Big Bike Solo in the Western UP

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, May 18, 2010.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    You can ride out to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to visit, camp, or check out the old rocket range. I have done it on a DL1000 before, but I don't recommend it as it can get rocky.
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    Here are some pix and info from some other trips I made out there in the past.

    Camping at High Rock Bay. (Pix from one of the CannonTreks)
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    Meefzah (in the picture) will tell you it is a great place to greet the sunrise.
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    Nearby is the site of a rocket range where experiments were conducted.
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    A scenic spot.
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    Some pix from the rocket days.
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    Some of the experiments involved firing a rocket from a buoy.
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    Some of you divers may know about the wonderful underwater preserves Michigan has. These is a pretty extensive preserve around much of the Keweenaw. Lots of wrecks to dive.

    In 1913 the Waldo was navigating the lake when it got caught in a storm. A huge wave ripped the pilot house off the 451 foot ship nearly taking the Captain overboard as well. Another wave took out the crews quarters and 22 men and two women managed to escape to another part of the ship. The Captain, who was trying to navigate with a lifeboat compass and an oil lamp, tried to thread the needle by passing between the tip and Manitou Island. He smacked into Gull Rock and the ship split in half. They stayed alive for three days out there burning anything from the wreckage they could. Finally two lifesaving crews found them and rescued them.
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    Not so long ago, a Coast Guard vessel was picking up a buoy in the middle of the night. A young officer was leading the operation. Apparently she didn't have enough reference points on the shore to detect that her ship was drifting. The ship soon hit the rocks, busted open, and sank. All were rescued but the ship was lost. It was drug out to deeper water and is now a dive destination. The approximate site of this mishap is the red X on the first map in this post.
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    #81
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  2. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I still have a bit more to cover on this ride, but I put the GPX file up for download (thanks 9Dave) for anyone that wants to ride part of this or reference the waypoints.

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    Download available here:
    http://dco43054.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=17
    #82
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  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A tour through a sanctuary to preserve some very old white pines.
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    Some of these trees started out with Chris Columbus.
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    Someone wanted to harvest them in the 1970s but public outcry killed that.
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    I wonder how many thousands of these are buried in the mines.
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    A nice ride through here.
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    Another public relief project from the depression.
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    Golf course.
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    US 41 runs through some forests and rolling terrain coming out of Copper Harbor going south. It is not as nice as the shore roads, but pretty darn close. By the way, US 41 from the tip to Menominee is named "Sheridan Road" after Civil War Major General Phil Sheridan, a cavalry commander who never lost a battle.
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    I think I mentioned tha blackflies could be a problem this time of year. Not uncommon to see people dressed for it.
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    #83
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  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The Delaware Mine was just down the road from the Central and Cliff Mines. It never really did as well though.
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    About 1,500 people lived here in the 1870s. There were 200+ structures.
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    Horace "Go west young man" Greeley invested in this mine. He should have invested in the Central or Cliff where $100K got you $2 million. Horace didn't pick 'em well I guess. He lost the election to Ulyesses Grant too.

    He did get a nearby mountain named after him though.

    You can climb down 100' to take a tour of the first level of this mine today.
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    #84
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The Central Mine did much better.
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    Some of the structures have been restored. I took a tour of this miner's home a while back. Pretty basic.
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    I took a ride up on top of the hill looking for the powder house and some other stuff.
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    Mine doctor's house.
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    Needless to say I didn't poke around this shaft. 52 million pounds of copper came out of this mine between 1854 and 1898. 1,300 people lived here.
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    The mine captain's house was usually right in the thick of mine operations.
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    On the last Sunday of July, every year since 1907, there is a reunion here of descendents of people who lived or worked here. This building is a museum of artifacts and has some exhibits.
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    This is what happens to these houses over time.
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    #85
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  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The snowfall was pretty minimal this year. We were able to ride dirt bikes in April.
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    Mowhawk was once the big town out here.
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    The National Guard moved in during the mine strike.
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    They must have trouble with their highway signs here to have to post the penalty.
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    The Gay Bar. Good food. You can get a T-shirt.
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    The Gay School. There used to be better than 1,000 people living here.
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    The old mill site.
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    This thing is going to have to come down sometime.
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    The mill is gone.
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    But a big field tailings are covering the shoreline.
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    This is a ship canal that allows a shortcut through Houghton-Hancock.
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    This is the original Jacobsville Lighthouse that had to be moved when they widened the canal in the 30s.
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    This is the replacement which is now a B&B.
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    Personally, I would skip this down and back to Jacobsville and spend the time you save at the Lindell Chocolate Shoppe instead.
    #86
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  7. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Epic, as always! :clap

    Plus I made a cameo appearance, how sweet is that? :lol3
    #87
  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Stopped for lunch here.
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    The interior is much like it was many years ago. Worth a visit.
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    Another one of those gadgets for grooming the roads for horses and sleighs.
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    The mining companies had some stamp mills and smelters along the lake. Stamp mills smash rock into sand like particles so it can be processed further. By 1873 10,000 tons of ingot copper ws being shipped out of here each year. The stamping mill and smelter here were among the world's largest. They closed after the 1968 stike that killed off mining in this area.
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    They dumped the stamp sands (waste) into the lake filling in about 20% of it over time. These sands are a superfund site.
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    After WWII, they found out that they could get more copper out of sands they previously discarded. They got a dredge to pump sands out of the lake to be reprocessed. During the winter, they left the dredge lay out in the lake. The bilge pump failed and the dredge sunk before the pumps could be restarted. There is a buoy marking the roof that is near the suface out in the lake. This dredge met a similar fate but sunk next to the shore.
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    There are two companies in the UP that make hardwood sports floors. (Conner and Horner) This is the Horner plant in Dollar Bay.
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    The Connor plant in Amasa had the contract for the custom NCAA floors. I think they are building one that can be assembled in only a few hours. The winning school gets to keep the floor. Some take it home and use it. Some cut it up and sell the pieces. Apparently there is a lot of science to sports floors.
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    I stopped into the Coast Guard station as I wanted to get a look at a 47 foot motor lifeboat they had. They were involved in training when I stopped so the visit didn't work out.
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    The 47' boat is a wonder though. It is a first response recue boat for rough seas and weather. They are self-bailing, self-righting, almost unsinkable, and have a good cruising range. Boats like this are being added to the fleet monthly as replacements for the 44' MLB fleet. Over five years, 200 will be delivered. (This may be complete by now.)
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    I guess this thing has shock absorbing seats so the crew can take a beating in the surf. This thing can operate in 20' breaking seas.
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    My Canadian friends might be amused to discover that the Keweenaw was the birthplace of professional hockey leagues. This was around 1902.
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    There is some history here:
    http://www.cchockeyhistory.org/
    #88
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  9. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Long timer

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    Awesome report as usual!

    Each summer 3 buddies and myself take our annual "guy's fishing trip".

    One of my buddy's parents is friends of the daughter (who is now in her 70's) of the old captain of the mine. Two summers ago, we stayed in the house for a week, fishing the local lakes and streams.

    That peak is still full of iron, and one night we had a heck of a thunder storm roll thru. The thunder and lightning we experienced in that old house had me curled up in the fetal position in my bed, just waiting to get blasted to bits!
    #89
  10. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    These small towns have some interesting stores.
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    Chassell was a lumber mill town. This school operated from 1917 to 1992. It is now a historical museum.
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    A tourist trap of sorts.
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    A trip inland to a farmstead.
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    Herman Hanka got fired from one of the mines after an explosives incident that killed his partner and left him maimed and deaf.
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    Hanka came here to get away from fuedal servitude on a large industrial farm overseen by the Russian Czar.
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    After he got canned at the mine, Hanka decided to start a farm on some of the stump lands left over from logging. He put together this farmstead.
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    These guys would do whatever they needed to in order to survive. They fished and trapped in addition to farming.
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    For my buddy Askel, who lives nearby.
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    This once was an orphanage. It is located on an indian reservation.
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    About half the kids here were indians. The others were here because they were orphaned by tragedy or because their parents could no longer afford to support them and left them here. Times were tough.
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    #90
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  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    That is pretty cool you got to stay there. I noticed two or three other company houses there that were nicely restored as well. You'll have to tell me about it next time I run into you.
    #91
  12. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    By the way, this bay is the lake trout capital of the Great Lakes with twice as many fish as elsewhere.
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    Baraga has a nice historical museum
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    If you wonder what people do in some of these small towns up here, in Baraga there is a major prison. There is also some manufacturing where they make stuff like this.
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    A guy named Baraga was the "Snowshoe Priest" in this area many years ago. Baraga has an interesting history. He came from Europe to minister here. He has a big shrine near L'Anse.
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    They make ceiling tiles in L'Anse. I was surprised to see some railroad ties being processed.
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    In 1890, some investors thought it would be a good idea to build an ore dock in L'Anse to ship ore from the mines around Michigamme. They spent a couple million dollars on this project building the dock and a 42 mile rail line to haul ore that never carried a train. It was tough going building the line. They bought two locomotives, but one never saw the track. The one that did made it 20 yards before the bed gave way sending the locomotive into a ditch. After ten years and two million bucks, a Detroit Construction company bought the operation for $110,000. They sold the rails to other lines and disassembled the dock and sent it to Detroit. The chief engineer on this project fled to Mexico. This is an approximate path of the line. Some of it is now a road.
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    It is a nice ride with neat cuts and fills.
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    The dock would have been here.
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    Henry Ford bought this peninsula and set up a mill for his auto business.
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    The old power house for the mill.
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    Ford had a bunglalow out here. He only stayed there a few times. Mostly it was used as an education center for kids. Ford was big on education.
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    You can rent this thing for reunions and such. It sleeps 30.
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    Smelter bucket.
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    The road that circles the peninsula is dirt and a nice scenic ride.
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    I was happy to see this 1910 school building still in use and in fine shape in Skanee.
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    I skipped the out and back to Point Abbaye for reasons I'll explain later.
    #92
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  13. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This is a nice area. It gets a little wild back this way but it is a great place to ride. I did some exploring to see about changes to other tracks I have for some dirt bike rides I run through here. May not have been a good idea on the big bike though.
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    You find some nice scenic spots knocking around back here.
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    This is an old quarry for slate shingles.
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    Waste rock piled up nearby.
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    Thankfully there was not much mud. The water spots have stone bottoms.
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    People used to believe that Mount Curwood was the highest point. They named it Curwood to honor some conservationist. In 1982 the federal government resurveyed and found that Curwood was 1978.24 feet high and Arvon was 1979.238 high.
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    I told people in the past that the climb to the very top isn't really worth it as there is no scenic view.
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    I was doing some exploring for a back way off of Arvon using some logging roads. My solo riding risk management meter chased me back out onto a reasonable road because if something had happened on the alternate route, I would have been in a bad way. No possibility of traffic there except for maybe an ATV someday.

    By the way, the roads I put on the track I am sharing are not the ones I was knocking around on. They are more reasonable like this one.
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    It was getting late in the day so I though I would head out of here. Out of all the stuff I had been exploring, by chance I turned on to this track.
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    Shortly down the road I met a girl and her dog. She was a little upset. She had been traveling and instead of sticking to the major highways, she followed a route recommended by her GPS that took her through this rugged area. Eventually she bottomed out her vehicle and did some damage (or ran out of gas - she wasn't sure) out here in the boonies. When I chanced upon her, she had already walked six miles. Being 16 miles out in the boonies, she would have been walking around out here in the dark. I loaded her and her dog up and took them to a State Police post. She offered to buy me dinner while she waited for someone to come get her but I explained that I wouldn't expect anything for helping someone and I was glad that it worked out the way it did.
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    #93
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  14. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Holy crap, how did you carry a pillion AND a dog on the bike, on a rough road like that? Awesome!!!

    WTF is it with people just blindly following their GPS? :huh
    #94
  15. freeflow

    freeflow get in or go in Supporter

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    ..it really is a nice little spot...with cool old stone buildings:thumb
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    great detail as always cannon
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    "Listen Spirits of the green wood plume, shed around thy leaf perfume, such as spring from buds of gold, which thy tiny hands unfold. Spirits hither, spirits repair"....was supposed to be a Longfellow quote...but his ending is "Spirits hither quick repair"...interpretation is up to each of us

    the years of abuse these stones endure is ponderous
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    #95
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  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    To be fair, she was new to the area.

    Unless someone was familiar with that big hunk of land, he or she wouldn't really know what it was like. Some of those tracks are listed as roads on the county highway maps. Instead of having to do a big skirt of the area to stay on major highways, the GPS would dutifully route you on a hypotenuse across the area to save you miles. I suppose that once you get far enough into it you think is is closer to keep going to get out than to turn around.

    Great riding on a dual sport though.
    #96
  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Yeah that park there is pretty nice. I'm sure you would agree that any time you can ride close to the shore it is really nice. (But perhaps a little cool sometimes. Real cool depending on the wind. :vardy )
    #97
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I skipped the loop through Sturgeon Gorge as I had a wheel bearing starting to go. But, it is a gorgeous area and I recommend that others check it out.
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    Ford donated this site and some forest land to the university.
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    The story goes that Ford was traveling from L'Anse one day when he stopped at this creek and decided it would be a good spot for a work village.
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    Ford used about 200 million board feet of lumber a year in his auto business. For a while he was being squeezed by his suppliers so he bought a bunch of timberland up in the UP and went to work supplying himself and holding leverage against other suppliers. Alberta has a sawmill. It was never intended as one of his big production centers. In fact, it only put out about 14,000 board feet of hardwood a day. Ford like to experiment with concepts for his workers. His intent here was to have a village that was part industry and part agriculture. Workers were given farm plots to grow food.
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    This exhibit was not open for the season yet. A guy saw me taking some pictures outside so he asked me if I wanted to see it. He opened it up, told me to give myself a tour, and asked me to lock the door when I was done.
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    Sawdust dropped to a conveyor on the first floor that fed it into the boiler. Larger pieces of scrap were used to heat worker homes.
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    It took 30 minutes to sharpen a blade. When cutting hardwoods, sometimes the blades were changed every two hours. It took two men 10 minutes to change a blade.
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    Worker housing.
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    #98
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  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    As I mentioned I had a rear wheel bearing going out. I took a direct route to Iron Mountain thinking I had some kind of chance of getting a repair there. So, I cut some stops along the way although I left them in the track. There is a nice spot marked on here to cruise some back roads for moose in the early or late parts of the day.
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    I do like my oversized windshield for several reasons.
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    Historical museum in Amasa. At one time Amasa had six mines, two railroads, 4 sawmills, an array of stores, and even some bootleggers. Not much here now except for some lumber and wood people. By the way, this town is generally 10 degrees colder than it's neighbors on clear nights. They once recorded 53 degrees below zero - the cold spot for the UP.
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    This town does have Connors Floors which makes sports floors. I think they did 14 floors for NBA teams. For the 2008 NCAA playoffs, they made 40 floors.

    I thought I remembered the plant from riding around there in the past, but the location I remembered was not the floor plant but a hardwoods company instead. Could be that they provide hardwood for the floors.
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    Anyway, it was getting dark and I wanted to get to Iron Mountain right away because of the bad bearing.

    I made it. The next morning I called the owner (David) at UP Cycle and Sport. I explained the problem hoping he might be able to find some bearings around town to get me back on the road. He told me to come on down and he would see what he could do. In a little over an hour he had some bearings in so I could get back home. Obviously he wouldn't have had all of the parts in stock to make a complete repair, so he annotated a parts diagram with the parts I would need to order when I got home.

    It is tough to have to try to deal with something like that on the road, but Dave made a great effort to get me back on the road as soon as he could. Many thanks! :thumb
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    With that problem behind me, I was quite relaxed. When I spotted these rafters, I thought about how nice it would be to making that trip with them.
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    I posted the GPX file for people to download if they wanted to ride this trip or visit some of the POIs I waypointed in the file.
    http://dco43054.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=17

    Thanks for riding along! I hope you enjoyed the history and photos.

    I'm happy to answer any questions or help out the next guy if I can.
    #99
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  20. The Prick

    The Prick Rick The Prick to you!

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    Great Report!

    As a kid and Michigander I hiked Isle Royale with my parents. I have ridden ATVs in da UP, but have not been able to make it back up there for a bike trip. Your report is an inspiration to do so. Though it will not likely be this year (kid on the way).

    Again great report
    Ride safe

    Rick