The Badger Ate My Motorcycle

We needed to somehow get to Wisconsin without going through Chicago or Milwaukee. It seemed that there was only one logical way to make that happen from our current location of Ludington, Michigan. The answer was to find THE Badger and let it swallow up our motorcycles. That is exactly what happened.

The SS Badger is one of the last few coal fired steam driven ships left afloat. I knew that we had made reservation about a month ago to load our bikes on this ship and let it transport us across the huge Lake Michigan. I didn’t know how big this thing really is. At 410 feel long it can swallow up huge trucks, RV’s, rail cars, and have room left over for a few motorcycles.

The motorcycles board almost last. They save that honor for late arrivers that have to be backed onto the boat. I must admit that I was somewhat apprehensive. I came prepared with enough tie-down straps so the bike would survive everything but capsizing. I worry too much. Boarding was breeze although the floor was somewhat uneven as they have attempted at various points in time to cover up the rail lines that are laid into the floor. We parked the bikes on iron grates and tied them securely to either steel bars in the walls or to the iron grates. I think there were 10 bikes total and only 1 couple had done this before. If you can ride your bike to get here, you will have no issues getting it loaded.

After cruising Lake Michigan for 4 hours, unloading was really easy too. As soon as the late comers were pulled off they boat, the crew released the motorcycle guys to unload. I donated the straps we brought with us to the Badger as a sacrifice to the gods of safe passage.

The sister to the Badger.

Back on dry land, where motorcycles belong, it was a short jaunt to the next uh, ummm, “highlight” (not sure), something that would be easy to miss without an excellent tour guide like Spencer. It was a spot in the road where in 1964 the Russian satellite Sputnik 4 crashed back to earth. The city of Manitowoc decided it might become a tourist destination and marked the spot with a plaque and a steel ring inserted into the pavement. In Indiana, it’s just another pot hole but in Wisconsin, it’s a site to celebrate.

Ferry boat – check, pothole er, uh Sputnik crash site – check. What’s next. How about the place where the ice cream sundae originated. Not sure if this is the real story but there is a plaque (which is more truthful than reading it on the internet).

It’s time to find out what time it is in Wisconsin so we headed for the “world’s largest grandfather clock”. I’m always a little skeptical of these first, largest, smallest, etc. This one might be legit.

From there we headed up the east side of the Door County peninsula and made it all the way to the northernmost tip. It was a great ride. The road was really almost perfect, having been recently paved. You’ll have to wait on the video for that part. Here’s a picture from the ferry landing at the tip.

It’s beautiful in Door County but as much fun as the ride up the east side was, the ride south down the western side was not as much fun. The ride south through the jam packed tourist areas of Door County was slow and not fun. Through Egg Harbor and Sister Bay it was like driving through Gatlinburg, TN on Memorial Day and this was just a typical Monday afternoon. There are no pictures of that – nothing could capture how nerve wracking it is to ride with both sides of the road lined with cars where people open their doors and step out in front of you or cars pull out without looking. I was glad to get back to our home for the night in Sturgeon Bay.

Spencer had booked us a night at the Stone Harbor Resort. The place is beautiful and sits right on the water. As I type this, I watching a family of rabbits frolic in the hedges that look out over the harbor. (I wonder if they expect a tip.)

Last night, Spencer and I were exhausted even though the mileage wasn’t spectacularly long. We crashed pretty early so the blog is a little late. Sorry.

The weather has been good to us so far. Tomorrow looks like it may be a little soggier. We’ll deal with it as it comes. We’re still “on the road to somewhere”.

Total miles today: 158

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