Day Eight - September 10, 1997
Yoopers and Trolls
Mackinaw City, Michigan
Today we are laying over in Mackinaw City, Michigan. When we planned this journey, we allowed an extra day for unforeseen delays, which we expected would be mechanical or weather-related. Since we haven't needed to delay at any point, we decided to stop here, one day's ride from JerkFest '97, which begins tomorrow night in Glenn Michigan.
We're staying at the Hampton Inn, directly on the shores of Lake Michigan. This is the third Hampton Inn that we've stayed at this trip. Mark read somewhere that they offered good value. We've been pleased with the free morning breakfast service and the fact that they have washers and dryers. Last night was actually the first time that we've done laundry. Here's the view from our room:
The boat is a ferry that runs over to Mackinac Island. I am very confused about the abundance of 'Mackinac' this and 'Mackinaw' that, so we ask the maid why the two similar but different spellings and pronunciations. She gives a grimace and says "Yoopers and trolls." Huh? "Well, people from the UP are yoopers, and the rest of us are trolls. Yoopers say Mackinac, we trolls say Mackinaw." Oh. Translation for the Michigan-local-folklore-impaired: UP is the upper peninsula of Michigan, which when looking at a map looks like it ought to belong to Wisconsin, or maybe we should give it to Canada. UP folks are known as Yoopers (the spelling, if anyone has every attempted to spell it, is probably 'UPer'). 'Trolls' I can't explain. But, there are gift shops everywhere with trolls in the windows made from tree parts and straw, as far as I can tell. One shop window selling trolls announces in no uncertain terms that they DO NOT SHIP FUDGE. So don't ask.
We were soooo tempted to go into this shop and ask "Could you ship some fudge for us?", but we had more important things to do so we kept moving down Central Street.
We wandered around downtown for awhile until we finally succumbed to the temptation of pasties. When every other restaurant window is screaming at you "Fresh Hot Pasties!" it's hard to think of anything else, so pasties is what we ordered. We were pleasantly surprised - basically just a pot pie. Here's Mark enjoying his pastie. Somehow I don't think the locals are enjoying this as much as we are.
The restaurant is playing Jerk-era music, and we are enjoying all of the stuff hanging on the walls. The Jerks graduated from West Lafayette High School (Indiana) in 1971 (except for Bob). In 1969, Easy Rider was a movie that changed some lives man, certainly mine. When I was riding my first motorcycle in high school, my nickname was "Easy Riker". It could be that the American flag sewn to the back of my Army field jacket had something to do with it. Behind the counter of the restaurant is an Easy Rider poster, so I go over to the counter and get positioned to take a picture of it. The guys that made our pasties are behind the counter, so I figure what the hell, I'll ask them to get in the picture. They look at me like, "weird man, he wants to take our picture and all we did was make him some pasties." So, they obligingly line up in front of the Easy Rider poster, FACING IT (away from me). I suggest that it would be OK to have their actual faces in the picture, so they turn around, no doubt very confused by all of this.
Upstairs from the restaurant is the Mackinac Bridge Museum (hey, guess it must have been Yoopers that named the bridge, eh?) We walk around looking at the stuff left over from the bridge. I am intrigued by the wrench used to assemble the bridge. There is a show in Seattle called 'Almost Live, patterned after 'Saturday Night Live'. They have a sketch about these burglars trying to steal the Space Needle by unbolting these enormous nuts that hold the Space Needle to its foundation. This wrench would do the job. Some assembly required.
I mentioned yesterday that our TV diet is The Weather Channel. It is really handy to have these forecasts showing us in excruciating detail what we're going to get the next day. Normally we're Simpsons and Seinfeld kind of guys, but on this trip we're TWC junkies. That little green blotch in the thumb of Michigan is what we're watching closely right now.
We took a short spin this afternoon to Cheboygan to test our bike-to-bike communication system. We had made a few attempts earlier to get this working, but didn't follow through because frankly, we didn't need it. With a little adjustment of levels and mic placement, we were able to get the system up and running satisfactorily. After starting with CB lingo ("10-4 good buddy") we migrated to pilot talk ("Roger on that") and then of course we needed handles. So Mark announces that he is "ST 1100" (the model of his bike) and of course I am Road King ("Roger Road King, I have visual on you, 50 feet ahead of me. Over.") After a few miles, Mark decides to rename himself "ST 11" in service to the Syllable Reduction Act. Of course this is an opportunity for me to grab a new name, so I promptly rename myself "Rex". We're OK with this for a few miles, and then Mark decides he wants to be "Scarlet". Feeling obliged to respond, I tell him that I want to be "Rhett", but of course with the static and road noise he thinks I say I want to (still) be Rex, so I'm still Rex but now Mark is Scarlet. Roger?
We hit a motorcycle shop in Cheboygan and being highly aware of glove technology, I ask about waterproof gloves. I relate my sad story of the Goretex gloves that don't really offer water protection. They say "hey, we've got these gloves with a big WATERPROOF tag on them." I am torn. I already have many, many gloves, but if they're right, it would save a lot of misery. And they're less expensive than the name-brand ones I bought yesterday. I hem and haw, Mark decides he's going to buy a pair, so I figure that we go down together. To be honest, it was the marketing copy on the tag that finally sold me: "A GLOVE WITH DRI-LITE PLUS INSERT WILL LAUGH AT THE FORCES OF NATURE AND YOUR HAND WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT." I mean, how can I go wrong with a promise like that?
We get back to the room and I'm adjusting my wet gloves from yesterday on the heater in the room and Mark is laughing at all the gloves I have. So he brings his out and we lay them out all together. Sigh. What am I going to do with all of these semi-useful gloves?
Tomorrow we head for Glenn, the site of JerkFest '97. We expect all Jerks will arrive by 6 pm or so.
Until the next report, this is Rex, over and out.