Around a campfire in the dark of night, a young boy breaks a long, still silence, "Grandfather, sometimes in my heart, it feels like a good wolf and a bad wolf are fighting. How do I know which one will win?" The Grandfather placed another log on the fire. A time passed, punctuated only by the hissing and popping of wood on the fire. Finally Grandfather replied, "The one you feed."
This would be my meditation as I started my vacation. I should feed the Good Wolf before returning to the rat race. So with that I packed my bags, a map, and headed out to explore my backyard.
The trusty but decidedly bum-numbing Shakira (Shakes) M'Alloy:
So I took off heading North on US 65 toward the closest Minnesota State Park - Father Hennepin State Park in Isle, MN. Since my morning was spent changing oil, lubing the chain and installing a battery-tender adapter to charge my phone, I got a late start. Father Hennepin SP was attainable while still allowing me to set up camp before dark. My destination didn't matter as long as I could get away.
I found a nice little campsite at FHSP across from the shore and set up camp:
I even had enough daylight left to snag a pic of Mille Lacs lake before doing a grocery run:
Then it was off to grab some firewood. I was fortunate to find a bed of hot coals in the fire ring at my site. The Labor Day campers must have left a huge fire that morning when they checked out. It made starting my campfire easy:
It was a cold night, but the loons calling back and forth across the lake brought me solace. My peace was short-lived when dawn came and I woke to find I had all this to pack
I had plenty of time to pack and peruse the map as the sun warmed the land to a temperature I found suitable for riding.
I don't bother with a GPS, for many reasons, but the main one being that I like maps. My normal modus operandi is to memorize the next two or three roads and turns and just go. This has worked well for me for a couple decades, but when I came to the first intersection it suddenly occurred to me that I remembered the highway numbers, but not my final destination.
Before panic could ensue I spotted a sign on a cafe that read, "Breakfast Served All Day". Today, pancakes and bacon would solve my problem. After having my fill and visiting with some snow birds at Svoboda's Cafe, I motored on:
As the day wore on the wind picked up so I took a little break and a couple photos at Leech Lake in Walker, MN:
This guy was enjoying the wind:
I thought about the packing and un-packing of my bags and my cold bum during the ride from Walker into the late afternoon sun. I decided I needed a base camp so I could run around unburdened for a day. I called Sara at the Mississippi Headwaters hostel and found that they were open and I would be guest number 2 for the night. Yay! I wouldn't have to unpack my tent and I wouldn't have to share a room. No Stranger Danger!
Knowing I would have a base camp, the little worrying voice in the back of my mind was hushed and I motored on to Nevis, MN where I found this guy. Too many locals lurking about kept me from creating a grand photo of the fish slurping my Chartreuse, er, Hi-Viz jacket.
Unpacked at the hostel in Itasca State Park:
Day three of my little Two Lane Tour found me in the one horse town of Emmaville, MN where the locals have a fine sense of humor (or are incredibly bored during the long winters). It was at the Emmaville Cafe that I had breakfast and caffeinated myself for the day's ride:
And this canine fellow was reminding me what I am out here doing:
The next stop on my list wasn't too far off the twisty and scenic County Road 40 at Dorset, MN. I was surprised to find it a one block village straight out of an old Western movie (with the exception of the paved road down the middle):
The irony is that if you are standing close enough to read this sign, you can see everything it points to:
No pizza, burritos, or ice cream for me as the shops all closed at the end of the tourist season:
But what is this I spy?
A closer inspection is warranted. Hey BurRo! Your tire's looking a little squared off!
Since no one was around I decided I should spank that *ss!
Then I took a water break in the shade here:
As I sipped some water I contemplated the cleverness of a local hoarder. "I don't need to clean any of this up, I'll just throw up a sign claiming them's antiques I'm a sellin'."
Then I motored on over to Osage Beach, MN. It's a little less touristy than the Osage Beach in Missouri that I frequented as a kid:
I headed back to the hostel so I could enjoy the park itself before moving on. I hiked up to the Mighty Mississippi's meek headwaters where I met two nice fellows who get to haul this thing around the country:
On my hike back to the hostel I found these tracks on the beach:
And the Wild Rice being backlit by a setting sun finished my day:
End of day 3.
I woke up on Day 4 and didn't want to leave Itasca SP, but I had been there before and needed to see something new. Plus I really wanted to go to Aerostitch and get a pair of helmet speakers. So I decided I would ride the beautiful and near desolate Hwy 200 East toward Duluth, MN.
The riding was so nice that I only stopped once to stretch my legs and take a photo. Remer, MN:
I found a matching Soo Line engine in Two Harbors, MN, but didn't want to get eaten alive by hummingbird-sized mosquitos to get a good photo.
Research is normally my strong suit and I tend to find out directions to a place before I go, but not so with the Aerostitch Rider Wear House. I decided to try my luck with my new Android phone's navigation app. It worked beautifully and led me right to Aerostitch. Once inside I spotted a fellow inmate in an ADV shirt and struck up a conversation. We discussed roads to ride on the North Shore and parted ways.
A quick stop along the Scenic Route of old Hwy 61:
Having eaten a late lunch I decided to forego picking up groceries in Duluth and motored up Hwy 61 to Gooseberry Falls SP. I would later go to sleep hungry as I chose to stand out on the cliff and take photos instead of ride back to Two Harbors for grub.
These guys were pointing me in the direction home:
And this guy lit my way back to the tent:
Day 5 brought more glorious sunshine and a warm start. Packing the bike went much faster as I learned my lesson the morning of Day 2. And I was hungry for breakfast.
But I did walk back to the cliff for a couple shots of the shore in the bright late morning light:
So I motored onward toward breakfast and home. That wraps up my Two Lane Tour for this year. If all goes right next year, I will explore the North Shore and Ely area and report again.
My Good Wolf has been fed.