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Lake Superior Circle Tour - 2012

Started by DesignFlaw06, Aug 26, 2022, 08:21 AM

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This year's objective was to do the Lake Superior Circle Tour. Unfortunately, Doug & Lori, who usually ride with us, couldn't join us this year. Doug received some medical news just before we were supposed to leave. Everything turned out to be fine in the end, but they were in no mood to go on a trip at that time. So it became a family ordeal with Mom, Dad, my wife LeAnne, and myself.

Day 1 - Muskegon, MI to Manitowoc, WI (146 miles riding, 90 miles floating)

The first day was not about the scenic tour, it was more about supporting friends and visiting with old ones. There weren't many pictures this day, since we were on the move. We started the day by crossing on the Lake Express Ferry. We've done this before, so it really wasn't anything special. Some of you remember the story about the 12 motorcyclists that here run into by a cage.  Those 12 bikes were from Muskegon, and we happened to know one of them who ended up in critical condition. His fiance was a bartender at our golf club. Since Doug was still in critical condition, Christi (his fiance) was still by his side at Thena Medical Center. Doug's heart stopped 6 times while they airlifted him to the hospital. Needless to say, it was a miracle he survived. We visited mainly with Christi as Doug wasn't up to having visitors. It was very promising to hear that after nearly a month, he was going to be OK. I'm happy to repot that he is on the way to making a full recovery down in Florida and he and Christi are now married.

After about 3 PM, we left Thena Medical Center and blasted over to Manitowoc, WI. The reason for this detour was to meet up with old friends. My wife and my former youth pastor lived on the east side of Wisconsin. It happened to be that particular weekend, Curt was going to Manitowoc for a job interview with his wife and daughter. They were staying the night in a hotel, which we were also able to stay at and spend the evening with them. Curt is actually the pastor that married my wife and me. Curt was a big part of my life as a teenager growing up and it was good to see him again.

Day 2 - Manitowoc, WI to Duluth, MN (376 miles)

In the morning, we met Curt and family for breakfast. Before we parted ways, we took pictures of each other's family.

Curt did end up getting the job and moved to Manitowoc shortly thereafter.

Had another long stretch today as we needed to make some time. We could spend another few days following the coast of Wisconsin, but that wasn't the goal was it? We needed to reach Duluth, Mn that night. Blast up the Highway 2, back in Michigan's U.P. This is quite possibly the most boring road in the country. A necessary evil though, the real journey begins the next day.

Day 3 - Duluth, MN to Thunder Bay, ON (200 miles)

From here. we're on our way using the Lake Superior Circle Tour as a guide. It was a brisk morning and so we threw rain gear on to keep warm. Turns out to be useful at our first photo stop.

Here we are at Gooseberry Falls.

After the falls, the weather improved a little but not much. The guys were able to peel the rain gear off, but the girls chose to stay warm. Our next stop was something I was looking forward to. World's Best Donuts in Grand Marias, MN. I ran into the store and shouted "Congratulations! You did it!". After a sample of 1 or 2, maybe 3 or 4 (stop judging me), I can say they would certainly be in the running.

Proof I was there.

We continued along, following the coast as we crossed the border into Canada. We moved along to Thunder Bay. We learned before that making reservations ahead of time can be a mistake. This time, we might have learned the opposite. Apparently it was parents weekend or something going on. But it caused every hotel room to be booked in Thunder Bay. The real issue was there wasn't much past there in the way of civilization. Fortunately, we managed to find 2 rooms that we a bit over budget. But we didn't have much of an option and it was better than the alternative.

Day 4 - Thunder Bay, ON to Marathon, ON (230 miles)

We didn't get far once we hit the road. We stopped at the Terry Fox memorial outlook point. Quite an impressive story. After Terry Fox was diagnosed with cancer, he lost his leg to the disease. With the help of an artificial leg, he set out to raise money for cancer research by going on a Forrest Gump type run. His goal was to start in Newfoundland with his foot in the Atlantic Ocean and dip his foot in the Pacific Ocean when was done. He ran the equivalent of a marathon a day until the cancer overcame his ability and was forced to give up his journey near this point. A memorial was dedicated to his journey.

A statue of Terry Fox:

A map is at the base, we made our mark:

From the lookout:

From there, we followed the recommendation to go through Sleeping Giant Park. What a mistake! It was 20 miles off the main road into this park. In that 20 miles, I bet we saw 30 deer. White knuckled ride the entire way, it was not fun. To top it all off, at the end of the road, it wasn't all that impressive. A rocky shoreline along a giant lake we were riding along anyway. There was a small connivence store that was closed as well. Worst of all, we had to go back out Deer Road! Luckily we got out without incident, but it was not enjoyable.

Some pictures at the end of the road in the park:

How many people can you count in this picture? (Hint: There's more than 2 and less than 3)

This little guy decided to make an appearance on the side of the road. LeAnne wasn't too thrilled about me stopping to taking a picture, fearing Mama Bear wasn't too far behind. We saw this one's baby brother as they both scampered off.

Onward to Aguasbon Falls for another photo opportunity, as suggested by the guide.

From there, we originally planned to go to Wawa. But quickly realized that it would be a stretch to get there. Marathon was a much better option for lodging, or so we thought. Turns out we stayed in a dump of a motel called the Zero-100 Motor Inn. Last place to have rooms again, forcing us into a smoking room. None of us smoke, so the stench made for a rough night of sleep.

Day 5 - Marathon, ON to St. Ignace, MI (310 miles)

Got an early start, since it was going to be a long day.

We made a stop at Old Woman Bay for some pictures:

At one of our stopping points, we met this couple. They were from Germany, riding somed Hondas that have been decked out for riding. They bought the bikes, had them shipped to the tip of South America. They worked their way up to Central America in about 6 months and stored the bikes so they could return to work. After 6 months, they were coming back to finish their trip. The goal was to make it to Alaska, at which point they would abandon the bikes and fly back home. The blog of thier journey can be found here.

When we got to the hotel in St. Ignace, we took some pictures of the bikes. But it was a pretty tame night after dinner.

The boys with toys. What do we see in the background? The Big Mac!

Day 6 - St. Ignace, MI to Muskegon, MI (320 miles)

Time to go home. But why not do it the scenic way? Step 1: Cross the Mackinac Bridge. This is quite an experience. The bridge is 5 miles long, with gusting winds. The outside lane is pavement, the inside lane is grating. But it always seems to be in the process of painting, so a majority of the riding is forced on to the grating, adding another fun element. From there, we followed the coast along Lake Michigan. We rode through the Tunnel of Trees, a highlight in that part of the state. Slowly we made our way to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. My mother-in-law works there for the summers, so we stopped for a visit.

The weather turned decent that day and it was a great day to visit the park.

After going through the park, we worked our way back down the coast. Some of the views along Highway 22 are spectacular. But as we got closer and closer to home, the more anxious we got to be done. Another long day, but somehow as you recognize sights, it gets easier. Nearly 1700 miles when it was all said and done. Another fantastic trip.

Google Map of our route