WI Rustic Roads: Burnett County, R15, R79, R80, R98

Published Wednesday, April 24, 2024 by Bryan

Burnett county's Rustic Roads story is two tales of cigarettes. I had to visit twice, you see.

My first visit, I planned something of an epic sweep of the northwest roads. Burnett county is not nearby, so I thought I'd spend a day getting there, stay in the area, and then spend a day getting back. There were plenty of Rustic Roads I could visit along each of two different paths. The only question was where to stay. A hotel? A quaint inn? Some AirBnB-like situation? No! It was time to use the gift my inlaws gave me for Christmas - a state park pass. I was going camping.

A BMW R1150GSA is parked in a grassy area near a small neon green tent.

It was almost ten years to the day since the first time I had gone motorcycle camping. That trip had been to a campground near Lake Placid, New York, to meet a group of Suzuki V-Strom riders from an online forum. This trip was to the St. Croix Family Campground at Governor Knowles State Forest near Grantsville. I took most of the same equipment. I don't camp much, so the tent, sleeping bag, mat, etc. were all pretty much in the same shape. It turns out that I'm not in the same shape, though. Either that, or the sandy shores of the Mississippi are harder than the mountains of Appalachia. I'll need to upgrade that mat and find a decent pillow next time.

A package of mixed meat sticks and cheese curds sits on a picnic table next to a bag of trail mix, a can of Founder's All Day IPA, and a silver canteen.
Camp dinner - the finest in gas station charcuterie.

It was a fun camping adventure otherwise. Sitting at a picnic table with my gas station charcuterie (meat stick, cheese curds, a sleeve of crackers, and some trail mix), I enjoyed the quiet, comfortable summer evening. As this was a Wednesday evening, the campground was relatively empty - just a handful of camper trailers parked toward the other end of the campground.

I was also surprised to find that I had excellent mobile phone service. I texted our friend-chat with a picture of my meal, and received updates on their days in response. But I soon learned I had a better reason to shut off my phone than to enjoy my nature-surrounded solitude. I had forgotten my phone's charging cable!

I know it's a bit of a meme to be without a charging cable at this point, but I'm not usually that unprepared. In fact, a charging cable lives in the V-Strom's luggage permanently, just in case. But I hadn't moved that cable over with the other equipment. It's not compatible with the BMW. The BMW has "Powerlet" (a.k.a. "Hella") accessory plugs, but my V-Strom has a "standard" 12-volt socket like you find in a car. The thing we used to call a cigarette lighter.

I still had plenty of battery in the morning to let Amanda know that I had made it through the night and was getting on the road. Since I wasn't using my phone for navigation, I decided I had enough charge for any potential emergency call, and just finished my trip with the charge I had.

Not using my phone for directions was the reason for my second trip. The recording of R98 is a do-over, to make the correct turn and thereby actually ride the Rustic Road. Unfortunately, the wildfire smoke had returned by that trip - that's the haze you can see in the video. It wasn't that bad when I left home in the morning, but by halfway there I decided it would be a good idea to wear my N95 mask under my helmet. I kept it in place the rest of the day.

The mask was pretty effective, and actually not that uncomfortable riding down the road. Filling station stops were interesting, though. While I was only briefly pulling off my mask to eat and drink, standing nearby at most of them was someone not only without a mask, but additionally smoking a cigarette. I guess there's at least two ways to think about the situation. I went for, "This air is awful, I should try to keep it out of my lungs." Others chose, "This air is awful, I can hardly make it worse." But then, few people are surprised that I opt for the safety gear, in general.

A man wearing an MIT ball cap is looking into the camera while aggressively biting into an ice cream sandwich.
An ice cream sandwich in Winter, where it was over 90°F.

Burnett county marks two more milestones. First, I've now ridden every rustic road in the northern half of the state (as divided by WisDOT). Second, this is the last video of Season 2. I'll take another break from posting videos now, to instead go out and record more. I hope you'll come back when I start posting Season 3. I have just 36 more Rustic Roads to visit, and I'm thinking I can probably get to them all this year. Thanks for coming along on this adventure!

Categories: Motorcycle Travel WIRR