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! Which is why we chose the Timberwolf Inn qualified as the “best hotel” to highlight in Ride Minnesota!
Northway Motorsports, a Victory motorcycle dealer, has agreed to sell Ride Minnesota! The dealership is “way the heck out there” on Hwy. 65 in East Bethel. It’s next to Fat Boys Bar & Grill, a family-friendly biker hangout. I’m acting as the wholesaler to the final seller in this deal, a new role for me. Faith, the lady from Northway who called to order the book, said she thought it would “really move fast.” She also said I’d done a good job on the book–she wanted to get out and try some of the rides. Sweet music to my ears!
One of my favorite rides in Ride Minnesota is also “way the heck out there”–the Gunflint Trail in northeastern Minnesota. It twists and turns out of Grand Marais as it leads you to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There’s only one way in and one way out. But you’ll have to read the book to learn more about it.