In 2010, my riding buddy Brad and I left for the EAA Airventure show in Oshkosh WI and then rode around the great lakes on the way home. Here is my ride report from that trip:
Day one – July 24th, Home to Springfield OH – 536 miles
Day one we rode 536 miles and ended up in Springfield OH which was short of our planned stop of Indianapolis IN. The heat was a killer today, even at 75mph we were hot. Top that off with 1/2 hr or so stuck in dead stopped traffic in Columbus OH due to construction, we were plain worn out. No pics today since we were riding fairly hard.
Day 2 – July 25th, Springfield OH to Oshkosh WI – 576 miles
We awoke and saw this out the window:
Not exactly ideal riding conditions. We checked weather and it looked like it would blow through in a few hours so we decided to wait it out. Around 11am, the rain had stopped and we were able to leave without the rain gear. Our original plans were to swing through Milwaukee and stop at the HD museum and HD plants for a quick picture, however with the rain delay and our stopping short of our planned destination we decided to Oshkosh so we could get there at a reasonable time.
When we arrived at the campground and checked in, we found they had received record amounts of rain the week before. One local described it as two 100yr storms in one week! The ground was soggy and muddy. Here is our campsite:
Some poor fool found out his 4X4 pickup was not invincible after all:
Some of the unusable camping areas looked like this:
That is about all that happened on day two, another hard day of riding.
Day three – July 26th, Oshkosh WI – no miles
Day three we stayed at the airshow and did not ride. Oshkosh Airventure is one of the largest airshows in the world. It is a week long, features all kinds of performers, presentations, speakers, and exhibits. Also, anyone who has a plane to show off will bring it to the show. Where you may see one P51 at a regular airshow, there were 20 here. Also many planes from between WWI and WWII, and post WWII. Attendance over the full week can be 500,000 to 700,000. Planes flying in will land 3 at a time on one runway. Basically, it is the airshow of airshows.
As we were leaving our campsite to head into the show we saw the 4X4 get pulled out by the only vehicle capable of getting it out. We think he did a lot of business that day:
As we walked into the show we saw some cool bikes in the bike parking area next to the gate:
We also saw some creative ways that people decided to use to transport their kids:
Here is some of the stuff we saw in the show. Way too much to post all the pics, so here is a selection of them:
Anyone up for a flying motorcycle?
Stuff for the kids…
Japanese Zero fighter, only a few of these exist in flying condition
P38 Glacier Girl – this plane was dug out from under 260 ft of ice in Greenland and restored.
Replica of a Fokker triplane
One of many DC3’s. There were about 15 – 20 there since it is the 75th anniversary of the plane. You may recognize it from the show Buffalo Airlines
P51 that is restored as one flown by the Tuskegee Airmen. This plane crashed in 2000 and was completely rebuilt.
We spent all day, from 7am until 3pm checking out planes and stuff. And we only covered a portion of the show and did not see any presentations or check out any of the vendors
Day 4 – July 27th, Oshkosh WI to Milwaukee WI – 100 miles
Day 4 we spent checking out more of the show until around 5pm. After that we headed south to Milwaukee so we could see the Harley museum and stop at the plants. We rode down to Milwaukee and stopped at a few hotels, but no rooms. It seems there was an airshow going on in Oshkosh and almost all rooms within 75 miles were booked. We got lucky and found a room in Mequon WI, just north of Milwaukee.
Here are some of the cool planes we saw this day:
Beech Staggerwing, one of my favorites
Day 5 – July 28th, Milwaukee to Tomahawk WI – 310 miles 1522 total
Today we headed into downtown Milwaukee and visited the HD Museum. One cool thing about Harley is they decided early on to preserve some of their motorcycles so they would pull one off the line and store it, so they have a large collection of original bikes with no miles that formed the basis for the museum. The museum has lots of cool bikes and displays. We spent over two hours there. Afterwards we headed to Harley’s Juneau Ave and Pilgrim Ave locations for a quick picture and were then on our way up to Tomahawk for the last of the HD facilities for my ABCs of touring. We were way behind our planned schedule due to the time we spent in Milwaukee, so we opted to stay here for the night. Our original destination was Thunder Bay Ontario.
Here are some of the pictures we took at the museum:
Worlds oldest Harley. Not much is known about it.
100th anniv. bike signed by 6000 HD employees
Easy Rider bikes. Duplicates of the ones from the movie
The museum had a Evel Knievel exhibit. Here are some of the displays.
One of his suits
Evel with his jet bike
A duplicate of one of his bikes
His race car
His rocket that he used to try and jump the Snake River canyon
Tomahawk WI is a cool town of about 3500 people. This is what the town looks like:
We had dinner in a bar called the Rodeo Saloon. Great food and the bartender was pretty cool as well.
Day 6 – July 29th, Tomahawk WI to Newberry MI – 317 miles 1839 total
Started off with a quick trip into town to kill some time. Saw a cool old train station which was turned into a business, and a park with an old steam engine and a boat in it. Then it was off to the HD plant for a tour. Here in Tomahawk they make all the plastic goodies and sidecars for the bikes. Lots of tour packs, saddle bags, etc. After the tour we headed out towards the upper peninsula of MI. Stopped in a small bar about 20 miles out of Tomahawk with Brad’s last name on it for a quick bite to eat which turned into 90 minutes. Spent some time chatting with a local who worked in the bar and he gave us some fresh corn on the cob. Much sweeter than what we get in the Philly area.
After that it was a relaxing ride through WI and into MI. We made quite a few stops to enjoy the sights. We passed through Christmas (in July even!) and ended the day in Newberry MI. A little short of our goal of Sault Ste. Marie which is becoming the norm for this trip. However, we are seeing some great sights!
Here are the pics for today:
Here is the train station in Tomahawk WI
Here is the old steam engine. Its an old Baldwin in really bad shape.
And the boat in Tomahawk. It was named On Target and was built at a former boatworks which was acquired by HD and is the current Tomahawk facility.
Passing Rhinelander WI we saw this cool painted rock. The property owner stopped by while we were there and he explained that it was painted by this couple from Ontario who never bothered to ask permission and then commented in a story in the local paper that it was community property. Nice guy though, he really did not care that we stopped.
Marker at the WI – MI border honoring the 32nd Division which was made up of Guardsmen from the MI – WI area
Sign marking the fact that we were now in Christmas
Here is Brad on MI 28
Scenery we were seeing through most of northern WI and MI.
Lake Superior near Marquette MI
Work train crossing the road in Munising MI
That’s it for today
Day 7 – July 30th, Newberry MI to Port Hope ON – 548 miles 2387 total
Started off around 9:30 and rode thru Michigan to Sault Ste. Marie MI. Had to hunt for a gas station before crossing the border so we turned on the GPS and found one right away. I guess they have their uses after all. Crossing the bridge we were laughing at the fools stuck in traffic trying to get into the US. Glad we were not in that line! As we crested the bridge we got a good view of the locks between Lakes Superior and Huron. It seems there is a 21 ft difference in the level of the lakes. Cool view from the top of the bridge. Then it was payback time for laughing at those waiting in line to enter the US, we came to a stop after we crested the top of the bridge! After a few minutes we shut down the bikes and simply coasted down the bridge. When I got to the customs agent I was expecting a few questions and then being sent on my way to wait for Brad. What I got was a puzzled look when I said we were going to be in Canada for one or two days, followed by an even more puzzled look when I said I did not know exactly where we were staying. And then I was asked who “we” were since I was solo on a bike. For my answers to the questions I was asked I was rewarded with a yellow piece of paper and an invitation to step inside for a more thorough interview. I glanced at the paper and it had “1 Day ?” written on it.
Once I got inside I met an immigration agent who’s face would probably have fallen off if she smiled. I was asked the same questions as I was asked outside, and then told to have a seat. Surprisingly, Brad was sent in for his own interview. Could not hear what he was asked, but he said it was the same as I was asked. After a while Brad asked if he could go to the bathroom and was told no. Then for first time they seemed almost human and said they were about to cut us loose and we would be free to go. Total elapsed time was about 2 hrs from the time we started to cross the bridge! So much for friendly Canada!
From there we got on the road and once we cleared town started to enjoy some good scenery. Spent the next few hours on Route 17 driving thru some small towns with populations around 600 – 900 according to the signs. Eventually we reached the city of Sudbury and turned south. Since leaving Sault Ste. Marie we noticed there were not many gas stations, so we opted to stop every 100 miles or so. Also, we noticed that all of the gas pumps looked like some of those from the 80’s! Not a credit card pump to be seen. Just south of Sudbury we were on Route 69 which turned into Route 400. Parts of this road were relatively new stretches of highway. As we were riding I could not help notice the overall terrain was rather rugged and they had to carve the road through many ridges of rather hard looking rock. Following a friends advice we altered our route so we did not go through Toronto. Unfortunately, we could not print his suggested route so we made up our own. We split off from Route 400 onto Route 12 at Coldwater. Our speed decreased significantly and we had to go through some small towns. We will never know if this was a good choice or not, but we did see some nice scenery. One problem was the lack of hotels. We were getting tired and it was getting dark, however we did not see any major hotel chains to stop at. I suggested we press on to Oshawa which is where we would pick up Route 401. We got there around 9PM exhausted. Brad spotted some hotels first and we staggered into one. We were informed that all hotels in the area were booked due to a lacrosse tournament! We were told to try about 30 minutes away headed east. We stopped in a hotel in Port Hope and got one of the last rooms available at 10PM. Found a pizza place which was open and bought the last three slices they had. Unfortunately, no beer to be found there or in the gas station next to the hotel.
Here are the pics for the day:
One of the boat locks between Lakes Superior and Huron
A building near the locks, not sure of its purpose but looks like a power plant
Ship on Lake Huron coming into the locks
Customs/Immigration at Sault Ste Marie
And the cars behind us at the border
Scenery along Route 17
General store in Webbwood
Just outside of Webbwood
Old gas station somewhere along Route 17. Still had stuff on some shelves and there was power to one of the lights outside, so it has not been shut down long.
Route 17 just before Sudbury
South of Sudbury on Route 69
This was the rugged terrain. Saw this for what seemed like miles.
I thought the pattern in the rock was cool
General store near Grnundy Lake where we stopped for gas
And these were the Pumps. Premium? Whats that?
And a gentle reminder that we are not at the top of the food chain
Those are all of the pictures for the day. Spent the rest of the time riding hard
Day 8 – July 31st, Port Hope ON to home – 493 miles 2880 total
Last day on the road, left the hotel around 8:30 am. Made good time on Route 401 to Kingston On. Turned off to head to the border at 1000 Islands. We cleared the exit ramp and came to a dead stop. Two lanes of parked cars, with people standing next to them. Not a good sign. We shut down the bikes, I got off, took off my leather, and we waited. And waited. Eventually traffic moved and we went 100 yds and stopped. This continued for quite a while. Someone in a HD shirt walked by and stopped to talk to us. He said he’d walk up to see what the hold up was. 30 minutes or so later he came back and said the left lane was closed ahead. Eventually we got there and saw that the left lane was closed where an on ramp dumped cars onto the road from the right so it was really 3 lanes merging into 1, great planning! And to make it even worse is there was no visible reason the road was closed. Lots of cones, and one guy in a truck which I assume was to make sure nobody stole the cones. We got through the toll and crossed the bridge. At the US border were were greated with lots of cars. Someone in a yellow vest directed us into a lane, and since it seemed shorter I thanked him. We noticed that all other lines were moving faster than we were. When we finally got to where we could see what was going on we noticed they were having everyone open their trunks in the lane we were in. Eventually we got to the head of the line and were asked why we were in Canada, how long, etc. At least this person did not question why we were there for such a short time. She did make me open my saddle bags and tourpack, and then told me I had to meet Brad at the welcome center since he was not allowed to wait for me. Total time spent in traffic and in line: about 2 1/2 hrs! After that, it was 7 hrs of hard riding to get home. Only took one picture of the line of traffic.
In summary, overall it was a great trip and the issues north of the border were just a blip. We opted to take more time to see the sights this year which caused us to alter our route plan which was fine. However, we still did not stop to see everything we wanted to see. Tops on the list is the Great Lakes Shipwreck museum where they have parts of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I’ll have to find a way to get back.
Only picture of the day, traffic!
That’s all for this trip!