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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GAS GUY, Mar 14, 2020.
It might be comfy ya never know
Trans-Ohio Trail - (7 September 2020) Section Four:
Wilbur Bush Road Northwest:
Not too far from Helmick Mill Covered Bridge.
Helmick Mill Covered Bridge:
Samuel Price was paid $872.00 in 1867 to build this bridge that spans Island Run. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1991. This is on Helmick Road (269) and West Deaver Road (193). After passing through the bridge, Helmick Road climbs steeply up to West Lemon Hill Road (74) to the north. The nearest city is Malta. In 1880 Joe Helmick ran a flouring and a saw mill on opposite sides of the falls that flow under the bridge where the flint rock outcrops.
The low water level of Island Run has exposed the flint rock outcrop; this makes for a convenient dive platform for the locals as they visit their favorite swimming hole. During higher water levels, these outcroppings transform into a waterfall.
This bridge is located in Deerfield Township, Morgan County, and near Malta, Ohio.
This is a multiple kingpost through truss bridge.
This is on West Lemon Hill Road just after passing through Helmick Mill Covered Bridge and riding up the steep Helmick Road.
If Walls Could Talk:
A Side Detour:
Trans-Ohio Trail - (7 September 2020) Section Four:
*This will be my last TOT post of 2020.*
Richardson Road (276)
Heading into and through AEP land. This was a tight, fast gravel road throughout it's entirety.
These Ohio gravel roads within the AEP area were of the perfect consistency to promote a fast and fluid pace. These type of roads urge you to open the throttle further until you feel your back tire breaking loose beneath you.
Northern End of Richardson Road (276)
This is deep into AEP (American Electric Power) land, and the northern terminus of Richardson Road before it merges into OH-376.
Smith Road (91) AEP Land:
After coming north via Richardson Road, and a very brief stint on OH-376, the route dictated a right-turn onto Smith Road (91) to head back east and deeper into the isolated AEP land.
Vista from Smith Road:
AEP land restoration - after so many years of the Big Muskie wreaking havoc on the earth.
Lawrence Road (952)
Just south of Smith Road. I'm not sure if this is technically an "unnamed road" or an extension of Lawrence Road. Various maps that I've referenced are conflicting. Either way, it's a short connector between Smith and Lawrence Roads. Most sections of gravel in this AEP area are tight and fast.
Ohio Power Company Pond:
This is one of the multiple ponds back in this area. This is off the TOT route. I ran down another gravel road that had an open gate to explore the area further when I found this and another pond; the southern end of this road was gated at the equestrian campground area; the day before I'd ridden up to that gate from the other direction which is accessed by OH-78.
So, after being obstructed by the gated barrier, I backtracked to Lawrence Road. After a short stint on Lawrence Road, I turned down the amazing Bear Run Road which dumps you out onto OH-78 just a short distance from the Miners Memorial Park which contains the Big Muskie bucket.
Bear Run Road:
This is an amazing road; one of my favorites that I will be seeking out and riding repetitively when I'm in the area. This picture is just a basic example of the road and terrain as I didn't stop much during this stretch, partly because I was enjoying it so much and in the zone. Be mindful of the potential for other vehicles approaching around a blind corner on this road. The remote feel can lull you into a false sense of security, but I was surprised to experience multiple oncoming trucks. I've a suspicion that this is a popular road for adventurous locals due to it's appeal and close proximity to OH-78.
Once again, I'm back at the Muskie Bucket. That will conclude my TOT riding endeavor for the weekend. After brewing up a coffee, it will be time to head for Detroit.
As I linger around while sipping my coffee, the conversation magnet, that is the enormous German enduro bike, never fails to keep me busy explaining to passersby about my exploits. That bike - with all of it's radical engineering, trick doo-dads, stickers of far-away places, knobbly tires, and dirt all over it just seems to captivate peoples imagination and curiosity.
One good ole boy rolls up on his 2006 cobolt blue Electra Glide and hangs near his bike smoking cigarettes one after another. He has long flowing brown hair, a bandana with a traditional paisley pattern folded wide and covering his whole forehead, a pair of mirrored sunglasses, and a short beard. Finally, he mosies on over and strikes up a conversation asking me where I'm from and asking about the GSA. He is super laid back and down-to-earth; he gives me the impression that he just burned one and then went out for a short ride. He is from just up the road a piece, in McConnelsville, which I just passed through (on the TOT), and which is only 9-miles away from our current position on OH-78 and the big Musky Bucket.
So, I ask him, "How are things in these parts since covid, and has anything closed down?"
In his heavy drawl, "Ain't nuthin' affects these hillbillies down here. Hell ... all we ever had was the essentials."
Then, after I inquired about his beautiful bike, he went on, "You know, I was lookin' all over the place for that particular bike and was about to give up, when this one popped up on a local list. After calling him and asking when I could see it, he said I will be over in two-minutes. I hung up the phone and then heard him start it up; he was that close all along!"
He added, "My ole girl just had a baby, so that is one of the reasons I'd decided to buy the bike. I'm gonna need somethin' to do while she sits with that baby."
Then another local guy pulls up next to the GSA on a low cruiser with momma on the back. He gets off and looks up at the tall enduro bike and says in even a thicker vernacular than the other guy, "Wael hael ... ah couldn't even get up on at thang!"
He was skinny with short hair, and walked like he just got off a horse after riding through the desert all day; that or he had some kind of nagging injury. Both these guys were younger than me. He works out in North Dakota some 1,500-miles away and had just recently returned home; his ole lady said he goes back and forth 5 or 6 times a year.
After asking him where he is from, he replied, "Chesterhill, back on OH-555 ... but don't hold that against me."
Small world. Then I told him that I'd passed through there in the morning and stopped for breakfast at the "Triple Nickel Diner" but they were closed.
"Good thing," he shot back. "That food is awful. My granny owned it years ago, but those new owners can't cook. Someone told me the other day that they are waiting for my granny to come back and start cooking again. I told them you will be waiting a long time ... cause we just planted granny in the ground a couple of weeks ago."
These two local characters were a treat. My kind of people: animated, charismatic, and friendly. People up my way generally don't have the time to embrace life so thoroughly; or in quite the way these folks do. Perhaps it comes from simplicity and boredom. Boredom always has been a catalyst for creativity. I'm always amazed at the conversational skills these type of people possess. My social skills pale in comparison; I'm generally far too serious and high-strung. One take away is that they've seemed to master the art of subtly interjecting humor into their story and casual conversation. And you know ... it's been said that humor is man's only divine quality.
Then a guy rolls up on a Road Glide packing his ole lady and says, "You got a CB on that?!" He saw the antenna. We chatted for a few; he was a nice guy but clearly not a local, nor as colorful as the two uther un’s.
It was time to pack it up and head towards home.
Old Ohio Farm Home:
This old, empty home is situated along OH-284 (Big Muskie Drive) just south of Chandlersville. Settings such as these are absolutely captivating and represent simpler times.
Just north of Columbus, while passing through Delaware, heading north on US-23, the sky up ahead had turned a blue-ish black; which was definitely an ominous sign - considering it was late afternoon on an otherwise hot (90°), sunny day.
I'm thinking to myself, "There is no avoiding it, might as well pull over and gear-up for the inevitable, as there were another 200-miles remaining between myself and home."
Traffic was flowing smoothly; I was making every light through this busy urban area of Delaware that I normally loathe, but once the lightning started lighting up that menacing sky, it was time to pull into a shopping center parking lot and start getting prepared.
As I'm scrambling to unstrap my goretex riding pants and jacket from my back rack (I'd been riding all day in a tee-shirt, work pants, and a three-quarter open-face helmet) my phone starts making weird noises (that I'm not familiar with) in my tank bag. After retrieving the phone, it has a mind of it's own and is producing a large tornado warning message across the screen. The wind is picking up in force!
It's 5:00 p.m. - and I still haven't eaten much for the day, so in between removing boots and donning pants I'm grabbing bites of dehydrated apples and turkey jerky. Just as I snap on the clear face shield for my helmet the sideways rain slams into me in torrents. Day turned into night at 5:00 p.m. with rain and wind blowing sideways out of the west. We had to seek cover. There was a huge split-face block building (Tire Choice Auto Service Center) in this shopping plaza so the GSA and I hunkered down against the back wall as most of the chaos blew over us. It was even hailing! The winds ripped all of the banners and flags down on the building. As we were sitting there, the eerie tornado warning sirens were wailing throughout the storm.
After approximately 30-minutes the heavy winds had subsided, but the rain persisted. That being the case it was time for me to do some rain riding. I'd take it mellow and keep in mind the fact that the GSA was sporting adventure tires. So, I turned up some techno chill on the radio and plunged out into the rain to make some miles. At least it was cooler now; the temperature plummeted from 90° down to 68° and felt refreshing. When you're on the road you have to be prepared mentally and learn to embrace any weather that you might encounter; dealing with various weather heightens the travel experience.
After about an hour of riding in the rain, the skies cleared and things dried out. As I was approaching Toledo the sky was looking questionable again, but nothing came of it.
Numbers after arriving home:
Fuel MPG: 44.3 (AFXied set on 7)
Average Speed: 39.2
Front Shinko 804: 8/32nd's (7/32nd's to wear bar) not much of a wear bar. 32 PSI.
Rear Mitas E07: 9/32nd's (5/32nd's to wear bar) huge wear bar. 35 PSI.
Ran those tire pressures on the way down, during, and home. Not by design, necessarily. Forgot to check them until I returned home. I know ... complacent.
Wonderful writing, pictures, and thoughtful encounters. Glad to see there was no weather misadventure. Sad to see the last instalment of the TOT.
Nice write up and pictures Jeff. Thanks.
Hoping everyone has a wonderful Veterans Day!
Thank you for your service!
This is a huge new benefit (not just for today - but for life); perhaps a National Parks Tour is in order for the near future.
Very nice pics and writing. I like the details of the encounters with locals.
Harmony of Colors - (Part One)
Reports were filtering in, indicating that the fall foliage was approaching peak colors. This piqued my interest, so I loaded up the versatile GSA and headed northwest to take a peek for myself. See what I did there?
This report will depict four days of Michigan overlanding in the fall; from 8 October to 11 October 2020.
Something new was being considered as well; a departure from the more typical ways of camping, so I packed my full size rucksack with camping gear and strapped it down on the spacious back rack.
This journey turned out to be a color extravaganza. The full palette was on display (hit and miss) in various locations. The foliage in some areas was vivid, while in others they were muted.
Michigan, in the fall, has got it all! On this excursion I'd experience:
Sand dunes that appear vast like a desert, but disappear into fresh, cool, blue water - instead of a mirage of rippled heat; a lighthouse; one of the great lakes; bits of history; hiking; some unique camping; fall colors; a national forest; points-of-interest; a spectacular sunset; and plenty of adventure riding on secondary dirt roads, gravel roads, and sandy trails.
I'm blessed to have an efficient interstate route that arcs from Metro Detroit all the way up to Ludington - for those days when you want to conserve some time by getting to the target area as quickly as possible. Especially during these shorter autumn days. That leaves more time to be inefficient while exploring.
Figured I'd stop in and visit the Little Sable Lighthouse as the first order of business. During a previous trip to this area (in the summer of this year) it was so busy that I couldn't get into the crowded park. This time I'd have the whole beach almost to myself.
An Isolated Beacon:
Little Sable Point Lighthouse has always appealed to me more than any other lighthouse due to the way it's situated along the sandy beach in isolation; it dictates a unique presence. The windy day made for some choppy lake action.
This light station was originally named the Petite Point Au Sable Lighthouse (little point of sand).
After the civil war, shipping on the lake increased, largely due to the expanding lumber industry.
Because the land cuts into Lake Michigan at this location, it quickly became a hazard and the site of several shipwrecks.
So in 1862 - funding was approved for the erection of a lighthouse.
Because of the inaccessibility by road, the lighthouse wasn’t completed until 1874. A house was also constructed to board the keeper, his assistant, and their families. The first keeper was from Mackinac Island.
It wasn’t until 1902 before the first overland route was cut through the forest, from the nearby town of Mears, to the lighthouse
The original lard-burning wick lamp was replaced in 1915 by a brighter, incandescent oil vapor, kerosene-burning lamp; this was visible for nineteen-miles and flashed every thirty seconds.
By 1954 the lamp was electrified and automated which led to the demise of the traditional light keeper and also the razing of the house and ancillary buildings.
After scrutinizing the lighthouse, my next plan was to become more intimate with some of the fresh water dunes that are part of the largest collection in the world. I'd make my way into this world of sand, wind, water, and vegetation.
Just up the road a piece from the lighthouse is the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. It was still early enough in the morning and late enough in the year that this amazing place (and overrun in the summer) was mostly devoid of people as well.
Silver Lake Sand Dunes:
After trudging up the sand stairs, I reached the top and eastern edge of the Silver Lake Sand Dune formations. A cluster of branches belonging to drifted-over trees had broke through the crusty surface while gasping for air. My lungs were on fire as well ... as the moon hung in the clear, bright, blue, midday sky.
A Sea of Sand:
This unmolested dune has a firm, crusty surface which is conducive to travel; this is contrary to most sand surfaces that are experienced after they have been heavily trodden and churned to loose, sugar sand.
My helmet-hair mirrors (mimics) the knife-edge of the wind-swept dune. If you didn't know better, with this picture, I could tell you that I'm in some far-away exotic land; actually, I am ... depending on the location that you're reading the report from; it's all relative.
Crystal Lake as viewed from atop the Silver Lake Sand Dunes:
Off in the distance and to the left you can just make out North Shore Drive. That is the road that I'd arrived by, and from which I had a grand view (across the small inland lake) of the sand dunes as they sloped down into the water. Now I'm standing on top of them. The massive dunes terminate at the shore of Lake Michigan to the west.
Hello I have been loving reading and seeing about your trips, very inspiring for when I start in 2021. Just for curiosity what camera do you use?
Makes my day knowing you are enjoying the reports so much, and all the way from Switzerland. See ... my reports are exotic for some readers!
The pictures are taken with my phone: a three-year-old Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
I love seeing those old roads and landmarks. I lived in New Jersey until I was 14 then I moved back to Europe, and I really only knew the east coast more or less.
Harmony of Colors - (Part Two)
After Silver Lake Sand Dunes I'd venture further north. Up near Ludington, I was forced inland (away from the coast) in order to flank Hamlin Lake. Hamlin Lake is an inland lake just off the Lake Michigan coast. Once north of Hamlin Lake I started working my way back towards the coast and Manistee National Forest.
After hustling along on pavement all morning, it was time to get in the dirt and start enjoying the forest. With no particular route, I just started exploring the web of forest roads intersecting the forest as I worked my way west, back towards Lake Michigan.
Traveling the back-way Towards Nordhouse Dunes:
Manistee National Forest:
South of Forest Trail Road and west of US-31. This is overlanding at it's best.
A Colorful Opening:
To my left the forest opened up into this beautiful clearing. I left the trail and parked the bike at the edge of the opening, removed my gear, and took in the sights and sounds of the forest. Golden silence and white fluffy clouds floating in the blue sky with a smattering of colors in the trees. This sure beat wearing a mask over my face in the garage all day.
Back on the Trail:
While heading west and fast approaching Green Road and the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.
While I started out on an official forest service road, I'm not so sure if this is still considered a forest road or if it turned into a foot trail; since there was a lack of signage, I can't be sure. But sometimes a road like this would transition and flow into a rougher trail that would eventually empty out (past some wood posts protruding out of the ground intended to impede 4-wheel vehicle traffic) onto a numbered forest road.
There were some desirable dispersed campsites along this stretch of remote trail.
Almost at Green Road. This was a unique section of trail; again I'm not sure of the legality, as the forest roads I'd been following seamlessly flowed into this area at some point. You get caught up in exploring and negotiating these trails on a big bike and there is more often than not a lack of signage. This is an interesting view this time of year, as the ground foliage in this opening has turned a dark crimson.
This trail flowed to the left, before a sharp right up a steep but short hill placed you on a high area with a cluster of beautiful hardwoods with a full spectrum of colors illuminated by the sun. Then the trail continued to veer to the right before dumping you out onto Green Road (a dispersed camping mecca). There were wood posts (impeding entry to vehicles) at this transition to Green Road so I question whether that was a foot-travel only trail. While I was stopped at the rise to take this picture, a rider on a tiny, fat-tired TW200 rode past me while blurting out, "That's quite the load you're carrying there!" So, at least I wasn't the only rider out there infringing on a foot-trail, if indeed it was. Later in the day, I'd pass that same rider again, going opposite directions down a dirt forest road.
A Colorful Cluster of Hardwoods:
Nordhouse Dunes Trail:
The last designated "Wilderness Area" in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Green Road dumped me out onto Nurnburg Road which delivered me to the gravel trailhead parking lot which is the jumping-off point for exploring the Nordhouse Dunes. I found a spot to park my bike and then secured as much as possible into the panniers before locking them, as the bike would be sitting unattended all night as I ventured off on foot.
As I was situating my bike in the trailhead parking lot, there happened to be a pair of DNR rangers collecting the garbage, so I took that opportunity to pick their brains about the procedures surrounding the parking arrangements and what is acceptable in picking a dispersed campsite out in the dunes. Simple ... $5 to park and set up camp inside the woodline ... not out on the open dunes.
The sun was starting to get low, so I slid into my backpack and hit the trail for the coastal dunes. Had to hike in my motorcycle boots as I simply couldn’t bring everything, or secure my boots at the bike. Also had to carry my helmet. The hike was only a couple of miles, so it was bearable.
From the trailhead, I'd hike the sandy trail through the quiet interior of hardwoods and conifers, and past some boggy, wet, recessed areas, before emerging from a forested bluff and crossing the open windblown dunes leading to miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline.
A Remote Section of the Lake Michigan Coast:
Michigan’s coastal dunes are a world of sand, wind, water, and vegetation.
The Great Lakes are home to the world’s largest collection of freshwater dunes.
Wind and waves are responsible for the formation of these dunes and the process has been ongoing for the past 4000 years.
I’ve often wondered about the origins of the streaks of black sand that I occasionally see at waters edge of the beach. Come to find out, while quartz is the most common mineral present in sand, magnetite is one of the most distinctive minerals. Magnetite is also known as black sand; it holds a magnetic charge - and often accumulates along the shoreline in black bands.
Dispersed Coastal Camping:
My barely legal campsite; I'm always pushing the boundaries. It's ... kind of ... in the woodline.
The View from my Tent:
This is the most impressive dispersed campsite that I've ever had the priviledge of experiencing. Just inside the woodline; barely, more like under the umbrella of a cluster of trees that have creeped out a little further than the main forest. On the backside of a sand dune ridge, but conveniently positioned with a low, cratered "blow out" directly in front of me, which opened up my view to the coastal beach and beyond.
I'd packed in a camp chair for reading and then watching natures display. The world was mine. Pure solitude. A welcomed loneliness.
The Rough Edges of the World Soften:
During the sun's final moments above the horizon.
Then the Afterglow Begins:
Just following sunset in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.
This glowing horizon lingered for an hour; this view was just over a sand dune to the left of my tent.
After the sun was completely swallowed by Lake Michigan, the whole horizon continued to glow in shades of red and orange while slowly changing in amplitude over the better part of an hour. You'd be surprised by how many people think the show is over once the sun sets; they take right off and miss what can sometimes be the most surreal element of the experience.
When the sky finally turned black, every star and planet shone brightly.
The big dipper loomed above and could be viewed from my tent - through the portal.
Then a partial moon lit up the inside of my tent like a night-light.
It was chilly this time of the year, especially with the strong, gusty winds blowing.
An explosive, rapid-succession of howls from a pack of coyotes woke me at 4-in-the-morning.
Nice, i sometimes miss my mitten...
Harmony of Colors - (Part Three) October of 2020
Ate some cashews, raspberry breakfast bars, slammed a small can of espresso, packed up, slid into my rucksack, and hiked out.
"A boggy area paralleling the Nordhouse Dunes trail that happens to be very colorful this time of year."
A couple of miles later I was back at the bike. Loaded all my gear, situated my tank bag and navigational devices, then blasted back out into the forest in search of new discoveries.
Manistee National Forest Road 8040
Explored the forest, finding more incredible trails through a diverse variety of terrain.
So many inviting dispersed campsites within the confines of the forest; there is no need for a two-wheeled traveler on an adventure bike to pay for a place at a structured campground. These dispersed sites are not picked clean of firewood either, there is an unlimited source of deadfall scattered around the forest floor.
"Should have never went down here; just being lazy and complacent."
Shortly after dumping the bike when the back tire was sucked into a deep rut, we emerged from the forest and stopped at the edge of an opening which revealed a whole new landscape before us: it was like a grassy safari-land atmosphere with some boggy areas. The plethora of rutted tire-tracks made for picking a line across the soft area in front of me mentally chaotic. I'd dismount and walk it first. Best to have a game plan out here, and not get mired in a muddy rut! I'd found a satisfactory line through this soft area, although there were a couple of spots where there was little room for error. Slow, smooth, and technical.
This favorite forest road of mine, with a diverse assortment of terrain, is located between West Forest Trail Road and Nurnberg Road. Although this road/trail officially ends before Green Road (F.S. 5356) according to the map, in the forest, it unofficially continues to Green Road.
On the other side, the grasslands continued along this trail that resembled a lane. I really liked this area as it had a nice vibe. The grassy lane turned back into a trail through more open land surrounded by colorful forest. Then back into the woods.
While riding the forest on the GSA, I'm often thinking, "How much longer am I going to be able to handle this behemoth on these rough secondary roads and trails?"
Manistee National Forest Road 8040 is my kind of road; actually ... my favorite forest road to date!
Good to see you post again Jeff. I was a little worried about you!
Yeah, Rich ... there is always good reason for concern ... concerning me. Thanks! Was going to get another post up last night, but couldn't get going. Probably tonight.
It's been a tough year in so many ways. On top of the typical challenges, a family member died. He was homeless out in the streets of California. Been homeless out there myself ... old emotions came flooding back. Had to fly out there (last minute) and see him out during his last coma-induced hours. Drugs. Dirty needle. Neglect ... and on and on. It's been a decade downhill battle for him (only 25-years-old). Wife's devastated (as is her whole family). We've been fighting with each other ... as usual; hanging on by a thread. Incompatible. Story of my life.
No need for anyone to say anything (or respond to this statement). I'm just keepin' it real. It's nothing new. I'm fine and will stay positive ... regardless of outcomes. I finally accept life as it comes.
Mean streets of California. Junkies.
Hi Gas Guy, sorry to hear about your family member. Fellow Michigander here, from "Downriver." Just jumped into your thread towards the end, but your writing and photos are so good, I'm going to have to start from the beginning!
I was particularly interested in your travels on the TOT. I've done a lot of riding in Ohio over the past year or two, to the point that I'm now a member on the FB group, "Adventure Riders Ohio," as well as a smaller Southern Ohio group. Wayne National Forest, Marietta, and now also the Shawnee State Forest, are some of my favorite areas. So your episode meeting some of the locals at the Big Muskie bucket struck a chord.
The last time I was there, a smorgasboard of beautiful adventure bikes were in attendance, but one rider in particular stood out. He was a very stout gentleman wearing blue jean overalls and work boots, aboard a Versys 300-X, which seemed a bit incongruous, given his size. He turned out to have lived and worked in Monroe, Michigan, but had now retired back to his original hometown near Portsmouth, Ohio.
His name was Max Phipps, as genuine a fellow as you'd ever meet, and I swear that he mentioned bumping into you during his travels. Max would be considered a bit burly for a 300, but he claimed to have ridden that little Versys on the TAT, and more. As the only member of the bunch that day to have a decent layer of mud on his bike, I took him at his word.
Thanks for this thread! Having ridden all over northern Michigan and the UP for years, I'd kind of given up on our state in favor of more distant, "greener" pastures. Your posts have inspired me to re-examine The Mitten as a place to still find adventure. Definitely looking forward to Spring!
Thanks Paul! Means a lot to me when someone digs my material - seeing as I put my heart into it. These days, I'm not as active or regular as in the past, but I'd like to contribute as much as possible - as long as that compelling force dictates. I've so much to post, but fall behind so quickly. I've also some more pictures from Huron National Forest in Eastern Michigan, from the spring, that I'm hoping to get around to.
One of my secret "hang" spots - up high on a forested sand dune bluff overlooking Lake Michigan - that I frequent during the dog days of summer. The bluff is higher than it looks. The panoramic effect flattened the terrain somewhat. But you get the idea!