Foolish or Epic ... the motorcycle trip

Melensdad

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We have most of the packing done.

Planning to leave the house tomorrow morning.

Detailed maps are uploaded into my iPhone for navigation for the first 2 weeks of the trip. We will figure some things out along the way.

For the beginning of the trip we plan to alternate between tent camping and staying in local motels. We shift to motels, AirBnB or B&Bs on the north side of Lake Superior and Lake Huron all the way down to Toronto. A lot of paces are booked, including the campgrounds around Lake Superior but we got good spots.

We are taking short riding days, mostly averaging about 225 miles. This allows us time to take side trips to see waterfalls or do tourist stuff along the route.

Not sure when we are coming home. I figure its going to be between 3 and 4 weeks.
 

NorthernRedneck

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If you can get in, neys provincial park near marathon is nice. Make sure you check out the sleeping giant in thunder bay. As well as the falls in kakabeka falls. There's also the Terry fox lookout near the spot where he ended his marathon of hope. Lots of nice scenery along the north shore. Bring extra gas. It takes about 8 hours to travel from thunder bay to sault ste Marie along the north shore with only stopping for gas and food.

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Melensdad

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.. Bring extra gas. It takes about 8 hours to travel from thunder bay to sault ste Marie along the north shore...
We are bringing 2 fuel bladders, 1 for each bike. 6 liters each. Planning to make that last of the ride in 2 legs so we can do tourist stops. Reserved a small room just outside Terrace Bay at a fish camp/motel (north shore).
 

Doc

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Safe travels to you and the lovely Mrs. Bob. The trip sounds so exciting, giving me the itch for a similar road trip. I've always wanted to see thunder bay and sault ste Marie.
 

Melensdad

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Let me know when you come through. We are back August 4rth.

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As it sits we are going north from Duluth on/about July 29/30

Should be leaving the house in about 90 minutes!!!
 

Bamby

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IMHO the only thing foolish would apply to would be weather and there ain't a damn thing anyone can do about that. But sitting alongside the road under a bridge waiting for a downpour to pass and still eating road rash is a pretty humble position you will remember.

My outdoor epic outdoor experiences have been when caught out in the water in a boat a few times. Can be quite a experience.
 

Doc

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IMHO the only thing foolish would apply to would be weather and there ain't a damn thing anyone can do about that. But sitting alongside the road under a bridge waiting for a downpour to pass and still eating road rash is a pretty humble position you will remember.

My outdoor epic outdoor experiences have been when caught out in the water in a boat a few times. Can be quite a experience.

Been there done that. It can be scary for sure. While in the Navy I was in a hurricane while sailing in the bahamas, hurricane changed course and got us good. I've even had experiences on the Ohio river. High winds and driving rain, when you can't see past the nose of your boat and you know barges are out there. You do your best to get to the side of river out of barge paths, but wind blows the boat around so much you are not sure which is the right direction to the river bank. Oh yeah, been there done that.
 

NorthernRedneck

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I agree about getting caught in a storm. Back in my younger days I was riding a nighthawk 450 in shorts(foolish I know) when I got caught in a thunderstorm with large hail. Of course I had nothing to take cover under until I found a fallen over billboard sign in the ditch. I pulled over and took cover under the sign until it passed.

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Melensdad

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Made it to Holland Michigan. Checked into our AirBnB. Will be going to dinner in about an hour, found a local gastro-pub.

Honestly I thought the ride would be more scenic? We used to vacation up in this area in the summers when I was a kid. Fond memories, but apparently I remember it being more scenic.

Wind off Lake Michigan was brutal at times. Hope its not like that the next couple days.

On the bright side we took mostly 2 lane roads the entire way. ZERO interstate highways. Some areas of 4 lane rural highway but mostly going into, through and out of some of the towns.
 

NorthernRedneck

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That's how we routed our rv trip. As few interstates as possible. Comfortable towing speed is around 60 mph. On the interstates average speed is higher. So with everyone else trying to fly by, it makes the camper want to suck around sideways. Not a relaxing trip. I'd rather stick to the 2 lane roads where I can hold the speed limit.

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Melensdad

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Made it to the Betsie River Campground.

Upgraded from the tent to a Tiny Cabin. Someone cancelled their stay and the cabin was open so I decided to upgrade. Wise choice. Crosswind was brutal off the lake all afternoon. It was calm in the morning, we stopped just before noon and ate at a cafe on the beach (roughing it). Had another hour of good riding before the winds picked up and blew us around the roads for 2 or 3 hours.

Tonight is grocery store roasted chicken, some cheap wine, and Diet Vernors soda.

Tomorrow we head to the tip of the mitten and cross over the Mackinac Bridge ... really hoping the wind is calm when we cross the bridge. I don't swim well enough to risk being blown off a bridge and that bridge does have a reputation with riders. Oh, and the worst thing that the lovely Mrs_Bob can imagine is riding in really windy conditions. So add a bridge to her nightmares! On the bright side, its calm now. Hoping its that way tomorrow afternoon.
 

Doc

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I enjoyed the Mighty Mack, course it was windy but I was in a SUV. Beautiful up there. are you staying in that area for a day or so?
 

NorthernRedneck

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I was over that bridge 2 years ago. If I recall the surface is like a grate and not a solid surface. Makes it feel like riding on ice with the bike trying to kick out from under you.

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Melensdad

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We made it across the mighty Mac, longest suspension bridge in the US.

The fear and panic leading up to the bridge was far worse than the travel across. In fact the crossing was easy. Speeds are restricted because of cross winds but we got lucky... the bridge was under construction and down to 1 lane and we had a semi-truck in front of us that was limited to 20mph. Any other road that would be considered hell. On this bridge, swaying in the wind, sitting on top motorcycles, looking down 100 yards to the water, it was heaven to be ‘stuck’ traveling 20mph over the water!

Oh did I mention there was a 10% chance of rain? What odds do you want to put on me finding that rain?
 

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Melensdad

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Did touristy stuff today. Took a boat under the Mackinac bridge then out to the island. Horse carriage rides (2) a good bit of walking/hiking, some eating and totally avoiding buying touristy stuff other than a couple post cards.

Loving our tiny hotel in St Ignace. Older couple owns it, refurbished it, and now it’s fully booked for months into the future. Many others are dilapidated, falling victim to chain motels, yet this niche motel has become a success.

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NorthernRedneck

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Good stuff. Nice area around mackinac. Glad you scheduled in rest days.

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Melensdad

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Got pics to work on my prior post so there are more pictures showing ��

Getting ready to start packing up to head toward Lake Superior.
 

Melensdad

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Now about the center point of the U.P. of Michigan, roughly half way between Duluth, Minn and the Mackinac Bridge in Houghton, MI. We were supposed to camp about 50 miles from here but we were tired (I was probably crabby) and hungry and decided to stop early and, after a half dozen attempts, found a crappy hotel that charged us $225 for a night. All the campground and hotels are filled, so I guess we were lucky to get the room?

Honestly this part of Michigan is not a wonderful place. The majesty of nature is ever awesome but the people have destroyed it. Its basically poor and mostly run down. If you are not a hunter or fisherman or snowmobiler its really not worth the effort of coming here. The riding is not as good as central Indiana, while we are mostly on 2 lane roads the speed limits are 55 to 65 and the roads are fairly straight. So we are whizzing by anything that might be worth seeing and not seeing it. We've passed by a few spots we'd have liked to see but we were going fast enough that pulling into a gravel drive while passing it at 55mph seemed pretty foolhardy just to see a fiberglass dinosaur or stairs to nowhere. We are mostly disappointed so far. We had a nice ride through the Pictured Rocks park, but that was just a small part of today's mostly boring ride.

Campgrounds are crowded, people packed in like sardines. Hotels are mostly run down dumps or over priced chains.

People are super friendly. That is a bonus. Nice to see and meet genuinely friendly people. Maybe we should be grateful for that?
 

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NorthernRedneck

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I've never really traveled the upper peninsula other than the quick hour and a bit from sault to mackinac. I always wanted to circle lake superior. Too bad you'll be going through before we get there. There's a 2 day outdoor concert by the lake shore in Duluth we're going to at the end of our trip.

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MrLovable

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I think Mr. Liberty lives in the UP somewhere. Have not seen him around these parts in some time so no telling what ever became of him. Always hard for the experience to live up to the hype, but at least you guys are safe and getting enough wind in your face to get crabby by the end of the day.

$225 a day for an otherwise cheap motel is a kicker, but a once in a lifetime experience has to be worth something, right? I take it the bikes are running good. That is worth a lot, too.

just keep the eyeballs peeled for the idiots behind the wheel. They are everywhere.
 

Melensdad

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We are now in Washburn, Wisconsin and we beat the rain, which looks like it will hit sometime soon?!?

Today's ride was 100% nicer than yesterday. We departed Grand Marias, MI and entered the Porcupine Mtn Park and had a great ride on 2 lane roads through the park at a leisurely 45mph looking at trees and lakes and enjoying the curves and the hills. Went through the whole park seeing maybe a half dozen cars? Continued for miles after the park seeing maybe a half dozen more cars.

Overall it was just a nice scenic ride. Finally. And no wind issues today either. That was a bonus.

Edited in some past photos to my prior post. I'll try to get more up later and edit them into this post.
 

Melensdad

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Thunder and lightning overnight but not as bad as I expected given the warnings we got. The motel owner let us park the bikes under the canopy by the entrance and I put a couple small tarps over the seats to keep those dry.

Possible light sprinkles in the afternoon today but otherwise 69-70 degrees and overcast.

Planning to do 225 miles today, through Duluth and up to Grand Marias, Minn.
 

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Melensdad

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Well it was a mix today of good and bad. Some really great roads early. Then Duluth and a horrific bridge crossing in heavy traffic. And Duluth, really? Why? Then another great road following ‘Scenic 61’ until it ended. It parallels 61, which has heavy traffic. Sadly the scenic route ended and we had to switch over to 61. Just traffic and people in a rush.

But we are up in Grand Marias, MN now, in a tent, on a farm on a hilltop overlooking Lake Superior. With free WiFi.
 

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NorthernRedneck

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Yes. That two lane road from two harbors to grand marrais is usually busy. Especially on a Sunday. After grand marrais though it usually clears up a bit till you get to the border.

On that note, it's about an hour and a half to the border from there with no gas I can think of. There is a decent gas station right off the highway a few miles from the border in grand Portage. Right after that you are going to start climbing mount Josephine. Near the top when it starts going down there's a nice scenic lookout with a great view. At the bottom of the hill is the border. There's a nice store and gas station there called rydens border store. It's about a 45 minute drive from the border to thunder bay where I live. We actually live about 15 minutes west of the city in murillo.

Roughly a 25 minute drive from the city heading west is kakabeka falls. It's a small town with a few great ice cream shops. Drive through town and there's a nice place to pull over at a provincial park where you can see the falls.

In thunder bay, as you drive the expressway which avoids the major congestion, you will come to an intersection called harbour expressway. Turning right will take you right to the center of the city with most shopping. Turning left at harbour expressway takes you to kakabeka falls. The next set of lights on the expressway is Oliver road. Turning left there takes you to murillo where we live. That intersection is where I also had my accident.

The next intersection is red river road. If you turn right there, it will take you right down to the water front where you can get a great view of the sleeping giant.

Continuing on down the expressway (which is a 4 lane road) a few miles will take you east out of the city to head towards Nipigon. Just past the clover leaf on the highway is the Terry fox lookout which gives you another great view of the city and the sleeping giant.

I was going to say that from there to Nipigon there isn't much but around dorion(a blip on the map) there's ouimet canyon. It's a twisty road up the hill where you can walk down a nice trail to see the canyon. It's not the grand canyon but impressive nonetheless. Its also the sight of north America's longest suspension walking bridge. Ouimet is roughly 40 minutes from the city. Nipigon is an hour. Good place to stop for gas on the highway. One thing to point out about Nipigon is that as you leave heading east, you will come down a hill to a new 4 lane cable bridge which is the only place to get from east to west in Canada. Take out that bridge and the country is cut in half. Fuel is scarce with roughly an hour and a half between communities along hwy 17.


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