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The Lake Superior Circle Tour, on a motorcycle

Columnist Steve Lange rides 2,000 miles in six days, solo. Here's the first half of that trip.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig
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On a Thursday afternoon in late July, my wife Lindy suggests that if I want to take off on a motorcycle trip this summer, sooner would be better.

I leave two hours later.

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I pack my one-person tent and sleeping bag and tiny mattress pad and my tiny dopp kit with a fold-up toothbrush and the smallest toothpaste you’ve ever seen.

Thursday night: I ride until I hit Lake Superior, just east of Duluth. Find a cheap private campground with one spot left.

When I’m alone, on my motorcycle at a campsite, people often reach out to offer me beer or coffee or conversation.

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I like to think this is because others view me – a guy alone on a motorcycle, with just his tent and a sleeping bag – as someone they want to meet, if only to be regaled by my adventures of life on the Harley, and of me followin’ the wind wherever it may carry my travelin’ bones.

Often, though, I realize that – after having ridden hours on the bike – I appear to others as someone in need of free food.

Steve Lange with the Wawa goose.
Steve Lange with the Wawa goose.

Friday: I ride through Wisconsin then Michigan along the southern shore of Superior. Stay in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the eastern edge of the lake.

For a few years in the early-90s, just out of college, I lived in the Soo – that’s what you call it if you’ve lived there.

I walk downtown and stop into all the bars I used to frequent. I keep thinking I might recognize people, but then I realize I’m looking for former friends in the groups of 20-somethings. Some of those people – and it took a while for this to fully register – wouldn’t have been born when I lived there.

Also, all of the bars I used to go to look different. And the music is louder, and weirder than I remember.

Saturday, 8:15 a.m.: Why, I’m off to an early start. I’m already at the border crossing.

Saturday, 8:16 a.m.: The border crossing agent singles me out for an “in-office interview.” I am immediately concerned, as anyone should be when they are going into a room with someone who has the legal authority to inspect your entire body, even the insides.

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Luckily, it doesn’t come to that.

Saturday afternoon: Ride north then west into Canada. I take the mandatory selfie with the giant Wawa goose, a 28-foot-tall steel statue.

A bear trap.
A bear trap.

Saturday night: I camp at Neys Provincial Park in Marathon, Ontario, the northern tip of Lake Superior. Right next to my campsite is a live bear trap, a steel cage with a steel door propped open set atop a small trailer. There is some sort of food inside as bait.

I have never, in my life, wanted to climb inside something so badly, just to see if I could take that bait and outsmart that cage.

I stand too close to it and study it longer than I should.

Later that night, a couple from British Columbia invite me over to their campsite for a beer. In the morning, they invite me over for coffee.

That's 1,000 miles and three days. Next week: rainstorms, Hell's Angels and moose searching.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

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