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Old 10-01-2014, 03:05 PM   #1
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Of Lighthouses and Cheese Curds.

I will be cross-posting this on multiple forums, so if some faces and names are not familiar, that’s why.

Sooze and I booked ourselves for NAFO, the North American FJR Owners gathering up in ‘Sconsin. I felt that trip was ride-report worthy, so here we are.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014.

We had our bags packed and ready to go for a glorious week on the bike. After Sooze got home from work, we geared up and headed west.



The plan for this afternoon was to get to Champaign, IL. Unfortunately, it meant slabbing it there. Yuck.



Leaving Ohio…



And into Indiana.



And rode through Indianapolis. Now, there is one thing REALLY wrong with this picture:



Know what it is? It’s Indianapolis and it is NOT raining. EVERY damn time we have previously ridden through that city it has rained. Sooze and I were both amazed.

Sooze and I saw this and started laughing, knowing we’d be seeing FYB in a couple of days.



It was a bit brisk out so after a gas stop we popped in here for something warm to drink and snacked on some cheese bacon fries.



Mmm… Cheese bacon fries…



While it was definitely a cool evening, at least it wasn’t freezing and the sunset was nice.



I aboot jumped outta my skin when Sooze took this picture. I should have known it was coming but it surprised me.
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:13 PM   #2
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A friend of ours who used to live in Chicago and has friends in Champaign gave us a whole list of places to go once we got to the hotel. But it was late and chilly so we just walked to this place which was across the street from the hotel. Sorry, dude.



They had a VERY nice craft beer list so we had some beverages that are not available back home.

Sooze had a pizza.



I had a calzone that was meh at best, but did I mention they had a really good craft beer list?



After wrapping up there, we retired for the evening. It’s funny – even a one-hour time change royally screws me up.
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:26 PM   #3
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

Our internal clocks were running an hour off so we were up early. For us.

Got loaded up…



And headed out…



Having ridden the Long Island Expressway (or whatever it’s called) in 2009 I had zero interest in trying to ride through Chicago so we avoided the city and rode through a lot of farm land.



Holy shart there were a TON of these things!



A barn for Andrew.



And we escaped Illinois and entered ‘Sconsin.



Milwaukee, home of The MoCo.



Mmm… Beer….



Now, you may be wondering to yourself – SELF! Why does this idiot BikerGeek come up with these stupid ride report titles?

Well, for this one, the lighthouses part is because we wanted to check out as many lighthouses as we could. Sooze’s dad died earlier this summer and one of his ‘things’ was lighthouses. Sooze has a bit of a penchant for them and I’m perfectly OK with them so, there you go.

Our first one would be in Port Washington, ‘Sconsin.

Riding through town.



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Old 10-01-2014, 03:38 PM   #4
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A cool thing that I found out in the ether is a POI (that’d be Point Of Interest to you luddites) listing of all the lighthouses in North ‘Merica! So whenever we would get close I’d pull up the POI list on the GPS and have it take us there. For those of you who have ‘sperince with GPS know how entertaining it can be to just let the GPS take you there. More on that later.





After missing a turn and going in Bungies for a minute or two, we eventually found it.




I was really hoping to be able to score some trash and trinkets but they were closed. The terrorists are winning.



But it was a gorgeous day (and kinda warm) and the grounds were nicely kept.












We continued our way north along the shore. Our next lighthouse was in Sheboygan. Going through town, there was some kind of festival or street fair or something. We didn’t stop, though.






We parked adjacent to the marina (where it looked like they were packing everything up for the season) and headed to the walkway along the water. What a surprise – nobody was at the beach!
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:48 PM   #5
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Other than a few stragglers here and there, we almost had the entire lakefront to ourselves.



Down the walkway just a bit was the lighthouse.






With lighthouse #2 for the day bagged and tagged, we continued on our merry way. The remnants of an old boat is out by the entrance to the park / marina.



Our next stop would take us into Manitowoc, ‘Sconsin.



Remember what I said earlier about GPS routing? Well, the POI list must literally be the coordinates because the GPS wanted us to get on the Manitowoc-to-Ludington ferry to arrive at the lighthouse! Since we didn’t want to go to Ludington on this specific day, we consulted an app that Sooze has on her phone and found out where to go to see the lighthouse.






This costume was kinda creepy.



There are actually two here – the new one.



And the old one.
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:59 PM   #6
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That’s Manitowoc across the water.



We had parked in a YMCA parking lot. On our way in, we passed the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. Hoping to score some trash and trinkets, we decided to go check it out. It was too late for the submarine tour (that’s gotta be the fourth submarine we have seen at museums across this country that we couldn’t tour – one of these days…) but the museum was open. After paying our admission fees, we checked it out.



As you would expect, there is a lot of neat boat-y stuff in there.



Including a display of vintage tools used when wooden boats were hand-made.









Wayyyyy back in the day, my dad’s cousin’s grandmother (got that?) came into some money and had an awesome place on a lake in Michigan and they also had some Chris Craft wooden boats. My family vacations in that same area and there are shops around there that restore old wooden boats. So I think they’re pretty cool.



The stern of the sub.



As we were making our way through the museum, there were some folks talking with a dude who worked there. We surmised that they were planning on having their wedding, reception or both at the museum. Now THAT would be pretty cool!

The sub. That we couldn’t tour.



Back inside, they had this REALLY neat display of classic outboard boat motors.
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Old 10-01-2014, 04:53 PM   #7
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More museum displays.






This was pretty flippin’ cool.






The details on some of these was incredibly impressive. I know I can’t do this kind of stuff but I can certainly appreciate it.






Now THIS was COOL! It’s a big-assed steam engine. It’s called the Chief Wawatam Steam Engine. From the museum’s website: “Step into the engine room of a Great Lakes ship in the early 1900s and see a 65-ton steam engine come to life under your control. Built in 1911, this powerful triple-expansion steam engine was used by the ice-breaking carferry Chief Wawatam to transport passengers, vehicles and rail cars across the Straits of Mackinac.” You can turn it on, too! Of course, I did. All I gotta say is it was extremely cool! Oh – and through the wall on the right side of the picture is a big-assed propeller that the engine turns when it’s running. Uber-cool, man!



And, with that done, we were on our way through the ‘Sconsin countryside.



Nice to see there are other lighthouse geeks out there.



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Old 10-01-2014, 05:11 PM   #8
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I’m pretty sure this was in Kewaunee.



Just up the road I saw this place, and the open sign was on. I asked Sooze, “Hey – you wanna check out that shop back there?” Her: “Was it even open?” Moi: “Yep – the open sign was on.” So we Bungie’d and stopped to check it out. No false advertising here – they had all kinds of lighthouse trash and trinkets. We bought a few to help support the local economy.



IIRC, this firefighter memorial was in Algoma.



As was this.



It was getting later in the day but it was a beautiful day.



We eventually made it to our destination for the evening: Sturgeon Bay, which is in Door County. Door County is the kinda-thumb-lookin’ protrusion to the north-east of Green Bay. On the way in, we passed the Chicago Fire Boat which does cruises.



Riding across the bay.



Now, what you couldn’t see in the previous picture was a yacht. And I’m talking a yacht that had me saying, “What the hell…. Seriously – what the fsck IS that thing?? That’s fskcin’ COOL!” Here’s a picture of it taken the next morning. More on it later.



And then … Poof! We magically arrived at our hotel.
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:25 PM   #9
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I have been to Door County before. Sooze had not and I really wanted her to see the area. Hotels can be kinda pricey up there but I came across a place on TripAdviser that had some really good reviews – and it looked to be quite a bit different than our normal Geek’s Hotel Of Choice (AKA – Hampton Inn) so I reserved us a room there. The Holiday Music Motel, in Sturgeon Bay, ‘Sconsin, if definitely NOT a cookie-cutter chain hotel. It’s more of a 50’s-era motel, complete with retro décor and … well, the place just has personality.

Where the magic happens.



How long has it been since you’ve seen one of these? While it still looks like an old rotary phone, it was touch-tone. The buttons for each number were in the rotary locations.



Note the retro-style desk and chairs.



Old-school lavatory.



And Kleenex dispenser.



They do include a continental-style breakfast downstairs and this is where they serve it. How cool is this?



Just a few more of the motel… This is near the front desk.



As is this.






If you’re ever in the area, and are looking for a place to stay, give the Holiday Music Motel a try.

In search of dinner, we walked a block up to the main drag and started scouting out places for some grub.
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:40 PM   #10
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As we walked along, we spied this.



After checking out the menus of several joints, we settled on the Door County Fire Co. Engine Room Ale House. Once again we were treated to a pretty nice craft beer selection. The one thing, though, that really hooked us on this place, though?

Three words: Fried. Cheese. Curds.



I’ve had fried cheese curds before but these were, to put it mildly, out-friggin-STANDING! Are ya happy now, vlade??

We got the curds as an appetizer. Sooze got a grilled cheese sammich.



And I had some Lake Michigan whitefish. Which was delicious.



After dinner and a few laughs with our waitress, we had a somewhat chilly walk back to the motel and called it a night.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:09 PM   #11
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Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Did I mention that the hotel was cool? Sooze came across this in the room. “The Complete Lyrics.” Baaaahhh hah hah hah….



The original plan for the day was to ride out to the tip of Door County and grab a couple more lighthouses along the way. But, since we were in ‘Sconsin in September, it was pretty cool this morning. Since we didn’t really have our colder-weather gear with us, and the forecast was not very warm, we decided to just walk in town a bit once the shops were open and lollygag a bit. Before we left we had a bite to eat in the hotel. To put it mildly, we were on the young side and a couple of the ladies eating were having a very in-depth conversation about dulcimers and dulcimer conventions. I cannot make that up. Dulcimer convention. Who’da thunk?

Anyhoo, the motel sign.



And parking lot.



We walked across the bridge to the other side of the bay. The red tug is now a museum, while the green tugs on the left are active working boats.



A better shot of the fireboat.



There is another maritime museum here but it was not open yet so we walked aboot outside.



A shot of the tug museum from another vantage point. As in, right next to it.



This thing is approaching 100 years old! How cool is that?



And we were seriously checking out this yacht across the bay.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:17 PM   #12
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Back across the bridge, and across the street from where we ate dinner the previous night, were a bunch of these sturgeons decorated by locals. They were interesting…






Kinda fitting for us.



Kinda abstract.



Dulcimer, anyone?









Keep sturgeons … warm.



By now, we had checked out a few shops and it had warmed up a scoach, so we headed back to the hotel, packed up, checked out, loaded up, and went to check out the Sturgeon Bay Maritime Museum.

This may look familiar.



This was pretty cool – a vintage steam whistle.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:37 PM   #13
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Up-periscope!



Since we didn’t have a really long ride today we decided to take the ~ 45 minute tour of that tug boat. There nothing quite like tromping around a nearly-100-year-old tug boat in full motorcycle riding gear. First-world problems, eh?



The green working tugs I mentioned earlier. They were doing to maintenance and housekeeping while docked.



Ah, yes. This.



That yacht was directly across the bay from us and several in our tour group were asking our guide aboot it. The hull was built in Sturgeon Bay at a yacht works just up the bay. It is supposedly owned by a Russian gal who is using it to one-up her dad by building a yacht bigger than his. It is aboot 150 feet long and they have been installing the interior and then gutting it because the owner keeps changing her mind. But it’s currently a one-of-a-kind revolutionary design and the hull incorporates a lot of carbon fiber and whatnot. It’s amazing what cubic dollars can do. Sooze came across an article aboot it – it will soon be departing Sturgeon Bay for warmer climates. Pictures really do not do it justice – this thing was something to see.

Anyhoo, on with the tug tour. If you have any tug questions on the tug tour… Ask Susie! She was our guide, on the left wearing the shades.



This tour was really, really cool. Down in the engine room, in the picture, looking at the top-right, do you see the row of rivets? That’s roughly the water line. When operational, I can only imagine the noise that was in this space: a couple of huge diesel engines, multiple AC and DC generators, coolant circulation pumps, bilge pumps, fuel pumps….



When the tug was decommissioned, a lot of the valuable stuff was removed including anything obviously brass and the ‘Ahead Full’ thingies – I just forgot what they’re called. The ones here are reproductions. When they were restoring the tug, they happened to have a fella on staff who was Chief Engineer on her at one point. He was able to recall which pieces that had been painted over were brass and lead efforts on the overall restoration.



This kinda made me think of the engine rooms on the fishing boats on “Deadliest Catch.”



Note the wooden rail about wait-high. That was to help keep you from falling in to the fuse array. If you did fall into the fuse array, it wasn’t so much that you’d get shocked or electrocuted. More like burned. Nice thought, eh?



The two main engines. And a weird guy in our tour group.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:48 PM   #14
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Officer’s quarters.



The Chief Engineer was the one who had the bestest accommodations on board, including his own personal screen door!



This made me laugh and made me sad at the same time. My step-mom’s dad, who was nicknamed Big Bob, passed away this summer. He woulda gotten a kick outta this shirt.



The galley.






Note the chunk of glass on the counter. That is a piece from a broken porthole. The crew would keep a compliment of replacements on board because waves would come up and break those things. Look at that – it’s 2 or 3 inches thick! Think of the energy being moved there.



The wheelhouse. The wheel itself was more for decoration because the modernized steering was all electrical.









Ya gotsta be careful walking on this thing. Especially in full motorcycle riding gear. I aboot tripped and killed myself (or worse!) a couple of times.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:56 PM   #15
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The yellow thing was the crew’s escape raft. It was not tied down to the tug, so if the tug went down, the raft would just float off. Several people in our tour group just could not wrap their heads around that concept. Go figure.



And with that, our tour was over. Our tour guide snapped a couple of pictures of us.






After raiding the museum’s trash and trinkets shop, we hit a bit more of the museum including the lighthouse section.












There is a pirate section as well.



Including a game where you can shoot a (virtual) cannon. I discovered I am not a good shot with a (virtual) cannon.



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