Days 19-22: Minnesota and Michigan

Day 19: I was in the town of Sioux Falls, so I HAD to check out the actual waterfalls.

A view from the observation deck.

I only had to ride on I-fucking-90 for 17 miles, but it made sure to blow me damn-near off the road at least 3 times. I hate that road. If I ever do a trip like this again, I will pay someone to truck me and my motorcycle from Wyoming to wherever I want to be. It really is that terrible.

Shortly before I was off that cursed highway, I was in Minnesota. All was well, until MN-23 would point less north and more east.  Fuck those crosswinds! Even at 65mph, I was nearly blown off the road numerous times. The evening before, I had secured plans to meet up with friends somewhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who were on a dirt bike adventure. It meant that I would make a stop somewhere in between.


I found a lovely Airbnb host in the Saint Cloud, MN area. She was well read and well traveled, and her small dog was kind enough to accompany me on a walk through the neighborhood, on a path through wetlands and back home.

After a solid night of sleep on a really comfortable bed, I said goodbye to my host, took my little buddy on a quick walk, and packed up the bike up in light rain.

Duluth, MN, home of my beloved Aerostich Roadcrafter, was kind of on the way to the hotel where I was going to meet my friends in Michigan. The power of safety gear compelled me! I pulled up front to a picture-perfect parking spot and captured the moment.


Inside, there was a showroom full of the products they sell online, suits to try on,  and suits which had absorbed the impact of rider crashes: testaments to the quality of the garments. They also manufacture grip covering hand warmers. They were 20% off, so I scooped myself up a set as well as a few stickers. While talking with an employee, she inspected my ebay purchased suit and informed me that it was probably made in the 90’s. These things are built to last! I’ve wiped out in it once, and you can barely see the scuff.

This bathroom stall has it all!

Back on the bike! Onward to the hotel where I would meet up with my friends, the Dancing Eagles Hotel. They helped me schlep everything but the motorcycle upstairs to the hotel room. We ate dinner, attempted to enjoy gambling in the smoky casino, swam and soaked in the pool and hot tub. There were already four dudes and only two beds, so I set up camp under a table with my camping mat and sleeping bag.

Day 20: The fellas took off shortly after breakfast for more dirtbike fun, and I took my time gathering my belongings and hauling them down to the bike. The plan was that we would meet up later and figure out where to stay, so I cruised to a food co-op in Marquette for a healthy meal and some road snacks.

It’s ok. I didn’t need to dig out my floatie anyway.

Shortly after this picture was taken, I met up with the friends. They had decided to go separate ways toward their respective homes instead of hotel-camping together that night. I had planned to camp at Brimley State Park, but the weather prediction said the temperature would dip into the low 40’s and it would rain overnight into the morning. Thanks be to Priceline, I found a cheap hotel in Mackinaw City, MI. Before I crossed the bridge from the UP to the city, I had to pull over multiple times to clean the dead mosquitos off of my visor so I could see.

There’s a lovely sunset behind me.
Lovely sunset.

Day 21: For those who have never been, Mackinaw City is a polished family-fun, seashore type of town that touches two of the Great Lakes. Souvenir, fudge and saltwater taffy shops are spitting distance to one another. A parade of well maintained antique tractors made their way down the main streets and north across the bridge in the morning.

My budget for this trip is kind of tight, so another hotel night in Mackinaw City wasn’t looking likely, but rain was supposed to show up soon. I’m trying to time a visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when it isn’t pissing rain, so  it seemed logical to make my way toward Flint, MI where I could find much cheaper hotels or Airbnb situations and be a bit closer to the border.

I passed a huge back-up of traffic while riding south after putting out a request for all homies to help me find a shop where I could clean my chain and bike, or if anyone knew someone I could crash with. Several folks responded trying to help, but no one would be at the shops suggested by the time I arrived. The interwebs told me about a motorcycle dealership in Flint where I could maybe buy a pinlock visor for my helmet and maybe borrow the stuff I need to clean my chain.

20150911_171236[1]Vehicle City Motorsports didn’t have the visor I wanted. When I asked if I could borrow a grunge brush and use some chain cleaner, the parts-counter guy went back to the shop to inquire. It was a while before he came back to the front, so I wandered around the shop and used the bathroom. I had asked at another dealership in the UP, and they looked at me like I was crazy, so it was a complete shock when I got back to the parts counter and a manager at the dealership said they would clean it for me for free! They adjusted the chain tension and cleaned the dead bugs off the forks, too. Their marketing manager came down to get my story and take my picture with the bike. Maybe it’ll show up on their social media, maybe it won’t. Either way, my chain is super clean!

My friend, Matt (one of the fellas on the dirtbike trip in the UP)’s father (Papa Bengry) lives an hour away from the shop and was kind enough to offer to put me up for a night or two. I had just missed what he said was a nasty storm. I parked my bike in his garage, he made us dinner and let me do my laundry, and I slept like a rock in his spare room.

Day 22: Papa Bengry let me sleep late, so I cooked us a brunch meal of skillet potatoes with an egg. We took a drive around the rural roads and dropped by a grocery store to pick up my makings for dinner tonight: grilled cheese with tomato soup and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. I’m hungry and tired of typing and trying to fix the photo alignment, but at least I’m caught up to today!

My mother paints watercolors of barns and silos. This is for her.
My mother paints watercolors of barns and silos. This is for her.

2 thoughts on “Days 19-22: Minnesota and Michigan

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