Monday, August 6

Upper Peninsula--Finally!

Didn’t leave IL until Sunday—more than 24 hours later than planned! If I told you all the details that transpired that day, you wouldn’t believe it. At some point, I’ll write about the tale fully but for now, I’ll spare you the Academy Award winning drama and give you the highlights. (Sorry for the funky formatting--I'm experiencing some connection challenges).

Prepared to leave Saturday, August 4, 8:00 a.m.
Bike is packed. Queenie fires up and I make it, oh, about 100 ft.
Queenie sputters as if she has Whooping Cough. Recent check up=100% A-Okay.
She’s probably out of gas—I was on my way to fill up.
I cab it to the station #1. No gas container.
Station #2 has everything I need.
I add gas. Bike still sputters and coughs. Hmmm?
Bike will start but sputters and dies out when I open the throttle.
Shop sends someone to tow the bike.
I wait over 5 hours.

Two city tow trucks circle me. I’m parked in a tow zone. (Hum Steve
Goodman’s classic song, "Lincoln Park Pirates" about the towing
biz in Chicago).
Shop driver, a great guy, had car accident on his way to retrieve me.
Shop seems to come to a stop to attend to Queenie.
Shop owner offers me his BMW R1100R to ride around Lake Superior—he is serious and pulls out the bike to prepare it.

My mechanic uses his hands like a vacuum to suck and/or choke off
something and Queenie sounds like her throat is clear. All things check out.
Queenie is test-driven and passes with flying colors. She sounds great!
Debate ensues on whether I should go in a day or two.
I side with the test rider and plan for a Sunday departure.
Leave the shop after closing time. I love those guys!
Arrive home 6:00 p.m. Exhausted. Realize I’ve missed breakfast, lunch and
too exhausted to eat dinner now. I nap instead.

Sunday, August 5:

Awake at 4a.m. It is raining and Bob Dylan’s "A Hard Rain’s
Gonna Fall" pops into my brain.
I have pasta for breakfast and want to get moving ASAP.
I repack and reduce my load by one whole bag!
The weather has tuned stormy.
Four hours later, I hum Dylan again.
Hook or crook, I’m leaving as soon as possible
Rain predicted in parts of WI and MI.
11:30 a.m. the sky has brightened a little.
12:30, I am on the road.
Choke on, Queenie sputters. Open the throttle, she belches and coughs--a little.
She idles. Her throat seems to gradually clear.
I vow to ride for an hour to check things out.
I figure I need to run through the bad gas before it’s entirely out of her system.
I encounter gray skies and light rain throughout parts of IL and WI.
Queenie performs beautifully.

Green Bay, WI feels 20 degrees colder than in IL.
I stop every 90 minutes to stretch and drink—I even remember to have lunch.
Crossing into MI, it looks like I’ve avoided the rain in Menominee, MI.
I travel territory I covered on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour. I’m excited.
I can reach Marquette, MI, faster if I stay on US 41.
I take the more scenic M-35 and travel along the big waters of Green Bay.
In Escanaba, it’s like visiting an old friend met on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour.
It is getting dark and cold. Marquette is 67 miles away.
Next 17 miles are uneventful..
Pick up US 41 again near Rapid River.
Things get interesting.

The next 50 miles provide more adventure than I want—at a time when my
energy level is beginning to wane.
I motor along US 41 underneath a canopy of trees and dense forest.
It starts to get really cold, dark, and foggy.
The area is surrounded by rivers.
The misting is heavy.
Many cars are heading in the opposite direction but only the faint red light of
a car ahead of me.
A deer, my first sighting, darts into view. My heart leaps into my throat.
Through the mist and fog, I scan for deer and pray I don’t see any.
Prayers not answered.
Many alive and dead deer along the route. I am in full alert.
Every thing now looks like a deer—mailboxes, tree stumps, tree barks…
After a few miles, the mist and fog clears. The cold remains.
More deer sightings have spooked me. My bladder begs for release.
No place to pull off the road.
A sign warns that an upcoming bridge may be slippery when icy or wet.
I cross the bridge hoping it doesn’t collapse.
Signs for Marquette, trigger the adrenaline flow.

My hotel is across the street from Lake Superior.
I pull into the lot and shortly sink into sand! Good thing I was going slowly!
It is 9:50pm. I have been on the road over nine hours.
I settle in but am famished.
Hunger leads me out again to find the “Big Boy” the clerk claims is open.
It is not.

I head back. The hilly, curvy road is near black.
Over a hill, I am met with a deer—what is it doing out this late?
Its eyes look like two huge shiny gold pieces. We spook each other.
It freezes.
I swerve to the extreme left—not a deliberate, planned response—
but sheer panic! I remind myself that this trip will have many wildlife sightings like this!
The next two minutes are—thankfully—calm.

Safely inside my room, I have graham crackers and water for dinner.
I read to calm down.

I awake at 5am.
From my window, I see a magnificent purple-red sky over Lake Superior.

It is the dawning of a new day.

Sunday ride total: 390 miles

Route (sort of...) Mileage differences due to slightly different route and avoiding tolls.

No pictures yet.