Ride Lake Superior – The Ride

posted in: Adventure, Blog Post | 1

The Planning was fun but it had nothing on the ride!

As our trip got closer and closer we started watching the weather. We had no idea that when you start riding a bike you also become a meteorologist! We had planned to leave the morning of the 6th as we had the ferry already booked for that afternoon however, it was showing a bunch or rain starting from around midnight on the 5th and not letting up so we left after work on the 5th instead. We’re ok riding in the rain but if if we don’t have to why would we? We headed to Magnuson Hotel in Listowel, far enough away to skip the rain but not far enough that we would be riding into the dark.

Day 1 – Listowel to Tobermory (by way of Kincardine)

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way first- Happy Birthday Cherie-Lynn!

  • Weather was pretty good. We now had plenty of time to make the ferry at 3:45 (you have to be there at least an hour early to secure your reservation) so we took the long way by Kincardine and zig zagged up the Bruce to Tobermory 
  • With my recently purchased bike, I received an installed Garmin Zuma GPS that I was just learning how to use.  Experimenting with the adventurous mode took us on some interesting roads but did not get us into any serious trouble. Going to Tobermory, you eventually have to end up on Highway 6 heading north, so it’s hard to get too lost.
  • At the ferry, while waiting to board, managed to run into my childhood neighbours and my parent’s lifelong friends, The Blackwood and their son and his wife.  Visiting with them during the crossing was an unexpected treat.
  • The ferry ride had a little more motion than I remember from previous times with more wind and choppy water during the crossing. However, it was the unloading that provided the excitement for the day. Upon approaching South Baymouth, we went below and began to remove the tie downs and prepare to disembark. Warning: this is the time that the ferry will move the most. As the fellow beside Cherie-Lynn moved his bike off the centre stand, he lost his balance and his bike tipped away from him and towards Cherie-Lynn (who was seated on her bike at this point). It only glanced against her lower forks leaving a slight scrape, but his bike took a little damage in the fall on the fairing and the signals. 
    • Lesson 1:  if you are taking your bike off your centre stand in uncertain conditions, mount it first to give yourself the best chance to control it during transition back onto the wheels– he did not and his bike fell putting others at risk and damaging his bike.  The ferry staff will offer little to no assistance (seems to be a liability reduction strategy on their part).  
    • Lesson 2:  watch the bike around you – several of the bikers on this crossing had not brought tie downs and had probably not read the warnings on the ferry instructions or ignored them. The ferry does move quite a bit during docking and undocking and bikes will fall over. Protect yourself and the ones around you and know how to tie down your bike properly and how to control it even if there is a little movement.
  • We proceeded to M’Chigeeng (formerly West Bay in my younger days) to spend the night with family friends and childhood neighbours (the Wrights) at their camp.  My parents had owned the camp next door for 38 years and it was truly a second home for me growing up. The Wright’s are still close lifelong friends with my family. We had a wonderful evening catching up and telling stories with them.

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Day 2 – Mindemoya to Sault Ste Marie (Echo bay)

  • We packed up in the morning to do a quick tour of the island before heading to SSM.  During the obligatory photo with Betty and the bikes, my favourite 86 year old was challenged “Hey Bet” says Debbie “throw your leg over it to look like you’re going for a ride”.  “I can you know!” Betty snaps back and before I realize what she is doing, she has swung her leg over the 760 lb. bike and settled into the seat as if to take to the road.  
  • Still on Manitoulin, we headed to Kagawong for a little sight-seeing.  If you go to Manitoulin, please plan to go to Bridal Veil Falls while you’re there.  I could describe it but the reaction of a little girl that day conveys it better than I: “It’s a princess waterfall!”  Her excitement at seeing this gem of a site just reminded me of how lucky I was to spend much of my childhood and younger days on Manitoulin, with its natural beauty and welcoming community.
  • We explored some side roads around Lake Kagawong trying to avoid the road construction (gravel and grooved pavement sucks).  Eventually, after an encounter with a dust busting water truck and getting the bikes muddy (gravel + water truck + overenthusiastic application of water to said gravel = mud).  So we headed back through M’Chigeeng, past the Cup and Saucer Trail entrance.  If you like to hike (ed. I do not) the Cup and Saucer is a terrific hiking trail up to the highest point on the island.  We did it many times in my younger days and it was always a highlight of the summer.  
  • Next stop was in Little Current for lunch at the food truck (amazingly good whitefish – Cherie-Lynn’s favourite) and an ice cream dessert from 3 Cows and a Cone (serving Farquar’s ice cream) just before the swing bridge. The swing bridge is the easiest access to the island. It pivots in the middle to swing the entire center section sideways to allow nautical access into and out of the North Channel and to the pleasure and commercial docks at Little Current. The bridge swings at the top of the hour during daylight hours and takes maybe 15 minutes.  If the bridge is swinging, treat yourself and head to the viewing area to see the aging bridge swing. When I was a kid, the paved single lane bridge also hosted train tracks which have long since been removed.
  • After crossing the bridge, we continued on highway 6 across Goat Island (Note:  never actually seen a goat there) on causeways that keep you close to the water.  Keep an eye out for the deer along this stretch.  Then we entered the White Hills of Rainbow Country.  Soaring formations of white rock (high quartz content for the geological minded among us) gave us a series of lovely vistas and swooping curves that made the ride to Espanola enjoyable. Espanola is a nice town to stop and rejuvenate or restock at non-island prices. If you are just looking for a quick rest-stop, proceed to the junction of Highway 6 and 17 where a large service centre/fastfood/tourist shop (more ice cream 🙂 ) will greet you. Be warned, it is busy at almost all times.
  • We spent the evening visiting with friends at Echo Bay, just outside of Sault Ste. Marie (or the “Soo”).

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Day Three:  Echo Bay to Marquette

  • Crossing at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge was a slow process as the line extended well onto the bridge.  On the downward slope we turned off our motors and would move the bikes forward one car length at a time by coasting.  
  • Note:  When we cross the border together we have made it a habit for Cherie-Lynn to go first and identify that I am travelling with her.  I don’t know if this helps move things long, but my interview is typically short and sweet while she waits just beyond the border agent’s booth.  We are always very careful to have our own documents and to be prepared to take off our helmets if asked. 
  • After crossing into the US Iroquois Point Lighthouse was stop one. There were clean facilities and trails to walk so it was a good stop to stretch our legs, have a drink (staying hydrated makes your ride much more pleasant at the end of the day) and use facilities. 
  • Lunch was in Paradise, MI at The Inn Gastropub and Smokehouse – a terrific bbq lunch – we followed the recommendation of the waitress at the Moose Boutique and Deli and had a great sandwich each. I do regret not going further up the peninsula to Whitefish Point and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.  If When we do this route again, we will make the time to visit.
  • Marquette – Quality Inn.  This was our first hotel stay of the trip in the US.
    • it was clean, basic continental breakfast, and pleasant staff. The location although a decent spot on the route it wasn’t a great spot to walk to a restaurant for dinner. We ended up walking up the street to a grocery store and picking up ready made meals (the hot food counter was already closed but leftovers were available in the cooler) and heating them up in the microwave in our room.

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Day Four Marquette to Copper Harbor to Hurley, WI

  • The drive to Copper Harbor was a definite highlight. As you start up Hwy 41 along the coast, the view is fantastic and the land is just wild enough to feel that you are somewhere remote. Traffic is light while we make out way to Houghton (home of Northern Michigan U and Finlandia University. Be aware that as you go through Houghton, 41 takes a fairly steep route up the far side of the valley as you head north.  Nothing crazy but keep your revs up and prepare to turn going up hill. Note that along 41 there is a marker for the annual snowfall records set here. A typical year records ~240 inches of snowfall (20’). For comparison, the record for Ottawa is just around 12’.  The marker reflects the record high and the average in a truly impressive display.  
  • Copper Harbor was a very nice stop. I don’t think I would want to spend a few days there unless you are a camper or hiker, but there is an excellent small craft brewery, Brickside Brewery, and good food. We were sent to the food truck just outside of the craft brewery for the fish and chips and they did not disappoint and once again Cherie-Lynn was able to get white fish lol  
  • We came back down the peninsula on 26 on the western side and were treated to some amazing views of the lake and coast.  Many good places to stop and test the frigidity of the water.  Even in mid-July, Lake Superior temperatures are no joke. We did soak our t-shirts to cool off while we rode and I almost fainted putting mine back on, it was so cold.
  • We pushed onward to our hotel for the night (Econo Lodge in Hurley, WI).  With this being a fairly long day, we arrived in Ironwood, MI for gas later in the day.  Not much going on and the town seemed a little rough. At the gas station (Circle K I believe) I had a nice little chat with a young lady working the counter that gave us some insight to the town. 
  • The Econo Lodge in Hurley, WI was a find on the internet with a good price and nice pictures. What we didn’t count on was the fact that the (fairly large) hotel was almost empty between the economic depression that the area seemed to be in and it being off season for what little tourist trade/business did still exist.  A few questions reveal that the mines closed in the sixties and seventies when tourism started to boom with skiing and summer fun.  However, with other skiing and summer areas opening more convenient to the population centres (Green Bay, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago) the tourist trade has waned since the nineties.  The room was clean and well kept, the hotel (despite the pool being closed) was in good shape inside.  The parking lot was poorly surfaced but we were instructed to park our bikes at the entrance where they were included in the video surveillance and visible to the front desk for the night. I thought that was a good gesture by the staff (fondly nicknamed “Doris”) that cost the hotel nothing but gave us comfort of a little more security for our bikes.  Breakfast was a small offering due to the sparse guests in the hotel. Note to accommodation providers:  A little extra customer service and attention to anticipate our needs as motorcyclists made our stay for this one night a positive one, when it began with little promise of being so.
  • Once again there wasn’t anything around to walk to for dinner. Dorris offered us a few suggestions to order in so after looking over a few menus we decided on Chicken Parm from a place not far away. 

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Day Five:  Ironwood/Hurley to Duluth

  • We started out from Hurley, headed to Duluth, which was planned to be a shorter day (<300km).  However, as we went along highway 2, just outside of Ashland, WI, we passed a Superior Circle Tour sign which indicated a Loop going up HWY 13.  At the time, I did not distinguish the sign from the other Superior Circle Tour indicators but later I think that it did not indicate the main Tour route but a Loop with opportunity for additional mileage.  Since this was to be a shorter day, we decided to stop and take this additional route – and we were glad we did.  The run up the peninsula was again terrific for riding and stunning views.  One highlight that we are anxious to revisit is Bayfield which seemed to be a charming port town probably worth a day’s exploration all by itself or at least an overnight stay. We have marked Bayfield as a place to which we would will return and spend a little more time.  This time though, we were concerned that our side trip was turning our short day into a long day so we pushed on continuing on 13.  
  • Note to riders:  keep an eye on your gas level.  Several times during this trip, we encountered stretches road without much in the way of gas. Not a problem if you keep an eye on things, but if you were running low, and missed an opportunity, you could be in trouble with several stretches of >100km without an obvious gas stop.
  • Before passing through Cornucopia, we stopped at Meyer’s Beach.  Mostly looking for a rest and a restroom, this stop ended up being a real treat. Meyer’s Beach is not only a lovely beach but is also a launching point for Kayakers who will paddle up the coast to see the Sea Caves at Bayfield Peninsula.  Not practically approachable by land (as we were told by a park ranger), the sea cave are an attraction for many travelers.  This was supported by the presence of many vehicles equipped to carry kayaks parked at the landing.  While there, I heard at least two languages other than English which I took as evidence of the interest from international adventure travelers looking for something unique.  We took a walk down the beach and chatted with a few people and secured a few pictures.
  • We continued on 13.  Not a lot of commercial stops until we rejoined HWY 53 near Parkland.  This is one of the areas that I really watched the gas gauge as the miles racked up without obvious opportunities to refill.
  • Coming into Duluth and crossing the 535 bridge, we hit some rain for 10-20 minutes during which we crossed the very long bridge. While I consider myself and my wife seasoned riders, both of us were impressed and a little awed by the span across the bay and the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota. 
  • We proceeded to the Aerostich factory in Duluth.  It is located downtown, in an older, industrial part of town that seems to be experiencing a rebirth. Aerostitch is a stop well worth taking for the company store and the opportunity to take a factory tour.  Adventure riders and serious long distance tourers have always appreciated the Aerostitch suits for all weather and situations. We were looking more for accessories and base layers. I did seriously look at a pair of riding jeans but they didn’t suit me well enough to buy. I had recently bought a pair that I really like (at Tons of Bike Gear) which are probably inferior in build quality but fit me better. I will say that given a little more in the budget, I would have definitely come out with several base layer pieces (more than I did), a textile jacket for touring and rain gear. They simply had everything that a serious tourer or adventure tourer would want and more. Especially impressive was the collection of suits that have been in serious accidents and gave their all to save their rider.  The violence inflicted on the suits were evident. Also evident was the fact that each of the suits were not breached and appeared to have done their job of protecting the rider.  
  • Our lunch was a recommendation from the woman at Aerostich – OMC Smokehouse and it hit the spot and was so good. We love getting recommendations from locals on where they eat and so far it hasn’t steered us wrong. We’ve come to realize that we don’t spend a lot of money when we ride so eating good is important to us. 
  • For the night in Duluth, we stayed near the airport at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Duluth North that offered a pool and available guest laundry machines. We didn’t feel like heading back out on the bikes so we had a glass of wine as we unpacked. What we didn’t realize is that there were very few choices within walking distance, and some of the few that were are not accessible due to the lack of sidewalks and heavy traffic in that area. We ended up going to a nearby Subway for our “good” meal of the day and promising ourselves to a better meal down the road. On the plus side: I got our laundry done and it only cost about $10 in all (soap, fabric softener sheets and $6 in quarters). Next time we will bring our Tru-Earth laundry strips with us. 

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Day Six:  Duluth to Thunder Bay 

  • The first thing I realized about Minnesota as we wandered a circuitous path around the perimeter of Duluth was that there are a lot of deer.  This was also the second and third thing I noticed.  We saw a total of 10 deer that day – the first sightings during this trip.
  • The other thing I realized in Minnesota was that State Troopers don’t play.  This was not a result of watching Fargo (movie and all three seasons of the series), but from a first-hand incident:  As we are cruising down the highway towards Thunder Bay, in the distance I see a State Trooper SUV pull over and a female Trooper exit the vehicle to walk towards the grassy ditch. Being a smart ass and having watched way too much Fargo on Netflix, I started to comment over the Bluetooth communicators about how she is going to find a body in the ditch. As the words start to leave my mouth, she leans over, pulls her handgun and fires two shots into the grass in front of her as we pass only a couple dozen feet from where she is standing. Immediately, I wrestle for control of my bowels as I nearly shit my pants and then I reset my cruise control for 2 mph under the speed limit. She had disposed of an injured deer in such an unhesitating and nonchalant way, it rocked my Canadian core.  I have been told that, in Ontario, injured animals are only disposed of after consultation with the on duty Staff Sargent and only by officers who are trained for such (due to danger of ricochets etc.). She had barely stopped walking when she pulled her gun and finished off the deer. The abrupt and business like action still horrified me as I am just not used to gunplay in my normal life.  
  • We tried to stop eat Split Rock Lighthouse but it was very busy and it was $20 each to go in. We learnt a long time ago that we aren’t the type of people that need to see all the sights.
  • World’s Best Donuts on the harbor in Grand Marais Minnesota is worth the stop – so so good.
  • The border crossing into Canada was a little weird.  A few miles before the border is a trading post and duty free store. The hitch is that you can only buy the duty free product if you are actually crossing the border right away. How they ensure this is that a store staff member will drive your product and meet you 2-3 km down the road at the border, give you your product and watch you approach the border. Seems like a terribly inefficient process, but the fellow that brought us our wine was pleasant and cheerful so I’m glad that he has a good job.

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Day 7 Thunder Bay – Rest Day

  • Given that we planned to be on the road for at least 12 days, planning a rest day in the middle was a great decision.  We arrived in Thunder Bay and proceeded to the Haven Hostel for our stay.  The Haven Hostel is a downtown hostel that offers POD style dormitories and private rooms. What attracted us was the motorcycle friendly facility offered garage space for the bikes and a private room in a hostel setting. More than that, we had a terrific time getting to know one of the owners (Paul Pepe) who seemed to be tirelessly involved in some chore or other for the hostel (or gear rentals) but was easily engaged in motorcycle talk and talk about Thunder Bay. His enthusiasm and energy were contagious. With his business partner (Holly Watson), they have created something unique that works for them and definitely worked for us.  We also felt we had a real taste of the hostel experience as we crossed paths and interacted with the other guests – every traveler has a story to share.
  • Our first evening, we had dinner down the street at one of the several trendy restaurants nearby (Red Lion Smokehouse).  Ironically, the craft beer that Cherie-Lynn selected is brewed locally in our hometown of Hamilton. I tried a cider that went down very smooth.  
  • We have realized that we have to plan a bit for our evening meal. If we want to have a drink with our meal, it has to be walking distance to the hotel. A few nights we just ordered in or got takeout to eat in the room. This suited us when we were tired after a longer day of riding and actually saved us money on those nights.  
  • While we didn’t stop for every scenic spot or attraction, we did make a special effort to go to Kakabeka Falls on our rest day. Wow! While we live in the waterfall capital of the world (Hamilton – look it up), the size and beauty of Kakabeka Falls was impressive and well worth the extra time.  The local geology (slate) creates a stepped cascade for the falls that is just lovely and striking. 
  • The Terry Fox Memorial was one of the unexpected highlights of our trip. We knew we wanted to see it and it would be amazing but we were both taken a little bit aback with the emotions that we felt. The monument in itself it large and beautifully placed above the highway with Lake Superior and Sleep Giant Provincial Park in the background. The one thing that we noticed was that there was a sense of calm and reflection among the people surrounding the memorial. It was a bit like the quietness of being in church.
  • We also visited the local HD dealer, where Cherie-Lynn once again admired the Street Bob. As luck would have it, they had one that is being raffled off so she bought a ticket.  She is convinced she will win but in the small chance she doesn’t, the proceeds are all going to a good local charity.  NOTE – our handwriting must be really bad because we never did get that phone call!
  • We also visited the Kawasaki/KTM/Yamaha dealer (Excaliber Motorcycle Works).  Cherie-Lynn was on a Vulcan S and was always looking for some nice ladies gear with Kawasaki branding. I was excited to see a Moto Guzzi sign on the outside of the building only to be told that they are no longer a dealer.  Too small a market I guess.  I made a small effort to buy the sign but they seemed to like having it. They will order parts for the Guzzi but they no longer maintain dealer status.  
  • The second night, we treated ourselves to the Prospectors Steakhouse.  Only a few blocks from the Haven, we had an excellent meal with terrific service – New York Striploin for me and Prime Rib for Cherie-Lynn.  Fantastic!
  • Before we left the next day, we made sure to have breakfast at the Hoito Restaurant – one of the oldest co-operatively owned and operated restaurant in Canada located in the Finnish Labour Temple. Built in 1910 by the Finnish Building Company Limited, this unique building was intended to be used as a community meeting place. It originally housed a theatre, a library and a reading room.  

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Day 8 Thunder Bay to Wawa

  • Ouimet Canyon Park – OMG!!  Bit of a walk from the parking to the canyon, but I could not believe the size and span of this dramatic spot. The bottom of the canyon is so deprived of sunlight and resulting warmth, the flora is similar to that of the sub-arctic!
  • We hit a lot of high winds on this portion of our trip and made extra stops to give ourselves a break and take in the views. Cherie-Lynn’s bike was a bit lighter so she found the winds a bit more bothersome than I. This day also had absolutely the most spectacular scenery of our trip. At times it was hard to believe that we were still in Ontario. As a teenager I had flown to Thunder Bay but never driven and I was a little underprepared for what we experienced.
  • We stopped at the Manitouwadge turn-off as a work friend of Cherie-Lynn’s Dad was in some pictures there and she wanted to stop to take pictures to send him. That’s also where we came across the giant ATV and Snowmobile. We just couldn’t resist climbing on them. I think this is how kids feel with jungle gyms.
  • Another must do stop was at the Winnie the Pooh statue in White River – we stopped and took pictures for our friend Tammy. She’s one of Cherie-Lynn’s closest and dearest friends and is a bit of a Pooh Bear fanatic.
  • Wawa Norther Lights Motel was our motel for the night and about 10 mins on this side of Wawa. We completely picked this motel because of their fun website and view on surviving weird shit. We checked in, unloaded and then headed into Wawa for dinner and to find the big goose. At dinner Cherie-Lynn asked about a bakery that an old family friend (Benny) had owned there years ago. The waitress did remember it and in fact Benny’s wife Phylis had taught her in school. Funny how you can go far from home and discover connections like these.
  • After dinner we found the goose statue and although it was impressive and new we didn’t take the time to read the signs because if you notice below in the picture – the mosquitos were the size of small birds! As we were getting ready to leave a breath taking sunset kinda came out of nowhere so with waving arms we stood and watched it for a little bit before heading back to our hotel.

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Day 9 Wawa to Sudbury

  • As we were leaving Wawa we stopped and gassed up even though we had gotten gas not far out of Wawa the night before and were very tankful we did as there was nowhere else to stop until we reached Sault Ste Marie – gas was the first thing we did when we got to town!
  • I can’t even remember if we had breakfast this day. I think we had planned to grab something along the way but discovered there wasn’t a lot along the way so ended up eating some chewy bars, crackers and fruit that we had in our saddle bags at the side of the road.
  • Stop one was the the Agawa Rock Pictographs, a site where generations of Ojibwe have come to record their lives from centuries ago. Before going down to the rocks take a minute to look out over the lake as it was here that the famous Group Of Seven painted many of their paintings. The viewing area was a bit of a hike to get to and is exposed to the lake. There is a chain bolted into the rocks to hold onto and you move further out to view the pictographs.
  • Stop two was Old Woman Bay Leading up to Old Woman Bay the roads were incredible and the views over the lake incredible. Seeing how pronounced the old woman face was as we pulled into the beach area was really cool to see.
  • As we arrived into The Soo we made the decision to keep riding through to Sudbury as it was still early, the weather was fantastic and we weren’t really ready to stop. When we finally stopped for lunch we started looking for Hotels. Thanks to our CAA membership we were able get a great rate at the Holiday Inn Sudbury. With the rate that we paid were were a little surprised when we pulled in as it was really nice and the staff directed us to park directly in front of the window. As we were parking other bikes were pulling in so there was lots of chatting and talks about meeting later in the lounge for drinks.
  • Dinner in Sudbury was a pizza place down the street recommended from the front desk clerk. We often ask locals where to eat as it keeps us away from the touristy places and the majority of the time we get really good food. After we unpacked we ordered and walked down the street and picked it up. Than fully the hotel was close enough that our pizza was still piping hot when we got back. One of the best pizzas we’ve had! The pizza with a good bottle of wine was a perfect ending to a great day.

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Day 10 Sudbury to North Bay

With this leg of the trip a relatively short mileage day (It’s only about 130 km or so)

  • We made a morning stop at the famous “Big Nickel” – a 9 meter (30 feet) diameter replica of a 1951 Canadian Nickel.  I grew up in Waters Township – part of Lively, now part of an amalgamated town of Walden – a small town close to Sudbury until I was 11. 
    • Driving past the Big Nickel was a regular sight for me as we drove into Sudbury for shopping, appointments and accordion lessons.  When I was a kid, the Nickel was situated between Copper Cliff and Sudbury located right beside the INCO mining and smelting complex (from 1964) along Highway 55.  Every evening, if you were driving by at the right time, there was a spectacular view of the slag dumping with molten slag pouring down the slopes of the piles from small special rail trams.  A memorable sight that was commemorated for years on all kinds of souvenirs.  I think my father still has a couple of mugs made from the slag (molten waste of the smelting process for copper and nickel).   The Big Nickel now resides at Dynamic Earth – a tourist attraction that educates the visitors on the type of hard rock mining that goes on in Sudbury and many places in the north.  Sudbury has unique geological features that makes the region the world’s largest supplier of Copper and Nickel ores.
    • The attraction does have a charge to visit so be prepared to pay if you want to go in.  If you just want a picture with the Nickel, ask nicely when you pay for parking on the way in and they will refund your money if you leave within a short amount of time.
  • So we set off on Highway 55 then onto 17 (Trans Canada) towards North Bay for a visit with my parents.  We took our time leaving as it was going to be a short riding day.  We stopped in Verner for lunch at the Crossroads Restaurant (co-located with the CO-OP gas bar).
    • It’s right on the highway, you can’t miss it.  We had a great lunch and to top it off, Cherie-Lynn had her favourite – Coconut Cream pie.  If you are going to eat along 17, Crossroads or Kate’s (just up the road) are both solid local choices.
  • The ride to North Bay passes through some beautiful farmland and then culminates in spectacular views of Lake Nipissing as you approach the city.  My parents retired and in moved to North Bay around 1996/97 (from Timmins – they wanted to move south for the milder winters LOL). They have recently moved into a condo that they love so we booked a room at the Comfort Inn Airport on O’Brien Street, which is nearby. 
    • It is an older hotel but is clean, offers breakfast and the staff were pleasant to deal with. For us its main attraction is a short walk to my parent’s condo. We were able to park the bikes within sight of the room (so we can admire our bikes from above). 
  • After a nice visit with my parents, we retired back to the hotel for a nice night’s sleep. 
  • Another quick visit in the morning and then we set off for Algonquin park (south on 11).
A brief word about driving in Sudbury.  Not to disparage the whole area but we had three close calls in and around Sudbury, by inattentive (and in one case aggressive) pick-up drivers.  Coincidence?  I don’t know but I would advise a heads-up attitude while going through the area.

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Day 11 North Bay to Pembroke

  • We were to head home from North Bay but once again weren’t ready to bring our adventure to an end. There wasn’t really any grand plan in how we picked our next riding adventure – we looked to see where it wasn’t suppose to rain for a couple of days and Cherie-Lynn really wanted to see her Dad.
  • We pulled up our Ride the Highlands map and mapped it out so we could ride through Algonquin Park. Riding through the park we did get to see a moose. The best way to spot a moose in the park – look for lots of tourist at the side of the road with cameras, again sophisticated techniques lol.
  • Zurakowski Park  where the Avro Arrow monument celebrates the jet fighter and well known Barry’s Bay resident Janusz Zarakowski, he was the original test pilot for the Arrow. It seemed fitting to stop here as it was the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing. Many people that worked on the arrow helped to make the moon landing happen.
  • We don’t talk about our hotel for this night! It is a mistake never to be made again lol

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Day 12 Pembroke to Thomasburg (The Farm)

This day saw some amazing roads. The Highlands are well known for their sweeping curves and inclines. We’ve risen here a few times and yet there’s still so much more to discover. The place we rode through this day on our way to Cherie-Lynn’s dad’s farm were;

  • Calabogie
  • Perth
  • Westport
  • Marlbank

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Day 13 Thomasburg (The Farm) to Home

Still not ready to head directly home these are the places we hit on our way

  • GP Bikes – this is were Cherie-Lynn first started looking seriously for a heavier bike.
  • Orangeville – Angels Dinner for one of the best Rubens ever!
  • Forks of the Credit – A pretty ride but be careful as there are some people that like to drive much faster than their ability and many cars cross the centre line. 
  • Royal Distributing – There happened to be a bike night on so it was fun to walk around and look at a bunch of bikes. This is also where I ran into another Guzzi rider that immediately told me how dirty my bike was – rude! 
  • Finally Home – 5,016km later. I think the kids were just as happy to see us as we were to see them!

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We do have some video from our adventure that we’ll get uploaded to Youtube and show you some of the road to Copper Harbour, the ride on and off the ferry, the guy tipping his bike over on the ferry, along with a few other tidbits.

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