Every now and then we get together with friends to enjoy both activities.
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Last Updated on Monday, 28 December 2009 12:02
Upper Peninsula Trip
Written by Terry Miller
Tuesday, 26 July 2011 01:54
I'll add more later. There's a 20 minute video of a trip through the UP until I can get some text up.
We began the trip with a mad dash to Escanaba. There was only one non-fuel stop at Vandervest Harley Davidson in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. They were having a benefit for disabled veterans which was pretty cool and explains all the military in their parking lot.
The last 40 miles or so down MI-35 was good. It winds right along lake Michigan. It was a hot day, well into the 90's. When the road neared the lake the temperature would drop into the 70's but pop right back up when a stand of trees blocked the wind.
We stayed at the House of Ludington Hotel in Escanaba. It's a mid to late 19th century hotel that looks the part. There's an "L" shaped check in counter as you walk into the hotel just beside a stairway leading to the second and third floor. Just past the counter is the Pub and to the right of the stairs is the dining room. The food that we had was well worth the stop.
The rooms are furnished with Victorian pieces. There's not a lot of amenities. Fireplace, heat, air conditioning and TV. No wireless. No fitness room. They're much more suited to the vacation traveler than the business traveler. Luckily we were on vacation.
The next day we traveled to St. Ignace. We stopped at the Seul Choix Pointe light house on the way. It was an 8 mile detour, half on paved roads.The museum deserved more time than we gave it. There were quite a few interesting artifacts. Displays on early indian life, some commercial fishing displays, etc.
The half paved roads is fairly common in the upper peninsula. I purchased a map specific to the UP to avoid gravel roads, but it wasn't accurate and so I became accustomed to riding on grave
We arrived in St. Ignace with plenty of extra time. We checked into the hotel early and went to the museum of Ojibwa culture which is an old mission and the location of father Pere Marquette burial and monument. The museum is a quick tour, an hour would be a stretch although they have a display with some pretty cool implements used to make daily life easier.
We ended the day with a trip to Castle Rock. 170 stairs to walk up a ramp to a natural stone obelisk. It's not for anyone with a fear of heights and barely for anyone without. The view of Lake Huron over Mackinac Island is amazing though. Do it in the afternoon. To the east and north is mostly tree tops. The views to the south and west are much better.
We stayed at the Village Inn in St. Ignace. The lakeview rooms, 4 of them, face Mackinac island and have balconies. It was a good place to catch a breeze. Since we were there on the weekend of the Chicago-Mackinac race we saw a fair amount of finishers.
Monday we headed for Whitefish point. Get gas before leaving St. Ignace. There's not a lot available between the two areas. We stopped at a restaurant called the Berry Patch in a town called Paradise on the point. Good food and great pies. It's worth a 50 mile detour just to have a slice of pie.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum probably isn't worth the $13 they charge, but it's a once in a lifetime experience. You'll learn a lot. You have to be interested in sailing for it to really pay off, but my wife who's only peripherally involved still enjoyed it. There are artifacts from a dozen or so wrecks in the area and an explanation of why such a large percentage of ships were lost near there.
The crown jewels of the museum are probably the Edmund Fitzgerald artifacts removed from the wreck. This is the original bell. It was replaced on the wreck by a bell engraved with the names of the 29 lost sailors.
The upper and lower Tahquamenon falls are also on the point. The upper falls require a fair amount of stair climbing. The lower falls are partially accessible by boardwalk path and partially accessible by rental rowboat and boardwalk. The water's brown because of dissolved tannins caused by decaying trees laying in the Tahquamenon watershed. It's a little unnerving seeing brown water.
The falls are on route 123 which is sort of a a "J" shaped road. The long leg of the "J" starts on I-75 near Ste. Ignace. There's not much to see on it except natural trees. Once north of Paradise where the "J" turns west and then south the road becomes a really nice motorcycling road. It terminates back at 28 for an easy trip to anywhere in the UP.
We finished the day by going to Sault Ste. Marie. It's interesting if you're in the area.
Tuesday was a trip to Drummond Island. It's a great place to stay and do some off roading. There's also plenty of fishing, Kayaking, cross country ski trails, etc. There's not much to do for a day trip. Canada is North, South and East of the island, The rest of Michigan is to the west.
Wednesday was travel to Marquette through Pictured Rocks national lakeshore. We started by going up county 407 to catch Lake Superior just west of Whitefish point. It was raining, the end of 407 and the beginning of H58 are gravel, and heavily traveled by logging trucks. My tires treads soon filled with mud. Leaning into a turn did no good the bike would plow on straight until the front tire fell into a rut and then the back end would slide around until correctly oriented. I didn't feel like dropping the bike in front of my wife and gave up and turned around.
Grand Marais was 18 miles away when we turned around. 70 miles later we were there by paved roads. Of course it had stopped raining by the time we reached it. The sun was out and the 90° temperature mark was soon behind us, we climbed to 103° by the time we finished the day. Late that night a cold front came through, dumped some more rain and reduced the temp back down to 90.
h58 from Grand Marais to Munising is soon to be a motorcyclists favorite road. Nice sweepers, not too technical, and plenty of scenery. A fair amount of stairs at the end, maybe 80 or so.
We stopped at Miner's falls which is the classic long drop falls. Well worth the walk. We finished the area with a trip to Miner's Castle overlook. The walk was about all we could take in the heat so we beat it as fast as we could to Marquette. I do regret not scheduling time to take a boat trip to see the pictured rocks. It seems like the South Dakota badlands on the shore of Lake Superior.
We stayed at the Landmark Inn in Marquette. It's another historic hotel from the 19th century. It seemed fancy for the casual vacationer but we were treated well. The room had a decent view of the lake if not equal to the other two hotels.
Thursday was a trip to Copper Harbor. US 41 is called Lake Shore drive up there, too. It has Lake Superior to the west instead of Lake Michigan to the east. The people on the Keeweenaw peninsula have to be the friendliest people in the world. Everywhere we stopped they were damned glad to have us there. We stopped at Ft. Wilkins near the end of 41 and learned quite a bit about the area from a retiree volunteer.
The area is mostly tourism and most of the people would like to get some industry back. They have ample minerals so industry means mining.
Michigan 26 out of Copper Harbor is another ideal motorcycling road. The stop at Eagle Harbor to see the light was another good stop. The volunteers were friendly. We learned what "panking" means in the upper peninsula. They used to roll a large iron roller over the roadways to pack the snow so tight they could be traveled without horses sinking into them.
A little further down 26 is the Jampot store, manned by monks of the society of St. John. Wonderful baked goods and jams.
All in all a wonderful trip. Next time I'd stay in one place the whole week, probably west of Marquette a bit. The porcupine mountain area is supposed to be nice. I'd definitely visit Marquette and the Keweenaw again.