We originally planned to see the Sister of Liberty in Oregon, Ill., on the last day of a previous summer vacation but had to cut it from our itinerary at the last minute due to weather. With a long Memorial Day weekend ahead, we decided not only to go see the Sister but also the Black Hawk Statue in Lowden State Park.
My view as we made our way to the Illinois River bridge at Henry, Ill.
Our first destination was Black Hawk, which is way in the back of the park, so imagine how surprised we were to ride all the way through to discover the statue was covered in black plastic, apparently the result of recent repairs. Continue reading
If you read my last post, you already know I found my next topic on the way home that day. A quick stop at the Psycho Silo for a drink and some live music led to a return trip the following week.
It was going to be a perfect day to ride, and I was not willing to take the direct route there. So while we were hanging out on Saturday night, he suggested I lay out our plan. After staring at our large-print road atlas (if you don’t have one, I highly suggest making it your next purchase) for way longer than a normal person, I had it all mapped out.
A quick smile for the camera along Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights, Ill.
The morning was beautiful, with bright blue sky and low winds. Our first destination was Grandview Drive for a quick photo op. We needed more photos for next year’s calendar (bike themed, of course). It was early enough we could grab some great shots before the crowds arrived around lunchtime.
Traverse City, Mich. to Newberry, Mich.
I still can’t believe it … after three whole days of riding, I woke up ready to rock and roll. I might even say I was excited, surprising since Day 4 posed the biggest hurdle of the entire trip (in my mind, at least): crossing the Mackinac Bridge, but we’ll talk about that later.
Unfortunately, there was some confusion about when the hotel started serving breakfast, so we opted to head out early and grab something on the road. The radar, something I had become quite familiar with over the past several days, showed a break the rain that we wanted to take advantage of to start our day. We packed the bike pretty quickly — thanks to the West Bay Beach Resort and their offer of the covered, front-door parking — and were on our way. Continue reading
Grand Rapids, Mich. to Traverse City, Mich.
Sticker recognizing us for making the 130-step climb up the lighthouse.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but we are early risers — often, super-early risers. It’s not that we plan to get up early; heck, we don’t even set the alarm, but we always seem to wake up at the crack of dawn (or before) raring to go. Thankfully, most places we stay have early breakfast hours, so we don’t have to wait too long to grab a bite before hitting the road. This day was no different, and the continental breakfast at the CityFlats was quite enjoyable.
Once fed, we grabbed our bags, stowed them on the bike and pulled out of the parking garage into sunlight. We had three lighthouses and lots of dunes to see, and we were ready to get started. Continue reading
Cedar Lake, Ind. to Grand Rapids, Mich.
We woke up early Sunday morning ready to roll. After a quick shower and goodbyes with the family, it was time to hit the road. We were super excited to get going because we were about to see our first (real) lighthouse of the trip and would end the day with an evening in 2012’s co-“Beer City USA.”
Our directions actually took us a bit out of our way around the top half of the Cedar Lake, but hey, adventuring is part of the ride. We had purposefully chosen a route that would keep us out of the city until we approached our first stop in Michigan City, and it turns out that was a great plan.
As we started out, all our roads wiggled just enough to keep it interesting. The scenery was just amazing: Gorgeous little houses with immaculate lawns, picturesque farms, and just enough crazy stuff (you know, the kind that “Makes you go, hmmm”) to keep my head on a constant swivel for quite a while. Continue reading
Peoria, Ill. to Cedar Lake, Ind.
What a crazy summer it’s been! The short version is that our poor bike — like this blog — was ignored for way too long. I’m ashamed to admit how long I went between rides, but I will say that I am really glad we took that three-day ride over Memorial Day weekend. Since I don’t have a lot of adventures from this summer to write about, I decided it’s about time I shared the story of last summer’s epic trip around Lake Michigan.
It was exactly 199 days before we left that Wally proposed the idea to me: Let’s ride the bike around Lake Michigan and see as many lighthouses as we can along the way. I was shocked to find myself agreeing to it, but then, he did have to deal with my questions. Continuous. Daily. Highly detailed. Questions. Questions about questions. And, even more questions. He was a trooper — and driven.
We bought a large print atlas to explore and plan our route. We researched cities, landmarks, activities and events along the way. We spent hours upon hours on the computer, fine tuning our plan to one of perfection. It would be six nights, seven days and an average of about 250 miles a day, which would allow for plenty of sightseeing stops. Continue reading