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.


Ride Lake Superior: Day 3 Nipigon to Wawa

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The day started with my first go ’round with Timmy Horton. Delish. Scrumptious. Ok. So, maybe I’m giving away my lack of knowledge about Tim Hortons. They have one, right there in Nipigon. So, ot only can you start your day with a good cup of piping hot coffee, a fresh breakfast sandwich with a side of ‘breakfast’ tot…but they have DONUTS! Seriously! This place is a calorie gut bomb waiting to explode, on my tongue!

MOOOOOOOving on.

Tip #1: This is a 200+mile day. So be sure to plan out your ride, deciding when you want to arrive at your destination. This way you can back into how many site-seeing stops you can make along the way.

As we were running just ahead of the storm that was following our direction around the Lake, much of the next few days were kinda gloomy. The night before, Nipigon was enveloped in fog, as the storm settled low on the lake. There just wasn’t a whole lot to see as we rode into town. Certainly, there were no good views of the Lake.  We woke however, to a higher cloud cover, so we could finally see the Lake. The sun peeked in an out periodically, but it was still pretty chilly. While chilly, every view we encountered was just breathtakingly beautiful. (My ‘back seat’ photography took a little getting used to!)

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Tip #2: Pack bug spray or lotion. Holy cow, we traveled in July, but once you got away from the Lake and its breeze, you’d think it was the peak of mosquito season. Not Kidding. They Swarm. OH, and once again, your rain gear comes in very handy…just keep your helmet on and your visor down if you are not doused in insecticide. That works well in a pinch!

There are many great places to stop along the way. Take the time to ride down and see some the many waterfalls available for you to see.

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And odd landmarks,

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And, more poutine along the way! (Not nearly as good as Montana’s though. I’ll be chasing that ‘high’ forever.)

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And when you see the goose, you’ve hit Wawa!

Tip #3: The Visitor Center there is well worth the stop. There is very interesting history involved in the founding of Wawa. It’s just off the highway, and if you continue on, you’ll wind up at Young’s General Store. (See Day 4)

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We stayed at the Best Northern Motel:

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I highly recommend staying here if you stop overnight in Wawa. It was clean, quiet, well maintained, right on the highway, and they had an EXCELLENT restaurant on property. One appreciates the simplicity of not having to gear up just to grab a bite to eat at the end of the day! Especially when the weather is being challenging, and all you wanna do is warm up and relax. They have a full menu, but feature traditional Polish dishes. I ordered the cabbage rolls and pierogi. Hubby, the cabbage rolls with mashed potatoes. Oh wow…So, so good! This is fine eats at its best, in a casual, comfy environment.

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Rounding up a wonderful meal was a nice after dinner drink, followed by stogie time for hubby on their little deck:

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This wraps up our third day of our journey.
Tip #4: Be sure to stop and smell the roses along the way. It’s impossible to fit all the sights in if you are doing the circuit in one week. Have maybe one or two sights you’d like to see, that way you can have some freedom to stop spontaneously along the way, at places that catch your eye.

Next: Day 4. Wawa to Sault Ste Marie.


Ride Lake Superior: Day 2 Thunder Bay to Nipigon

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Thunder Bay

Today started with a lazy pace. The gloom cleared and the sun came out. Our wet gear had finally finished drying on the fan unit in the room, so we grabbed a bite from the breakfast counter in the lobby and loaded up. The Thunder Bay H-D shop had JUST opened as we cruised by, so we stopped in to see what they had. Small, nice, and a friendly staff. They were able to recommend Rollies, a stogie stop for hubby to stock up on for the trip. The hunt for cigars was on! And, this is where a lovely morning goes a little wonky.

You see, it appears Garmin has an American version, which doesn’t work so well outside of America. To be more specific, Canada was a big black screen! As we ‘wandered’ thinking would would just stumble upon the shop, we ended up down by the industrial loading docks on the side of the road, trying to figure out where we were. This is the ‘adventure’ part of the trip, right? Some man and his dog, just happened to be parked in their car by the side of the road, and seeing us, proceeded to wave us down. A bit leery, we stopped, and he asked us if we were lost. Ummm, yeah. I don’t know what he was doing there, sitting by the side of the road, in the middle of no-where, but he generously (and insistently) volunteered to led us right to the front door of the cigar shop, of whom he knew the owner. Seriously, I am still beyond curious about him! Does he just sit there waiting for lost tourists on Sunday? All I know is that he prevented a healthy ‘debate’ between me and my frustrated hubby, for which I was extremely grateful. The shop was open, but the owner was no where to be found. Our escort said he probably stepped out and would be back ‘soon’. Our combined intuition said ‘soon’ was rather relative to this sleepy little town. So, while we bided our time until he ‘returned’,  we set off to find an electronics store and correct the navigational dilemma.

Tip #1: Check to make sure your devices work in the country/region you are going to travel in. Yes, this may be a newbie mistake, but I’m giving you a heads up so you don’t make it!

After finding ourselves with a Garmin that worked, we went back to the cigar store (hey, there are priorities you know), then set about tooling around the city, in search of some recommended park with a view. Which we never found. Before heading out to Nipigon, we grabbed a late lunch at Montanas, which was another recommendation from the locals. Good Lord, you must try the Poutine there! This was my first go-round with authentic Canadian poutine, and it lived up to its reputation for gut-bombing deliciousness. Sorry, no food photos. I was so discombobulated from our morning of disorientation, I really didn’t get my act together till later.

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Riding out of Thunder Bay was lovely. The sun was shining, it wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t feeling like winter either. Our next stop was Nipigon, which was only a 2 hour ride away, allowing us time to ride through Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. And then the weather started to change.

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Trestle Bridge at Sleeping Giant Park

I really wish the weather had cooperated, but alas, ’twas not to be. The storm we rode through the night before was moving with us, from west to east. We were just ahead of it, but as you can see, it was a wee bit foggy. Beautiful. But foggy.

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Tip of Sleeping Giant Park: Grocery Closed on Sunday

When you hit this blue house, you’ve reached the tip of the park where it dead ends. And…..this is where we figured we better get a move on, or we were gonna hit another storm rolling through. We made it back to the highway before the lightening and drizzle started, then it was a race against nature, up to Nipigon.

Tip #2: Reach Nipigon before 5pm. Most everything closes on a Sunday, and if it’s open, it closes early.

We stayed at one of the RideLakeSuperior.com recommended motels, Birchville Motel, which was older, but clean and under newer management. If this is your overnight stop, be sure to make reservations in advance. There are only a handful of motels in this area, and there are a LOT of riders traveling around the lake.

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Birchville Motel: Nipigon, Canada

Since we zipped straight from Sleeping Giant to Nipigon, we managed to get ahead of the storms.  After checking in, unpacking our bags and re-orienting ourselves, we hopped back on the bike, and took a spin to see what this tiny little community offered. Not. A lot.

We tried to see the little downtown area, but was caught on the other side of a train that never ended:

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What it did have was a cute little diner called Audrey’s Place, right on the Hwy. (Gus was the name on the signage, but we learned it was called Audrey’s Place, and under new ownership). The dinner menu was simple, but food good. The chicken soup was homemade and delicious, and the salad fresh.

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Audrey’s Place: Nipigon, Canada.

Tip #3. If you stay at the Birchville, they have gas grills. When we returned from eating, the motorcycle travelers in the unit next to us were grilling their dinner. It appears that the gas station down the road sold ready-to-grill meals we could have cooked on the grill outside our unit. The units are stocked with a small kitchenette so we could have eaten in our unit. Which, in hindsight, would have been nice since that storm had finally caught up to us, and we road home from dinner in a drizzle.

That about wraps up Day 2. Hubby huddled under the eves, on a plastic chair, and puffed on well earned cigar. These first two days were rough on the driver. It was nice for him to be able to chill out, and chat with the travelers next to us, riding a Victory Motorcycle, doing the same loop around as us. It was a satisfying conclusion to an interesting day, sharing the challenges of the road with other fellow travelers, and watching hubby enjoy a nice cigar!

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Next: Day 3 – Nipigon to Wawa.