Having no idea what we were getting into, but knowing that whatever it was, it was going to be great, my best friend Jeff Gary and I set out on our first multi-day trip. Jeff was already on his second bike, a 95 VFR750F, and with a little convincing, got me to purchase a bike, a 92 Yamaha SecaII. We had ridden around country roads, over to Galena, IL, mostly day stuff. I had no idea that it was going to be as great as it was.
Our plan was to circle Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Day one was to get us from Chicago to Macinaw (about 630 Miles), day two would bring us around the top of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay, day three to Houghton, MI in the upper peninsula, day four to Door County to stay at Jeff's Uncle's place, and day five home. I got out my Trip Maker CD (OK, Jeff's Trip Maker CD that I had burned a copy of) and plotted a route for us to take. We loaded up the bikes with luggage, sleeping bags, and tents (thinking that we were actually going to camp out - yeah, right) and hit the road.
It was an amazing feeling to be out on the road. No schedules, timelines, etc. Just you, the bike, and wherever the road leads. The first day, I had the song "I'm Free" by The Who in my head for hours. The ride up Lake Michigan through Michigan was very nice, minus a little mis-direction from time to time. We found that state route 22 was really nice, twistie but a little dirty, and that Grand Haven was a beautiful place. We continued on to Macinaw City.
The next day, we crossed the border at Sault St. Marie and rode up into Canada. At this time, I was completed emmersed in the whole touring experience. Jeff had fallen back (purposely) about 1/2 mile behind me, and there was nothing but me, the bike, and the road. It is so quiet, clean, and peaceful up there, and I today found myself singing "Let's Get Together" by the Youngbloods (c'mon, I'd just seen Forrest Gump) in my head weaving back and forth in the lane. I've never been back to that point of complete peace since, but I'm still looking for it. A little ways up the road, we hit the coast of Lake Superior and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. We pulled over to the side of the road at this little cove with no name that you'd drive by and not even pay any attention to. We put on our rain gear, which doubles nicely as wind gear. We then spent a few minutes there, walked down to the shoreline, and aptly named it JT Cove. It's a neat place, and is very representative of what this trip was about. I look forward to stopping there again each time I ride by.
Trans-Canada 17 turned out to be a fantastic ride, and the next day we found ourselves crossing back over into the USA. Down the coast a little ways, we stopped for gas, and then it happened. Bacon. I smell Bacon. "Jeff, we're eating now." A little place in Grand Marais called the Blue Water Cafe served us a delicious breakfast, and some nice scenery too (if you know what I mean). It's a place that we plan to stop at for breakfast whenever we're up there. Just down the road from there is Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, offering fantastic views of the lake and surrounding bluffs.
After a spirited run across upper Wisconsin on State Route 13, it was time for a quick call to Rich Chiuppi, who at the time did not own a bike, and we were deperatly trying to get him to buy one. It eventually worked. Thanks for having a 1-800 number PLATINUM.
Later that night, we pulled into Houghton, MI. Coming into town, I noticed a road on the other side of the river that appeared to offer a spectacular view. I was not wrong, and we found a fantastic lookout. The full moon was shining, and we both enjoyed a nice cigar admiring the view. I look foward to seeing that view again sometime soon.
The next morning, we headed south and found a great Australian motif restaurant for a buffet breakfast (mmmmm, buffet) and continued down to Lake Michigamme. The upper peninsula proved to be very scenic with nice roads, but not as twistie as say state route 22 from the first day. Then the rain came. We put on the rain gear and rode on. I remember thinking "OK, I can see his taillight, so I must be OK." It was my first experience riding in heavy rain, and it luckily produced no incidents.
Later that day, we found our way to Door County, where Jeff's Aunt Sandy and Uncle Jay put us up for the night. We took a ride on their boat and saw a very beautiful sunset. The next day, we had breakfast, and hit some of the backroads on our bikes, with Jeff's cousin Jason following in his Porsche 944. Door county was very nice, but a little touristy. The roads were twistie and clean, and we had a good ride on a beautiful day, and even had time for a picture.
After a couple hours of fishing, we started back to Chicago, depressed that the trip was actually over. It had been an incredible five days, and I was already looking forward to our next trip to come. I had instantly fallen in love with riding, but a close call during a pass showed me that I needed more motorcycle or else I needed to calm down. More motorcycle won.
This trip showed me what is out there for the taking. It's just a matter now of taking it.