Archive for May, 2018

Superior Map

Thursday, 10th May 2018; 10:23 am

When I started doing this county-by-county map, I just grabbed a handy map of Michigan counties and started filling them in. I had no idea that I would eventually have to draw a bunch of counties in other states and provinces. And that not everyone is as fond of simple grids as Michigan’s founders were.

Another difference is that Michigan counties are all about the same physical size, regardless of how many people live there, which is how you get Wayne County which once had more than 2 million people, and Keweenaw County with barely more than 2 thousand. Ontario, on the other hand…. I can’t even fit their rural districts (they don’t call those “counties”) on my map. OK… I get it. It makes sense: you need people in every county/district to have a government. But you’re spoiling my map. I hate letting the map trail off like that – like “here be mooses” – but you leave me no choice.

Anyway, here’s the county map for this ride. The one county in the Lower Peninsula is the south end of the Mackinac Bridge, where I plan to be dropped off and picked up. The counties we drive through to get there don’t count.

The skinny pink county in the middle of the UP (including Munising) is Alger. I had to zoom in on a map to determine that I wouldn’t be wandering into Schoolcraft County to the south of it, but the road I’ll be taking misses it by about 100 feet. There’s a dirt road I could take to ride into Schoolcraft, but that’s cheating a bit more than I like to do. Besides, I’ve already been there.

The coloring of this map makes it look like I’ll be riding all the way up the Keweenaw Peninsula, but I’ll actually be bypassing it entirely. The reason that county is colored is because it includes Isle Royale, where I’ll be hiking for about four hours. That counts.

I’ll be spending an entire day all within Thunder Bay District, the big yellow one along the top. (It keeps going another couple hundred miles to the north.) It’ll probably be about 48 hours elapsed. Then I’ll spend another 24 hours or so in Algoma District, the green one. By contrast, back in 2010 I took a day-trip into Ontario to get to Lake Erie, and ticked off two of their more densely packed southern counties in less than an hour. For the U.S. portion of the ride, I’ll be in 3 or 4 counties every day.

Ships of Superior

Wednesday, 9th May 2018; 9:48 am

In addition to reserving campsites, I’ve also bought tickets for two boat rides. The first is a short tour in the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin, the second is a day trip to Isle Royale out of Grand Portage, Minnesota.

For the Apostles – so named because there are (about) 12 of them – I’ll be taking the Sea Caves & Lighthouses tour offered by Apostle Islands Cruises. It’s a three-hour afternoon tour of a couple of the inner islands and their lighthouses, and the caves in the cliffs of the mainland. I would’ve preferred to take their “Grand Tour” of the islands, but that’s a morning tour and I wouldn’t be able to get there early enough. (I’ve learned my lesson.) This is similar to the boat tour I took at Pictured Rocks, which is the only perspective to fully appreciate the place.

I’ll be going to Isle Royale on the Sea Hunter III. The idea of visiting the island as a day trip is a little heartbreaking, especially knowing that there are people for whom that will be their only visit. But I couldn’t ride through Grand Portage and Thunder Bay – literally close enough to see it – without stopping by. After begin dropped off at Windigo, I’ll have four hours on the west end, which I’ve only been to once (compared to Rock Harbor, where all three of my previous visits started and ended). That should be enough time to hike some new-to-me trail, at least.

The side trips add $50 and $75 to the cost of the trip, but I think they’ll be worth it. This isn’t just about drawing a line around a body of water, and it certainly isn’t about how many miles I can spend in the saddle every day. In fact, I’m disappointed that I won’t have time to rent a kayak for an afternoon at Pictured Rocks, on the way through (for example).