Touring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula By Bike
Considered one of the reasons I ride is for the spirit of facing the street and life with a can-do perspective, and one other is for the joy of seeing the panorama unfold. If that is a part of your riding psyche, too, you will feel right at dwelling in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or “The U.P.” as the locals call stone island jacket sale blue it. Stretching 310 miles from Sault Ste. Marie near its jap end to Ironwood close to its western border, it is a wild land separated from the Decrease Peninsula by the Mackinac Bridge, and from Detroit (293 miles to the south) by main cultural differences.
I used to be born and raised in Michigan’s western Lower Peninsula, and can remember in grade school singing the unofficial state music, “Michigan, My Michigan” (to the tune of “Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum”). Within the 1970s I used to journey up into the U.P. on trip. Despite a transfer to California greater than 30 years in the past I nonetheless return to my hometown, but had not been back to the U.P. since 1975. That’s why I was especially enthused about the opportunity to experience there for a few fall days final October.
On this newest journey I discovered the U.P. refreshingly unchanged, and quite than my early 1970s Honda CB450 I was now riding an Electra Glide Classic borrowed from Bald Eagle Harley-Davidson in Marquette. I was also accompanied by Brad Kolbus, from Munising, on his Highway King; he publishes a rider’s guide to the U.P.seems to know all people, and is aware of where to journey and what to see.
Simply after we began riding along the Superior lakeshore by Marquette Bay, I immediately pulled Brad over at a vision that seemed right out of a Star Wars movie to ask, “What the heck is that ” It was a huge construction, huge and grey, and lots of of ft long, a succession of high, close-set concrete archways extending out into the water. Brad informed me that it was the outdated Lower Harbor Ore Dock, now no longer in use. Railroad cars filled with iron ore had been shunted onto it, workmen lowered chutes and the ore rattled noisily into the holds of the large ore carriers that used to dock right here.
Subsequent we experience west, the place we be aware signs of the approaching fall season: Pontoon boats up on blocks, firewood neatly stacked on porches and the leaves turning yellow. We reach Big Bay; this little town was the scene of a homicide in 1951 that impressed the e book Anatomy of a Murder, and the 1959 movie by the same identify starring Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick. We grab lunch at the Thunder Bay Inn, which was the setting for scenes in the classic film. The pub in which we dine was built onto the lodge for the filming.
Though Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario are referred to as “The good Lakes,” they’re really great inland seas. In Munising I board a 60-foot commentary boat for a cruise along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The captain informs us that Superior alone accommodates enough fresh water to cover the whole continental United States to a depth of 5 Stone Island Jackets ft! It’s cool and blustery this day, and once we clear Grand Island we’re in Lake Superior proper where the waves begin to rock and roll. Most of the patrons abandon the chilly, windswept open viewing space on prime for the glass-enclosed seating on the principle deck, as I consider abandoning my lunch over the aspect. All alongside the Pictured Rocks we’re treated to a humorous, operating commentary about the rock cliffs which have been eroded by eons of wind, rain and freezing weather, and painted in shades of brown, tan and inexperienced by the runoff of the limonite, copper, iron and manganese. We sail previous caves, arches and a rock known as the Indian’s Head. A large, filmy waterfall drops like a veil from the striated cliffs.
The next day Brad and i experience from Munising east on M28 along what is known as “the Seney Stretch,” 25 straight miles by way of scrubland stuffed with stunted timber and pines. Thirty-some years in the past I had stopped in Seney to commemorate that it was proper right here, where Highways 28 and 77 intersect, that a young Ernest Hemingway had disembarked the practice in 1919. Wounded in World Battle I, Hemingway had hiked north to fish the Fox River, and would later fictionalize the expertise in certainly one of his Nick Adams stories called The big Two-Hearted River. However wait, the 2 Coronary heart is actually effectively north of right here; did Hemingway get it improper Nope. Like a true fisherman, he had misnamed the river in an attempt to keep his favorite fishing spot a secret.
We ride eastward on a tree-lined two-lane highway, and when we go the sign for Deer Park I recall camping near it on Muskallonge Lake within the ’70s. My night was enlivened when 5 raccoons got here snuffling up from the lake, begging on their hind legs. I gave them some bread, and half an hour later was toasting marshmallows over the fire when something tapped me on the shoulder. Startled, I turned around to find a raccoon, and after i turned again another was operating off with the toasted marshmallow as two others had been scorching-footing it into the darkness with the whole bag between them! They don’t wear those little bandit masks for nothing!
Lake Superior is cold, gray and whitecapped on this blustery day, and when the rain begins I huddle into my electric gear and crank the thermostat to “weld.” The Basic’s fairing and lowers keep the worst of the weather off me, and Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting dirge “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” plays by means of the stereo on our experience to The great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point. The song recounts the sea disaster that occurred on November 10, 1975, when the ore provider sank in a storm with all 29 males, simply 17 miles northwest of right here.
In the Museum’s boathouse I meet Tom Farnquist, government director of the good Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. Speculation is that the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was too close to Caribou Island some 40 miles northeast of here, where 35-foot seas in 45 ft of water allowed the provider to strike backside, which damaged her hull and induced her to take on water. She finally broke in two and sank in 535 feet of water off Whitefish Point. Farnquist has dived on the wreck and personally helped get better the ship’s bell, which now comprises the centerpiece of the museum.
Dinner was on the Antlers Restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie, which was packed this Friday evening. Yeah, it’s a Yooper place all right, with trophy heads and stuffed wildlife organized along the walls and among the rafters. Suddenly, a siren sounds, lights flash and we ask the waitress what the heck’s happening. “Oh, they do that every time they open a new keg,” she explains.
In the morning we cross the street from our motel for a view of the well-known Soo Locks. Sadly, at this particular moment there’s not a ship in sight. The International Bridge looms in the distance with Canada just across the way.
It’s a couple of fifty five-mile freeway experience south to the Mackinac Bridge, then we flip westward on Highway 2 by low scrubland with Lake Michigan on our left. In Blaney Park Brad introduces me to Steve Zellar, who puts on an annual motorcycle event called The Blaney Park Rendezvous. He gives us a tour of his expansive campground that accommodated three,000 riders last 12 months; his 2010 rally might be held June 18-20.
The thumb-shaped Garden Peninsula hangs down into Lake Michigan, and is home to Fayette Historic State Park. Fayette was established in 1867 as an iron-smelting operation with huge furnaces, an extensive dock and homes; about 500 folks lived and worked here. When the charcoal iron market declined, the operation was discontinued in 1891 and Fayette was abandoned. At the moment, it has been left as an arrested damage, a gift from the past with its unpainted foreman’s houses, the old lodge and castlelike stone stays of the smelter on picturesque Snail Shell Harbor.
We stop in Nahma on the Nahma Inn, a mattress & breakfast with 14 charming rooms and a full bar and restaurant. Brad introduces me to owners Charley and Laurie Macintosh (he seems to know everybody) who are planning a bike event there in the near future. Next door is the outdated basic store, which was abandoned within the ’50s with some of its merchandise nonetheless intact. Its proprietor, a gentleman named Pat, gives us a tour of its time-capsule interior.
Brad leads us up H13 north into Alger County, and this fall Sunday afternoon we enjoy the turning leaves as the Harley feels surprisingly nimble following the road’s hills and gentle curves. Every few miles a path or two-tracks leads off into the yellow woods, where muddy dirt bikes and ATVs disappear; we long to follow them into the forest.
From there it’s west where we visit Da Yoopers Tourist Trap near Ishpeming. As an ex-Michigander it was just as corny as I’d hoped, with life-sized dioramas of a Jeep pushed by a deer with a hunter tied throughout the hood, of deer enjoying cards, the place full of Yooper bumper stickers and souvenirs. Out entrance is “Gus,” the world’s largest running/working chain saw (it’s in the Guinness Book of Records), and “Big Ernie,” the largest working rifle.
The ghost town of Fayette serves as a symbol for much of the U.P. that, unfortunately, is suffering economically.
Alongside the roads are abandoned houses and factories. Tourism is now the main economic driver in the realm, and there is much concerning the U.P. to love. To me, the true charm of the place-with its pines and cedars, maples and birches, hidden lakes and bays, and rustic cabins-is how the whole thing comes collectively. On this fall Sunday we rumble along backroads to The Up North Lodge near Gwinn. The sunlight dapples the crimson-and-yellow maple leaves, and there’s a cool dampness in the air from a recent passing shower. We tromp inside as the fragrance of wooden smoke wafts from the stone fireplace. Many patrons flip to nod and greet us. Burgers and pollock, ribs, whitefish and smelt populate the menu, and a football game illuminates the large display. This welcoming, rustic friendliness confirms that this actually continues to be Michigan…my Michigan.
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