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.


Halleluja’s, Excuses, and One Word

Where, you might be asking, are the posts about the Harley Davidson 110th Anniversary extravaganza in Milwaukee at? 

Well, shortly after arriving home, unloading the bike, and getting everything stored away, hubby and I discovered the pocket camera to be missing. We searched everywhere  to no avail. I immediately called the hotel and asked that they look for it in our room, as we had the night before we left, but neither of us remembered packing it for check out. I was heartbroken. Not for the physical camera, although it is a nice one, but for the pictures. I had taken photos with my camera, but many times I didn’t waste the data space because I knew hubby had the better lens.  A return call later that evening brought sad news that it was not found. 

On a hunch, Monday, I called and talked with the manager asking that they really search the room, as I felt it might have fallen out of hubbys pocket and bounced under a dresser or bed. After they went and checked again, I was told, no, it was not there and no one had turned one in. I honestly was crestfallen and trying to figure out how to share my experience with limited photos of all the cool stuff we had done! Hubby listed it on Craigs list, hoping some other rider had found it and was looking for the owners. As the days ticked by, we lost all hope of having it returned to us. I know there were days prior to cameras, where people relied on memories and the telling of tales, but we have them now and I LOVE being able to look at the photos. All the cool stuff we saw inside the H-D headquarters, all lost to just our brain cells. 

Then Friday I got the phone call that made my day…..they had found our camera!!!! HALLELUJA! Oh HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY DAY! LET THE PRAISES RING! I’ve no idea, and they didn’t offer to share how it was found, but found it was!!

So, if my readers will be a little more patient, as I await the FedEx truck to be delivering my camera back to my anxious little hands, I promise I’ll share our experience of a lifetime in the arms of the Harley family. 

And that……is my EXCUSE

Here is just a teaser:

When you walk in to headquarters, you are greeted with what it means to be a HOG (Harley Owners Group). I think this ONE WORD nicely sums up both what the open road means to H-D riders, but also embodies the American spirit. Notice this isn’t any flowery, whimpy, ‘gee isn’t this kinda nice’ expression of the word. No, this is bold, cutting, expressive of determination, hard work, fiery grit and tenacity. This is the fierce, vibrant, living freedom embodied in another of their brand symbols – the bald eagle. Freedom isn’t earned easily and when it’s achieved, the pride in achieving it is rightfully brandished like a badge of honor. I bet some out there are mystified at the loyalty and attraction to the brand. But, when a company’s product so fully embraces and embodies the spirit of what it means to be American, and the American spirit, exceptionalism, and success seem under attack in this day and age, loyalty is earned by treating your client right and providing something of value for the cost. There are plenty of other great motorcycle companies and motorcycle designs out there. All have their attraction and place in the market space, and I in no way mean to diminish their contribution, with those who love the open road. There is just something simply unique about Harley’s, from the rumble of the thunder, to the camaraderie of the riders.

More to come…

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Vroom, Vroom.

Vroom, Vroom.

I swear, whoever pays the Meteorologists is a fool and wasting their money.
Once again, what was forecasted to be cruddy weather turned out to be perfect for an evening motorcycle ride, this time with our youngest. (note the red jacket instead of white)
Finishing up dinner, we seized the opportunity to take our youngest out and let her stretch her wings on the road.
What a mix of emotions, seeing my babies all grown up, learning to do grown up things. No longer riding a two wheeled bicycle, but now able to blaze the trail for us on an evening ride around the countryside.
All grown up. Sigh.

My baby girl did mighty fine.

Yes, mighty fine indeed.