The Somewhere Between: Part 1 - Fly and Ride

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by jkdwings, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I’m still trying to figure out how to begin this story, so I suppose I’ll just get into it. I think I’ll save the bulk of the background for a later time, and start off with saying that I wanted a bike. Not just any bike, but the bike. I know, I know, we’re all on the hunt, but I wasn’t in a rush to get it, so I waited for the right lady to introduce herself. Stepping back further, actually, I had decided I was getting a KLR, with the ultimate plan being South America starting September 2014. That is still the plan. There are many amazing machines out there that would be able to accomplish this goal, but for my reasons the KLR was the one.

    After scouring Kijiji (local classifieds, similar to Craigs List) and various bike forums for a year or so, the fateful day came - the 21st of September, 2012. Over on the .NET classifieds I found her. Just outside Buffalo, NY, the girl I had to have was waiting for me. This is probably a good time to say that I’m not close to Buffalo – in fact, I’m not even from the States. I’m from a Canadian prairie city of a quarter million people called Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Buffalo was 1850 miles away. But I had to try. I immediately got in touch with John to test the waters and find out more. Well, the more I learned, the more I lusted after her.

    I should also take this time to say that I was a 22 year-old mechanical engineering student, and would be in school for the next seven months or so. I asked John if he would be willing to take a deposit and hold the bike until the spring, however, due to a great probability of moving over the winter, he preferred her to find a new home soon. Balls. I mentioned this to my riding buddy who was, I’m sure, overly sick of hearing about my search, but when I said Buffalo he perked up. “I’ve got a cousin that lives around Buffalo with her husband. And they’re riders. They’d probably help you out”. Sweet.

    Well, over the next couple months I worked with Rob and Brianna and the seller, John, to work out the logistics of making this happen. On December 1st, 2012, I got the email from Brianna I had been waiting impatiently for.

    I had sent money to my new-found friends and they went and purchased the bike from John for me. They graciously picked it up and stored it for me until I could make it out at the end of April after uni exams. It was all I could do to focus a bit of my attention on my upcoming exams, and then another whole semester while my girl was waiting for me. It didn’t help that Brianna sent me pictures and updates over the winter as they took care of her. Everyone, meet Mitzi:

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    #1
  2. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Jumping a bit ahead now to the end of February, 2013 or so, I got my final exam schedule; last exam in April was on the 25th, so I booked a flight to Buffalo for the 26th. I couldn’t wait. I’m going to pull a bit from my journal entries now:

    My flight was scheduled to leave Saskatoon at 0550 on the 26th, and as alluded to in the above journal entry, I went out for some drinks with friends the night before. I don’t think I’ve ever been smart and packed fully ahead of time for a trip; it works for me. My dad was nice enough to get up early and take me to the airport in the morning, almost missing my flight due to some last minute packing and a strangely long line to go through security. I ended up skipping ahead of a bunch of people when they called for me over the intercom. Yeah…I was that guy.

    Being a student and a fan of minimalist travel, I had booked the cheapest available flight. The route was to depart Saskatoon at 0550, Toronto, Detroit, then land in Buffalo at 1647. I had to go through customs in Toronto, and can’t say I enjoyed my time on the American side of Pearson. I liked Detroit, though!

    I grabbed a bite to eat at a Wendy’s in the airport and I’ve got to say, I was disgusted by the size of soft drinks. I got a combo with my meal and the drink they gave me, a size medium, was easily the size of an XL back home. Sick.

    Rob was kind enough to pick me up at the airport in Buffalo and drive me back to their place just outside of the town of Boston, NY. Of course we didn’t go straight to their house, but met Brianna and her folks at a local bar called Mamosser’s for beers and wings. Oh, those wings. I still dream of them occasionally.

    After some suds and good conversation, we retired to their place just outside of town. They have two amazing dogs, Copper and Rossi, and an absolutely beautiful property. Hung outside for a while flying RC planes, playing with the dogs, and just enjoying the gorgeous night. Just behind their house there is a down-slope heading to a pond and then forest to the right.

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    This is Rossi! Young pooch with lots of energy.

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    And this is Copper. A bit older and more patient than Rossi.

    After 7 months of anticipation, it was finally time to meet my girl; I was giddy with excitement when Rob led me to the garage. A soft caress of her 6.6 gallon IMS tank, and there was an instant connection. I knew we would get along. As much as I wanted to go for a ride RIGHT NOW, I figured I’d wait till the next morning. Fired her up, listened to her purr, and said good night.

    Just before I went to sleep, I snapped this quick selfie. Yeah, I was a bit excited to be here…and looking a bit homeless.

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    I like when people include costs in ride reports, so I’ll throw in what I can. I kept a decent record of my daily expenses, so we’ll start with today.

    Flight........$345
    Baggage......$25
    Wendy’s........$8
    Total.........$378
    #2
  3. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    This trip was a fair amount of time in the works for me, so you might think I had a plan as to a route home. Not the case. The only plan I had was to take between one and two weeks to get from Buffalo back home to Saskatoon, and to avoid interstates in favour of back roads, gravel, dirt, and trails as much as possible. 1850 miles was the quickest route home, but I did not intend to take it. I was hoping to turn it into more like three or four thousand miles.

    I got into Buffalo on Friday, April 26th, and was planning to begin the journey home on Monday the 29th. Although the bike was in phenomenal shape and ready to go, I wanted to tear her apart a bit, change the fluids, and just have a general go-through. One day would have been fine for this, however, the DMV wouldn’t be open till Monday morning to get a temporary transit permit.

    I spent a great two days hanging at Rob and Brianna’s, using their garage and stereo to get to know Mitzi (should be noted that she wasn’t named as of yet). Against Me! was my go to garage music for the weekend.

    I had a bunch of extra parts for the bike that I just wasn’t going to be able to take home reasonably, and ended up giving them to a local KLR rider I got in touch with on .NET. Can’t remember exactly what I gave him, but it included the stock tank, bars, some extra Bark Busters, oil filters, and…well, not sure. I was happy to give them to someone who would use them for no cost; however, Ken tossed a few bucks my way for gas! Riders are great!

    From my journal:

    Didn’t take much for pictures this weekend, just a couple of the bike (almost) ready to go:

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    [​IMG]

    And yeah, I managed to get the bike a bit dirty already. There were some quad trails on their land that I had to go play on.
    #3
  4. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
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    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    *Reading this journal entry now, roughly 6 months later, I really don’t like or agree with what past me said. Firstly, I’m sad that I used the word “hate”. Regarding “Adventure Motorcycling” I was referring to large, heavy, overly loaded bikes that I thought were too luxurious and had little-to-no offroad abilities. Reading this now, I see that I was being an ignorant twat. In my mind, there was a definition of what Adventure riding was, but I now realize that was just my definition, and what I wanted it to be. Whether you’re on a CT70, a WR250, a KLR650, a 1200GS, or a GL1800, it makes no difference. If you’re out exploring new lands at the mercy of the elements, you’re doing it right. Set your goals, and ride the bike that best suits what you want. No one else matters.
    #4
  5. C-Stain

    C-Stain Accredited Nincompoop

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
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    7,080
    Location:
    Team Canoodia
    [​IMG]

    In.
    #5
  6. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Rob and Brianna left for work early in the morning, so I had said my goodbyes and thanks the night before. They graciously left me a car that I could use to get to the DMV in the morning, so I took off early enough to arrive shortly after they would open. Things seemed to be going well, and the gentleman I was dealing with was nice enough, until we hit a SNAFU.

    I can’t say I was expecting it to go smoothly, but I was cautiously optimistic. Apparently the insurance I had purchased back home wouldn’t work for the temporary transit permit I needed for my bike. The insurance I had, which was all I could get from my insurance broker, was for me as a driver for a week; vehicle didn’t matter, it was for me as a driver of any vehicle. According to the DMV, that meant I wasn’t covered? Silly. I contacted my broker back home, but they don’t offer temporary insurance for a specific vehicle; driver insurance is all they have for temporary use.

    Well, off to some local brokers to see what they could do for me. I met a really nice lady at an Allstate Insurance and she was determined to help me get home. She must have spent an hour or so trying to get me covered, however her computer system kept declining it at various stages due to no local address and then no NY driver’s license. After nothing would work from her end, she called my broker back home. Funny how they would listen to her explain my situation and needs, but wouldn’t hear a word I said when I called. I owe a good amount to that lovely broker, as she gave me a lot of time for no benefit to her business. About a month later when I was home, I sent her flowers saying thanks from the bike rider she helped get home. I hope it brightened her Monday.

    Insurance was now sorted so I made my way back to the house to finish packing and leave. I had hoped to be on the road by noon today, but it ended up being 1540 before I got out. As I was just about to leave Rob and Brianna pulled into the drive, so I got to see them one last time, which was nice. A quick goodbye and I was on my way.

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    My general route was to head west from here and hug Lake Erie for a while, but I figured I should go see Niagara Falls while I’m this close to it. Rather than finding a route to the falls, I figured if I just made my way in that direction I couldn’t possibly miss them. Right? Well, after hugging the river moving in a northern direction I found myself north of the city and up near Niagara on the Lake. What the heck? Oh well. It was getting pretty dark now so I figured I should find camp for the night. Wait, my sunnies are still on. In the tank bag they go and I realize I’ve still got a couple hours of daylight left. Rather than try to make my way back through Buffalo and find a site to the west, I elected to stay at the Fourmile Campground that I stumbled upon.

    The office was closed and there were many open spots, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Made a quick run to a small town close by to find some food and ended up coming back with some spinach and feta chicken, croissants, and beer. While at the grocery I also met a cool gentleman checking out my bike. We chatted for a while about bikes and the Appalachian Trail, which he had hiked a few years previous. Back at the campground I set up camp as far from all the RVs as possible, which conveniently put me right by the lake, cooked my chicken on my little alcohol stove, and enjoyed the beers by the fire.


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    Costs
    DMV……………..........12.00
    Lunch…………….……....8.50
    Fuel………...………..….19.24
    Groceries & Beer…...17.12
    Total…………….………$56.86

    PS. Following days should start to have more photos :)
    #6
  7. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I managed to wake as early as I had planned this morning, packed up, and was out of the campground by 0700, beating the office by an hour. Riding was absolutely gorgeous this morning; I took the scenic Niagara Historic Route all the way south heading towards the falls. No way I was going to miss them this time, haha. I ended up stopping in a parking lot along the river so I could stretch the legs with a quick hike. I went down a steep, winding trail consisting of many stairs and switchbacks to get down to the water.

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    On the hike back up I found a nice ledge to hang on for a while.

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    After that nice unwind, I continued making my way towards the falls. Unlike yesterday, I managed to find them, haha. Still not sure how I missed them before. I rode around a bit looking for somewhere to park hoping to avoid the $10 fees for most lots; it was a bit futile, so I said fuck it and pulled into one. I chatted with the cute attendant for a bit and she gave me a wink as she gave me the go ahead without paying. It’s amazing how people offer help when you approach life with a smile on your face.

    With the bike parked and myself stripped down a bit, I grabbed my camera and made my way down the path towards the falls. This little guy seemed pretty comfortable with me getting close.

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    People. So many people checking out the falls. I tried to find a quiet place to sit and soak it in for a bit, but was largely unsuccessful. I grabbed some pictures – none of which I’m very happy with – and didn’t kick around too long. This was my first time seeing Niagara, and I only checked them out from the American side, so I didn’t get much of a view of the Horseshoe Falls.

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    Just upstream of the falls you can really see how much water is moving. The volume is hard to comprehend, really.

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    I won’t say I was disappointed by the falls, because that’s just not true, but I will say that I wasn’t blown away at all. I suppose I’ve been spoiled in the past through my years of hiking and seen many amazing, significantly less crowded volumes of water dumping over a cliff. I’m definitely glad I got to see this wonder, and look forward to seeing the Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian side in the near future.

    After departing the falls I made my way to a McD’s to grab some coffee, breakfast, and much needed Wifi. I say much needed because I still had to sort out my border crossing. I was also able to plug in my phone, which was necessary as I didn’t have an outlet on my bike at all. Like I mentioned earlier, the whole plan for this trip was to not have much of a plan, however I needed to decide on a border crossing as papers had to be sent to them at least 72 hours in advance for export and import. Without going into too much detail, I chose the Portal crossing from North Dakota into Saskatchewan, gave them a call to confirm what they needed, and then faxed them my paperwork from a shop down the road.

    It was now finally time to leave Buffalo. I had an awesome time riding along the shore of Lake Erie; it almost felt like the coast, the water was so big.

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    I was starting to think about finding a camp for the night when off the side of the highway I spotted a little dirt trail into the trees towards the lake. I figured what the hell, I’ll ride down it and see what happens. It took me right to the shore and an old, overgrown, concrete bridge not connected to anything. Weird. But it looked like a perfect place to camp for the night, so I rode back up the trail and into the next town for some grocery. The town of Ashtabula was just a few miles west. Wait, I’m in Ohio? I didn’t even realize I had passed through Pennsylvania and into Ohio today. Cool.

    Stocked up on some beer and eggs if I recall, and headed back to the trail east of town and set up camp. As I was trying to park my bike on the narrow trail without it sinking in and falling over, a couple gents came down the trail to catch minnows in the little still water behind my bridge. I said hi, but they kept mostly to themselves. Once they left I started a small fire on the beach and enjoyed my beers while writing in my journal. Oh, I snapped a few pictures of the sunset too. It was rather beautiful.

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    And one with the bike just because.

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    In my journal entries I made some brief notes on people I met along the way, roads that I enjoyed, and towns that struck me the right way. These notes are more for my memory than anything.

    People
    -Edwin in McD’s parking lot on a Goldwing
    -Inspired kid at Subway

    Roads
    Highway 20/5 along shore of Erie, 35-55mph

    Towns
    Ashtabula, OH – Sweet shipping town, draw bridge, old feeling

    Costs
    McD’s……………..........5.00
    Fax Service………………7.00
    Fuel………...………..….10.18
    Subway……………….…..7.00
    Groceries & Beer…...12.25
    Total…………….………$41.43
    #7
  8. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I took some pictures of last night’s camp this morning as the light was much better for it. Here is the old bridge that I spoke of; I figured it was a good place to set my tent with a view over the lake.

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    Five feet lower was the shore which was covered in shells and many a dead fish. This place had a very unique smell to it.

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    And here is the trail on which I rode down and parked my bike on.

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    And it appears I wanted a self-portrait with breakfast this morning, so I’ll throw that in here as well.

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    After enjoying the early part of this beautiful day on the lake, I made my way back up the trail to continue the journey west. I rode through Ashtabula again and decided that I would head south for a while and see where I end up. I think I was mostly on 60mph roads, however, my memory and journal entry is a bit foggy here.

    I ended up in a place called Ravenna, OH around noon thirty, and made a McD’s my recharge stop for a while. I found the frequency of my McDonald’s stops a bit unnerving on this journey. Back home the only time I even think about going there is on a drunken stumble home from the bar. I haven’t enjoyed any of their burgers for a long time, but don’t mind the chicken usually. Well, lucky me, they had a special on the new Spicy McChicken. I think it was two of them, fries, and a drink for 4 bucks. I also don’t drink much pop, but they had blue Powerade in the fountain machine! Half Powerade, half water was just about perfect for me. A few of those, maybe a coffee, wifi, and power. I’d say it’s pretty safe to assume that anytime I mention stopping at McD’s, this is what I had.

    So now that I was a few days into the trip I figured I should decide roughly which way I was going to go. I thought about heading further west to visit my aunt and uncle in Iowa, which is why I broke away from Lake Erie this morning in the first place. I decided to talk with the folks who would know this part of the country best, so I posted this thread over in the Central forum asking for recommendations.

    I ended up deciding I would go up through Michigan, into Wisconsin, across Minnesota, North Dakota, and across the border into Saskatchewan. Well, that’s the rough plan anyway, we’ll see what actually happens.

    So, from my comfortable little booth at the McD’s in Ravenna, I bumped down to the 76 to cover some miles westward. It was a gorgeous day, had tunes cranking, and actually enjoyed a bit of interstate travel.

    It gets a little fuzzy from here in terms of the path I took, however, I do recall some details that give me some points. I got off the interstates at some point to head north on secondary highways. Cruising lovely back roads at 60mph, this was nice. I stopped in a small town when I saw a road side ice cream shop. Looking through their menu painted on the side, I couldn’t say no to a peanut butter and jam flavoured malt. Laying down in some shade, I enjoyed the treat while scribbling down that morning’s happenings.

    Next I did something I’ve never done before. I had seen countless riders not wearing helmets, and although I think it’s absolutely foolish, I had to see what it was like. Figured if I was going to lose the lid, I may as well lose the other gear too. Shorts, a tee, and the breeze in my face, I continued north, all the while sipping my malt through a straw. What a feeling. As much as I enjoyed it, I just couldn’t shake the thoughts in the back of my head: “What if a car turns in front of me?”; “What if a deer runs out?”, and so on. I finished the malt, then pulled over and geared back up.

    Seeing some signs for the Seneca Caverns, I thought it’d be cool to stop and see. It was only a 5 mile detour, or so, so I went. Bummer, they weren’t open for the season yet. I met an interesting mechanical engineer that was doing some work there, though, so not a loss at all. His name was Steve and he worked for a company developing copper-beryllium components. Very cool.

    Still heading north to get back up to the lake, I couldn’t resist popping down a quad trail into what turned out to be an old quarry. Rode that loaded KLR hard through the trails, water, mud, and jumping sharp rock steps all over. It would have been a perfect place to set up camp for the night had it not been early in the day still. I think this place was close to Bellevue.

    North I continued until I got into Sandusky, where I cruised around for a bit. I made my way out to the Cedar Point amusement park on the peninsula there but there wasn’t much going on and the entrance attendant wouldn’t let me take a short ride through to check it out. Oh well, start heading west again, I suppose.

    The sun was starting to get low, so I cruised Highway 2, which matched the shore, looking for a place to camp. I detoured down many side roads looking for a place to set up, but it was a lot of acreages out there. I eventually turned into a campground and was going to head in, but it was nothing but RVs everywhere and no trees. Lame. Just a mile back, however, I found a quad trail going between rows of trees and water, and hunkered down for the night.

    The trail I came down:
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    Camp mostly set up:
    [​IMG]

    And the sunset:
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    People
    - Steve the mechanical engineer

    Trails
    - Old quarry trails by Bellevue. Coupe miles west of HWY 4, just north-east of caverns

    Costs
    Fuel and Air….……....12.82
    American Spirit……….10.00
    McD’s………...……..….…6.50
    PB+J Malt…………..….…4.10
    Fuel……………….........14.55
    Total…………….………$47.97
    #8
  9. barnyard

    barnyard Verbal tactician Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    11,603
    Location:
    central Mn
    Lookin like you had a pretty fine shake down ride.
    #9
  10. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I rode around in the park a bit and found a small trailhead lot, so I pulled in and stripped my gear. I ended up hiking the 2 mile boardwalk trail through the bog/marshland. It was a bit of a wildlife refuge, and I saw lots of deer, birds, and some other little critters.

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    Thanks to the Ohio Civilian Conservation Corps for the great hike!
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    By the time I got back to my bike it was 0830. What a refreshing, productive morning!

    I decided to take this opportunity to wash up a bit, so I wandered over to the main building. It was much too fancy of a place for the likes of me, and I got some pretty judgemental looks while I was washing in the bathroom sink. Tossed those looks in the trash with the crumpled up paper towel. Clean pits, clean teeth, I was feeling great and ready to take on the world!

    I bumped the 10 miles or so over to Toledo to look for - you guessed it - a McD’s.

    I left Toledo on a roughly north-west heading with the goal of riding to Muskegon, MI. I managed to ride mostly gravel this afternoon which was a really nice change of pace. I don’t think anything too notable happened; it was just a really enjoyable day. I did come across some construction at one point that cars were backed up for. I was able to just bust down into the ditch and detour around it, which was awesome. I wonder how long they were stuck there for.

    Under the advisement of some folks in the Central forum thread I had posted, I planned on riding the ferry from Muskegon to Milwaukee. The following day was to be the first day of operation for the season, and bikes ride free! I figured I’d get to Muskegon this evening and find a place to stay close to the ferry terminal. Well, I got there and it looked like they were booked completely full for the first couple days. Damn, that would have been a cool trip across Lake Michigan.

    With that thrown in, I had to make a new plan. All the way north through Michigan it is, and I’ll cross the Mackinac bridge to the Upper Peninsula. It looked like I had only 2 hours until it would be completely dark, so I started north to cover a bit more ground. After riding for an hour or so, I turned off the interstate towards the lake to find somewhere to set up for the night.

    The light was now rather dim and I hadn’t had any luck finding a place to pitch so far. I kept trying different gravel roads hoping to find somewhere without a house right by. Eventually I ended up down a gravel road in some pretty dense forest. The houses ended, the road turned to sand, and it was getting tough to see much in my headlight now. The forest all around me would be a perfect place, except for the signs every 20 feet saying “No Wheeled Vehicles, Hunting Boundary Open”. Well, it was too late to go anywhere else so I rode a fair ways off the road to try to hide my red pig of a bike and set up a minimal camp.

    See my bike hidden under some branches?
    [​IMG]

    I crawled into my bright yellow tent just before it started pouring (which I wasn’t expecting) and hunkered down to do some writing. I’m not sure what it was this day, but my mind was all over the place and I was unusually paranoid about where I was. I think after 4 days on the road by myself I was starting to get a bit lonely. All day I’m in my helmet with nothing but my own thoughts, and the only human interaction I had was the odd brief chat with someone at McD’s or a gas bar. It seemed to be getting to me a bit, which is something I haven’t experienced much before. I have done a bunch of solo hiking in the past, but this night felt different.

    This is where the haiku at the beginning of this post came in. It was scribbled in my little notepad journal. And no, I’m not much of a writer or poet, but I feel it’s part of the story, so I’m including it.

    Costs
    McD’s (x2)…...…….…11.00
    Fuel……………….........9.96
    Total…………….………$20.96
    #10
  11. hitgwin

    hitgwin n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Montreal
    In, looking forward to the next installment.
    #11
  12. InTheMuck

    InTheMuck So it goes...

    Joined:
    May 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    376
    Location:
    Amongst the has beens & the addicts (Verona, WI)
    Me too! :lurk

    We rode the UP earlier this year and had a great time. Looking forward to hearing what it was like for you, as well as the rest of your adventure.
    #12
  13. AteamNM

    AteamNM Wonna Be ADVrider

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,106
    Location:
    Sandia Mountains New Mexico
    As a 12 year old (ish) kid, I visited my sister in the summers in Sandusky. Cedar Point was fun, riding a bicycle all over Sandusky was liberating for me.

    Great report, 'boo-ray' camping. :clap

    Subscribed.
    #13
  14. Hektoglider

    Hektoglider One with Life

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,536
    Location:
    Lone Pine Ontario (or travelling)
    First KLR and you got it figured out. Camping free, eating cheap on the road and cruising the backroads. It's not everyone's style, but then neither is a KLR ......
    #14
  15. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I'll get to it in the next installment, but I'll say it was great riding and camping in the UP. Beautiful scenery and curvy roads.
    #15
  16. Zaboo65

    Zaboo65 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    277
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    Sounds like a great way to get to know your new bike. :clap Wonderful choice also! :thumb

    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your trip. :lurk I was with InTheMuck in the UP and I hope you had as good a time as we did. :clap
    #16
  17. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    Sandusky was a pretty chill place, I really dug it. I can see that it would be an amazing place to spend the summer. And thanks for following along! I followed your fly'n'ride from a while back and really enjoyed your adventurous spirit.

    Next chapter should be coming tomorrow morning!
    #17
  18. AteamNM

    AteamNM Wonna Be ADVrider

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,106
    Location:
    Sandia Mountains New Mexico
    Do you remember a head shop in Sandusky called J Ticos (sic)? I had beads, fish nets, skulls and incense from that place. Bellevue, Coshocton, Blue Hole and the woods/ravines with a 22 lever action rifle. :1drink:norton Sandusky was such a small town Americana in 1972 or so. My first girl friend was there, Debi Bodi, an Italian beauty with big dark eyes, points of her own, standing way up high.

    Oh so sorry, I digress.

    Tomorrow, hell yea.
    #18
  19. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I woke at 0630 this morning, which was much later than the 0500 I had my alarm set for. I guess I needed the extra sleep. I tore down my tent quickly and laughed to myself as I pulled the branches off my bike. Last night was weird, I thought.

    Not knowing quite where the sand road would lead me, I followed it anyway. The sun was on my right, so I was going roughly in the direction I wanted. The plan for the day was to keep heading north, check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes that had been suggested, and then see where I was at time-wise.

    At the end of the sand hunting road I saw signs for Lighthouse State Park; sure, that sounds interesting. Basically, after a wonderful twisty road there’s a large lighthouse in the sand dunes that are the shore of Lake Michigan. It was a lovely little community of cabins along the lake and I pulled into a parking lot to hike to the lighthouse. It was a very cool, strange thing to see in what felt like a desert.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After sitting in the sand pondering this strange place for a bit, I hopped back on Mitzi and continued north. I ended up in a small town in Silver Lake State Park and decided to stop at a local diner for breakfast. The waitress was lovely and kept my coffee cup full as I sat and did some writing. There were four other gentlemen in the restaurant and I listened a bit as they regaled stories of their dune riding days. You see, Silver Lake is well known for its off-road park and dune buggies and whatnot. Very cool place.

    The guys wanted a combination of a few different menu items and so they discussed possibilities with the waitress, who then discussed them with the cook. Five minutes later a new breakfast special, the 2-2-2, was created. She came over and asked to take my food order, to which I replied casually, “I’ll have the 2-2-2”. As she jots it down, I ask with a laugh, “What exactly am I getting?” Well, a bit later I ended up with a delicious plate of two eggs, two strips of bacon, and two biscuits with gravy. Biscuits and gravy was a new thing for me, and it was quite delicious!

    After too many coffees, I figured it was time to start moving north again. I grabbed a few quick pictures before leaving this town. The first is overlooking the lake just in front of the diner, and the second was after playing in some sand a bit.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I hopped on the M-22 and enjoyed the heck out of it. What a beautiful highway to ride along the shore of Lake Michigan. Lots of curvy, fast, smooth sections and many lookouts over the lake.

    [​IMG]

    I would highly recommend this route no matter what bike you’re on. It was a lot of fun at 60-70 mph, and I imagine it would be quite something if you were zipping along on a sport bike. Not that I condone exceeding speed limits…Just saying that those corners with a recommended speed of 35 mph were great at 75, and that’s on a dual sport tire.

    I ended up at the Sleeping Bear Dunes mid-afternoon, I think, and went for a hike up a large hill. Looking out over Glen Lake below was quite something. This photo doesn’t do it much justice, unfortunately, as the sky wasn’t favoring me.

    [​IMG]

    And on top of the dune:

    [​IMG]

    I would have loved to rip along up there on a light 250 2-stroke, but I was stuck on my feet.

    I wandered back down the dune and before getting to my bike I said hi to a gentleman walking his dog. He was real nice to talk to and gave me some valuable suggestions when he asked about my route. I had planned to continue north on the M-22 as I was loving it, and work up to the Mackinac Bridge to cross over to the Upper Peninsula. I didn’t realize that this would have just taken me on a large loop and I’d have to go back south to Traverse City before being able to go up to the bridge.

    Looking at my watch, I decided I didn’t have time for this as I wanted to cross the bridge tonight. Looking at Google Maps now, I wish I had had time and ridden the M-22 up to Leelanau State Park. Oh well, just one more reason to go back to Michigan.

    From Sleeping Bear I cut back south to Empire where I could hop on the 72 over to Traverse City. Once there, I went to a McD’s to check google maps and see where I was at. I don’t think I ate there, just used some wifi in the parking lot and decided to push for the Mackinac Bridge while there was still a bit of daylight.

    Riding the 31 north was some more enjoyable pavement miles, and I got to the bridge with maybe 1.5 or 2 hours of light left. I knew the bridge would be long, but I wasn’t quite prepared for what I saw in front of me.

    From The Mackinac Bridge Authority, it is the largest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere, and the fifth largest in the world. The total length of the bridge is 26,372 feet, with the length of the suspension bridge being 8,614 feet.

    There were two lanes going either way, however, there was construction in the right lane when I went across. This meant I had to ride on the steel grate that was the center lane. If you haven’t ridden on that kind of surface on two wheels before, it’s as slippery as two eels screwing in a bucket of snot. Then take into account the massive crosswind as you go across the water, and it was hairy to say the least as I was pushing myself to keep my speed up. The cars behind me (remember, down to one lane) seemed to be in a hurry and didn’t care if they were going to run me over. I obviously couldn’t stop on the bridge, so I grabbed a few photos from Google.

    The whole bridge from above:

    [​IMG]

    The suspension section:

    [​IMG]

    The lane I had to ride on:

    [​IMG]

    At the north side of the bridge you have to go through a toll booth; it was four bucks, which I had no problem paying after seeing what a massive structure it was.

    I still had a bit of sunlight left, so I started west on the 2. A lovely shore road again, with the lake on my left and forest on the right. I think I rode for an hour or so before pulling off on a small road to the north to look for camp. The road turned to dirt shortly, which gave me hope. I came out to what appeared to be pasture land and found a small dead-end to the right. Well, a dead-end for cars anyway. I hopped the bike through the trees around the pile of overgrown dirt that was blocking the way, and planted my tent just on the other side.

    [​IMG]

    With my kickass site I relaxed for the rest of the night drinking tea and writing. What a great day of riding it had been.

    Roads
    M-22 - Awesome

    Costs
    Breakfast………………11.50
    Fuel……………………...21.32
    Oil…………………….......4.50
    Fuel……………………...10.46
    Bridge Toll…….........4.00
    Total…………….………$51.78
    #19
  20. jkdwings

    jkdwings Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    As I was re-reading that last post, I’m realizing I haven’t mentioned my insurance woes yet. I had made some decisions to crush out extra distance because of an impending issue. I don’t recall exactly when I looked into it further, but if you’ll remember back to my earlier post before leaving Buffalo I took this quote from my journal:

    Well, the insurance did end up being an issue. The temporary insurance card (TIC) was good for seven days in order to transport a vehicle. I had it start on the 29th of April, which was the Monday I left Rob and Brianna’s and had to deal with the DMV. This meant that it was valid until the 5th of May.

    It must have been on May 2nd or so that I decided to call my insurance broker to set up another week of temporary insurance so I could continue enjoying my exploration of the States. Well, the not-so-nice lady I spoke with didn’t care about my predicament at all. According to her I could only get one TIC and there was no way to get a second. It was just “No.” Ok, well is there any other insurance I can get? “No.” What if I… “No.” How about… “No.” I’ll call back. Click.

    When I had purchased the TIC originally I was given no indication that I could only get one. There was nothing in the fine print saying so, and the broker didn’t say anything when I said I would need it for 2 weeks, just that this is what I needed and I could call if I needed anything.

    I called back and got through to a much nicer lady. She listened, and she seemed to understand my situation. Unfortunately, she still couldn’t help at all.

    I looked into what a fine would be for riding without insurance, figuring I could stay on back roads and continue exploring. Well, that’s a big number. Also, I wasn’t sure if I would need to provide proof of insurance crossing the border. Everything I had read indicated that I wouldn’t, but I figured it was a risk I didn’t want to take.

    From St Ignace, MI, the city on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge, I had 1000 miles to the Portal Border crossing, and 2 days before my insurance would run out. Still not quite sure what I wanted to do, I figured I should knock off a bunch of distance and see how the days progress.
    #20