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Ready to Ride

Swimsuits, check. Sunscreen, check.  Long underwear, check.

When the kickstand goes up tomorrow morning, our Victory’s nose will be pointed north (instead of south, toward work). We’ll leave early for a week-long ride around Lake Superior. Maybe we won’t need the longjohns, but you never know how warm it will be on the shores of Gitchi Gumi.

After leaving the Twin Cities, we’ll start our circle around the lake at Duluth and travel eastward across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We’ll cross the border into Canada (Passports, check.) at Sault Ste. Marie. It always amazes me how the U.S. side of the lake is so filled with towns and people, but the Ontario side is so sparsely populated and wild. Toronto and Nipigon are a long way–even worlds–apart.

The camera is packed and ready to, and my notebook, too. I want to add another book to what I hope will become my “Ride” series. I know others have circumnavigated Superior and written about it. But this will be our ride, our experiences and insights.

We’re excited, and anxious to be on the road. And we’ll be doing our best to stay safe and, as the women from the Christian Motorcyclists prayed during the Blessing of the Bikes, to “remain upright.”

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Traveling by Ear

When you play a musical instrument “by ear,” you hear the melody in your head and match it. In jazz, you take it a bit further and improvise on the melody. Many of our motorcycle trips have been improvised. We pick a route to explore, but stay prepared to explore the unexpected.

We’ve found restaurants this way. Some were great; others, as Ralph likes to say, “don’t make my socks roll up and down (like a cartoon character’s).”

Traveling by ear also means taking chances on places to stay. When you travel without reservations, you can’t always be too picky. Last summer we were in Grand Marais at the time of the Grand Rendezvous in Grand Portage. It was a beautiful August weekend, and hotels were booked solid from Two Harbors to the Canadian border. We found a room at a decrepit motel on the hill before Hwy. 61 descends into downtown Grand Marais. The front office looked as though it had recenlty been remodeled, but the rooms were adequate at best. The only other occupant at the time we checked in was a border patrol agent (so identified by his car).

Another time, along Hwy. 38, we came upon the Timberwolf Inn in Marcell. It’s truly one of the nicest places we’ve stayed. It was another picture-book Minnesota weekend, but they had room at the inn, which is comfortably decorated in northwoods-style. The attached restaurant offered up terrific food–a lot of local lake dwellers showed up for dinner–and the staff was very friendly. When we arose the following morning, these deer were exploring the back of the property. That’s an amenity you don’t find just anywhere!100_4925 Which is why we chose the Timberwolf Inn qualified as the “best hotel” to highlight in Ride Minnesota!