Ride Lake Superior: Day 1- MSP to Thunder Bay

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Last summer, these empty nesters decided to test run long haul riding, by living life on the HOG for a week riding around Lake Superior. While not our first overnight trip (we rode out to HD anniversary event in Milwaukee the previous august), it was our maiden voyage for an extended ride, this one eight days.

Harley Davidson’s motto, (or one of them) is ‘Live Free, Ride Hard’. Well, I kinda/sorta didn’t dream this was the ‘ride hard’ part!:

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As you can see in photo #1, when we left the Twin Cities the temps were running in the high 80’s. The ride up to Duluth was wonderful and being in the open air, I could smell the wildflowers in bloom. Oh…it would have been so wonderful (and let’s face it – boring) if that was what we encountered the whole trip around Lake Superior! Instead, as we hit Grand Marais the deluge arrived as the heavens opened up the floodgates. As you can see in photo #2, there was rain, but what you cannot see is the lightening. Lots of it. And then the temperature dropped. Thank flippin goodness we have good rain gear! (And may I highly recommend you invest in good rain gear? We ended up using it…a lot!) The rain started just before Grand Marais, and we were able to stop at the gas station in town (along with other riders who had the same idea) and really gear up.

Tip #1: Keep your rain gear easily accessible. And keep an extra sweatshirt right on the top of your bags. That way, when inclement weather rears its nasty head, you can easily get to it. And you will want to get to it quickly!

Tip #2: Take your chaps if you have the room. It was warm when we left, the bike was FULL, and I foolishly didn’t think I’d need them with the rain gear pants. While rain gear keeps the wind off, its not particularly insulating against the cold.

We hit the Canadian border late afternoon/early evening. In the rain. Thankfully the border guard was nice and hurried us through. Our destination for the first leg was Thunder Bay. It was a tough haul, but we made it. There really aren’t any pictures for this leg, because of the rain. The torrential, hovering above 35, rain. I pretty much hunkered down behind my hubby, and felt bad as he battled reduced visibility and the freezing rain.

Tip #3: Make sure your gloves are waterproof, or have a pair handy! Wet black leather gloves result in dye-black fingers. Which is rather hard to get off, and results in odd looks from your waitress.

To plan our ride, I used the website ‘RideLakeSuperior.com‘. It was extremely helpful and easy to use. It helped plan out the stages of our ride, suggested biker friendly accommodations and places to eat, along with points of interest to stop at along the way.

So back to our first stop, Thunder Bay, where we arrived dripping, cold, and quite ready to be done for the day. The Days Inn I selected was a 2 thumbs up. It was right off of Hwy 61, so easy to find as dusk neared. Not only were the rooms clean, quiet and easy to get to (hauling our bags off the bike), but right next door was a fantastic restaurant called 5 Forks. After being on the bike for hours, it was nice to clean up, warm up and stretch our legs by walking next door to grab a cocktail and some really good grub. No food photos, sorry! We were just glad to be at our destination, having ridden through rough weather. It was definitely baptism by fire, (or rain) but from here on out, we knew we could manage just about anything!

That wraps up Day 1.

Next: Day 2.


Sleep-less

You’d think an empty nester would have the luxury of sleeping, all through the night. 

No children out and about to worry over, no children’s friends tromping through the house as they come and go. And it’s fall, which means short days, long nights. The temperature lowers, perfect for snuggling under the covers, all toasty warm, with the window cracked so the fresh, crisp, chilly air can filter in. It’s the time of year where one is busy, winterizing both inside and out, ending the day with a body and mind ready to drift off to slumber land. 

But, I have a puppy. And a puppy gets in to things a puppy does, eating things a puppy shouldn’t. And then the puppy tummy lets everyone know it’s not happy. 

And so, for the past couple of nights, I am up repeatedly letting puppy out to do puppy’s ‘business’. 

I’m not complaining mind you, at least ‘Little Man’ is now old enough to rouse me from my slumber, instead of making a mess. It convinces me, God wisely gives infants to young parents, who’s youthful bodies can more easily handle the rigors of sleep deprivation. That said, here I am up every couple of hours, hurrying the puppy down the stairs and out the door, standing bare foot on cold hardwood in my chilly kitchen, waiting for little Mister to do his business. Gratefully, he returns and is as anxious to get back to his bed as I am. I crawl into the warmth of my bed, he settles down, and all is good until the next tummy grumbling. 

Infancy passes all to quickly and it feels like it was just an eye-blink ago that I was awaken in the dead of night by the cry of my baby daughter, and blurry eyed stumbled to her room to nurse my precious little bundle in the wee hours of the morning. Now it’s a much older version of that self, repeating the motions with much less grace and not nearly as much resilience. But, just as child infancy passes, this will too. Until my girls have children of their own and ‘Nanna’ can watch them, I choose to look at this inconvenience as a blessing. I could be grumpy, resentful at the intrusion of my beauty rest, but I choose to be thankful for the refresher of wonderful memories. 

So here I sit, sleepily, at my kitchen table, a large steaming cup of coffee at my fingertips, sipping it’s body warming contents slowly, feeling the veil of fog begin to part. I gaze out at the maples displaying the colors of fall, swaying in the crisp gentle breeze, crystal clear heavenly blue sky as a backdrop; a picture perfect Kodachrome postcard. Honestly, how can I be crabby? How can I be anything but grateful and willing to count my blessings?

And such is the irony of life: ‘Little Man’ sleeps with perfect contentment near my feet.  

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Coming up for Air!

So much for the ‘freedom’ and ‘peace’ of being an empty nester! 

It seems to me I am swimming in ‘busy’, busier now that my girls are gone than I was the past 2 years of their High School years! One reason is I have my sweet little nugget, Ruger, who is growing like a weed. He went from an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, black ball of fur, to a puppy. And his paws…..Geez Louise, he has lions paws. I can’t begin to even contemplate the repercussions of that not so small observation! 

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While the puppy sleeps during the day, I have been taking the opportunity to dive off the pier in to the gigantic lake called ‘Deep Cleaning and Organizing. I’m by no means a dirty house keeper, but I’m not always tidy, especially in the kitchen. After being at home for 20 years with kids, their friends,  our animals, and family friends coming and going, I stopped fretting the small stuff awhile ago. So what if the dishes don’t get done right away?  So what if the stove isn’t show-house pristine, or the non-perishables are on the counter?  I was cooking up a storm, churning out meals, snacks, canned goods, preserving, crafting, floral arranging, computer work, bill paying, you name it, my kitchen is the hub of life in this house.

That means it’s lived in.

That means, have a nervous breakdown over every single thing out of place, or let 80% of it go and enjoy life. I’m sure hubby wishes I was a little more attentive to the small things, but I always figured once the girls were gone, I’d have loads of time to knuckle down and tackle the things I’ve put off. Even if I was tidier, I don’t ever think I’d want my house to look like a showroom. It’s not a showroom, it’s where we live. Sure, I had my moments in the deep end of ‘ENOUGH OF THE MESS’ and griped, moaned and groaned. But, I think all who have graced my door understood my house was ‘lived in’. 

In between cleaning and errand running, I am trying to take the time to walk my older gal. While I could be swimming laps, Miss Mia needs some TLC time.  Since we have been taking short walks with the puppy, she has been missing out on her 6 mile hikes with me. So today, when puppy took his morning nap, I grabbed her leash and out the door we flew to get 5 miles in as quick as possible.

We were greeted with absolutely glorious weather. We are talking pool lizard, lie by the pool glorious weather. This bi-polar state has decided to cut us all some slack, and the day is just perfect in my book. That makes 3…..3 perfect days so far this spring/summer.

Yes, I count. 

So, now it’s back to the task and I have a monumental one before me. I am going room by room and weeding out everything and anything we don’t need or want. While we are not downsizing immediately, this is a great opportunity to being the mental process in preparation of that stage. Not only is the house calling for my attention, but the garden is long overdue for a good weeding and general tending. And then there is the dinner meal to contemplate and prepare, and those blueberries that need to be processed and preserved. Hmmm, maybe pie. Oh dang, I think I need to make a pie, a Blueberry Pie….

(Deep Breath)

I’m divin’ under!