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Old 07-15-2013, 10:59 PM   #1
DesertRider463 OP
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8,000 Miles to Tunica

Hello fellow travellers! This ride report thread will chronicle an 8,000+ mile journey that a riding buddy and I are taking in the summer of 2013. He goes by BK97 in other places, but still needs to sign up on here. You can see my handle on this ride report.

Where did the thread title come from, you might ask? Well let me tell you...

BK97 and I were on a six-day run down the Mississippi river and across the gulf coast last year and enjoyed it. Being a die-hard ADV reader myself, I've been wanting to make the Tierra del Fuego run and suggested to my friend that we should do that, but BK97 said "Mexico, no way! How about Canada" and I said "Okay, that sounds good to me. I'll go to TdF next year. Let's go north for this trip!"

As you can tell, the discussion was very deep and required a lot of high-level thinking on my part. (NOT!)

When we started to discuss the trip over the phone a few weeks later, we both naturally gravitated toward one of our favorite meeting places that is centrally located for us, namely Tunica, Mississippi. Actually, it's not _perfectly_ central between the two of us, but we both like going there, so that was good enough. For me, it's about 75 miles; for him, it's about 275 miles. But, as has already been mentioned, we both enjoy the blackjack tables at various local entertainment establishments in that neighborhood, so we agreed to meet there.

The next step was to explore the issue of where to go next, since we had hammered out the departure point. Really, that's not completely truthful. In addition to deciding we would depart from Tunica, we had also already agreed we would return there. Anyhow, all we had left to do was to fill in the blank in between "Hey, the trip will start in Tunica" and "We should end the trip in Tunica". As you can see, we faced a major dilemma.

There was also that inconvenient little matter called "working for a living". But, we both managed to line things up so that we'd have mid-July to mid-August free for the trip. The pieces were all starting to fall in place! We would depart from Tunica in mid-July and return to Tunica in mid-August. In between, we'd go ride through Canada. Simple, right? No more planning needed.

BK97 went to work using his extensive background in planning and optimization and developed a very cool Excel spreadsheet that incorporated each significant waypoint as we identified them. I did my best to offer helpful and carefully thought-out contributions such as "We should ride over to the Pacific ocean" and "How about Sturgis?" and "Want to see the Doobie Brothers and Steve Miller Band in Denver? I can get tickets..." and finally, because I knew he'd go for it in a heartbeat: "Hey, since we're going to be out west for the concert, we should loop down through Las Vegas..." That last part, I helped intellectualize and rationalize by saying we could see the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, the Painted Desert, and the Petrified Forest along the way, making it sound like the purpose of the "loop" was far more cerebral than it really was. Yep, pretty transparent, but there it is. BK97 understood and went along with my lame rationalization of something that really cannot be rationalized.

Anyway, once the planning spreadsheet came together, he tallied up the estimated miles and we came to the conclusion that we'd be riding a little over 8,000 miles on this journey. Since you already know our departure point and our return point, you can now see that the thread title -- "8,000 Miles to Tunica" -- represents our dual goals for the journey: (1) go to Tunica, and (2) ride a lot!

There it is, in a nutshell. We could have used other creative thread titles, such as "There and Back Again", but that was already taken.

Another candidate title was "Ride a Lot, Sweat a Lot, and Lose a Lot" (errr...umm.... you know, the casino connection and riding a long way in the summer), but BK97 and I are both eternal optimists and hope to not lose a lot along the way, even though we'll hit more than one casino (more on that in a later post). Ride a lot? Definitely. Sweat a lot? No doubt, after all we're talking mid-July to mid-August. But lose a lot? Never! ha!

There you have it. That's our plan.

We are on the road already. We departed July 11th and plan to be back by August 15th. I'm planning to "catch up" on daily reports as rapidly as possible and will post more here.

Thanks for any thoughts or prayers you can send our way. I'm sure we'll need them!

DR463

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Old 07-16-2013, 07:35 AM   #2
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Day 6 Plan

We just crossed into Canada at Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, last night. I'm still working on getting the pics uploaded from earlier days and will hit that some more tonight from the motel. Today is our first day of riding Canada style, eh?

Daily trip log so far:
1 -- Tunica
2 -- St Louis, MO
3 -- Springfield, IL (yep, I know, a short day ride but will explain why later)
4 -- Grand Rapids, MI
5 -- Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada
6 -- Striking out on the road...

Last night, I wrote a decent post with several pics from day 1 of the trip; however, it bombed out in preview mode and I'm now moving on to "plan B" on uploading the pics. Hopefully, once this posting process gets into a regular rhythm, along with the overall trip, things will smooth out. Looking at all that it takes to actually make these ride reports appear makes me even more grateful for the work of the authors of classic ride reports that I've enjoyed in the past. Thanks guys and gals!
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Old 07-16-2013, 07:41 PM   #3
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Day 1

The day is finally here! We've been looking forward to it for some time. BK97 had a command center established with a wall-size map in his garage and lots of time spent out there polishing up his bike and planning the route. We also have spent a fair amount of time on the phone discussing the pros and cons of various trip options.

We are going to meet in Tunica on Thursday afternoon, July 11, 2013. I'm heading out and need to make the first "official" gas stop of the trip about 15 miles from my house. Here's a pic of my ride on day 1 of the trip:



I'm riding a 2012 Yamaha VStar 1300 tourer. BK97 is riding a 2011 Harley Road King. As time permits, I'll make some later posts with more detail on the gear for both of us.

So, all fueled up and 60 miles to go. As you can see from the water puddles, a small shower had just passed through about 30 minutes earlier, but everything was looking like it might stay dry for my brief ride.

As I rode north on I-55, I found myself between a huge thunderstorm to the south and some fast-moving and large clouds to the north. As I passed Sardis, MS, I thought "Hey, you should head west over to the blues highway (MS 61) and then cut north up to Tunica". To my later regret, my "Let's make some miles on the Interstate" side won out.

After about 10 minutes, one of those fast movers to the north stalled out over I-55 and started dumping. No choice but to put on the rain gear because it was coming down in torrents. Of course, 15 minutes later I emerged from the north side of the storm into that "gentle Mississippi warmth". Actually, it was HOT and there was no way I could continue to ride in rain gear.

Why even mention this? Mostly for my buddy "Apoculos" who was with me the last time I left on a big trip. He gave me a ride over to buy the bike and I left from the guy's home who sold the bike to me to go on a 2,500 mile ride down to Florida, over to Texas, and back home. As soon as I left on that trip, a HUGE downpour hit town. It was so bad that cars were pulled over trying to wait the storm out. Not me, of course. You already know that I have that "let's cover some miles" defect in my thinking and so I rode out into about 30 minutes of soak-you-to-the-bone and soak-every-single-thing-you-own highway fun. Yes, Apoculos, here is yet another major trip for me that is starting out with a rainstorm on day one.

After getting clear of the storm, I was passing through Hernando, Mississippi, and saw one of the most awesome pizza delivery vehicles ever. It seemed like a good reason to stop, grab a quick photo, and ditch my rain gear, all in one. These were definitely "first class pizzas", no doubt!



Right around the corner, embodying the contrasts that are always available in my home state of Mississippi, was this fellow who was selling food from a different kind of vehicle. He and I chatted for a while. He's been selling there for a good while and has seen a lot of folks come and go.



Heading west out of Hernando, toward the Mississippi delta, I passed one of our thousands examples of crawling Kudzu. Rumor has it that this plant was imported from Japan to help control erosion in our state several decades ago. It's hard to tell if anything is actually eroding, because the plant covers everything it comes into contact with, whether you want it to or not. Here's an example, on a tree that's over 30 feet tall:



Speaking of the delta, I'm always struck by the sense of entering another space whenever I ride down off the bluffs into the vast fertile flatness that is the Mississippi Delta. You come sailing down the hill and you arrive. It is a different kind of space, filled with fertile soil and the efforts of generations of folks who have lived and worked in this land.



Once you're actually down on the "floor" of the delta, having left the bluffs behind, here's what you see:









That last one looks back toward the bluffs, off to the southeast of where I came down. You can see where "the Delta" ends and the "Mississippi Hill Country" begins.

Moving again and drawing near to Tunica:



and the backside of that sign, which could almost be the "Official Theme Sign" of our trip:



and a helpful highway sign, surrounded by light from the setting sun, to offer a sense of what lies ahead



Finally, I arrived and found BK97's bike already there. That's his Harley on the right:



There will be plenty more bike pics, as well as both of us and other sights from the journey, on the reports for the following days. We're going to be gone a little over a month, but our wives seem to be "on board" with us being gone.

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Old 07-18-2013, 07:16 AM   #4
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Day 2 -- Tunica to St Louis

One thing that we have to get out of the way upfront is related with another candidate title for this ride report. We almost decided to call it "The Trail of Dirty Socks". Why? Well, because instead of messing around with multiple loads of laundry, it's easier to just wash shirts & jeans together and chunk things like socks. Plus, "8,000 Miles to Tunica" sounds a little better than "The Trail of Dirty Socks". Wonder what the hotel maid thought when she found this?



Anyway, on with the trip. We're leaving Tunica this morning and heading for St. Louis. Here's the view from the parking lot, panning from left to right.







While BK97 had a pretty good run at the tables last night, I'd be willing to bet that the good folks at Horseshoe wish I would stay another day...

We rode north up I-55 and swept past Memphis without stopping. Since it's so close to home for us and we've both been there numerous times, it didn't have much attraction. We're probably like those people who live in/around Orlando and yawn when someone says "Disneyworld". I'm kind of that way whenever someone says "Graceland", even though I am an Elvis fan. After going there about 14-dozen times with different family members, friends, and other visitors, I can give the complete tour myself.

Rolling northward, we passed West Memphis, AR, and burned up some miles skipping over Arkansas toward Missouri. We started to see signs for Lambert's Cafe shortly after crossing the state line and decided to stop there for lunch. My son and I used to stop there when we were both out riding the motocross circuit, but it was BK97's first visit.

Lambert's is an American Institution. Seriously. It is located in Sikeston, Missouri. They serve up some great food in a fun way in a friendly atmosphere! One of the main things that everyone who's ever been there will remember is that Lamberts is "The Home of Throwed Rolls". Yes, they _throw_ the rolls at, to, and toward you. Sometimes they miss...and it's "fun" for whoever manages to interrupt the path of the airborne roll.









The rolls aren't just rolls at Lamberts. They are butter-delivery-vehicles. Fortunately, they seem to have a never-ending tub of butter packets available! There's not much that tastes better than a piping-hot roll covered in rapidly-melting butter.

Time to go. This sign speaks truth:



Our bikes are ready to get on the road.



Sunset reflecting off the arch, as seen from the hotel window in St. Louis:



We'll get some more arch pics in the morning from across the river. Next stop, Springfield, Illinois. G'night.

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Old 07-21-2013, 12:14 AM   #5
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Day 3 -- St. Louis to Springfield, IL

Up and getting ready to head out again. Here's a view from the hotel, looking toward the east over the Mississippi river. Started messing around with the helmet cam some this morning, but have decided not to mount it yet on my helmet because I just really haven't found a mounting spot that feels "right". For now, I'll just carry it in my pocket or in the handlebar bag. It's a ContourHD and seems pretty simple to use. The other thing to think about is where to host the videos. For now, I'm going to focus more on photos 'cause that doesn't require as much mental energy and I'm still working on a "system" for organizing/managing/sharing all of this stuff that won't bomb out in the longer run.



I'll try to film the arch some using the helmet cam as we ride by, but am not expecting much from that yet. However, we should be able to get some good views from the Illinois side of the river, looking back at St. Louis.

Made it across. There's a great "viewing platform" over by the casino on the Illinois side of the river. You need the vertical clearance that the elevated platform provides in order to see over the levees along the side of the river. When we arrived, there were a couple of guys riding sharp-looking Honda Valkyrie bikes who we visited with for a while. They're heading toward a big Valkyrie rally up in Wisconsin. Here's an arch shot:



And a couple of BK97:





In addition to seeing the layout of the viewing platform, you may notice that he's sporting an awesome Motoport jacket that is being broken in on this trip. It's an impressive piece of work and feels really substantial. Maybe I can get one for Christmas this year! We'll have one or two "gear review" posts later on during the trip and will discuss that jacket some more.

And similar St. Louis "Gateway Arch" shots of me:





And a final parting shot of the arch, panorama-style:



According to Wikipedia, the Gateway Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the U.S and the tallest stainless steel monument in the world. It also has a pretty awesome underground museum at its base, which is also where you can get into the elevators that take you up to the top. It's a pretty funky ride, because the elevator/tram cars have to "ratchet" as you move up the arch in order to remain vertical. Think about what the ride would be like if those tram cars didn't ratchet! The arch opened to the public in 1967.

I didn't take very many pics today, but will try to get more as the trip continues. We arrived in Springfield to hang out with some of my friends (thanks Nita & Ken!), float in their pool, and go to a "fry" out at Lake Springfield. There are lots of different "boating clubs" that have locations around the lake. Each summer, the clubs hold their own "fry" events to raise funds for property taxes and other purposes. A "fry" involves lots of fried food (usually chicken), cold drinks, and live music.

The fry we went to was hosted by the "Prop Club". They had a good turn-out and everyone seemed to be having a really good time! The band was "dynamite" and had a multi-decade-spanning playlist that seemed to keep things moving pretty well. The band's name was "Kung Fu Dynamite" and we really liked their sound! Here, I'll post their link in order to send some "props" out to them:

http://www.reverbnation.com/kfd

If you're ever riding past Springfield in the summer, I'd encourage you to give a fry a chance. Here's this summer's schedule. Folks in the know say that they have a similar pattern each year.

http://www.lakespringfield.org/calendar.html

We crashed out after the fry. Tomorrow, we're aiming to get up early and make it to somewhere in the neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Old 07-21-2013, 08:32 AM   #6
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Day 4 -- Springfield to Grand Rapids

It's a nice, sunny day as we head out from Springfield. We thought we'd wait until reaching the edge of town before stopping for fuel, then decided to ride a little further. When we finally pulled off and drove a couple of miles to a little town off the highway that had advertised gasoline back on the highway, we found that the _one_ gas station in town was closed down with a hand-written sign on the pumps saying "Sorry, no gas until Monday." Uh-oh... running on reserve now. Back to the highway and down a few more miles to Illinopolis where we found an open station. Whew!

Riding on through Illinois, the scenery is green and pretty basic:



That's it. That's our one photo from today. We covered 356 miles of crowded interstate highways today with not much to see, other than periodic road construction sites.

We rolled past Chicago after miles and miles of cornfields like the one shown above. Fortunately, we detoured around the southeastern edge of the city and missed most of the traffic.

Rant alert: What is it about Illinois? Why can't they manage their budgets? They are taxing the heck out of everything, including motorists who are about to depart their state, and they're still massively upside down on their public debts and pension obligations. We're rolling smoothly toward Indiana and suddenly there's a toll booth sign ahead. Yes, a toll booth on an Interstate highway. I asked the nice lady who took my money how many more booths there were after that, thinking I'd need to keep some money in an easier-to-reach pocket and she said "none". Why not? Because we were leaving Illinois just a couple of miles afterwards. It was like a "spite tax" or a "stick-it-to-you-on-your-way-out-of-town tax". Really? That's my departure memory for Illinois. A tax. For an Interstate highway (aren't they paid for out of all of the fuel taxes we already pay?) Good riddance, Illinois!

Riding on, we saw countless other bikes on the highway. That continued as we burned up more miles across Indiana and into Michigan. Lots of folks out enjoying a beautiful riding Sunday! We were too, as we turned toward Grand Rapids. The route we were on was supposed to be along Lake Superior, but we never saw it one single time from the highway.

We stopped just short of Grand Rapids and stayed at an inexpensive little motel called the Gun Lake Motel. Good basic room at a good price. Plus, the guy who was running the place was a fellow rider. Their parking lot was soft-packed dirt/sand, so he voluntarily showed up by our room with a couple of steel plates for our kickstands to rest upon. Very cool -- thanks brother!

Well, not much "color" in today's ride report. I did goof around with the helmet cam some today. Once I figure out what to do with hosting the video files somewhere, I'll post 'em.

Canada tomorrow!

------------------------

EDIT: Okay, had some fun with the helmet cam video files. While I still don't have a hosting solution for them, I did pull some notable frame grabs to post here.

More Illinois flatland and farms:





There's always something funky on a vehicle somewhere:



One of the side-benefits of not having mounted the helmet cam yet is that it can be used in some "alternative" filming modes. For example, if you're bored riding down the road and notice some interesting clouds:



Or if you're just wanting to see how your fellow traveller is doing in traffic:



For now, I think I'll keep my filming options open and not mount the cam on my helmet. This is kind of fun!

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Old 07-22-2013, 09:52 AM   #7
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Day 5 -- Grand Rapids to Sault Ste Marie

Today's the day -- we'll cross into Canada via Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced "soo saint Marie") and begin our trek westward! In addition to riding through the "UP" (the upper peninsula) of Michigan, we'll ride over two bridges. First, a riding shot of Michigan. We've left the cornfields of Illinois behind for some woods.



We stopped off at Walmart in Great Rapids, MI, (which is bigger? Grand Rapids or Great Rapids? That's an example of the kind of random thoughts that go through your mind when you're riding for hours and hours) to grab some more supplies (clean socks!) and a couple of small spare gas cans because we intend to do some side-trips out west where fuel might not be readily available. Afterwards, we rode up the highway a few miles and pulled off at a "scenic overlook" to check out the sights.





The bikes are ready to get back on the road. Here's BK97's Harley and a shot of my Yamaha (through the trees from the scenic overlook) showing the new gas cans.





Here's what happens when your helmet cam isn't attached to your helmet. Can you tell I'm smiling for the camera?



Riding onward, we approached the Macinac Bridge. Somebody told me that it's "Macinaw", but I don't know if that's the correct way to say it or not. The bridge is also called the "Big Mac", which is much easier to say. According to Wikipedia, its span of 8,614 feet long makes it the longest bridge between anchorages in the Western hemisphere.

Approaching:



Oh great! More construction:



Double shot -- bridge workers and BK97 in the mirror:



You haven't had "fun" as a rider until you've ridden over thousands of feet of metal grating. It's a constant "pulling you to the left", "no, back to the right", "wait, back to the left", or "lets see-saw back and forth to simulate riding on ice"...



We finally made it across the bridge and rode through rural/scenic UP of Michigan. Not much to say, other than scenic/rural. Sorry, no pics.

One more bridge to go as we approach Canada. This is it -- the last exit before leaving the U.S.A.!





At the bottom of the other side of the bridge, we hit the line of vehicles waiting to cross the border. It was pretty hot sitting in the sun, but not a big deal. At the entry point, they asked about the purpose of our trip and whether or not we were carrying any tobacco or alcohol. All good and cleared into Canada, eh!



Going to the motel and then back on the road through Ontario in the morning.
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Old 07-23-2013, 06:22 PM   #8
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From one of your big sisters

Very cool! I couldn't check your report the other day when I signed, but got through today. Sounds like a good time. Take care.
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Old 07-23-2013, 09:18 PM   #9
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Day 6 -- Sault Ste Marie to Marathon, Ontario

Welcome to Canada, eh!!!

Had to bang out a ride report before we left the hotel. Here are some of the critical "tools of the trade":



We hit the highway heading west (north, by compass) on Hwy 17, which is part of the "Trans-Canada Highway" system. Follow the green maple leaf logo and make it to Vancouver. What could be simpler?

Let's get this out of the way up front. Canada has trees. A _lot_ of trees. We have lots of trees in Mississippi and Tennessee, but that doesn't begin to compare to the vastness of the forests we passed. I wish I was a better photographer, because I know these shots won't begin to capture the beauty of the vistas we're enjoying on our bikes.



Had to pull over and grab a shot of this beautiful spot -- too bad we can't spend a week camping here!



BK97 is a patient fellow traveller. When I hit the brakes and make the camera sign (you'll have to conjure up your own mental image of me doing my "mime act" as though I have a camera in my right hand as I whip a u-turn because I haven't figured out how to take a picture of myself while miming while u-turning...) and he'll hold up a little ways down the road while I grab a snapshot or two.



If you see an "abandoned bike" like this along the Trans-Canada Highway, you know that one of a couple of things has happened. #1 -- look for a rider with a camera off snapping pictures; or, #2 -- look for a rider who's "super-hydrated" off standing behind a tree.



Coming up on the left is the largest of the Great Lakes. Here's the sign, in case you couldn't recall the name of the "big lake they call Gitche Gumee" (to quote Gordon Lightfoot). Or, for the more literary readers out there, that same name was used a few years earlier by Longfellow in "The Song of Hiawatha".







It's hard to believe just how big that lake really is, as we'll be riding around its edge for a couple of days. Even so, we will have only covered a fraction of its shoreline.

Watch out for these critters!



These folks in Ontario are _very_ serious about speeding tickets. Here's their approach to getting a message across to heavy-footed highway drivers:



And, just a hundred meters later, a quick reminder for those of you who couldn't quite read the first sign as you whipped past it somewhere up in the $295 rate of speed. Forget about the words, just pay attention to the dollar signs and numbers...



Hmmmm, this might be an interesting turn, but we probably don't have time to fight witches or negotiate with the "Wiz" on this run.



I don't remember seeing this mountain or mine in the movie:





Lots of fellow riders on the road. We ran with this crew for 30-40 minutes.



There are miles and miles of two-lane highway to cover. Fortunately, they have these "racing arrow" sections periodically.



We spent a fair amount of time "in the clouds" toward the end of today's ride. This was a super restaurant we stopped at to eat, near Marathon.



And the view from our hotel parking lot:



Wonder if we're going to regret not packing our own motorcycle covers? Fortunately, the nice lady at the front desk let us pull up under the eaves for the night. On to Thunder Bay tomorrow!
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Old 07-24-2013, 06:55 PM   #10
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Wicked Following the ride...

DesertRider463 & BK97,

Following your ride! Be safe out there and keep posting pics. More pics

I can provide server space for videos. Let me know.

Cheers,
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:33 PM   #11
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Friends and Family

Hey, we're happy to have you all along! Thanks for the words of encouragement and support.

@Chitti -- thanks for the offer of server space. Will let you know if we need it. And, more importantly, we wish you were here with us in person on your KLR. You'd enjoy the ride, for sure. Hopefully, we can make a run together next summer.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-25-2013, 12:13 AM   #12
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Day 7 -- Marathon to Thunder Bay

It's time to get on the bikes and get going so that we can make it to Thunder Bay today. The clouds are still hanging around this morning. It must be some kind of "lake effect" thing. Anyone care to explain? We're just simple motorcycle riders and we need to get rolling...so we won't worry about understanding the clouds, but will just push on through them (gently, of course, LOL)!





Once the clouds cleared, we started trying to make some miles. Unfortunately, it's summertime, which also means it's "highway repair time" up here. That's okay, though, because: (a) we appreciate having a great road to enjoy with our bikes, and (b) it gives us more time to soak in the spectacular surroundings.



Hello again, Lake Superior!







Lots of highway safety features at work here. Can you count 'em all?



Always ready to go!



More road work. Here's another construction safety stop. Summer = bridge repair time. That means that all of the traffic gets channeled down to a single lane across the portion of the bridge that is not being worked on this summer. Stop here, please. Whew, can't wait for this to be re-surfaced! It's "interesting" to ride on, to say the least.



Take a little closer look at the road surface we're riding on today. No two seconds of travel are ever the same on this stuff. It's a warbling / wobbling way to weave toward your destination. You just have to go with the flow, but try to periodically make minor adjustments to the general heading so that your bike stays in your lane, as you wander down this section of highway.



Need something? It's probably over here to the right...



Welcome to Thunder Bay!



Another day, another ride, and another great Canadian city. Time to get some food, some rest, and make some plans for tomorrow's ride.
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:28 AM   #13
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Eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertRider463 View Post

Need something? It's probably over here to the right...


LOL... Blue paint must be cheaper in Canada. Canadian HWY officials should take Operations Management 101!

That road surface will eat your tires like crazy!

Be safe and enjoy!
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Old 07-28-2013, 09:09 PM   #14
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Day 8 -- Thunder Bay to Winnipeg

Good morning Thunder Bay!



And a panorama shot, since we're departing Lake Superior today:



The sky is a little overcast as we prepare to leave. Our hotel was great! Here's a shot of it from the parking lot.



On the highway. Still overcast after lunchtime.



We've got our riding gear on. BK97 calls his "clown pants". Wonder why? Here, you be the judge.



Look, you can even see those "safety orange" leggings from up here.



It might be a little overcast, but it is still beautiful here.



We're thinking of staying in Kenora, Ontario, tonight. We've been on the road for a little over 300 miles. There are 87,349 lakes around here. They were probably created by a massive bombardment of meteorites that all had ice cores that survived entry into our atmosphere and then melted when they hit to form the little lakes. See this map (thanks Google Maps!) for evidence of my claim.



Okay, there might not be 87,349 lakes AND they _might_ not have come from meteorites, but there are a LOT of lakes. Each and every single one appears to have its own name and some are quite catchy. For example, this sign really evoked thoughts of Tunica, Mississippi, and fit in with the title of this ride report.



Rolling in through the outskirts of Kenora, we saw a bug. A big bug. Somebody should warn the moose...



After stopping for a quick break, BK97 and I discussed options and decided to push on to Winnipeg. It's only another 130 miles or so, but we felt ready to ride. Today's mile tally will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 430 miles when we finish this last leg. By skipping this stop, we'll gain a "free day" that we can use later during the trip.

It's still overcast, which helps cut down on the "solar heat effect" for the last leg of today's ride!



We're almost to Winnipeg. It is flat here. Really, really flat! My friends and family out in the high plains of west Texas and eastern New Mexico would feel right at home.

Looking to the right (north):


And to the left (south):


As we'll learn over the next few days, we'll get to "enjoy" hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles of flatland. Winnipeg looks like a great city! Time to call it a night. The "Viscount Gort" (what the heck does that mean, anyway?) hotel is our stop for the night. Lots of good restaurant options nearby!
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:58 AM   #15
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Day 9 -- Winnipeg to Regina

Goodbye Winnipeg! We're rolling toward Regina today, leaving Manitoba behind for Saskatchewan. It is still flat. Very flat...



There are miles and miles and miles of yellow flowering fields. Must be some busy farmers and busy bees out there somewhere. Here's my bike drawing on some "flower power".



Welcome to Saskatchewan!



They have yellow flowering fields here, too. What kind of plants are these? Either mustard or canola? According to Canada's agriculture folks' website, Saskatchewan has historically produced almost 90 percent of the country's mustard crop, so I'm leaning toward mustard.



Rain clouds on the horizon. Did I mention that it is _very_ flat out here? You can see a storm coming from a million miles away. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan doesn't have any overpasses along this section of highway. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Which means: (a) we can see the storm coming, and (b) we are probably going to get wet.



Rain gear? Check. We're going in.

Here are few more pre-storm shots. We subsequently learned, by watching the local weatherman in Regina, that we had the "privilege" of getting to see some "shelf clouds" today. Yeah, thanks Mother Nature. (NOT!)



Up underneath the storm's leading edge now. Overpass? Not anywhere in site. We're committed. As a rider, you have two choices. First, you can stop and get soaked to the bone and sit in the storm waiting for up to an hour while it passes at its own speed. Sometimes, you've got no choice but to do so for safety reasons. However, if it is safe to ride at even a low speed, you want to take the second option, of pushing on through the storm. We'll take option two today, but it's clearly not going to be an easy ride. Two more pics and then it's time to stow the camera.





Honestly, it can feel sort of "lonely" riding into something like this. It's just you and your bike, counting on each other to make it through.



This storm. This mother of a storm. Words fail me. BK97 described it as "the most intense weather experience he's ever had". We are talking downpour, deluge, drenching, and dramatic. Lightning flashing. Thunder that is barely audible over the relentless drumbeat of water pounding on your helmet and entire body. We're driving west. The 50-60 MPH wind is blowing sheets of water out of the north, across your field of vision. I'm wishing I had a helmet cam inside my helmet because the water is literally flowing _horizontally_ across my faceplate. Riding slow. Thankfully, BK97's Harley has emergency flashers (note to self: rig up quad flashers for my bike -- why doesn't Yamaha give us that from the factory?) so we at least have some warning for anyone else crazy enough to ride through this epic storm. Lots of vehicles on the shoulder, waiting it out. We ride.

Finally, clear of the storm. From the date/time stamps on the digital pics, it looks like we were riding through it for a total of approximately 17 minutes. It seemed to last about two years...





BK97 still back there? Whew, we made it through!





Hints of blue sky! Only a rider who's been through such a storm knows how uplifting that teasing glimpse of blue can be.



The highway is drying out. We ride on.



Finally, we eased on in to Regina. Thankfully, our ride plan has us taking a break here for a couple of days. We can dry out, do laundry, hang out some, and enjoy some wonderful Canadian hospitality.

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