Sunday, August 26, 2018
Riding the BMW along Lake Michigan in the UP
We've been looking forward to riding the BMW along the western shore of Lake Michigan since we started planning our cross-country motorcycle trip. I grew up in northwestern Indiana and loved spending summer days at the sandy beach on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. We spent several vacations in Michigan when our boys were young, and a highlight was always climbing up and then sliding down the tall and incredibly steep Sleeping Bear Dunes.
We started out today from Beaver Dam, WI shortly after 8 am and were hopeful that we'd be treated to a sunny day. The skies quickly clouded over and we had to settle for intermittent sunshine as we rode northeast.
We could tell we were close to Green Bay, home of the Packers NFL team, when we saw a tanker truck with a football-shaped "Title Town" logo, a reference to the Packers, on the back.
The border between Wisconsin and Michigan is the Menominee River, named after the Menominee Indians of Wisconsin. We did a little dance on the motorcycle as we crossed into Michigan, our 16th new state on this trip.
Water was definitely a theme for today's ride, as we crossed several creeks and streams, and rode past numerous small lakes on our way to Lake Michigan, the only one of the 5 great lakes that is completely within the United States' borders. The third largest of the Great Lakes, the name Michigan comes from the Ojibwa word 'michi gami' for 'large lake'.
The overcast sky was almost the same color as the lake's water, and sometimes it was difficult to tell where the horizon ended and the lake started. We followed Michigan Route 35 along the coast, catching glimpses of the lake through the trees.
We rode through Escanaba, currently a city of about 12,000 and historically the name of an Ojibwa village in this area and stopped at the Sand Point Lighthouse, built in 1867 and operational until 1939.
Mike found a beautiful hotel right on Little Bay de Noc that opens into Lake Michigan's Green Bay. The Terrace Bay Hotel also has a wonderful restaurant, the Freshwater Tavern where we enjoyed dinner while looking out the large windows onto the bay.
We often eat in chain restaurants because we prefer to walk to dinner after being on the motorcycle all day, and that doesn't leave us many options. Not only were the lake perch, panko crusted chicken, homemade bread and fresh salads delicious; we also enjoyed a walk along the hotel's boardwalk down to the beach after we ate.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula, or UP, contains 29% of the land in Michigan and only 3% of the population. Locals are known as Yoopers, derived from "UP-ers" and we saw several businesses with the word 'Yooper' as part of their name. We're looking forward to riding west tomorrow through the UP into Minnesota where we should be able see Lake Superior on the way to reaching the 17th new state of our cross-country trip. Here is today's route