I Love the Sound of a Harley in the Morning!

At the famous, and quiet, Legs Inn, early on a Sunday morning.

I had a quick but wonderful ride this past weekend to what I consider Lower Michigan's gold coast - that area from Traverse City north along Lake Michigan to The Bridge. It's a beautiful, historic, and unique area of towns, orchards, farms, and forests; with the vast blue waters of Lake Michigan never far away. It actually started as a work trip, a book signing at a Traverse City bookstore on Saturday. I left home early that morning, riding about two hours behind the rain for the entire trip. I ran into wet roads but never actually felt a drop fall from the skies. By the time I got to TC blue skies beckoned.
Once my time at the table was over I headed north on US31 along the shoreline, through the hills and orchards of that region. I camped at Fisherman Island State Park, which was almost empty this early in the summer season, and had a campsite just a short walk from the shore. The sound of waves greeting the rocky beach provided a relaxing backdrop all through the night.
As usual, I was up very early on Sunday morning, about 5:00 a.m. early in fact, with the sun already providing enough light for a walk to the lake in the early fog. Crows provided an early warning system and every animal and bird for hundreds of yards knew of my arrival.
By 6:00 I was dismantling camp and shortly thereafter I was ready to go. The thought of pancakes and a cup of coffee at a restaurant just up the road, and the desire for a long day of two-wheeled exploration pushed me on.
The only other campers in the park were also near the beach so were fairly close by. I started the bike without the usual revving of the engine (a habit from the old days when a person HAD TO rev an engine to keep it running when cold) and idled as slowly and quietly as I could past the other campsites and onto the main road. Once my personal fuel reservoir was filled with syrup and caffeine, and the bike's tank filled with premium fuel, I headed north.
Ernest Hemingway was the unofficial focus of my ride that Sunday, so I spent several hours exploring Hemingway's haunts in places like Charlevoix, Horton Bay, Petoskey and Harbor Springs. Beating the crowd allowed me the opportunity to park in front of places such as train depots and general stores where Ernest hung out a century ago. I was a powerful feeling to stand on the same front porch where this adventurous writer also stood.

After several hours of following Hemingway I had ended up at Harbor Springs, on the north shore of Little Traverse Bay, and also the southern terminus of famous M-119. If you've ever motorcycled in Michigan you need no introduction to 119 - better known as the Tunnel of Trees. This state highway (I use that word loosely) is the only one in the state with no center line and no shoulders. It's narrow, twisty, and wonderful. Occasional views of The Lake from atop high bluffs add extra spice. Don't gawk, however, as the road is unforgiving. If you run off the blacktop you will hit a tree that is old enough to have been present two hundred years ago when Native Americans gathered here. One tight curve called The Devil's Elbow isn't hype. The road is wonderful but demands close attention. On a Sunday early in summer it is especially enticing.
To cap it all off, the village of Cross Village, and the famous Legs Inn restaurant, is at the north terminus of 119. It was closed still when I arrived, which was fine by me, as it allowed me to get some great photos that wouldn't have been possible with the normal crowds that gather to eat their famous platters of delicious and abundant calories.
Photo taking and visiting with other bikers who also stopped to look around finally completed, I headed east through the rolling hills of Emmett County, taking a series of county and lightly used state highways south and east towards home, arriving with plenty of daylight left on these delightful early summer evenings.
It truly is amazing how much a person can cram into a two day adventure. When I left home early Saturday morning I thought to myself 'I Love the Sound of a Harley Early in the Morning - it is a robust and confident sound that holds the promise of adventure.'
I certainly wasn't disappointed!

The old train station in Petoskey that Hemingway often used.