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Road Trip Comparisons

shadowsI just got back from a cross-country drive to California — via RV. My sister-in-law and mother-in-law had driven to Minnesota and needed a relief driver for the trip back to the San Diego area. Ralph had to work, so I got to go. It was a fun time, but I couldn’t help comparing the modes of travel.

On a motorcycle trip, you get up early, drive for an hour and find a little restaurant that offers home-style breakfasts.

On an RV trip, you get up early, start driving, and your sister-in-law hands you a fresh, hot egg burrito that she just made on the little stove in the back.

On a motorcycle trip, you stop frequently for gas. The motorcyle gets 40-plus miles per gallon, but it has a small tank.

On an RV trip, you stop frequently for gas. The RV gets maybe 8 miles per gallon, and it holds a lot of gas.

On a motorcycle trip, you make stops for nature calls.

On an RV trip, you just get up and walk to the back of the bus to the bathroom.

On a motorcycle trip, you become part of the landscape.

On an RV trip, you get to see a lot of landscape.

On a motorcycle trip, you stop every one-and-a-half hours to stretch your legs and look at stuff.

On an RV trip, you walk to the back to stretch your legs.

On a motorcycle trip, you stop and put on your rain suit when raindrops begin to fall and hope it doesn’t get too windy.

On an RV trip, you turn on the windshield wipers when it starts to rain and hope it doesn’t get too windy.

On a motorcycle trip, you try to get off the highway and into a hotel room by 5 p.m. so you can beat the families with kids to the hot tub.

On an RV trip, you try to get off the highway and into an RV park so you can connect your water, sewer and electric lines and maybe take the kids to the pool, if there is one, before dark.

Both are fun ways to travel, but I still prefer the bike, where the wind provides the air conditioning and Mother Nature has charge of climate control.

There are still a lot of great riding days ahead in Minnesota. If you’re looking for a great ride, check out Ride Minnesota, available at most Minnesota Harley dealers, and at

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!