Wisconsin    Michigan    Ontario    New York   

In July 2016 I drove a nice loop through northern Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP), crossing into Ontario for a couple days before heading south to Niagara Falls for a couple nights, then into New York. The main purpose was to get to the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMWMOA) 44th annual National Rally in New York state, taking the long way around. My return home from the rally was across the U.S. via Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana for a nice 10 days on the motorcycle.

The first day was an uneventful drive into scenic northern Wisconsin. I estimated about 1,600 miles for this trip, we'll see how close I am at the end (ooh, suspense included free of charge). After I stopped for the night, I got a notice the rally had just provided an App! I was one of the first to download it. The App provided updated information about the events, seminars, food options, and a rally map. It also allowed us to upload pictures with information about our travels to the rally. I provided a picture of me and my motorcycle that same night and several other pictures the remainder of the trip.

The next day was a pleasant drive along the shore of Lake Michigan (my first of the 5 Great Lakes). Then crossing into the state of Michigan, I drove a bit further north to get to the shore of Lake Superior (my second of the 5 Great Lakes). Here is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior (since 1849), the Whitefish Point Lighthouse along with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The iconic SS Edmund Fitzgerald sunk nearby in 1975. I also visited the Soo Locks in Sault St Marie (Michigan, not Ontario). Their visitor center has a great display telling the history and functionality of the Great Lakes lock system. When I was there, it just so happened the largest ship on the Great Lakes, MV Paul R. Tregurtha, was going through the lock. Great timing...

Connecting Sault St. Marie, Michigan and Sault St. Marie, Ontario is the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge. I bet that makes for a fun time for the residents of those 2 towns, they're probably both getting each other's mail. Once I crossed the U.S./Canadian border, I traveled on the Trans-Canada Highway (TC1) along Lake Huron shore (my third of the 5 Great Lakes) for a lot of my time in Ontario. However, a bit away from the lake, I had to stop in Sudbury, Ontario. There is lots of mining history in this area, specifically, nickel mining. In Sudbury, there is the Sudbury Science Center along with the Guinness World Record 9 metre (30-foot) wide Canadian nickel.

For those keeping track, I have now driven about 800 miles so far to get to Sudbury, about half way by my original calculation. Don't worry, I did the conversion from kilometres to miles for you...

This stretch of the trip through Ontario is rather sparse as related to traffic, towns, and people. Love it! All I have to do is enjoy driving my motorcycle, no traffic, towns, or people. As long as I make sure I don't run out of gas, this is really relaxing.

Getting back to the shoreline, Parry Sound provided the vital amenity I needed at this point in my trip through Canada. Finally, I found a Boston Pizza! I know it doesn't sound Canadian, but they have this chain across Canada and I really like the Boston Royal with pineapple. Since Parry Sound is the birthplace of Bobby Orr (he played for the Boston Bruins and Chicago Black Hawks), it is appropriate they have the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. Boston Bruins? So now Boston pizza sounds more Canadian.

Just after departing the shores of Lake Huron, is Barrie, Ontario located on the shores of Lake Simcoe (not one of the 5 Great Lakes). Well enjoying a walk through the downtown and along the water front, I found my Canadian dinner - Poutine. Basically, it is french fries with gravy, cheese curds, and a bunch of other stuff. I got mine topped with pierogi, bacon, and sour cream.

Before departing Barrie to drive to Toronto, I finally went to a Tim Hortons and had a Canadian Maple donut. Yummy! Now I'm in Canada...

Another perfect day, the weather has been like this the whole trip. I planned on stopping for part of the day for a short visit in Toronto, but compared to what I encountered so far on this trip, Toronto had just too much traffic. So, I made a last-minute decision to just continue on around Lake Ontario (my fourth of the 5 Great Lakes) to Niagara Falls.

I'm spending 2 nights in Niagara Falls. Last time I was here, a long time ago, there was a lot less going on. I knew it had been built up and I expected tourist activities, but there wasn't much they could do to change the falls. It does now have a lot of tourist activities, but it's done up pretty nice, reminds me of a Disney property. My hotel was central to everything and I walked to see the sites. I took some nice photos from the top of the 233-metre (764-foot) Skylon Tower, you really can't beat that view. They also had a package deal that included a 3D movie about the falls. You could almost feel the mist on your face like you were there. For my 2nd night, there was a firework display over the falls. That was really nice.

Time to head for the rally. I crossed the Rainbow Bridge into New York state, the rally location is only about 40 miles away in Hamburg, New York for 4 days and 3 nights. Lots of BMWs here, vendors, seminars, etc. They are estimating 5,000 people. I wanted to sign-up for a test ride of the BMW R1200RS, they stopped making the RS for a number of years but it's back, however, I never woke up early enough to get on that day's list before it filled up. No matter, I have my own RS I enjoy riding and probably wouldn't buy the new one anyway.

I had an enjoyable time at the rally. Met lots of people, all with BMWs in common. I spent a lot of time walking around just looking at the motorcycles and talking to people. I especially enjoyed the Airhead seminars that were presented by experts. I did win a raffle prize, a nice Frogg Toggs rain suit. Fortunately, I didn't need it this trip and unfortunately, I already have really nice rain gear.

The last day of the rally, I left later than I planned. To get home after the rally I expected to not do much sightseeing. But, most of the drive that first day was along Lake Erie (my fifth of the Great Lakes) and I stayed off the main roads through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, which was nice but took even longer than expected. I got to the small-town hotel very late, and the only thing open for food was a gas station (that could have very well been the name of the restaurant too - 'The Gas Station Food'). The next morning was the long remaining drive through Ohio, Indiana, then Illinois, and the inevitable encounter with lots of traffic.

So, I estimated 1,600 miles. Were you keeping track of where I went? The reality was 1,860 miles. More importantly, zero days of rain and 10 days of total fun!

Speaking of fun, the 5 Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior...

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Marinette, Wisconsin - Lots of parks, nice town to take a break.


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Marinette, Wisconsin - From Bridge Street, the Menominee River is the border with the state of Michigan.


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Michigan - Just one of the scenic stops while driving along Lake Michigan.


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Whitefish Point, Michigan - Whitefish Point Lighthouse on Lake Superior has been operating since 1849.


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Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan - The Soo Locks see about 7,000 ships pass through each year on the St. Marys River.


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Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan - Because of its location, the town has some touristy shops along West Portage Avenue near the Locks.


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Sudbury, Ontario - Guinness Book of Records world's largest coin, a 9 metre (30 foot) 1951 Canadian nickel. Makes my head almost look normal size.


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Parry Sound, Ontario - Parry Sound is part of the 30,000 Islands region, the world's largest freshwater archipelago. It's also the birthplace of hockey legend Bobby Orr (I guess he put all that frozen water to good use).


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Barrie, Ontario - Along the waterfront on Kempenfelt Bay.


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Barrie, Ontario - My poutine dinner - fries, cheese curds, and gravy. I got pierogi added to top it off for a truly international fare.


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Niagara Falls, Ontario - View of all 3 falls comprising Niagara Falls - American, Bridal Veil, and Horseshoe Falls - from the Skylon Tower, 233 metres (764 feet) above the Niagara River.


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Niagara Falls, Ontario - Me in front of Horseshoe Falls. The 'See the Falls in a Barrel Ride' ride was closed that day. Dang!


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Niagara Falls, Ontario - Part of the other spectacle that is Niagara Falls, the main street attractions.


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Hamburg, New York - Driving along Lake Erie, Hamburg was the location of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMWMOA) 2016 National Rally.


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Hamburg, New York - I made it!


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Hamburg, New York - Everything you need to survive for 4 days. Food, drinks, tires, spare parts...


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Hamburg, New York - Lots of free camping space.


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Hamburg, New York - Just one of the many seminars I attended.


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Hamburg, New York - Always on the lookout for vanity license plates.


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Hamburg, New York - The Vintage Display, of course for BMW that means 40 or 50 years old (my bike didn't qualify, but I could).


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Hamburg, New York - I won a raffle prize! A Frogg Toggs rain suit (fortunately I didn't have to use it this trip).