Wisconsin    Minnesota    Ontario    Michigan   

In July 2017 I drove a nice loop through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ontario, and Michigan for 10 days. The main purpose was to get to the BMW Riders Association (BMWRA) motorcycle rally in Petoskey, Michigan. The first day was just getting away from all the busy Chicago traffic and into central Wisconsin. When I left home, the weather was reporting some storms along the way. Fortunately, I was able to dodge them and avoid the rain on the first day. The first night was spent in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Happy Canada Day! I'm in the U.S. for Canada Day on the 1st of July, but plan on being in Canada for the 4th of July (Bizarro World). I drove a lot of nice back roads in Wisconsin, through some nice towns like Tomahawk, Minocqua, Mercer, Ironwood, and Ashland. I did take the time to stop at Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty in Minocqua for a hearty ole time lumberjack breakfast, really looked forward to that. This eventually took me along the southern shore of Lake Superior before crossing the border into Minnesota. I spent the night in Duluth, Minnesota. Oddly, the hotel Wi-Fi wasn't working, fortunately, the Burger King Wi-Fi next door was available. It was not a long drive today, but the roads and lack of traffic made it very pleasant, with several stops along the way to enjoy the scenery.

Leaving Duluth, I was now traveling along the northern shore of Lake Superior to get into Canada. In Grand Marais, Minnesota did I mention I found the world's best donut? I ate a maple glazed donut with bacon and chocolate swirl. What could be better? It took me several photos to get the correct composition of me eating the donut. One more bite and bad picture, I would have had to buy another. The things I go through for you all to enjoy my trips. When I crossed into Canada, there were no issues. It was then a short drive to my hotel in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Planning ahead pays, since I knew there was a Boston Pizza restaurant near my hotel, so I walked over there for a Boston Royal pizza with pineapple. Yummy! What a great way to end the day.

I planned on spending a day in Thunder Bay. So, the next day, I spent part of the day in Fort William Historical Park. They have a number of buildings and events going on where they recreate historical times from the 1800s. They have tinsmiths, blacksmiths, a kitchen selling baked goods, houses, barns, and some other buildings. A number of these buildings have people recreating the crafts from back then. They even had a battle re-enactment they performed. Just outside Thunder Bay is the 40 metre (131 foot) Kakabeka Falls on the Kaministiquia River. The falls have been nicknamed the 'Niagara of the North' due to its size. Let's just agree to disagree. On a scenic overlook above Thunder Bay is the inspirational Terry Fox Memorial and lookout. The memorial was created to mark the spot near where Terry Fox ended his run. The monument depicts Terry Fox atop a pedestal that lists all of the places he passed through on his cross-country run.

Before I left Thunder Bay, I found the Scandinavian Home Restaurant and had a great breakfast. When I left Thunder Bay, I was on the Trans-Canada Highway to Nipigon, Ontario. Most of this stretch of road is along Lake Superior. In Nipigon I enjoyed a Canadian lunch at Tim Hortons, anything covered in maple. In Marathon, Ontario, it was about time for dinner, but I was an hour or so away from my hotel in Wawa. I wasn't sure what I would have to eat in Wawa, so decided to stop now at the A&W (can't go wrong with that). Wawa looks small on the map and even if there isn't anything to eat there, this should suffice for the night. Before getting to Wawa I found an interesting birthplace in White River, the birthplace of Winnie-the-Pooh. There was a real bear named that, and he was from White River. Long story short, the man who had Winnie took him to the London Zoo before going on to fight in WWI. This is where the author of the Winnie-the-Pooh series, A.A. Milne, encountered Winnie and came up with the stories for his son Christopher Robin. It was a real nice drive along Lake Superior before finally arriving in Wawa, Ontario for the night. Yes, Wawa is a real place. I can prove it, they have a Tim Hortons, and I got a strawberry shortcake donut for a snack. Happy 4th of July! I'm in Canada for the 4th of July, but remember I was in the U.S. for Canada Day.

Another day, another day driving along Lake Superior shoreline. Just outside Wawa was Lake Superior Provincial Park, although the scenery wasn't really any different than the last couple days of driving. I will point out, there were not a lot of towns along this stretch of road in Ontario. But this also meant no traffic and really nice roads. About 64 kilometres (40 miles) west of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario is a plaque for the halfway point of the Trans-Canada Highway between St. John's, Newfoundland and Victoria, British Columbia (7,841 kilometres or 4,860 miles total length). When I was here in this area last year, I was actually staying in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Now I'm spending the night in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. I'm so International. I ate my dinner at The Swiss Chalet restaurant, real good bar-b-que.

Back in the U.S., with an uneventful border crossing. However, to get from the Michigan Upper Peninsula (U.P.) to where the rally was, I had to cross the Mackinaw Bridge. It was crazy winds going over the bridge, the 4th longest suspension bridge in the world. It doesn't help that much of the bridge surface is steel grates, not a pleasant feeling while driving a motorcycle. Oh, there was something about rain I was going to mention. That's it. It was also raining as I crossed the bridge. But the weather cleared up before I finally arrived at the BMW Riders Association (BMWRA) motorcycle rally in Petoskey, Michigan right along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. It's estimated maybe 1,000 motorcycles will be attending over the next 3 days. Before going to register at the rally, I registered at my hotel, cleaned up the bike, and emptied my side bags. The weather was saying a 60% chance of thunderstorms that night. My hotel had parking with an overhead canopy, so that should be fine. The weather also said the remaining days of the rally were supposed to be gorgeous and in the 70s°F (20s°C).

Talk about coincidence. The day I left for this trip, I found out from a Northern Ireland work colleague of mine (Colin) that another Northern Ireland colleague (Andrew D'arcy) was going to be at Beaver Island, Michigan the same time that I was there. The BMW motorcycle rally is just 16 miles from the ferry that goes to Beaver Island. So, I drove down there and yelled his name a number of times across the water. For some reason, people were looking at me funny. So, it seemed odd that this is where he was going, but then I found out he has some friends who live on Beaver Island. That still seemed odd until I got here and noticed on the ferry not only a shamrock, but the ferry is named Emerald Isle. Since I knew it wasn't going all the way to Ireland, I assumed it was only going as far as Beaver Island. I spent some more time at the rally. Then went riding along the shore of Lake Michigan. It was a bit crowded on the roads, but still some nice places to stop along the way.

It was a nice rally, with a great location on the shores of Lake Michigan. This allowed for a couple scenic rides throughout each day of the rally. They had a variety of vendors and some beautiful antique bikes on display. It is always a pleasure to walk around and see a collection of BMW motorcycles together. When I left the rally, I went via northern Michigan and Wisconsin. This meant I had to cross the Mackinaw Bridge again. Luckily, this time the weather was much better and it wasn't too bad to cross. This allowed me to drive along the western shore of Lake Michigan to get to Wisconsin. It was a pleasant drive and I stayed that night in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Before I left Marinette for the final drive home, the weather mentioned a storm coming from Minnesota. It was supposed to be raining before noon and then the remainder of the afternoon. Fortunately, I was headed to south Wisconsin and I didn't encounter the rain. In Peshtigo, Wisconsin I did encounter a plaque for the 45th Parallel! Half way between the North Pole and the Equator. I thought it felt like I've been driving a long time. Total for this trip was 1,922 miles (3,093 kilometres).

USA flag .gif3k Wisconsin map .jpg18k
Wisconsin - wisconsin2017_000.jpg12K

Wausau, Wisconsin - Yes, it's a place to stay the night.


Wisconsin - wisconsin2017_001.jpg13K

Minocqua, Wisconsin - The giant Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe outside the Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty.


Wisconsin - wisconsin2017_002.jpg12K

Mercer, Wisconsin - Home of the world's largest talking loon, known as Claire d'Loon.


Wisconsin - wisconsin2017_003.jpg12K

Ashland, Wisconsin - Me and my bike along the scenic shores of Lake Superior in Prentice Park.


Wisconsin - wisconsin2017_004.jpg12K

Ashland, Wisconsin - The giant smallmouth bass. The fish in Ashland are just jumping out of the water.


Wisconsin - wisconsin2017_005.jpg13K

Peshtigo, Wisconsin - The marker indicating the half-way point between the North Pole and equator. If I just keep driving, I'll get there eventually.


USA flag .gif3k Minnesota map .jpg19k
Minnesota - minnesota2017_008.jpg12K

Duluth, Minnesota - The view of downtown Duluth across Lake Superior.


Minnesota - minnesota2017_009.jpg12K

Two Harbors, Minnesota - The 1,000-watt Spilt Rock Lighthouse on the shore of Lake Superior started operating in 1910.


Minnesota - minnesota2017_010.jpg12K

Grand Marais, Minnesota - This small town has a scenic location and a booming tourist industry.


Minnesota - minnesota2017_011.jpg11K

Grand Marais, Minnesota - World's best donuts? Why would they lie to me?


Minnesota - minnesota2017_012.jpg12K

Grand Portage, Minnesota - The Grand Portage National Monument, just before crossing into Canada, features an exhibit about the Ojibwe culture and fur trade.


Canadian flag .gif2k Ontario map .jpg17k
Ontario - ontario2017_000.jpg12K

Thunder Bay, Ontario - Nothing says 'Welcome to Canada', more than a Boston Royal Pizza with pineapple.


Ontario - ontario2017_001.jpg13K

Thunder Bay, Ontario - The Terry Fox Memorial marking near the spot where he ended his run.


Ontario - ontario2017_002.jpg14K

Thunder Bay, Ontario - The Fort William Historical Park has 57 buildings on 250 acres for you to get your history fix.


Ontario - ontario2017_003.jpg13K

Terrace Bay, Ontario - Just on the edge of town, the 30 metre (100 foot) Aguasabon Falls is a stunning site.


Ontario - ontario2017_004.jpg13K

Marathon, Ontario - Just another nice place to stop along Lake Superior and enjoy the scenery.


Ontario - ontario2017_005.jpg13K

White River, Ontario - Their tribute to their hometown mascot, the birthplace of Winnie-the-Pooh. They have an annual celebration every August.


Ontario - ontario2017_006.jpg12K

Wawa, Ontario - The 8.5 metre (28 foot) goose welcomes you to Wawa, the Ojibwe name for wild goose. Oh, that's why the town is named that.


Ontario - ontario2017_007.jpg15K

Halfway point from St. John's, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia - Still in Ontario, on the Trans-Canada Highway.


Ontario - ontario2017_008.jpg11K

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - The Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site is a heritage museum depicting life in the 1800s.


Ontario - ontario2017_009.jpg13K

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - Dr. Roberta Bondar, born in Sault Ste. Marie, is Canada's first female astronaut and flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1992.


USA flag .gif3k Michigan map .jpg21k
Michigan - michigan2017_000.jpg12K

St. Ignace / Mackinaw City, Michigan - The Mackinac Bridge, opened in 1957, has a total length of 26,372 feet (8,038 metres), with a suspension length of 8,613 feet (2,625 metres).


Michigan - michigan2017_001.jpg12K

Petoskey, Michigan - I and my bike made it to the BMWRA Rally!


Michigan - michigan2017_002.jpg13K

Petoskey, Michigan - Part of the collection of vintage BMW motorcycles on display.


Michigan - michigan2017_003.jpg11K

Petoskey, Michigan - Always fun to find a clever license plate.


Michigan - michigan2017_004.jpg12K

Charlevoix, Michigan - A bit touristy, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, the town has a drawbridge connecting the 2 bodies of water.


Michigan - michigan2017_005.jpg12K

Escanaba, Michigan - Motorcycle parking only?


Michigan - michigan2017_006.jpg12K

Escanaba, Michigan - Splendiferous...