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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I spent Friday and Saturday on the Wing, catching stops on the 2022 Grand Tour of Minnesota. The GTMN is similar to a poker run, but without the alcohol. There are twenty stops on the list, and you have to take a photo of each stop, with your GTMN passport and rider number in the photo. Your ride should appear in the photo if possible. The time period for this ride began on May 1st and ends on October 31st. A map of my route is included here. I will create a post in this thread for each day of the ride. I have various places labeled on the map, and they will be explained as I go.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
DAY 1

Paragraphs beginning with a number refer to places marked on the map in the first post.

1. I left home at 6 AM and headed north, stopping for breakfast at the Rock Creek Cafe, which has been one of my favorite stops for many years. I was looking to save time, so biscuits and gravy with a couple of scrambled eggs made the meal of choice. I think I was at Rock Creek for all of twenty minutes.

2. My first stop on the list is in Duluth, specifically the Aerial Left Bridge. Places where you can park and get a photo of the bike and the bridge are not as easy to find as one might think, so I took mine from the parking lot of the Great Lakes Aquarium. It doesn't catch the entire bridge, but it is obvious what bridge it is, which is what counts. I only need to show that I was there.

Sky Plant Ecoregion Automotive tire Motor vehicle


The next stop was way up at the end of the Gunflint Trail, which is WAY up in the woods. To get there, you travel along the northern shore of Lake Superior, then jump off into the woods at Grand Marais. Along the way, and overlooking the lake is Split Rock Lighthouse. I couldn't resist stopping for a photo of it, even though it is not on the list.

Sky Water Building Lighthouse Plant



3. Trails End Campground is at the end of the Gunflint Trail, which is popular jumping off point for people going out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Travelling over 50 miles up through the woods on a road that twists and curves sounds like a great time, but portions of the road are brutally rough. Even so, it was worthwhile.

Plant Plant community Motor vehicle Vegetation Land lot



4. The next stop, the International Wolf Center is located in Ely, which is only 50 miles from the previous stop as the crow flies, but is over 160 miles by highway. I pulled in here just as they were closing for the day. I snapped my photo and got out of there just before they closed and locked the gate. It was here in Ely where I also suffered my only near miss of the trip. Ely was hosting their annual Blueberry Festival and there were cars and people everywhere. I was following other traffic down the main drag when a fellow in a pickup truck pulled out from a side street and just missed my back end as he crossed. I shook my head and thanked the Lord at the same time.

Cloud Sky Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive lighting


5. After my near miss in Ely, I decided to avoid the more heavily traveled routes that the tourists use, and I took county roads down through Babbitt and Embarrass on my way to Virginia. I had 620 miles for the day and 13 hours since leaving home. I could have done more, but I had reserved a room here, not knowing for certain just how the day would go. I walked to the restaurant next door and had a great dinner and a couple of beers before returning to my room for a good night's sleep.

Day 2 coming up shortly
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
DAY 2

6. I would have liked to be on the road by 6 AM, but breakfast at the hotel was not available until 6 AM, so I settled for leaving at 6:30. My first stop this day was in Hibbing, a city noted for all of the iron mining in the area and also known as the birthplace of Greyhound Bus Lines. The Greyhound Bus Museum is located here. I have been told that it is far better than one would expect, but due to the early hour (7 AM) they were not yet open. I might have to do a return visit someday. In this photo I managed to get the museum, my passport, my bike, and myself all in the same photo.

Sky Aircraft Automotive tire Vehicle Mode of transport



7. Remer claims to be the home of Bigfoot, and a plywood silhouette had been erected next to the city sign on the edge of town, but it needs repair and is no longer standing, though the remnants are still laying there. I got my photo of it, none the less. I would have rolled the Wing over there, but the soil was rather loose sand, and I decided against it. I headed west for my next stop and about three miles down the road I realized that I had not included my passport in the photo, which is a requirement. So, I had to turn around, go back, and take a new photo, shown here, then head west once more.

Sky Plant Tree Land lot Grass



8. Bemidji is home to Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Paul has been there since 1937 and Babe joined him two years later.

Sky Azure Tree Working animal Asphalt



9. Minnesota is also home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I have visited here several times, but this was the shortest one ever. This is in a state park, so I had to purchase a permit for entry, then found a place to park, walked a quarter mile or better to the headwaters, got my pic, and got out. I was more than happy to get away from the tons of tourists when I left. I drive a truck for a living, so tourists tend to be a pain in my neck, and this trip was much like when I am working: I know where I have to go, and getting there is my entire focus.

Water Sky Plant Tree Travel



10. I was now leaving the northern forests and working my way out into open farm country. I made a quick stop in Park Rapids for lunch, then headed south to Inspiration Peak, a high point on a glacial moraine left ages ago when the last ice age retreated. I had many more miles to make today, so I simply got my necessary photo and headed out again without hiking to the top.

Plant Plant community Motor vehicle Vegetation Tree



After leaving the hills of the moraine I found myself out on the open prairie. Originally tallgrass prairie, it all fell to the farmer's plow in the 1800's and now we see corn, wheat, and soybeans as far as the eye can see. Being wide open, the wind also blows here, and it gave me a chance to wear my tires out on something other than the center.


11. When I was growing up, I became friends with a kid on a neighboring farm. Phil and I did everything together and got into more than our fair share of trouble. Eventually my kids got to know his kids and they got into their fair share of trouble too. Rare as this usually is, we have remained lifelong friends to this day. He and his wife are now retired and have a home north of Ortonville, overlooking Big Stone Lake, which is the headwaters of the Minnesota River. Since I was going to be in the area, I arranged for a short visit, and I fully intended to only stay for about an hour. Best laid plans often go astray, and Tess said she had a beef roast in the oven. My plans were suddenly changed. I arrived there at 4 PM and didn't leave until 7.

12. I still had two stops to get before turning toward home and I soon realized that it would be dark when I arrive at my last stop, so I decided to strike it from the list, but more about that shortly. My last stop for the day is located in Ortonville, an area known for granite stone. Paul Bunyan's boat anchor is located at Ortonville, as shown in the photo.

Cloud Sky Property Photograph Plant



13. My last planned stop was the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum located in Walnut Grove. It was 7:30 when I left Ortonville, thundershowers were creeping in from the west, and it was a two-hour ride to Walnut Grove. It would be dark when I got there, and I have no idea if the museum has a brightly lit front or not, so I headed for home instead. I can head out to Walnut Grove another day.

14. Zans Mexican Restaurant in Mankato was on the list, but my wife and I got that one back in May. After looking at the photo I realize that my rider number is pretty much washed out, so there is a good chance that I will return here for a better photo when I go to Walnut Grove. The food was great, so I won't mind a return visit.

Jeans Sky Wheel Tire Photograph


There are a number of stops left in southeastern Minnesota that I still need to get, but that part of the state is really nice riding when the leaves change color, so I might wait a little while before going down there.

From Ortonville I headed for home, and took my time, making a couple of extra stops just to relax a bit. I arrived home just before 11 PM, with 579 miles for the day, and a total of 1199 for the trip. I had a great time and look forward to returning to some of these areas again.
 

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Great pictures, thanks for taking us along.
 

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Thanks for sharing your trip with us. The photos were great as was your narrative.
 
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Thanks for taking us along! Looked like a great trip and I'll be adding some of this to my bucket list. It sure is easy on a Wing of the fastest color.
 

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Great pictures, those Grand Tours are really fun to do, and you get to see a lot of country in the process.


I do the Pacific Northwest Grand Tour every year, I haven't had a chance to set out yet for the sights but hopefully next week I'll start my tour. I already have them mapped out. I also do the Tour of Honor ride for the Pacific Northwest.
 

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That looks like a great way to spend time on the bike. Wondering if other states have Grand Tours? Might there be a site that lists them?
Check out the AMA web site, there is one listed for the Northeast section of the United States.

Better yet, why not start your own Grand Tour of the State you live in. I can put you in touch with the person that does the PNW Grand Tour, maybe he can give you some pointers on how to do it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The Grand Tour of Minnesota (GTMN) is sanctioned by a motorcycling group called Team Strange Airheads. They do hold an AMA charter, so they are a legitimate group. They also have a Grand Tour of Georgia each year, though this is the first year for the Minnesota tour. Here is a link to the Minnesota tour: Grand Tour of Minnesota 2022. The GTMN 2023 has already been planned but none of the stops have been announced as yet.

And here is a link to the list of rides at Team Strange: Team Strange Airheads

The GTMN is a list of 20 sites or "bonuses" as they call them. Once you register and receive your passport, you go out and ride to each of the sites and take a photo of the site that includes your passport with your rider number showing, and should include your bike or trike if possible. Bikes and trikes are allowed, but not Slingshots. All of your rides/stops must be completed between May 1st and October 30th. You then send your qualifying photos in and if you finish all of the sites you receive your finisher's sticker.

A sticker may not sound like much, but this is NOT a competition. Its purpose is to give you a list of places to ride to and visit so that you get out and RIDE. The best part is when you run into other riders at various sites and make new friends.

I hope you find this information useful, particularly if you or a group are interested in creating a Grand Tour for your state. Be advised that there is a fair bit of work involved with administering a ride like this and it is generally a job for more than one person.
 

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I spent Friday and Saturday on the Wing, catching stops on the 2022 Grand Tour of Minnesota. The GTMN is similar to a poker run, but without the alcohol. There are twenty stops on the list, and you have to take a photo of each stop, with your GTMN passport and rider number in the photo. Your ride should appear in the photo if possible. The time period for this ride began on May 1st and ends on October 31st. A map of my route is included here. I will create a post in this thread for each day of the ride. I have various places labeled on the map, and they will be explained as I go.

View attachment 281198
 
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