Detouring the Detours
I’m beginning to think I’ll never get to ride the entire length of the Rushing Rivers Scenic Byway, also known as Minnesota Hwy. 210 from Jay Cooke State Park to Duluth.
The first time Ralph and I attempted to ride this scenic stretch of highway, an historic flood had just swept through Duluth and the surrounding area. The highway was washed out. The Thomson bridge was gone. The St. Louis River had completely wiped out the historic swinging bridge in the park.
A couple of weeks ago, we tried again, riding up MN-23. We got as far as Bruno when we ran into a detour warning. A long detour that included a gravel road. We pressed on, reaching Duquette, where we were finally forced to take the detour.
We took a left onto Co. Rd. 48 and headed west, away from our destination ride. It wasn’t long until we came up to the dirt part of the route. It was marked with the obligatory detour sign and an orange sign with a farmer driving a tractor. Having no desire to deal with slow-moving vehicles or spend Sunday washing the bike, we took another left. In a little while, we came to I-35. We rode the freeway until we hit Moose Lake, then got onto Old Hwy. 61.
On our way to Carlton, we had to detour several dirt roads. We stopped for gas at an intersection and to check our bearings after so many detours and found ourselves just outside of Carlton.
We stopped at the rebuilt Thomson bridge and admired the St. Louis River. Rainfall has been plentiful in Minnesota this year and the river was in fine form as its brown, ore-stained water roared over the dam. We continued on to the park, which was celebrating its 100th birthday that weekend. The leaves were beginning to turn color, and the park was full of families and their dogs. Every now and again, bikers would pull into the parking lot.
Top speed within the park is 30 mph, and there are many beautiful vistas of the tumbling river. Unfortunately, we did not get to see them all. Maybe half-way through the park, the road was closed. Minnesota Power was working on electrical lines from the park to MN-23. There were no detours this time. We turned around and headed for home.
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.”
I received my proof copy of Ride Minnesota yesterday. It’s not perfect, but I can live with it. I’ll be spending the next few days polishing up my marketing materials.
I immediately ordered 100 copies from CreateSpace. They’ll land at my front door on May 6. The book will be available from Amazon in 5-7 days. In 6-8 weeks, it will be available through bookstores and online retailers. The list price is $10. I am anxious to see how it sells.
In the meantime, here’s a scene from a better motorcycling day than today. It was taken last summer at Silver Creek tunnel, north of Duluth, along the North Shore.