Sep 14, 2009

Blister Run: The Whole Story -or- How I Spent My Scooter Vacation

4 days
8 riders (and then 7 riders)
2 countries
0 roadside breakdowns
2 swimming pools

826.1 miles

Photo albums listed here as Blister Run


We left from Dinkytown bright and early. The original departure plan was "meet at 7 leave at 8." A quick ride up to Anoka for our first gas-up and then the real miles began.

The ride north went smoothly. We made extremely good time, and pulled into Grand Rapids before three in the afternoon. After a short happy hour at the Eagle's club next door, we headed down the street to the Ground Round. A quick stop at a liquor store got us all prepared for our evening. We went swimming and hit the hot tub. With the exception of the Rainy River girl's volleyball team, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.


Another early departure, we headed out of town quickly and started in on the twisties on 38 fairly quickly. Lots of ups and downs and side to sides, it was an exhilirating way to start the day. Gas stop in Bigfork and more miles until just out of International Falls. The volleyball team coach had recommended "Sha Sha" as a place to check out on Rainy Lake, and it looked like a nice ride down 11 to the end of the causeway. We found it after some of the funnest hills and turns on the trip and had an absolutely wonderful lunch at the Sha Sha resort with a view of Rainy Lake that was simply stunning. When we were smelling the joys of papermill towns later in the weekend we would often talk about the window of loveliness that was that lunch.

Made it back into town and bade a sad farewell to Eric. He had to get back to the cities a day before us so he booked back to Grand Rapids (via some fog) and we continued on to the border. The crossing was uneventful, the typical questions about the scooters and such. The border guard asked Lora how we all knew each other and she told him we got together for rides every Tuesday, etc. To which he replied "But it's Saturday.."

We found our hotel to be nice and inviting and after a short break walked to the local Tim Horton's. What a lovely place! Good eats and coffee. Dave and Tom were in heaven, having spent the previous weeks and months talking about how excited they were about "Timmies". An exploratory ride down ON11 across some fun bridges yielded much good scenery, but when we stopped the mosquitos attacked in waves. Was a nice ride, though.

We ended up going to Pizza Hut for dinner (and some "Blue") and then spending some time in the pool and hottub again. No volleyball teams this time, however.


A relaxed start got us to Tim Horton's for some tasty breakfast sammiches and we got through the border in no time. No serious hassles, there. A gas-up and we were on 53 heading south. We discovered early on that 53 was a serious travel road, and there was quite a bit of traffic, none of which seemed to be very "passing friendly" so by the time we stopped for gas in Orr we were ready for a new option.

We decided to pop over 1 to Ely and then back into Duluth via the roads we knew to be fairly quiet and REALLY curvy! We had a great lunch in Ely and got some souvenirs before heading south to Duluth. The road was even better than we remembered, as the last time I had been on it there were miles of wet gravel and construction. None of that this time! I did the whole road braking only with the gravity of the uphills! It was very exhilarating.

Two Harbors and Duluth were covered in a thick fog, and in thinking back I can't remember seeing the lake AT ALL on this trip. You literally couldn't see the water from the shore. After settling into the hotel we headed over to Superior via the high bridge, which was totally fogged in. It made it easier to go over the bridge without having to look down so far, but at the same time it was tough because you couldn't see that far ahead of you. A meal at the Hammond and then another stop at a liquor store (see a trend here?) we picked up some stuff for the evening. Back to the motel via Skyline Drive (which is in horrible condition these days) for an evening of drinking tiny little beers and being goofy.


The last morning is always a tough one. But we made it to Hell's Kitchen in Canal Park in a timely manner. After breakfast we hit Aerostich, and then it was off to home. We thought we'd head down through Gary and take the 39 bridge across to WI35 for a scenic ride home. Well, that bridge is closed right now... And I couldn't find the next connection over, so we ended up heading down 23 to 61 and grinding home. A nice lunch at Tobies and we were home before 5.

Another great Blister Run!

The route according to my GPS: (the miles are short because of low sampling, and the speed is obviously too high, but you can see individual data points for localized speeds..


Calculating mileage at our wrap-up meal - only a couple hours to go..

We're in Hell('s Kitchen)

Having some breakfast and then heading down the Wisconsin side for home.  All is well, even though Tom didn't fall for the old "pour a puddle of oil under the scoot before the morning ride" trick..  mostly.

Sep 13, 2009

Beautiful West Duluth


And a pic in Eric's honor.

Orr not

53 sucks, so it's 1 to Ely woohoo!

Back in the USA

After a wonderful breakfast at Tim Horton's and a mild grilling at the border, we've gotten our souvenir on and are ready to get to Duluth!