2021 Summer Recap | Michigan

What’s up, friends? I’ve sat here for 15 minutes figuring out how to intro this. I’m rusty. So, here we go…

We went to Michigan this summer. I am going to tell you about it.

Good?

Our summer vacay with Cole and Tyree took us to Michigan with the goal of camping, riding, and no real direction other than to explore the beautiful Upper Peninsula. St. Ignace was our home-base for a few days, but we kept extremely loose destinations for the majority of our trip. It’s really the perfect way to vacay when on bikes. You just never know where adventure awaits, so why stifle it with strict plans, ya know? So, July 2nd, 2021, we kicked off day one towards Bagley, WI where we’d set up tents next to the Mississippi river before nightfall.

Or so we thought.

If you ride, you know to expect the unexpected. Our new reality hit about 2.5 hours into our journey when we found ourselves a parking lot and a broke down bike. Friends, let me introduce you to my friend, Tyree.

The Passenger.

Scratch Wisconsin. New destination: Cedar Rapids, IA. And instead of a tent, we rewarded ourselves with a hotel, a much needed shower and a nightcap with our friends John and Jodi at a local watering hole. I tell you what… we know we have the best of the best friends in all our friend groups, but John hit MVP status when he offered up his motorcycle to Tyree. Class act, y’all.

Cue Saturday morning.

Destination: House on the Rock, Spring Green, WI. What a delightful sh!t show of chaos, confusion, and mesmerizing nonsense that totally made sense. You should go.

After The House on the Rock, our Saturday journey took us on backroads with a itty bitty stretch of interstate in Green Bay all the way to Marinette, WI. A real quaint town with a 1 star roadside motel that served as our home for the night. Clint was so impressed with our accommodations that he took everything from his bike and hauled it into the room. Honestly, I am surprised he didn’t also remove his battery.

Adventure, folks. Highly recommend 1 star accommodations.

Also highly recommend 4 stars for peace of mind and body.

…Cuz #cleanliness.

Sunday

Happy Birthday, America and Hello Lake Michigan. You were an absolutely gorgeous sight to see. All hands in the water to leave a little bit of us behind and we moved along on our journey. The landscape, y’all. Simply stunning.

If you are up in this area, please stop by MooFinFries. Excellent burgers, delicious ice cream, and the NICEST owner who loves to engage his customers. Small shop, big hearts.

And ice cream cones.

July 4th is also Tyree and Cole’s wedding anniversary. I may or may not have forgotten until right around this time. My bad. Happy Anny, C&T. 😉

After setting up camp at the St. Ignace KOA we headed out to the pier to hitch a ride on a ferry to Mackinac Island.

Mackinac Island is full of history, tourist attractions and about 3,002 fudge shops. We enjoyed a hike around some of the island to take in a portion of its history and the views. Fun fact: about 500 people live on the island year-round, but over 1 million people visit the island each year. I also read on a local blog that the residents of Mackinac call the tourists “fudgies”. See previous sentence.

As luck would have it, our journey off the island was delayed which ended up being a blessing as it gave us the chance to view the fireworks from the top deck of the ferry. Incredible!

Overalls compliments of Shinesty should you be interested in looking as cool as Tyree and I.

I spy with my little eye someone holding their 1st trimester belly.

Monday, July 5th we ate breakfast at Bentley’s B-M-L diner and then made our way to Driftwood Sports Bar where we drank bloody mary’s and attempted a few card games while we waited out the storm rolling through. Let’s just say card games are NOT a strong suit of Cole and I. Clint and Tyree no doubt wanted to kill us. ‘Least the drinks were good. 😉

Rain aside, we headed south to ride Michigan’s famed Tunnel of Trees on M-119. The stretch to and through was absolutely breathtaking. 25 MPH and nothing but trees and an occasional break in landscape with views of Lake Michigan. It’s in these moments I wish I had a GoPro to bring you on the journey with us. Simply stunning.

I LIVED for the journey across Mackinac Bridge. There is just something magical about riding a motorcycle across a bridge that lights me up. Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere, connecting Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

Tuesday, July 6th the boys took off around 6am to for a fishing trip on Lake Michigan while Tyree and I journeyed North to the Canadian border to get our hands in Lake Superior.

Tyree and I made it back to St. Ignace before the boys, so we made the executive decision to tear down camp to head out one day early due to incoming severe storms. The one thing that can derail any motorcycle vacay is the weather. For the next three days the radar showed nothing but solid green and red for Northern WI, MN and IA; our original loosely laid out route home. Looking south into Michigan and Indiana also showed us green and red, but with little pockets of hope peeking through. So, we chose the route South which was less suck versus going West which was full suck. Late afternoon we put the kickstands up and headed South through Charlevoix and into Traverse City, MI where we’d find the LAST TWO ROOMS available in the entire city.

Wednesday gifted us with the kind of heavy rain that makes you shiver in disgust. A blessing in the form of an extended checkout time, we hit the wet pavement around noon towards South Bend, Indiana where we rolled in around dinner time for an unexpected journey through Notre Dame campus (hello stadium dreams!) and the best pretzels at an Irish pub.

Notre Dame Police Department issues equity in policing report | News |  Notre Dame News | University of Notre Dame

We woke up Thursday to a little more rain, but overall clearing skies. However, due to an extreme storm cell projected to hit Omaha Friday night combined with the need to return John’s bike to Cedar Rapids and retrieve Tyree’s bike from Des Moines Harley Davidson before they closed, we decided to embark on the 583 mile journey home.

While we technically wrapped up our vacation two days early, we also closed it out filled with love and gratitude to have experienced another spectacular vacation with two of our dearest friends.

Cheers!

Swig Sugar Cookies

A couple of years ago I posted this Swig Sugar Cookie recipe, and to this day it remains my favorite sugar cookie.

Had to pull the recipe out of the archives again, this time we just added colorful sprinkles to channel summer fun. Enjoy!

Swig Sugar Cookies

Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 8 minutes Total Time 18 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter room temperature
  • 3/4 cups Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/4 cups Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tarter
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 5 1/2 cups Flour

Sour Cream Frosting (Original)

  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cup Powdered Sugar

Instructions

  1. Cream together Butter, Vegetable Oil, Sugars, Water, and Eggs.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and slowly add to butter mixture.
  3. Mix until everything is combined.  Your dough should be a little crumbly and not sticky.
  4. Use a cookie scoop or roll a golf ball sized ball of dough and place it on your cookie sheet
  5. To give the cookies the signature rough edge, press a glass bottom (dipped in sugar) into the center of the dough ball.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  They should just barely be browning on the bottom.    Move cookies to a cooling rack.  Once they are cool put them in the fridge.
  7. For the ORIGINAL frosting: Cream together butter and sour cream and salt.  Slowly add powdered sugar.  When it gets so thick its not frosting like add a splash of milk.  Alternate this process until your frosting is the desired consistency.  Add 1 drop of red food coloring and whip on high for 1 minute.
  8. Keep cookies in a sealed container until they are ready to serve.  The magic of a Swig Sugar Cookie (apparently) is that the cookies are cold and the frosting is room temperature.  Frost right before serving.

I can attest to the refrigeration technique of the cookie.

SO GOOD CHILLED!  

I used a traditional buttercream frosting for this batch which includes 2/3 cup butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp almond extract, 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream.  Mix together until desired consistency, adding more powdered sugar and whipping cream as needed.

Salted S’more Truffles

Marshmallows and I go together like PB & J. Ketchup & Mustard. Pancakes & Syrup. Basically, it’s true love and a match made in heaven, if I do so say so myself.

Give me all the marshmallows.

Enter, Smore Truffles for a little bite-size mallow treat!

INGREDIENTS

1 pack graham crackers, crushed

1 standard size jar marshmallow fluff

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

5 Hershey Bars

Pinch of Sea Salt

DIRECTIONS

Crush graham crackers until fine.

Add mallow fluff + chocolate chips

Roll into Tbsp. size balls and freeze for 15 minutes

Melt chocolate bars in microwave in 30 second increments

Dip mallow bites into chocolate, sprinkle with crushed graham crackers + Sea Salt

Chill until set

Enjoy!

Riding Colorado | July 2020

Even in the middle of a pandemic, we found time to travel this summer. The beauty of motorcycles is you can avoid people. Most all of them if you really wanted to. Clint’s ideal vacation. 🙂

This Colorado trip was likely the coldest and soggiest of all summer CO experiences. Sprinkle in a dose of riding anxiety that manifested itself in the form of an air bubble causing loss of back brakes down Guanella Pass, and a bought of heat exhaustion in KS that sent me from Level 1 Chill to Level 10 Drama… we had ourselves a real good time!

#memories

Joining me on this trip was Clint, Tyree and her brother/our friend Clint. Cole was unable to coordinate time off work, so on Tuesday the 14th the two Clint’s took off early for Ogallala, NE (cuz #teamnopeople).

And as for Tyree and I…

We rolled into Ogallala just shy of midnight and short a few storms where an ice cold beer and warm hotel room awaited us.

Wednesday’s route had us through Ogallala > Fort Collins for lunch at Crooked Stave Taproom > Estes Park for a few drinks > Winter Park. Colorado only had county mask mandates but was by far the strictest state I’d traveled to compared to SD & WY the month prior. Shoot, even Nebraska didn’t have a mask mandate yet. Rolling into Colorado gave us a new perspective of the COVID pandemic.

It was about 15 miles out of Black Hawk when a foreign feeling of unease crept over my body. Something didn’t feel right with my bike, but I couldn’t pinpoint it as there were no prominent red flags. I could just feel something off while rolling through the mountains and into curves, so I tailed back while the other three motored on ahead of me.

We fueled up in Black Hawk and hit the road. It was time to finish the days travels into Winter Park where our AirBnB awaited.

Thursday morning we hit up breakfast at the base of Winter Park, blatantly photobombed a few teenage girls taking selfies (somewhere out there is a photo of some adorable teens and T and I in our leathers posing all cute and shiz) before heading out to Keystone > Frisco.

Tyree had put together a list of bars reported to be some of the “best” in Colorado and based our riding adventures around hitting those. She’s genius.

Enter: COVID-19 pandemic.

Keystone was closed. A local recommended a place in Frisco. Also closed.

So, you may ask why didn’t we check bar closing before rolling? Because it’s Colorado.

As long as you’re riding, all is good baby! Those views!

From Frisco we headed out towards Leadville to visit The Legendary Silver Dollar Saloon where we were met with rain and hail. Also found out real quick how crappy my windshield was. Oncoming headlights turned my windshield into a disco ball strobe light. Solution: hop my ass up on the back of my seat to look over windshield. Practical!

A few beverages and a chance to warm up before getting back out in the rain, we made our way to Highline Cafe & Saloon, literally in the middle of no-where Colorado. Wind, rain and some spooky storm clouds had me questioning our survival rate, but we left all that behind in our rearview mirror. Those ice cold Busch Lights and sliver of sunlight at Highline were welcomed with open arms.

What you see in the photo above is all that is in Harstel, CO. A bar & grill (former Mercantile) a banned Hot Springs and deserted train station, and a mini-general store. The locals were welcoming, the beer cold, the bar warm. Perf.

From Harstel we started our journey back “home” by heading towards Georgetown through Guanella Pass.

Guanella is full of beauty and fun with the picturesque tree and mountainous landscape and occasional hairpin turns. It’s a great byway to explore and I highly encourage riding it at least a few times. Make it a priority.

Mother Nature spent this time reminding us that Colorado is unpredictable and with 40 degree temperature readings, a bit of sleet mixed with the rain at the top, we had ourselves an adventure on the descent to Georgetown.

And the unnatural riding anxiety I was feeling manifested itself into loss of back brakes to make the adventure even more exciting! You slow your roll when your pedal goes all the way to the floorboard with no reaction. Good stuff. It was in this moment I wish we had a way to communicate with each other because as they rolled on effortlessly down the mountain, I just held up traffic and enjoyed a nice and controlled cruise down and around the turns. The trio eventually figured out I was MIA so waited for me on a few turns, but I am sure they were thinking what a giant pansy ass I was being.

Once in Georgetown I told the crew why I was trailing so far behind, but by that point my back brakes were working again. Clint just figured I was riding my back brake and it got too hot, but I swore I wasn’t any more than anyone else. Clutch in, downshift is my first method to deaccelerate when approaching continual turns and hairpins, but I promised I’d pay attention to my riding style out of Georgetown. With that, a few beers were earned at Guanella Pass Brewery to shake off that unplanned adventure.

Beers down the hatch and the sun slipping behind the mountains, we bid Georgetown farewell and finished our journey back to Winter Park for dinner at Deno’s Mountain Bistro.

The journey home I watched my braking patterns compared to the rest of the crew and confirmed my theory that I was in fact using my brake just as much or less then the majority, and in that ride home found my back brakes to quit working again. Verdict after further inspection? Air bubble in the brake line. The mechanically inclined husband fixed that issue promptly.

Thursday… you were memorable!

Friday morning was a slow start as Tyree and I were still working remotely while on vacation with the goal of squeezing in around 4 hours each day. This pet rock made me feel like I was right at home.

The boys stayed back to fish all day, so Tyree and I took off on our own adventure with our first stop at Buffalo Rose in Golden.

We had the sweetest waitress, the vibe of the restaurant was right up our alley, and the unique cocktails were delicious. With a pitstop at Avalanche Harley-Davidson to look for a part, we hit the road again towards Evergreen, CO where we’d enjoy a few beverages and our go-to vacation snack of Cinnamon Bears on the upper deck of the Bait Shack Tavern.

Tyree had a case of the dizzies brought on by the altitude so she got herself one of those oxygen cans and on we went. Due to the timing of the day we hit some pretty significant traffic getting out of Evergreen and wouldn’t you know it… storm clouds started rolling in. We found ourselves one of the last gas stations before getting back into the mountains and made sure to document our first and last photo wearing a tank top for proof that we actually did get out of full leathers in the dead of July.

Colorado, man. She’s trippy.

Back towards Georgetown we voted on another go at Guanella Pass Byway. We climbed in altitude while the temps and rain came back down.

Even though the ground made for a bit more caution on the way down, I far more enjoyed the descent knowing I had full use of all my brakes should I need. 😉

Georgetown for fuel and we were off back towards WinterPark to meet the boys for dinner and a few nightcaps at The Pub.

Let me tell ya… Highway 40 towards Winter Park is seriously breathtaking. Four lane, but with curves and hairpins tucked in like you’d find normally off the beaten path. 10/10 recommend.

Friday’s loop-at-a-glance:

Saturday we checked out of our perfect little AirBnB and pointed our headlights southeast towards Guanella Pass to Pine.

Nestled off the beaten path and 7,050 feet up in the foothills of Denver, Buck Snort Saloon is a perfect hidden gem I’d highly recommend journeying to. As their website says, they provide real mountain charm, and I couldn’t agree more.

After a cold brew, we made our way further southeast to roll through the Garden of the Gods and into Manitou Springs where the crowds were thick and traffic annoying, so we high-tailed it East to Rocky Mountain Brewery where we thoroughly enjoyed a craft beer and some B’z BBQ. This is another beer joint I’d definitely recommend adding to your list of places to hit up when in CO.

A bit of a clutch issue with Sejkora’s bike and a quick bypass to an auto shop, we got him all fixed up and hit the blazing 97+ degree pavement east towards Kansas.

It was on this 212 mile stretch where I got overheated + dehydrated causing a moment where I wasn’t convinced I wasn’t going to black out. Some much needed Gatorade, water, anti-nausea meds and an hour break did the trick. While that moment was a bit dramatic and prob a tiddddd biiiittttt annoying for my riding partners … it was also a bit scary to experience.

We’ll just chalk this trip up to a series of weird events for this girl. Again…

#memories

Colby, KS after night fall and one open diner later, we bid each other farewell as we’d split ways in the morning while Tyree went with her brother to Burchard, and Clint and I North and East to Omaha.

Colorado 2020. You were memorable.

Let’s do it again!

BIG thanks to Tyree for planning out all the routes. She’s a rock star.

Side note: one of the photos I took from this trip landed the cover of Thunder Roads magazine. Thanks, Vernon! Much appreciated.