Day 1 - Saturday, June 28 2003 we attended our chapter gather at OH-X2 like we did every 4th Saturday of the month. This particular meaning was a little more exciting though. After the meeting, 12 bikes, 24 friends, were taking off on a journey up in to Canada, and around Lake Superior. This was my first trip in to Canada on a motorcycle, and I was excited about what lied ahead of us.
The meeting was over around 11 AM, and off we went. Our goal was to take back roads, and stay of the interstate so since our start time was rather late, we only made it to Lafayette Indiana where we spent out first night.
Day 2 - We left early as our next stop for the day would be Barrington Illinois where we would check in to our hotel, park the motorcycles, and take the train on in to Chicago. I’ve been to Chicago a few times, but this was the first time I saw it in this way. The train ride was the way to go so we didn’t have to fight with traffic, and it took it right in to town. The first thing we did was to head to the Sears Tower to take in a beautiful scenic overlook. From atop the tower you could see forever since it was such a clear day. It just so happened it was the same weekend as Taste of Chicago, so there was many people, many things to do, and much to eat. We took a taxi to Navy Pier to play around there for a while, and the neatest part of my Chicago visit was taking water taxis through town. I had no idea there was that many waterways in Chicago, and boy was it the way to see all of the beautiful architect. Darlene was happy to as she got to see Oprah’s little apartment. Little…yeah, right….Little!
Well, it was time to head back to the terminal to catch the last train back to Barrington for the evening. Time to head out to our next destination at the crack of dawn.
Day 3 - Time to head on out to Cambridge Wisconsin for our next stop. Although we needed to travel some interest in to, and out of Chicago, it wasn’t long before we got back to some country road traveling, taking in the sites, and anticipating on planned activities we have to look forward to our visit in the Madison Wisconsin area, where we’ll spend the next day. As we got in to Cambridge, we were greeted my Jim Warren where he lead us to the hotels he found for us. There, we unloaded, and cleaned up, then got back on the bikes to ride to a wonderful cookout at a park that Jin & Gloria Warren hosted for us. They and their daughters had prepared all kinds of food, and deserts for the 24 of us. What a great treat. If you find yourself in Cambridge, be sure to look up Jim & Gloria, and tell the X2 sent ya.
Day 4 - Some of the group made plans to spend the day at Wing Ding in Madison, and part of us planned a ride. Not that I knew where I was going, but with the help of some tips from Jim Warren, who went to Wing Ding, I led a ride. We saw beautiful country, and farms as we rode the back roads of Wisconsin. We planned to ride through Wisconsin Dells to see what that was like. Personally, I felt like I was in Pigeon Forge, or Gatlinburg with all the tourist traps. Fun for many people, but I was ready to ride in some wilderness in Canada, so it wasn’t really my cup of tea. We happened to pass this Indian Reservation Casino, and all of the sudden the CB was screaming at me to pull in. Oh my they wanted to gamble. Darlene was leading the charge in to the casino, encouraging me to pull on in to the parking lot so we could go play. Well, why not? We’re on vacation. I told everybody they had an hour to deposit their money in to the 1 arm bandits, then we were moving on. After all, we had a schedule to keep, and planned to meet the rest of the group for dinner in another town as we progressed northwest towards Minnesota. I must admit, I was feeding the slot machines as anyone else. All of a sudden I heard the sweet tune of ching ching ching. Hey, I was winning…woo hoo! Okay, time is running low, and I have a cup full of quarters. I better hurry. I can’t take this money with me, can I? I didn’t think so. In about 10 minutes I was able to put that last quarter in the bandit, so I could meet back in the parking lot on time. That is, after all, what your suppose to do, right? We’re out of there now, out of the Dells, and in to the country, and off to the restaurant to meet up with the rest of the gang, and head to Iowa. We were starting to run late. We had to make it out to Pikes Peak Iowa to meet up with Jay & Jeani Brewsaugh. They were visiting Jeani’s family, and planned to rejoin the group that evening. Jim & Gloria Warren were joining our group for the ride around Lake Superior, Phil & Sandy Yaple along with Mike & Cindy Tankersly split off to head west for their own trip. Another couple ended their trip with us at Wing Ding, as their plan was to stay there a couple days, then head back home.
Well, that sure was a long day. We finally made it to our day 4 destination, Lacrosse Wisconsin by 10 pm, checked in to the hotel, then found a place to get a bite to eat. Man, we sure were spent that night. It was a beautiful ride along the Mississippi River on route 35 though.
Day 5 - We’re off, headed to Duluth Minnesota, our day 5 destination. That was a rather uneventful day, just more country roads, and great riding. As we entered Duluth’s city limit we were riding along a 4 lane divided highway, and to our surprise, we saw a bear in the medium with her cub eating berries. That was pretty neat. We checked in to our next hotel, and heard of a nasty storm blowing in. We parked the bikes tight to the hotel building opposite of the wind to protect them as much as we could. Later on that evening we found out there was a tornado that touched down 10 miles away from us. It made for a few nervous minutes, but we faired well. No tornados over our heads, and the bikes were okay. Off to bed for an early rise. Tomorrow we enter Canada.
Day 6 – As we left Duluth we headed up 61 along Lake Superior. Our next goal/Hotel reservation was Thunder Bay. As we road along the coast I thought it was beautiful. It seemed like there was a Kodak moment every other mile. We stopped at a few spots, but kept riding for the most part. We came upon a light house, where you could tour it. It was about an hour tour so some folks stayed to take the tour, and other folks pressed on to get to Thunder Bay to get there in time to look around. I was told that Kakabeka Falls was a nice place to visit, and Ron Walters suggested getting there for sunrise the next morning.
Day 7 - That is what we did. I think it was around 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning when Ron & Connie Walters, and I left the hotel to head to the falls. It was a beautiful morning, and we had the park to ourselves. We took some great pictures, and then walked out on the top, in the middle of the falls to take some even better pictures. Then we had to leave so we could be back at the hotel to meet the others for departure time. Off we went, again with great weather. There was only 1 time we had to pull out rain gear, and that was on day 1, and not for very long. Our next destination was at Wawa. As we road along the lake, with the wind blowing off the lake the temperature would fluctuate as much as from 85 – 55 degrees in a 45 minute time span. By the time we hit Wawa, fog was starting to roll in. We stayed at a bed and breakfast there, and when we parked the bikes, and checked in, you couldn’t see across the street because of the fog. We walked to a restaurant then came back to the B&B for a surprise anniversary party for Gary & Carolyn Gingerich.
Day 8 – As we pulled out of Wawa it became clear that the trip was winding down. Our next destination was Petoskey Michigan. We continued following route 17 in Canada in to Sault Ste. Marie. Then we hopped on to I-75 so we can cross the Mackinac Bridge, and then stop at the Mackinaw State Park.
We then headed for Petoskey riding through the tunnel of trees. The Warrens went on their own at that point riding the southern side of Lake Superior, and north side of Lake Michigan.
Day 9 – Most of the gang would continue on to the sand dunes, and stay on back roads for another day, but Darlene and I decided it was time for us to head on down the pike, so we road 27 to I-75 with the Monroes, and made it home in record time. We left at 7 am, and even after spending an hour at lunch in Ponderosa, I was in my driveway by 3 in the afternoon.
This was a very scenic trip. If I had all to over again, I wouldn’t do so much planning. I would just do one day at a time without hotel reservations, but when you travel with 12 other bikes, you may not be lucky enough to find rooms at the same hotel. All in all, we had a great trip.