Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sudbury Ontario to Interlochen Michigan

It was 9C at dawn this morning but warmed up while we were packing, checking tires and getting the trailer hooked up. We finally got underway about 10:00 AM under a clear sky with a gentle breeze blowing. I had found the trailer feeling odd when I hauled it to the Freedom Rally a few weeks ago. With the proper 20 PSI instead of the 12 that I found in the tires, it went much better. The rebuilt suspension also felt better, leading me to believe that the rear was damped a little softer than previously.

Traffic was stopped by police on the Southeast Bypass where the road was down to one lane due to clean up operations for a large wreck. It looked like a semi had gone off the road and down an embankment. (We later found out that it was a milk truck that had gone over after hitting a car that had strayed into its lane. The car driver, an elderly lady, did not survive.) While waiting we talked to a couple on a Yamaha Warrior who were returning home to Port Elgin after a tour of Newfoundland.

Along Highway 17 to the Soo, we met a lot of bikes, mostly Harleys, heading east. This was about the right timing for riders returning from Sturgis.

On roads like this, which I have traveled so often in the last forty years, my mind goes into some kind of a meditative state and the landmarks, big and small, slide by until, all of a sudden, you're a hundred miles away.

We stopped at the Subway in Blind River for lunch at 11:58. No line when we went in but there were a number of people queued up by the time we had our order. Perfect timing. Not quite so perfect were the free breakfast coupons we got for tomorrow for any Subway in Canada. Unfortunately, we'll be in Michigan so Sandy gave them to the couple at the next table. BTW, Subway Canada has a new steak and bacon melt sandwich on the menu. I'll have to try this sometime soon.

Riding along, I noticed that I was getting a pain in my left hip that was shooting down my left leg and causing a burning in my shin. It looks like the sciatica is back and I'll have to watch my posture while I'm riding.

As we approached the Soo, clouds started to build. On the new four lane passing Echo Bay, it actually started raining a bit but that stopped by the time we stopped for coffee before crossing the border. The sky to the south, however, still looked threatening.

Since this whole watch list deal, I have started to experience a sense of dread approaching the US border. I never know what will happen any more. The line wasn't too long although a large RV was blocking the lanes for a while. When I pulled into the booth, the agent asked if I ever had problems crossing the border. I told him yes and that I could categorically state I was not James L. Robinson and was even a different colour. He asked if I had the registration for the bike, a new question, and I had to dig it out of the bottom of the fairing pocket, leaving the rest of the stuff there in total disarray. After asking whether the trailer was a pop-up, he said I handed the Robinson question well and said that it was too bad that, with all the technology available, the NEXUS system couldn't make the confusion go away. Then he sent us on our way.

Before we reached the toll booth, we encountered an whole new thing and were pulled aside into a line of three other vehicles. They told us to walk to the front of the line with the people from the other cars and a white panel truck with radiation signs on it drove down the line. Then they released us. It looks like they were practicing with a new back scatter radar unit.

At the gas station, we fueled and repacked the fairing pocket. Then we headed south on I-75 listening to MP3 tunes, with the volume readjusted to a consistent 98 Db, on the Zumo (thanks, Brother Bear).

About 20 miles before St. Ignace, the dark clouds ahead and a light spit of rain caused me to stop under an overpass and put on our rain suits. In the five minutes it took to do this, the rain clouds disappeared. I have no idea where they could have gone but am pretty sure that when you put on the suits you step into an alternate universe where everything is different.

Dark clouds approaching St Ignace (before rain suits)

On the Mackinac Bridge, there were moderately high winds, reducing the trucks to 20 MPH. The right lane was, as usual, closed and we had to follow one such truck over the steel grating. Low speeds are the worst on this surface on a bike but, again, it didn't bother me at all. I am really enjoying the calm feeling I get riding in what used to be nerve wracking conditions.

We stopped in Gaylord at McDonald's for supper.  I checked the oil as I fueled up to be sure that wasn't contributing to the slightly elevated temperature gauge. The oil was fine so I attributed it to the strong cross winds, which have always affected the air through the rad. Stewey called to see if we would be in before supper and I told him they should go without us. He also said the Gold Wing club had taken our usual end of the campground so we were into different real estate.

We rode across the Alba Road to US 131, followed that to Kalkaska and then took M 72 to US 31 which goes right by the CycleMoore gate.

We arrived at the campground about 7:00 PM and found Stewey, Zever, Tvlle and his wife sitting in the pavilion. We set the trailer up and, just after dark, Wrong Turn and KT pulled in with her Jeep towing their Kwik-Kamp trailer. Jim isn't quite back to riding yet after the spring wreck and a setback when the titanium bar in his upper arm broke, but they were here.

After an evening of visiting, we turned in at 10:30 without even having started a fire.

Today's Route (392 miles):

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