Friday, August 09, 2013

Interlochen Michigan - The Leelanau Peninsula

The morning dawned chilly and the early risers gathered around the smoldering remains of the campfire sipping coffee and trying to warm up. The breaker on the campground electric pole tripped a few times during the night because everyone was running portable heaters and it couldn't handle the load. Wilson had another pole closer to him but it only had 30 amp plugs, so he said he would get an adapter today.

Wilson, Sandy and Scotty trying to warm up

The overloaded electric hookup pole

Linda and Bob rode over from Honor and we kicked around ideas for breakfast. Finally, Scotty, Marlene, Bob, Linda, Sandy and I jumped in the truck for the short drive over to Dilbert's Restaurant. It was a really short drive since Dilbert's is almost next door. There was an empty table for six just sitting there so we took it. I ordered Dilbert's stuffed hash browns. This was a concoction of sausage, mushrooms, onions and other things sandwiched between two layers of hash browned potatoes. Covered in cheese. Plus eggs and toast. It was good but I learned two things. First, I'll never lose weight eating this way. Second, I should have split this with at least two other people. On the way back, Marlene chose to walk. And she beat us.

Dilbert's stuffed hash brown potatoes

Back at the campground, we kicked around ideas for the day's ride. Since Bob and Linda had never been here before, we decided to tour the Leelanau Peninsula. For a change, we also decided to do it clockwise because, in eleven previous years, we have never done it that way.

I think we had eleven bikes and I ended up leading. We rode west on 31 to Honor and then cut up to M 22 via Deadstream Road. This is a nice little road with a low speed limit because it passes between many summer homes and cottages as it goes between Platte and Little Platte Lakes. On M 22, we rode north to Empire and the Sleeping Bear Dunes Visitor Center. There were some nice winding stretches as we approached Empire but they would have been so much better if we hadn't caught up to that pesky car that was just noodling along.

Deadstream Road

More Deadstream Road

A pastoral scene along Michigan 22

The Visitor Centre in Empire

The Visitor Center was busy when we got there but we managed to find enough parking spaces for all the bikes. Inside was jammed but we wandered around and looked at some exhibits. Since our next stop was the Pierce Stocking Drive, a fee area, some people paid here. Others had season or senior passes and the rest of us decided to pay at the gate. I tried to orient Linda and Bob as to where we were and where we were going on the large relief map. When we came out, most of the cars had left.

Wildlife exhibit - Badger don't care......

Leaving Empire, we continued north on M 22 and bore left on M 109 to the Pierce Stocking access road. After paying the fee or showing our receipts and passes, we headed up the winding one way road through the trees. It was good even after catching up to the first car because it was doing a reasonable pace. Then it caught up to a minivan that was just crawling.

The first pullout was full, probably with all the cars that had left the Visitor Center ahead of us, so I stopped at the second where there was lots of room. This was a picnic area but the dunes overlook was just over a hill. Scotty said we were trying to kill him with the uphill walking and rode around to the overlook.

Scotty parked at the dunes overlook

Linda recording the scenery while Bob waits

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Chris2Tall and his Linda

Linda and Bob

Scotty and Marlene went on ahead to the next viewing area, the most popular because it overlooks the 400 foot hill down to the Lake Michigan shore. They found and saved us a few parking spots which was good because they were at a premium. We followed on but, as we headed up the hill (winding again) on the second lobe of the Drive, we got stuck behind another car that couldn't seem to find the accelerator. At the lot, we filled the spaces the advance guard had secured.

It was a short walk uphill to the crest of the dunes and only a bit further to the platform overlooking the long drop to the lake. People are welcome to walk down but those who can't make it back up are charged for the rescue. There were lots of people making the descent, which seemed to go a lot faster than the following ascent.

I do have to say that the percentage of pretty girls at this location was far above the typical average. Not that I noticed, mind you, because I am happily married. Scotty pointed it out to me.....

Rainman Ray is King of the Hill (until Fireball Lisa gets up there)

The long slope down to the lake (the specks are people)

Getting ready to leave the overlook parking lot

We finished the Drive and continued north on M 109 until I got to a spot that taught me intersections look very different when you are going an unfamiliar direction. Missing a right turn, I struck a dead end at Glen Haven, which is basically a building and a parking lot. We turned around in the lot which had a lot of loose sand that just about claimed Furhead. I didn't realize that Glen Haven is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear Point Coast Guard Station and Maritime Museum. We've never been there so it is on the list for next time.

A short way back, I made the correct turn to get us back to M 109 which connected back with M 22 in Glen Arbor. The crowds there were heavy, especially considering it was only Friday. I'd hate to see it tomorrow.

Baby biker in Glen Arbor

From Glen Arbor, we followed M 22 through Leland, which was also overflowing with tourists. Continuing on, the road got a bit twistier as we approached Northport. Expecting more heavy tourist traffic, I led the group to the waterfront park where there was a lot of parking. We walked up the hill a couple of blocks and found the main street empty. We could have easily parked up there and Scotty again said I was trying to kill him. On the walk up, Chris pointed out a car making a U-turn and identified it as a Tesla. This was the first time either one of us had seen on of these electric cars and it looked good. Very good.

We selected a restaurant called The Garage for lunch. It had large overhead garage doors along one side which were open to give access to the outside tables. We sat inside. After the big breakfast, Sandy and I split a pulled pork sandwich and coleslaw. Very tasty.

Bob, Furhead, Linda and Sandy

Chris2Tall, Linda, Fireball, Rainman and Scotty

Scotty and Big Grouch

After lunch, we walked back to the park and retrieved our bikes. Since Linda and Bob liked lighthouses, I led the group north to the tip of the peninsula and the Leelanau State Park. The road up is a pleasant ride with some interesting curves. The park was free to Michigan residents but the rest of us paid $8.40 per vehicle. We parked and walked in to the lighthouse. A sign advertised a Lobster-fest next week for which they were taking reservations.

One of Sherm's crafts

Sandy and Big Grouch

Wait a minute.....

We left the park and rode back down to Northport where we connected with M 22 and headed south, down the west shore of Traverse Bay to Traverse City. Traffic was still light until we hit the city. In retrospect, I should have taken M 72 west on the outskirts because it was now Friday rush hour. Still, we managed to stay together through the traffic as we navigated to US 31 and then headed back out of town on Silver Lake Road.

The Leelanau shore line

Traverse Bay

From Silver Lake Road, we took Secor Road to Long Lake Road, one of my favourite little stretches that winds through the trees along the lake and comes out back at the crossroads in Interlochen. We fueled up and headed back to the campground ending a  pleasant day of riding.

At Cycle-Moore, we found that Slammer had arrived in his Honda CRV from North Carolina. One of our favourite people, he had made the trek up just to see all of us. He, Rainman and Fireball were going to Frankfort for a fish fry but Scotty had a different  idea.

Slammer, Marlene and Scotty

Fireball Lisa and Rainman Ray

The Interlochen Golf Club was just down the road and advertised fish or steak dinners on Fridays. Today was Friday so the same crew that had breakfast together wandered on over. They put us in the Hagen Room. Walter Hagen, a dashing rake of a character, was one of the major figures in the development of professional golf and retired in this area. Scotty had fish and said it was OK but not spectacular. Sandy and I started with the thickest clam chowder I've ever had and then split the surf and turn option. She took the breaded shrimp and baked potato while I had most of the steak and veggies. The steak, a 12 oz sirloin with an excellent rub, was tender and it was spectacular.

After supper, someone got not one but two fires going. Everyone sat around and swapped tales as various bottles were passed around the circle. There were several kinds of shine including a new apple pie recipe and a lot of commercially made drinks including a particularly nice liqueur called Buttershots that Slammer brought. There were even Jello shots being liberally handed out.

It was a great evening, just the kind of time that makes VROC gatherings special. Mindful of getting enough rest, Sandy headed for the trailer about 10:00 PM while I lasted until 11:30. We are not the party people we used to be.

Today's Route (127 motorcycle miles):

1 comment:

Linda G. said...

I am reading your blog posts and enjoying the trip all over again. Thanks again for showing Bob and me some of the sights on the Lower Peninsula.