Back to the nighthawk750.com contents page...
The following ride report is the story about a first attempt at motorcycle touring for two young brothers. This 1983 trip was, obviously, before the days of the Nighthawk 750 but we had a great time and I thought it may be an interesting addition to the site...

DAILY LOG
PREFACE (the year was 1983) We'd had our bikes for over a year now, Kel (25) owned a 1981 GS650E and Dean (19) owned a 1981 GS450T, small but cheap and economical for the penny-pinching years of the early 80's. Although Kel lived several hours away, we had several opportunities during the previous summer to get together for Sunday morning rides and for a few "meet you half-way" lunches near my Northwest Ohio home. We yearned for some more meaningful miles on the steeds, so Kel dreamed up a raodtrip following the Michigan coastline. For months we pored over maps, touring tips, lugggage ads, camping supply lists, etc to make sure we had our bases covered if we deiceded to make the trip happen. Early in '83 we comitted to an August trip and started to ramp up our planning activities and started obtaining luggage, gear and supplies. Kel chose an Eclipse tank bag, matching Eclipse saddlebags, and a PlexiFairing III shield; while I chose an Eclipse tankbag, homemade denim (yes denim) saddlebags, and a generic windshield. We purchased a small amount of camping cookware, a Sterno cooking system, sleeping bags, 3-man pup tent and packed a small radio, clothing, maps, and other essentials.

We were overly concerned about load stability and the ride/load capability of the loaded "smallish bikes"; and even went so far as to go for a fully loaded trial run up to the MI border one Sunday afternoon that summer. The trial run went very well, which turned our enthusiasm & anticipation up another notch. Well the weekend that we departing finally arrived, so we loaded, secured, and double checked everyting on a Friday night in preparation for Saturday's adventure...

DAY 1 We left home that morning with much expectation. The thrill of adventure, the agony of the butt. The ride was uneventful until we hit OH-65, which was filled with sweeping scenic vistas. After a quick water braeak at Ft. Miegs, we rode through Toledo, and a stop at the first visitor information center in MI started us off on the right foot. After a quick lunch at Wendy's, we filled with gas and set out for the adventure of riding through downtown Detroit at lunchtime. An hour of grueling superslab had us trying to avoid potholes, killer traffic, and pollution. Rt. 29 brought us some beautiful coastal scenery to the tune of our singing engines. An open drawbridge in St Clair allowed us to rest our posteriors before continuing past a huge Detroit Edison power plant. We bought some groceries in Port Huron for our supper and discovered that fast food restrooms are generally a clean place to stop when you gotta go. We also discovered that large bags of ice aren't very willing passengers on already-loaded cycles. We were awestruck by the size and beauty of Lake Huron and how quickly you can get sunburn riding the open road. Our destination, Sanilac State Park had ceased to exist and was actually a Sanilac County Park (with no ranger to collect the fee, by the way). We boiled our hot dogs over the open Sterno fire and then settled into our three-man pup tent for an evening of cards & snacks.
DAY 2 It was a long night in our small dew covered tent and we had only restless sleep. One of our "neighbors" and his acquaintance were having a latenight discussion with a crowbar - we didn't ask. A beautiful Lake Huron sunrise found us and begged viewing before we loaded the bikes and departed at around 7:30. No ranger = no pay! There is nothing quite as refreshing as a peaceful Sunday morning shoreline ride. After riding past a weird "golf ball" Air Force site, we ate some breakfast at Chuck N Jane’s in Port Austin - which is at the top of Michigan's "thumb". After filling with gas at Sebewaing, we stopped in Bay City to buy a new Thermos for Dean; since his was destroyed in a fit of frustration the previous day. After a few minutes trying to figure out why the sea gull in Tawas Bay was dead on the beach, we headed north to Oscoda for more gas and lunch. There, we switched bikes, continued on to Thunder bay, and switched back. For the rest of the day the weather looked threatening and finally the rain was unleashed. We looked at each other, each trying to determine if the other wanted to suit up in rain gear. We thought we were close enough to our destination, so we just dialed up the juice and set sail for Rogers City. We arrived to find the first hotel there closed for repairs and thus decided on the Driftwood Motel. Our entertainment was 50 cents worth of dryer time at the local Laundromat. Since Gallery Pizza didn't deliver, we walked over to Karsten's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor. Dean had the burger and Kel tried their famous "Lifeboat Sandwich." Back at the hotel, we played some more Rummy and drifted off to the music of WJML (98.9) radio in Petoskey.
DAY 3 We arose to an overcast sky and thoughts of a rainy morning ride, so we decided on a breakfast of cookies & milk in the room. A dead battery on Dean's bike required a quick trip to the store for some distilled water to refill it. This time we donned our rain gear and rode northward toward some breakfast in Cheboygan at Alice's Restaurant - a quaint little establishment. A short blast up to Mackinaw revealed The Bridge - what a bridge! This bridge goes, and goes, and goes - with some nice metal grating that caused the bikes to get a little squirrelly. The UP (Upper Peninsula) seems like an entirely different area - nothing but trees. Sixty miles of trees along the route to Paradise, where we met two bikers from Sault Saint Marie, ON - one of them on a 6-cylinder Honda CBX - big bike! The "hiking" part of our trip occurred when we walked down to Tahquamenon Falls to take some pictures. We discovered that we had to pay a daily entrance fee to drive into Michigan State Parks, though the $2 fee wasn't too bad. We then blasted on to Newberry to stock up on the evening camping food. The carryout boy at the grocery was very intrigued with our bikes and our riding adventure - go figure. We found the road to Deer Park to be in need of some repairs, but the campground at Muskallonge SP was in very nice shape with excellent facilities. Kel met a nice forest rangerette named Ann, and we decided that we'd stay in state parks from now on. After our messy meal of burgers and potato soup, we took a stroll down to the Great Gitche Gumee. Lake Superior was very big - pretty blue waves as far as the eye could see. Back to the tent for a restful night's sleep in a beautiful park.
DAY 4 After snapping a few more photos at the lake's edge, we departed our peaceful campground at around 8am. The road we had chosen for that morning's ride was originally a logging/fire lane - H58. This 22 miles of rutted dirt road was interesting, to say the least; especially the one little bridge that consisted of two 12" planks running in the direction of travel. That first 22 miles this day took around 90 minutes - slow going! There was no place for breakfast in Blaney Park, so we continued on to Gould City. There we grabbed some grub at Ehn's Bar & Cafe and found a mailbox so we could send some postcards home. Dean had been trying to determine if we'd be crossing the Cut River Bridge - Kel said he didn't think so. After 12 miles of road construction plus another 5 miles later, there it was - the Cut River Bridge! We read the specs and then walked a path down to the base of the bridge - a huge green arched bridge containing 888 tons of steel - beautiful. Shortly after that, we again crossed the great Mackinaw Bridge and again we soluted this engineering marvel on our way southward into the LP (Lower Peninsula). Our trek south would take us along Michigan's western coastline along Lake Michigan. Almost as soon as the roads let us after crossing the bridge, we headed west to the tiny town of Cross Village so we could snake our way along the coast. This is where we "discovered" MI State Route 119 - a serpentine 22 miles of beautiful blacktop on a bluff high above Lake Michigan. Even after seeing two spectacular bridges, this road, M119, was definitely the highlight of our day! 5 star highway under a canopy of trees! Back to reality, we rode through Petoskey and on to Boyne City where we set up camp at Young SP, another in Michigan's beautiful state park system. After an exquisite dinner of hot dogs & milk, we did some maintenance on the bikes - chain lube, oil check, and spark plug replacement (who knows?!?). An old couple was having some trouble getting his mega-trailer backed into his site, so we helped his wife with the guiding duty until it was safely parked. He seemed intrigued at our little travel setup with tent & motorcycles. Some Rummy, Dew & chips brought us right up to lights out at about 9pm.
DAY 5 The old guy "next door" didn't wake up to see us off at 6:30am, so we left without saying good-bye. This morning we saw a long line of women walking on the road in the middle of nowhere - must have been a march for some good cause. After crossing our 5th bascule style bridge of the trip, we took on some go-go juice in Eastport and made may for the 45th parallel. A delicious breakfast at the Flap Jack Shack filled our bellies in preparation for the scenic drive on M22, with its sweeping curves and occasional glimpses of the Grand Traverse Bay. In Northport, M22 takes a sharp turn southward towards the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, our next stop. There, we climbed a dune to look out over Lake Michigan and also took a steep scenic drive through a nature area - very peaceful. After filling with gas in Empire, we continued southward on M22 and gave this route our 4-star rating for beauty and "motorcycleness". We rolled into Manistee to the Best Western Carriage Inn for the night. Big Al's delivered a pizza right to our hotel so we wouldn't have to miss a minute of "Duel" (Dennis Weaver) while searching for food. That was it for the day - an eventful day of bridges and great riding - enough to fill our dreams with the sense of adventure that night.
DAY 6 Day 6 was supposed to be another short day, aiming us into the LP's interior toward Northwest Ohio; and allowing us some time to explore a little. This was our intention throughout the day, until we couldn't locate the campground we were hunting for in the Pinckney Recreational Area! We had eaten breakfast in Baldwin and basically followed state routes all day toward Pinckney RA. We rode circles looking for the campground, couldn't find it, so we decided to just head for home. We fixed a quick supper a small park, packed up, and headed for home. This ended up being our longest day and we rolled into our driveway in Columbus Grove at around 7:45pm - thrilled to be home, but already missing the adventure of the open road...
DAILY STATS
DAY 1
Objective for the day:
Destination: Sanilac State Park (Sanilac, MI)
Distance: 240 miles
Route: OH-12 to OH-235 to OH-65 to US-20 to I-75 to I-94 to M-29 to M-25
Actual for the day:
Destination: Sanilac County Park (Sanilac, MI) - $3 camping fees
Distance 265 miles
Departure: 9:15 am
Arrival: 5:15 pm

GAS STOPS:
Amount Cost Location
Kel - 1.9 gal, Dean - 1.9 gal $4.55 Woodhaven, MI
Kel - 2.0 gal, Dean - 1.9 gal $4.70 Lexington, MI

MEALS:
Meal Cost Location
Breakfast $0.00 Home
Wendy's $5.00 Monroe, MI
Hot Dogs, etc. $2.00 Sanilac County Park
DAY 2
Objective for the day:
Destination: Rogers City, MI
Distance: 275 miles
Route: M-25 to M-13 to M-23
Actual for the day:
Destination: Driftwood Motel (Rogers City, MI) - $32 fee
Distance 295 miles
Departure: 7:30 am
Arrival: 4:00 pm

GAS STOPS:
Amount Cost Location
Kel - 2.2 gal, Dean - 2.0 gal $5.21 Sebewaing, MI
Kel - 2.0 gal, Dean - 1.8 gal $4.55 Oscoda, MI

MEALS:
Meal Cost Location
Chuck N Janes $7.00 Port Austin, MI
McDonalds $4.50 Oscoda, MI
Karstens Rest & Ice Cream Parlor $7.00 Rogers City, MI
DAY 3
Objective for the day:
Destination: Deer Park or Grand Marais, MI
Distance: 190 miles
Route: M-23 to I-75 to M-123 to H37 to Deer Park Rd
Actual for the day:
Destination: Muskalonge Lake SP (Deer Park, MI) - $7.5 camping fee
Distance 203 miles
Departure: 9:35 am
Arrival: 4:30 pm

GAS STOPS:
Amount Cost Location
Kel - 2.6 gal, Dean - 2.3 gal $6.10 Cheboygan, MI
Dean - 1.66 gal $2.36 Paradise, MI
Kel - 2.7, Dean - 0.7 gal $4.42 Newberry, MI

MEALS:
Meal Cost Location
Alice's $7.00 Cheboygan, MI
Burgers & Potato soup $3.00 Muskalonge Lake SP
DAY 4
Objective for the day:
Destination: Charlevoix, MI
Distance: 205 miles
Route: H58 to M-77 to M-2 to I-75 to M-31 to Cross Village Rd to M-119 to M-31 to M-131 to M-75
Actual for the day:
Destination: Young SP (Boyne City, MI) - $7.5 camping fee
Distance 227 miles
Departure: 7:55 am
Arrival: 3:45 pm

GAS STOPS:
Amount Cost Location
Kel - 1.2 gal, Dean - 1.1 gal $3.25 Grand Marais, MI
Kel - 2.2, Dean - 1.9 gal $5.15 Mackinac, MI

MEALS:
Meal Cost Location
Ehn's Bar & Cafe $9.50 Gould City, MI
Hot Dogs, Chips, Milk $5.00 Young SP
DAY 5
Objective for the day:
Destination: Manistee, MI
Distance: 190 miles
Route: M-31 to M-72 to M-22 to M-109 to M-22 to M-31
Actual for the day:
Destination: Best Western (Manistee, MI) - $50 fee
Distance 203 miles
Departure: 8:00 am
Arrival: 2:00 pm

GAS STOPS:
Amount Cost Location
Kel - 2.3 gal, Dean - 2.0 gal $5.40 Eastport, MI
Kel - 2.0, Dean - 1.8 gal $5.00 Empire, MI

MEALS:
Meal Cost Location
Flap Jack Shack $11.50 Traverse City, MI
Big Al's Pizza $10.00 Manistee, MI
DAY 6
Objective for the day:
Destination: Pinckney Recreational Area, MI
Distance: 251 miles
Route: M-31 to M-10 to M-37 to M-46 to M-131 to M-57 to M-27 to M-21 to M-52 to M-36 to Chelsea-Dexter Rd
Actual for the day:
Destination: HOME
Distance 400 miles
Departure: 8:45 am
Arrival: 7:45 pm

GAS STOPS:
Amount Cost Location
Kel - 2.2 gal, Dean - 1.9 gal $5.30 Baldwin, MI
Kel - 2.7, Dean - 2.4 gal $5.95 Owosso, MI
Kel - 2.03, Dean - 1.76 gal $4.55 Adrian, MI

MEALS:
Meal Cost Location
Baldwin Lunch & Cafe $7.00 Baldwin, MI
Sharon Park $4.00 Manchester, MI

Back to the nighthawk750.com contents page...