Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day Eight—Tunnel of Trees

Not much to record for today’s blog. For the most part, it was a fairly boring, long day heading south towards home.

But there was one highlight that was spectacular. Close your eyes and imagine riding down a road where the trees obliterate the skies; where the road is narrow and winding with good elevation changes, where on one side of the road contains homes ranging from shacks to mansions and the other side overlooks Lake Michigan, and where there are almost no other vehicles. That would describe Hwy 119 in northwestern Michigan. It is truly a do-over road.

I considered riding it again, in reverse, just to see it from a different perspective. While the speed limit was 45, I rode it at 30 or less, wanting to savor its twists and turns and scenery just as you would chew thoroughly a delicious steak rather than gobble it down. I could have ridden it all day!

I stayed off the Interstates all day, working south on Hwy 31, designated as a scenic byway. It was a nice road, but it was busier than I wanted, and it had very little in “scenery” as compared with Hwy 119 to the north. Of course, it would take a lot to compare with that road.

The day actually started with a very good breakfast at the 3 Seasons Family Restaurant near the motel. Omelette, American Fries, and toast. Very good. In case you don’t know what “American Fries” are, they are the potatoes that were cut into slices and fried with onions. At home, we call them “Home Fries”.

From there, the ride to the Mackinac Bridge was easy. US Hwy 2 is the road Gary and I rode from Duluth to Glacier National Park on the way to Alaska. It is one of the great American highways, IMO.

Got to the big bridge. Some 5 miles long, and one of the largest suspension bridges in the USA, it is magnificent. High above the water, with no wind, it was good to ride over it. The only problem was that one of the lanes in each direction was closed for maintenance, and I had to ride on the metal grating deck of the bridge for probably a mile or so. I don’t like riding on these surfaces, even when dry. The bike’s tires want to follow the ridges, making it dart left and right as I ride. It went okay, but I didn’t like that part of the ride.

Just south and west of the bridge, I found another lighthouse, the McGulpin Point Lighthouse. It was closed, so I just took a few pics and moved on to find Hwy 119.

Towards the end of the day, I started thinking of lodging for the night. I had decided that somewhere around Muskegon would be a good place to stop for the night. Just north of town, I got on the smaller road to find a mom and pop place. The first place I stopped was actually a few miles north of Muskegon. I stopped in a place in town, a nice looking motel in a residential neighborhood. They had rooms, but at $98 for a room, I declined and rode towards Muskegon.

I noticed that a lot of motels were posted with “No” Vacancy, making me a little uneasy. The first place that had a vacancy sign ended up with them not posting the “No” before I got there. It was full. The next few were also full. The next one I came to that probably had a room, I rode into the parking lot and decided that it was just too rough a neighborhood. The next place was closed. I was getting pretty concerned.

Then I found the Bel Aire Motel on the south side of town. They had space, and it turned out to be a nice place.

I walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. They had rave reviews, but it was average. However, they had a glassed-in room full of animal trophys the owner had taken from all over the world. A Polar Bear, two Grizzleys, and lots of other animals, some of which I could not identify. I hope the killer ate the meat instead of taking the magnificent animals just for sport.

Tomorrow—South towards Home

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