Leg 2 – Oshkosh WI to Milwaukee WI

Sunday, July 31

My second leg was to ride from Oshkosh to Milwaukee WI, a paltry 90 miles or so. At least that is what it would have been if I had gone direct. However, I had 4 ½ days to get there so why go direct? I chose to head north to go south, with my route taking me clockwise around Lake Michigan then a bit west into Iowa before turning towards Milwaukee. Most of this route would be smaller roads and I was going to cross the Mackinac Bridge.

On Sunday July 31, I wandered about the show grounds for the morning I headed back to my campsite to pack up. My tent was in sad shape due to a broken tent pole plus the various connectors for each of the sections were loose so I decided it was not worth shipping home nor was it worth carrying with me for the rest of the trip. I packed up the rest of my stuff and carried the tent over to the dumpster and tossed it in. Back to the bike to finish packing up and I decided to start the bike to let it warm up as I got my gear on. Problem, where was the bike key? I checked my jacket, my pants, everywhere I could think of. I was not that worried as I had a spare key in my luggage but I did not want to give up. As I thought where I had last seen it I recalled I had put the key in the small mesh shelf INSIDE MY TENT. OOPS! Over to the dumpster I went and pulled out my tent, now covered in coffee grounds from another camper. I opened it up and right in front of me was my key. Wow, that was dumb. Of course later in the trip I would be even dumber… Back to the bike and I fired it up. I headed out on the road around 2 or 3 pm. As usual my route was based on Tour of Honor sites.

My first stop was in Green Bay WI at Lambeau Field. Traffic was a nightmare and as I got close to the field I saw that traffic was at a standstill turning into the field. I figured the Packers had a practice or some other event going on so I turned around and continued north.

From there I continued north and after an hour or so and I passed a Harley Dealer. I decided I’d stop to take a break so I pulled into Doc’s Harley Davidson in Shawano County WI on WI route 29. It was a cool dealership with a nice collection of collectible cars and bikes. I spent a few minutes checking everything out and talking to a few other riders who had stopped.

From there I continued my way north and stopped at a few Tour of Honor sites. I had been in the area with a friend of mine several years ago when I had last visited Oshkosh and the scenery was as great as I remembered it. I stopped and took a photo near the town of Bruce’s Crossing however I could not post as I had no cell signal.

From there I stopped to see the Veterans Memorial – Land O Lakes WI and then the Veterans Memorial Park – Houghton MI. The memorial in Land O Lakes came and went without issue however it was tricky trying to find a place to park for the memorial in Houghton, but like most others it was worth it.

Land O Lakes

Houghton

My last stop was at Fort Wilkins – Copper Harbor, Michigan. When I got to where my GPS said the memorial should be I only saw a path and no place to park. I continued down a short distance and found a park entrance. I pulled up and they were charging an admission fee. Sometimes I am lucky and when I say I will only be a few minutes they will wave me in. Not this time, I paid the $8 admission and moved on. At the end of the parking lot I still had another quarter mile or so to go so I parked, grabbed a GPS, and went for a walk. I found a small park like clearing with some buildings but nothing that looked like the memorial I was to photograph so I kept wandering about. I took a closer look at the sample photo and realized I was in the right spot but the two cannons in the sample were missing. I took my photo and walked back to my bike.

I had a 30 or so minute ride back to the nearest town with a hotel, Houghton WI. I rode about town for a bit and the nicest place that was affordable was the Quality Inn. I pulled into the parking lot, booked a room on my phone, grabbed my gear, and checked in. I found a small pizza shop down the street so I walked down and ordered a pizza. I carried it back to my room and relaxed and ate my dinner. Not long after that I got a phone call from my friend Paul who lives near Detroit. We had talked about getting together but did not make any plans. It turned out he and another friend from the Sportster Forum I belong to were making a ride out to Aerostich in Duluth MN and they had seen my photo of Bruce’s Crossing on Facebook. It seemed we had passed through the same intersection within an hour or so of each other, however they were now over 100 miles away to my west and I was about to head east in the morning. We talked for a bit and said our goodbyes. I called it a night.

Total miles ridden for the day were approximately 300

Monday, August 1

I was up and on the road around 7am or so. My plan for today was to head east across the Upper Peninsula, cross the Mackinac bridge, and then head south into the heart of Michigan. My first stop was at Veterans Memorial Park – Munising MI. I found this with little trouble and continued on my way

I continued east and enjoyed some great scenery. As I continued along I spent most of the morning on state highways and US Route 2 which runs along the Lake Michigan shore line. Part of the ride was through the Hiawatha National Forrest. I came to the bridge and what a sight! I had heard horror stories from others who crossed the Mackinac Bridge due to wind and fog. Fortunately for me there was little wind and the sky was clear.

Morning view along MI 28

Mackinac Bridge

From there I continued south to my next stop in Muskegon MI to see the Civil War Monument. This was a cool monument however it was in the city of Muskegon with the hassles of traffic that I had been without for the past few days.

From there I was heading east on I-96 around the city of Grand Rapids and towards Flint MI for my last stop for the day in Lennon MI for the 173rd Sky Soldiers Airborne Memorial. This was a cool memorial that appeared to be next to someone’s house. I found it ok but I made the mistake of riding up to it with my bike. Once I got my photo I realized I did not have room to turn around and I was on grass making backing up rather difficult. Next time I will (hopefully) pay a little more attention.

From there I headed back west on I-96 and stopped for the night near my next memorial in Lansing MI around 8:30 pm. Total miles for the day were about 700 and total for the leg were about 1,000.

Total for the trip were about 2,150.

Tuesday, August 2

For Tuesday my plan was to continue south into Indiana and then west into Illinois. I had intended to make this trip more relaxing than previous trips and due to my getting a head start on this leg I had been able to both stop and see objects of interest and stop at the end of the day at a reasonable time. My first stop of the day was the Fallen Trooper Memorial in Lansing MI.

From there I turned south and headed towards Coldwater MI and the Old Sam The War Horse memorial. This memorial was located in a small park with multiple other memorials. Finding the correct one took a few moments however it was well worth the time.

From there I was turned west towards South Bend IN and the Clarke Peace Memorial. I decided to check to see how close I was to Auburn IN with the thought that if I was close I could stop in and visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum. Unfortunately I was about an hour to the west and felt that I could not spend the time heading the wrong way and then touring the museum. I reached South Bend and got close to my next stop but my GPS tried to take me down a gated road so I decided to continue up the road and let it recalculate. Eventually I came to an entrance and realized I was at the University of Notre Dame. I continued into the campus but the road came to a dead end. Eventually I found another entrance and came to a check point. The good news was I was allowed to go in and check out the memorial. The bad news was I had to walk. And it was in the mid 90’s. And I had no place to lock up my riding jacket so I had to wear it. I found a place to park, grabbed my GPS, and started walking. After 15 minutes or so I found the monument and it was worth the effort. I took my photo and returned to my bike.

As I was getting ready to head out I recalled that the Studebaker Museum was also in Indiana so I checked my GPS and found I was just a couple of miles away. It was an easy decision to make the stop and just a few minutes later I was pulling into their parking lot.

I spent the next 3 hours or so wandering about the museum checking out all of the vehicles. The museum started as the Studebaker Corporate museum and when the company went bankrupt they donated it to the city of South Bend. There were exhibits about the company that I wished I had time to read but I had to skip something. As I like vehicles of all types I really enjoyed checking them out. However I gravitate to the cars of the 20’s and 30’s. Many of the cars in the basement were in storage racks so while visible they were just a tease. Here is a sample of what I saw

1907 Electric Runabout

1920 Farm Wagon

1924 Light Six

1937 Studebaker Six Roadster

1935 President Convertible Sedan

1913 Model 25 Sedan

1922 Big Six Child’s Hearse

1940 Champion Coupe

1953 Champion Starliner Hardtop

1963 Avanti

1963 Lark Sedan

1910 Marmon Roadster

Also displayed were some of the product they made during WWI and WWI in place of cars

Wright Cyclone B-17 engine

1914 Water Cart

T-24 Weasel

After I was done with the museum it was time to get on the road. While I really enjoyed the museum, between my time there and the time spent trying to find and walking to the memorial on Notre Dame’s campus I was now behind schedule. But, who cares. I was on vacation! My next stop was due south in Kokomo IN, the Blue and Gold Star Family Memorial. That came and went quickly without issue.

I had memorials in Versailles Indiana and in Middletown Ohio planned however I chose to skip them to make up some time. Next I headed southwest to see the Soldiers Memorial Pavilion in Spencer IN. This memorial was on a hilltop in the Riverside Cemetery. I found it with no problem and walked around a bit checking it out. It was a peaceful place and I spent a few moments relaxing.

From there I headed west to Shelbyville Illinois and Freedom Square. Along the way I stopped to take a picture of the sun setting

And Freedom Square

Once I was done there I continued on for a bit and stopped for the day in Springfield IL around 9:30 pm. Total miles for the day were 545 and total for the leg were about 1,600.

Total for the trip were about 2,700.

Wednesday, August 3

For Wednesday my plan was to continue north towards Chicago and then head west into Iowa. My first stop of the day was the Schuyler County Veterans Memorial in Rushville, Illinois. Like many others this was a memorial at a courthouse. I got there and found the memorial with no issues. A quick photo and I was on my way

From there I opted to stay away from Chicago so I modified my route and headed due north to the All Veterans’ Memorial Park in Freeport, Illinois

From there I headed North West to see the War Memorial in Cassville, Wisconsin and then the Ackley Veterans Memorial in Ackley IA. These both came and went without issue.

Between those stops I stopped for gas in the town of Potosi WI. It was a cool little town

After Ackley I was headed due west to Fort Dodge and the Webster County Veterans’ Memorial. This was another peaceful park with a small pond. I spent a few minutes relaxing here and enjoying the sights

I decided to call it a night so I headed back into town to find a hotel. I got turned around a bit and my GPS routed me through a small park which was fine until the road turned into a path that I could not ride on. I rode by the hotels in town and the Best Western seemed to be the best as it had a restaurant attached. I called it a night and checked in around 9pm. Met another rider there who was checking out my bike.

Total miles for the day were 550 and total for the leg were about 2,150.

Total for the trip were about 3,250

Thursday, August 4

Thursday was my last day for this leg. I was due in Milwaukee WI that afternoon to meet a group of friends for a tour of the Harley Davidson Museum and the Corporate Headquarters on Friday. My plan for the day was to head northwest to pick up a few memorials before turning east for Milwaukee. This was planned as a short day as we were hoping to head to the Harley Museum for bike night.

My first stop was Pocahontas IA and the Pocahontas Veterans Memorial. This was a nice little town and I always enjoy riding through those.

And downtown Pocahontas

From there I headed east to McFarland WI. Along the way I ran into a nasty storm near Waverly IA. This was the first rain I had seen since I left home.

The Veterans Memorial in McFarland WI. This was my last memorial for the leg.

I pulled into my hotel in Milwaukee around 4PM or so. I checked in, showered, and hung out waiting for my friends to arrive. They had left PA early in the morning and were riding the 800 or so miles straight through. I checked Facebook and they were still a few hours out. It turns out they hit some heavy traffic due to construction and accidents closing down the highway, and a hydraulic clutch overheating in traffic coming north out of Chicago. They arrived too late to head to the bike night at the museum so we all grabbed dinner and a few drinks in the bar.

Total miles for the day were 445 and miles for the leg were about 2,600.

Total for the trip were about 3,700

Friday, August 5

For Friday the plan was to visit the Harley Davidson Museum and then head over for a tour of Corporate Headquarters which was originally the Harley Davidson factory after they moved out of the shed. We headed to the museum around 9 or 10 am. Most of us had been there several times however it is always worth the tour. Here are some of the pictures I took

Replica of the original factory or “shed”

Our bikes at the Museum

1947 WR Racer

If you recall, after the March 2011 tsunami in Japan there was a bike in a shipping container that drifted across the Pacific and washed ashore in Canada in May 2012. That bike is now in the museum. If you look at the tank you will see some white stuff. That is a fungus that started growing on the bike after it was put on display

Prototype trikes that never went into production

Some of the bikes in storage

What looks like a Servicar being worked on

Due to our tight schedule, we had to head over to Corporate Headquarters around noon.

We got there and were told to park on the sidewalk. We went inside and the lobby looked like this

The bike at the far end is a Jump Start bike in a glass partitioned room. For those that may not know, this is a bike that one can sit on, start the engine, and “ride”. The engine is cooled with a fan. We were told the receptionist was trained to run the bike and it was common for visitors in suits to hop on for a ride to get the sensation of what it is like to sit on a running bike.

The inside of the building was decorated with various bikes, bike parts, pictures, and engines.

Bike from the Indian Jones movie

Hallway with every engine they made at that point

They also left some of the assembly line parts in place to remind everyone this was once a factory

A photo of what the inside of the building looked like when it was a factory

Harley Davidson has a dealer support service where technicians who are trying to diagnose a problem can call and speak with an experienced technician for assistance. They even have bikes they can bring is so they can have a similar bike in front of them as they are helping the tech at the dealer

Company store where they can show dealers different displays for their “motor clothes”

Our tour included the executive floor. When we got off the elevator we noted that when the floor was last remodeled they “christened” it with someone doing burnouts

Some of the office areas

We were there around 2-3pm on a sunny Friday in August, so there were not many people around. Their Global Head of Customer Demand was in his office and he came out to speak with us. He probably spent 20 minutes or so talking to us about his background, what he does, and asking us about riding. Between speaking with him, those giving us the tour, and everyone we came across being extremely friendly, I left there with the thought that everyone we spoke with were very conscious of the fact that we were their customers, we were riding a vehicle that is mainly a recreational vehicle, and the fact that they appreciated the fact that we chose their product.

After we were done we all met for dinner at a local restaurant. We enjoyed a good dinner and found our way back to our hotel for a few beers before we called it a night. It was a long, enjoyable day.

End of Leg 2

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