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Ever since my husband and I took our first camping trip to Lake Superior Park, we’d longed to travel  the circle tour right around the lake. The scenery along Highway 17 from Sault Ste Maire through to Wawa is stunning and we were impatient to see what the rest of the route around the lake had to offer. So back in summer 2009, we decided that this would be our much-delayed honeymoon. The circle tour is a popular route for RVs and motorbikes; but for us it had to be our Corvette.

A night in Paradise?

We picked Paradise, Michigan for the first night of our stay, just so we could say we’d “stayed in paradise.” Sadly it didn’t really live up to the name. Our Best Western Inn (now the Magnuson Grand Hotel Lakefront Paradise) was a comfortable spot to stay, but appeared to be one of the few businesses in Paradise that was actually open. There was a very big “closed” sign hanging over Paradise, and this at the height of tourist season too. This became a familiar theme throughout the rest of our journey in the U.S.: “for sale” signs lining the streets and businesses closed up.

Sleeping wolf

Sleeping wolf

Roads less traveled
Heading up Highway 61 towards Thunder Bay, we took a detour to the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota.  This was such a fun, twisty drive in lush, green countryside with towering evergreens. Ely appeared to be one of the most thriving places we’d experienced during the trip. We squashed our way into the “Chocolate Moose” café for lunch, then headed to the Wolf Center where we became members and learnt about the valuable work the Center is doing to support the wolf species.

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to the Thunder Bay Inn – not found as you might expect in Thunder Bay, but in Big Bay, Michigan. Once owned by Henry Ford, the Inn was used in the 1940s for filming the James Stewart movie “Anatomy of a Murder.” The Inn served up a delicious lunch and we enjoyed looking at the display of old photos and press clippings relating to the movie.

Serendipity Cafe in Rossport

Serendipity Cafe in Rossport

Time for lunch

Food is always an important part of any ‘vette trip and both of my favourite eating spots were on the Canadian side of Superior. Even in the rain, the village of Rossport was still an attractive place to visit, offering two choices for lunch: the Rossport Inn (currently closed) or the Serendipity Café and gardens. We chose the latter. Unfortunately, as we discovered after we’d made our menu choices, most of the items weren’t available due to a power outage. The owners were coping as best they could though, and we still enjoyed the food, the beautiful front garden, and friendly cat.

My other favourite was the “Kinniwabi Pines” just outside Wawa, offering a wide range of international dishes and an elegance I hadn’t expected to find in this area. Rain had forced everyone inside, but for sunny days there’s a beautiful patio area overlooking the river and it’s another one on my list of places to return to.

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

There were many other highlights: Kakabeka Falls (the “Niagara of the North”), Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and the monument to George “Win one for the Gipper” Gipp.  I returned home with mixed emotions: saddened by the all-too visible signs of economic problems, but with some great memories. This one is definitely worth a repeat trip in the future.

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