Friday, June 20, 2008

Going to Da Yoop! Part VI: Keweenaw Peninsula Ride

Today we're riding to Copper Harbor! We met a fellow from PA who was riding alone, so we invited him to join us on this ride. The four of us gathered at Ron's motel in the center of town and headed out across the lift bridge that connects Houghton and Hancock. We momentarily lost Fred as his bike wouldn't start, but he caught up with us in Hancock.

We headed north up M-26 to Lake Linden, then turned onto Gay Road headed east toward Gay, MI. To me this was just another tiny crossroads on an otherwise empty road. But the others knew better! This tiny town apparently has only one business: the Gay Bar. There were several other motorcycles sitting outside this two story white clapboard house, waiting for the restaurant/bar to open. The name of the establishment was not lost on the group, as Mike and Ron hammed it up for the camera. A few minutes later, a worker showed up, unlocked and, in a few minutes, called us all inside. After cold drinks were served all 'round, several in the group selected and purchased the coveted "Gay Bar" t-shirt. Don't ask! LOL!

We continued north along the eastern edge of the peninsula to Lac la Belle, where the road turned inland and connected with US-41 a few miles south of Copper Harbor. Here the road became hilly and heavily wooded. We rode through another tree tunnel for several miles before it opened up near Copper Harbor. At the intersection of 41 and 26 we found lunch! A wonderful Inn, with many BMW's parked in front and along the side, served us excellent pasties. We enjoyed our waitress, a delightful young lady from Colombia. She's a university student working here in Copper Harbor MI for the summer. She assured us she'd be returning to Colombia for classes in the fall and not staying in the U.P. to experience winter!
After lunch we rode on out to Ft. Wilkins State Park to have a look. I wanted to see it, so everyone forked over the entry fee and we rode into the park, got off the bikes and walked around the grounds of this fort, established in 1844 to protect the miners from Indian attacks. Hard to imagine what it must have been like here in the dead of winter. I needed gas so headed back into town while the others stopped at the lighthouse view.
One of the park rangers recommended that we take the Brockway Mountain Road south, rather than stay on M-26. The left turn onto this road was just a short way south on M-26. As soon as we made the turn, the road went straight up! We reached the top, where there is a pull-out and a fantastic view of Lake Superior to the west and south and peaks and valleys to the east. Photos taken, it was time to continue on this road where, 11 miles later, it reconnected with M-26. This road runs along the western coast of the peninsula and gave some beautiful views of Lake Superior at water level.

We were passed many times by groups of other BMW riders as we rode along this beautiful road skirting the shore and beaches of Lake Superior. Such a shame they were missing these gorgeous views! Many of these riders were passing us on double yellow lines in curves and I thought they were taking great risks. At one point along this stretch we were passed by 4 BMW's and within a mile a very large deer stepped out into the road right in front of us. Mike was in the lead, carrying a leisurely pace (about 5 mph under the posted speed limit) and he braked as the deer gracefully walked across the road and disappeared into the woods on the right shoulder. We slowed down to ensure there were no other deer following her, before we rolled on again. Those guys who sped past us have no idea how close they came to having a really bad day.

On our way toward Houghton we went through Calumet. I saw a sign that pointed toward the historic district so I turned right so that we could get a look at the town. We rode through the main street, its dark red brick buildings vibrant with businesses, shops, cafes, and ice cream parlors. If I hadn't still been full from the giant pasty I ate earlier, I'd have stopped for ice cream. But we also had tickets to see Da Yoopers! so we wanted to keep moving. We didn't want to miss it.

They were hilarious! And a good crowd there, as well! Afterward Mike and I rode up to the rally site to get something to eat and immediately met up with a former Houston club member who's now moved to Chicago. That was a surprise! After brats and ice cream, a little socializing, we headed back to the hotel.

Tomorrow: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and #1 Pasties on the U.P.

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