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Adventure in the Midwest: Ride Lake Superior

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TommyBBQ, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. Zippydapanhead

    Zippydapanhead Damn kids, get away!

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Oddometer:
    176
    Location:
    On the Trade River
    I have done the loop several times and in both directions. Clockwise really is shorter (you’re taking the inside line on one really big oval track) and counterclockwise is more beautiful (like heading toward cliffs and not away from cliffs). Do this ride and see the north coast of the US and the most westerly port for Atlantic freighters.
    #81
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  2. Runwithscissors

    Runwithscissors Runwithscissors

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2014
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    Packerland
    Lake Superior run is my most successful method of hooking new moto adventure buddies. From N E Wisconsin, the good riding starts right away and this run is an "Adventure". You'll see moose, bear, elk, buffalo. Views of the Lake and the sweet smell of balsam will find they're way into your dreams. Give the curious a taste of the Lake Superior run and they will tuck into your table.
    #82
  3. Old-n-slo

    Old-n-slo Burnin' fossil fuels!

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
    211
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Hey! Done this loop myself. LOVED your intro video. That little girl has a future in broadcasting!
    #83
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  4. musty40

    musty40 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    129
    Location:
    Duluth, MN
    Just did this this 2 weeks ago as a group of four. Tons of fun with lots of great scenery. Right in my backyard!
    #84
    TommyBBQ likes this.
  5. TommyBBQ

    TommyBBQ More Road than Dirt

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Somewhere in the US
    I forgot to mention that the Serendipity Cafe was awesome. Last I spoke of Rossport, we were heading in that direction. The Serendipity Cafe seemed like a little hipster joint with kind of an overgrown step garden in the front. The colors were vibrant. We ordered the lake trout special. It was great. A lady walked by and told us that she had back surgery recently... that's why the garden had been out of sorts. I just thought it made it just that much more "land before time."
    [​IMG]
    Then the lady said to come see the art gallery next door. Her husband built her a walkway to it which helped since she had her surgery.
    So after the meal we did.
    The building was small, and I didn't fit through the door. It was one of those early-last century or the century before cabins. The door was maybe 5ft 9. But white washed inside and there were some good pieces of Lake Superior art. Hard to carry on a bike though! So I grabbed a few postcards.

    So it dawned on me while having a beer in Thunder Bay - we can fix Colin's Sena. HD re-branded the 20S with their bar and shield. And there's an HD dealer right down the road. Plus I would like to see what's going on over there.
    Did I tell you about the old guy up in White Lake? Rhetorical. I know I haven't yet. But you know old riders. Super pleasant. Had just come from Thunder Bay. What stood out was that he told us that there's only one strip club in Tunder Bay - but it was a nice one. We had in no way indicated that we'd like to go to one. So it felt pretty funny to hear. Maybe that's the assumption with Harleys. I wasn't against going. But Colin feels some kind of way about it. Especially because of my sister's feelings about them.
    Anyways, the older gentlemen put in my head that I should go to HD Thunder Bay. And they delivered! Colin picked up a 20S and all was right in the world.

    We found a hotel - Colin picked it out. The Thunder Bay Best Western Plus. Said it was the best rated in town. But as we drove out of town to get there - still no six pack bought yet or anything, I was starting to think he was crazy. Riding out of town we went through a lot of traffic and the roads and air around them felt polluted. Maybe we were used to scenic country. Anyways, we pull into the Best Western Plus and I kind of see why it's highly rated. There's a beautiful pasture in the back with a mountain beyond that. Normally when I think Best Western and what's behind it, I think yeah - the back side of the bowling alley. Not so here. And our room's around back. And there's a restaurant with a patio out on the pasture.

    Pulling the gear off the bike in the back, a Suburban pulls up with one of those tear-drop trailers in tow. Kansas plates. Tom and Susan end up being really nice. They drove all the way to Boston to get this trailer. And it's spectacular. Lightweight. A/C. Extra long bed. And a bunk for kids. My girls would fit in there. And an exterior kitchen. We chat with them a while. Then go shower up. And then go to the restaurant for a cold one and a good meal.
    #85
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  6. TommyBBQ

    TommyBBQ More Road than Dirt

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Somewhere in the US
    Off to Duluth!
    It takes a while to get off down the road from the Best Western Plus. Packing up the bikes can be tedious. But it was a nice find to see that the cleaning staff put towels on our bikes in anticipation of dew. Nice touch!
    There's no dew though. hahah. I make sure to go inside and tell them that I appreciated the gesture. Bike friendly place!
    And I found a photo from the back patio:
    [​IMG]
    Colin and I are rolling down the road now, chatting on the Sena intercom. It's a nice day. And these are nice roads.
    I should take the time here to tell you about our dilemna. Along the route we've been, travelers have said that the best road was behind us. Tom and Sue said there are forest fires ahead. They didn't enjoy the drive from Duluth.
    And we feel like we've left a few opportunities pass us by.
    Is the state-side of Lake Superior going to be worth the time? Should we go back? Take our time? Kayak in Rossport? Do a different loop?
    Colin and I talked about it at length at dinner. We both go back and forth. I see both sides of the coin. But ultimately, we decided adventure is truly what lies ahead, and we didn't want to years later say that we did half of lake superior - twice.
    The way it's turning out, we made a good decision.
    [​IMG]
    About 40 minutes into it, we're pulling up to the Border.
    Welcome to the United States!
    The border is easy and they have a nice Minnesota sign that we take a photo at.
    [​IMG]
    After the photo, we decide to go check out the rest stop. It hasn't been long, but maybe they have some pamphlets about what's good in Minnesota.
    Good choice again! They've got a sign for the High Falls, and we take the hike. There are a lot of raspberry plants along the walk. I love raspberries. Bonus.
    Plus look at this!
    [​IMG]
    Colin gets some good drone footage too. You can check that out in the video!
    #86
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  7. Bobbrecken

    Bobbrecken Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    Thunder Bay
    For others doing this trip there is a great book “61 Gems on Hwy. 61” that we have been been working on for a while. The major attractions from Duluth to the border and often things you wouldn’t notice driving by.
    #87
    TommyBBQ and colind like this.
  8. BluegrassPicker

    BluegrassPicker Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    591
    Location:
    Rochester, MN
    Best Narrated video ever! 5 Stars!
    #88
    TommyBBQ likes this.
  9. Turkeykiller67

    Turkeykiller67 n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2015
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Illinois, United States
    Wawa Goose.jpg

    Did that trip counterclockwise a couple of years ago. Loved it, very pretty. Stop by Wawa and see the goose. Great story, thanks for sharing.
    #89
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  10. ronaprhys

    ronaprhys Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    249
    Location:
    Michigan
    That's the original goose, right? I think they've a newer one that's at the visitor center.
    #90
  11. Bobbrecken

    Bobbrecken Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    Thunder Bay
    The new goose has it’s wings spread down. I hear there is a ne one coming.
    #91
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  12. ronaprhys

    ronaprhys Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2016
    Oddometer:
    249
    Location:
    Michigan
    I could see that. The old one either needed a restoration or replacement (and I think it's had one restoration already) as it was starting to look a bit worn.
    #92
  13. TommyBBQ

    TommyBBQ More Road than Dirt

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    161
    Location:
    Somewhere in the US
    Missed the goose in Wawa.
    Next time!

    Man Down: Or robot, whatever.
    Colin and I are leaving High Falls, happy with our drone footage.
    And we're talking on the intercom about doing some drone-following-bike videos.
    And there's no better spot than here. It's 10:30, we're an hour out from Grand Marais where lunch waits.
    These roads are two-lane, small and rolling hills, easy corners. Not much traffic.
    So we pull off. I wait for Colin to get the DJI Spark out of his saddle bag. And then he instructs me to go.
    As I'm pulling by I hear Colin on the intercom, "Crap, it crashed."
    I circle back, and we can see the Sparks point of view on the phone's interface.
    It's the bottom of some leaves. Looks peaceful.
    5 minutes into our general search, we're realizing it's not going to be easy to find.
    As a note, the DJI Spark has collision avoidance in the front.
    Note that I didn't say in the back too.
    Colin's starting to get antsy. The battery on the Spark is at 24%. He tries to locate it using the interface's blue and red arrows.
    But cell reception is poor, so the map isn't autopopulating.
    I see the grid coordinates on the screen: oh, yeah, I have my old Garmin 60CSX on board.
    10 minutes of searching with the 60CSX: I conclude that the grid coordinates on the Spark are wildly inaccurate.
    I have the idea of using the wi-fi signal from the Spark.
    Hey it's getting closer! 3 bars!
    5 minutes of that and we realize - the wifi signal is hosted from the phone as a hotspot and the drone is in fact its client.
    Then the Spark goes black. Dead battery.
    We start a general search.
    [​IMG]

    ...
    ...

    Colin replays the video over and over.
    All the lines in the road look the same. There are cracks but its impossible to orient ourselves in the physical world based on what we're seeing.
    And it's hot now. Because we're trouncing around the woods on the side of the road.
    ...
    ...
    I consider going on without it. But I want to be courteous to Colin. It's his expensive drone. And it would be his loss.
    Plus I need him to be happy to ride with the rest of the trip. So what the hell. Let's keep looking!
    ...
    ...
    Then Colin realizes that in the very last frame of the video from the Spark we can see the very faintest outline of a signpost.
    And then we know where in the 200 meter line that I rode... where the drone could be.
    It probably hit a tall tree. And there are only three of those across from the road sign that we've identified.
    ...
    ...
    ...
    Needle in a haystack. Where could it be? I can tell Colin's starting to grapple with its loss.
    I can't find the damn thing.
    But wait... shouldn't I be looking UNDER the tree? These pines are like bushes. It's hard to see under them. And I definitely saw some nice green leaves in the Sparks POV.
    Could there be green leaves like that under the pine bushiness?
    ---
    And there it is!
    Broke-ass Spark.
    But we have it!
    ...
    We walk back to the bikes...
    I realize I've lost something else.
    While trying to remove the 60CSX from my belt, I've ripped off the lanyard that holds my Harley keys.
    They're somewhere out there in the forest.
    ...
    No freaking way. I have a spare set in a 3D printed box that mounts next to the fuse box on the Harley. I'll just grab those.
    Now it's after 12:00, we're hungry, and we have an hour to go until Grand Marais.
    Gotta get back in the right mindset for travel. This was an unnecessary roller coaster ride mentally.

    [​IMG]
    But we're happy it ended well! Just gotta find a place that sells replacement rotor blades.
    [​IMG]
    #93
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  14. Pdrhound

    Pdrhound Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2015
    Oddometer:
    546
    Location:
    80421
    @#!!#$@!#@#$@#**!@
    #94
  15. colind

    colind Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    18
    I still can't believe you found it. You earned Trip MVP status that very instant, if you hadn't already. Thanks again.
    #95
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  16. scootac

    scootac Just a Traveler

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    12,607
    Location:
    Northcentral PA
    Good endorsement of the importance of carrying spare keys!!!
    #96
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  17. Bobbrecken

    Bobbrecken Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Oddometer:
    135
    Location:
    Thunder Bay
    I always carry the keys on a lanyard around my neck when I leave the bike. My memory is getting shorter as I age.
    On trip S I carry the spare too.
    #97
  18. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,806
    Location:
    City of the Angels
    Entertaining rider report and video. Love the video narrator. Thanks for taking the time. Hope there's more.
    #98
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  19. colind

    colind Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    18
    Thanks, DesertSurfer - I'm relaying all these narration compliments to my daughter, and she's loving every one! And rest assured, there's more to this story. Tom's just about to get us to Grand Marais.
    #99
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  20. sbeadg

    sbeadg Found in Fogo Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2013
    Oddometer:
    386
    Location:
    God's country aka W. Mass
    I've done the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton many times and when the water's on your right, it's easier to pull over and take photos: Counterclockwise. Why wouldn't that be true going around Superior? I understand that on the Cabot your surrounded by water and not the other way around, but on the road, you're not going to experience it that macro way.
    I'm setting my sights on this trip for next summer. Thanks for sharing.