Friday, September 5, 2014

Pulling it off - Part 1

So our plan for our motorcycle tour this year was a bit ambitious.

Day 1 - ride to Killarney Provincial Park. No big deal - 465.6km.

Fuel stop

All set up

We had gorgeous weather, but the idiots who used our site before us hadn't a clue about keeping a tidy campsite. There was garbage everywhere, and the ground was strewn with pumpkin seeds. We had to be extra vigilant to keep our food away from the constant influx of chipmunks, red squirrels and the boldest raccoons we'd ever seen!

Day 2 - ride to Science North & back to Killarney. 192.5km "rest day"


Raccoon print on the mesh tent right by my pillow.
I knew I heard sniffing in the night..
Up and out to Sudbury, we had a blast at Science North! From the butterflies, reptiles & amphibians to the fossils, a flying squirrel landing on me and a ride on the gyro, we enjoyed every single moment.

Grey rat snake cuddles

Flying squirrel selfie!
Gyro fun!

Lunch on the patio overlooking Ramsey Lake

Back toward Killarney with the Hwy 69 wildlife bridge ahead

Sunset over George Lake

Day 3 - ride to Brimley State Park. 438.7km

We arose, packed & saddled up, and rode the hell out of Canada. I took a chill stopping for gas in Espanola on Hwy 17, then had to stop in Blind River to put on a jacket or I'd have frozen to death. Gorgeous sunshine, but no warmth to the air at all and a damn cold wind coming off Lake Huron. We crossed the border at Sault Ste. Marie, grabbed some groceries, then got set up on our campsite at Brimley State Park.

Tent up and bikes unloaded.

Located at the Southern end of Whitefish Bay on the South shore of Lake Superior, we were frozen to the bone by the wind from the North coming directly in off the lake. A short walk down a little path from our campsite did afford a stunning view, though, to take the sting out of the 5c/40f temperatures.

Sunset over Gitche Gumee

Looking back East toward Canada

Day 4 - Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, H58 & ride to Fayette Historic State Park. 435.5km

The wind died overnight, but it was still a cold start for what would be our toughest day of the tour. As we pulled out in glorious sun after some early morning showers, I remarked to Tanker that it was "just another day in paradise". We made the turn onto Hwy 123 to head North to Whitefish Point and a sign told us we'd have to stop 22 miles from there to get this photo.

It was just too much of a coincidence.
Up the incredible sweeping curves of 123 to the Shipwreck Museum, we became completely absorbed in the history of the Shipwreck Coast (Lake Superior's Southern shore between Munising & Whitefish Point), the sailors lost in its waters, the lighthouse keeper's life, and the courage of the men who walked the gale and risked their lives to save people from the treachery of the largest and most cruel of the Great Lakes at the USCG rescue station.

Solemn and respectful treatment of artifacts recovered from the many ships claimed by Superior

A poignant reminder that the modern era is far from immune to a Great Lake's wrath

The signal is still operated by the USCG and the keeper's residence has been completely restored

Looking North from Whitefish Point to the great expanse of Superior
After more than 2 hours spent immersed in maritime history, we saddled up again around 2:30pm to ride one of the most incredible motorcycle roads in the Great Lakes region. First it was out through Paradise to follow 123 South and West to reach H28, then up Hwy 77 to Grand Marais where we stopped to hook up a still camera on Tanker's bike and a video camera on my handlebar mount. We'd rode H58 before, and its challenging curves were something we wanted to record!

Haulin' down H58.
This is before we got stuck behind a slow-moving Mercury that rather ruined the ride.

We stopped in Munising, where H58 ends, to fuel the bikes and ourselves and pick up groceries. Departing at 6pm, we knew we'd be hard pressed to get our campsite at Fayette set up before dark, but had a wonderful haul down H13 through the Hiawatha National Forest that was just like riding speeder bikes on Endor. The final 17 miles down from US-2 were very chilly and we were totally ready to be done with the motorcycles - 270 miles of curves plus a museum in one day will wear you the hell out!

Another stunning sunset over Big Bay de Noc, on the North shore of Lake Michigan

We made it to the campground by 7:15pm to discover no staff on site: self-registration only (glad we'd reserved in advance) with no firewood or ice available. Neighbours were kind enough to supply us with some ice & offered a spot 'round their campfire - the former was very helpful, but the latter we missed by not managing to have eaten dinner by the time they went to bed. At least it wasn't quite as cold as Brimley - about 8c/46f.

To be continued..

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