Category Archives: Minnesota tourism
Steppenwolf”s “Born to be Wild” is running through my head this morning. An article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning reported a new event in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, that townspeople hope will become an annual event: “Dennis Hopper Day.”
What a change from the ’70s, when “Easy Rider” was a cult hit and Hopper and Peter Fonda played misunderstood, pot-smoking bikers! Dennis Hopper Day featured a rally and a ride out of town. As in the movie, bikers were accompanied by a police escort. This time, however, they toured scenes from the movie instead of visiting the local jail. Much of this change of heart can be attributed to Hopper himself, who made friends with local Navajo and Hispanic families and broke down cultural barriers during filming. Hopper died in Taos in 2010, but his spirit lives on.
New Mexico is a wonderful place to ride, with long, open stretches, snow-capped mountains and canyons to explore. The food is good, too. Navajo fry bread, right out of the pan, is a heavenly treat, and the New Mexican version of chili can blow your head off.
If the desert Southwest isn’t on your travel itinerary this summer, look closer to home. Ride Minnesota (you knew I had to sneak a mention in somewhere) can be your guide to some great weekend trips.
Get your motor runnin’ / Head out on the highway / Looking for adventure / In whatever comes our way
Just when you think riding season can really begin, ol’ Mother Nature comes and gives you an unkind gesture once again. Who said it could be 20 degrees and snowing (tomorrow) this late in April? Spring is always an uphill battle in Minnesota. On the upside, the unseasonable cold has given me time to do a little more vacation planning.
I received a package of tourism info from Wisconsin yesterday. There’s a lot of unexplored motorcycle country in our neighbor to the east. And the Badger State is beginning to promote it. (C’mon, Minnesota, get your tourism act together!) In fact, many states are realizing that motorcycle tourism is a good thing.
According to the Rider Friendly Business Association (a Canadian group), there are more than 11 million potential motorcyclist/tourists in the U.S. and Canada, and they spend an average of $3,100 per vacation trip. That’s roughly $34 billion spent in the form of gas, hotels, food, entertainment and stops at tourist attractions. Motorcycle tourists can be big economic stimulators!
Of course, we’ll have to get the non-motorcycling public to change its perception of bikers. A few years ago, Ralph and I stopped in Durango, Colorado, for the night. We pulled into the Holiday Inn, which had a Green Mill restaurant attached to it. I went to the front desk to inquire about the availablility of a room. I was still in my full leathers, my hair cropped super-short to avoid having to deal with helmet hair. The sole was coming off of my old steel-toed work boots and I probably looked pretty travel-worn since leaving Arizona that morning. The young woman at the desk informed me that the hotel was full. “By the way,” she said as I thanked her and turned to leave, “for your future reference, rooms are $150 per night.” As if I couldn’t afford it. I felt as angry and misunderstood as Marlon Brando in “The Wild One.”
We drove down the street to the Travelodge, where the rooms were cheaper and ate at a fantastic Italian restaurant across the street. And had a far better time than we would have at the Green Mill.
I just stumbled upon this nice review from Clutch & Chrome Magazine, from July 16, 2013.
I recently uploaded an electronic copy of Ride Minnesota to Onlinebookclub.org and waited patiently for the book review to appear on-screen. It didn’t take long, only about a week. I’ve never been sure just what to expect from my brain-child, so I was pleased to learn that it was awarded three out of four stars.
The anonymous reviewer sounds British (“Having never been on a motorbike or considered one, I was not sure quite what to expect …”), but I don’t hold that against him/her. Five years ago, I was a non-rider myself. Despite the reviewer’s inexperience (I’m sure he’s a he!), he recommends the book to motorcyclists who are thinking of touring Minnesota.
I especially like his last sentence: “The book is written in a very easy to read format and while it may fall into the category of travel guide, it almost feels as if you are speaking to an old friend who recently took the journey and is offering wholehearted recommendations for you to enjoy.”
I consider that high praise! To read the entire review, click the link above.
This is a do-over. I unintentionally hit the publish button in the quick publish mode. I will not use that mode again!
As I was saying, riding with a group of motorcyclists is fun, but I also find it confining. It’s a lot of work keeping track of the rider ahead of you, the guy on the side and the ones following (even though I’m not driving!). More so than in a car. And, of course, you end up sniffing a lot of motorcycle exhaust.
That’s why Ralph and I like exploring on our own, discovering hills and valleys, curves and straight-aways, new sights, new sounds, fresh air. Just us. That’s how I came to write and publish Ride Minnesota, to share our experiences other motorcyclists who want to get out and explore Minnesota. There are a lot of interesting places in this state, and we haven’t seem ’em all–yet.
I never thought I’d be a motorcycle mama, but here I am at nearly 60, early awaiting a 70-degree high on Saturday so Ralph and I can take the bike somewhere. It doesn’t matter where. Just as long as we go, explore, discover, and share our discoveries. That’s what Ride Minnesota is all about. Sharing our discoveries about our home state with others.
The idea for the book came from a visit to the Minnesota History Center
in St. Paul. A good friend of mine, also a writer, had to interview someone for a magazine article and asked me to go along. While she conducted her interview, I poked along in the museum and looked at the exhibits (always good, highly recommended!). I can never resist a bookstore, so it was natural that I wound up there. I found several books about various types of Minnesota tourism–hiking in Minnesota, biking in Minnesota, paddling a canoe in Minnesota. There were no books about motorcycling in Minnesota! The lightbulb came on.
That’s how Ralph and I came to spend every available good-weather weekend cruising the highways on our Victory, looking for hills, curves, unique scenery. That’s how Ride Minnesota was born.
One of the more interesting rides is the Apple Blossom Scenie Byway, south of Winona. As the photo shows, there are curves ahead!