29 July 2001

Road Trip to Lake Erie

Sunday morning broke and it was obvious that I could not go into work today. I opened up my Michigan Gazzeteer and decided it was time to go, somewhere. Water is always a good destination and I hap-hazardly choose Lake Erie. There looked to be a big state park with beach near monroe, so I headed that way.

Down 23 to Dundee, then across on 2 laners into Monroe. It was slightly overcast for most of the ride which kept the hot and humid day survivable in my riding gear. Noodling into Monroe I was suddenly stuck in some 4-lanes-become-1 construction and to make it better then sun came out. boil boil boil. The bike seemed to be dealing with the heat and lack of wind just fine, but I was overheating.

In town all the roads around downtown were blocked off. Stopping to ask a mob of family-type people oozing towards downtown I found out that there was a parade that marked the beginning of the county fair. Normally I'd be all about watching people in their '72 Charger parade the Potato Queen on the roof with a flock of prize pigs and sheep following, but I was grumpy from overheating and lack of nourishment, so I moved on.

I was even too grumpy to explore the local dining, so I stopped at the first Taco Bell I could find and scarfed down some bean burritos and 96 ounces of sweet sweet Dr. Pepper.

Back on the road I wandered aimlessly on country roads for a while and then finally headed in towards the state park. I was on I-75 when the zr's odometer rolled up to 1000 miles. I pulled off at the next exit and took a couple picture with me and my zr to celebrate our first tumultuous grand together. 1000 miles marks the end of the Kawasaki mandated break in period. Ever since I made it past 500 miles I've been able to go up to about 80 miles an hour (6000 rpm in 5th gear), making the highway not too dangerous , but now I have up to 10,500 rpm to play with. Yay! The speedo goes to 160mph, but I don't think I'll be anywhere near that, ever.
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Part of the original intent of this trip was to get to a beach. I paid my $4 to motor into the state park and then explored the expanse of beach at my disposal. It was pretty much lame. So I picked any old spot, changed out of my riding gear into a swim suit, and headed for the beach. As I sat in the sand I started to notice the wonderful smell of Lake Erie, a smell that I mostly ignored as small child but suddenly found repulsive. I then noticed my surroundings a little more. To the right were two smoke stacks of a large power plant. To the left, the cooling towers of the Fermi II nuclear reactor, in front, people, boats, and lake weeds. I decided to enjoy the mildly odored breeze and sun and just stay out of the water.
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From the beach I rode north across the page of my atlas and towards Belle Isle. There was nothing in particular I was coming to see, but since I was relatively close I figured I go explore a new place. On the way I found many interesting looking artifacts of power generation. I could have spent much more time taking photos, but only stopped for a few seconds on the side of the road to get these.
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Riding on the bridge to Belle Isle was the first time I had ridden any motorcycle on a steel grate. What fun! If you've driven a car across a bridge's steel grate you know it tends to pull your steering around a little bit, but no big deal. Well on a motorcycle it moves both of your wheels around out of sync, so it feels as though the motorcycle has had some very important parts, like the whole motorcycle, replaced with a Slinky(tm). Not fun, but certainly do-able.

I was a little disappointed when I got to Belle Isle. The island was fun to ride around, but I know I was expecting something interesting and different. Instead it seemed mostly like any other Detroit Suburb. Nicer than average, but not spectacular. Also, there wasn't much of any public space. There was one interesting white house on the north end of the island to make it feel like I was really exploring, but pretty much the rest of it could be in any other suburb.

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Coming back from the Isle I decided to follow the Huron River back home. Instead of heading south to catch the mouth of the river I instead cut west until I caught up with it. On the way there I saw a new housing development sporting open models. I'm not considering buying a house, and certainly not a new house built in an old farm field, but I turned in anyways. I rolled straight past the glitzy man-woman combo coming out from their trailer to greet me and just headed back further into the land. Roads had already been paved, curbs poured, and plots marked. Aside from that, it was an over-grown field. Looking around it was hard to imagine wanting to live right there. Honey, lets move into the subdivision with the HIGH TENSION POWER LINES! Well, to each her own, right?
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The ride home was nice. I got turned around a couple times as road names changed in little towns, or I lost the river, but I eventually made it up into Ypsi and on into Ann Arbor coming close to the new condo. It was nice to see all the different lakes and recreational areas along the path of the river.

Just as I was starting to get into town the sky was getting rather grey and the wind was changing. Not too long after I had settled in at home the sky let loose and we had a nice rain shower.

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