Solo To Sarnia Return Day 5

Today was 618 kilometres with heavy winds, some sun, some thunder, lighting, plenty of rain (downpour) and periods of hail – then repeat.

‘Nuff said.

I only managed a couple of pictures all day, when the day was still nice looking …

The open road beckons

Western S. Dakota

Tomorrow – Havre!

Solo To Sarnia Return Day 4

This morning I woke up late due to me and technology not being fully compatible. I thought I turned on the alarm on my phone, but … I guess not.  Even though the start of the day was a bit of a rush, I still got away when I planned to.  I wanted to check the oil in the bike today too, since I hadn’t checked it since Monday, but there’s always been a small problem in that there is no centre stand to hold the bike upright. So I asked another motorcyclist who was getting ready, if he would hold the bike up.

“Sure no problem” He had a puzzled look on his face “You’re by yourself?”

He held up the bike and I added oil and all is good. But here is how OCD I am – I checked the oil filler cap  like 4 or 5 times during the day afraid that I hadn’t tightened it and it had fallen off.

So off I go, got through Superior/Duluth no problem, gave the voice in my head something to complain about because the exit for Highway 2 was closed so she had to recalculate again and again, meanwhile I just followed the detour signs.  She was not happy and she would get revenge later in the day.

At my first stop, to check my oil filler cap, I got a peanut butter cookie and had a chat with another customer and the lady behind the counter, they were some of first people who didn’t think it strange and scary that I was traveling all on my own.

Floodwood - Catfish Capital OF THE WORLD!

Floodwood – Catfish Capital OF THE WORLD!

So off again to Highway 39 and then onto Highway 200 and this is were the “voice” gets her first revenge – coming up to the stop she says turn right, I glance down at the screen to make sure thats what she wanted and sure enough the arrow went right, so I did too. Then the voice says, “recalculating” “turn left” – but not likely! It was a gravel road! I did a u-turn in the road at a intersection, rather proud of myself as I had to deal with gravel, sand and blacktop all in one u-turn.

Now I was on the 200 and on my way down this road was pretty deserted and the road condition was really bad.  Today they were ripping up pretty much the whole road so for the first 30 miles I had to ride on the ground down surface and stop few time for single lane traffic and for extra fun they had oiled the last bit of it.

But after that it was all new blacktop and oh … was it smooth.

A little further along and the the voice says bear right, turn right, and then you hear (imagine, actually) her laughing and she says make a u-turn, so I did ( I’m getting pretty good at them). Except this time there was the town Sheriff watching in his car, and followed me out of town where I went back onto the road I had been on. Sheriff turned of once I crossed over the town limits.

I stopped for lunch, and this is a good thing. Then got back on the road and played leapfrog with some semi’s on the way to Highway 94, where the damn voice sent me down the wrong road for one last u-turn. Eventually I made it to Fargo and tomorrow I head for Glendive and then the next day to Havre where I am meeting up with Ian for the last leg home!


Solo To Sarnia Return Day 3

So day three: it started out OK, got away about 9:30ish but was moving pretty slow with a killer headache.  As my head was feeling sensitive, I had to make a few stops to try and adjust my iPod volume. I finally got that sorted and started riding along.

Since I’ve been trying to remember to stop more, I made a first stop to take some lake pics.

Off to a good start, then I decided to stop for a snack at about 12:30 …

After snacking I decided to lay back for awhile, and … oops … fell asleep, so I took some pics of my nap spot …

My head felt better after the nap but now I was kind of behind. Except for gas stops, I basically just rode until I got to Superior. No more pics.

At one gas stop I heard thunder so on went the jacket liner to stay dry, but I think I just caught the edge of the storm and only got about 15 minutes of light showers and probably didn’t need liner.

So just a quick rant – when I started to think about this trip I decided to go ahead and purchase some made-to-measure gear that I had been thinking about for 4 or 5 years, and saving for, for the last 2 or 3.  Well what a big disappointment. I don’t know who they made it for but it wasn’t me. The jacket is huge and the liner is so small that I can’t get a extra layer underneath. When I wear the two together it’s tight and uncomfortable; and the jacket by itself is a whole other story.  When I get back I hope I can talk to them and maybe send it back for some adjustment.

Rant over.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, but my one pet peeve is cars that can’t keep a constant speed. Come on people – I’m pretty sure you have cruise control, so use it. And another thing: stop doing the passing lane dash where you do 50mph until you see a passing lane then speed up to 65/70 mph and only 2 or 3 people can get by you and then slow back down to 50mph when the lane ends and the other 15 people behind you are left frustrated.  Oops … another rant. Oh well.

Anyway, got into Superior about 4:30, went for a swim and a soak in the hot tub and all is good.  Tomorrow off to Fargo.

Solo To Sarnia – The Return – Day 2

The day started out looking kind of grey, there was a thunder storm last night and everything was wet.  This morning I had to add air to the tires, first time this trip. Getting the bike loaded and ready to go became a spectator sport with a lot of people watching and asking questions.  The maintenance guy at the hotel has a GS 1200 so we talked roads for a while, but eventually I was ready to leave and try the Tunnel of Trees road.

The road looked promising when I saw a sign saying twisty road next 20 miles – sweet! It was a very narrow, maybe one and a half lanes wide road with no centre line. First thing I noticed was that the rain last night had washed some sand and gravel into the corners, not one of my favourite things, so I just took it at my own pace.  

The road wasn’t extremely twisty with mostly gentle curves, but it did have a few 90 degree turns, with some going uphill.  I did pretty well until on one of the 90 degree turns I met a car that decided to drive into the corner before trying to turn, I’m pretty sure my pannier just missed his front end. I had to stand the bike up and then lean it back into the corner, and then remember to breath. The rest of the road was okay but as I was coming out of one of the last corners there was a tree down across 3/4 of the road, I avoided that and decided that I would stop at Cross Village at the end of the road for a break.

I decided to have lunch at the Leg Inn in Cross Village.

It gets it name from all the stove legs that go around the top of the building.  The decor was pretty interesting with lots of wood carvings and interesting things, and the food was pretty good too. They specialize in Polish food so I had a cabbage roll, and it was pretty good.

After lunch I took some more pictures and headed back to the bike.  When I had parked I looked for a spot that would be easy to get out of and nothing was around me.

When I came back I saw that I had started something.

After leaving Cross Village I headed for the I75, I was starting to think that the voice in my head was just playing with me with all the turns onto little roads but eventually I came to the Mackinac bridge.

Today was really windy and they had speed restrictions on the bridge for big trucks and motor homes, so my luck I was behind a motor home doing 20mph and to make for more fun the had closed down the right lane so I had to ride on the metal grating in high winds at less than 20mph behind a motor home that couldn’t maintain a speed.  Fun times, when I reached the other end I decided to take a break and breath, so a nice lady took my picture with my bike.

The rest of the ride was slow, as there was construction on US-2 for pretty much the whole distance I had to travel it, so I pulled into Munising at about 4:30ish and day two is done.

Off to Superior tomorrow.

Solo to Sarnia – The Return – Day 1

Today I left my sisters’ in Sarnia to start heading home.  I left about 8:30 and Trish, Jessica, and Rachel helped me get the bike out and pack, and were my send off party. We all managed to hold it together pretty well, Trish tells me the water works started after I left, and I found out if you cry in your helmet the microphone gets really soggy.

After a quick stop for gas I headed over the Blue Water Bridge, and having a Nexus card, the border crossing was really quick because they have a special lane just for Nexus holders.

Once across, I headed through Port Huron and took some back roads to Bay City – this is a place I’d like to come back to and explore the amazing old victorian houses. I’d just like to stare at them for a while – creepy huh?

Anyway, after Bay City I got spit onto the I-75 for about 150 miles, even though it is a major highway the scenery was pretty nice with lots of trees and the road even has some curves.

So today I tried to stop more and I think I managed to stop 3 or 4 stops, not including lunch – yes I actually stopped and ate real food. Well maybe not real food, I had a salad at McDonalds, but I stopped. So now that I am stopping I’ll have to work on taking more pictures.

After all the stopping and eating and then some more small roads I arrived at Harbor Springs my destination for the night.  Why Harbor Springs you ask? Well two set of bikers that I talked to on the way down told me that I have to ride a road called the Tunnel of Trees, one of the best roads on the peninsula so as I have been getting bored of straight roads I’m here to try the twisty road. Any body who knows me will be surprised at this as I’m not a fan of really twisty roads, but man these roads have been really straight and my tires are going square so tomorrow it’s the Tunnel of Trees.

Today was a meh day of just riding to get somewhere, I enjoyed the riding, but I was really down about having to leave Trish, Manny, Jessica, and Rachel. I tried to steal their dog Jelly Bean as she fit in my top box, but they found her, and so I had to leave without any of them.  Besides Buttercup would have missed the pup.

Solo To Sarnia Day 5

I pulled out of Superior around 9:30 thinking I got away early, but again I forgot to factor in the time change.  So my first stop was at the Michigan tourist information centre for some pictures, snack and a map just in case the “voice” and I disagreed again.

Just in case your not sure …

Then it was off on Highway 2 for awhile, where I again got to see a deer up close, luckily she was considerate enough to jump out of the tree’s between the car in front of me with enough space for me to slow down.  I stopped for gas just before turning onto Highway 28, and met a couple on a Honda Goldwing going east, started talking about destinations and the heat, and the guy suggested that I should start out really early to avoid the heat – they start a 2 in the morning! With me and the deer already visiting a couple of times I don’t think I’ll push my luck and travel at dawn.

Then onto Highway 28.  There is probably the best corner of the whole trip when you are going onto the highway, but the road surface is pretty crappy and the front tire got into a nice crack that was following the corner and the front end went a little squirrelly. After thinking a bad word I just relaxed my grip and let the bike sort itself out.  About the first 15 to 20 miles of the road had a lot of tar snakes, at some points it looked like some one had just poured lot of tar allover the lane, it made for some interesting riding.

See the tar snakes on the roadway?

This road is one that Ian and I rode when we went to Ontairio and Quebec in 2008, unfortunately when we rode it it was pouring rain and pretty cold, not fun. This time it was a pretty road.  In 2008, we stopped at a little one pump gas station to warm up and it was kind of surreal, so I stopped at the same store for gas this trip. It wasn’t so menacing in the sun and I had an audience while I pulled in on my enemy – gravel!

An Audience! No pressure though …

After that stop and one more to take pictures …

… and have a snack, I continued on to Munising. The last 27 miles was in the rain, but I didn’t put the liners in – I stayed dry though.  After behaving herself all day the voice decided to play with me just before arriving at the hotel, and tried to have me turn left down a gravel road, I disagreed and decided to pull into a gas station to look at the map, but lo and behold there was my hotel on the right. Then the voice told me I had arrived, like she was right along.

The Lurv Tub

While I was checking in, the clerk told the couple ahead of me that unless the had a reservation they only had two jacuzzi rooms on the ground floor left. The couple didn’t want those rooms so I switched to the main floor room and gave my second floor room to them – yay no stairs!   When I went in to the room I discovered I didn’t just have a jacuzzi I had a lurv tub.

After unpacking and cleaning up I had dinner at the gas station – yum – nuked burrito. Then I played with, screamed at and finally called tech support about, Garmin Basecamp and finally went to bed to ride another day.

Solo To Sarnia Day 4

So this is day 4, and I think this is I have enjoyed the most so far.   I started off early for me at just after 9 and quickly crossed in to Minnesota and stopped to get a map and a pic.

Bison as seen by Timothy Leary

Then off back onto the 94 for a short while, then the voice in my helmet told me to turn left then right on to highway 54 (I think), but not as busy as the 94 not on there for long and the voice told me to go the highway 34, yes finally single lane roads and not very busy so I stopped to take pictures.

Minnesota is very green and lots of trees and a very pretty ride. And then the voice in my head decided to play with me.. Go left she said, so i did onto some side street in a little town. then she said go right, go right, then go left and I was back on the 34 the same road I left.  Now I am always telling Ian that I need to practice my slow speed handling and as he is the one who programmed my GPS I think he was trying to sneak some practice in on me. This was confirmed when the voice told me to turn left and do a u-turn, not likely so I stopped for gas instead.

She recalculated (man did she sound pissed) and I continued on and did something I rarely do.  I stopped for lunch.

Larry’s has it all!

After that the voice redeemed herself and directed me to highway 200, this road was awesome, not twisty and the surface was kind of crap with holes appearing out toward the edges, but the scenery was great and I had the road to myself except for the occasional  person who passed me.  Unfortunately there was no shoulder and all the spots to pullover were gravel, some thing I hate but am going to try to learn to love later.  But take my word for it, trees right up to the side of the road with the occasional break in them for small bodies of water.  From there it was onto the number 2 highway and in to Duluth and over their twisted network of bridges to Superior, and my stay for the night.

So all in all day 1 was great, I was with Ian.  Day 2 I was nervous all day.  Day 3 was just work to get across North Dakota. and Day 4 I really enjoyed and I’m starting to think I can do this.

Solo To Sarnia – Day 2

Well today was my first day on the road by myself.  I have to admit to having a huge case of the jitters. Ian and I have always done long distance trips together, besides flying to see my sister I have not traveled alone in about 16 years, so by myself and on the bike is a big step out of my comfort zone.

So how did the day go?  After saying goodbye to Ian I pulled out of Havre and thought “I am on my way”, for about a mile then I realized my tank bag was open so I stopped and closed it and turned on my iPod.  So I’m off … but not yet, I realized I hadn’t turned on tracking on my Spot, so I stopped again.

Finally I’m on the move. I’ve ridden Highway 2 before about 4 years ago and I recognized some of the land marks and unfortunately the collection of dead animals on the side of the road. About an hour in and I had the opportunity to add to the total – a mother deer and two fawn’s popped out of the ditch and walked across the road! I’m happy to say the brakes on the Strom are in good shape and I slowed it down in time.

When I travel with Ian I have a tendency to want to ride until I need gas, so Ian kept reminding me that I had to stop every so often, so the picture of a historic marker is for him.  

See I did stop once before I needed gas!

And I had to stop one more time after, for some reason my shock started bottoming out on Highway 25, and since there was a kamikaze trucker that I had already passed, I decided to stop, adjust the shock, have a snack and let him get far far away.

From there, it was just a smooth run in to Glendive … except that my GPS tried to send me back onto Highway 94 instead of to my hotel, but we argued and I won and here I am.  And yes Ian … I remembered to eat dinner!

Solo To Sarnia – Day 1

So first day of the trip and we actually got off on time.  I say we because Ian is riding with me to Havre MT. on the first day.

Not much to say about the first part of the route, we went down the number  one to Medicine Hat, so it was ride, gas, eat, ride.

After lunch we took Highway 41 going through cypress hill to the border.  Not a lot of traffic on the road Yay, but really hot boo, until we climbed up in to the hill where it cooled down a little but not for long.  I am wearing new gear and it is pretty cool when moving, but when you stop your temp climbs fast.  I am still on the fence wether I like it or not.  Ian stopped to take some pictures of the road.


you’ll notice that Ian took all the pictures, something I am going to have to remember to do.  Anyway we crossed the border and continued into Havre and here we are.  Ian goes back to Calgary tomorrow and I continue on to Sarnia.