A little background. The national BMW motorcycle club has an annual mileage contest. for some reason, it runs from April to October, or thereabouts. The premise being that southern riders have an advantage because they are smart enough to live where the climate doesn't suck. Well, a guy in the club decided that instead of putting his bike up for the winter, he was going to ride it year round. He started an informal group called "The Rounders" and another dude set up a web site where folks can register and track their miles during the winter. All informal and lots of fun. I got to know a couple of these folks, and when they decided to hold their first annual meeting, the Rounder Round-Up, I decided to attend. One snag - it was being held in Escanaba, Michigan. Escanaba is not in the easy, lower part of Michigan, it's in the upper peninsula.
Take a look at the map below. Pretty far north.
*** UPDATE - John's Photos added. ***
Here is the bike loaded and ready to go.
You didn't think I'd take a car did you?
Odometer at the start.
John wasn't about to let me do this ride by myself. He hates missing out on fun.
That's his new-to-him R1100RT.
We left on Wednesday evening, and we had dinner in Denton, TX, just north of Dallas. We ate at the Catfish King. As John said when we pulled in, "You can't argue with the King!" The food was good, but they had the world's weirdest hush puppies.
We rode a few more miles north into Oklahoma, and called it a night in Ardmore, OK.
It was about a 300 mile day.
Day 2. We had breakfast in Pauls Crossing, a nice little Town. Here are a few shots of the sleepy downtown in the morning.
We ate in a neat little diner. Take a look at that guy. He looks like a total tight-ass. His children were DEMONS and eventually they had to take them out of there. It was what I call a "birth control moment."
These two guys were laughing all through their meal, and it was great to see them having so much fun. Look at the orange color of these booths!
This was breakfast. Mmmmm.
Oklahoma Capitol building. Pretty impressive. It looks lackluster because of the awesome bike in the foreground, but trust me, this is a neat building. SInce this trip was all about the destination, and not the journey, we did not go in.
Time passes. Here we are in St. Louis taking a break from what we thought were the most god-awful storms one could ride in. We found a nice truck bay to hole up in and put on a dry layer and stretch our legs.
There aren't any more pictures from Day 2 because I didn't want to ruin my camera. After getting through St. Louis, we rode through some really harsh thunderstorms. At around 1am, it got too rough to ride and we had to bail out and get a room. Visibility was about 20 feet, it was raining an inch an hour, easily, and there was enough thunder and lightning that I did not need to use a headlight. Pretty crazy stuff. We found out later that we had barely dodged tornados and softball sized hail earlier in the day. I'm thinking we cheated death. We rode 776 miles on Day 2 and spent the night, in El Paso, Illinois, of all places. We didn't even know where we were until morning when we could see the signs.
We got up nice and early and put on our wet gear and headed north. It was dry until the Wisconsin border, then it started raining again. It dried out again in Milwaukee. Of course, there were snow flurries when we pulled into the hotel. I am not making that up. El Paso to Escanaba was about 430 miles.
I still don't believe how far north that is!
Here is the front of the hotel. Pretty sweet place, very retro. I liked it a lot. These are the "Parking lot view" rooms.
We sprang for the extra $7 a night and got a bay side view.
Ahhh, springtime with the Yoopers.
We spent a lot of time watching the weather channel. There was a winter storm developing, and we wondered if we would get hit. Here the drugged-looking weather channel girl waves her hand and declared Ohio screwed.
Here she seems to say, "We have a report that two morons actually LEFT Texas to ride through thunderstorms to get to Escanaba!
"I'm going to close my eyes and say a prayer for these two idiots. Look at how cold it is!"
Here she says, "We're going to have snow up to my boobs from this storm. If you're on a motorcycle, you are Doomed."
What the hell were we thinking?!
Sunday we went out to get a feel for the flavor of Escanaba.
This is the kind of thing that I love to see. Escanaba is too fun to have a regular bowling alley, they need a Bowl-a-rama!
It was downright balmy!
Check this out. Keep in mind that it is April, and they still have to keep the insulation locked up! And someone broke in to steal some!
When we came out of the store, we found this on John's bike. Some Yooper has been waiting his or her whole life to do this, I'm sure. We laughed our heads off, and I decided then that I liked Escanaba a lot. Any town that has residents that will put men's room graffiti poetry on your bike is all right with me.
Unfortunately, the person who wrote this was not present to enjoy my witty retort of:
"How do you know
THat thing from your pooper
We heard that we just had to try a Pastie. We do what we're told...
Thankfully, they're all made with rutabaga. I wouldn't want one any other way.
Here is what one looks like intact.
After a bit of eating... It's beef, potatoes, some other things, and of course rutabaga. It's baked in a pie crust, and it's freakin' delicious. This thing tasted exactly like the meat pie I used to eat growing up. This place SHIPS these things, so I'm going to get a bunch sent down to Texas. They're that good.
One last look at the weather channel. We were planning to bug out at 7am Sunday morning.
And we did and had good weather. Here we are in Illinois somewhere at a wind farm. It was durn windy.
This is the closest I've been able to get to one of these. It was pretty neat.
Here we are back in El Paso. The weather is a bit better I'd say. Except for the wind - look at those flags!
We made it to the arch just as the sun was going down.
This is a shot of the GPS just south of Little Rock, Arkansas. We had just finished our 1000 miles in 24 hours ride - a saddle sore. We are now candidates for entry into the Iron Butt Association. I always thought this was some sort of ex-prisoner support group, but it turns out to be part of the motorcycling world.
In Arkadelphia I went to the factory I used to work at, and John took a 45 minute nap.
We made it back into Texas and immediately stopped for BBQ. Wuhoo!
And here we are arriving home - having completed the 1500 mile in 36 hour ride too. This is known as a bun burner.
Here's the route we took, non-stop.
And the odometer at the end of the trip.