Day 5 - Fayette Historic State Park to South Higgins Lake State Park via US-2 & Mackinac Bridge. 376.8km
We awoke to a frigid, overcast morning at Fayette and proceeded to wolf down a pot of coffee and a huge quantity of bacon & eggs to ward off the chill.
|Campsite on the North shore of Lake Michigan|
|Neat stairs cut into the rock in the forest between our site & the lake|
|A cormorant taking flight from the Big Bay de Noc|
We were making good time with getting ourselves packed up and moving to check out the historic village - it looked like we were actually going to get our earliest start of the whole tour! Then, a couple of fellow campers stopped by on their way down to the lake and we got chatting. Then the friendly folks across from us who'd given us ice and offered their campfire were up and chatting. All told, it took us an extra hour to get everything strapped back on the bikes - it was past 11am by the time we fired them up for the 3min ride from the campground to the parking lot above Snail Shell Bay.
|The naturally sheltered harbour that made Fayette possible.|
We parked the bikes & walked down to the Visitors' Centre, which has an incredible scale model of the town at the peak of its activity. A narrated history is available at the push of a button, and the model lights up in various areas as they are discussed individually.
|Fayette from 1867-1890.|
After learning a lot about the life of this single-industry company town, we walked down to check out the original buildings that housed the iron smelting operations, company store, hotel & livery stable, machine shop & employee residences.
|The enormous charcoal blast ovens for smelting the iron ore|
|Smelting complex and the remains of the company store|
|The limestone cliff were quarried for building materials and flux for the blast ovens|
|Many buildings have restored & fully furnished interiors.|
|Interpretive panels all over the town offer facts about the history and restoration work in the town.|
|Many of the trades required at Fayette no longer exist.|
|Some residents remain the same.|
We walked miles around the town in our full leathers, as it was still chilly and we intended to be on the road as soon as possible. As the day wore on, though, the clouds broke and the sun beat down on us. By the time we were finished checking out all the village had to offer we were tired, sweaty, and astonished to discover it was nearly 2pm! Time to make some miles.
|Pulling out of the park|
After 17 miles of riding due North, we once again rejoined one of the prettiest highways I've had the privilege to see. US-2 runs along the North shore of Lake Michigan, and its numerous scenic turn-outs and views are a testament to the lovely sights that pepper the roadside.
|Epoufette Bay from a scenic turn-out|
|The seemingly endless dunes just West of St. Ignace|
|The Mackinac Bridge:|
a triumph of engineering soaring high above the strait between Lake Michigan & Lake Huron
As we rode back East, stopping to take photos where we pleased, we knew the day was getting on. We had a final destination for the day at a park we'd visited & enjoyed last year, but we needed to hustle in order to make it there with enough time to set up camp before dark.
|Riding across the world's 5th largest suspension bridge|
Across the bridge and down I75, we had to stop for gas then grip'n'rip past a bunch of confusing signage in order to reach South Higgins Lake around 6:20pm. We needed to drop all the gear off my fender before we could go get firewood & ice at the park store, which I was sure closed at 7pm. Fortunately we were able to relax a bit when we checked in and were informed that the store was now open until 9pm, but we still missed all but the last of the sunset over Higgins Lake.
|Known as "Michigan's Most Beautiful" lake.|
|Camp set up as darkness falls|
|Pain in the arse fire that wouldn't stay lit.|
That's twice we've got lousy firewood from the park store here.
Day 6 - South Higgins Lake State Park to the 2014 Great Lakes Rally. 392.0km
I woke up before dawn to a spattering of rain on the tent. I needed to dart over to the comfort station, and when I emerged (much relieved) it was only misting with the first of the daylight beginning to spread over the lake.
|It really is a pretty place.|
As I climbed back into the tent, though, the rain started up again. Unable to get back to sleep, I pulled up the radar and saw that we were on the leading edge of a huge system that would be pelting us for the next few hours. I changed the alarm from 8am to 9:30, rolled over and promptly lost consciousness.
We took our time emerging from the tent as it was precipitating in earnest later in the morning, then made a sustaining breakfast in leisurely fashion under the tarp over our picnic table.
|Pancake breakfast sammiches. That'll fill the gap.|
We finally got everything wiped as dry as possible & packed back onto the bikes in time to roll out around 2pm. We were supposed to be to the farm outside Detroit by 5pm to ride with our friends to a local spot for dinner, but that would prove impossible without making a special arrangement with either physics or the police. I messaged with our host and got directions to the restaurant so we could meet them there instead, then we saddled up and hauled due South down US-127.
After an hour and a half we needed to stop for fuel, and did so with all the efficiency we could muster - less than 10mins out of the saddle, which included chatting with a couple of folks who asked about our bikes. Back on the highway, we ended up in stopped traffic at Lansing where we hopped on I96 East, then again at the junction with I275. The long weekend traffic and the closure of I96 East of I275 were major annoyances, but once through it we were able to roll hard down past the Motor City to our destination. Stopped again for a huge freight train just a few minutes from the restaurant, our butts were killing us - we finally arrived for dinner having been in the saddle for 2.5hrs and 240km straight, badly in need of fuel and a good walk around!
All complaints were quickly forgotten, though, as we were now among friends.
Days 7-9 - GLR & the way home. 205.1km / 93.0km / 332.8km
I won't say a lot about GLR. Not much needs to be said.
|Ready to rock|
|Bird's eye view|
We rode to Hell and back (literally)!
|Taken by the owners of the shops & posted on the Hell, MI Facebook page|
|Back at the farm|
|Our hostess, whose birthday weekend it was!|
|Mildly inebriated in the garage with two of my very favourite people.|
Monday (after 3.5hrs of sleep and overnight rain - whoops) we went out for a final brunch with the remaining party-goers before saddling up one last time for the long haul home. We only made 2 stops (apart from the very easy border crossing) and managed to stay just ahead of the giant line of powerful thunderstorms that dogged us at every step. Despite lightning crashing away every few moments to the North of the highway during the last dark half-hour of our ride, we arrived home safely around 8:45pm without being hit by a single drop of rain!
|A torrential downpour started about 5mins later.|
The best of times in the best of company!
|Dorks on bikes!|
They've pushed the start time back by 1 hour because of the sudden unseasonably cool turn the weather has taken, so at least I won't drown until at least 10am.
Won't that be nice..