Canadian Rockies Tour – Part 1

June 3, 2022 – June 16, 2022 Eureka, MT to The Icefields Parkway, Canada

264.2 Miles / 425.19 Km Elevation Gain 13,444 Feet / 4,111.14 Meters

It felt amazing to be heading off on a new adventure. Plans had been made for us to cycle The Continental Divide back in 2020. Covid-19 brought those plans to an abrupt halt. We focused instead on making our little red house that we purchased in August of 2019 into a cozier home.

This region of Canada is a revisit for us. On September 1, 2016 through September 11, 2016 we traveled this area from Jasper, Alberta to the US Border north of Eureka, MT. We were southbound back then. We decided to revisit the area by cycling south to north this time, making Jasper, Alberta our northern most destination. Our original plans were to begin the The Continental Divide Trail from Jasper and head back to the US, making this a 2-3 month long trip. The ride in 2022 for us would begin and end in Eureka, Montana.

We broke the route into segments. Our first segment would take us from Eureka, Montana to Radium Hot Springs, Canada and then on to Lake Louise where the Icefields Parkway started.

British Columbia has Recreation Sites which offer free camp sites, most of them at least. We hopscotched our way from Eureka stopping at Edwards Lake Rec Site, Kikomun Creek Rec Site, Horseshoe Lake Rec Site, Johnson Lake Rec Site, Findlay Falls Rec Site before rolling into Radium Hot Springs.

There were so many birds along the way.

The camping was no charge at the Rec Sites, most had Out Houses (BYO TP), fire rings and water sources. Most water sources were rivers and streams. Water is a huge factor for us when we camp and we filter water with an MSR Filter. Some water sources are more memorable than others. This one particular water re-supply stands out for us. Findlay Falls was a hike to get to and then Curtis has to be an acrobat to reach the fast moving water. Cold and crystal clear, this was incredible tasting water!!

My oh my how Radium Hot Springs has grown since our ride through there in 2016. It was a town, now a bustling city that we had wanted to revisit. We took a stroll down memory lane and ate at a local German Restaurant. It was definitely as good as we remembers. The new chaos of the city was not what we expected but we took an extra day off here and stocked up with groceries for the road.

Our departure day from Radium Hot Springs was on June 13, 2022. The day greeted us with pouring down rain and it was cold! We had our first real pass to conquer, Sinclair Pass. This time we would not take hypothermia and the rain for granted. In 2016 it was pouring down rain with temperatures near freezing as we approached this pass from the north. This time, we approach from the south but again it was cold and rainy. We geared up with as few clothes as possible to climb the pass. We planned to hit the pass, strip off the wet clothes, put on dry clothes and rain coats for the fast, long 6+mile drop. Our campground was just past the end of the downhill. We did have one other main concern this time, the pass summit had had a lot of grizzly bear activity. Slow, cold cyclists = meals on wheels. Luckily we did not see any grizzly bears only bear shit on the road and WOW do they leave a mound!

McLeod Meadows Campground ended up being home for us for 2 nights. We did so because of the hard cold rain and we opted to hunker down and stay put. We had a cook shelter complete with a wood stove, real toilets and a place to fully dry out our gear. We tent camped the first night but moved into the cook shelter for the 2nd night. The park host/ranger came by and said it was ok to sleep in the shelter since there was almost no one else in the park. Most that were there were in RVs. We literally hung the tent from the rafters and strung lines to hang wet clothes. We kept the wood stove going at all times and drank an enormous amount of hot beverages. Hot chocolate sounded good but we didn’t have any so the next best thing was we started cutting fudge into cubes and putting them into our mugs. It was actually pretty good!

We departed McCleod on June 15, 2022 and continued our way toward Lake Louise. We saw our first black bear as we cycled. Sites along the way were beautiful. We saw a lot of wildlife. It’s amazing how familiar the entire ride was. Memories from 2016 flooded back in.

One place we were both really looking forward to revisiting was Storm Mountain Lodge Restaurant. We took the time again this year and stopped for supper, enjoying incredible Bison-Elk Burgers along with a bowl of steaming hot Pumpkin Soup. OMG! Incredible!!

Before we left Storm Mountain Lodge the manager that had left to go home for the day called back to have the staff warn us of a “Huge Grandpa Grizzly” literally on the road that we would soon be on. We opted to hang out at the restaurant for a few extra minutes and then we cautiously headed out. The idea of running into one of the big grizzlies, yea not very high on our wish list. It was downhill from Storm Mountain Lodge. We were flashed over to the side by an oncoming motorcycle. It turned out to be a man that we met back in Radium Hot Springs. We chatted with him on the side of the road for about 10 minutes, giving the grizzly bear time to move along. And it had, by the time we passed it was lumbering into the trees in the distance.

We had planned to stealth camp but quickly changed our mind with such a known big bear in the area. HI Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel welcomed us with open arms. We were warm and dry and enjoyed the evening chatting with the other guests, including another cyclist, Ron. He rode with his cat Patrick. Never did see Patrick but that’s ok.

June 16, 2022 was an amazing day. Castle Mountain loomed beside us as we cycled down The Bow Valley Parkway. We met so many cyclists from so many different region. It was incredible.

We stopped for lunch in Lake Louise. The Magpies were very friendly. We bought a few groceries for the road and continued on our way.

Next stop is ….

The Icefields Parkway

Keweenaw Peninsula Fall Tour 2021

Sept. 16, 2021 – Sept. 29. 2021

Our Salsa Fargo Bikes ready to roll.

I guess you could say that bicycle touring is in our blood. Yea, I have to admit that the call of the open roads and secluded byways call to us. After all, we did live on our bikes for just shy of 3 years. But our goals in touring have changed. Neither of us want to live on the road month after month, year after year. We settled into more of and “event” type touring. It’s good to be able to roll out the side door and head into the woods.

This is the 3rd tour up onto the Keweenaw and we never tire of it. We take the days slow and meander our way east north east from our little red home. The ride never gets old, we have found favorite camping spots along the way to Copper Harbor, MI and then we head on up to the far tip. This year we went to the Missile Range and wow. The touring for us isn’t just about the cycling, it’s about the experience, the camping, the laughter and the sites along the way.

Day 1 – Sept. 16, 2021: We loaded up our Salsa Fargos and hit the road. Today we are attempting to make it to Misery Bay via logging roads. It was quite the adventure and we found success in the roads / trails that we were pretty sure were there. We set up camp in a grove of trees out of site of the roadway. We passed active logging operations. I’m pretty sure the men thought we were crazy but that’s ok, we are use to is.

Day 2 – Sept 17, 2021: We departed the Misery Bay area and checked out the boat ramp for future rides and additional camp possibilities. We climbed away from Lake Superior and stopped near the top for a quick snack. We traversed gravel roads today as well as 4 lane roadways. We ended our day on a bike path and found a lovely campsite at Cole Creek. We crossed the small stream and set up camp.

Day 3 – Sept 18, 2021: Gratiot River, one of our all time favorite camping spots is in our sites for tonight. We packed up at Cole Creek and headed out. There is a steep drop off of the bike trail into Houghton. Then it was along the Portage Canal and across the lift bridge entering into Hancock, MI. We found out trail out of town and set our sites on Calumet. Most of our ride today was on trails and we loved it! This route today is one of our favorites and we keep coming back to it time and time again. We have an amazing campsite along the Gratiot River and it was there waiting for us, including the stash of maple wood that we had left last year!!

Day 4 – Sept. 19, 2021: We slept late and took our time as today is going to be a very short day. We took the road to a logging road and cut in. We took this route over the hill back toward Lake Superior. It’s an incredible off road, through the weeds route. We made our way to Silver Falls and tucked back into the power line clearing. We could have gone further today but we decided to take it easy. So needless to say this afternoon was a time of watching clouds. yea, watching clouds, the shapes and colors drifting by in a sea of blue. Butterflies danced among the wildflowers, birds sang their many different tunes. It’s days like today that make life feel good.

Day 5 – Sept. 20, 2021: The ride from Silver Falls to Copper Harbor was very fast. We got into town and secured a hotel room for tonight. Curtis got a very sad phone call, Covid19 took the life of his older brother Greg. This wretched virus has touched so many families.

Day 6 – Sept. 21, 2021: Copper Harbor is a cool little tourist village. We picked up breakfast from our favorite coffee shop and then headed into the logging roads. We decided to check out the Missile Range. It is probably the most beautiful camping area we have ever done and that says a lot. It’s an uphill ride on rough dirt roads. There is a number of water crossings and we had a blast. There are campsites along the water and we found a beautiful one, complete with fire ring.

Day 7 – Sept. 22, 2021: It’s so incredible here that we are spending another day. So today we walked the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. We build a Cairn in honor of Curtis’ brother Greg and my sister, Juli-Ann. Greg died a few days ago, we lost Juli to lung cancer in April. Today was a day to just be and that is a very good thing sometimes. We built a fire tonight and watched as the sun dipped low and the stars came out so bright. Sleeping to the sound of the waves on the rocks was magical. Yea, days like today are why we tour.

Cairn we built for Greg & Juli-Ann

Day 8 – Sept. 23, 2021: We are heading out today on unknown roads. We hope to make it to the Lower Montreal Falls but it doesn’t look like much of a road to get there. The initial road was dirt and we headed toward Fish Cove. We ended up filtering water here and passed on camping since there was literally nothing flat to pitch. We backtracked from Fish Cove to a over grown trail. This got quite dodgey and we ended up on single track along Lake Superior. Finally making it to the Montreal River, our big question of the day was “Do we cross the river here above the lower Montreal Falls or do we camp on this side of the falls and cross in the morning? Well, we decided to cross. The water wasn’t too deep and we ended up making a number of trips across the slippery rocks to get our gear from one side to the other. One woman was filming us and she stated to us later that she was sure we were going to get swept away. Not likely but she thought so. Anyway, we made it across and found a spot to camp. Today was tough and from what we are hearing from the hikers that come in from the way we will be leaving tomorrow, we are in for a push to get back to pavement. It’s all good.

Sunset at the Lower Montreal Falls

Day 9, Sept. 24, 2021: Coffee first and then it’s push time. Yea, the folks yesterday were not kidding! The trail was quite narrow and at time ran right along the lake. It was tough, a lot of log crossings and hoisting of the bikes but we made it. The hill getting away from the lake …BRUTAL at 20% grade!! We ate lunch at Lac LaBelle and then continued on to Gay, MI where we opted for supper at the bar. We camped at a local campground where we could finally shower. Tonight the rains started.

Day 10, Sept. 25, 2021: Gray skies and drizzle, the temperature was also dropping. It’s going to be a chilly wet ride today. The rain even coming in will last about 2 days so we decided to head back across the peninsula to Gratiot River. It rained, then it hailed on us. We stopped in Mohawk, MI for lunch at Slim’s Cafe and wow was that good! After a hearty lunch we braved the cold and wet and headed to our camp spot at Gratiot River. We put up the tarp and tent. We were soaked and cold but having a tried and true dependable site made it all worthwhile. Before long Curtis made up hot soup and we snuggled into a warm sleeping bag. The sounds of the river lulled us both to sleep.

Day 11, Sept 26, 2021: It’s still cold and rainy so we are staying put. There were a few times throughout the day that the rains stopped so we did some Gratiot River area exploring. We continued to dry our clothes on a line and enjoyed the river.

Day 12, Sept. 27, 2021: Goodbye Gratiot River, until next year! The rains were passed and we crossed back to the other side of the peninsula, cycling through Dollar Bay. It was a fast uneventful ride. We booked a room in Chassell, MI. Nothing that great, pretty run down actually. Curtis bought a couple of beers from the local C-Store and I got some ice cream. Life is good.

Day 13, Sept 28, 2021: Our destination today is Emily Lake and much of it will be on back roads and trails. It was a spectacular day until the very last segment. The roads got pretty rough and the trails were very sandy so needless to say that involved a lot of pushing. Emily Lake is so beautiful and we found our favorite spot and set up camp.

Emily Lake Campsite

Day 14, Sept. 29, 2021: We left Emily Lake and headed for home. The entire ride this year was incredible This no doubt will be an annual event, some of the most beautiful countryside we’ve ever cycled. But it’s good to know we have a warm cozy bed and a hot shower waiting for us at home.

Rain or Shine

Touring means you ride rain or shine, for us that also means snow, frost and sometimes ice. But today, it was just rain. We know our butts are soft and our legs out of shape but we still want to try and get in a few rides to toughen up those sit bones and help the legs a little before embarking on our Fall Tour.

Dripping wet and loving it! Cooler temps are finally here and we can break out the long sleeves!!
Wet roads with the rain falling gently made for an enjoyable ride.

Today wasn’t a long ride, 13 miles with almost no elevation gain but it was FUN! We splashed through puddles and I dodged the muddy spray that was splattering up from Curtis’ rear tire. We both sported the mud splattered back that is just one of those things to be expected when rain riding.

Ontonagon has remarkable ATV/Snowmobile/Bike trails. One of these trails run through the village along the Ontonagon River.

Trail through the village

It’s always fun to get back on the bikes, while we are riding both of us talk about the future of our riding, the epic routes and trails that we still want to explore. The ride and route list seems to grow longer than years permit but it is still fun to plan. After all, planning is half the fun…right? Anyway, this year we will ride our Fall Foliage Keweenah Tour with plans to spend 2-4 weeks on the road/trails.


It’s a Pandemic People – No excuses

Social distancing, masks, vaccines; conversations revolve around these topics, overshadowing living. The reality that Covid-19 and all of its new variants is here to stay and there is nothing we can do about that but we need to learn to be safe and work around this forever with us virus.

Covid-19 screwed up our 2020 plans of cycling the Continental Divide but then again it messed with a lot of peoples plans. Oh well, adapt and modify but do it safely.

Social distancing is easy where we live, there are very few people and we live with a very low population density. Social distancing is and always has been the norm and its just the way we like it.

2021 has been a rollercoaster year, again postponing our summer tour plans. After my time in south Texas (December – April) I was emotionally spent, frazzled and flat worn out. I just wanted to go home. I hate to admit it but bikes have been dormant, lost in space so to speak and every time we think “now’s the time” something new rises up and grounds the bikes once again. Fall is fast approaching and it’s time to make it happen. It’s time to dust off the bikes, air the tires and pack those panniers.

Today is August 20, 2021 and we got out for a short 10 mile ride.

Taking the Salsa’s for a spin to Lake Superior. What a lonely, lovely spot!

Sliding onto the saddle of my Salsa Fargo I feel like I am getting re-acquainted with an old friend. We spin down the roadway and find ourselves at a quiet beach. This is peace, this is freedom, this living the life we choose with no excuses.

Life is Good ; Life doesn’t get much better than this!

After family has gone this next month we are loading up and hitting the road. We have gained weight and our butts are soft but we need this. We need the open road, the secluded trails, the lonely campsites. It re-sets the soul and we are ready, not physically but mentally. Cycling is physical but more than that it is mental. Hills are a mind f*ck and if you let them conquer you they win. The realization that “I can do it” is a strength that I rely on and push that little negative voice to the back. It doesn’t take and enormous physical ability to tour but it takes an open mind and willing attitude.

So get ready, CJBikeTours will soon be ready to roll. See you soon!

Carretera Victoria Austral

We departed home on a Tuesday morning, June 23, 2020 once breakfast and coffee were done. Bikes were loaded up and we headed for Pat’s IGA for some lunch provisions. The lupines are thick around Pats and we took advantage of the photo opp to get the ride started.

From place to place throughout the North and South American continents, things are not so different. Plant species are very similar if not the same; our region of North America is not much different from Patagonia. Weather is not much different, climate is not much different, bugs are not much different and back roads are not much different. One could say we live in the North American Patagonia.

Skies were overcast at the temperature was 48F/9C, beautiful weather to cycle in. We headed out of town on M64, heading west before turning south on Norwich Road. A destination was researched and the Norwich Bluffs our goal.

It’s been a while since we’ve toured. It’s been a while since we’ve spent more than a couple of hours in the saddle and needless to say these aging, overweight bodies felt every pedal stroke. The steady climb to our destination made us feel like we were dragging lead bricks behind us. We stopped for a Clif bar break, we stop to look and eat wild strawberries, we stopped to look at flowers and the Monarch caterpillars eating as well. The Sandhill cranes called out to us as we passed by. We stopped at Pioneer Multi-use Trailhead for a lunch of fried chicken that we had picked up at Pats earlier. This put us only a couple of miles from our destination for the evening.

We continued on Norwich Road and then turned east on Victoria Road. Victoria Road is a gravel road going up along the Norwich Bluffs.

We gradually climbed 1.3 miles on Victoria Road before turning off on a non-motorized trail. It was slightly overgrown and 1.6 miles to the top of the bluffs. The grade was a constant uphill. We were able to cycle some of it but soon had to stop to hoist bikes over downed trees. Then I hit a tree that was hidden in the tall grasses. I had been able to ride over many but this one that was slightly off angle took me out. I was literally pinned into the long grass into a mix of dead tree limbs and branches. I could feel myself falling almost in a slow motion drop. Curtis was laughing and got a few photos before helping me out of my predicament. I was pinned in such a manner that I couldn’t get my right arm out to push myself up. It seemed I was in some kind of notch between branches. It was funny. After a few attempts, with Curtis and I working together we were able to get me semi up and the bike off me. From here we pushed, there were too many hidden downed trees and the grass was pretty high. We passed beautiful rock outcrops. The grades were up to 12% in places and the push with loaded bikes was often times not easy but we kept going.

I really cannot move, my leg and right arm were pinned in a depression between the small tree branches. I was able to finally get up and out with just a few bruises and a lot of laughing.

We pushed to the end, 1.6 miles in distance. The old watchtower pilings were all that was left of it. We found an interpretive trail that is right off the North Country Trail. We had passed a lot of water sources on our push up, but there was not any water at the top. Hoping to camp on the edge of the bluffs was a no-go. The vegetation was pretty overgrown and we decided it was best to head back down the trail to one of the water streams.

We saw small snakes and some frogs and toads today but other than the chipmunks that was pretty much it for the critters.

The proverbial question of the day is “Does a bear shit in the woods?” Yes they do and from the numerous piles we found while looking for an adequate campsite I would say that there are quite a few up here! We brought along bear spray as well as scent-free bags and our bear bag for food storage.

We found a spring that had good water for filtering. Perched on the edge we dropped the filter end in and started to pump. Something is wrong. The water isn’t filtering through, rather it is spraying out where it shouldn’t be. Upon further investigation we found that a gasket was missing making the filter un-usable. All water would have to be boiled. On a positive note, we had packed along our new solo-stove that is a wood burner so our fuel source was plentiful.

The tent site we found was actually an old campsite complete with a grown over fire ring. We did not make a fire but we could have it we had chosen to. It was near an old downed tree.

The forest floor is very densely covered with leaf litter and downed trees. Chipmunks visited us often and watched while I set up the tent. Oaks and Maple Trees along with Beech trees were the predominate tree life with an occasional Hemlock thrown in.

We walked the woods, discovering a few mushrooms and other plants. We watched the chipmunks play and we noted large piles of bear dung. Tonight we will need to be bear aware and make sure food is hung. Birds sang, woodpeckers tapped out their morse codes and we sat back, enjoying our supper and enjoying the cool breezes.

This plant was a new one for me. It is called Squawroot (Conopholis americana). It is also known as Cancer Root and Bear Cone. It’s a strange and fascinating little plant that looks like a pinecone, produces no chlorophyll of its own, and lives mostly underground as a parasite on the roots of oak trees, seemingly without harming them.

Curtis boiled water and then cooked supper. Supper was our standby, Lentils & Brown Rice with dried vegetables mixed in. It’s a simple meal but it’s filling, nutritious and tastes so good after a hard day.

One new piece of gear is a small saw that works great for cutting small pieces of wood for the stove. Sure this small maple branch still needed to be split but the saw made it easy to get the lengths appropriate for use.

Bugs, yea there are bugs but there are bugs everywhere. Mosquitos were not too bad and we had the occasional horse fly come by. Bug spray is a must! Once we turned in I discovered a tick that was attempting to sink it’s tiny fangs into me. I ended its life, it had chosen the wrong host. Sleep came quickly.

Total miles today, Tuesday June 24, 2020 was a mere 21.1 miles with 1,347′ of elevation gain.

We were both awakened a few times through the night but sleep took over. Morning arrived with blue skies and light breezes.

We enjoyed our coffee and oats. While were were on the Carretera Austral in Patagonia we discovered that oats could be eaten raw. It was out of hunger and need to conserve resources that we discovered this and have not cooked oats since while touring. Our oats were mixed with walnuts and dried tart cherries.

With the tent packed up and the gear stowed away we made our way back down to Victoria Road. Mosquitos were thick and Curtis donned his bug net. For some reason they weren’t bothering me quite as bad.

Once back to the road we headed east / northeast on Victoria Road. At first it was gradual climbing but before we knew it the first 10% grade hill was behind us, then we hit a 12%. By the time we hit the next 12% grade hill we both opted to get off and push/walk it. We were not on Victoria Road rather we dubbed it Carretera Victoria Austral.

We climbed then we would drop and then we would climb again. The road was remote, the entire 2 days we only saw 3 cars. This is definitely my kind of traffic! We stopped often to look at flowers or watch the butterflies dance across the flower tops. Chipmunks darted across the gravel in front of us. We were definitely in our element.

The road changed from gravel to pavement as we entered Victoria, MI and we turned right and headed down the steep hill to Victoria Dam. This was a beautiful place to enjoy a peaceful lunch. I had made up banana pancakes with peanut butter before we left home. This is a hearty lunch, good carbs as well as protein. We sat and watched the beautiful waters of the backed up Ontonagon River. This is a popular canoe launch and also portage.

The push to get back up the hill back to Victoria Road was tough, reaching 16% grades according to my GPS. Plus this offshoot to the Dam was again gravel so grip was an issue.

Back on pavement we headed once again down to the Ontonagon River before embarking on the 1.6 mile climb out of the river valley. Gear down, go slow and crank is about the only way to get up a long hill. Grades were not bad, maxing out at 9.8%, at least it was not double digit!

We opted to take a gravel route from Rockland, MI back to Ontonagon and found an ATV trail that used to be a railway. We were passed by 2 ATVs but other than that the only traffic was the birds and butterflies. At one point on the trail we were swarmed by hundreds of tiny yellow gold butterflies. This was quite magical.

Our ATV trail dropped us out at Woodruff Road and from there we made our way home.

Total miles today, Wednesday June 25, 2020 was 27.2 miles with 1,989′ of elevation gain.

We will do more overnight bike trips and this one just wet our appetite for more of them. It is something we both enjoy especially being able to combine cycling with camping in the wild.

Yea…. it was good to be back on the open roads.

Winter Wonderland

It gets cold up THERE. It snows up THERE. WHY would you EVER want to live THERE? Statements that we have heard repeatedly after announcing we were looking for a place up north near Lake Superior. We searched this region specifically because it does get cold and it does snow among a vast number of other reasons. The locals asked if we were staying thru the winter as many land owners are seasonal and leave shortly after Labor Day. There was never a doubt that we would remain thru the winter.

The colors of fall were spectacular. November 1, 2019 we had brisk temperatures and leaves on the ground. Walks along our lovely lady, Lake Superior is always a treat and we never quite know what she is going to show us.

So many golden maple leaves!

The first snow came on November 2, 2019. It was a light dusting that blanketed the land and trees in white. Apples and leaves clung to the trees in a final attempt to hold onto the last days of fall. The snow muffles all sounds and the world seems so quiet and serene. The waves slapped the shoreline of the lake coating driftwood and dunes with a light layer of ice. Ice cycles dripped from so many areas along the beach.

Walks thru the woods became a reoccurring activity. Snow was not deep yet into the first week of December and the quiet of the landscape was inviting. Winds were squelched to almost zero deep in the trees.

Hemlock & Pine Forest Hikes

The Salsa Fargo bikes that Curtis built for us are incredible snow bikes and with snow on the ground we took advantage of the wide wheels and stable handling. There is always fun to be had if you look for it. Oh sure, we could have hid in the warmth of the house and avoided “the cold” but why would we ever want to do that when there is so many things to do and places to explore. And fun & exploration we did! We rode bikes, hiked thru the trees, built bonfires and sampled ice cycles.

We slid into the new year, welcome to 2020! Ontonagon is a beautiful village with such an iconic lighthouse. It also has some of the most incredible shoreline on Lake Superior. Our lovely lady dons a new wardrobe of ice and snow into the winter months. She takes on an interesting look of ice sculptures and art.

The Historic Ontonagon Lighthouse

Snow levels grew and the trails thru the trees no longer were possible UNTIL…. we discovered snowshoes. This was so much fun!! We made a trail through the back of the property, across the pond and into the city park. The local loop was about 2-1/2 miles long and we were able to enjoy the solitude and peace of this trail. It was used by several other locals and quite well marked.

Michael and Rachel came for a visit and we purchased 2 additional pairs of snow shoes. This was FUN!!

Curtis, Michael, Jenny & Rachel
Bonfires and Roasting Marshmallows Always a hit!!

Winter creates a landscape like nothing else. With Michael and Rachel we explored Bond Falls. Spectacular!

We learned to layer and dress for the cold temperatures finding that anything above Zero was actually enjoyable. We wore gloves and mittens, hats, scarves, buffs, boots, coats, vests and long johns. Layer upon layer we would don our duds and head outside.

Rosy Cheeks are the norm

By Mid February the snow was backing off and layers were dropping. Curtis and I took a snowshoe trail to O kun de Kun falls and this was by far one of our favorite snowshoe trails.

Days are starting to lengthen and our time outdoors grew even more. Roads were starting to clear. Snow would melt from the pavement only to freeze at night creating black ice. Black Ice is treacherous to say the least and despite the wide tires on our bikes, black ice took us both down.

So glad that the snow broke my fall when I spun out on black ice!

But the melting snow and ice pack didn’t stop us from enjoying the Salsa Fargos. The snowshoe trails were too slushy now and we had to hang up the snowshoes for the season. The bikes came out in full force and despite the wipeouts, we enjoyed the sunshine.

April 2, 2020 rolled around and the snow has cleared from the roadways. Our roadies made their debut.

The first snows fell the beginning of November and we hiked, walked, snowshoed and biked our way through the winter season. Days have lengthened and the sun shines high in the skies now. Winter is behind us for yet another season.

Excuses of why we can’t do something are put out of mind and thoughts of what CAN we do always came forward. Sure, there were cold days when the weather was prohibitive of us being able to go out and play. Those days were spent in the wood shop or on home repairs/remodels. We baked bread and cookies, created decadent soups and stews. Winter is what you make it! Life is what you make it.

You CAN or you CANNOT, it is your choice.

Taking the “roadies” out for a spin
April 1, 2020 The crocus are blooming, daffodils are sprouting, SPRING HAS SPRUNG!

Lake Superior Circle Tour

She’s a vast lake, deep blue waters reach from her shores as she spreads out across a great region. This van tour will circle Lake Superior and we will have the opportunity to explore some of her hidden gems as we go.

Depart Monday July 22, 2019 Depart Ontonagon, MI, overnight at Memorial Park Campground-Washburn, WI

The plan is to keep the daily driving to a minimum and take our time as we make our way around this large body of water. We drive west toward Wisconsin and end up camping at Memorial Park in Wakefield, WI. This park is located on Lake Superior just south of Bayfield.

Tuesday July 23, 2019 Lakehead Boat Basin-Duluth MN

Highlights: Houghton Falls State Natural Area, Bayfield WI, Bayfield Penisula Sea Caves, Duluth Waterfront

Just north of Wakefield was this incredible nature preserve. The hike was short but it took us through a remarkable ravine to the edge of Lake Superior.

Bayfield, WI is a delightful town but quite touristy. We enjoyed a pleasant stroll after a visit to a great coffee shop.

This was a difficult location to get to, we attempted first by driving into Meyers Beach but left quickly as it was wall to wall cars and no parking available what-so-ever. We backtracked onto a narrow, gravel road and found ourselves at a dead end. This was perfect. After a short walk, we were able to link into the Bayfield Penisula Sea Caves Trail. This was phenominal and the views of Lake Superior was pristine.

Wedneday July 24, 2019 Lakehead Boat Basin-Duluth

Highlights: Fitger’s Brewery, Duluth Rose Garden, Blacklist Brewery

Fitger’s Brewery did not disappoint! We enjoyed a relaxing lunch while sampling some of their on-tap delights.

The Duluth Rose garden is a showy delight of flowers and roses. It was a pretty long walk today, but well worth it.

Two breweries in one day, what’s not to like!

Thursday July 25, 2019 Little Gulch Lake Campground-Lake George, MN

Highlights: Driving, lunch on the Mississippi River near Jacobson, MN and camping with Haley, Dena and Maple

We stopped for a quick lunch at a rest stop in Jacobson, MN where we saw the narrow spance of the Mississippi River. It was pretty mosquito infested so we did not explore. We did locate a wonderful campsite at Little Gulch Lake where we were joined by 3 fellow travelers, Dena and her daughter Maple and Haley from Alaska. These bold young women were delightful as I watched Haley tackle some remarkable bead work and Dena was creating a pair of buckskin pants. Such talent! Dena and Maple live in a recently purchased school bus.

Friday July 26, 219 Six Mile Lake Campground-North Cass, MN

Highlights: Lake Itasca State Park

The headwaters of the Mississippi River, where the great river begins. I have wanted to see this state park for a very long time and we had the time now so here we are. We dipped feet into the river before heading out on a hike along Lake Itasca. Great areas of wild rice grown along the banks, butterflies and dragonflies were in abundance. This was so incredible to finally get to see.

Saturday July 27, 2019 Four Mile Lake Campground-Toft, MN

Highlights: Gooseberry Falls State Park, Visiting with friends Bill & Gina

Zig-zagging across Minnesota took us back to the North Shore. We stopped by old family Friends, Bill & Gina’s house in Proctor but they were not home. We left a note and continued on to Gooseberry Falls State Park. This place was packed but within a short distance on the trails, the people dispersed and we enjoyed a great hike up.

Jenny, Gina and Bill

Bill & Gina called and met up with us at Gooseberry Falls. I was still in diapers when Bill first met me. Our family lived in a house near Fish Lake and Bill was a great help to my mom while dad was overseas in the military. It was wonderful seeing them again.

Sunday July 28, 2019 Wild Camp near Eagle Mountain, MN

Highlights: Palisade Head Park, Hike Eagle Mountain 2301′

We walked up the hill to enjoy this location, it was rather busy though.

Mushrooms and fungi, I love these things, so many varieties, including the Indian Pipe flowers. Not many flowers today along the trail up to Eagle Mountain, but still plenty of things to look at.

The hike to the top of Eagle Mountain is 3-1/2 miles each way. We enjoyed the trail today immensely and when we approached the summit we were surprised by wild blueberries.

No excuses this time!! I made it to the summit.

In the summer of 2002, 17 years ago I attempted the climb to the summit of Eagle Mountain only to stop short. I was fat and I couldn’t make it. I just didn’t have the endurance to do it. Today, 17 years later and a fitness level that I am proud of I did it.

The two photos on the left are from my trip to Minnesota in 2002.
In 2003 I began the journey to a lifetime of better health and fitness. Wow, what a difference!

Monday July 29, 2019 Wild Camp Little Dog Lake, Ontario, Canada

Highlights: Grand Portage State Park, Border Crossing into Ontario

We picked a bunch of blueberries yesterday at the top of Eagle Mountain. This morning we enjoy the spoils of that and indulge in blueberry pancakes.

Grand Portage State Park, a quick side stop before crossing into Canada.

Tuesday July 30, 2019 Ontario Wild Camp

Highlights: Kakabeka Falls, water lily bath time

Kakabeka Falls is incredible and we spent the better part of the day here.

The hiking trail to the lower falls was tough but worth it.

Wild camps are best when near water and tonight we were next to a beautiful pond with water lilies near the edge. It was so incredible to “bathe” in among these beautiful flowers. Besides, it’s been a while since our last good scrubbing so getting cleaned up was a plus.

Wednesday July 31, 2019 PicNic Lake Campground-Ontario, Canada

Highlights: Aguasabon River Gorge, Casque-Isle Hiking Trail 6Km

It seems our Lake Superior Circle Tour is one for the hiking, today we completed a 4 Km hike to the water and back.

We sat for a couple of hours while they cleared a fatality wreck.

Highway 17 in Ontario, Canada plain and simply SUCKS. We sat snarled in this traffic jam for well over 2 hours. It seems an 18-wheeler and an SUV opted to occupy the same space at the same time causing a head on collision. The driver of the SUV was taken away in a body bag. Traffic drives too fast, trucks drive too fast, people are in way too much of a hurry. So sad.

Thursday August 1, 2019 Pancake Bay Wild Camp-Ontario, Canada

Highlights: High Falls to Silver Falls Hiking Trail 6Km,

This trail was only 3 Km each way but this was the most difficult trail we’ve done EVER. It was spectacular though and we are glad to have completed it. There was a lot of steep up and downhills to traverse.

Happy Birthday Curtis and welcome to the Pancake Bay Wild Camp. There were so many amazing places to boondock here and looking back from a series of rocks our van sits atop the hill overlooking a spectacular bay.
Good Night from Pancake Bay.

Friday, August 2, 2019 Tahquanemon Falls Area Camping

Highlights: Depart Ontario, Point Iroquois Lighthouse

Coffee in the morning, listening to the waves lap the shoreline of Lake Superior. We watched as a small sailboat slid through the waters while a loon kept us entertained.

The crossing from Ontario border back into the USA was uneventful.

The waters of Lake Superior are so crystal clear here at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse.

Boondocking in a field of flowers .

Saturday, August 3, 2019 Tahquamenon Falls Camp

Highlights: Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Clark Lake Trail 5.2 miles

More hiking today, the road into Clark Lake is not suitable for a large vehicle. But, despite that fact we took the van down it anyway. The hike was easy and so few people! Loved it!

Pitcher Plants, so many pitcher plants on the Clark Lake Trail today. These are so cool to see.

Smooth Green Snake, this little fellow looks very well fed.
The trail to Clark Lake was well marked and very enjoyable.

Sunday, August 4, 2019 Tahquamenon Falls Camp

Highlights: Tahquamenon Falls State Park-Low Falls to High Falls Trail 10 miles

A 10 mile hike was on the agenda for today. This was a beautiful trail along the river.

Monday, August 5, 2019 Painted Rocks Camp

Highlights: Fixed rear tire-picked up a screw

Other than stop into a tire shop in Newberry, MI it was a pretty non-eventful day. We picked up a small screw in the rear drivers side tire which was slowly leaking air. Today we got that fixed. Other than that, we spent the day driving.

Tucked deep into the Hiawatha National Forest

Tuesday, August 6, 2019 Painted Rocks Camp

Highlights: Lake Superior Trail 7 miles

The road was very narrow and we ended up with a few branches stuck in our to rack but it was well worth the quiet solitude.

Today’s trek was 7 miles total. The trail is incredible and the campground has a ThunderBox, a very useable outside toilet. The trail was very well maintained and the rocky beaches beyond beautiful.

A small token of my appreciation to the Goddess of the Lake.

The Log Slide area is high sand dunes darting into the water. People actually will walk down them in minutes yet the climb back up on all fours takes about an hour!

The Au Sable Lighthouse, it was 1-1/2 miles walk to get here and then 2 more miles to get to the Log Slide. This made for a beautiful hike today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 Ontonagon Township Park

Highlights: Drive to Ontonagon

It rained most of today and we drove back to Ontonagan, MI. It was pretty uneventful but we were glad to be back.

Thursday, August 8, 2019 Ontonagon Township Park

Highlights: A do nothing day of rest, we did get the bikes out for a short ride to downtown.

Friday, August 9, 2019 Home is where the heart is

Highlights: Closed on our home

WHAT??!!??? Closed on a house??? Over the past 3 years we have lived with the daily saying of Home is Where the Heart is and today we finalized the purchase of a small house in Ontonagon, MI. It is located 1/2 mile from the beautiful Lake Superior shore and a mere 20 miles from the Porcupine Mountains State Park.

We are great believers that when the path is right things happen with ease. We knew that we would know the property when we saw it and that if it were meant to be the path to it would be easy. And here we are now, keys is hand.

April 2016 we sold our home in Longview, TX and on June 1, 2016 we embarked on the journey from Anchorage, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. We followed our hearts and here we are, 3 years and 4 months later. We’ve had quite the adventure and the Lake Superior Circle Tour was just one more aspect of it.

Buying a home is not the end of our journey but the beginning of a new chapter in our continued adventures. We now have a base to call home where we can retreat to in between new adventures and the Lake Superior Circle Tour is just a start.

MUP Tour 2019 : League of Michigan Bicyclists

July 7-13, 2019 Upper Penisula, Michigan

Curtis, Jenny and Moni at the start of MUP 2019

Organized bicycle tours are a fun way to meet new people and forge life long friendships. Over a decade ago I participated in a ride across Oklahoma taking me from the Texas border into Kansas. One such encounter in 2007 brought me face to face with Moni and a friendship was born. Now in 2019 here in UP we meet up again to enjoy a week of fun, fellowship and cycling as we explore a region of the country that we have never been to.

Moni and Jenny at Kitch-iti-kipi, the largest fresh water spring in Michigan

Day zero, which was a pre-ride for the official tour was a fast and fun 20 miler to a place called Kitch-iti-kipi. This translates to Big Spring and is the largest fresh water spring in Michigan. The crystal clear, emerald green waters were incredibly beautiful!

Sunday evening we hung around the fairgrounds for the official start on Monday morning. As the sun set over the fairgrounds, more and more cyclists rolled in. The eerie fog that rolls in from Lake Michigan created a very interesting sunset.

Monday morning came along and we hit the road, today will be a 65 mile day as we make our way to Escanaba.

From Escanaba we pulled two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) that were 74 miles plus. Our route took us from Escanaba to Cyrstal Falls on into Marquette.

On this tour we camp, the tent goes up every night. I have always found the traveleing tent city fascinating. The cell phone and electronics station is something of an electrical chaotic mess.

The youngest participant was a 5 year old little girl. She was so awesome! Not only did she not complain or fuss, but she was helpful with setting up. After she completed her chores she showed off her artist skills. This little girl was talkative and the giggle and laugh was fantastic. What a delightful child!

We had fun on the road and along the way. Lunch was provided on Tuesday and Wednesay. Long rows of bikes lined the fences and buildings where we stopped to enjoy box lunches.

Marquette, MI was a layover day. We had a day off and we enjoyed it immensely! We rode bikes downtown and toured the Historical Society Museum. The woman recommended a couple of restaurants for lunch and we took her advice and enjoyed lunch at The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery.

We checked out the local bike shop and cruised along Lake Superior. The lake is so beautiful!! I love the clear blue waters and the many nautical sites.