After breakfast, Chris went outside with a towel to dry off the bike. When we took our stuff down to the bike before I walked to the lobby to check out, an older gentleman with a yellow Goldwing had come down to his bike to remove his cover. He said to Chris, "That thing (pointing to our Connie) is bone dry! How did you manage that?" Chris responded, "It's a Kawasaki...it doesn't get wet!" and we all shared a laugh.
I left Chris to put the bags back on the bike while I went to check us out. When I got back, Chris was still talking to the gentleman, who'd asked for some riding advice on cornering. Turns out he and his riding partner were headed the way we'd just come, so Chris also gave him some insight on the roads we'd been on. We got suited up and left the hotel just after 8 AM.
Since we'd gassed up in Sault Ste. Marie, we didn't have to make an immediate gas stop Saturday morning. We went a little over an hour and about 60 miles before stopping at a gas station across from the Little River Casino Resort.
|Time to put some American petrol back in this beast!|
|Chili spies on Smooches the Adventure Moose, the C14's permanent inhabitant.|
We decided to stop at a Wesco gas station for our stretch break. When we walked into the station, we were immediately overcome by the aroma of freshly popped popcorn. The smell was intoxicating! I guess Wesco's popcorn is "a thing" in Michigan. Anyway, I'm weak and while I was waiting in line to pay for Chris' Diet Coke and my Gold Peak unsweetened iced tea (y'all have NO IDEA how thrilled it was to find bottled unsweetened tea!), I caved and bought a small bag of the popcorn. I was wooed by the smell! We went outside and shared the popcorn while enjoying our beverages and stretching our legs. Let me just say, it's a good thing I don't live in Michigan because that was some awesome popcorn!
|Are you familiar with the viral "honey badger" video? |
Channel the narrator's voice and repeat after me:
"This is a house of flavors..."
|This. is. SPARTA!!!|
|Approaching Grand Rapids.|
Clay gave Chris a hearty handshake and me a big hug. It was great to meet him and, in short order, folks like Eric, Sam, Wally, Matt, Nathan & Maggie and their son Miles, Clay's wife Jaci, our friend John's wife Kathy, Ted, and Dan (among others). We saw our friends John, Jim, and Ed again (we'd just seen them at the beginning of May at the Spring Meet in West Virginia). We ducked into Clay's house to change out of our riding clothes into shorts and t-shirts (it was in the 80s and sunny). While in the kitchen, Clay handed over the box of cookies that I'd shipped to his house ahead of our arrival. I'm kinda sorta known on ST.N for my cookie-baking prowess. I try to take a batch or two to every meet for sharing. For the BBQ, I made a batch of chocolate-chocolate chip maple bacon cookies. They were phenomenal, if I do say so myself!
We headed to the back of the house to Clay's barn where all of the food was. I started to unwrap the cookies and immediately felt like a flame attracting moths. I was swarmed by Chris, John, Sam, Kathy, Ed, and Eric! I let them all take a cookie before heading into the barn to put them out with the rest of the food. That's where we met a few more folks. Shortly thereafter, Clay announced that everything was ready and everyone grabbed a plate and dug in. Clay's friend has a smoker on a trailer and had come over to prepare a FEAST - pulled pork, BBQ chicken, sausages, hot dogs, stew, baked beans (with PINEAPPLE, y'all!), and hamburgers. I'm tell ya, it was QUITE the spread!!!
|Hail, hail, the gang's all here!|
|The spread after everyone had been through it.|
You can't appreciate all the food that was there, so trust me when I say it was a lot!
|Sitting in the shade chatting with Ed, Ted, and Jim.|
When I got up to refill my drink, Clay asked me if I wanted a tour of his gardens, which I definitely did! One of the threads on ST.N where Clay and I post is the gardening thread in the off-topic section (we can't talk motorcycles all the time!).
|Clay's garden for heat-tolerant plants like peppers and tomatoes. |
He has an irrigation system under the tarp.
|Down by the creek at the edge of his property, Clay has his "cool" plants like lettuce, radishes, and peas. He has this rigged with irrigation using water from the creek and a solar-powered battery. Genius!|
|One of Clay's grapevines. The grapevine at our house came from Clay last year!|
|Our Kawasaki Concours 14.|
|Jim's Aprilia Mana|
|Sam's Triumph Thruxton|
|Matt's Yamaha Super Tenere (love this bike)|
|Wally's Aprilia Caponord (I'd never seen one of these before!)|
|I LOVED Michael's Ducati...it was the "prettiest" bike there.|
|All of the bikes in Clay's stable! His Suzuki Bandit 1200 is the third from the left.|
|Clay, Miles, Maggie, Nathan, and Scott|
|Ed and Clay|
|Scott, Sam, and Chris|
|Miles and Nathan in the trampoline.|
On Clay and Jaci's suggestion, we took M-89 to get to Battle Creek rather than the highway. We left Clay's about 5:50 and got to our hotel - the Hampton Inn - just past 7 PM. We checked in - and a lovely check-in it was thanks to Franklin at the front desk! - and headed up to our room for a quick shower before we walked to Bob Evans next door for dinner. When we were walking back to the hotel, we talked about going for a swim at the hotel but decided we were too tired. We returned to our room and watched "The Hangover 2" on HBO.
Our on-the-road time for Saturday was only about 5.5 hours and we covered approximately 262 miles.
Stay tuned for Day 5...