"The hardest thing to learn in life is
which bridge to cross and which to burn.
"
- David Russell

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Alden, MI to Sault Ste. Marie, MI: US-31 North through Petoskey to SR-199 to Cross Village to CR-66 back to US-31 into I-75 North across the Mackinaw Bridge to Sault St. Marie. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
Iíve got a short day today, only 170 miles up the coast, across the Bridge and up to Sault Ste. Marie. So I sleep late for the first time on my trip and donít get up till 9:30 AM. I must be tired because every day, no matter how much sleep I need or get, I wake up early and start moving. Traveling like this is very exciting and every day I canít wait to get back on the bike. Itís a wonderful feeling, wanting to get up every morning. Anyway, what do I need to sleep for? I can do that when Iím dead.

Kip, his father Todd, and his brother Kai and I go out onto Torch Lake for some water-skiing and wake boarding. I try the wake-board, which is just like a snowboard for the water, but I canít get up. Perhaps Iím not hip enough. I have better luck with the water-ski. I get up on one ski and ski better than I ever have in my life. Itís great fun, but extremely tiring. The water on the lake is so blue you think youíre in the tropics. Unless youíve seen the sand bottom lakes of Michigan, you probably wonít believe how beautiful they are.

I head north around 5:00 PM, which is late but I donít have far to go. Getting back on the bike after 23 hours feels a little foreign, but it also feels great. The bike is light and running smooth. I crank up the throttle and take off, rushing up the coast towards the bridge.

The big goal for the day is the Mackinaw Bridge. Iíve read a lot about this bridge and heard all kinds of tales. Like the one about the Yugo being blown off, over the guardrail and crashing into the lake hundreds of feet below. Iím excited to see this awesome structure, but I'm slightly nervous.

For years, a structure spanning the 5-mile-wide Straits of Mackinac was considered "the bridge that couldnít be built." The area has claimed seven ships over the years and winds rushing from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron can be extremely violent. But in 1957 engineers completed the Mackinaw Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world. The two main towers of Mighty Mac rise 552 feet above the water and extend 210 feet below the surface into bedrock. The 5-mile span is longer than any other suspension bridge. The Verrezano Narrows, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island in New York City, does have a larger gap between the towers. But that bridge seems like nothing compared to this monster.

At 7:15 PM, with 6,972 miles on the motorcycle, and the sun setting off to my left, I cross the Mackinaw. The winds are strong but not too bad. The center two lanes of the crossing are steel-grated and you can see below to the crashing waves. The speed limit is 45 MPH and only 20 MPH for trucks. When things get bad, the big rigs need escorts across. The railing isnít very high, only about three feet. I can see how easy it would be to get blown off. I no longer doubt the Yugo story. It happened.

Keep your feet on the ground.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 174
Total Miles: 4737
Time on Motorcycle: 3 Hours 10 Minutes
Average Speed: 55 MPH
States Visited today: 1 (MI)
Total States Visited: 16
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 0
NPS Stamp totals: 43 Stamps, 13 States
Weather: Perfectly Gorgeous
Things Iíve lost so far: 1 Earplug, 1 Screw for GPS Mount, Page #39 (Iowa) & 40 (Kansas) from Rand McNally Street Atlas

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Prison Area. Do Not Stop for Hitchhikers" Ė road sign near exit 378, I-75, Kinross, MI

RANDOM PASSINGS:
Today I drove on the nicest road Iíve ever seen. Route 119 between Hot Springs and Good Heart, along Seven Mile Point in Emmet County is as good as it gets. The road is smooth and well paved, but it has a country feel as there is no center line. The scenery is unbeatable: Lake Michigan on my left and dense forest on my right. Life is good!

 


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