We did it again...despite Mrs. Fledermaus reminding me that I'd promised to take a year off, I wound up drumming up enough enthusiasm for another round this year. For the non-locals, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is abbreviated "U.P." and people from there called "Yoopers," giving inspiration to the ride's name.
It wasn't without mishaps: Madison Sully and his wife were the first casualties, specifically COVID. Nothing too bad, but enough to cancel. Then Bill Leuthold, who came all the way from Florida for the ride with his famous Rocket, found out his wife had COVID as well, giving us a bit of a scare and threatening to send him back home almost as soon as he arrived. Fortunately no symptoms and a negative test kept him in the game.
This year we lengthened the trip to include another day, which proved to be a good idea. Still didn't finish our days as early as I'd thought we would, but at least not eating late at the end of the day. I reversed the route this year to head due north into the U.P. We rode 250 miles to Manistique on the north shore of Lake Michigan, stopping at the little town of Peshtigo, which suffered one of the worst wildfires in American history, dwarfing the Chicago fire on the same day in both area and damage, burning over a million acres of forest. In reality it was a full-on firestorm.
Our friend Ken (ride2livelive2ride) rode several hours from his home in northern Wisconsin to rendezvous with us (we're THAT cool ) and despite difficulties meeting earlier, he pulled up right behind us at the motel.
Day 2 we headed to a nearby springs with the most amazing clear blue water I've ever seen in the Midwest, with some huge trout to watch from the glass bottomed raft. We then headed north toward Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Ken peeled off to head home, the rest of us riding the superb curvy and hilly road through the Lakeshore. Spent the night in Paradise...perhaps a bit of hyperbole, but still a decent spot. As we'd pulled in early enough, we headed to the tip of the peninsula to see the Shipwreck Museum, featuring remnants of the many shipwrecks on that part of the Great Lakes. The crown jewel was the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald, sunk in Canadian waters not far from the museum. Those old enough will recall the Gordon Lightfoot song...which played on a loop there... A bit shorter day at roughly 200 miles.
Day 3 brought more nice weather and riding, curvy roads through forested landscape, on Sault St. Marie and the famous locks. After getting a glimpse of a smallish ship (500 footer....the big ones top a thousand) leaving the locks, we visited an old freighter museum from the early 20th century, ca. 1914, saw more Edmund Fitzgerald relics, and headed south towards the Lower Peninsula, crossing the Mackinac Bridge- an impressive span, even on a calm day. We hugged the east coast of Lake Michigan on small, quiet roads. There's an inn along the way that's a convenient stop, and as I pulled up, Bill pulled up next to me and told me he'd lost power and his GT didn't sound good. Fortunately he brought enough tools for a Cannonball, opened up the transmission case and found a variator nut that was nearly off. Things were so hot in there plastic was melting. He put everything together, buttoned it up and it ran fine the rest of the trip.
hThe road south had the Tunnel of Trees, a well-known stretch, narrow and closed in by White Cedars. Somewhere south of there, Derrick (gitder) said he was losing power and could barely go 30 mph at times. Thinking along the lines of our previous problems, opened up the transmission cover, but found nothing. Injector seemed to be spraying a bit weakly, but we had no spare if that were the problem. Derrick decided to make a beeline to Traverse City which had a dealer he could consult the next day, while we headed toward our motel for the night, about 225 miles for the day. We got in touch with Derrick, who had bad news. He was able to keep going at 30-50 mph, variably, but found a way to get up significantly faster, but suddenly heard a loud pop and then nothing. He'd been on his way to an inexpensive hosted he'd found and had to leave his scooter and get a ride the few miles there.
Next day we hit the road again, wondering where Derrick had gotten to, stopped by an historic fishing village, Mushroom houses and Sleeping Bear Dunes, that Bill had spent some time at 30 years ago. Somewhere along the way stopped at a taxidermy shop and museum which turned out to be surprisingly interesting. The museum had multiple dioramas with various animals as expected, but huge display of Native American arrowheads, bows, other stone tools and more. Finally pulled into Ludington, our ferry terminal, at about 200 miles for the day. Called Derrick, who with some difficulty had arranged an $800 tow into town and was holed up at a bar for a couple of hours. We picked him up and after dinner he had the distinct pleasure of riding bitch with Bill Rocket to the motel.
Next day was ferry day. The Badger is a 70 year old coal-burning ferry that's on the National Historic Registry. It still has tracks from the days it carried freight train cars. Derrick's scooter was waiting overnight there and got pushed onto the ferry. After a four hour ride, we disembarked, Derrick's wife waiting for him with a hitch carrier, and the rest of us headed back to our starting point, another 60 mile or so. I'd accidentally zeroed out my trip odometer early in the ride, but we rode somewhat over 900 miles in total.
Despite the mishaps, we mostly made it back in one piece. Scenery was stunning for much of the ride and roads, with the exception of a few gravelly construction detours were great.