Lake Superior Circle Tour 2019

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Booghotfoot, Jul 3, 2019.

  1. Booghotfoot

    Booghotfoot Been here awhile

    Jun 21, 2016
    Northern Minnesota
    Day 1 Grand Rapids MN to Ironwood MI
    Dateline June 26

    The day started out very nicely with beautiful weather and a nice brisk westerly breeze. Since i was headed East this was quite a treat. I rarely get to ride in a tailwind. Being on a Wee, this is a real bonus.

    My route for the day was
    ° Southeast to Jay Cook State Park
    ° Then to Bayfield WI via WI 13 and then Ashland
    ° From Ashland East on US 2 a ways until i could head up North to the shore on 122 to Little Girl Point County Park
    ° Lake Road to No_Yooper's tentspace site for the night

    As I mentioned earlier, the weather was amazing. Nice sunny skies, riding away from the glare Nice fluffy cumulus clouds. And a trail wind that granted me 55mpg for the day.

    Hwy 13 in Northern WI is pretty Nice. Some rolling hills in the western part. A few Nice views of the Lake, and really pretty at Bayfield and Ashland.

    But the ride up to the County Park was Nice and quiet. There it's a boat landing/public access there which while not very scenic, out have a good view and a cool breeze. There are toilet facilities There too.

    Shortly after leaving the Park I came across some road construction. The Flagger recommended that I turn around and not go through. They were grinding the asphalt and it was left in place and really rough and mushy. She said it was only a couple miles long then a few miles of loose gravel. She rides too and wouldn't attempt it.

    I opted to proceed. I figured I could always turn around of it was impassible. I got up on the pegs, took my time and got through it just fine.

    Then just a half hour to my tentspace site for the night. My host was busy till 830 so I headed into town to check out the local brewery scene. But I had some company anyway...

    The Cold Iron brewery was nice and had good beer, but no food. The Iron Nugget just .9 miles by ankle express had food.

    But the Iron Nugget is NO brewery. They have a pseudo brewery but don't brew beer. I had good wings and craft beer from on tap. But i felt it was false advertising. Kinda Sh!tty.

    Back to my host for some conversation and an early bed time. No_Yooper was a great host. Really nice guy. Gives back to his community.

    This was my first tentspace experience and it was a winner.

    Day 2. Ironwood MI to Marquette MI

    Dateline June 27

    No_Yooper's tent space was pretty comfortable and I slept in until nearly 7am. I packed up a and we talked a bit and I asked for a recommendation for a place for a good breakfast. He recommended Sharon's in Hurley and a few good riding destinations.

    Breakfast and coffee were excellent at Sharon's. I highly recommend it. Shortly after 9 I was on the highway on my way to the Porcupine Mountains. The road up there was nice and tree lined and got pretty twisty and a lot more interesting once it turned more easterly. Nobody ahead of me and nobody behind me the whole length. And I met very few oncoming vehicles too.

    Once I got to the lake I saw traffic on the road up to The Lake Of The Clouds. But certainly not heavy traffic. I did a fair amount of hiking up here and probably spent more time than i should have based on my itinerary, but the scenery was worth it.

    I observed how few other riders I've seen so far on this trip. Perhaps due to it being midweek and the week before the holiday.

    Brewery Scene
    Okay, I must divulge that a big motivation for this trip was to visit some of the many micro breweries along the route. But being on a motorcycle, one has to place himself. (and pace I did).

    So my next designating was one of the breweries in Houghton via Ontonagon, Mass City and South Range. I pulled into town and set my Gmaps to take me to the Keweenaw Brewing Company Taproom. This was a nice little place and since I was going to have only one brew I opted for a flight. I was hungry so I ordered some chicken strips to be delivered from the place next some. (I know, but I was anxious to get on the road.) Well, I got what I deserved...4 chinsy little teeny breaded chicken sinews and some pretty decent dipping sauce. $8. What a dud!

    I was really hoping to head up to Copper Harbor and try out Brickside Brewing, but it would add at least 2 hrs to my day and I needed to get to Marquette by 7:30ish.

    There's always next time.

    So off to Marquette. Decent ride. Pretty scenic down U.S. 41 to L'Anse then unremarkable to Marquette. But There is a Brewery there so I headed to Ore Dock Brewing Company for a flight of their beers. I had a bag of popcorn to snack on for dinner. I also had nuts and a protein bar so don't get the impressing that I was starving. Besides, at 6'4" and 236lbs I could probably go a week or two without too much.

    Tent Space #2

    YooperBob was my host this evening. I arrive at about 7:30 and he welcomed me to his place. We talked about my trip and he showed me his machines. While we were talking, it started to thunder nearby. I hadn't unloaded the Wee yet and Bob invited me to roll it into the garage and sleep in there. He pulled out a nice cot and I got set up. We talked for quite a while and He showed me a really nice route to take for tomorrow's ride. Better that what the official circle tour runs.

    I slept really well on that cot (sidenote: I've never slept on a nice one before...sold me on the need to get one). I woke once during the night to the sound of rain on the garage roof and was very thankful.

    Thanks again for being such a great host YooperBob. The route you sent me on was spectacular and I had a fun ride the next day.

    Day 3 Marquette to Tahquamenon Falls State Park

    Dateline June 28

    It rained lightly most of the night but when my alarm went of at 6am, it had stopped. Lucky me again. I packed up and slipped out before my host got up (I had told him the night before that I most likely would be out early).

    Kickstand up at 7am and off to the Holiday station to top off my tank. Interesting note about Holiday... I have one of their reward cards and here at home it gets me a 7 cents per gallon discount. But in WI & MI they give $1 per fill. Even if I only take 2-3 gallons. Pretty sweet! Plus 5% off in store purchases, so coffee and nut snacks on board this morning.

    After guzzling down my coffee, it was off to Munising. Very nice weather. Nice views of the lake. It was calm. Traffic was light. Stopped for some pics. The little village of Au Train was cute, but slept. I was going to find a good breakfast in Munising.

    And I did. The Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore. Very cosy place. Great coffee and breakfast. Its really a book store too. Had Wi-Fi and place to plug in so I could plan my day and get a good mental picture of my route.

    A young woman sat next to me at the window seat where I was plugged in. I struck up a little conversation and learned that she had just finished a chunk of the North-country trail. She was just using the power and Wi-Fi. No coffee. No food. No books. Go figure.

    I probably drank too much coffee. So I had to longer awhile to drain myself.

    Next stop Pictured Rocks National Seashore...Miners Castle to be specific. The ride up there again is along a forested road. I took H58. It's a beautiful road through the pictures rocks area and affords access to several of the more prominent scenic attractions.

    Its twisty on stretches, in really good condition, and I rode out all the way past Grand Marais to Muskellunge lake.

    On the way I stopped at Miners Castle, Miners Falls, the Au Sable Light Station, and the Log Slide. I'd recommend stopping to see all of them. It's a little hike to see the Light Station, but you can walk much of it right on the shoreline if you desire. I did, and found it fairly easy going.

    It was foggy on the lake the day I was there, and I could not see out very far at all, but it was still pretty. I spotted some ship wreck remnants washed up on the shore. There isn't much left of them, but pretty cool nonetheless. Give yourself at lest a few hours to see all the stuff there is here. You could spend a whole day if your time budget allows, but you can get the highlights in less time. I used the trip to scope out things to see/do on a future trip with my spouse, who does not ride.

    I stopped in Grand Marais, MI for a bite to eat and try out the brews at The Dunes Saloon Lake Superior Brewing Co. The ribs were very good (half rack was more then enough) and the beer was tasty. I'd recommend this place too if you like good craft beer. Even if beer is not your thing, the food was excellent.

    I continued on H58 to Muskellunge Lake at the suggestion of YooperBob. The road turned to gravel after a couple miles, and was gravel for about 10 more, By and large it was decent, but there were several stretches where there was soft sand, though not too deep. Had a tank slapper once, and several washout on the back tire, but nothing to cause a get-off. I am not the best at riding sandy stuff, but did okay. Needless to say, I was happy when it turned back into asphalt again.

    Shortly after Muskellunge lake, H58 comes to an end, and I took 407 South to the junction with 123. This is a pretty lonely section of highway, with not much for development the whole route. 123 is the road that goes to Tahquamenon Falls State Park where I would be camping this evening.
    WeeAtCampsiteTFalls.jpg MeAtUpperTFalls.jpg
    I had reserved a site in advance, and by chance it turned out okay. A little rocky for a tent, but otherwise fine. A firewood vendor drove by shortly after I arrived, so that was convenient. I got a nice bundle, and he threw in some kindling to help get it started.
    After setting up camp, I took a quick ride back to the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub, located at the Upper Falls parking area. It's a privately run establishment in the Park. I had a flight of beers here too, then headed out to see the falls.

    It was a short walk from the parking lot, and well worth the trip. They were pretty impressive as far as what I had seen so far along the way.

    Day 4 Tahquamenon Falls State Park to Wawa, ON

    Dateline June 29

    The birds woke me up at about 6am, and I crawled out of the tent expecting a nice brisk morning. Well, it was cool alright, but kinda foggy too. Just a light fog mind you, but enough to lets the mosquitoes hone in on any warm blooded beast in the area. I'm a good sized target, and I hear they really like my blood type (O+). They were nasty.

    So nasty in fact, that I scrapped my plans to make breakfast at camp, and decided I quick walk to the lower falls might be in order, It did not take me long to decide a few hundred yards down the trail that this was going to be a bloodletting, so I returned to camp, rolled up my gear and packed a wet tent, and headed down the highway. No skeeters at 45mph.

    It was pretty early when I rode into Paradise MI and except for the gas station, it was asleep at 8am. I topped up, and headed down the road for a leisurely ride to Sault St. Marie to see the Soo locks.

    From Paradise, the Circle tour would have you take 123 South to 28 to I75 to the Soo, but I opted to take the West Lakeshore Drive which hugs the lake closely. It was quiet, but quite foggy. The trees are fairly close to the road, and with limited visibility, I did not want to chance a deer encounter in the fog. Besides, I could not even see the lake. So I rode about half of the distance until I came to the Dollar Settlement, and there I headed south to catch 28. I rode it past the interstate, so I could take a 2 lane into the town.

    I've been to the Locks before, and the commercial area near it is pretty touristy. So I spent some time in the interpretive center, watched an Ore boat go through the locks, and made my breakfast in a park. I don't know if you ever looked at the expiration date on a Mountain House freeze dried meal, but there is no worry about it expiring on your shelf -- 2048!

    Sloooooow Ride to Customs
    I'm glad a found a place to pee before heading off on the Wee to cross the bridge to the Canadian side. You see, this day was the annual Bridge Walk. I had seen it full of pedestrians from the ground, and had the common sense to let it end and let half hour pass before I headed out. But I wasn't prepared for the backup of cars and trucks headed north who we staked up way past the entrance ramp.

    I weaved into the line (didn't cheat, waited my turn) and painfully inched forward to the toll booth that precedes the bridge to get to Canada. I fumbled for my wallet while typing to keep pace in the stop and go, braking, etc. Finally I had my wad of $1 bills ready when I got to the toll gate, and made my way. Phew, after 15 minutes of stop and go, I was sailing....

    But the sailing stopped within a quarter mile. That's when the 3 lines of traffic from the toll booth narrowed to one line crossing the bridge, That was a sucky 75 minutes. This bridge has pretty decent high arch, and the ride to the top of the arch, in stop and go traffic was less than fun. I was getting hot, and the heat from the engine and muffler was adding to the misery. At least when I got to the top, I could shut off the bike and coast down the last half.

    Customs was a breeze, and I set off to find Outspoken Brewing in Sault St. Marie, ON. Mrs Google got me there okay, I locked up my stuff on the Wee, had a flight of beers, and then headed off on the Ankle Express to exchange a little currency and find Northern Superior Brewing Company. It was hidden kind of behind the bush plane museum, in a dumpy trailer/deck thingy. Small selection, and served only in plastic beer cups. Another DUD!

    But, there was a Poutine Feast happening in the neighbourhood between there and whey the Wee was parked, so that was cool. I sampled some and took my time getting back to the bike. Next, off to Wawa.

    There is a lot to see on the Trans Canada Highway WHEN IT IS NOT FOGGY AND COLD. Needless to say, I would not be doing a lot of sightseeing this day. Sure, it might clear off a couple miles inland at times, but the lake was invisible. It got down to 8C at one point, so I had to pull over and don some warmer clothes under the Aerostitch R3.

    My destination was the Wawa Motor Inn, as it was recommended by a friend (I think he meant the Best Northern Motel, which is known for their restaurant). The Wawa motor inn had a restaurant too, so I thought I had the right place.

    The restaurant attached to the Inn was okay, but when I asked what they had on tap, he said "water". No craft beer at all, just multinational conglomerate brands. The Wings were okay, but it felt kinda duddy!

    The place caters to Motorcyclists and outdoors folks, and it shows inside. My floor was badly stained by what looked like an oil change gone bad in the room. It was fine, but pretty expensive for what you get. I wish I had picked the other place which treats you well, and has a renown restaurant. Even so, I met some other nice riders, got a shower, and had a good night rest.

    More to come...
  2. Snapper33

    Snapper33 Globetrotter Supporter

    Jan 5, 2017
    Looking forward to your ride. Thanks for sharing it. One day I’ll do this ride myself.
    Vandergraf likes this.
  3. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

    Nov 29, 2007
    Kentucky-Eastern that is!
    Having just driven (again) from Thunder Bay eastward to Sault Ste Marie I can say that gasoline is very spread out for bike travel. The views are stupendous all the way. Camping is down nearer the water in the many turnoffs as are the few groceries and other civilization. There are some realy neat roads north of the main highway into the wilderness. Our fishing trip was up the "Armstrong Road where the roads end other than logging and a couple of fishing camps. Zero gasoline until the end of the road and none on the best riding roads above the lake unless an air station for fishing.
    Vandergraf likes this.
  4. Vandergraf

    Vandergraf --------------------

    Jan 7, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    Ummmm, what is "Singe rolling Hilda"?

    edit...On reading more of your post, I'm guessing you are using voice to text and not correcting the goofy mis-transcriptions...
    gpfan likes this.
  5. Booghotfoot

    Booghotfoot Been here awhile

    Jun 21, 2016
    Northern Minnesota
    Writing on my phone. Autocorrect & and word completion suck. I'll go back and edit on my Ubuntu box when I get a chance
    Vandergraf likes this.
  6. Yooper_Bob

    Yooper_Bob Long timer

    Aug 31, 2005
    Da UP, eh! (Marquette, MI)
    Nice meeting you....we need more pictures and fewer words! :lol3

    Glad that gravel stretch east of Grand Marais didn't cause you too many issues. I fly through there on the Africa Twin with knobbies! :muutt