Superior Circle Tour: Getting To The Start

Our Superior starting point in Duluth where we don our rain gear.

Our Superior Circle Tour schedule has been refined and finalized, with each day’s destination carefully selected. Poldi is a wonderful travel agent, arranging and reserving a safe harbor for each night along the tour.

Our first day however, involves actually getting to the shores of Lake Superior from our home in Minneapolis, about 150 miles away. And our first night will be with Poldi’s sister April at her lakeshore cabin, another 100 or more miles along the north shore near Grand Marais. This total would make a brutal first day on a motorcycle for us, as unconditioned as we are for the iron-butt competition. So we made an alternate plan.

It turns out that our Go-trailer/camper also accommodates drive-on cargo. It tilts down to allow a motorcycle, or any other such vehicle, to drive up onto the trailer bed where it can be strapped into place and hauled to wherever! Our wherever is April’s basecamp home in Duluth, where we can unload the bike, leave the trailer in the driveway, and make an official start on our Lake Superior Circle Tour.

It seemed straightforward, so allocating a full hour in the morning to load the bike on the trailer should be more than enough, right? But the perversity of inanimate objects prevailed. The Go-trailer balked at being loaded, its elevator winch failing and the tilt feature not tilting. The self-loading ramp failed to self-load: I could drive the bike partway up, but could not get the rear wheel onto the trailer bed. Carefully manipulating this powerful 500-pound machine, climbing the 30-degree incline was too much for my self-preservation instincts. After a half-dozen failed attempts and with smoke issuing from the clutch, we abandoned the effort.

Fortunately, we had a plan-B: drive the full distance from Minneapolis to Grand Marais.

Unfortunately, we had burned our morning on plan-A.

Fortunately, the rain that was forecast was for later in the day.

Unfortunately, the forecast was wrong.

Our delayed start resulted in traveling along the storm front as it progressed from Duluth along the North Shore. When it wasn’t raining, it was blowing. We were relieved to finally arrive at April’s cabin where she took us in, dried us off, warmed us up, and celebrated our arrival with a glass of wine and a nice dinner.

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Split Rock Lighthouse

Spring comes late to this region.  Snow was an obstacle to bringing equipment to this site, but once there, I could enjoy a solitude that amplified the sounds of the great lake.  The beating of waves against the shore diminished through the evening as the temperature dropped and the water in this back bay was held captive and quiet beneath a thin ice glaze.  Occasional cracks and “tinks”  were heard as daytime puddles froze in their rock bowls.

This time exposure captures the stars traversing their east-west passage over the recently thawed waters of Lake Superior.  Park security lamps are now the  only light on the famous cliff, illuminating the distinctive shape of this former, but now dark, guardian beacon.

View full size.

Two Harbors, MN
21 March 2004
Nikomat with 150mm lens at f/5.6
60 minute exposure on Provia 100 +2 stops


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