2009 Bike Ride

We’re Biking into the Land of theVoyageurs in June, To the International Border, and Gunflint Lodge

The Voyageurs were robust and impetuous French fur traders who paddled their canoes, sang their songs and left their mark on the history of what are now Canada and northern Minnesota.

We’re going to bike this June through the land and among the waters where those rollicking Frenchmen roamed, places whose names now evoke their passage and their explorations—Grand Marais, Pigeon River, Grand Portage and more.

The format of this 35th annual Jaunt With Jim will be altered somewhat this year because of special opportunities available to us to enjoy the lake country as modern Voyageurs, except that these will travel with short pants and water bottles.

The dates are June 12-19. We’ll begin by biking along the most absorbing of all of the seascapes of the North Shore drive of Lake Superior, from Tofte to the Canadian Border. We’ll camp for three different nights in Grand Marais, and then ride the Gunflint highway into the interior of the Boundary Waters Canoe country of the Superior National Forest. There we’ll spend two nights at the renowned Gunflint Lodge on the shore of Gunflint Lake, part of the original route of the Voyageurs.

To do this we’ve made arrangements with the management of the Gunflint Lodge to reserve virtually all units of the lodge for our use under special discount rates. These include 22 of its immaculate and tastefully furnished lakeside cottages, offering from one to four bedrooms that can accommodate from to 2 to 12 people. Also available to us are bunk houses normally used by canoeing parties in the Boundary Waters but for June 16th and 17th also offered to our group.

The Gunflint segment of the ride departs for two nights from our customary practice of camping overnight in city parks or on the school campus of communities en route. We will be tenting the rest of the trip, for three nights in Grand Marais, one in Tofte and the other in Grand Portage near the Canadian border.

Tenting by a group our size is not available at the Gunflint Lodge or any similar facility on the Gunflint Trail. We certainly want all who have biked with us through the years—plus newcomers —to share in this experience. In order to do it fairly and to allow you choices, options for our stay at the Gunflint will be provided in the registration form below.

This is the route: June 12, pre-ride tent camp at the Birch Grove school on the south edge of Tofte, a 5 to 6 hour drive from the Twin Cities. We’ll park our cars there. Parking information will be provided later to all who register. June 13—Ride to Temperance River Gorge then to Grand Marais. June 14—to Grand Portage near the Canadian Border. June 15—Ride back to Grand Marais. June 16—Down the Gunflint Highway to Gunflint Lodge. June 17—Gunflint Lodge—canoe, hiking tours, biking to end of Gunflint Trail. June 18– Return to Grand Marais. June 19—Ride to Tofte.

The distances between overnights this year are shorter than the average of previous rides and generally will be around 40 miles, the Gunflint Trail ride being closer to 50. In each case we’ll recommend scenic extensions of up to 15 and 20 miles. These will obviously be devoured easily by the high energy stars of our group. The North Shore is always lovely but the ride from Grand Marais to Grand Portage is spectacular. The Conductor believes the nearby casino at Grand Portage will present scant temptation to the few casual gamesters in our number. As a bonus: When you’re riding beneath the forested cliffs of the great Lake Superior headland, the lupine season will be in full glow, spreading the hills with purple, white and vermilion.

In the arithmetic that follows here, please remember that the five meals included at the Gunflint Lodge are equivalent to the cost of the catered meals normally provided by civic and service groups on our ride. Registration for the ride will be $165, which covers services of the duffel bag shuttle truck, the Penn Cycle maintenance van and other services we receive in the communities and schools.. The traditional t-shirts will be distributed the morning of the first day along a detailed daily itinerary.

Camping is not feasible on the Gunflint premises. The total cost of two overnights in the communal bunk houses at the Gunflint Lodge is $15 per person. Nearby showers will be available. The per person cost of the lakeside lodge accommodations will be $25 a night, $50 total, a huge reduction from the lodge’s normal summer prices. The cost of five meals at the lodge will be $37. This means the total cost for your two-day stay at the Gunflint Lodge, with de luxe cottages and all meals plus free access to its fleet of canoes, will be $87 per person, tax included. If you prefer a bunk with meals and all the other services included, the cost will be $52.

We want these choices to be offered fairly in a way that will help you to arrange for lodge partners if you choose. In all of the cottages, individual privacy is assured. All of the multiple units have at least two bathrooms with showers and, in some cases, Jacuzzis. The lodge offers eight cottages with one bedroom each. All have one king bed that can accommodate a single or a couple. For understandable reasons, couples will be given preference, but there is ample space in the rest of the cottage to accommodate singles. The lodge has four cottages with two bedrooms that can accommodate four to eight people. From there it has cottages with from two to four bedrooms that can accommodate from six to 12 people. Your registration form includes the usual contact information plus space to indicate your lodging preference–cottage or bunk. It will also ask you to indicate whether you wish to share a cottage with friends and to identify them so that we can align as many people as possible with their friends. Please recognize that there may be a surplus of that type of reservation. If decisions have to be made in that regard, the postmark of your registration will be governing. If consultations by email or phone make sense, we’ll do our best to accommodate you. The lodge management will not be involved in the allocation of rooms. But there should be enough space to accommodate all of you who choose a cottage. We also should have some flexibility once we’re into the ride.

Your registration should include a check for $165 made out to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, and a check for either $87 to Gunflint Lodge, or $52 to Gunflint Lodge, for lodging and meals, depending on which of the lodging options you choose. The bunk accommodations are simple but comfortable and close to the center of lodge activity.

We’ll be arriving at the lodge by early to mid afternoon on June 16, a Tuesday. The lodge’s canoes are available to all riders free of charge during our stay. The next day is completely open. One of the prime options is a guided canoe trip with two manageable portages to Ham Lake, and a lakeside lunch. If you haven’t experienced a portaged canoe trip in the lake country, this one’s perfect as a starter. An option is a guided nature hike to the heights above the lake. Another is a bike ride to the end of the Gunflint some 15 miles away. Or you can simply enjoy the lodge ambience and it’s the lakefront.

We’re going to be camping three separate nights on the campus of the Cook County high school above Lake Superior, and have our breakfasts there. Because of relatively early arrivals, we’ll have plenty of time to explore this historic town where the Voyageurs once traveled, and to dine in some of its numerous and sociable lakeside cafes. The ride from there to Grand Portage will give you an opportunity to spend time at the site where the great nine-mile portage began for the Voyageurs on their journey up the Pigeon River. En route we’ll pass the storied Naniboujou Lodge beside the great sweep of Lake Superior, where gangland figures from Chicago of the 1930s were said to have dodged the FBI as well as the IRS.

Our only pursuers are the gulls of Lake Superior

Here is my (our) registration for the 35th Jaunt With Jim bike ride, “Echoes of the Voyageurs.” Enclosed are checks of $165 to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures and $87 or $52 to Gunflint Lodge for accommodations and meals June 16 and 17. I (we) prefer cottage or bunk (circle one) accommodations. (If cottage, indicate whether you prefer to share the accommodation with friends, and list their names. Mail to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, P.O Box 47063, Plymouth MN 55447.


2009 Egypt

strong>Egypt in October—The Nile, the Valley of the Kings, Cheops and the  Ages of Humanity

From Egypt the Sahara reaches west beyond Cairo and Giza and beyond the pyramids. Across the breadth of the African continent it stretches hypnotically and seemingly forever.

In Egypt, this fabled river reaches the sea to end a 4,000-mile journey that has taken it nearly four months from its source of Lake Victoria in the heart of Africa. For thousands of years the Nile has nourished civilizations, religions, dynasties and the visions of explorers and empire builders. When you look on the Nile or cruise its waters from the cataracts of Aswan to the great temple of Karnak in Luxor, as we will in October, the traveler is struck by the sensation that here is a history so profound that it is almost beyond grasp. To millions of Africans the Nile seems to have a life and soul of its own.

It’s a feeling that stirs you whether you are entering an excavated tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, propelled by the Nile’s current beneath you or walking through the magnificent halls of the renowned Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, which is filled with the pharaonic treasures of Egypt’s ages.

Egyptian Camels

This is an invitation to join us Oct.5 through Oct. 16. For ten days you are a 21st Century Aladdin. But here no magic lamps are required or flying carpets. The marvels are more accessible today, by air-conditioned bus that will be exclusively ours and by a deluxe cruise on the Nile for three nights. Winter warriors from the American north will find no trouble adapting to the sun decks by day, floating through the lush Nile Valley and disembarking to view the temples of Kom Ombo and Edfu, the latter available to you by horse-drawn carriage. You’ll also visit the Aswan Dam built in the mid-20th Century and opening up vast new acreages of this ancient land to irrigation. You’ll also have an option to fly over the desert to Abu Simbel and the temple of Rameses II, which was transported block-by-block for miles to make way for the dam. The history will be supplied by English-speaking guides who will accompany us throughout the trip.

The land cost for this journey into another time will be $3,105. Increasingly, Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures and Travel Beyond of Wayzata, our partner on many of our trips, suggest that you explore travel arrangements of your own. Northwest Airlines as well as several others fly into Cairo. Many who travel with us can call on frequent flyer bonus miles that will enable them cut costs significantly. Travel Beyond’s Suzanne Zapolski, the booking agent for this trip, can assist you in making travel arrangements that can include frequent flyer miles. An early lock-in of flight plans can be important in today’s shifting price schedules and special fare inducements. For those who want to book with Northwest Airlines outside of frequent flyer mileage, the current round trip rate Minneapolis-Amsterdam-Cairo is $1,305.

That total figure, $4,410 land and air, covers all transportation including domestic air in Egypt, transfers and lodging costs, guide service and most of the meals, including all meals while were cruising the Nile. Again, this is a reasonable price at today’s levels. It does not include the $15 entry visa for Egypt, tips and the optional round trip flight and tour of the Rameses II temple at Abu Simbel, which is $275 per person.

The providers in today’s international travel need early commitments to firm up their schedules to and contract their services.

The deposit for this tour, in an itinerary which invariably meets the highest expectations of the traveler, is $1,500, a third of the total cost. It is payable by May 1 and is fully refundable up to July 1.The deposit is required to guarantee your reservation for the trip. Early deposits are encouraged. They are, in fact, necessary. The dates for the rest of the payment schedule will be provided by Travel Beyond. Where possible we’ll try to pair passengers traveling single. For those who prefer a single accommodation, a $650 single supplement is available. If you have questions or want to explore flight options, Suzanne Zapolski at Travel Beyond in Wayzata, 952-540-4109, or 800 823 6063, or at SuzanneZ@travelbeyond.com will be glad to help you.

If you’re seriously interested in joining us, it’s important to decide early in order to secure your air itinerary.. You can make your own flight arrangements—Suzanne can be very helpful there–or include the Northwest Airlines current fare of $1,305.

We’re introduced early on the tour to the celebrated pyramid of Cheops and to the inscrutable Sphinx, a sight that inevitably lifts you back into childhood when you saw it in your geography book and wondered–”what is all of this telling us?” Seeing it in person is stunning—and probably no more revealing. The Sphinx isn’t talking. Never has.

Mystery, of course, is Egypt at the core, including the pyramids at Giza, the step pyramids at Memphis, the glories on exhibit in the museums, the sagas of its dynasties and in the papyrus and alabaster art of its shops.

But always there is the Nile. We are going to see it pouring over cataracts, flowing broadly among the palm groves and the maize and greenery of the irrigated earth that spreads beyond its shores. In the desert dunes you might see camel trains, and to the west when we reach Luxor we’ll see the great uplift of stone and sand that became the funerary of Egypt’s royalty thousands of years ago. We’ll cruise the Nile for portions of three days and very likely sail on it in the saucy little boats called feluccas.

Jim Klobuchar will be your escort on the trip, having traveled in Egypt since 1985, He’ll be glad to answer additional questions or assist you in planning for the trip. He can be reached at 763-258-1371 or (c) 612-998-6005 or at jim@jimklobuchar.com.

Egypt Day By Day

Oct. 5– Depart Minneapolis St. Paul on NW 56, leaving 9:15 p.m. and arriving Amsterdam 12:30 p.m. Oct. 6. Depart Amsterdam at 8:45 p.m. and arrive Cairo at 1 a.m.

Oct. 7.—After clearing customs and collecting your luggage, you’ll be transferred to the Hotel Sofitel le Sphinx in Giza near the pyramids. You’ll have plenty of time to sleep and condition to the time change but also have time to explore the area on your own. Hotel Sofitel le Sphinx.

Oct. 8 –Giza. After breakfast you meet your private Egyptologist guide who will be with us in Cairo, Giza, Luxor and Aswan. We’ll travel by bus through the valley of the Nile to the site of ancient Memphis, the first capital of the kingdoms of upper and lower Egypt. It was the city from which the entire world known to the people of the Middle East was governed. Its glory has vanished, but there remains the remarkable necropolis, the Sakkara complex of pyramids that mark the burial ground of generations of pharaohs. From there we travel back to Giza to visit the triad of great pyramids of Cheops, Chephre and Mycerinus, and from there the Sphinx. Overnight Hotel Sofitel le Sphinx. B,L.

Oct. 9—Cairo to Aswan. Fly to Aswan, and enjoy an ambience that blends cultures of north and south Africa. Here you can go for a felucca sailboat ride on the Nile. A short walk will take you to a dramatic view of the cataracts of the Nile. Gain the confidence of the gate man and ask to be allowed to spend some time in the Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote some of her most gripping thrillers. An option this day is the flight to Abu Simbel in the desert for a tour of the magnificent Rameses II monuments carved into the sandstone cliffs. Movenpick Elephantine Resort. B.

Oct. 10-Transfer to the Movenpick Radamis II for three nights. After lunch aboard the Radamis we’ll ride to the High Dam with its views of the huge reservoir Lake Nasser, then a visit to the famed Unfinished Obelisk, where you learn the techniques of extracting huge blocks of stone in the construction of the great columns that now adorn historic sites in the western world. We’ll then take a motor launch to explore the island temples of Philae and Isis. Then back to our cruise ship for the night. B,L,D.

Oct. 11-Nile Cruise—Aswan to Kom Ombo and Edfu. After breakfast we’re at leisure until departure at 1 p.m. Once settled into the rhythms of the cruise, we’ll visit the Kom Ombo temple built on high dunes overlooking the Nile. Overnight on Radamis II in Edfu. B,L,D.

Oct. 12-Nile Cruise—Edfu to Luxor. After breakfast we’ll board horse-drawn carriages to visit the Temple of the Falcon-Headed Sun God, Horus, the second largest in Egypt after Karnak. We’ll then sail to Luxor via Esna and enjoy afternoon tea on board as we cruise into Luxor. Overnight Radamis II, B,L,D.

Oct. 13-Luxor and Karnak. Disembark after breakfast, checking out at 8 a.m.to begin our tour of the what was the heart of the Egyptian dynasties through thousands of years. We’ll visit the celebrated Valley of the Kings, across the river from ancient Thebes, now Luxor. The Valley of the Kings is a vast network of tombs, many of them discovered in the last hundred years, including that of Tutankhamun. Near the Kings’ necropolis is the Valley of the Queens, its centerpiece the beautiful temple of Hatshepsut, the only woman to rule Egypt as a pharaoh. We’ll descend into one or two of the more ornate of tombs in the Valley of the Kings. In Luxor itself, a busy urban center of shops, restaurants, boulevards and official residences, we’ll visit the most remarkable of all Egyptian temples, Karnak, constructed over a period of 1,300 years. You enter through and Avenue of Sphinxes and find your head swimming from the sheer immensity of the temple with its obelistks, columns, carvings and, ultimately, a lovely pool that adds grace to sheer size. Hotel Sofitel Karnak. B.

Oct. 14—Luxor to Cairo. We’ll fly from Luxor to Cairo in the morning and spend much of our time touring the extraordinary Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. Helnan Shepheard Hotel. B.

Oct. 15 – Cairo. We’ll tour Old and New Cairo, visiting sites of the three great religions that were founded in the Middle East, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, including a house of worship over the site where by tradition the Christian Holy Family lived for a time on their flight to Egypt to escape persecution.We’ll do a little shopping and join in a early dinner to reflect on our visit. Then a few hours of sleep and transfer to the airport. Helnan Shepherad Hotel, B,L.

Oct. 16—Transfer to Cairo airport for 3 a.m. departure. Thanks for the journey, and don’t forget your papyrus etchings at the hotel