Friday, August 14, 2015

Interlochen Michigan - Sleeping Bear Dunes

We were up and showered shortly after 7:00 AM. It was 70 degrees out with 92% humidity. The forecast called for the humidity to drop to the mid 50's as the temperature went up to the high 80's in the afternoon. On the bright side, atypically, there was no rain forecast for the weekend.

We drove straight to Dilbert's Restaurant where Ray, Lisa, Gearman and The Grouch had already ordered. We took a table next to them and were soon joined by the Indiana Three (Jim, Tim and Dee). I had an omelet but the piece de resistance was Big Jim's order of biscuits and gravy.

Rainman Ray, Fireball Lisa, Gearman and Big Grouch

Sandy and her decaf

Big Jim, Tim and Dee

Serious biscuits and gravy

Big Jim tucking in

Back at the campground, I unloaded the bike from the trailer. Since I hadn't replaced the stabilizer jack that got destroyed on our way to Arkansas last year, I had to dig out the jack stands so the trailer wouldn't tip up when the bike hit the ramp. In all the sand here, the stabilizer jacks would have been a pain anyway.

Big Jim had planned to show Tim and Dee the Old Mission Peninsula today. This is the spit of land that protrudes into Grand Traverse Bay, dividing it into its East and West segments. Since they hadn't been here before and Sleeping Bear Dunes would probably be the other must see place, I suggested we do the Dunes today since they would be much busier tomorrow. For my suggestion, I won the privilege of leading.

The group headed west on US 31, stopping at the first gas station we saw. Then we rode into Honor and took Deadstream Road across to M 22. The ride north to Empire is pleasant, with a few areas of winding road. In Empire, we parked at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park Visitor Centre, where we found surprisingly few cars in the parking lot.

Fueling up on US 31

Interesting exhaust choices

I had been explaining to Tim and Dee about the National Park Service passport book. I stamped mine again and they got one for themselves. We bought park passes so we could explore the Pierce-Stocking Scenic Drive, the best way to get a taste of the dunes in a short time.

Riding north out of Empire, we followed the road to the gate of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This is a single lane, one-way road that winds up to Lake Michigan and back. Usually we get stuck behind some painfully slow car driver but today there was nothing ahead of us. The first stop was at the Dunes Overlook and the second was at the Lake Michigan Overlook.

Riding north on M22

Pierce Stocking covered bridge

Dune Overlook

Tim and Dee

Rainman, Sandy, Grouch and Fireball at Dune Overlook

Intriguingly short diesel pusher (Allegro Breeze)

Where did the other folks go?

This is a fun little road

Wow, there were parking spaces at the Lake Overlook

People at the top looking down

Fair warning

That is over 450 feet down

Same photo, full zoom

Having seen the wonders of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, we had to decide on the next step. We could go on up and around the Leelanau Peninsula. Or, since it was near lunch time, we could head back south for a meal at the famous Cherry Hut in Beulah. Lunch won out.

The group followed me south on M22 all the way to Crystal Lake, where we turned left on Crystal Lake Drive and traced the lakeshore all the way to the village of Beulah.

Crystal Lake

The parking lot at the Cherry Hut was quite full but they were able to get us all seated at one table within ten minutes. Many of us ordered cherry pie a la mode, but I had a BLT on rye. The sandwich was excellent while all the pie folks seemed happy as well.

The Cherry Hut in Beulah Michigan

Big Jim

One table, happy group

Big Grouch's manly reading glasses

The sun was baking down on us so the next request was to head back to the campground. It was a straight shot across US 31 through Honor, getting back about 2:00 PM.

Sandy and I walked over to the campground office. The overnight rates are very reasonable but we aren't camping. However, we are here during the days and the trailer and bike are staying here, so I wanted to see about paying some kind of day rate. I was told not to worry about it, just enjoy. These are great folks. The also have some strange machines laying around.

Back at Cycle-Moore

This was an odd machine

Honda SilverWing Interstate (mid-80's vintage)

What is this?

We spent the rest of the afternoon swapping stories and just visiting. Big (OK, not so big these days) Norm and Betty showed up on their Voyager trike. They were moteling too, but at another place on 31 because the Interlochen Motel was full when they called. They were only paying $100 but had no AC or TV. I had a chance to have a longer talk with Tim. It's funny how you will cross paths with someone for years and yet never get a chance to sit down and get to know them. We set some of that right today.

Dee and Betty

Tim and Big Norm

After an afternoon sitting around visiting, we started to wonder about supper. It was fish night at Rico's. In fact, Friday was fish night at most places here, suggesting to me a strong Catholic influence back in the day. Rico's it was. We took Tim and Dee with us in the truck while Grouch, Rainman and Fireball rode.

Rico's was hopping so it took them about twenty minutes to set up one table for all of us. While others ordered pizza or fish, Sandy and I took advantage of the ample salad bar and the clam chowder that went with it. I had more than enough and enjoyed it all.

Waiting for a table at Rico's

After supper, I took Dee and Tim for a drive down Silver Lake Road and back up around Long Lake. Returning to the campground, we found they had set up the cornhole boards. Watching the first few games made me realize that we had some serious players here. Then I remembered that Big Jim had won the tournament at WWR in Bryson City last year. One different feature here was that, as the sun went down, rings of blue LED's lit up to illuminate the holes. Nice. Knowing I have no skill at this game, Sandy and I watched and visited with the other spectators.

We left the bike at the campground for the night and were back at the motel by 10:00. I guess we are just not the late night folks that we used to be. One other thing, though, is that this is a camping rally. Moteling at a camping rally takes you outside the mainstream activities. The same can be said for camping at a motel rally. But both are still better than not being there.

We were in bed and asleep before very long.

Today's Route (78 motorcycle miles):

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