Saturday, June 21, 2008

Going to Da Yoop! Part VII: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Last night we discussed whether to stay another day, as originally planned, or start heading home. It didn't take long to reach concensus. We'd ridden all this way, why not ride as much of the peninsula as we can before heading home. So that's what we did.

I wanted to see Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (oh, okay...I wanted to get a NP stamp, too!) so we planned a ride that would take us along the northern edge of the peninsula, where we would get several opportunities to ride along Lake Superior's shores. I also wanted to see Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in Ishpeming. Roadside America says that it has several "world's largest" things on display, an opportunity to gather more points for the AMA Grand Tour. Ron needed to head for Grand Rapids today, so he rode with us to Munising and the national park before he parted company and headed south.

It was a glorious day, comfortable temps and sunny, blue skies. We started the day (my birthday!) with breakfast at Suomi's just off the main street in little downtown Houghton, and met up with some of the Traverse City and Detroit group and with Charles Barnard, an MTF member from Georgia. Everyone had a lot of ground to cover this day, so we all headed for the door very soon after eating.

The three of us rode south on US-41 toward Marquette, where we got on M-28 east toward Munising. Along the way we passed through Ishpeming, and I gotta say that Da Yooper Tourist Trap was disappointing! I expected bigger and grander and tackier, but I did manage to get some "world's biggest" photos before we moved on. Ron and Mike were engrossed in conversation with someone in the parking lot, and I was anxious to find a gas station and bathroom, so I took off and left them there (sorry!).

Now, I haven't pulled a "bone-headed" stunt in a very long time, so I guess I was over-due. We approached the multi-agency visitor center after passing through the downtown area of Munising. I could see it on the right up ahead, just past a side street that came in from the right into a T intersection. What I didn't see and certainly didn't expect, was that we had the stop sign, and the road coming in from the right had the right-of-way. At the last minute (and I do mean the last minute) I saw the stop sign hanging overhead of the lane we were in. All brakes applied firmly, I came to a stop, with front tire neatly tucked behind the stop a cloud of rear tire smoke! It's the shortest distance I've ever stopped a motorcycle, shorter than the emergency stops we practiced in ERC class. Glad I'd had that training!

The park rangers were wonderful to talk to. They made sure we knew how to get to Munising Falls, and gave us a lunch recommendation, as well! Great ladies! After I stamped my NP passport, we rode about 2 miles to the waterfall site, which had its own little visitor center and park stamp. Off the bikes, we had a short walk, maybe 1/2 mile, to the waterfall. I can only imagine what this waterfall looks like during snow melt. It was rather mild-mannered when we saw it. Next stop is the Miner's Castle overlook, down a 5 or 6 mile road to the coast.

It was a nice ride, but once there, the views were the best part of this park! Three different observation platforms gave us different perspectives of Miner's Castle, a rock formation along the Pictured Rocks coastline of Lake Superior. The upper overlooks afforded great views in either direction out over the lake; the view down below, at the level of the Miner's Castle formation, gave better views of the coastline to the east, where we could see other rock formations along the distant coast. A sightseeing tour boat went by us as we watched out over the viewing point. The ladies in the Visitor Center said that the park was best appreciated by boat. But this would have to do for us, given the distance we had to ride back to Houghton.

We said our goodbyes to Ron as he pointed his bike south toward home. We then went off in search of the recommended lunch stop: Muldoons. It reportedly has the best pasties on the U.P. and it was close to 2:00 PM by this time, so we were more than ready to eat.
We rode slowly back through town in search of the place. We weren't sure exactly where it was or what we were looking for, and at one point, Mike pulled over to say that we must have missed it. But we rode on for another 1/2 mile or so and there it was, on the right, a cute little beige two story house with freshly paved parking lot and picnic tables set outside on the lawn for us to enjoy our lunch. The sign said "Voted #1 Pasty on the U.P." so the park rangers were right. We had beef pasties yesterday in Copper Harbor so we chose chicken pasties today, just for comparison. These pasties were enormous! And packed with filling: ground chicken, carrots, potatoes. The gravy was lighter color than the beef gravy and very tasty! I'd say that the pasties in Copper Harbor were equally as good.

We hoped to get back to Houghton in time for the closing ceremonies, but we didn't push ourselves, and decided that it really didn't matter when we got there. So we rode west, stopping for a photo opportunity along the shore of Lake Superior and getting back to Houghton and the rally site around 5:30 PM. The parking lots were filled with BMW's and minutes later the crowds starting pouring out of the ice arena. We guessed that we'd missed the closing ceremonies. But we did sit and chat with some folks as they stood in line for their pasty dinner, which looked really lame compared to the really great, fresh pasties we'd had for lunch. We were so fortunate to have such a great day today!

Tomorrow we head for Houston.

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