I’m fairly new to riding, but I really wanted to do a color tour this fall. (Side note: I really recommend the Fox Powersports Riding Academy!) DH and I had scheduled a U.P. camping trip but we decided instead to stick closer to home and stay in the lower peninsula so we could ride our bikes. We didn’t make hotel reservations ahead of time so that we could stop if weather became inclement or I was tired.
The first day we left our home in Grand Rapids, MI and took US 31 & other roads up around the lakeshore, ending up in Traverse City. We passed by the Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate store but alas, did not stop as we were on the hunt for lunch.
We ended up at Empire Village Inn, which had great burgers and huge sandwiches.
The weather was a bit chilly but we missed the rain and the leaves are just starting to turn, meaning lots of gorgeous scenery with trees that look like someone took an autumn-colored paintbrush to the tips here and there. Unfortunately we didn’t get any photos of the lakeshore or the rolling hills – I realized that stopping to get out the camera was not as convenient as you might think. We had a late lunch at a little roadside diner. I think I did pretty well. I found myself slowing for the corners a bit too much but then I remembered hey, I did much tighter turns in my MSF class so I relaxed and let myself trust the bike and by the end of the day I was enjoying the sweepers. After six hours of riding I fell asleep in our hotel room without even looking at the Jacuzzi tub!
The next day we woke up to rain, and after consulting the weather reports we decided to make it a shorter day and go to Mackinac City instead of continuing on to Tawas Bay. We went through the Tunnel of Trees and wow was that fun! Again I was a bit nervous at first but gradually was able to relax into the curves and enjoy them. Only once did I panic a bit – I was towards the middle of the road avoiding some debris when an SUV came around the corner. I was able to keep my cool and move smoothly over towards my side of the road. We had lunch at Legs Inn and that place is a trip.
The menu is Polish and you’re likely to find lots of motorcyclists and car enthusiasts.
Since we were on the lakeshore I decided to try the Whitefish sandwich. It was good but not as spectacular as the pierogies.
Ended up in Mackinac City soaked to the bone so we found a hotel, took a nice hot shower, and walked to see a movie and had dinner at the Keyhole Bar & Grill.
Sunday we actually got lost a bit on the way home, but found a beautiful curvy road through Wilderness State Park. Unfortunately it dead ended into dirt so we had to go through it again.
We stopped for lunch at the Iron Skillet in Evart and I was reminded of why we go to little diners rather than chain restaurants. Where else can you get house made strawberry jam with your toast?
Found our way back to US 31 and ended up in Tustin, where my father in law has an RV on 40 acres. It was raining again and extremely windy, so I was exhausted (running theme here).
On our last day we awoke to frost on the ground (!) and before taking the back roads home to Grand Rapids we stopped at Lisa’s Grille. The house made raisin bread toast was wonderful.
Even though it was a cold, wet, and windy weekend, the fun diners along the way made up for it and I had a fabulous time and can’t wait for my next trip.