Exploring Northern Minnesota and Ontario July 2011

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by jwalters, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
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    2,517
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    Little Marais, MN
    I had a great weekend of riding, camping and relaxing with some fellow inmates this past weekend, so I thought I'd share some pictures. Here it goes.

    Day 1. Saturday July 23rd.

    I had to finish up some work Saturday morning, so that left me with half a day and nothing to do. Since Mike_S and I had planned on riding Sunday morning, I decided to swing up from Duluth the night before and camp out in Grand Marais. Since, I had a late start Saturday afternoon, I didn't do much riding, just buzzed up to GM and setup camp.

    Beautiful day! Some strong winds, but I won't complain!
    :clap

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    I got camp setup and the local GM campgrounds and then promptly walked to the Gun Flint Tavern.

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    At the GFT, I tended to business at hand.
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    By the way, that Myrcenary Double IPA is awesome and I have to get me one of those signs for my garage!

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    Minding my own business, I met this cool girl that was just in town for the day too. I must have looked lost while staring at my map or something. Whatever it was, she took pity on me and we hung out for dinner. We got to talking and before we knew it we were doing the Grand Marais bar crawl around town. She was an unbelievable singer and she blew up the local Karaoke seen!

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    Good times!
    #1
  2. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
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    Day 2:

    I'll keep my narrative brief, here is our GPS tracks.

    Morning came too quick. But I was looking forward to the route Mike had in store. We met up at the Java Moose at 8am not sure if anyone else was going to show. To our surprise, Tom and FotoTex stopped by to say hi! Unfortunately, FotoTex's bike was in Texas (this problem needs to be resolved Don). Nonetheless, we hung out downing coffee and comparing the similarities between the BMW F650 and Tom's Aprilia.


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    Then it was time to hit the road. Unfortunately, Tom wasn't able to make the day's trip either because of family matters, but it was great both of them stopped by to say hi. Tom, road us out of town and then disappeared like magic. Great meeting you guys, until next time!


    First stop, the little town of Hovland, MN. Mike's knowledge of the North Shore is very apparent when riding with him. I really enjoyed some of the places he pointed out as we traveled north. We stopped by the historic Hovland loading dock. This was the primary method of getting goods and people to/from the North Shore before the highway was built. Later, we bushwhacked to the old Hovland hotel! Great stuff!

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    We couldn't help but admire some of the great buildings along the water. You can almost picture how life was here years ago. The cargo ships like The America coming into port, kids running towards the dock and people anticipating the arrival of friends, family and precious cargo. The ships were truly the life blood of these towns.

    From this website:
    "HOVLAND, the oldest organized township of this county, is in compliment to a pioneer settler named Brunes for his native place in Norway. The village is located in section 20. In 1888 Ole Brunes and Nels Ludwig Eliasen, two Norwegian carpenters from Duluth, built a log cabin on Brunes's homestead, the two families living together until Eliasen finished a cabin on the adjoining homestead, and other settlers followed. Fishing, logging, and trapping were the principal occupations. Until the post office was established in 1889, the community was called Chicago for the bay on which it is located, that name being used primarily by the Booth Packing Company as their ship's regular stop to pick up fishermen's boxes and barrels. The name was rejected by local residents because it was a corruption of the Ojibwe word Shikag/Jikag, meaning "skunk"; the name Hovland was submitted by Anna Brunes, taken from her grandfather's estate in Norway."

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    Onward! Mike had the line on an old CN railroad grade west of Thunder Bay. Mike's navigation skills took us right to it! About a quarter mile down the railroad grade we came to this!

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    This shot below gives a better sense of scale. That's Mike on his F650 going through the tunnel!
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    Back on the railroad grade, we continue west mostly parallel to the Trans Canadian highway. The old railroad bed had some really cool elevated sections, which gave us some awesome views at tree top level.

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    I wish I had my fishing pole with me...

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    We decided between my loaded down KTM 990 and myself, I was much heavier than Mike's rig. So I crossed the bridge first. It held so Mike followed. Come to think of it, that's pretty much the only time I lead that day...hmmm..
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    We followed the railroad bed for a while, but decide to wonder back towards Grand Marais. We thought we found a sneaky way back to the border, unfortunately we came to this.

    We managed to take a "short cut" through some logging operations. Unfortunately, it was a dead end after a few miles. Good place to stop for lunch!
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    We back tracked to the Canadian highway and slabbed it back to the border. The slab turned out to be quite a nice route, we headed south on Ontario's 595 through South Gillies and then west on some rural two lane roads.

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    That night, I swung down to FotoTex's campsite and enjoyed some company around their campfire! Great stuff!
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    #2
  3. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Day 3: Grand Marais to Duluth via the Gun Flint Trail.

    Here was my route from Day 3.

    In the morning, I packed up camp in Grand Marais and planned on be-lining it straight to Duluth. But the call of the Gun Flint Trail was too strong, so after some coffee and donuts in GM, I swung up the GFT! First thing first, I had to stop by the local airport and look into some aircraft rental. Unfortunately, the guy at the FBO said they didn't have any aircraft to rent. In fact, he continued, I was the only person in 4 months to ask about renting an airplane for the day. :cry

    A quick detour to the old Grand Marais runway. Note the FAA required yellow X's on old runways. Yep, no mistaking that for the active.

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    Welcome to Minnesota airports...

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    After leaving the airport, I cruised non-stop to the Trails End cafe for some coffee. It's been a while since I've ridden the whole Trail, the nice sweepers makes for a really enjoyable ride. I was sad to come to the end, but looking forward to check out the Trails End Cafe and Outfitters.

    There was a "Back in 45 minutes" note on the door of the cafe, unfortunately, the author forgot to mention the time they posted the note. Worst case, scenario was a 45 minute wait, but the day was too nice, and I didn't really need the coffee anyway. Onward.

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    The roadside view...
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    Next time I'm bringing my telescoping fishing pole.

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    On my way back to Grand Marais, I stopped by Trail Center which was open! :clap I missed this stop during the Minnesota North Shore Shindig thanks to a 3 1/2 inch nail in my rear tire. Redemption was sweet! It was my first visit to Trail Center, what a cool place! And an added bonus, they sell gas!

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    After a cup of soup, I left Trail Center on some dirt roads south towards Brule Mountain. The roads were fantastic, well packed and well marked.

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    The minimal maintained roads (FR 315/152 and FR 325) were perfect for my loaded down KTM. Nice hard pack gravel, and fun hills.

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    Even though I was fully loaded, I decided to take some roads that weren't on my map. Things were going pretty well, I was finding the mud holes, but once the mud was higher than my boots, I decided to turn around by East Twin Lake. It wasn't to be.

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    Garmin decided it could route me directly from FR152/315 south to the Grand Marais airport. Unfortunately, this took me through some private property.

    I respect private property, but sometimes I think land owners just put these signs on the roads around their property to limit traffic. After all, whose going to challenge them?

    Anyways, in this case, the land owner was correct and Garmin was wrong. I stopped and talked with the land owner for a few minutes, nice guy and he was very friendly. I back tracked to FR325 (S. Brule Rd) and swung back up torwards the GFT.

    That's pretty much it! I met back up with the Gun Flint Trail and swung into Grand Marais. Then continued south to Duluth. Last stop of the weekend was at the landing behind the AmericInn in Silver Bay for a quick dip in Lake Superior. After the cool down, I hopped in the saddle and made it back to Duluth.

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    Good times with good people! Until next time!
    #3
  4. TheAdmiral

    TheAdmiral Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sand Hollow, Idaho
    Brought back some old memories when I meandered around the area 20-25 years ago. Beside riding some of the old FR roads, lakes and what not, the only thing I remember is camping at Gooseberry Falls, seeing my first Black Bear, and how some of the old mining towns/ports (Silver Bay, Two Harbors?) looked abandoned with the decline of Taconite mining.

    Anyway, Thanks for sharing your ride.

    P.S. I also remember going to Thunder Bay and visiting some old tourist fur trading fort complete with re-enactors. Still there?
    #4
  5. Asatrur

    Asatrur KLR adv rider

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Longmont, CO
    Lived in MN for 4 years with a Connie and while it was fun, I wish I was there with my new KLR, but I will put up with Colorado for now :rofl
    #5
  6. arrowhead rider

    arrowhead rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2011
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    786
    Location:
    mn north shore
    Yes. Old Fort Williams. My kids love it there.
    #6
  7. FotoTEX

    FotoTEX Long timer

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    Location:
    Granbury Texas
    Glad you dropped by for a visit at the GM Campground. Safe travels to Dubai and hope to meet up again. I see you dropped by Trail Center to eat, we ate there today. Love that place.
    #7
  8. mheckroth

    mheckroth Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    14
    Nice write up Jesse! I put a lot of miles on my f650, but sadly most of them are commuter miles. You've inspired me to put a nice cake of mud on the fenders this weekend!
    #8
  9. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

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    Matt,
    I think you and I are the only representing party from the Easy Readers. Jamie might still have his Guzzi. Glad to hear you are still at it! I forgot you got the 650 now. What a perfect bike for Colorado!

    Funny, just the other day, I was looking through some old Road America pics and found some sweet shots of the old "Penatrator". What a sweet machine.:D

    #9
  10. canuckAME

    canuckAME Been here awhile

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    Thunder Bay Ontario Canada
    Looks like you had a great day for a ride.
    There's lots of ways to get from the border to the old railbed on good trails and dirt roads. You would hardly touch pavement on some of them.
    #10
  11. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

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    I bet! I can't wait to ride more of them! Since we were only up there for a day ride, a little highway was fine, some of the paved backroads were really nice too.

    #11
  12. Mnrider2

    Mnrider2 Been here awhile

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    Oct 14, 2009
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    Southern Minnesota
    Thanks for the sharing all that Jesse,I felt like I was right there with you.
    Hoping to see you again at NSS-2 next year.
    #12
  13. jwalters

    jwalters Farkle Proliferator

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    Right on!

    #13