west side of town, where Don from MTF was waiting for us. My sister planned to be shopping in the area to await my call that we'd arrive. So she got to the restaurant just a few minutes later. We don't have Steak n' Shakes in Houston, so it was nice to eat at a different restaurant for a change.

I had a couple of AMA "big things" on my route but over lunch decided that we wouldn't have time to catch these and still make it to Sleeping Bear Dunes and then get to Traverse City before 7:00 PM. So we re-routed ourselves up US-131. Once we got to Cadillac, it was apparent we weren't going to have time for Sleeping Bear Dunes, either. I was disappointed, but will just have to go back some day. So we continued on to Traverse City, got checked in, then headed over to Ron's friend Sandy's house for dinner.

In spite of the rain, it was easy to find and we joined the group of riders that were already there for food and talk of motorcycles, the ride to the rally, and the rally itself. Sandy had cooked pork tenderloins in a crock pot, and his wife Judy made scalloped potatoes and cole slaw to go with it.

My brother-in-law Ron has been an on-again-off-again rider over the years, and has borrowed his brother's Honda for this trip. He's a little apprehensive about the trip, the distance, and particularly about riding across the Mackinac Bridge. M;y only concern was the pace that his friend Sandy would be setting for the group the next day. I wanted to enjoy the ride, savor the scenery and the views and not ride like my hair was on fire. He had some last-minute bike packing to do, and we wanted to get back to the hotel before dark, so we agreed to meet up in the morning at the hotel parking lot and to get breakfast somewhere on the road.

Tomorrow: riding M-119, crossing the Mackinac Bridge, and continuing to Escanaba.

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