48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 213- Total Miles: 2104 – Daily Average: 210.2
12:45pm-6:15pm – 5.5 hours
Gaylord, MI to Escanaba, MI
(-stayed at an Econolodge -) (MI – 12/48)
– Across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula –
This was a day of more extremes. And I didn’t even think we’d make it out the door.
Around 6am the thunder was bellowing across the countryside with loud booms and low guttural roars. When I tentatively moved the motel room curtain around I was glad we hadn’t elected to camp last night. The rain was falling in buckets. And it continued to be doing so through mid-morning. We were set to go into rain-day mode. After a short nap, the sky was lighter though around 11am. The drizzle continued, but we made the decision to go on, and after making some calls to motels 150 and then 200 miles away, we decided to move on down the highway.
We left around 12:30pm all rain-geared up. The way it was pouring this morning it was amazing to me the rain let up at all. But it had slowed to a drizzle, and now all that was left was leaden cloud formations attached to a grey sky. Said good-by to Mark, the EconoLodge owner. Seemed like a family-run business, and it’s a nice place. We rolled across the street over to the gas station, tanked up, and after Karen returned from getting us a sandwich at Subway for later, we motored north.
Got into the zone again today for a little bit – a bit like traveling through space and time! Of course, it really is traveling through space. But the feelings of wonder as one’s consciousness moves along so rapidly absorbing all the sensations of sight, smell, feel, and taste, combined with the emotions of excitement, nervousness, a dash of fear, confidence, and authority, make for a dazzling experience. We reached the Mackinaw Bridge in 64 miles and had our sandwich at the visitor center.
The big span was built in 1957, and was three miles or so in the crossing. Over four million vehicles cross the bridge each year. It’s known as “Mighty Mac”. The bridge crosses over the Strait of Macinaw which separates Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.
Because of timing and situations, I haven’t shaved for a few days. About the longest I’ve gone without on most any trip. I think it’s important to have as good appearance as possible when traveling. But at this rate, I’m beginning to look like something of a roving dockworker!
Passed a license plate of a proud mom or dad with a big brood I’m guessing. The plate read “LVDBY5”.
Between the Mackinaw Bridge and Escanaba it was a patch quilt of weather. The temps surely ranged from the high 40’s to the mid-80’s!! There were blankets of fog covering the highway often, and it looked surely like rain was ahead on more than one occasion. But we didn’t even have drizzle on that 100-mile or so patch of riding. It did get cold though, and I was glad I had recovered my gloves from the last package of stuff sent home.
One time I was in a line of cars that were stuck behind a policeman who was going the speed limit. (Of all things!) One guy tentatively moved around him and then the rest of us did, too. Mostly two lane highway for the second half of the day. My game plan each day on the road was generally to follow a car that was going a safe above-the-limit speed and just stay behind him. I figure that the policeman will pick him off instead of me…
There is a great emphasis on people not being allowed to bring firewood – or any kind of wood into the area. We inquired why, and it turns out that firewood can bring killer bugs and insects into the area that will hurt the trees here.
We passed and saw a great deal of the shore of Lake Michigan today. It was amazing to me that there were people actually swimming in the surely frigid waters.
It was another day of moving along down total tree-lined highways. In fact, we rode through the Lake Superior National Forest and the Hiawatha National Forest. (Green all around, and I knew we needed to be enjoying the trees now for when we get in the southern part of the country and the trees are replaced by sand and dust and more sand of desert.) We caught good luck with the roadway surface again, as major construction had just finished in many places, and the surface was clean, smooth, and wonderful rolling blacktop.
We didn’t have to worry about running out of space on the card in the digital camera today because I put a 1-gig card in. Over 750 images at the highest quality could be taken! One of the pictures taken was when we pulled over to the roadside, and got a shot of the Shadow odometer just touching the 5,000-mile mark! By day’s end we crossed over 2,000-miles for this trip.
Passed a number of cute store names today along the highway. Karen spied a “Stuff Capital of the Upper Peninsula” as a big flea market. Also a “Yard Sale Showroom” that was just an outdoor ramshackle place. My favorite though was a collection covering about a city block of birdbaths of various sizes, qualities, colors, and shapes. That place was, of course, called, “Bird bath, and beyond!”
Our first big loss of the trip came when Karen discovered that her prescription sunglasses where gone. She was pretty sure that she left them on the bike at the last stop when she went to talk with some other motorcyclists there.
Don had mentioned the movie “Escanaba In Da Moonlight” to me when he saw we were going through the town. I had never seen that flick and neither had Karen. Well, since we ended up here, we figured this would be the perfect place to see it. So… Shortly after checking in, we mcycled down to pick up the movie and also dinner – our favorite stuff from Taco Bell which was right across the street from the movie place. I asked the friendly, goateed, young guy across the counter what the movie was about, and he said with a smile, “It just doesn’t know what it wants to be.” When getting back to the motel we popped the movie into the G4 Powerbook and we lay back on the bed with dinner and a movie. The sound could have been louder, and the movie was kind of stupid although there were a couple laughs, but it was enjoyable having a drive-in theater right in the room.
Afterward the plan was to get our run in returning the movie, and as the rental place was exactly a half-mile from the motel, that worked out perfectly for our mile. Karen stopped into the local K-mart to get some flip-up sunglasses to replace the sunglasses lost down the road. The evening sky was the most pastel I’ve ever seen! All mixes of those colors blending, too.
On the way back after returning the film, I chatted with a local guy on a Harley about the movie. He said the locals weren’t too happy about the way they were represented.
From 10:30pm for an hour or so I sat writing up these notes while Karen went out to get some fireworks pictures. (Fireworks don’t thrill me, especially since learning how so very polluting of the atmosphere they are!)
Since we were so close to the Central Time Zone it was about light as day here until 10pm! Seemed odd, and reminded me of Alaska where it doesn’t get dark this time of year until 2am.