Saturday, June 23, 2018

Marinette Wisconsin to Sudbury Ontario

As usual near the end of a trip, my sense of urgency to keep the blog up to date started to wane. I didn't even load the photos from the cameras to the computer last night, much less transcribe notes or complete the post. I wonder how long it will take me to finish the post these last two days?

There was moisture on the windshield this morning for the first time in a while. We headed out at 7:00 AM, fueling in Marinette before crossing the bridge to Menominee, Michigan.

Welcome to Marinette Wisconsin

A downtown waterfront is a good thing here

Last state of the trip

At 7:47 AM Central, as we drove along the shore of Lake Michigan towards Escanaba, the clock jumped to 8:47 Eastern Time. Our home time zone. I found myself starting to get tired after just one hour on the road. Sad, but an indicator that I need to improve my fitness levels.

Lake Michigan

There was some major road work going on as we went through Escanaba.

Escanaba Michigan

Little Bay de Noc

Highway 2 was fairly quiet, as was Michigan 117 through Engadine to Michigan 28. We stopped to pick up food at the McDonald's by the Newberry turnoff. It was hot and dry again and the Golden Arches was packed.

Busy McDonald's - Newberry Michigan

Upper Michigan foliage - Highway 28

As we reached Sault Ste. Marie Michigan, an electronic sign informed us that this was the day of the annual International Bridge Walk and that the bridge to Canada had been closed until 10:15. Lucky for us, we didn't get to the Soo until 12:40.

After a final top-up of relatively cheap fuel at the Krist station, we paid the toll and headed across the river to our home and native land. After passing a long line of US bound vehicles, we were surprised to find that there was no wait whatsoever at Canadian customs. After presenting our NEXUS cards and declaring $60 worth of goods, we were cleared and welcomed home in about thirty seconds.

Out traditional last stop in the USA

I wish they took E-ZPass

Long US bound line

The actual border

St. Mary's Rapids (Sault Ste. Marie)

I wish it was always like this

My brother Dave was golfing so we didn't stop in Soo, Ontario.

Willie and Carlene will remember this

Traffic was relatively light on Highway 17. We stopped for a bathroom break and I got a coffee in Blind River. In Cutler, they had converted the long passing lane to a centre turn lane and reduced the speed limit to 70 KPH. The four lane approaching Sudbury was still only two lanes, but it was the other two lanes this time. Hopefully, the end of this project is in sight.

Highway 17 - two lanes, no passing

The Superstack - the signature Sudbury landmark (for now)

Seen on The Kingsway

We pulled into the driveway just after 4:00 PM, having covered 6,727 miles in 22 days. We saw sights and friends. It was a good trip even if we didn't take the bike. After unloading the car, we headed out and bought groceries.

Today's Route (434 Equinox miles):

Friday, June 22, 2018

Sioux Falls South Dakota to Marinette Wisconsin

We left the Super 8 in Sioux Falls at 7:20 Central Time, stopping at a BP station for fuel. The pump had two 87 octane selections, with and without ethanol. The premium for pure gasoline was 45 cents per gallon. I gave it a try and, for the price, was not impressed. I wonder how long before the ethanol lobby runs out of steam?

 Ethanol choice at a price

We stopped at a McDonald's off I-90 for breakfast to go (I really need to get back on my diet). It started spitting rain as we approached the Minnesota border, which we crossed just after 8:00 AM. The Interstate was closed near here yesterday due to flooding from heavy rains, but all we saw was about eighty miles of water standing in the fields.

At the state line, the speed limit dropped from 80 MPH to 70, which felt like a crawl. Several wind farms were idle. I thought it might not be windy enough, but then we saw them being allowed to start one at a time. Perhaps they had been shut down due to a surplus of electricity? There were hundreds and still more being constructed.

 New wind turbine being built

 Sharp looking truck

 Sharp looking horns

 This was something we hadn't seen before

 The speck right of the highway...

 ...was a crop dusting helicopter

 Important to understand

 Crossing the Mississippi River into Wisconsin

I-90 was not the most interesting road to travel in this part of the country. We departed 90 when we got to Tomah, Wisconsin and drove up through town to a very busy McDonald's for lunch. The overcast we had started under was gone and it was now sunny and hot.

Heading east from Tomah on Wisconsin 21, we found ourselves on a two lane highway. After passing a couple of big trucks, we were able to hum along at 60 MPH. If you look closely at the map, you will see that I didn't look closely when I gave the GPS the destination. Those who follow our travels will be aware that this is a bad habit of mine. This time, instead of staying on 21 to Oshkosh, we made a loop to the north before getting to I-41 at Appleton.


 ...and trees

 Orange barrels on Alt 41

 Water tower painting near Appleton Wisconsin

Once we reached US 41 at Green Bay, it was just straight on to Marinette, Wisconsin. I remember when most of this road was two lane but it is now four lane all the way. We arrived at The Baymont Inn in Marinette at 5:00 PM Central. Getting into the parking lot was a bit tricky, but the room was nice and there was an attached Subway.

We have never stayed at a Baymont Inn before. It is part of the Wyndham chain, so we accrued some points. When we checked in, the clerk had us initial a list of rules but I had no problem because they were all directed to respecting the rights of the other guests. Good for us but it probably not for one of our motorcycle clubs.

 Our home for the night


After getting the bags in the room, we went next door and got a 10% discount on our shared ham/provolone sandwich deal and then went to bed early. Tomorrow morning, we would be crossing the last time zone and tomorrow night we would sleep in our own bed.

Today's Route (547 Equinox miles):

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Deadwood South Dakota to Sioux Falls South Dakota

Today was the first day of summer, the longest day of the year and the beginning of the long slide towards winter. There should be enough there for both optimists and pessimists.

The hotel breakfast included biscuits, gravy, ham and scrambled eggs, as well as small pancakes made by a machine. I had a bit of everything except the pancakes, which Sandy tried and liked. The breakfast room was full of mostly older folks from the Fort Hood area of Texas here on a bus trip to gamble. They seemed to be having fun.

The various DOT's were reporting on road closures in the upper Midwest due to flooding. Northwestern Wisconsin including Superior and Ashland and the Michigan Keweenaw Peninsula seemed to be hardest hit. So far, the I-90/US 10 roads to Green Bay looked OK, as did the straight route from there to the Soo.

We left the hotel at 7:15 and headed south on US 385 towards Keystone. They were resurfacing just outside Deadwood and installing wood post guardrails down near US 16, where we encountered a flag person and pilot car.

 The hotel had lots of Canadian flags out front

 We did not get to Historic Main Street this time

 This was a surprise

 As was the old car

 Leaving Deadwood and turning left on US 385

 Getting US 385 ready for bike week

 Pactola Reservoir

 At the front of the line again - five minutes

 A familiar view

 Guardrails with wooden posts

 Lots of ATV's here

 I resemble this

 No Vacancy on a Thursday morning

 Keystone - the Gateway to Mount Rushmore

In Keystone, we skipped Mount Rushmore and followed US 16A, also known as the Iron Mountain Road. It climbed, winding its way through several tunnels (each framing Mount Rushmore) and over several pigtail bridges (where the road went under and then crossed over itself in a short distance). This was our first time through here in a four-wheeled vehicle. After cresting the Norbeck Overlook, we started down the switchbacks with 10 MPH hairpin curves.

 Our Iron Mountain/Needles Loop

 This sign sets the theme

 We will be going over that pigtail bridge momentarily

 I never noticed the name before

 Mount Rushmore framed in the tunnel mouth

 Another pigtail bridge

 And another tunnel

 And another view of the monument

The Iron Mountain descended and leveled out. Most traffic would continue to SD 87, which becomes the Needles Highway after going through the Custer State Park gate where they collect a fee. However, we learned years ago that if one takes a right turn on Playhouse Road, you bypass the gate and end up a little further along the Needles Highway.

 This was the only notice on Playhouse Road

 On the Needles Highway

 Lanny will remember a bus at this pullout

 Looking at The Needles

 The road was narrow

 Meeting oncoming traffic was a challenge

 But the scenery was spectacular

 Mostly watch out for cars who are watching scenery

 The tunnel is long and narrow

 It is fun watching tour buses navigate this tunnel

 One of the great motorcycle roads - they were enjoying the sun

Leaving the Needles, we worked our way down Highway 87 to the Custer State Park gate and just drove on out, making a right turn on Highway 89. This was also challenging but not as tight as 87. There were some broader switchbacks as we descended to Hill City.

 Hill City

 I like it

 Burn area

 This is where we turned off and descended to Keystone - Full circle

Leaving the loop, we headed down to Rapid City, with the GPS following the route it determined when I entered Sioux Falls as a destination up at The Needles.

 Rapid City and flatlands (relatively speaking)

Before getting on I-90 East for our 345 mile straight shot to Sioux Falls, we fueled at a Conoco (where they had 85 octane without ethanol and 87 with). Then we got lunch to go at McDonald's (if you thought there was a smoothie in this, you would not be wrong). Finally, I booked a deluxe king room at a Super 8 in Sioux Falls.

We hit I-90 at 11:15 AM. It was 73 F but felt like 85. The speed limit was 80 MPH. And before we reached Wall, a Wide Load flatbed threw a rock into our windshield.

 The big one was today and the small one 2" below was WWR Taos in 2016

 Wall South Dakota - home of Wall Drug

 Full size dinosaur

 Badlands to the south

 Lots of black cattle

 Military convoy not doing 80 MPH

 The first place I ever ate rare beef

 Crossing the wide Missouri River

 Sculptures in a field

 And a graven image

The drive was long and straight. I had to stop at a couple of rest areas to wake up. At the last one, about forty miles before Sioux Falls, the attendant (a nice older man named Jim) told us that I-90 was closed east of the city due to water over the road. Apparently their record rainfall two days ago was augmented by more heavy precipitation yesterday. Supposedly, there was a detour. We thanked him and decided we would take a close look at the various DOT sites.

 Water in the fields approaching Sioux Falls

We decided to pick up Subway and take it to the room. Then we backtracked to the Super 8 the GPS had found. This was not our hotel and, since last Friday, was not even a Super 8. I got out my confirmation, entered the address and followed the GPS to another property right beside I-90. This was nice with a pool and hot tub. Our deluxe king room was huge.

 The river through town looks high

Pumping out a railway yard

We ate our sandwich while I finished the blog for the day. The WiFi loaded all the pictures. Bonus.

Tomorrow, we will be heading for a Bayshore Inn in Marinette, Wisconsin. We have never stayed at a Bayshore before and are looking forward to the experience. Word tonight was that I-90 had been reopened. Sure hope it doesn't rain overnight.

Today's Route (456 Equinox miles):