Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation - Part II, Act I.

Life really IS a bowl of cherries (and blueberries...and raspberries...), especially if you happen to be touring Northern Michigan on a BMW GS 1200 in mid-July.

As a native Floridian, my impressions of Michigan are largely shaped by the enormous flock of snowbirds that annually flies south on Interstate 75, usually in some form of van or minivan moving at a snail's pace in the left lane. My one and only trip to Michigan - a short weekend trip to Detroit for the Auto Show in early January - did little to convince me that Michigan is anything other than a cold, dirty, grey, industrial wasteland where people speak with a terribly unfortunate accent and suffer from a severe case of sour grapes in college football.

On the flipside, I have many good friends who hail from the Wolverine State and wax poetic about the natural beauty of their home state. My love was born in Cheboygan and spent the first three years of his life there while his Pop was stationed aboard the USCG Mackinaw. He also spent a great deal of time in Arcadia as a youngster. Still, when Peegie suggested a motorbike tour of Northern Michigan for Summer Vacation - Part II I was very skeptical. But, I am always game for a new adventure and, what the hey?, it couldn't be any worse than what I already imagined!

Michigan is, in a word, spectacular. I could not be more thrilled that my impressions were forged anew. Who knew it would be so stunningly beautiful? Who knew the Great Lakes are as expansive and endless as my beloved ocean? Four of the Great Lakes - Superior, Michigan, Erie and Huron - border the state. And it's pretty neato that Michigan is the only bi-peninsular state, even if the U.P. didn't live up to our expectations. Well, we DID encounter MANY archetypal "yoopers."

In many ways, our trip through Michigan was all about Peegie as we traced the steps of his life history in the places we visited. The fact that our vacation was spent with dear friends and family - HIS family - made it all the more special. It's an amazing experience to be with someone you love as they rediscover their past and reconnect with people who dearly love them.

What follows is a pictorial retrospective of our trip. In many "Acts." Blogger is good, it's not great, but it IS free. Beggars can't be choosers, and beggars also cannot post more than four or five pictures within a single posting to Blogger.

The adventure began at 7:00AM on July 5th in our driveway. That's the love of my life in the photo at the top of this post...posing with his bike, all packed and ready for the long journey to West Bend, Wisconsin for the BMW International Motorcycle Rally. He gave himself a week for traveling; as it turned out, he only needed three days. Peegie had a big time consorting with all of the rally attendees and doing all things BMW motobike. He met several new friends and especially enjoyed being among the youngest attendees at the rally. It doesn't often happen anymore that we are the youngest anywhere!

After the rally, Peegie explored the Wisconsin shoreline and Washington Island. He also practically ate himself sick on cherries and, specifically, cherry butter...a cherry variety of the apple butter we southerners adore.

My adventure on motorbike began in Green Bay, Wisconsin...the most convenient rendezvous point, although possibly the most ironic destination we could choose. Not only do we thrive on the hot and humid languidity of summer in the tropics, we are also long-suffering fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The weather in Green Bay on the day we visited Lambeau Field belied its famous moniker "The Frozen Tundra" - site of so many heartbreaking Buccaneer losses in the snowdrift. Seriously, Lambeau Field is hallowed ground in the same tradition as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. I was happy to see Coach Curly standing guard. It was cool, but I'm still a Bucs fan so it was time for us to set out for parts north.
Despite being loaded down with gear and an extra human, Peegie did a magnificent job of handling the bike. He even did a little showing off by snapping the self-portrait at right. During the rally he took an advanced rider course wherein he learned, among other really important things, how to snap photos while riding a motorcycle.*
In this photo, we are riding along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, approaching Mackinaw City, our stopping point for the day. We were really happy in this photo because we had been riding for a long time, in and out of light, chilly rain. At this point sunshine was in full effect, the temperature was much warmer, the landscape was gorgeous and the promise of rest was only 20 minutes away. But, first, we'd have to cross the big, frightfully scary Mackinaw Bridge.
(*He did NOT, however, learn how to not drop the bike when coming to a stop at a red-light. On balance, I think the photo-snapping skill is more useful; after all, I do have two hiney cheeks to cushion a fall. )


Keysgal@QuietWater said...

Wow, I enjoyed hearing again about the bike trip and the adventures. Paige you write so well you make me feel as if I am on the trip with you. Can't wait for Act II. Love you.

Kicking N. Screaming said...

I'm so bummed to hear the UP didn't live up to your expectations! Did you at least hit Mackinac for some fudge?

Ashley Long said...

Cherry butter is kind of you to bring some back for me. Thanks! Love the pics of the bike trip.