Ethan P’s Destinations Tour 2016

 
I started the ride on May 1st and planned a route that would capture 4 of the tags. I spent 9 hours on the road and it was raining for 6.  The Gates of Hell was harder to find than I thought, since it was hidden behind the Ice Cream Shop.
Next came the Shiawassee Court House in Corunna.    By this time I was focusing on not getting too wet.  The Aerostich glove covers worked very well, but even they were straining. Weeks later I treated them with NikWax to restore their waterproofing.  
Next stop, being of particular interest to fans of Socrates, was Hemlock. I was concerned about the time, so I didn’t dawdle in Hemlock; nor did I get anything to drink.  As I was taking this picture, my sidestand was slowly sinking into the wet sandy shoulder.  After this I rode to the nearest McDonald’s to warm up.  While there, an elderly lady came over to ask about my ride.  I love this part of riding — having people approach me to chat.  The next stop was Wooden Shoe Village.
Right after this photo, I rode up the street to the parking lot of the building you can see in the upper left corner and had my favorite road food — a peanut butter sandwich.  I am also fond of canned smoked oysters and canned sardines.  As an aside, I am a big fan of picnic lunches while riding and I refer to my side cases as the world’s-most-expensive lunch  boxes. My rolling cupboard generally contains: energy bars, a peanut butter sandwich, canned seafood of some sort, nuts, and fresh fruit (sometimes). At any one time, I probably have enough food for two, if you want to share a meal.    For drinks,  I always have an emergency can of soda or two, but mostly rely on milk from gas-station coolers.
From Wooden Shoe, I hoofed it back to Grand Rapids for the end of the first installment.  At least it wasn’t raining during this last part of the trip.
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The second installment of the ride was on July 10th.   The first stop was the intersection of Otsego County Road F-42 and Business Route I-75.
Next up was Vanderbilt, home of the bird-house-park, at least that’s what I call it.  It is not hard to find, since Vanderbilt only has one park.
The next part of the trip was the most challenging.   Somewhere around Burt Lake, I was supposed to find the ‘Three Crosses’.  Prior to the trip, I had consulted Google Earth and thought  I had nailed it: The Shrine of the Cross, since the Shrine has 3 Stations of the Cross. I was totally wrong. The clock was ticking as I walked around — I even asked at the Gift Shop.  I decided I was missing something obvious and gave up on the ‘Three Crosses’.  So I continued north on US-31 to Levering —  snagging the Levering Café tag.
But, I am persistent —  I rode back south to give the Three Crosses one more chance.  I rode around Burt Lake Road, stopping to ask residents out walking if they’d ever heard of the ‘Three Crosses’.  This didn’t bear any fruit and, due to time – approaching 7:30 PM, I needed to hustle to get home. As it was, I didn’t get home until 10:30 PM, my first extended night ride.  Thankfully, I have some auxiliary driving lights.    Not a bad day, at least I had bagged the Levering Cafe, though finding it out of order left a bitter taste in my mouth.
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Well, I still had plenty of time.  Since my wife as going to visit her sister in Canada during the weekend of July 30-31, 2016 I went on the third and final leg into the UP.  Of course the number one stop was the Three Crosses in Burt Lake.  By this time, I did my on-line research better and found it.
This is the Burt Lake Christian Church on M-68 between Burt Lake and Alanson. I am still amused that I hadn’t thought to drive on this section of M-68 from Indian River to Alanson.  I had ridden on every road around Burt Lake instead of that section.
I headed north on US-31 — a bumpy road — heading for Mackinaw City and points north.   Conveniently a childhood friend and his family live in Marquette, so I combined an over-nighter with them with this final sweep of the ride.  The riding on July 30 was perfect. This was my first crossing of the Mighty Mac and I was fortunate enough to have my GoPro function properly while riding across the bridge. I rode on the paved side, and saved the metal grating part for the return.
After crossing the bridge, I rode on up to post office at Trout Lake. As I was getting thirsty, I stopped at the local general store and got some chocolate milk.    I started to hustle a little since I wanted to get to Paradise, but also have some time to visit Tahquamenon Falls — for the first time — before riding over to Marquette.
Paradise wasn’t hard to find, though I still want to visit the shipwreck museum.  I can’t visit museums quickly, so this has to be another trip.  With someone who isn’t in a rush.
 
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Since my trip to Marquette was outside the scope of the destinations ride, you’ll have to take my word for it that T-Falls looks — in real life — just like it/they do in the pictures.  It was hot and there were many tourists, but only a couple of motorcyclists.  Next, on to Marquette.  Marquette, being one of my favorite UP towns is always a fun place to visit. Having friends living within walking distance of downtown makes it even better.  After a walk around the harbor area, where there was a festival of sorts, we ate dinner downtown.   It was nice walking up the big hill.  Early to bed and early to rise, time for the long ride back to Grand Rapids.  At the bridge,  I started to ride southbound on the metal grating part, just to see if I could do it, but I was just tired enough to start looking down through the grating, and lost my nerve.  I’ll get it next time.  Near Boyne Falls, I stopped at the Antique Tractor & Steam Engine Show.  I had been seeing the sign for years (‘Last full weekend in July’) and finally was there.  I can’t say enough about how much fun that was. I am not sure which was the most interesting, watching an antique machine that separates the wheat from the chaff or watching the process by which split cedar shakes were made.  As usual, people were particularly friendly and curious about the motorcycle and, as I was walking around in my motorcycle gear, I received questions about the ride and destinations.   The ride home afterwards was fine.