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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are now officially done with our Lake Superior Circle Tour and are in a little hotel in Sault St Marie, Ontario.
My fears of running out of gas along the way were unfounded. In fact I don't think we ever fell below 1/3rd of a tank before we refueled. I never used the extra fuel bladders that I purchased for this trip. They remain new/unused, but strapped to the motorcycle. We always checked at each point where we bought fuel and asked about the next available fuel point; that turned out to be a smart move as some fuel points were OFF the main road. Had we stayed on the main road we might have missed a few fuel points but asking for fueling points worked.
Pretty much missed most of Thunder Bay, but we did get to spend some time at the Terry Fox Memorial. WOW. As an American we know little to nothing of him. It was worth he stop. And it was hard to read all the things and not get a little weepy eyed.
As for lodging we have not slept in a tent since Grand Marias, MINN. It has been cold enough at night that we both appreciate the warmth of a motel. Not sure what the low was in Grand Marias, but I'm sure it was in the 40's and even with a couple shirts on and a mummy bag rated to +20 it was a bit chilly. Didn't help that it also rained during the night and the wind was blowing.
Overall we've had great weather. Daytime temps in the 60-70's every day. Got rained on for less than 5 minutes one day, I think that was actually just outside Chalevoix, Michigan, but I'm not sure if I'm correct on that location. We found an abandoned bank that had a covered drive-thru and parked under that until the rain stopped. Maybe a 30 minute delay and we were back on the road. Every other time it rained it has been during the night. So no rain issues while riding.
The bridge in Duluth, combined with the traffic, just sucked. It was a bit of an unnerving ride over that bridge. Probably shouldn't have been but we had an oversize load with us, a van that didn't see us and wanted our lane, and generally were a bit rattled after that experience.
People all over have been amazing. One motel, about 8 miles east of Terrace Bay, had no food. Some guy offered us his pick up truck to drive back to Terrace Bay if we wanted to go into town for dinner. Other people all over were similarly friendly. Of course we are staying in little places, 8 and 10 room motor court type motels built in the 40's, 50's and 60's and doing our best to interact with locals.
There was a fatal crash on the TransCanadian highway 40 miles east of our hotel and we were getting ready to leave. Hotel owner came out to us and told us to stay for a while because the road was closed. Road was actually closed for about 12 hours from what we could tell. We were among the first half dozen allowed through the accident site and it was horrific. Got to Marathon, which is only 4 or 5 miles east of the accident site and we were the first to get into the town from the west so we got bombarded with questions. Another 100 miles(?) down the road in Wawa we were recognized by other travelers who came through the accident and chatted with them for 30 minutes. They had met one of the victims.
Today we met a couple hikers. The husband was injured with a twisted ankle, both had big backpacks and were hiking the coast south. With our bikes packed we couldn't help but we talked with them for quite a while. They were about 15 miles from their destination at a roadside rest stop that was along the trail. 15 miles later we saw them at their car, one of the others who stopped in the rest stop while we were there drove them down to their car, despite the fact that they were actually going the opposite direction. Again, just friendly people everywhere.
Dozens more stories I could tell but I'll just drop a bunch of photos, not necessarily in chronological sequence.
And we had an equipment failure. Kickstand on the lovely Mrs_Bob's bike broke.
We did the short trip of Lake Huron. Not going around it. We decided to go through it. Day 1 was along the northern shoreline then south, over a historic swing bridge, to Little Current, a town on the north end of Manitoulin Island. Day 2 we rode an hour to the south end of the island, loaded onto a ferry and a couple hours later we were unloading on a peninsula and riding to the southeastern end of Lake Huron. We are now in a tiny B&B.
Tomorrow we will get to Lake Ontario.
Hey Bob. I figured you'd like to remember that trip across the bridge in Duluth. Duluth can be quite confusing with their roads and maze of off ramps etc. But I figured out why there was so much traffic heading to grand marrais. We encountered the same thing today. Bumper to bumper all the way. This weekend is a 3 day long street festival in grand marrais. They have all the side streets blocked for it. And not to mention that half of Duluth heads up to grand marrais area for the weekend in the summer.
The second picture is the concert you guys missed. That's skilet playing. They were awesome.
I hate that photo, it's going to trigger nightmares
BTW, we got on "Scenic 61" at the end of that damn bridge in Duluth and it was an awesome ride that (almost) made the bridge crossing worth the grief. One of the locals in Superior told us about it when we stopped and gave us the heads up that everyone misses Scenic 61. It's worth the slower speed limits to drive that way.
Last night's stay was a B&B on the south end of Lake Huron. We gave up on tent camping because some of the nights were so cold. I am now coughing and living on Vicks DayQuil tablets to quell my constant nasal drip and coughing.
Oh, and I'm supporting the local economy by buying Canadian Whisky too. Got a bottle of Wayne Gretzky's #99 Red Cask Whisky. Honestly not as much flavor as a good bourbon, but its pretty good. He finish ages it in red wine casks from his winery.