Kara Lee’s family made sure I had a big breakfast before I hit the road — eggs, pancakes, bacon, cherries, tea. I gave everyone jars of cherry-rhubarb jam — a favorite of their family only available seasonally — that I had bought the day before as a thank you for their hospitality. It was crazy to think that just two days ago I had arrived feeling shy and struggling to remember names, but now had developed a genuine fondness for everyone and was sad to be leaving (the phone debacle really bonded us, haha). In a way, I experienced a similar thing with Zac and his family too. I hadn’t seen Zac in awhile and had never met his wife. It was a little awkward at first, but soon we settled into the comfortable conversation of yore, and, when I left, it felt bittersweet. I figured I’d keep experiencing a version of this with every visit on the trip.
Tim snapped this pic on my way out:
The forecast called for light rain the first 15-30 minutes of my ride, but this turned into on-and-off drizzling all morning. To be completely honest, it was a pretty nice, accommodating way to get some practice riding in the rain. I didn’t even put on my rain paints. My jacket was goretex and my boots waterproof. With the big windscreen on the bike, only the bottoms of my pants would get wet, and they’d dry quickly in the wind.
The rain ended completely by the time I reached Harbor Springs, MI (a cute little harbor/resort town) for lunch:
Harbor Springs marks the southern terminus of Michigan’s scenic “Tunnel of Trees” drive (M-119), which would be my first famous motorcycling road of the trip. It was a blast! My pics don’t do it justice, but basically you drive a narrow, windy road (no shoulder and no centerline) under a seemingly endless canopy of trees. Every so often, the canopy breaks on the west, giving way to spectacular bluff views of Lake Michigan. It’s a little like the Big Sur of Michigan. All along the way there are cabins, ranging from charming and rustic to uber expensive-looking. Unfortunately it all seems to be private land so there aren’t really places to stop and take nice pics.
The northern terminus of the “Tunnel of Trees” is the tiny but kooky town of Cross Village. It’s home to, amongst other things, a historic Polish restaurant, The Legs Inn, that made me kinda wish I hadn’t already eaten lunch. I picked up my first trip souvenir at a little tourist trap shop in town:
Feeling upbeat, I crossed the iconic Mackinac Bridge into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve heard the bridge can be scary on a motorcycle (they even have a number you can call to have someone else ride your bike across for you). But, I knew to stay out of the grated lane, and it was a bright, sunny, windless day, so my crossing was easy and entirely pleasant.
In the Upper Peninsula, the roads started to look like this:
And had signs like this:
Finally, I arrived at my campsite — Tahquamenon Falls State Park — and set up the hammock:
I then headed out to take in the Upper Tahquamenon Falls:
And on a trip even further up the road to find cell reception, I saw a black bear and snagged this dusky glamour shot of the TU: