Our dinner plans for the evening involved meeting my mother in law and her husband down the road, back in Petoskey, so we set out heading south on US 31. Leaving the parking lot, I felt something wasn't right with my bike but I figured it was just the uneven road surface. Once we got up to speed, I knew something wasn't right and a glance down at my rear tire confirmed it. My brand new Avon tire was flat. We pulled in to the parking lot of a motel and assessed the situation. Where was I going to find someone to fix a motorcycle tire at 4:45 on a Saturday afternoon in Mackinaw City? Long story short, Northwoods Harley Davidson in Gaylord, Michigan sent a truck with a trailer to pick me up.
After an hour of waiting, we were back on the road, this time with me riding in a Ford pickup, headed south on I75 for Gaylord. Our dinner plans obviously had to be scrapped so Dad and Jason went on ahead to meet us at the dealership. The hope was that the mechanic would wait for us and get my motorcycle back on the road so we could make it back to Traverse City. But, being a Saturday night, by the time we arrived, he had left. And who could blame him really? He promised that he would come in early the next morning and have the bike ready when they opened at 11.
We had no choice but to get a motel room down the road and wait it out. Thankfully, the nearest motel was next door to a great restaurant, the Big Buck Brewery, and we had a great meal. Premium cuts of beef two nights in a row, this was living! All things considered, we had a great day of riding and covered a lot of miles and saw some great scenery that we hadn't seen before. We went to bed satisfied.
The next morning we picked up my bike and got ready to head back to Traverse City to collect our things. I was pretty sore about the fact that my new tire had been ruined by a small nail and had to be replaced completely. It took me a while to cool off, but I was thankful that we were able to get it fixed so easily, albeit not inexpensively.
Since Gaylord, Michigan had not been in our original plans, we had to rethink our route for the day. We set out heading west on M 32 and wound our way back to East Jordan. The road was quite enjoyable as it curved and carved its way back into hill country.
After stopping for a brief caffeine break in East Jordan, we kept our westerly direction taking county road C 48. I noticed that the skies had darkened considerably. I made a mental note to send nasty emails to the weather forecasters who had called for sunny weather all weekend long.
Passing through the little town of Ellsworth, we paused to don our jackets again which was a wise choice because soon the clouds delivered what they were advertising.
Turning south, we found ourselves once again on US 31 riding in and out of light rain showers. By the time we got back to Traverse City it looked like the sun was going to win out and we made quick work of collecting our stuff from our original motel room.
After fueling up our thirsty Harley's one last time, we continued our way south on 31 as the busy strip malls and definitely not quaint part of Traverse City, Michigan shrunk in our rear view mirrors. It was early afternoon by then and we decided that for all intents and purposes, the trip was over. We were all anxious to get home to our respective families, so we had a quick bite to eat under the old golden arches of McDonalds and pressed on toward what now seemed eminent, more rain.
Sure enough, as we made the left turn onto M 113, the gray skies let go of what they were holding on to. It actually started out harmlessly enough, just a light shower. As we proceeded though, the intensity picked up and soon it was a regular downpour.
We turned south on US 131 for our final leg of the journey and continued on in the rain as the two lane highway turned into interstate about 20 miles north of Cadillac. Normally this is an enjoyable stretch of road as it is fairly new and rolls and winds its way through some lovely countryside. Today though, all concentration was on riding safely through the rain.
I had just gotten my mind used to the fact that we would be navigating the wet stuff for the remaining 90 or so miles when it suddenly stopped, and just as if it hadn't rained at all, we found ourselves on clear, dry pavement. We picked up our speed and had an uneventful ride the rest of the way.
Overall, this had been a great trip. We explored some new roads, had some great meals, and saw some new scenery in an area we love to ride.
There is just something about taking a trip on a motorcycle and being on the open road that caters to our natural desire to seek out adventure and find freedom. Discovering new roads, enjoying some of our old favorites, and experiencing the countless little things that happen along the way are all part of that adventure. When you can share them with other people, they develop meaning. And when those you share them with are family, the meaning is even more significant. That blessing is something not everyone has. It is a blessing I'll never take for granted.
We rode this basic trip in August. Rode the tunnel of trees crossed the bridge to the UP and rode along the northern shore of Lake Michigan and then north to Newberry. The next day we rode from Newberry to Whitefish Point ant then back to Mackinaw City. It is a great ride and not too far from home.
Sat Nov 2, 2013 at 2:10 PM
This trip sounds like a great one. We have a place in Charlevoix and I think I'll explore the area beyond Harbor Springs my trip up there, especially. The tunnel of trees. Thanks for writing it up.
Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 9:30 PM
Nice story. I just bought my first bike in mid-September and found this site by accident last weekend and tried your Croton-Hardy Dam route. It was a lot of fun on to follow your route and ride on roads I hadn't been on before. Your Traverse City article has inspired me to make that trip next Spring.
Thu Nov 1, 2012 at 8:14 PM
Hi Todd - what a great trip!! northern michigan is a great place to explore...I am looking forward to several days of riding around the U.P. this summer. Be safe and enjoy!!
Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 3:38 PM
Great reading journal! Thank you SO much for taking the time to post. Hubby and I are heading on that trip next month and plan to hit all the places you enjoyed. God Bless!
Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 9:56 AM
Todd, sounds like you guys had a great time together. You are so right about when sharing these trips with family & friends how even more special it is. And remember.... you can never go wrong with a Bob Evans breakfast!!!LOL
Sun Oct 14, 2007 at 3:17 PM