Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Computer and phone advice

I mentioned in a previous blog how valuable my laptop computer was on my trip because I was able to use it to keep up with the weather, things to see, travel distances and routes, as well as getting my email and doing my banking while I was on my extended trip. One thing I discovered however was that as I traveled the computer would bounce around in my saddlebag and after a while I noticed an area on the monitor that was beginning to get worn. After noticing this, I began putting a cloth between the keyboard and the monitor to minimize this wear and tear, and it worked. I am glad that I noticed this early on in the trip. I also had to do the same thing with my cell phone which I kept in a case on my belt. The buttons on the keypad were causing marks on surface of the screen on the phone. I again put some pieces of paper towels over the surface of the keypad and this eliminated the problem.

The Beef Jerky Travel Diet

When I travel I usually do not like to stop for lunch and I very seldom go out for dinner either. This is a good thing because it saves me money and it reduces my calorie intake, which is something I need to do desperately. As I travel, I usually eat about 2 ounces of beef jerky and one crunchy granola bar for lunch. Breakfast is usually whatever is free at motel which usually consists of a bowl of cereal, an English muffin, and a piece of fruit. For dinner I would stop at a local grocery store and pick up a quarter pound of sliced ham, two pieces of fruit, and some carrots or other suitable vegetable to munch on. I did go out to eat several times when I was at one of my relatives homes, but even then I would try to eat lighter portions. The result is, after 5 weeks, that I lost about 10 pounds. Now I just have to try to keep that up now that I am home.

Some of my friends suggested that I should write a book about my "Beef Jerky Travel Diet" to compete with books like the South Beach Diet or the Atkins Diet. I really don't think I have a have enough material to make this into a book however. I suppose I could write a book about the different jerkies I have eaten along the way. One of my favorites was the Gary West Jerky that I picked up in Jacksonville, OR.

After thoughts and upcoming videos

For those of you that have been following my blog I want to thank you for your interest in my journey. It was encouraging to me to have so many people show an interest in what I was doing for myself. Now that I am home, I will be working on editing the videos that I took on my trip. If you are interested is seeing them I will be posting them on YouTube and I will put a link to the YouTube site on my blog. Since I am not sure when I will have the editing done, if you want to send me your email address, I can send you an email to let you know when I have posted something new. If interested, please respond by sending me your email address to:

You will need to send it directly to my email because I cannot respond directly to if you you contact me through this blog site.

Day 34 - My last day on the road

Picture 1 - A flower garden in the Open Space in Traverse on the West Bay. Picture 2 and 3 - The state park beach on the East Bay in Traverse City. Picture 4 and 5 - The Boardman River behind the stores on Front Street in Traverse City.

Today was the last leg of my trip but it certainly did not lack in regard to beautiful scenery. Michigan is a very beautiful state and has some of the best lakes and shoreline when compared to others I have seen around the country. On my way home today I decided not to take I-75 but instead to use US-31. I have not traveled this way in many years but after witnessing the beauty of this route, it may again become the route of choice when I travel north to the Mackinaw Bridge from now on. As I traveled through towns like Petoskey, Charlevoix, Conway, Elk Rapids, and Traverse City, I was struck by the beauty of the lakes, woods, and shoreline that help to make Michigan one of the most beautiful places I have seen on my trip. I have seen the beaches of California, Oregon, and Washington and they do not compare to the beaches here in Michigan. Oregon was the closest, but the constant cold breezes that come in off the ocean in every one of these states, makes them virtually useless for what most people go to the beach for; i.e., swimming and sunbathing.

The weather was cool today, but as I left Petoskey it was at least partly cloudy so the traveling was delightful. It wasn’t until I passed Bear Lake that I knew that I was going to need my rain suit to complete the trip home. I no sooner got it on and the rain started to come pretty steady for the last 40 miles of the trip. So the journey ended as it began; with cool weather and rain. But I must admit this did not dampen the enjoyment of what I have experienced on this 8,100 mile ride.

Speaking of all the miles, when I was talking to a guy at the motel last night about my trip, I mentioned that I had ridden 8,000 in five weeks and he said, “Wow, you must have a leather ass by now.” I guess I probably do with all the miles I put in the saddle, but I have to admit, that the seat on my Heritage Softail Classic was quite comfortable the entire trip.

I have included some pictures above from the Traverse City area. Traverse City holds a special place in my heart as one of the best vacation spots in the world because it is where my parents and other relatives used to go to vacation when I was a kid back in the 40s and 50s. I was always fascinated by the Boardman River in Traverse City and the way it meandered through the downtown area right behind the stores that lined Front Street. As I rode out of Traverse City down Front Street and onto North Long Lake Road toward Long Lake where we spent many a summer, I was reminded of those wonderful years when we would go fishing on some of the smaller lakes in the area. As I passed by them I could still remember some of the fish I caught on lakes like South Twin, Coffield’s, Obrien’s, and Lions. The memories washed over me like a flood as I passed along side these lakes and especially Long Lake with its beautiful islands and sandy shores. It was a great way to end a great trip; i.e., remembering the best vacations of a lifetime some 50 and 60 years ago and reflecting on the journey of a lifetime that I have dreamed about doing for many many years.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Day 33

All of the pictures are from Palms Book Spring State Park in the Upper Peninsula near Manistique. This is Big Spring or "Kitch-iti-kipi."
Today was my second day in the UP of Michigan near Houghton. The temperature this morning dropped to 32 degrees F and there was frost on the ground. Joyce, Juhanni, and I went to house Chris and Maryann’s house for breakfast this morning. Chris is Joyce’s son and Joyce is my mother-in-law. Juhanni is Chris’ son who has been staying in the big house at the Bohjanen farm where Joyce lives. Maryann, my sister-in-law, made a traditional Finnish breakfast delicacy called Pannukakku. It is mostly egg and milk and is baked in an oven like a soufflĂ©. We ate it with a strawberry topping and it was delicious. When I left Houghton, the sun was shining but it was still cool. After riding for about and hour the sky got overcast and I got pretty cold so I stopped to put on more clothes. After putting on a second long sleeved shirt, and my chaps, I headed back out on the road. With the thin layer of high clouds and a lower level of stratus clouds, the temperature never got above about 65 all day, so the extra clothing was a big help, but I never did get fully warmed up. The towns clicked off as the miles flew by. Towns like Baraga, L’Anse, Ishpeming, Negaunee, and Marquette.

At Marquette I turned south on MI-41 to head down to US-2 at Rapid River. I decided to take this route because it will take me past Palms Book Spring State Park just west of Manistique. This is where you can find one of the Upper Peninsula's major attractions, Kitch-iti-kipi or "The Big Spring." Kitch-iti-kipi is two hundred feet across and forty feet deep. The spring spews out over 10,000 gallons a minute from many fissures in the underlying limestone. The flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree temperature so the spring never freezes and can be enjoyed any season of the year. On the spring is a barge that is guided by a cable stretched across the spring. The center of the barge is open so you can easily see the bottom of the spring in the crystal clear water. Swimming beneath the barge are numerous trout that have been planted there from nearby fish hatcheries. I have posted several pictures from Kitch-iti-kipi including one looking through the bottom of the barge showing some of the trout and the boiling sand at the bottom of the spring. I have been here once before about 20 years ago but the visit today was just as delightful. The spring is truly awesome.

After leaving the spring, I headed toward St. Ignace with the intent of finding a motel there to stay the night. I had forgotten that today was Saturday during the height of the tourist season and every motel that I checked with was full, so I decided to cross the bridge and try my luck there. Most of the motels south of the bridge were full too, so I continued south on US-31. I finally found a motel in Petoskey so this is where I am for the night. I might have just ridden all the way home tonight but I found out that it had been raining in Ludington all day and I was already cold. I didn’t relish the thought of being wet and cold.

Today, the odometer rolled over the 30,000 mile mark since I bought the bike in 2002. On this trip, which has lasted one day short of five weeks, I will surpass the 8,000 mile mark which will occur tomorrow before I arrive at home. Home is approximately 160 miles away if I don’t take any detours.

Day 32

This next part actually happened yesterday, but I was so long winded on what I wrote in yesterday’s blog that I decided to split up some of the information. As I rode on from Duluth, I entered Superior, Wisconsin where I stopped at Barkley Island. There is a rubber sided ship on display in the harbor there which was rather unique with its rounded sides. You can see it in the picture above. Northern Wisconsin was exactly like Northern Minnesota and Northern Michigan; very wooded with lots of lakes, rivers, swamps, and hills. I eventually made my way into Michigan and headed toward Silver City near the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. I had always wanted to see the Lake of the Clouds which is located there so I took a 9 mile detour to the west of Silver City and a short walk up the hill to see it. The lake was quite beautiful and I was glad I took the time to ride up there. I have a couple of pictures of the lake posted above.

Today, Friday, it was quite cool but sunny. It was also extremely windy so I decided not to go for any extended rides on the motorcycle to see any of the sites around the Keweenaw Peninsula. I did take a few pictures of the Bohjanen homestead which I have stitched together as one and included it above.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 31

Today I left Grand Rapids, MN and headed toward Duluth, MN and eventually to Joyce Bohjanen’s home in Oskar, MI just north of Houghton, MI in the UP. Joyce is my mother-in-law and has a beautiful 40 acre homestead way out in the north woods. All the way through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan I was struck by the beauty and similarity of these three states. With their abundant forests and the beautiful lakes I felt like I was really home again. It felt good to be back in familiar territory. What a wonderful change over the prairies in North Dakota and eastern Montana.

On my way down US-2 toward Duluth I was on the lookout for a large steam locomotive that a friend of mine wanted me to take a picture of. He is a truck driver that made a lot of runs through Duluth and was always captivated by the size of this locomotive. He was never able to get a picture of it because there was no place for him to stop with his 18 wheeler. Before heading out toward Duluth I did some research on the computer to see if I could locate where it was. I was not able to find it online but I did find a Railroad Museum in Duluth so I programmed that into my GPS. I figured if nothing else, I could go there and someone would know were it was. I recall as I rode through town of Proctor, just outside of Duluth, my attention was drawn to an Air Force Jet that was poised on a pedestal on the side of the highway. I thought about stopping there to get a picture of it because it was quite neat, but I was going just a little too fast to stop so I just kept heading toward the museum. Shortly after that I saw a turnout for a rest area and tourist information site which I also thought about stopping at but I decided against it at the last minute. After rounding a curve and cresting a hill, I got my first view of Duluth and the harbor on Lake Superior. It was absolutely gorgeous. At that point it was too late to stop to get a picture but I decided that after visiting the museum I would probably go back to that information rest area because it was on an even higher hill overlooking the city and would allow me to get some good pictures.

Upon arriving at the Museum I parked my bike on the street and took both cameras with me to try to get some pictures in the museum. The building that housed the museums (there were actually four museums in this building) was a beautiful old train station. From the road outside I took my 35 mm camera out to take a picture of the building. I noticed that I did not have my memory card in it because I left it in the computer. I thought for a moment that it would be okay because I still had my camcorder with me and it takes pretty good still pictures along with videos; but since I was only a half a block away from my bike I decided to go back and get the memory card. I was so glad I did because when I finally got in the place and tried to take some video I discovered that the battery was dead on the camcorder.

Upon entering the museum, I asked the person at the ticket counter if he knew of a train located along US-2 somewhere. He told me it was right along side the highway in the town of Proctor and you can’t miss it as you drive through. Well Proctor is the town I had just come through and I did miss it. I guess eyesight is the first thing to go when you get old; or is it the second? He told me that if I head back to Proctor, just after passing the first red light, I will crest a hill and the train will be on my left. I thanked him and went about the business of visiting the Railroad Museum. I was impressed by the number of restored old trains that they had on display inside the building. I took a lot of pictures, some of which you can see above. While I was there I also got a short ride on and old restored electric trolley. This trolley was actually built in South America and was used in Duluth for many years. There is a sister trolley that is still in use in Alaska but it has been converted to diesel.

After leaving the museum, I headed back to Proctor to find the locomotive that I somehow missed on my first pass through. As I came to the first red light, I could not see it yet but as I crested the hill I discovered why I did not see it the first time. It was right next to the Air Force Jet that is also on display next to the highway. Anyway, I stopped and got some pictures of the jet and the train and headed into Proctor to get some lunch. At the restaurant I found out that the engine and tender car for this locomotive was 127 feet long and the engine was the most powerful engine in the world at the time.
After eating I then head back onto US-2 to make a stop at the tourist information center to get some pictures of Duluth and the harbor. The view from that hill was breathtaking and I was extremely glad that I came back that way to see it and get some pictures. While I was there I met a nice couple from Boston who had been vacationing in Minnesota and were driving back through Upper Michigan, then Canada, and back to the US in the Thousand Island area on the St. Lawrence Seaway. In our discussion I discovered that he had actually been born in Ann Arbor, MI. They asked for my recommendation on what to see as they passed through the UP. I recommended Pictured Rocks and Tahquamenon Falls. They wrote both things down and said they would definitely stop at each.