Circling Lake Superior, Part 1: Exploring new, yet familiar, terrain

MinnPost photo by Catherine Conlan

TWO HARBORS — When I tell people we’re going on a circle tour around Lake Superior for our summer vacation, I get one of two reactions. The first is surprising: “Oh, I did that once. I did it in two (or three) days. I don’t recommend doing it that way.”

The second reaction is more common, and more understandable: “Oh, I’ve always wanted to do that.” 

Living on the North Shore, we are surrounded by people who know the lake as we do — as a feature like the sky or a road, something you see every day, familiar yet always changing, as the sky does when clouds move across it, or a road when cars drive by. We are surrounded by people who have thought at least once about driving around the greatest of the great lakes, and they are pleased and interested when they hear we are going to do that — and not in two days.

My husband grew up in Duluth and so grew up with the lake. I grew up in Nebraska, and when I saw the lake for the first time in college I fell in love instantly, the way so many of us do. Matt likes to explore and see new things — our dates were often long drives to places we had never been before. I would rather revisit a place to see how it has changed, and often see how I have changed.

This trip will suit both of us. The lake will be our constant companion outside the passenger-side windows. We will be driving the “short way” — clockwise (counterclockwise, in the outer lane, would add several feet) — and take about a week to do it. There are parts of the road that veer into the forest, and parts that go through towns much like the one I live near now. We will camp in some places and crash at a hotel in others. 

Why do people want to drive around Lake Superior? Maybe it’s to learn as much as possible about it.  But then, who ever really knows the lake?  There are thousands of people who call this lake their own, who see it in ways I do and in ways I do not.

Our vacation will do what travel is supposed to do: Show us something we love, show us new things, and show us ourselves — all in ways we haven’t thought of before. And I’ll be posting on MinnPost as we go.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/23/2009 - 09:15 am.

    I know a guy who used to ride a bike around the lake every year with his brother n law, and that was before they put in the nice bike lanes they have now.

  2. Submitted by Aaron Klemz on 06/23/2009 - 11:12 am.

    Be sure to stop and stay at Pukaskwa National Park near Marathon, ON. This is the crown jewel of Lake Superior parks – huge, pristine, beautiful.

  3. Submitted by Jason Walker on 06/23/2009 - 12:02 pm.

    Stay at the SalzburgerHof – it’s on the Canada side closer to Sault Ste. Marie in Batchawana Bay. The lady who owns it cooks breakfast and the pancakes could be the best thing my wife and I have ever tasted. I still dream about them. There is also a good German restaurant on site for dinner, and the rooms are super-quaint. We want to do the circle tour again just to stay there!

  4. Submitted by Lucie Amundsen on 06/23/2009 - 03:00 pm.

    Looking forward to riding the coattails of your adventure.

  5. Submitted by Sue Eidem on 06/23/2009 - 03:06 pm.

    Circling Lake Superior is one of my favorite roadtrips. I’ve done it three times. I will second the Salzurger Hof in Batchawana Bay. The cabbage soup is to die for. I also like the Serendipity Inn in Rossport.

    I am looking forward to following your adventures!

  6. Submitted by Catherine Conlan on 06/23/2009 - 03:20 pm.

    Thank you for reading, all! I appreciate the suggestion for a restaurant near the Soo — we’ll be staying there a couple of days.

Leave a Reply