Thursday, June 14, 2012

We took a little ride. (Day 3 - Sudbury to Traverse City)

We went to bed Thursday night knowing that Friday was going to be our longest day, both mileage-wise and time-wise, so I was up before 6 and we were downstairs having breakfast by 6:45 AM. Chili joined us for the complimentary breakfast.

For a little Chili man, he sure has a big appetite!

Chili used my orange as a stability ball to stretch his back and work on his core.
Our goal was to be on the road by 7:30 AM; we pulled out of the hotel parking lot at 7:28 AM. We rock! We stopped at a nearby gas station to fill up and then promptly hopped on the 17/Trans-Canada Highway for the jaunt up to Sault Ste. Marie and a return to the US. 

Filling up with Esso petrol this time!

Another Canadian barn.

Lots of scenery from along the Trans-Canada Highway.

OPP! But in this case, it's Ontario Provincial Police, not Office of Physical Plant.

I thought of my sister-in-law, Casie, when I saw "The Webbly."

We stopped in Blind River for a stretch break and a washroom visit.

Bruce Mines - Canada's First Copper Mine, est. 1847

This chap on a Honda ST1300 from Connecticut passed us and then settled in just in front of us.

Then we passed him on our way into Sault Ste. Marie.

Coming into the Sault...
We got one last tank of Canadian petrol at a PetroCanada in Sault Ste. Marie before making our way to the bridge to the US.

Hard Wok Cafe...ha-ha-ha!

Bridge to USA, this way!
We got onto the bridge back to the US with relative ease and were all set to cross back into the country. But then, we hit...traffic. On the bridge. For 45 minutes. In 80 degree temperatures and sunshine. Ugh. 

The bridge is 50 years old this year.



At least we were going slow enough that I managed to capture this picture!

Ugh...lots and lots of traffic.

Welcome to the United States!
I wish I could say our border crossing back in to the US - OUR HOME COUNTRY - was as easy as the one going into Canada. I wish I could say that. Instead, I have to say - and pardon the language here - the Customs & Border Patrol agent we had was a dick. There's really no other way to describe him. He was an arrogant, brusque, and condescending dick. (Sorry if that offends anyone; sometimes the truth is offensive, eh?) 

When we pulled up, Chris shut off the bike and handed the agent our passports. The agent asked us what our citizenship was. We both answered, "US" but I felt like saying, "Um, it's right on the passports we just handed you." He asked us to remove our helmets. What a chore, especially two up ON the bike. He took his sweet time looking at our photos and our faces. Then he proceeded to deliver the Spanish Inquisition - a litany of questions not at all relevant to why we'd been in Canada. With each question, I grew more and more frustrated. We are citizens of the United States of America...returning to our home country shouldn't be so difficult! One of the questions he asked us was the plate for the bike. I knew it and answered him, but after the fact Chris and I said we should have told him, "There's 13 cameras trained on this bike, you mean to tell us you can't look at a monitor and see for yourself?!?" Argh, the whole process was SO irritating! 

Once we were finally released, we rolled ahead to pay the toll for the bridge that we'd just sat on for 45 minutes and got the heck away from that mess! We took I-75 down to St. Ignace to get to the Mackinac Bridge to cross from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the Lower Peninsula, or "the mitten."

Once on the Lower Peninsula, we exited I-75 and got on US 31 and then shot over to the coast of Sturgeon Bay on a local road. It was getting close to 2 PM and we were hungry. Luckily, our friend Clay told us about a place in Cross Village called the Legs Inn. We made our way to the Legs Inn and had a delicious lunch! The Legs Inn features authentic Polish dishes and - not being one to shy away from authentic dishes - I opted for the Zurek soup and an order of potato & Farmer's cheese pierogies for my lunch. The Zurek (zhoo-rek) was phenomenal. It was a creamy soup of Polish sausage, red potatoes, and hard boiled eggs. Yes, hard boiled eggs. And I was phenomenal. My pierogies were delicious, too! Chris ordered the BBQ beef brisket sandwich (decidedly un-Polish), but it was just as tasty. AND! I was able to have unsweetened iced tea. This meal was, as they say, full of win!

Chili joined us for this lunch. Here, he's checking out the Authentic Polish Lunch offerings.

Chili approved of the Zurek soup.

My pierogies.

Chris' BBQ beef brisket sandwich and Cole slaw.

Some shots of the interior of the Legs Inn.

And now a few exterior shots...

Why the Legs Inn? Give this a read!
After lunch, it was time for a meandering ride along the coast of Lake Michigan and its bays, starting with a ride down Route 119, also known as The Tunnel of Trees.

We rolled through the swanky little towns of Harbor Springs and Charlevoix, either of which I'd be happy to call home!

This one is for sale! Where do we sign?!?

NCMC...I wonder if they're hiring?!? Nah...Michigan is too flat!

The sidewalks of Charlevoix were lined with petunias planted along the curb!

To the sailboat, lovey!
US 31 led us into Traverse City. We passed our hotel and continued onto Old Mission Peninsula to visit the lighthouse located on the 45th parallel...or halfway between the Equator and the North Pole! Old Mission Peninsula was beautiful! I really want to return to Traverse City for a vacation - there's so much to see and do. We picked up brochures and tourism guides so we can plot and plan our return.

The lighthouse keeper's office.

Lots of Michigan wine-in-the-making! There were grapevines and cherry trees all over the peninsula.

Grapes, grapes, and more grapes!
After our jaunt up the peninsula to the lighthouse, we circled back to check in to our hotel. We showered quickly and headed out for dinner at the nearby Red Mesa Grill. After 406 miles and 10.5 hours on the road, I needed a margarita! Red Mesa Grill makes their own sour mix (which they sell to go!...just not in moto-friendly!) and my margarita was divine! The food at Red Mesa Grill was quite yummy! Chris ordered the chicken and black bean burrito (hold the beans!). I started with a cup of Island Shrimp and Chorizo soup and then had the Roasted Pineapple (squee!) Quesadilla with Chicken appetizer as my entree. Yummo!!! After dinner, we ducked into the little market next door to buy drinks to take back to our room. 

After dropping off our drinks in the room, we crossed the street and hit the beach. I dipped a toe (or a few) into the lake, whereas Chris went in shin-deep. We walked on the beach for a bit to stretch our legs, but we both agreed that we were spent. The walk on the beach just served to postpone going to bed until an acceptable hour (something like 10 PM instead of, say, 8!). 

Yum, yum, yum!!!

The motel directly across the street from us was host to the "Road Hogs."

Chris braved the waters up to his shins.

Me? I just went in toes-deep.

One of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Another of my favorites!

We saw these two adventure tourers at one of the hotels across from ours.
After our beach walk, we returned to our room to stretch out and watch some TV before turning in. Like I said earlier, we did 406 miles on Day 3, which was the most miles I've ever done in one day on the bike! We were on the road for 10.5 hours (7:30 AM to 6 PM), but we were stuck in 45 minutes of traffic at the bridge/border, and we stopped in Blind River, Cross Village, and at the our actual on-the-road time was probably about 7.5 hours.

Stay tuned for Day 4...the day of the BBQ!!!

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