My first stop in the morning before heading west is the great Soo Locks. These mammoth chambers move the largest of ships up into Lake Superior from Lake Huron and then back again. The Poe Lock is larger than any other lock on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Panama Canal, Europe or Asia. The boat traffic moves through all day like clockwork. Within a few minutes the lock is filled and the boat is through.
I head towards the town of Paradise, northwest along the edge of Whitefish Bay and the shores of the "Gitche Gumme." Although the map says there is an unpaved section, the road is excellent the whole way. Empty asphalt, a clear blue sky, lush green trees, and a shining Lake Superior make for a great ride.
Whitefish Point Lighthouse is my next stop, located at 46 degrees North, 46 minutes, 240 seconds, and 84 degrees West, 57 minutes and 125 seconds. At least thatís what my GPS says. The Great Lake Shipwreck Museum is located on the grounds of this first lighthouse on Lake Superior, built in 1849.
Whitefish Point has been called the graveyard of Lake Superior as many of the 550 wrecks in the lake have been near here. Since the first known shipwreck of a commercial vessel, the poorly named Invincible, in November 1916 to the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975, approximately 320 lives have been lost in over 300 shipwrecks and accidents in the area known as the graveyard. Also located here is the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory where migratory birds, which pass through the area each spring and fall are studied. I study the chart so I can try to identify the large Osprey and Hawks I spot flying above as I move down the roads.
I stop for lunch in Grand Marais, a tiny town on the shores of Lake Superior and then head over to the Pictured Rocks Visitor Center at Grand Sable. I had planned to ride through the park, but the map and a chat with the Ranger reveals that most of the roads are unpaved. As I donít enjoy riding on dirt, I have to go around. I re-enter the park at the southern point, 50 miles around, and check out Miners Castle. For 40 miles the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore hugs the coast of Lake Superior. Sandstone cliffs-ochre, tan, and brown sandwiched with layers of white and green-tower 50 to 200 feet above the water. Itís a beautiful place, and probably best seen from the water.
If you are enjoying my journals from the road, then you might enjoy reading about the Iron Butt Rally in progress. Bob Higdon, the renowned BMW Riders Association writer, is posting wonderful reports on a regular basis at the Iron Butt Web Site. Go to http://www.ironbutt.com and click on the 1999 Rally Link. 45 BMWs are entered out of 98 bikes. The first checkpoint has been completed and things are getting very interesting.
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