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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by TommyBBQ, Oct 2, 2018.
Clarification: wouldn't a clockwise route give you better access to views, cliffs, etc.?
Thanks, I think so too. That was why I was kind of freaking out later in the trip, when it crashed and went missing for the better part of an hour. I didn't want to lose all of that footage! Next time I'll bring some way to back up each day's videos, rather than having it all on that tiny card that can so easily get lost -- even, apparently, when you know its precise GPS coordinates.
It's 2 lane 99% of the time and light traffic so I'll argue it's a non-issue to cross into a pull out. I've done the trip a few times and enjoy it regardless of the direction of travel.
I used to be a kayak guide on the big lake and can recommend the Apostle Islands as a great side trip. The coast along Pukaskwa is pretty sweet (best IMHO) from a boat too, as is Pictured Rocks and Isle Royal. The Crownland East of Thunder Bay is biblical too - and very isolated.
Both directions have advantages. Unless you stop everywhere you will miss great views behind you on the north shore. On the south side it really doesn’t matter.
In my opinion, if you’re doing the ride it’s a win! Doesn’t matter which way you go. Forward is the best direction.
I just started reading your RR this morning. I did the "Circle Tour" in late summer of 2014. I had to attend a sales meeting in St. Paul, MN and decided to ride there from the Toronto, ON area. It is definitely a great ride and including a ride up the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario and a ferry ride across to Manitulin Island adds some extra spice. Thanks for your report.
Lunch at Grand Marais
Colin and I have just pulled into the town... I spot the downtown area to the left, just down a gentle hill and into the harbor. There's a lot of people walking around. It's quite a pretty little town. Lots of moms and pops store fronts. Colin says his buddy is in fact one of those moms and pops. But he's traveling too. We're looking hard for a diner as we pull off our gear. And there's one right on the corner: the Blue Water Cafe. Here's one of Colin walking out:
But this place is so good we need to talk about walking in!
It's nice. Quaint. And something's off as we walk in. I can't put my finger on it. There's probably 30 tables. Smiling faces.
Cell phones. No one has their cell phone out. Noone is lost in a tiny screen.
That's nice! Everyone's conversing, enjoying their time together.
I put my jacket down on the old wooden chair at our table and mention this observation to Colin.
It's strange that it feels off to have people 'present'. I'm not 'present' as I'm writing this.
It's just strange.
You know, I heard once, that with the invention of the printing press, people lamented that their youth spent all their time 'somewhere else.' Checked out.
Reading a book.
So maybe that puts it in context. But I could argue that fiction novels help advance the human race more than cat memes.
These are the things Colin and I talk about as we eat.
And we can't pass up the pie menu. Wow.
I go for my jam - lemon meringue. Colin tries some ... awe for the life of me I can't remember the name. It might have been boysenberry. It was some kind of bitter weird ass flavor. I thought he was brave.
Colin, if you're reading this, what kind of pie was it?
I tried it. Not bad! Weird for one dude to try another dude's pie. But hell. Noone knows us.
Speaking of noone knowing us, this is Colin trouncing around the trading post outside the Blue Water Cafe.
Sadly, he did not purchase this hat.
But I did get some souvenirs for my kids. And a Lake Superior sticker for inside my saddle bag. It joins my Lincoln Highway and Firestone Brewery stickers from last year's ride.
I'm not a fan of stickers on the outside. But I know people who do that to their Harleys. Or their Odysseys. No judging. I like mine to look clean - stealthy even. Non-descript.
As we're leaving town, I tell Colin over the intercom that there's this place down the road I want to stop at:
Split Rock Light House.
It's about two hours down as far as I can tell. And when we're done there, I have my eye on a cold beverage at Castle Danger Brewery - about 14 minutes past that.
I forgot to mention: We skipped some stones at the harbor in Grand Marais. It was a beach made of skippers:
And I admired the view a bit as Colin re-packed his gear:
Might've been Lingonberry. It definitely tasted Scandinavian. Whatever it was, it was the perfect antidote to leftover drone-crash anxiety. Also, nobody minded that I soaped up my legs in the men's room, just to rinse off whatever underbrush I might've blundered through in the search a few miles back.
That's it! Lingonberry.
Hahah, yeah, I was worried about you trouncing around in waist-deep brush with shorts on. Poison Ivy, Sumak, or Oak 1400 miles from home is no bueno.
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Hey Tommy BBQ... I though you might appreciate this from your video on page one... It's a little modified... perhaps upgraded... or downgraded depending how you look at it. BTW - Great trip!
Last year I did a tour through Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and did not see any Moose either. It seems like they are extinct in NFL.
Well, yes. Since Daryl Johnston retired from the Cowboys, the NFL has lacked a Moose.
This is the goose I photographed in 2014
Good point . It's just that MI is to Michigan like NFL is to Newfoundland + Labrador. Counts as one Province.
One might be so inclined to say that MI is to Mordor like NFL is to Newfoundland and Labrador - but that's just the Buckeye in me speaking.
Haha, that's pretty good!
On the way to Split Rock, we caught up with a caravan of 4 or 5 Harleys and rode at a nice distance behind them. Of course there's that one whack job that passes us all. In a Toyota if I remember. The lead biker he has to cut off to not ram into the car coming at him. What a knob.
But it's nice winding roads, and I'm ready for a break when we pull into the Split Rock parking lot.
I'm a little disappointed that it's so busy. A tourist trap. But Colin seems game, so we go in.
Pretty nice views!
My mom loves light houses. As I am sure most do. But I'm sending her all these pictures. I wish she could see places like this!
Down the trail we arrive at the beach. People have taken these nice rounded flat rocks and made a series of towers. Kind of looks alien, but nice.
I put my feet in the water and relax. There's a few little boys there with the same idea. But they're jumping into puddles of cold water, not relaxing.
And off we go again!
Soon we're in Castle Danger. The brewery is nice, big, and there's a great big deck overlooking some train tracks, a partial forest, and the water.
The cold beer is super awesome. I ask Colin if he wants to camp there or head to Duluth.
It's like 3:30 or 4, so we're definitely not getting to Aerostich before close. We'll go in the morning.
Somewhat surprisingly, Colin wants 'to push'. Not sure if that's a Marine-ism, but it means to go on.
An hour or so later, we're admiring the awesome old houses along the trail as we enter Duluth from the north.
And then the road becomes highway, and we see the city. It is bigger than I imagined.
And there's Aerostich on the left.
now where to eat? I picked out a campground: Spirit Mountain. Should be nearly deserted because it's midweek, and I think that Spirit Mountain is a ski area. It's August. No skiers here.
But we're hungry and on the prowl for some grub.
These Senas are bad-ass. I ask Alexa for some restaurants along our route. She provides!
Colin thinks I'm typing when I'm riding. Not so, just reading my heads up display...
Just a little more about Split Rock. The history is google-able, and I'm going to bastardize it, but from what I remember, the lighthouse was operational until the 60s. And there wasn't a road that reached them until like the 20s or 30s. So there's these nice cottages and families would come and enjoy the summer up there. Cut off from the world. There was a tram line that went down the huge hill to the beach. That's how they hauled everything up. I imagine constructing such nice structures - there's no quick run to the hardware store.
By this time of the trip, Colin and I are sort of in a groove. Totally relaxed, taking it all in. I leaned up against the lighthouse and just watched the water and the day.
I could live up here. Not in the light house. But up in Minnesota. Or Wisconsin. Very nice country!
Good writing Tommy. You're hitting your stride.
Going to Aerostich... Oh, that explains the black jumper in the video. Normally two AStich full suits on this trip would be overkill. However going to their store for sure warrants the purchase of a necessary back up ( so many choices, so little time).
Sorry about your drone mishap. You were excited about adding it to the video and then boom. But drones have a mind of their own sometimes ( are great for moto travel videos).
Stickers on the inside only... I can see that being a clean Harley. But you'll probably keep the adventure travel bug from here on in so... It will be fun reading a future report where you're christening bike number two ( or three) with stickers on the travel cases.
Bourbon and Camping
We found GB Schneider & Co for dinner. Happy hour special: they had some awesome kettle cooked potato chips. And a cold beer.
Notably, these two ladies started inquiring about our bikes as we were dismounting. They were sitting outside on the patio. The one, I could tell, was already severely intoxicated.
When they asked us if we wanted to dine with them, I just looked at Colin with a "oh hell no" expression. We politely declined. While we love getting the local perspective, we prefer the un-slurred version at 5:00PM.
There's a Best Buy in Duluth, and Colin's super interested in replacing the broken rotor blades on the DJI Spark. I am likewise super interested in getting camp set up before the sun goes down.
So after dinner we split ways: Colin to Best Buy, me to buy Bourbon and find the campsite... and locate wood.
The camp office is already shut down when I get there. I look around back for a wood pile: no joy. So the next best thing is to forage for leftovers.
I come up short. A few pieces have been left in the fire rings from previous tenants, but it's not enough to make a night of it.
Then Colin rides up ... with a bundle of firewood on the back of his bike. Success!
The camp sites - for the record - are nice. Lots of woods, plenty of privacy, and we're on top of the mountain... well... big hill. There are only a few campers around.
Camping seems to be a personal preference for long trips. Colin and I are discussing this over the fire. It's nice to have a fire. And to relax. But hotels afford you the opportunity to regroup.
What I mean is, you can clean your gear, reorganize, and not get new dirt everywhere. Clean carpets lend themselves to this type of activity.
But what you miss is being "in the world." Chatting with other campers. Admiring the views.
The way I see it is, if the campground has a nice shower, I'm all in. It's good enough for me to feel clean. I don't need my gear to be clean.
Next year though, I'm going to pack my flip flops in some kind of bag. The sand from them is mucking up the gear in my saddle bag everytime I put them in there.
Here's a photo I took from Spirit Mountain ... these ski lifts overlook the Wisconsin side of things.
For flip flops, I normally just grab one of those grocery store plastic bags that are always laying about. Check to make sure it doesn't have holes in it, then pop them down to the bottom, wrap them up with the rest of the bag. Works wonders, that.