Great Lakes Tour

melensdad

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Not the full 6500 mile ‘Circle Tour’ but we have started a modified tour. Almost zero interstates. No chain restaurants. No chain hotels. Mostly 2 lane roads and rural highways. Started at the southern tip of Lake Michigan on Rt12 in Indiana and meandered up to St Ignace in the U.P. of Michigan.

Epic journey? Foolish trip? Either way we are now in the UP of Michigan. Heading for Lake Superior. Looking to go around Superior and most of Huron, then south to Niagra Falls. Probably then east? Around Lake Ontario’s north shore to the St Lawrence Seaway and back to the American side of the Falls. Then along Lake Erie’s southern shore back to Michigan and home.

Crossed the Mackinac Bridge today in moderately heavy winds. The fear and panic leading up to the Mighty Mac as we approached in the rain were replaced with relief when we arrived to find it not only under construction and down to 1 lane but also stuck behind a semi truck doing a solid 20mph. Just as we arrived the rain stopped. The slow travel speeds made the crossing easy despite a bridges swaying in the wind. The bridge has a nasty reputation with riders but it was a piece of cake today.

1 married couple, 2 motorcycles, 1 tent, 2 sleeping bags and 1 bottle of bourbon. Might need more bourbon.













 

dduelin

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I'm sure you will have a great time and make memories to last a long time. Have fun!
 

Rapturee

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Hey Bob, i see the pictures of you and your daughter, where is your wife... Is she meeting up with you later??!! :{P


Great pics my friend, thank you for sharing them and taking all of us along on the trip. Have a wonderful time, ride safe! :{)

!!Subscribed!!
 
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mr_et2

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That sounds like an awesome trip, though not sure I'd be up for it just yet. I live in Buffalo and work in Niagara Falls. If you're going to be staying the night in the area there are a couple campgrounds nearby to the Falls that I know of, but I've never been to them. If you feel like a meetup on your way through gimme a holler. I hope you enjoy your trip!
 

davidc83

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Thanks Bob for the bridge update..You have given me confidence in giving it try (I hate certain bridges-in Louisville, I hate riding over the Sherman Minton-I64 bridge-scares the crap out of me every time I ride over that thing)...Planning for 3 day Labor day weekend now...take back roads up to Michigan, up to the Big Mac bridge, cross over, spend the night in the UP and then ride back the next day...I can stick to back roads up, or US31 or I-65/I-69... (US31 is 3 miles from my house and goes up to the bridge, but goes thru Indianapolis and every other small town with a hundred stop lights)....time to get the maps out... Thanks again Bob...hope you and the missus have a great time.
 

melensdad

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I live in Buffalo and work in Niagara Falls. If you're going to be staying the night in the area there are a couple campgrounds nearby to the Falls that I know of, but I've never been to them. If you feel like a meetup on your way through gimme a holler. I hope you enjoy your trip!
Thanks! We are not planning to cross the border there but my wife is talking about visiting both sides of the falls so we will be swinging through/near Buffalo at some point. That is some time away as our plans are pretty fluid.


Thanks Bob for the bridge update..You have given me confidence in giving it try (I hate certain bridges-in Louisville, I hate riding over the Sherman Minton-I64 bridge-scares the crap out of me every time I ride over that thing)...Planning for 3 day Labor day weekend now...take back roads up to Michigan, up to the Big Mac bridge, cross over, spend the night in the UP and then ride back the next day...I can stick to back roads up, or US31 or I-65/I-69... (US31 is 3 miles from my house and goes up to the bridge, but goes thru Indianapolis and every other small town with a hundred stop lights)....time to get the maps out... Thanks again Bob...hope you and the missus have a great time.
US31, for most of Michigan, is a limited access highway that is no different than an interstate. My wife HATES interstates (not my favorite either), but I used FURKOT to route ourselves so we pretty much stayed off of 31 until after the "limited access" portion ended and it dropped down to mostly a 2 lane rural highway. We did a lot of little towns along/near the coast. Afternoons we seemed to get pretty brutal cross winds coming off the lake. In some areas we actually drove right along the beachfront. Travel was slower, but our goal was not to get "there" faster, it was to "see" the places we were journeying through.

As for the Mighty Mac, we got onto I-75 about a mile or 2 south of the bridge, rode it over the bridge, and then got off I-75 at the first exit for St Ignace. So our grand total of "interstate" driving was about 7 or 8 miles. Of that distance, the first mile or 2 was at a 75mph speed limit, then we approached the bridge at 45 and down to 20 all the way to the toll booth on the far side of the bridge. The exit we left I75 at was less than a mile from the toll booth as we stayed in the town of St Ignace at the base of the bridge on the UP side.

Today we did a non-riding tourist day and went to the island by boat. The winds were even heavier today, we could see the semi-trucks crawling across the bridge as our boat went under the bridge. The bridge sways 36 feet. Fun times. But crossing while its under construction is the time to do it if you have any qualms about doing it! They slow the traffic way down and there is no pressure from people crawling up behind you because there is no way for them to pass and no place for them to go. Like I said, it was a piece of cake on the motorcycles yesterday. I suspect it will be that way for the duration of the construction.
 
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melensdad

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Did touristy stuff yesterday. Took a boat under the Mackinac bridge then out to the island. Horse carriage rides (2) a good bit of walking/hiking, spent a couple hours in the fort above the city, some eating and totally avoiding buying touristy stuff other than a couple post cards.

Loving our tiny hotel in St Ignace. Older couple owns it, refurbished it, and now it’s fully booked for months into the future. Many others are dilapidated, falling victim to chain motels, yet this niche motel has become a success.

We will head north to the southeastern shoreline of Lake Superior today and start a clockwise route around the lake.









 
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melensdad

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Now about the center point of the U.P. of Michigan, roughly half way between Duluth, Minn and the Mackinac Bridge in Houghton, MI. We were supposed to camp about 50 miles from here but we were tired (I was probably crabby) and hungry and decided to stop early and, after a half dozen attempts, found a crappy hotel that charged us $225 for a night. All the campground and hotels are filled, so I guess we were lucky to get the room?

Honestly this part of Michigan is not a wonderful place. The majesty of nature is ever awesome but the people have destroyed it. Its basically poor and mostly run down. If you are not a hunter or fisherman or snowmobiler its really not worth the effort of coming here. The riding is not as good as central Indiana, while we are mostly on 2 lane roads the speed limits are 55 to 65 and the roads are fairly straight. So we are whizzing by anything that might be worth seeing and not seeing it. We've pass by a few spots we'd have liked to see but we were going fast enough, with a line of cars behind us, that pulling into a gravel drive at 55mph seemed pretty foolhardy just to see a fiberglass dinosaur or stairs to nowhere. We are mostly disappointed so far. We had a nice ride through the Pictured Rocks park, but that was just a small part of today's mostly boring ride.

Campgrounds are crowded, people packed in like sardines. Hotels are mostly run down dumps or over priced chains.

People are super friendly. That is a bonus. Nice to see and meet genuinely friendly people. Maybe we should be grateful for that?
 
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Ruggybuggy

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Now about the center point of the U.P. of Michigan, roughly half way between Duluth, Minn and the Mackinac Bridge in Houghton, MI. We were supposed to camp about 50 miles from here but we were tired (I was probably crabby) and hungry and decided to stop early and, after a half dozen attempts, found a crappy hotel that charged us $225 for a night. All the campground and hotels are filled, so I guess we were lucky to get the room?

Honestly this part of Michigan is not a wonderful place. The majesty of nature is ever awesome but the people have destroyed it. Its basically poor and mostly run down. If you are not a hunter or fisherman or snowmobiler its really not worth the effort of coming here. The riding is not as good as central Indiana, while we are mostly on 2 lane roads the speed limits are 55 to 65 and the roads are fairly straight. So we are whizzing by anything that might be worth seeing and not seeing it. We've pass by a few spots we'd have liked to see but we were going fast enough, with a line of cars behind us, that pulling into a gravel drive at 55mph seemed pretty foolhardy just to see a fiberglass dinosaur or stairs to nowhere. We are mostly disappointed so far. We had a nice ride through the Pictured Rocks park, but that was just a small part of today's mostly boring ride.

Campgrounds are crowded, people packed in like sardines. Hotels are mostly run down dumps or over priced chains.

People are super friendly. That is a bonus. Nice to see and meet genuinely friendly people. Maybe we should be grateful for that?
It get better north of Duluth on the way to Thunder Bay. Nice curvy roads and great scenery with lots of places to stop. Take your time and enjoy this section.
 

670cc

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From what I understand, some of the large population centers of southern Wisconsin/northern Illinois tend to take their holidays/vacations by driving north to touristy areas, and that travel is concentrated in the summer months. Hopefully, crowds will be reduced, and natural beauty will improve as you make your way north around the lake.
 

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Thanks Bob for the bridge update..You have given me confidence in giving it try (I hate certain bridges-in Louisville, I hate riding over the Sherman Minton-I64 bridge-scares the crap out of me every time I ride over that thing)...Planning for 3 day Labor day weekend now...take back roads up to Michigan, up to the Big Mac bridge, cross over, spend the night in the UP and then ride back the next day...I can stick to back roads up, or US31 or I-65/I-69... (US31 is 3 miles from my house and goes up to the bridge, but goes thru Indianapolis and every other small town with a hundred stop lights)....time to get the maps out... Thanks again Bob...hope you and the missus have a great time.
The Mackinaw Bridge is really not that bad. I’ve crossed is many times on a motorcycle. It is two lanes each way: one lane paved, the other lane is a grate. The paved part is just like any bridge. The grate is interesting. Depending on your tires, they may want to ‘track’ in the groves. I haven’t had any more trouble than riding on loose gravel. The awesome part is that you can look down through the grate to the water and sailboats directly below you!

JT
 

Jt105

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Now about the center point of the U.P. of Michigan, roughly half way between Duluth, Minn and the Mackinac Bridge in Houghton, MI. We were supposed to camp about 50 miles from here but we were tired (I was probably crabby) and hungry and decided to stop early and, after a half dozen attempts, found a crappy hotel that charged us $225 for a night. All the campground and hotels are filled, so I guess we were lucky to get the room?

Honestly this part of Michigan is not a wonderful place. The majesty of nature is ever awesome but the people have destroyed it. Its basically poor and mostly run down. If you are not a hunter or fisherman or snowmobiler its really not worth the effort of coming here. The riding is not as good as central Indiana, while we are mostly on 2 lane roads the speed limits are 55 to 65 and the roads are fairly straight. So we are whizzing by anything that might be worth seeing and not seeing it. We've pass by a few spots we'd have liked to see but we were going fast enough, with a line of cars behind us, that pulling into a gravel drive at 55mph seemed pretty foolhardy just to see a fiberglass dinosaur or stairs to nowhere. We are mostly disappointed so far. We had a nice ride through the Pictured Rocks park, but that was just a small part of today's mostly boring ride.

Campgrounds are crowded, people packed in like sardines. Hotels are mostly run down dumps or over priced chains.

People are super friendly. That is a bonus. Nice to see and meet genuinely friendly people. Maybe we should be grateful for that?
The center of Michigan’s UP is rather boring. There are specific interesting places, but getting there is a long slog on a straight flat road.


Circle the peninsula for better sights and interesting towns.


The lower peninsula makes a great circle tour using M-22 in the west side and M-25 on the east side. They run right along the lakeshores.

JT
 

melensdad

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We were on M48, West Lakeshore, 123, M28, H58, back on 28, 41 ... pretty much didn't like most of that. Honestly central Indiana is better riding, but doesn't have the lake.

Today we were on 26, 39. 519 and 2 and then we finished on 13. Much better riding. Even 2 was nice.

We are now in Washburn, right on the lakefront.
 

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We are now in Wawa, Ontario. Departed Terrace Bay late because the only road around the lake was closed. An accident shut down the TransCanada highway for about 12 hours! We were one of the first 4 or 5 to get through and the accident was horrific. We were the first to get to Marathon, and were bombarded with questions about the accident as that town was only a half dozen miles from the accident site. Had breakfast there, then went on to White River to see the birthplace of Winnie the Pooh. Finally on to Wawa and arrived mid-afternoon to see the giant goose. Met up with some others in the parking lot there who recognized our bikes, they also went through the accident site and knew one of the victims.





So far we have been really lucky with the rain. It has happened at night, or late afternoon, but not while we were riding. The Bayfield Inn let us park under their canopy as the area was under a severe thunderstorm warning.







We've done a mix of camping and hotel stays. Trying to stay at locally owned motels and have met some of the nicest people doing so. Avoided Duluth, just drove through it. The bridge in Duluth is far worse than the Mackinac bridge, but we caught it during a very busy time and traffic was bad.





 
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melensdad

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We are now officially done with Lake Superior, did the full 1600 mile circle. Finished up an hour ago and are now in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Tomorrow we head east to Huron.





 

melensdad

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Stopped at a small restaurant about 45 minutes east of Sault Ste Marie, ON on 17 to get some breakfast this morning.

Someone drove their lawn tractor to the restaurant and parked between two pick-up trucks.

 
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melensdad

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North shore of Lake Huron to Manitoulin Island. Then a ferry across Georgian Bay.

Bikes and motorcycles load up first. They supply ropes to tie them down.
Bikes and motorcycles are also the first to get off the ship.







I found this humorous



Made it to the south end of Lake Huron and gave up on tent camping so we booked a night at a B&B. It's gotten down into the mid-40's and our sleeping bags, even while wearing 2 wool shirts, wouldn't keep us comfortable. I'm pounding down DayQuil to hold down the coughing. Going to sleep indoors and see if that helps. Scenery is beautiful. Lake Superior is amazing. Lake Huron is just as beautiful and there is nobody living there! Don't pass a gas station without topping up, never quite sure when you will find the next one.

1 married couple. 2 bikes. 1 tent. 1 bottle of bourbon. No interstates. No chain foods/hotels/campground. Take the SLOW WAY AROUND and hitting all 5 Great Lakes + the St Lawrence Seaway. Going to need more bourbon.

 
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670cc

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North shore of Lake Huron to Manitoulin Island. Then a ferry across Georgian Bay.

Bikes and motorcycles load up first. They supply ropes to tie them down.
Bikes and motorcycles are also the first to get off the ship.
Wow, I’m surprised that same ship is still sailing. I took that ferry back around 1980, riding a ‘77 Suzuki GS550.
 
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