Monday, June 20, 2016

2016 MN Moto Guzzi Rally - Grand Marais

Friday morning I met Dave in Frontenac for breakfast .....

 and by 7:30 we were headed north through Wisconsin.  Up State Hiway 35 for the most part, we had to make more than one stop due to my short range gas tank.  Danbury, WI where ATV's are almost King.

Justin carrying out his role of Riding Ambassador....

We stopped at the Vanilla Bean in Two Harbors for lunch....

and then took the narrow road up to Palisade Head.  Once again, too early for a blueberry hunt.

In the Grand Marais City Park camping area....

Originally I'd planned to do some gravel yet Friday afternoon but our 305 mile trip up from breakfast (even more for Dave) was enough for me so once my tent was up, I took a walk downtown to check out the harbor.

The North House Folk School was having a big weekend......

The school is adjacent to the City Park, between our rally site and downtown so it was an easy and regular destination for me.

I always watch for and listen for frequencies....there's nothing like local radio.

2 Guys on the deck singing and playing up a storm.

I eventually made it beyond the hubbub around the school's crowds and made it downtown but only after returning to the pavilion for our pulled pork meal and a short loop through the campground in and between the other families camping.

There are lots of dogs in northern Minnesota.....the campground had them in every size and breed.  There were really little ones (Cocoa Puff) and really big ones.

Mike had told me about this place so there was a planned stop early Saturday during or even before business hours.

Too bad it wasn't the 25th when I'd have been able to meet one of my favorite authors.

 Where the Gunflint Trail once long ago started it's northerly trek.

Back to the campground......

Not just dogs......there were 'campers' from this nearby border of the country and at least one from our far southern boundary as well.  Lake Superior is a lot cooler than El Paso, especially this year.

Saturday morning I wanted to be up early to take advantage of the light and headed downtown (doughnuts).  Mike told me that the window opens at 4AM so if you know what you want, they'll grab it along with a hot cup of To-Go.  If you want to peruse the counter, you have to wait until 6:30AM.  I was there substantially earlier than 6 and there were folks milling about, more than likely afraid/embarrassed to be seen as overly anxious.

On the wall inside, a "Doughnut Attendance" chart.  If I lived nearby, I'd most certainly be graded Smiley Face with 2 Stars.  My one, single solitary Strawberry Roly Poly was hardly enough so I had a Blueberry Turnover as well.

A cautionary note......

I thought this was cool, a city Bicycle Repair Stand.

Fed and coffee'd, I walked back to start my Saturday morning gravel ride.  Thanks to Cannonshot on ADV, I had downloaded Routes and they were in my GPS, ready to be followed.  Taking Hiway 61 back down to Finland, I soon discovered that the Old US 61 Route 1 and 2 that I'd intended to follow were a mess.  Unable to follow them as I'd hoped, I had to make things up as I went.  Disappointed but not ruined, I still found some very nice gravel.  The first section took me back to Grand Marais so after lunch, I headed out from there, hoping that I'd figured out my mistake and would take the old road up to the now closed US/Canada Border crossing.


 Elevation 1974', Lake Superior is 602'

Back to Grand Marais for a quick lunch, then up the Gunflint for 15 miles before turning east to approach the Reservation and the old border crossing.

The rocks were getting bigger (no skid plate) and the puddles were getting deeper and longer.  I only half knew where I was and there's no cell service up there, so I decided to accept defeat and turn around.

Now that I'm home and can study the maps and my messed up Route, I can see where I went wrong, still not sure why though.  It was very frustrating because I'm not use to getting befuddled with my Route planning.  I took a wrong road and ended up south of Greenwood Lake rather than taking the northerly road around it.  I wasn't all that far from the border of the Grand Portage Indian Reservation but way too far on the rough road that I was on.

I did stop at Greenwood Lake however.

After all of that, (it was getting really warm in the woods, especially so at 5mph) getting back to town and being down along the lake was very appealing.

Lynne and Kevin were busy preparing the freshly caught Herring....

Other Moto Guzzi Riders were ready to eat the the slaw, potatoes, etc.

After our meal, I figured I'd better feature some motorcycles in this Post.....

We missed all but the lightest of showers; Peg's very bright and sassy umbrella kept most of it from bothering me.  Brad had some commentary on the certain glow that my umbrella brought to our table but when someone walked by with an umbrella with ears on it, mine suddenly paled in comparison.  Or as Brad put it, once we both could stop laughing, "he's got yours trumped all to hell!" and Brad was right, mine was then almost main stream.  I'll bring it to the Iowa Guzzi Rally just in case we get more rain.

Sunday was mild (and with that) foggy.....

 Dave and I weren't in a big hurry, mostly I was hoping that some of the fog would burn off.  We stopped for breakfast in Two Harbors and once again ate at the Vanilla Bean.  South of Duluth/Superior, it got hot but the worst part was that we were riding almost directly into the wind.  It was moving me around like I was on a skateboard, easy hills were using every bit of the 500's power to stay in 6th gear.  We had to make a few stops, both to hydrate, cool off and to just relax our muscles.

Our last stop stop at the intersection of US 63/Wisconsin 64.  I needed gas once again, taking 1.3 gallons where it should have taken 9/10ths of a gallon.  Not sure what mileage Dave was making but it was definitely down.  812 miles for me, a good weekend ride on the old Ascot.

Many, many thanks to Louise and John, to Lynne and Kevin and the other volunteers that made it so very easy for the rest of us to have fun.  It's such a wonderful place for these really good Guzzi folks to gather and have time together.


  1. Looks like a nice weekend get away. Far enough away to make it a journey, but still kind of close to home. No Sven and Ole's?

    1. Erik,
      I thought about going in but decided to try one of the other places. No good excuse though, I've never been there. We stopped long ago when the kids were little and the wait was so long that we went somewhere else.

      Next time.

  2. Wandering solo on those dirt tracks with no cell coverage is gutsy. I think I'd take a Spot Messenger along for safety's sake.

    1. David, you are absolutely right. I've toyed with a Spot and owe it to the family but there were some things about the service I wasn't thrilled about so have just put it off.

      I admit I wasn't being wise or safe.

  3. You sure know how to pack a lot of fun stuff into a weekend.

    Good idea on turning around when the road got bad. Knowing when to do that is the key to getting back to camp before dark.

    1. Brandy, it was definitely time to turn around. Was just so frustrating though because I had a plan that started out to be reasonable. Prudence dictated adapting to conditions, so I'm confident that I did the right thing.

      I noticed tire tracks that looked very small trailbike-like. 2 sets, as in there was a 50/50 chance they went in my way and had to return my way. 1 set of tracks would have been more confidence building.

  4. Coop

    I'd be thinking spot tracker. I was way out in the boonies with no cell service on a ride with a friend (granted it was on pavement) but it was desolate and I actually felt unease, we were at least 3 hours from help.

    Looks like ot was a very busy weekend. We have a bakery that has the most wicked doughnuts and apple strudel. Its always a toss-up what I'm going to buy, I prefer strudel, but a good doughnut with chocolate on top is always my go to.

    1. Dar, you are speaking wise. I've considered a Spot but for almost all of my riding, I'm in rural Ag country, homesteads and farmsteads abound. I will admit that it would be smart to be safe, certainly for the areas without cell service. I do have my phone location connected to Peg's cell.

  5. ... excellent adventure... didn't see any vintage Guzzi's... have'n been up that far in yrs... should put it on the calendar. :)

    1. It's a good one Mike, there are a couple of Very Fine Guzzi rallies you're missing out on.

  6. Cool pictures, thanks for the share!