Wednesday, August 23

Full weather day, roads from heaven, and a room from hell.

[This is long, in part, to distract me from the scary, smelly, truly tacky place I’m resting my head tonight. Although, I doubt there will be rest for this weary soul tonight. DO NOT ever stay at the Roadway Inn in Manistee, MI. The Roadway makes the Bates Hotel in the movie "Psycho" look inviting. More on the Roadway Inn later.]

Day 2--Rambling thoughts on todays jaunt--too tired for close editing, apologies...

The weather today? Perfect. Low 70s, sunny, some clouds and talk of rain but in the morning, this talk seems foolish. Got another late start—still recuperating from a couple of sleepless nights last week. Then I remembered—this is my vacation. I can do what I want. Left the hotel around 9ish. Michigan has 116 lighthouses. Today I was determined to find three. Ended up only finding two, the White River Light Station in Whitehall, MI, and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse, near Silver Lake and surrounded by sand dunes—really neat!

Following William Murphy’s book takes all the guesswork out of where to find the best roads. If I stayed on Highway 31 and only exited according to the official LMCT map, I’d miss a lot. Murphy knows the mind of a motorcyclist. He puts the rider on some incredible roads, long sweeping curves, mixed with tight snake-like twists that rise and dip in that tummy tickling way. When the speed limit warns to slow down, this woman slows down! Only once did I take a twisty a little too wide. One good thing about Murphy’s roads is their relative isolation. One can go for 8 miles and not see a car, which can also be a little spooky. My mind wanders at such times and I cannot help thinking up the most morbid things, like some half man, half moose jumping out at me and being able to run lightening fast to catch me and make me his love thingy!

A glance to the left of these shoreline roads (that’s all you can manage or these curvy roads will catch you by surprise. Here, you see the lake in all its glory…boats, swimmers, tons of water activity. Oceans have nothing on Lake Michigan!

Lessons: Do not second-guess your map or the GPS. I did a couple of times and regretted it. I got seriously lost, or so I thought, outside of Muskegon. Therefore, I kept turning around and wandering off in other directions. None of this was bothersome as the roads were all great. Actually, I wasn’t as lost as I thought. I kept distrusting the map, Murphy and the GPS. Not sure why. Fact is, I was simply not patient enough. I’m not accustomed to riding roads that go on forever and a day without some idea, some clue that I’m heading in the right direction. A GPS not mounted on the bike is soon forgotten. I made some unnecessary stops to consult it and learned that I was usually heading in the right direction. Again, the second guessing detours were all fun. I’m not complaining. But, I am thinking of mounting the GPS on the bike tomorrow with duct tape!

That perfect weather from the morning turned ugly mid-afternoon. The sky grayed, opened and rained bullets! I wore the FG jacket and pants. They passed the rain/waterproof test. Therefore, I kept riding in that pelting rain. I mean it RAINED—I ignored the 30-minute rule because there was no place to seek shelter, no shoulder to pull of on, nothing in the immediate vicinity. I kept wiping off my helmet with my left hand. I bought yellow rubber kitchen gloves to go over my gloves in case of rain, but I don’t want to stop and dig them out.

The roads looked slippery-slick! The back roads eventually turned to the big highway and I got on. Rain assaults are one thing. Mack trucks passing you at 70+ mph is quite another. I was doing a bit more than 60 and everyone was sailing past me. I was wet on the outside, my jaw hurt from the clinching I was doing but the little blue one kept purring. Finally, a sign saying a rest stop was one mile ahead. I exited and waited out the storm. Not one person at the rest stop. I covered the bike with the Nelson-Rigg cover and sought shelter in the brick hut rest stop. My gear was sopping wet, my boots (glad I didn’t wear the Harley Davidson boots, as I don’t think they are waterproof) were wet but my feet were dry. Totally forgot to put the raincoats on the luggage—each piece came with its own rain jackets. My stuff might be wet after all this.

While waiting out the storm I called a friend. We chatted for about 5 minutes before phone troubles disconnected us twice. The whole storm took about 45 minutes, of which I rode about 30. I had to make it to Manistee, where I had made hotel reservations at the Roadway Inn. According to the rest stop map, I had another 40 miles to go…wishing I had made them for Ludington, which is south of Manistee. While in the rest stop hut, I realized that I had spent far too much time trying to see everything and didn’t make a lot of northward progress today. That’s the rub…I want to cover a lot of ground, but I also want to see many sights. The two are inversely related. When one goes up, the other goes down and vise verse.

The sky brightened after 15 minutes of waiting--or so it seemed. I resumed my northward ride on the big, nonscenic highway only to learn that the rain was north of the rest stop so I ran into more of it. Fortunately, it wasn’t much. Soon the rain stopped and she sun revealed itself.

I resisted the temptation to get off the highway to take one of the always-fun back roads heading north. To arrive in Manistee before dark, I needed to get moving. I was looking forward to getting out of wet clothes.

The weather warmed considerably making it again ideal riding conditions. The hurry to get to the hotel was temporarily delayed when I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day and was ravenous. Stopped at Big Boy in Manistee and had a tuna sandwich. I asked for seating where I could watch the bike. I should have taken a picture as proof that I can now pack the bike as it rests on the side stand and compensate for that lean with a perfectly symmetrical arrangement. Still I check the luggage occasionally to make sure the right side saddle bags have not slipped dangerously toward the exhaust. So far, thumbs up on the luggage.

The hotel. I pass it, but realize that I’m about to head out of town so I must have missed the hotel. I know it’s something like Red Roof or Road In, or something. I stop at a place I hope is not the hotel. A man sitting at the window on the second floor looks down at me. He tells me where the office is. I ask him if this hotel is affiliated with the Comfort Inn. He doesn’t know. He only recently arrived in town. He is bare chest. He reminds me of Hoss from the TV western Bonanza. I ride around to registration. It is the hotel that I have made a reservation for the night. I’m hoping the inside looks better than the outside. I think for a minute about the benefits of canceling; but I am exhausted—how bad could it be? \. I’m on the first floor and can park the bike outside my window. Next door is the owner of a white Harley Davidson. Someone looks out from that window.

I open the door to #111. I am struck by a rather pungent smell. Not good. Dang! I forgot to bring Lysol and air freshener. The bed dips at its two longest sides, signaling the spots on which guest prefer to sleep. The middle of the bed is raised as if never slept on. I see a spider’s web in the corner, near the outlet beneath the desk I’d like to use for writing tonight. I opt instead for the outlet near the bed but cringe at the thought of sitting on this malformed questionably clean bed.

The familiarity of the smell hits me as I near the sink, which is outside the bathroom. It is a combination of urine with a faint smell of cigarette smoke (this is a nonsmoking room) that is all masked with some cleaning solution that evidently doesn’t work. It’s the kind of place that if your shoelaces touch the floor you want to throw them out and get new ones.

Ordinarily, I would complain but that might launch a search, in vain, for another hotel. From the looks of things, it would take a bulldozer to make improvements around here. It’s just one night I tell myself — at least, there is a roof overhead. I decide to sleep in my clothes, quick shower in the morning, avoid the complimentary breakfast and get out of Dodge at dawn. Murphy promises more squiggly roads up north.

Photo peeks...

Well, from the previous post, I guess I didn't just dream I posted something last night--way too tired to remember much of what I said so forgive nonesense.

A few photos to share. Notice the cock-eyed luggage! This is what happens when you can't use your center stand and your brain can't seem to compensate by loading on a slant.

Gotta ride!