Michigan: A Quest for Pie

Michigan: A Quest for Pie
Polishing off a pre-tour mahimahi taco and Key lime pie dinner while watching the sun slide behind a row of tethered yachts, I wonder if my preconceived ideas about the tour are about to be blown out of the water. I envision four days of sleuthing small town diners with glass cases full of tantalizing home-baked pies, but our present view has more in common with the Sunshine State than the upper Midwest.

Why Michigan? My wife, Sharon, and I don’t know the answer to this question as we scramble to squeeze in this round-trip tour during early September before the end of riding season. Once on the road, however, it becomes apparent why a post-harvest outing in a state famous for its fruit production makes perfect sense. My cherry-red Suzuki V-Strom 650 is pressed into RoadRUNNER service once again, although I personally feel that a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy might be a more suitable mount given the theme.

A beautiful beach is not dependent upon latitude!

Heading north from Saugatuck along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, the vast expanse of water plays hide and seek with us through the trees. Side roads leading toward the lake tempt us, but we know that numerous forays into coastal towns will provide access to the lake, and we resist the urge to explore. Ever-changing scenery keeps things interesting as we enjoy a sedate, yet satisfying, jaunt up the coast.

Motorcycle & Gear

2005 Suzuki V-Strom DL650

Helmet: Scorpion EXO-R2000
Jacket: Firstgear Kilimanjaro Air
Pants: Scorpion Deuce
Boots: Alpinestars Gran Torino GORE-TEX
Gloves: ESKA Tour Waterproof

Pie, Pie Everywhere but Not a Slice to Eat

We’re taking our tour theme seriously, but the search for a morning coffee and pie break location has been in vain. Diners have been as rare as hen’s teeth, and we find that a promising bakery has sold out of pies. We’re also getting the impression that it is sacrilege to cut a pie and sell the individual pieces, so we decide to slide the pie search into the proverbial warming drawer and focus on the ride.

Always on the lookout for good campgrounds, we take a quick look through Muskegon State Park. It’s one of the nicest we’ve seen with heavily wooded sites, nice shower houses, and access to Lake Michigan’s beautiful beaches located a short walk from the campsites. Our existing lodging reservations and lack of proper gear quashes our camping thoughts, but we vow to return next summer.

Warm, tart cherries and cold ice cream is a savory sensation that is tough to beat.

Finally! A Pie Sighting

It’s midafternoon when we spot the roadside Orchard Market on Rt 31. The informal restaurant in the corner of the large market building features homemade soup and pie. We sample both, choosing pumpkin pie to christen the tour. It’s very good but not quite up to mom’s standards, to be honest.

Nearing our lodging destination at The Homestead in Glen Arbor, the mix of curves and a speed limit allowing some fun prod me into riding more aggressively, a short-lived experiment that ends when the nearly invisible coating of fine sand on the road causes a slight mid-turn drift. No harm done, but the hint is taken and the throttle rolled back. After check-in, our 250-mile day leaves us sufficient time to polish off a Woodcutter’s Burrito at Boone Docks Spirits and Edibles before closing time. The burrito is aptly named as it probably contains enough calories to fuel the processing of a redwood with a handsaw. Oops, no room for pie tonight!

Another small town bakery reels us in to sample its offerings.

Chasing Storms and Cherry Pie

A serious nighttime storm knocks the power out, but it’s back on around 4:30 a.m. and we’re on the road after an early breakfast at Art’s Tavern. We need to make tracks today because another round of bad weather is supposed to roll in by midafternoon. Brooding clouds blanket Lake Michigan as we stop in Leland for a tour of historic Fishtown. Numerous shops and restaurants share the weathered wood dock and shanties with commercial fishing establishments, but the area is tastefully preserved and it is easy to imagine what Fishtown looked like a century ago before it was a tourist destination.