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Thread: Traverse City Trip Report - Prologue

  1. #1
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    NW Ohio

    Traverse City Trip Report - Merged

    Prologue and Context:

    This story is about the second big motorcycle trip my son (Jean-Luc) and I have taken together. The first was a five day, 1100 mile trip to Virginia in 2001 when he was six. We've done many weekend trips since he started riding with me at age five, but going beyond a 2-day trip is a still a special event for Jean-Luc and me.

    Some background:

    Jean-Luc's had a busy summer this year. He learned to swim, so I've really been pushing water activities. We've been swimming several times a week, kayaking in flatwater and mild whitewater, gone fishing, ridden in a Duck, and visited a water park. So I wanted to continue that with a trip where he (actually, *we*) would get to play in sand, sun, and water.

    Jean-Luc and I had canceled our trip to the BMW MOA National rally in Charleston due to chronic torrential rains here in Northwest Ohio, so this was also a makeup trip for us. Father-son bonding through soft-core adventure was the plan. That's really the best part of my job as a parent, I think...

    Doug Grosjean
    Luckey, Ohio

  2. #2
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    NW Ohio

    Traverse City Trip Report - Day 1

    Day 1
    August 07, 2003
    Start: 80,620 miles at Luckey, OH
    End:80,688 miles at Dearborn, MI
    Total: 68 miles

    After getting off work at 4:00 PM, I pack following the checklist on my PDA. I learned the hard way that without a checklist, things will be forgotten while Jean-Luc provides distractions in his excitement to get going.

    After packing and a final run through our checklist, we leave Luckey at 8:00 PM; bound for Dearborn, Michigan for the night.

    We arrive at Sharon's home in Dearborn at 9:30 PM. Pull the bike into the garage, and head out to a birthday dinner for Jean-Luc at La Pita's.

    Gifts received were batteries, case, and a handheld TV - in that order. Jean-Luc puzzled over the batteries, wondered about the small padded case, and was overjoyed by the TV.

    The TV was actually a "practical" gift. I don't own a TV, neither does Sharon, nor do we want to own one. But now Jean-Luc can watch cartoons on Saturday mornings, or on long car trips. It can be used for weather reports on motorcycle trips, or it can be carried into a basement during a tornado for updates.

    And I really like the fact that the screen is so small, while the real world is so big...

    Back to Sharon's for the night, tuck Jean-Luc in bed, and go to bed myself.

    Doug Grosjean
    Luckey, Ohio

  3. #3
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    NW Ohio

    Traverse City Trip Report - Day 2

    Day 2
    August 08, 2003
    Start: 80,688 miles at Dearborn, MI
    End: 80,966 at Acme, MI
    Total: 278 miles

    Goal was to leave Sharon's early (10:00 AM) and ride up to Traverse City.

    We take Telegraph Rd. north to I-696. I-696 Eastbound to I-75, then I-75 Northbound to Grayling, Michigan.

    Lots of urban sprawl till we're well out of Detroit. Then inner-city
    Detroit gives way to modern industrial parks and hotels and shopping malls, then the scenery is farms, then finally thick forests.

    We stop at a rest stop just south of Grayling around 1:00 PM . We share some vending machine crackers, then continue on to Grayling for lunch at a Subway shop there.

    Grayling was named for the grayling fish, which used to be abundant in the Au Sable and Manistee rivers. But logging destroyed the grayling's breeding grounds over 100 years ago, so modern anglers fish for trout.

    The forests have long since grown back, and now there are many summer cottages and cabins in the area. Hunting, camping, and snowmobiling are other popular activities in the Grayling area. And canoeing...

    There's a huge 24-hour canoe marathon / race from Grayling down to Lake Huron each summer, as well as canoe-accessible campsites all along the Au Sable. With a little bit of planning and equipment, a canoeist could easily spend a week camping, fishing, and floating.

    I also learned to swim in the Au Sable as a kid, though not very well. Swimming well came much later...

    I've never run the Au Sable, but have wanted to for a long time. I've been told the boating is beautiful, but I've seen just a few slivers of the river so far.

    So in Grayling, we stop at Ray's canoe rental on the Au Sable River. See:

    We arrive at Ray's around 3:30 PM. Just to check the rates, of course. After parking, we look at the boats available. They have canoes and kayaks in lots of shapes and colors and materials, as well as some "special" boats such as a long wooden canoe, and some rental whitewater catamarans for fishing. The cats are just a tubular space frame connecting two hulls, with a chair attached to the frame. Your feet can dangle... no floor means easy fishing, and the dual hulls mean stability.

    Can we run the river today? Yes. Now we just need to choose a boat.

    We ask about the catamaran, but the rental on that is a bit steep at around $110 / day. The man at the counter tells me it's really meant for guided fishing trips, they don't rent it for river trips.

    A two-seater sit-on-top kayak is much more affordable (and familiar) to both Jean-Luc and myself. Imagine a motor scooter for the water: easy to use, easy to climb aboard, and fun.

    A 2-hour trip is available; perfect! We grab our Camelbacks, a couple compact 35 mm cameras, and my GPS unit. Yes, it's submersible - though my camera is not. We'll be careful.

    We're told the 2-hour trip is about 9 miles. In just 2 hours? That doesn't sound right... Well, 6-9 miles I'm told. There's no way for them to measure precisely. I tell them I'll measure it with my GPS and let them know.

    We're heading down the river around 4:00 PM.

    The river itself is very, very nice..! Clear water, with a rock and sand bottom. Riverside cottages pass by, as the river flows through forests of pine and hardwood. On the river are nearly naked marathon canoeists, scrawny muscular guys, getting in seat time while sprinting upstream in lightweight orange / brown Kevlar canoes. There are drunk rookies, college kids, and guys on dates with bikini-clad girlfriends. No rapids to speak of, just flatwater and steady current, flowing through nice scenery and
    smells and sounds. I also see several kingfishers.

    I paddle steadily while Jean-Luc relaxes in the bow. We pass newbies now and then while I answer Jean-Luc's questions, then we're passed in turn by the marathon men. But most of the time, we're alone with the scenery.

    Our run ends up being about a 5.8 mile, 2 hour trip according to my GPS. Just a pleasant way to break up our day.

    At the takeout, our shuttle-van driver puts our kayak on the trailer and gives us a ride back to Ray's. Jean-Luc and I are the only riders in the van.

    Returning to Grayling on a 4-lane road in the shuttle van, and suddenly a bicycle darts out in front of us from a 2-lane residential street on our right. We gasp, not believing what we're seeing...

    Our driver brakes hard, and then THUNK! I see the bicyclist bounce off the right front fender / windshield of the van like a rag doll. Oh my...

    I'm the most mature person in the van, so I jump out of the van the second it stops, to look underneath the van and assess the situation. I expect to see a badly-injured little girl under the van. Instead I see a little girl running away from the accident scene as fast as she can, back into the neighborhood.

    Our driver is sitting in the van crying, and she asks if the bicyclist is hurt. I tell her I don't think so, as she's running pretty well at that point... Our driver just cries harder.

    Now neighbors are coming out of their homes, sort of milling about. I ask if someone can call 911 for us. Someone does. Our driver tries to radio back to the office, but nobody answers at first. She keeps trying until she raises somebody on the radio. An off-duty policeman shows up by chance, and then a Grayling Police Department cruiser.

    The Grayling police officer takes my statement, i.e., that our driver wasn't speeding or doing anything wrong when the little girl pulled out in front of us. Our driver did everything right.

    Our driver is too shaken to continue, so one of the police officers drives the van back to Ray's.

    We collect our gear, say our goodbyes, and by 7:00 PM, we're rolling again... west on M-72 from Grayling to Traverse City.

    We're hungry again. I don't want fast food, and Jean-Luc doesn't want slow food. To me, fast food is McDonald's and Burger King and Taco Bell. To Jean-Luc, slow food is any place where a waitress takes your order and somebody cooks it up specially for you. We're not seeing eye to eye...

    Finally, a compromise: Whitetails Steak & Ale in Kalkaska, Michigan. There's a bunch of motorcycles out front, Harleys & V8
    powered trikes and such.

    After looking at the bikes, we head in. They have a children's menu, so all's well. Sort of...

    We want window seats, but none are open. One of the Harley guys asks if we're on a bike, I nod. He invites us to sit w/ him and his group if the waitress can't seat us. Then a window seat does open up; we thank him and take our seat.

    I have a cherry brandy pork chop, while Jean-Luc has a hotdog and fries. Perfect! After supper Jean-Luc watches his TV, giggling and laughing.

    We leave, the Harleys are gone, replaced by two Ventures and a Glide. All high-mileage bikes.

    We arrive at Acme, Michigan; just outside Traverse City, around 9:00 PM. The main drag along the bay is full of bayside hotels and "No Vacancy" signs. We strike out at cheap motel... I think they should charge $40, but the owners think $120 is a better price. We walk... I tell Jean-Luc that's a key to negotiation, being ready to walk. We can walk, we have camping gear.

    We end up at Timber Ridge Campground just south of Acme, 1 night for $26. But only one night, we'll have to leave in the morning as the site is reserved by somebody else the following night.

    We make our way to our site. The campground is on sand, so in some spots the dirt road is deep sand. After the motorcycle gets a bit weird in the deep sand, I have Jean-Luc walk.

    We make camp, with Jean-Luc complaining about our new dome tent. He says it's not "us", that he prefers our 20 year old Eureka Timberline. I tell him this tent is better, it has more room.

    We're in bed around 11:20 PM. As I drift off, I notice that Jean-Luc just doesn't get the mummy bag idea... He has it wrapped around him like bacon around a hot dog. No matter, it's a comfortable night...

    Doug Grosjean
    Luckey, Ohio

  4. #4
    Registered User Fritzc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Central Michigan

    Thumbs up Bike Trip

    thanks for the wonderful story about your bike trip with son.
    Reminds me of a short (40 mile) and only bike trip with my son 25 years ago, he was 14 at the time. We went to a muzzle loading rifle shoot. Two of us on a R600/6 with tent, two rifles, sleeping bags and black powder gear. What a load for a 600 cc bike.
    It is a great memory though.

  5. #5
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Marin By God County, California
    Hey Doug!

    Where are the pictures?

    I know you can take nice ones, I've seen them!
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

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