Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
Back at the Duluth Grill first thing in the morning for breakfast. Good food again, and surprisingly good coffee, like actual coffee-shop quality coffee. I'm so used to getting American black water at breakfast joints that it almost seems to be out of place to be having my eggs over-easy with such a cup of fine joe.
On my way back to the motel I take a new route, coming up behind the wing of the building I'm staying in. On this side of the motel I discover an R1200GS that clearly looks decked out for touring. I think I saw this exact bike parked at the docks in Copper Harbor. No one in sight though. I'll check back later to see if I can catch the owner.
After I'm done packing the bike I take a peek behind the building to see if the R1200 owner is there. I'm in luck, he is. It's a Japanese guy who has lived in the states a long time; he left South Carolina June 1st and he's headed for Alaska. Like me he's stopping here and there to do various things. He confirms that he was in Copper Harbor. Alaska makes me think... maybe?... but no way with Great. She would go on strike after the first 20 miles of gravel.
I head up the North Shore of Lake Superior. The lake is pretty this morning, I stop at a park about 5 miles out of the city to finish my coffee and enjoy the view. Morning joggers and dog walkers amble by.
Today is an easy ride on this coastal road, punctuated by occasional stops to look at the views and a few multiple-car passing maneouvres to get the heart pumping. Outside of Grand Marais I stop at a ranger station to ask about hiking and camping. The woman behind the desk gives me a few ideas, some maps, and some papers that have the Lake Superior National Forest rules and regulations. I settle on heading towards Eagle Mountain. I'll camp somewhere near the mountain so I can hike it. The ranger tells me the gravel roads are in pretty good shape. From a non-motorcycle rider I never really know what they consider "good shape", but there's only one way to find out.
I take a look at a pay-to-camp national forest campground, decide to keep going, then settle on a "rustic" campground that is free but has no well water. It's on a river though. I'm the only one there (only 4 sites), so I get the best one that has its own direct access to the stream.
Set up, collect wood, fire, cook dinner... the drill, the only difference is I'm filtering all my own water from the stream. Kind of painful with my small filter but if nothing else I've got the time to do it...
I'm happy to be about as close to the backcountry as I can get with this motorcycle.