Let the real riding begin…

Day 8: Friday 29th July 2011 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Ironwood, Michigan (Click for route)

My introduction to riding in the US had so far been fairly gentle. I’d spent 3 nights in Chicago, immediately followed by 2 nights in Milwaukee. I’d hardly ridden the Trooper at all during that time. The time I spent in each had been awesome, but that wasn’t really what this adventure was all about – it was about riding Americana. It was time to hit the road properly.

During my stay in Milwaukee, I’d arranged to met Thomas again on Saturday evening on his home turf in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. That ride from Milwaukee wouldn’t take 2 days, so I decided to head north for a day to the Ottawa National Forest, and to see other great lakes, Lake Superior, before cutting south again to meet up with Thomas.

Out of Milwaukee, I headed north to Green Bay on I-43, but I wanted to get off the interstates and see more the countryside, so after Green Bay I looked for smaller roads to take, ending up on the state highway 139 heading for Iron River.

One of the things that was beginning to strike me was the vastness of this country. I’d heard that said many times before, but never experienced it for myself. The Ottawa National Forest is a massive forest, with mile after mile of woodland and trees, intersected by long, straight roads with the occasional sweeping bend, and every so often a small town or hamlet.

From ChicagoMilwaukee

One of the things that stuck me then, and has stuck me more and more almost every day since, is that photos, no matter how good, will never do this place justice, and will never be able to convey the sheer enormity and vastness of the landscape.

The riding that day was hot, but good. I felt free and I was enjoying myself. Like so many times on this trip, I was riding along with a big grin on my face.

After hitting Iron River, I took US Hwy-2, going west. This was a road I was going to see a lot more of in the weeks to come.

I had to stop a lot during the day. The heat was making frequent water and rest breaks necessary. I was cursing my heavy leather jacket.

The day was drawing in when I reached Ironwood, and around 350 miles was a reasonably respectable tally for the day. I started looking for somewhere to stop the night. Once I’d parked up for the night, a beer and food would be high on the agenda, and I had no intention of riding once I’d had a few beers, so somewhere to stay near a bar and restaurant was what I really needed.

I was delighted to find the Classic Motor Inn right next to Don and GG’s Food and Spirits. Doubly so because the Classic Motor Inn was a true 1950’s vintage roadside motel – the kind of place I’d seen so often in American movies. I couldn’t come all this way without experiencing one. And at a cost of only around $50, this was half the price of the everywhere I had stayed so far with big chain hotels.

Photos of Classic Motor Inn, Ironwood
This photo of Classic Motor Inn is courtesy of TripAdvisor
My verdict on my first classic motel? A clean, big room which showed it’s 1950’s vintage but everything was in good repair, so that was just an added bonus. The folks that run the motel are real friendly too. The only downside for me was no wifi.

Don and GGs next door also seemed like a true local place. With the weather so warm, the outside garden area was packed, so I took a seat in the almost empty inside. The Great Lakes have a native white fish called the Walleye – so named because it’s eyes reflect light which fishermen look out for at night. I love trying new foods, so this is something I wanted to try while I was here. It was on the menu, but had unfortunately sold out that evening, and I had to settle for Poor Man’s Lobster – chunks of Halibut cooked in a buttery sauce. But it hit the spot, especially with a couple of glasses of local brew.

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