Ride Lake Superior Day 6: Munising to Copper Harbor

Today started out glorious, sunshine in abundance. So welcome after all the cold and gloom we had in Canada. We packed up the bike, filled the coffee mugs, next destination – Copper Harbor.

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Along the way to Copper Harbor, you have the opportunity to ride up and through Marquette. We chose to bypass the college town and just continue along our way. There is a Harley dealer just on the outskirts of Marquette, where we did stop and check out. Nice thing about the dealers, they always have coffee and clean potties!

Then we continued along Hwy 41 until we hit the city of Houghton, Michigan, a cute little town on a waterway. It was a perfect distance to get off and stretch our legs. They had a cool surplus store on the main street and we grabbed an unremarkable lunch at the Downtowner Lounge in Houghton. But, the view was pretty, and they had a huge outdoor bar/patio. From there, we continued north to Copper Bay. This is some GORGEOUS scenery as you travel lakeside and inland.

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You have a choice of which Harbor to stay in along this leg. (I neglected to mention in Day 5 [click on the highlighted link] you can choose to stay in either Munising and Marquette. Unless you have a passion for college towns, I recommend staying where we were. It was just too beautiful to pass by.) On this particular leg of the trip you can choose between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor. Copper Harbor is the northern most point of Keweenaw Peninsula, with Eagle Bay lying to the west. We chose Copper Harbor and stayed at The Bella Vista Motel, on the water.

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This was a LOVELY little place to stay. If I did this ride again, I’d choose to stay here 2 nights. It was such a wonderfully friendly, intimate accommodations and town, where plenty to do was in walking distance. On the main drag, they had a cool little Brewery and tasting room, where we happened to meet the Harbor Master and local Mayor!

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When in town, even if you’re merely traveling through, its worth a stop at the Habor Haus Restaurant and B&B. The food is AMAZING and it is only open in the summertime. Here is a sampling our our delicious eats:

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Fois gras? Fresh Seafood? Amazing Cesare Salad and deliciously prepared fresh veggies? Oh yeah baby! Whatever you do, if the soufflé is on the menu, you MUST try it! It ROCKED. And bikers, no worries. While this is white tablecloth, I think you’d feel perfectly comfortable in jeans. I did pack some leggings (I’m a girl after all), but hubby was clad in jeans and riding boots. Food this good isn’t to be passed by easily. And I would honestly make a trip back, just to have some of this good grub in a breathtakingly beautiful setting.

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To wrap up a perfectly perfect day, Hubby built me a bonfire. He knows I love them, and the motel grounds had a lovely bonfire pit with all the makings, and a wooden swing close by.

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That wraps up Day 6.
Up next: Day 7 – Copper Bay, MI to Bayfield, WI.


Ride Lake Superior: Day 5 Sault Ste. Marie to Munising

This leg of the trip is about 245 miles if you are headed to Munising, which was our destination, so get an early start so you have time to stop at many of the sights along the way. We started the morning off with a quick breakfast in the reception area of the Sleep Inn, then hit the road.
First Stop: The Soo Locks in Sault Ste Marie.

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Then it was off to cross over the bridge to the USA side of the border.

Tip #1: When you cross over to the USA side, there is a Visitors Center on the other side of the bridge. It’s a great place to stop and re-orient yourself and gear up, or gear down. I prefer to ride without a helmet when I can. (And when it’s not freakin freezing 35 degrees!) I say this as the passenger, who is riding with a man who has lived his whole life on a bike. I am confident in my husbands abilities to ride defensively, so I don’t wear one if I don’t have to. So, we strapped our helmets to the luggage and changed into lighter gear. This Visitors Center is a great place to secure everything for your ride up the point.

The weather finally warmed up, what a relief. It seemed that we left that storm behind in Canada and could shed the leathers for something a bit more appropriate for July!
Our next destination was Point Iroquois Lighthouse, but some beautiful scenery along the way…

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When you get to the Lighthouse, climb it! It’s worth the view!

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It was a quaint little light house where the guide stationed there kindly advised us the best route to Munising due to road construction, and encouraged us to stop at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, up on Whitefish Point. Allow yourself enough time to stop and really enjoy this museum and the grounds. The history is rich in this region, and the museum is well done.

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Either on the way up to the Shipwreck Museum, or on the way back, you MUST swing in to the Berry Patch, located in Paradise, right there on Hwy 123. And you simply MUST have a Pastie! Back on the west coast, we don’t call them ‘Pasties’, we call them meat pies. But hey, when in Rome….
This is a place the locals hang out in, both summertime cabin owners and full time residents. At the table next to us was a couple with their grandchildren who were enjoying north cabin time with their grandparents. We struck up a conversation with them, as it seemed everyone we ran across on this ride was friendly! The food is excellent, the staff very helpful, and the atmosphere quaint and casual. A great stop before the long haul to Munising.

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Then more breathtaking scenery before heading across the state on the inland side. There was road construction from the Museum to Grand Marais, so we missed the ‘beautifully paved’ new road described at the RideLakeSuperior site. Instead, as per the suggestion from the Lighthouse Keeper, we returned back through Paradise and headed west across the state. Miles and miles of gorgeous tree-line.

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We arrived in Munising with plenty of daylight to spare. Man, I totally scored with my choice of local lodgings: Sunset Motel on the Bay. I highly recommend you skip the Marquette temptation and make this is your overnight destination. I cannot imagine a more gorgeous view to end the day with! It was BREATHTAKING!

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We checked in, and asked around for a place to grab a bite.

Tip #2: Do NOT eat at the Dog Patch in town. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. The menu was longer than the Grapes of Wrath and hard to read. The decor was odd and out of place. They had a ‘seafood buffet’ while we were there that smelled off. The staff was friendly, but the food was very mediocre. Instead, do what we should have done – get a pizza delivered to you; grab a bottle of wine and/or adult beverage from in town, and have a picnic dinner by the bay. The view is just so spectacular you cannot get enough of it, and they have nice chairs on the lawn.

Tip #3: Pack a corkscrew pull in your gear. (Wine opener) This way, you can pick up a bottle along the way and enjoy at your evening stops.

I’m not going to even post pictures of the meal we ate at the Dog Patch. Instead, I’d rather post some of the shots we took as the sun set on the Bay.

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And my favorite shot, only because it encapsulates the ride in one photo:

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That wraps up Day 5.
Up Next: Day 6 Munising to Copper Harbor.


Kauai. From the Birds’ Eye

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Things have settled down here in this iceberg we call Minnesota. The bags are unpacked and put away. The laundry finally waded through. The last bit of sand knocked out of my sandals and back in to the ‘winter storage’ bins. It makes for a melancholy feeling.

So, to perk me up, I thought I would share one of the highlights from the island of Kauai: A helicopter tour.

When we got to Kauai, I gave my family an ultimatum, either we spend a day driving around the island, seeing some of its’ unique island beauty, or do a 1 hour helicopter tour. Faced with the decision to give up nearly a whole day laying on the beach getting tan, or a total of 2 hours to see the entire island (and appease MOM), they chose the latter.

I waited with childish anticipation. To see this gorgeous island from the eye of a bird had me standing on the helicopter pad, literally hopping on my toes with anticipation and excitement. I can’t recall any recent event  where I felt so much excitement! For my family however, there was more than just a little hesitation and actual trepidation. You see, my dear sweet MANLY hubby is just more than a little terrified of heights. (I can be sympathetic as I have a bad case of arachnophobia myself. I am lucky to have my valiant prince to ‘rescue’ me when those terrifying moments present themselves) Secondly, my youngest daughter was diagnosed in the late fall with inner ear damage. How? We have no idea. A fall from her horse, a hit on the head from a LaCrosse stick? Who knows. What we do know is that it makes her dizzy and she has been going through therapy to re-train her brain to ignore it. Since there was real queasiness and distress from the Catamaran ride to Molokini, she had good reason to be a little anxious. My oldest offspring was just pacifying mom so she could get back to her tanning regimen. With all three of them having trouble with the motion sickness on the boat, I insisted that everyone take a non-drowsy motion sickness pill, two for them, one for me.  Just in case.

We arrived at Safari Helicopters, which is located very close to the airport in Lihue. We were guided to this particular company by a very sweet and very helpful car rental agent at the airport when we arrived. She recommended this company because the craft had floor to ceiling glass which allowed for the best viewing, they accomplished the entire island in 55 minutes (which she felt was MORE than enough time), and it was the best value out there. The office was clean, the personnel and pilot were friendly, helpful, safety conscious, and made us feel like guests rather than tourists. They had a goofy, knowledgable, and sweet ‘ice-breaker’ guide who took us to the ‘copter and back, instructing us on safety, minus the freakout factor. He was entertaining and you could tell he LOVED what he did, as did all those we met there.

Here’s the meat and potatoes: DO THIS! If you have the spirit of adventure, it is absolutely worth every single penny.

I saw the ‘copters from the other companies, and ours had the BEST viewing of them all. Literally floor to ceiling viewing, which allows you to see things as if you were in a glass cube. The ‘copter holds 6 and another couple was included in our tour. Take the advice they give you, one of which: Don’t sweat it taking pictures, enjoy the ride. They tape your flight and you can buy the DVD. Everything you see, they record. TRUST ME…..you will want to do this, because if you spend any, and I mean ANY time looking through your camera viewfinder, YOU-WILL-GET-NAUSEOUS. The pilot warned the woman in the back, she didn’t listen, and I didn’t think she would make it back in time. She made a bee-line to the port-a-potty upon landing. I started off taking a couple pics with hubby’s iPhone, and even I got a little disoriented. Take my advice, don’t bother with your camera, just enjoy.

The pilot will give you a history of the island along with fun facts, such as movies that were filmed on the island. One valley we went through was where South Pacific was filmed. He turned to my daughter next to me and said “I don’t suppose you know what I’m talking about”.

She turned to him and said : “Oh yes, I’ve seen South Pacific”.

He replied “Really?”

“Yeah, when I was young, my mom had us watch a lot of old black and whites”

I followed up with “Oh yes I did, at least I could trust they weren’t full of garbage!”

He got a chuckle out of that!

(And I did do that. The stuff the entertainment industry puts out now makes ME blush, let alone what I would want to expose young kids to)

I was beyond overjoyed that I got the front window seat (my oldest was between me and the pilot, hubby to the inside back left and youngest on the back left window) and I loved the panoramic view I had. We flew the island in a clockwise circle, so as we passed, the pilot would accommodate the passengers on the left by ‘spinning’ the helicopter around on its nose, with it ‘tipping’ so that they could get a full view of the hundreds of waterfalls, canyons, circular rainbows, beaches, reefs, cliff, volcano crater, ect. While I was grinning ear to ear, the look on the faces of my husband and youngest were far less ‘enthusiastic’. I think she would have preferred the pilot not be QUITE so accommodating with the desire to let her see how far up from the ground we were!

Wear comfortable clothing and be aware they do not allow anything on the craft. You will be given a locker to lock up your purse, backpack or camera case. You are allowed a camera, but they recommend against it. No phones, or they have to be on ‘flight’ mode. They do not want anything rolling around that cabin, so leave it behind. The aircraft is perfectly comfortable. It wasn’t too cold, nor hot. Bring your enthusiasm, and be prepared to be awed by the beauty of this island.

When we landed, my husband turned to me and smiled. “That was really awesome”, he said with a rather whitish tone to his otherwise tan skin.

“Really? You really liked it? I thought you’d hate it because of the heights.”

“Oh, I was scared speechless” he said smiling, “But I’m glad I did it. That was really beautiful”.

So, even if you are a little hesitant about being in a whirly bird, take the leap of faith. Do it. You live one life, and this is something you will NOT want to miss.

Add another check mark on the bucket list.