An overnight last night at the Hayward KOA Holiday at Hayward, Wisconsin afforded us the opportunity to get laundry done. Then today we headed just a little bit north and east into the far west of the Upper Peninsula just over the Wisconsin border. Home tonight is Big Snow Resort near Wakefield, Michigan. Being a Harvest Host site it offers members fee-free boondocking sites. On top of that we had the chance to purchase passes and luxuriate in their pool, hot tub, and sauna this afternoon. Now this evening we’re in the Sky Bar right by the top of the ski lift enjoying some libations, and waiting not only for our food to be delivered to our table but for the live band to tune up and begin their first set. Thank you, Harvest Hosts for coordinating this amazing network of businesses willing to provide RV parking space for those of us willing to pay the annual membership and follow the code of conduct. It’s provided us with a wealth of experiences including a stay at a ski resort albeit in summer, appropriate for folks like us who don’t know how to behave in the snow but love green trees and mountains.
As we left Presque Isle we set our sights on finding a Pastie (pass-tee) before leaving Michigan. And success was our in Wakefield. We saw a sign for Randall Bakery Pasties on our way into town and followed the signs, deviating from our plan to turn right onto US-2. It was a good choice. We got two hot yummy Traditional Pastries to go and devoured one immediately. The other will be a great supper. After all, these were invented to be taken along and eaten hours after being taken from the oven when the Cornish miners took them into the mines in their lunch boxes.
What a glorious way to start the day. Sunlight crept in through the stargazer window that looked out into the woods. Hot coffee. Eggs and sausage. And a hike along a portion of the 17 mile Lake Superior Trail to visit Manabezho, Manido, and Nawahada Falls along a stretch of the Presque Isle River. Actually our hike was in the neighborhood of two miles mostly along boardwalks and up and down sturdy park built stairs. In fact it was a lot of up and down but lots of spots to stop and gaze in wonder at these beautiful falls. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a treasure. Last time we were here we visited Lake of the Clouds at the eastern end of the park. Have to say that we rather enjoyed the fact that there are fewer visitors to this western end even in this lead up to the busiest campground week of the year.
Presque Isle Campground on the western edge of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in Michigan is home for us tonight. When we pulled in, Scott at the ranger station made sure we understood that this is a rustic campground then refused to assign us a spot but rather sent us out to find our perfect campsite. We chose #25 in the No Generators loop. We have a view of the woods out our bedroom window and of Lake Superior from the dinette window! We started preparing dinner on the Coleman stove on the picnic table but a heavy rain drove us inside for a while. Before sunset we took a stroll down closer to the lake. and then found an empty picnic table with a great view and right at ten o’clock watched the sun dip below the horizon. These long summer evenings are glorious!
As we passed Agate Falls Scenic Site, we realized it was an opportunity too good to pass up, a chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs, to hike under a trestle bridge then walk across it, to see these incredibly scenic falls close up and from high above.
Not far from Marquette is the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee. After hearing about it yesterday from a ranger at Munising Falls, we just had to stop. We got a bonus. The first gallery near the entrance was
Marquette Tourist Park west of Pictured Rocks offered a good place to rest our heads last night. We arrived without a reservation but still got Site 43 with electric, water, shade, and soon rain. We were grateful for good Verizon service and spent some time on the phone catching up with family and friends. This morning as we were emptying tanks we spent some time with Nick, a teacher from Tallahassee, Florida who spends his summers each year exploring Michigan’s U.P. while camping in his truck. After a [email protected] 400 tour, he’s wanting to rethink his sleeping accommodations.
This gorgeous waterfall once was the source of power for the Schoolcraft Blast Furnace, a part of northern Michigan’s 19th Century iron boom. A question about the geology of the area led to a lively conversation that involved three rangers at the Munising Falls Visitor Center who told us that the value of the iron mined in Michigan in the 19th Century exceeded the value of the gold extracted during the California Gold Rush. We were fascinated with the Recipe for Pig Iron and curious as to how it was developed. Of note it’s iron in the rocks that yields that orange color behind the falls and that supplied the raw material that became railroad track and fed westward expansion 150 years ago. Today it’s a lovely hike to a beautiful falls.
Our plan today was to travel through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore pausing to drink in some of the beauty and history here. Today’s adventure was the 1.8 mile hike along the Lakeshore Trail, a portion of the North Country Trail to Au Sable Light Station. With the RV parking a bit remote from the trail head, our round trip mileage was closer to 5 miles and a constant companion along the trail was Michigan’s “State Bird”, the mosquito. A fine hike along a wide level well graded path ended at the picturesque lighthouse. Although not open today for interpretation, we’re slightly knowledgeable about lighthouses of this era and could appreciate the responsibilities and hardships borne by the keepers and their families here on the shore of Lake Superior. We also just relished the quiet opportunity to drink in the beauty of the rocks and the water, the breeze and the sunshine and a respite from those mosquitoes. We chatted briefly with some hikers making the full 42 mile trek along the Lakeshore Trail then turned and headed onto the return trail pausing briefly at one of the shipwreck viewing locations. Then as we headed back to our rig we sidetracked to drink in the beauty of a rushing water headed downstream into the great lake.
When asked about our travel plans for this summer we’ve been replying that “We’re headed to Boston by way of San Francisco.” and often get the reply, “You must really like driving!” In fact, that’s not the most enjoyable part of our travels. We’ve talked a lot about the 2-30 rule: stop after 230 miles or at 2:30PM whichever comes first but still have found ourselves often driving six hours or more in a day and arriving tired and cranky. This trip we are instituting the Hundred Miles Rule. So far it has worked quite well. It allows for a more leisurely morning, an enjoyable drive to our next destination, and time for exploration in our new location, or even just a chance to relax and enjoy our campsite. Today we drove 98 miles from our campsite on Lake Michigan past Lake Manistique to Woodland Park on Lake Superior where we set up camp at Woodland Park then promptly walked the 0.3 miles into town to enjoy Deep Fried Asparagus with Tzatziki Sauce and Whitefish and Chips. Plans to unhitch and drive into Pictured Rocks got supplanted by a desire to nap, do laundry, snack on homemade strawberry jam on vanilla wafers, work on the blog, walk to the post office to mail postcards and take photos of the lighthouse. We’re enjoying the pace. With so few miles traveled each day we will rarely be able to stay anywhere more than one night and occasionally we’ll have to push it, maybe to 150 miles, but it should make for easier driving all in all.