An adventure was what we wanted and adventure was what we got. The plan was for a long weekend ride around Lake Michigan, camping and casual country riding among beautiful fall foliage—that sort of thing. Instead, we got four full days of pissing rain, freezing temps, oversized semi trucks galore, and a few dingy motels to top it off. In total we ran over a 1000 soggy miles and crossed three states, hitting all the hot spots—from Chicago to Green Bay, then somewhere in the Upper Peninsula to Traverse City and Muskegan—and finally limped back to Illinois on a ferry, frozen and grinning from ear to ear.

Beyond learning a lesson in terms of what Walmart rain gear works and what simply shreds to pieces in minutes at speed, I personally earned a healthy respect for the wild Midwest terrain. It can be brutal up north. And I only saw October. God help those poor Yoopers come February.

We also learned that pancakes make pretty much any situation better.