A Seven Week Tour of Michigan
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Although I try to write our travelogues in chronological order, I don't usually write them as a day to day summary. However, I thought our tour of Michigan warranted a different approach, so I have written it as a day by day chronology of the seven weeks we spent in Michigan. I thought I should mention that because this travelogue covers a lot of places we visited in seven weeks, it is a long one, maybe the longest one so far. OK, here goes.
Monday, July 29 - we arrived in Michigan to start our seven-week tour of the state. Our first stop was in W. Bloomfield area to visit with a high school English teacher, Joe Feinstein (hope I don't make any grammatical errors in this travelogue), who I hadn't seen in 41 years. He was also the advisor for the Class of 1961.
Diane and I were looking for the Wal-Mart in the area and we couldn't find it. We saw a huge Meijer with a huge lot and figured we'd ask them if we could park in their lot. We were told by Guest Services that "they" wouldn't let us park there "for security reasons". In any case, they told us where the Wal-Mart was and we parked there for the night. I called and made contact with Joe and Brenda and then we drove over to their place to visit. I would have recognized him anywhere, even after 41 years. We went out to eat and had a great time reminiscing. I think Diane and Brenda enjoyed listening to some of the tales of the days Joe, as teacher, and me, as student spent at Island Trees High School. It was a fun evening.
Tuesday, July 30 - We drove to Imlay City to the Fantastic Vent factory to get some repairs done on one of our vents. Then we drove about 100 miles to Midland and parked in the Wal-Mart for the night. It was across the street from a mall and we like to check out malls, so we walked through it and then across another street to Applebee's for dinner. Then back to the mall to a DQ for dessert. :-)
Wednesday, July 31 - It was a nice driving day as we made our way to Traverse City and the Holiday Park Campground (CG). It was a very nice park and we both liked it a lot. But I never saw so many Silver Bullets (aka, Airstreams) in one place. We thought it was a rally until we realized the full name of the campground was Holiday Park Airstreamer Campground. You have to own an Airstream product to own a lot in the park. It is partially on a lake and very pretty. We drove into Traverse City to check it out and then down to Interlochen to find the venue for the concert we were going to on Thursday.
Thursday, August 1 - Today was a cloudy, threatening day, so we just hung around the campground. We had tickets to see Kodo (KODO WEB SITE) perform. Kodo is a group of Japanese taiko drummers from Sado Island in Japan. I first learned about them in 1993 on a Delta flight on the way back from Tokyo. The Delta magazine had an article about Kodo and it sounded interesting. I had just spent eight weeks in Tokyo on my first trip there and fell in love with Japan. The article had the concert schedule for Kodo's 1994 USA tour. I saw that they were going to perform in DuPage in Illinois and I knew that I would be spending four weeks there that would intersect with the concert date. My friend Peter and I bought tickets, and I got one for Diane who flew up from Atlanta for the concert. It was great. The funny thing is that in 1995, Kodo's USA tour would have them performing at Stanford University and my work schedule had me out there for four weeks at the same time. So I got to see them again with Peter and a couple of other colleagues who were working out there with me. In 1996, Diane and I flew to NY to visit with my son and his wife and we took them to see Kodo at the State University of NY College at Purchase. Can you tell that we really like Kodo? I love drums and percussion, and these guys and gals are great on those big drums. I missed out on seeing Kodo perform when they finally went to Atlanta in 1999 because I was working in, of all places, Tokyo at the time.
The concert was great, of course. I could have said that before we went. First, the venue. It was in Interlochen which, if you don't know it, is a music and arts community with a pretty large campus. It has summer camps for kids 4th grade and up. In the Fall it becomes a boarding high school. The theater was perfect. It was an outdoor theater that was open on the sides, but under a roof. A storm came through before the concert started, and we got soaked going from the parking lot to the theater. But the storm passed and it became a beautiful evening. Every now and then a cool breeze would blow through the theater, and one could see the leaves rustling and the dusk turning to dark. Quite a nice setting.
I recognized a few of the folks in Kodo that were at DuPage in 1994 and Stanford in 1995. They usually played about 2 1/4 hours with no intermission. This time they played five numbers, then an intermission, then five more numbers and then two encore numbers. Most of the numbers were new, except for some old favorites. There were 16 members, 12 men and 4 women. They started with a number that had 14 folks on stage. It was a very upbeat number and the crowd went nuts after it was over. I think there was probably a lot of first time Kodo folks in the audience. I spoke to an older man who approached me about my hat (I had on a Kodo shirt and my Kodo hat). He asked where he could buy a hat. I told him they don't sell it anymore. The guy who was selling shirts (yeah, we bought t-shirts) asked about the hat, too. He said it was a rare item because they don't sell them anymore. Only that one year. Am I ever glad I bought the hat at that concert. I wish I had bought two of them because mine has seen its better days. The folks who sat next to us were from Connecticut and on vacation. They decided to take in a show and figured they'd try Kodo. They loved it.
When the rolled out the O'daiko on the huge cart, the crowd gasped. The O'daiko is one big drum that is made from the trunk of a huge tree and weighs about 800 pounds. Then two guys came out dressed only in loin cloths, one to keep the beat on one side of the drum, and the other guy to do all the work. The main guy went on for about 15 minutes and the crowd seemed mesmerised. He got the biggest ovation of the night when he was done.
Kodo finished their performance with all 16 members on stage at the same time on different types of drums and percussion. Again, the crowd loved it and kept wanting more, but it was time for Kodo to move on (to Denver). Diane and I lingered for a while and a manager and two of the members, one guy and one gal, came out to chat to some folks.
We feel so fortunate to be able to live this lifestyle we've chosen. It's not exactly jet setting, but we've seen Mamma Mia in Washington, DC and Kodo in Michigan this year. What a life. And if they happen to be in our path next year, or if we can put them in our path, we'll go see them again if they tour the USA. I guess we're becoming Kodo groupies. What a great evening it was.
Friday, August 2 - Today was an absolutely beautiful day before the next series of storms that were due in over the weekend. We did one of our usual 100+ miles loops in the Honda today. We took US 31 to M115 to M22 and then north to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We drove the scenic road in the park and walked the 1.5 miles trail into the dunes. We didn't do the Dune Climb. The trail we took brought us to the top of the dune, so we watched other folks coming up from the parking lot way down below. We stopped at the Lake Michigan overlook and it was beautiful to look out on the lake. THAT climb from the shore was much steeper than the Dune Climb. Folks were actually sort of crawling uphill from the shore. We then continued the M22 loop through Leland to Northport to Suttons Bay and back to Traverse City. We were out all day and got back in time to do a 5 p.m. movie, "Signs" with Mel Gibson.
Saturday, August 3 - Another beautiful day and a great day to travel up along the lake to Mackinaw City. It was very busy in Traverse City as we went through it on US 31, but once we cleared the city, it was a great drive with little traffic. We drove up along East Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan. We got to the Mill Creek Campground mid-afternoon and realized very quickly just how big the place was. With 600 sites, it was HUGE. We were quite pleased with the site we got, way in the back along Lake Huron with a view of the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge, pronounced as "aw" at the end) down at the end of the road we were on. The place was packed, with kids all over the place. The posted speed limit of 5 mph might even be too fast. Kids on foot, kids on bikes, kids on rented 3-wheelers, adults and kids on rented four wheeler peddle contraptions that seat four, and the cars. Cars and RVs all over the place. Diane commented that she had never seen so much traffic in a campground, in and out, all day long. A big rally was wrapping up. We learned it was the biggest rally the campground ever handled (for the International Order of Foresters (IOF), whatever that is).
We had planned on eating the walleye we got in Port Clinton, but decided to go into town to find Mackinaw Pastie and try our first pastie (pronounced "pass tee"). We both had the pasty stroganoff and it was delicious. We walked around the campground when we got back to see just how big it was. When it started to get dark, we went to watch the bridge light up. Having met our neighbors, who were fill-timing wannabes in a few years, we sat out with them at their campfire until after midnight chatting and answering their questions. Other than he "interviews" (his word) folks that he learns are full-timers, he didn't know anything about bulletin boards or other sites. I gave him our card and told him there were links there to get him started.
Sunday, August 3 - We could have gone to Mackinac Island today as the weather turned out to be great, but the forecast was for clouds and chance or rain, and it was raining when we got up. So we just went into Mackinaw City to eat breakfast at the Pancake House and walk around the town. Then we just lounged around the campground and sat down near the lake shore to view the lake and the bridge.
End of week 1. Week 2 took us to Mackinaw Island and then up to the Soo Locks and the start of a tour around the Upper Peninsula.
Sunday night, August 4 - A vintage Wanderlodge (1992) came in with a family of five, including two very small kids. It was the woman's father's "toy" that they borrowed once a year for vacation. They drove 12 hours from Pennsylvania to get here and had some trouble with the air system on the motorhome. In a diesel rig with an air system, when there is no air pressure, the brakes lock and you can't move the rig. Well, he got stuck on the road right in front or our rig just as he was backing into his site across the street. Luckily, the rig had an auxiliary air compressor, so with the help of a very long extension cord someone had handy, he was able to get the pressure up and back into the site. But I'm sure they didn't want to be the center of attention for that time frame.
Monday, August 5 - We took a 10 a.m. boat to Mackinac Island and stayed all day, returning on a 6:30 p.m. boat. We started out on foot and walked around the downtown area and then hoofed it up to the Grand Hotel. We got just so far and then were stopped by a lady who said we had to shell out 10 bucks each to go further. I can't see paying 10 bucks to go see a hotel. As I told that lady, we've gone into some very exquisite hotels around the world without having to pay to get in to see the lobby. I told Diane that I had no problem waiting outside if she wanted to go see it, but I guess she opted not to take me up on that offer.
We continued walking to the butterfly conservatory (but not into it). We watched a blacksmith do his thing for a while and then got brats for lunch. On we went past Ft. Mackinac. We've been to several forts, so we both agreed to pass on going in (we didn't want this to end up being a $150 day). We continued on to the Arch Rock, which provided a great view, and then down the steps to the shore road and back into town. We stopped at the Old Mission Resort and the churches along the way, ending up at the Island House. We figured that was a good place to rent bikes and go around the island. So we rented two bikes and off we went. About 8 miles later we finished with only one badly skinned knee. :-( We ended up back at the Island House and someone was very nice enough to leave me a USA Today up on the porch. So we sat there for about 45 minutes reading the paper and taking in the boats moored across the street.
I don't know where "boat" stops and "yacht" begins, but there were some BIG boats in there. We chatted with a guy who was on a 65 footer about traveling on a boat. We asked the kinds of questions that RV full-timer wannabes ask us, like where do you dump? Do you pull into marinas the same way we would pull into a campground? etc. It was fun. Parked behind this guy was the 120 foot Valkurie. Wow. A guy we met later who had a 38 footer said that yacht probably costs upwards of $10 million. GULP.
We walked back into town and decided to eat dinner before heading back to the mainland, so we ate right next to the Arnold docks (we took the Arnold catamaran to the island). Pretty cool to be in a place with no cars, just bikes and horses. If you are on a busy street and the wind is blowing just right, you realize that there are LOTS of horses on the island (sniff sniff). The weather today was gorgeous with a high around 72 and a cool breeze as we biked around the island.
Tuesday, August 6 - We just lounged around, except to go into town to mail some big envelopes at the Post Office and to get a pasty for lunch. Five rigs pulled in late this evening, three Monacos: a Diplomat, a Dynasty, a Windsor; a Cruise Master; and a new Dutch Star. They were traveling together and it was cool watching them come in and help each other get into their sites right down the road from us. Then two couples who had been in some of those sites, but had to move, stopped by to chat. One couple bought the other one's Discovery when they bought a new Monaco. They asked lots of questions and we had a nice long chat.
Wednesday, August 7 - We drove up to Sault (pronounced "soo") Ste Marie today and planned to stay for four days. The Soo Locks CG, which is right on the St Mary River, was a great place to stay. There was another CG on the river down the road a bit, Aune-Osborn RV Park, that also had nice sites, some on asphalt or concrete. We were on grass, actually very nice lawn type grass, but couldn't get a site right on the river. We were able to see the river through our windshield and the ships passing by on their way to the locks. A very large ship was going by soon after we got set up. I told Diane that we could probably get to the locks before the ship does, so we drove into town to the locks. Sure enough, we got there in plenty of time to see the big ship go through the second of the four locks. Pretty cool. Then we decided to eat in town and went across the street to the Lock View Restaurant at around 4 p.m., which was still their lunch menu. I don't remember having eaten whitefish before, so we both had that and it was delicious. Even Diane, who doesn't really care for fish, agreed that it was very good. And the lunch price was about $4 less than the whitefish dinner price. As we left the restaurant, we saw that another ship was about to go through the locks, so we went and watched it go through. That one was of Greek origin Again, pretty cool to see these huge locks in operation. We did a locks ride on the Erie Canal in Lockport, NY, so we opted to skip the locks tour here. The Soo Locks were much bigger than the Erie Canal locks, but we went up and down further in those locks than the boats do in the Soo Locks.
Thursday, August 8 - Diane and I both love trains and have ridden lots of trains in our travels in Japan and Europe. It didn't take much for us to decide to take the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. We had to get up a 5:45 a.m. which, for us, has become an unnatural act. But up we got and drove over the International Bridge from Sault Ste Marie to Sault Ste Marie. ;-) Confused? There are two cities with the same name, one in Michigan in the USA and the other in Ontario in Canada.
Remember the five rigs that came into Mackinaw City on Tuesday? We ended up standing in line right behind that crew to get our tickets for the train ride. They drove up in their cars for the trip, and they had to get up at 4 a.m. to do that. I don't like trains THAT much.
It was a 9 1/2 hour, 228 mile round trip with a 2-hour stop in Agawa Canyon. Nice ride, but most of it through forest. Some nice lakes that were probably great fishing lakes. I figured they didn't call one of the lakes Trout Lake for nothing. We walked some of the trails in the canyon and ate lunch and then relaxed on the ride back. When we got home we grilled the last of the two bison burgers we bought in Ohio. It was now 8 p.m. and we saw a HUGE ship passing by the campground, so we decided to walk into town to watch it go through the locks. It was about 1 1/2 miles to town and we got there as the ship was getting into a lock. The ships move very slow in this area. We watched the ship get raised up 21 feet and then out the other side. That was a 1,000 foot ship. Then a 750 foot ship came in the other way being pushed by a tug boat. That one was lowered 21 feet. As it was leaving the locks, another 1,000 foot ship came in to be lowered. We watched it come into the lock and then left. We decided that such a long day needed an ice cream cone at the ice cream parlor in town before the walk back to the campground. That store gave LOTS of ice cream in their cones. It was 10:30 p.m. when we got back. Diane was more tired than I was, so she sacked out and I played on the laptop. It was a long, but fun, day.
Friday, August 9 - Today was a do nothing day, except for a morning walk to check out the Aune-Osborn RV Park about a mile down the road from us. Then we decided to see a movie and saw TWO movies. Since we love to see movies, we have figured out that it's cheaper if we do doubleheaders since we'd save on popcorn and soda, and did save about $8.50 by doing that. We saw Bloodwork with Clint Eastwood (good) and XXX with Vin Diesel (mindless entertainment).
Saturday, August 10 - Remember the Blue Bird Wanderlodge that came into Mackinaw City and had a problem with his air system? They rolled in here last night and parked across the road from us. As we were walking back from town, we saw the guy walking to the ship museum with the three kids while his wife was doing laundry at the campground. We stopped to chat with him to see if he got the problem fixed. He did, sort of. He took it in for service and they changed the governor. Didn't fix the problem. He called his father-in-law and found out the air dryer was "looked at" but not serviced, so the suspicion was that it's a problem with the air dryer. In any case, he said it worked fine on the road and was only a problem when he was stopped for a while. But he figured out if he ran his generator, he didn't have a problem. At least he knew he could get the rig back home to PA.
We did one of our 100 mile trips today up along the shore of Lake Superior. Actually, we didn't get to see much of the lake as we drove through the Hiawatha National Forest. We did stop at Point Iroquois to walk out to the shore and up into the lighthouse (only 72 steps in this one). Then we cut south on Salt Point Rd to M28 and back to the Soo.
Sunday, August 11 - Today was travel day to Tahquamenon Falls, the town of Paradise. The folks in the Blue Bird were also leaving, so we chatted a bit in the morning and said goodbye. It was nice running into them again. Nice folks. Nice family. It only took about an hour and a half to get to Tahquamenon Falls. We got the rig set up in a site in Tahquamenon Falls State Park and headed to the Upper Falls. It was all wheelchair accessible, so that meant it was all paved. Got some good photos from above and then down the 92 steps to the lower viewing platform. Of course, what goes down must come up. We've climbed many more steps than that in the past year. The Upper Falls dropped about 50 feet and was about 200 feet across. Up to 50,000 gallons a second has been measured flowing over the falls. It was interesting to see the "rust" (actually amber) color of the water, which is not rust at all, but caused by the tannin leached from the Cedar, Spruce, and Hemlock in the swamps drained by the river.
After walking around the gift shop area, we headed to the Lower Falls, which was where the campground was located. It was a series of five smaller waterfalls. We walked out to the viewing platform and watched some folks wading into the river to the falls. Some of them ducked in under the cascading water to be underneath the falls. And they did this regardless of the signs that warn of danger from the undertow in the river. Sigh. Given that we had no access to use the dish, marginal TV signals (although I was barely able to watch the end of the Buick Open Golf Tournament), and marginal to no cell phone signal, the rest of the evening was spent reading (book for Diane, magazines and Sunday paper for me). It was also an opportunity to go under my headphones and listen to a couple of favorite CDs. It was also the earliest we've been to bed in months.
Our third week took us to Whitefish Point and Munising (Pictured Rocks) and surrounding area.
Monday, August 12 - We drove up to Whitefish Point this morning and spent a couple of hours wandering around the property. The Shipwreck Museum was very interesting, and the short film about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 9, 1975 and the subsequent raising of the ship's bell in 1995 was very good. I was touched by the families of the men who died on the ship being able to see the recovery of that bell. It was their only link to the loss of their loved ones. The bell is now in the museum. We enjoyed the museum and the many artifacts recovered from the many shipwrecks in the area. Also on the grounds was the lighthouse keeper's house and a viewing platform looking out to Lake Superior. Then it was back to Paradise for lunch and then home for more music, reading, and working on this travelogue. We did take a walk through the woods down to the lower falls from the campground, about a 2-mile loop. There were many trails in the area and they were well-maintained and well-marked.
Tuesday, August 13 - It rained all day and night. We went into Paradise for breakfast and then I thought I'd stop into the Paradise Inn to ask if I could use a phone jack for email. The lady didn't bat an eyelash and said there was a phone cord right there in the small lobby. I found heaven. Email at last. I went back at 8 p.m. and used it again. Nice folks.
Wednesday, August 14 - Today was travel day as headed to Munising and got a site at the City Tourist Park for four nights. It was right on Lake Superior. However, we weren't able to get a site on the lake because they were reserved. I've had this conversation with Diane every now and then about the pros and cons of truly "roaming" vs making reservations if we want prime campground sites. I guess we try to do a mix.
Thursday, August 15 - The day was very nice, albeit very windy. The forecast wasn't very good for the next few days, so we decided we'd better do the Pictured Rocks boat tour. There were two main attractions in the area. One was the boat tour to view the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the other was a glass bottomed boat tour of a few shipwrecks in the area. We both agreed that the $22 a pop for the shipwreck tour was a bit pricey, so we just did the Pictured Rocks tour (at $25 a ticket). It was a 2 1/2 hour tour and made for a very nice day. It was pretty cool to view the cliffs from the water. It was the best way to view them. On the way home we stopped into the public library to use the terminals to do email and then stopped at the Fish House to pick up some fish. We both liked the whitefish we had at the Soo locks and wanted to get some to grill. We got some of that and some lake trout. I grilled the whitefish when we got home and it was excellent. We really enjoyed being able to walk around this campground and see Lake Superior as we walk.
Friday, August 16 - The weather continued to be very nice. The approaching storms weren't due to arrive until Saturday. We could see what was coming when we watched some of the PGA Golf Tournament taking place in Minnesota to the west of where we were parked. It was a good day to take a drive to some of the scenic spots in the area. We drove to the Miners Castle and Miners Falls along the lakeshore. They were about the only places you could get to by car and short walk on a trail along the lakeshore. The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stretches for some 12 miles from Munising towards Grand Marais, and most can only be traversed by foot on the trail that goes the entire distance, which is actually 40 miles in total. Unlike the 1/2 mile trek to Kaaterskill Falls in the Hudson Valley, the 1/2 mile trail to Miners Falls was a well maintained and smooth trail. However, I'd have to say the Kaaterskill Falls were more dramatic. On the way home we stopped and walked a trail to see the Munising Falls.
Saturday, August 17 - The rain arrived, so it was a good day to do laundry. There was a laundromat two miles from the campground, so Diane decided it was a good opportunity to do some of the big stuff that can't be done in our washer/dryer, such as pillows and blankets. So with book in hand, Diane did the laundry and I putted around the motorhome and watched the PGA tournament, which was also on TV in the laundromat. :-) We ate the trout tonight and it was very good. Gotta get more fresh fish.
Sunday, August 18 - On the road to Marquette today. We arrived and decided to spend the night in the Wal-Mart (five other rigs here with us) because the campground was full. I set up the dish to watch the PGA Tournament and then went inside the Wal-Mart with Diane. There was a McDonald's in the store, so we said "why not". We can't remember the last time we ate in a McDonald's. Maybe we can join that class action law suit against the fast food guys. Now THERE is a jury I'd love to sit on. What a stupid law suit. They want warning labels on Big Macs saying they contain a lot of fat. How dumb is that? How ridiculous can people be that they don't know that eating French Fries and Big Macs on a regular basis aren't good for you. DUH!!!!! Anyway, the McChicken Grill thing and the French Fries WERE delicious. :-)
We saw one of the strangest motorhomes in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I went and asked the guy if I could take a picture. He built it himself on a VW chassis that he lengthened by 2 feet and widened by 13". It had a VW transmission in a Subaru engine and he said he got 20 mpg. He designed it so he could stand up in it, yet it fits in his garage.
We watched the golf tournament, which was very exciting, and then took a ride to Presque Isle. There was a concrete jetty out to a lighthouse, so we walked out into the lake on the jetty. It was sidewalk size and then sloped down to the lake on both sides and made Diane a little shaky, but she did it. Then the walkway turned to rocks out to the lighthouse. I would have done it, but Diane said a big "no way", so we went back to shore. It was well over a hundred yards out into the lake that we walked. Then we drove around the isle and stopped to watch the sunset over Lake Superior. Pretty gorgeous. We checked out the City Tourist Park where we planned to move the next day for a couple of days. Nice park, asphalt pads, full hookup, $18.
Week #4 was spent in Marquette and then further west to Houghton and some touring up to Copper Harbor.
Monday, August 19 - We camped in the City Tourist Park in Marquette along the shores of the Dead River. We moved the rig today from the Wal-Mart to the campground around noon, although we weren't due in until 2 p.m. when the rig that was in the site we were to occupy was due to leave. We got there early and they were gone, so we got the rig parked and set up and then went to see a movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Then we went home to pick up camera and maps and headed up the coast to Big Bay to see the lighthouse and check out the area. Sad to say that the lighthouse was privately owned and viewing was from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and it was 5:30 p.m. when we got there. So we turned around and headed back to Marquette. One of the maps we got mentioned four "moose tours" and I noticed that we were close to part of the route for "moose tour D", so we turned off CR 550 onto CR 510. Turned out to be 25 miles of dirt road. For the most part, it was a good dirt road, hard packed and relatively smooth. Only a few rough spots. The map said that the writeup didn't guarantee that one would see any moose.....and we didn't. Diane is bound and determined to see a moose sometime. Not just any moose. Females don't count. She wants to see a "Bullwinkle". With a full rack.
We saw an ad for the Tiroler Hof motel and restaurant (http://www.marquettecountry.org/accom/tirolerhof.htm) and it's hard for us to pass up schnitzel, so we went and found it and we both had jaegerschnitzel and spatzle. Delicious. After dinner, we headed up to Presque Isle to watch another sunset. Along the way we noticed that a ship had come into the ore dock to pick up a load of iron ore. We stopped to get some photos and then headed up to see the sunset and getting there just in time. Nice day.
Tuesday, August 20 - Another gorgeous day. I wanted to take a ride to Ishpeming today. Why Ishpeming? I'll get to that in a minute. I noticed that there was another Moose Tour just past Ishpeming, Moose Tour C, so we did that first. It was 10 miles in and 10 miles out off of US 41. Dirt road. No Bullwinkle. Not even a girlfriend or little Bullwinkles. However, the road terminated at Wolf Lake, which was probably why the road was named Wolf Lake Rd. There was clearing at the end of the road and an opening for folks to launch small boats to fish in the lake. It was a quiet and beautiful scene. Diane and I lingered for a while filling up our senses and then headed out of the wilderness.
Now, why Ishpeming. If you've been following our travels, you read about my friend Bobby, and The Goodtimes, in the "Hallowed Ground" travelogue. I guess this was a totally nostalgic visit. It was in Ishpeming that the guys in the band found their new lead singer, Dave Kennedy. If they hadn't somehow ended up visiting Ishpeming, and God knows why they ended up in such a small town, they wouldn't have found Dave. No Dave and who knows how long the band would have stayed together, or if they would have found another singer as great as Dave. He was perfect for the band and they played together for about 25 years before breaking up. I have lots of great memories with the guys in The Goodtimes, so it was cool to me to find myself in Ishpeming where the seeds for those memories took root.
We walked around the town a bit and used the terminals in the public library to do our email and play on the Internet for a while. We also drove around and finally asked someone to tell us how to get to Jasper Knob, billed as the "world's largest gemstone". The view from up there was quite nice. On the way home we spotted "Big Ernie", the world's largest working rifle, and stopped to get a photo. The rifle was 35 feet long and weighed 4,000 pounds. The projectile is fired via propane and oxygen and a 12-volt electrical ignitor system. We could only imagine how loud it must be when shot.
Wednesday, August 21 - The weather guys couldn't have been more wrong. They said the rain would come in about late morning. We figured we'd get out and to the casino in Baraga by then. We woke up to rain. It rained all day. So we decided early on to just stay put for another day in Marquette. We went out to breakfast at the Sweetwater Cafe and then to the big and beautiful public library to do email and play on the Internet. They had a big room full of terminals plus other terminals scattered around the multi-story library. At the last minute, we decided to go and see Spy Kids 2 since we were already downtown. Nice VERY OLD theater that used to be used for stage productions, The Delft. Then we went back to the library for another hour, or so. :-) For us, it was a good way to spend a rainy day.
Thursday, August 22 - It was a foggy morning, but not bad, so we headed out to Houghton, which is at the base of the Keweenaw (pronounced "key when aw") Peninsula. We were lucky enough to get the last of the 13 spots in the city park. Full hookup. 17 bucks. Right on the canal. Excellent view. It had a picnic table and bench under a covered patio. Sites were asphalt. Only downside was that the sites, at least ours, sloped a bit from front to back. So this was the highest I have ever had to raise the rear end to level the coach. Wheels were still on the ground. ;-)
We met our neighbor, Tom Halborg, who had also just arrived. He used to own a business and lived in Hancock, which was the town across the canal. He sold the business and moved to Iron Mountain. He came up early to get a site in this "no reservation" city campground. His wife, Estelle, came up a bit later. We got to talking (what a surprise) and I found out he was a golfer. I said "me, too". He called the course owned by the college in the town, Michigan Technical University, but leagues prevented us from playing a round today. He said he would call the course to see if we could pay on another day. I told him we would be heading to Iron Mountain the next week, and he said we'd have to get together to play a round of golf when we got there.
After dinner, Diane and I walked along the canal into town, about 3/4 mile. There was a huge lift bridge (booked as the world's heaviest and largest lift bridge in the world) and the Isle Royale ferry was coming in, so the bridge went up as we were walking to town. Unfortunately, I didn't have the camera with me at the time, and it turned out to be the only time the bridge was in operation during our stay.
We spotted a coffee shop in town and went in for tea and frappacino and then headed home. As we were walking, a couple was out in the yard of their beautiful home along the canal, so we started chatting. We had a nice chat about things to do in the area. It was a warm evening, so Diane and I sat out as it got dark. This was one beautiful setting for a campground, my favorite so far in Michigan. The water on the canal was very calm and the reflection of the lights from the bridge and the town of Hancock across the canal were shimmering on the water. Very quiet and peaceful.
Friday, August 23 - I played golf with my new neighbor. He went to college here and knew the university course. So we played there. We both had a good day on the links. Other than that, Diane and I just hung around, socialized, walked to town along the canal after dinner. Such a beautiful walk.
Saturday, August 24 - It was another beautiful day today as we made our way north to Copper Harbor and the top of the Keweenaw Peninsula. This was a beautiful area to tour. We don't do all the touristy things as we pick and choose the ones we want to do. There were copper mines to tour, but we did a mine tour in Arizona, so we passed. There were boat tours, but we've done several on this tour, so we passed. We enjoyed sitting along the canal that the big ships use to cut across the Keweenaw when there were storms on Lake superior. The canal allowed them to ride along the shore and cut through the bottom of the peninsula instead of going up and around where the weather would be much worse. We drove over the lift bridge into Hancock and went up M-203 along the lake until it came back to US 41 and then the M-26 along the lake until we came to the Brockway Mountain Drive into Copper Harbor. Along the way we stopped into McLain State Park to check out the campground (which was nice), and passed through Eagle River and Eagle Harbor with a couple of stops to read some signs and look at some waterfalls.
From the overlook on the Brockway Mountain Drive you can see out into Lake Superior and see other interior lakes, such as Medora Lake and Lake Fanny Hooe. The descent into Copper Harbor was picturesque as we made our way to find the Harbor Haus Restaurant for a German lunch. We found the Northport Motel to say hi to the owners, Ed and Joanne, who were close friends of our RV friends Mike and Sherry Krause.
Then it was lunch at the Harbor Haus with a magnificent view out into the harbor. After lunch we went to check out Fort Wilkins State park and the campground (also nice) and walked through Fort Wilkins. Diane wanted to go see the Our Lady of Pines Chapel, which was made out of logs, so we did that before heading up to the tip of the peninsula.
We used to drive US 41 all the time when we lived in the Atlanta area. The origin of US 41 is at the very top of the Keweenaw Peninsula with a sign indicating the "Beginning of US 41". On our way back to Hancock we stopped at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Looked like a great place to spend some time with lots of large cabins for rent. Great day.
Sunday, August 25 - We decided to stay another day in Houghton, just to hang around. Tom and Estelle left to return home to Iron Mountain and we planned to get together with them when we got there on Monday. We walked into town to get breakfast at the Suomi Restaurant, specializing in Finnish meals. We both had the Pannukakka (the "P" is pronounced as a "B"). It's a Finnish pancake in which are eggs and seasonings and baked in a pan. The consistency of the eggs is like a custard. We had nissu toast, Finnish bread. It was delicious.
We took a drive up along the eastern part of the Keweenaw, but there wasn't much to see as it was mostly through woods with some glimpses of the lake along the way. The rest of the day was spent watching the golf tournament and the Little League World Series between Sendai, Japan and Louisville, Kentucky, which was won by Kentucky. I'm sure there was some celebrating in Louisville tonight.
That wraps up week #4 of our Michigan tour. We would leave in the morning and head to Iron Mountain in the southern part of the UP, and then head to Indian Lake State Park in Manistique to wrap up four weeks in the UP before heading back to lower Michigan for a couple of weeks.
This was pretty much a veg out week and we didn't do very much except take in whatever we saw while driving around.
Monday, August 26 - We took a final walk after breakfast into Houghton along the canal and then drove to Iron Mountain. We stayed at Rivers Bend, a pretty nice park, $19 for full hookups. They had a great monthly rate of $295, which included electricity. If things ever got real tough, we would just stay a month at a time in different places to get the deep discounts. After setting up the rig, we drove into Iron Mountain to find the K-Mart and Wal-Mart, and then the public library to do email. We had hoped to get together with Tom and Estelle that we met in Houghton, but the restaurant we had planned to go to was closed on Monday and it was their only free evening.
Tuesday, August 27 - We drove around the area to check out the Timberstone golf course, a beautiful, but pricey public course. There was a ski jump next to the resort, so we drove over to see it from down below. Those folks who jump off those things have lots of chutzpah.
Wednesday, August 28 - I got to play a round of golf with Tom. It was a weird 18 holes. The first nine was played at the 9-hole Eagle Mountain course and then we drove to the 9-hole Spread Eagle course (both owned by the same guy) for the second nine. We stopped for lunch in between and it was a nice day. Diane went shopping and then we went back into town to the library to do email. There wasn't all that much to do in Iron Mountain, except for the iron mine tour. We had done a mine tour in Arizona, so we passed on this one.
Thursday, August 29 - We drove to Escanaba and stayed one night at the campground at the Island Resort Casino. After setting up, we drove into Escanaba to check out the town and find the library. Love those public libraries. Somewhere around 9 p.m., we went over to the casino to contribute a little money to the local economy, and I do mean a LITTLE money. :-) It didn't take very long to do that either.
Friday, August 30 - As we wrap up our almost four weeks in the Upper Peninsula, we had made plans to stay in Manistique at the Indian Lake State Park. Nice park. Since it was Labor Day Weekend, it was packed, mostly with trailers, tents, and pop-ups. We were only one of two motorhomes in the park, so we probably looked out of place. I booked this site a long time ago because I don't like to play around with where we will stay on a holiday weekend. It turned out to be a great site, on a ledge looking down and out onto Indian Lake. Beautiful view. We met a couple of the folks around us when we took an evening walk.
Saturday, August 31 - Our RV friend Barb had recommended visiting Fayette, an iron smelting village no longer in existence. It is now owned by the state of Michigan and run by the state park system so people can visit the place. It was owned by the Jackson Iron Company. It was once the UP's most productive iron-smelting operations. At one point, it had about 500 residents whose job is was to make pig iron. It was in operation for 24 years until the charcoal iron market began to decline. The operation was closed in 1891.
Sunday, September 1 - It was another beautiful day today. We went to Palms Book State Park, which is home to Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring). Two hundred feet across, the Big Spring is 40 feet deep and is Michigan's largest spring with over 10,000 gallons a minute gushing from fissures in the underlying limestone. The flow is continuous with the water staying at a constant 45 degrees. There was a self operated raft attached to a cable to go out from the dock across the spring. The water was very green with some very large fish, trout we were told, swimming below. After visiting Kitch-iti-kipi, we went into Manistique to get lunch at a Big Boy restaurant. This franchise had a couple of phone jacks where one could plug in a laptop, as well as two terminals set up for anyone to use. What a great setup. We then went back to the campground, grilled some chicken for dinner and then watched as dusk covered the lake. We sat out until about 10 watching the stars and the fires all over the campground. Quite pretty. By tomorrow, this place will empty out and we will be one of just a few rigs left.
Here's an observation for full-timer wannabes: Although I still enjoy traveling the country and seeing some great sites, I have deduced that there really isn't much camaraderie out here, except in the full-timer type RV parks. For the most part, folks stay to themselves, except when we are at a rally or with other full-timers. This was our third Labor Day Weekend and each one was at a campground that was packed. However, the folks were either groups of family or groups of friends. They all knew each other and didn't seem to want anyone else entering their space. We met and chatted with several folks, but that's as far as it went. One young couple came over to look at the lake and we chatted for quite a while. The gal even said that there were nine folks in their group and they sat out until midnight the night before. When they left, that was it. Nice folks, but I guess it never entered their mind to say "why don't you come over later and sit near the fire with us". That seems to be the norm. Since we move around every week, I guess there isn't much time to bond and get to know people better. To be sure, there are exceptions, such as the folks we met in Schenectady (Diane still trades notes with Dawn every now and then), and Tom that we met in Houghton and I played golf with a couple of times. But mostly we are by ourselves. Although there are times I like to be alone, I'm mostly a people person and like to be around other people. I guess I got really spoiled at all the socializing we did during our travels when I was working. Each night was dinner with anywhere from 2 to 5, or 8, or more than 10 people. In 2000, during our friends and family tour, we were always heading towards a place to visit someone. In 2001, we traveled on and off for about four months with John and Libby, as well as hooking up with some other RV friends, so there were lots of people interactions. The two weeks in Idaho last year were absolutely great. Other than a few weeks visiting folks this year, we haven't had much people interaction other than some passing conversations in a campground. I am very much looking forward to spending two months in one place in Florida next winter.
We have come to the end of our fifth week in Michigan. On Tuesday we'll head back to Mackinaw City for a couple of days, then to Traverse City for a day, and then to Mears for a week.
Monday, September 2 (Labor Day) - It rained a bit overnight and the morning was overcast, but warm. Diane slept in as I got up and made a pot of coffee in a new coffee maker (Diane has been wanting me to get a smaller unit for the countertop). Then I went outside to enjoy the warm morning air. Some of the campers had already left and the others were busy getting ready to leave. Whereas it was pretty noisy and full of gaiety on Friday evening, it was rather quiet this morning, except for the sound of kids having a final few minutes of fun, and parents and older kids sweeping out tents and folding them up, or cleaning out trailers, pop-ups and small Class Cs. In a couple of hours, this park that was a small town for the weekend would be pretty much empty, and even a bit lonely for the rest of the day. The lake that had several boats and sea-doos on it over the weekend had only one solitary fishing boat sitting out in the middle with two people in it getting in some last minute fishing before heading home.
It seems to me that the Labor Day Weekend is the most popular with campers. Fall is right around the corner, the kids are in school, and families have pretty much taken their vacations for the year. So this weekend is the last fling for the summer. I mentioned last week that we missed the camaraderie of being around other folks. As we saw all the campfires and groups of people over the weekend, we understood how everyone was having a great time. We remembered the Life on Wheels Conference in Idaho last year where we had anywhere from 8 to more than 20 people gathered around every night for almost two weeks. For the rest of today at least, I missed the sound of kids playing, adults talking, the occasional barking of dogs (considering the large number of dogs that were here this weekend, they were rather quiet) and, yes, even the campfires. And then tomorrow we'll be on the road again back to Mill Creek in Mackinaw City. We went into town to the Big Boy to eat a late lunch and use the terminals, and then hung around and watched folks pulling out. Storms were brewing, but we escaped them.
Tuesday, September 3 - The day brought bright sunshine, but lots of wind. We weren't in any hurry, so we took our time, and even took one more 30-minute walk around the park. It was a great park to walk in, with part of it through woods and part of it along the lake. So pretty. We walked twice a day for 30 minutes each. By the time we left there were only about 15 sites still occupied. It only took about two hours to get to Mackinaw City. It was a beautiful day to drive, but the wind was pretty bad. Luckily, the wind was coming from the West and we were going East, so we didn't feel it too much. However, when we got to the Mighty Mac, we saw they slowed all RV and truck traffic down to 20 mph, which was fine by me. No problem getting across as we just followed the line of RVs and trucks going very slow.
We settled in at the Mill Creek Camping park, although it wasn't easy getting into the tight sites they have there. There was a Safari across from us with a big pickup parked across the front and it was tight cutting into our site due to the rear end of the truck being in the way. Now here's the interesting part. A guy comes down the main road on his bike and actually makes eye contact with me. He keeps going and I think nothing of it. A few minutes after I finally get into the site, who do you think comes back to the Safari on his bike? Right, same guy. I really have to bite my lip when people are that unfriendly and unneighborly. I can't imagine any of the folks we know would do anything in that situation but come right over and offer to move their vehicle to make it easier for a rig to get into a site. UGH.
I think I may have said this in the week #1 writeup that we don't know what the big deal is about the Mill Creek campground other than the great view. Talk about zero lot lines. In the name of getting every possible buck out of the property in the short camping season, they cram the rigs in very tight. There isn't very much room on the sites to do much sitting and socializing. But the price was fair at $22 for full hookup and we wanted a couple of days of full hookup before heading out for the next eight days with only water and electric.
We then went into town to Mackinaw Pasties to have a final pasty dinner. We both liked their Pasty stroganoff when we were here in early August, so we both got that one. Yummy. We got back to the campground and took a 30-minute walk, and then took some chairs to the edge of the lake and sat to watch the rough water, the Mighty Mac, and a couple of large ships that passed through.
Wednesday, September 4 - We drove into Mackinaw City to find the public library to do email. However, this was the first library that said we couldn't use their terminals to do email, even though there wasn't a soul in the place. Someone told us to also try the Senior Center, so we drove there and used one of their two terminals. Where there's a will, there's a way. I will not be denied my email fix. :-) Then we just hung around Mill Creek with a couple of walks and viewing the lake.
Thursday, September 5 - Initially, we had planned to go down the center of the state to Gaylord before heading to Mears on Lake Michigan. The reason was that the Treetops Resort was there and that's where the Threetops Par-3 course is located where they have the PGA Par-3 Shootout. I called the place to see if it was a public course, and it was, but the cost to play was $44, FOR NINE HOLES. Like I might pay $44 to play a par-3 course. So we decided to go back through Traverse City and spend the night at the Wal-Mart. Also, we were looking for replacement halogen lights used inside the motorhome and marine shops are the only place we have found them. There was a marine shop about every quarter mile in this area. We found the lights.
On the way to Traverse City, we passed through Petoskey again and, once again, we saw this incredible upscale community on Bay Harbor that we noticed on the way north a few weeks ago. The size of the houses defy the imagination. Needless to say, it was a gated community. A little way down the road was the Yacht Club, and it was gated. A little further down the road was the Golf Club, and it was gated. And then a little further yet was this huge complex for the Equestrian Club. Whew. Lots of people with lots of deneros have chosen to live in Petosky. Sure looked like a beautiful community.
Friday, September 6 - Since we were in no hurry to head out today, Diane went and got her hair cut while I took a walk and read the paper. Then we drove to Mears to the Coast-to-Coast park, Timberlake. We knew it was only water and electric and wooded, but it was hard to pass up the price ($6 a night) when there is a C2C park in the area we are in. We lucked out and got a nice pullthru site with a clear shot through the trees for a look at the satellite.
The park was pretty big with lots of seasonals in place. They advertised large wooded sites and the are large. We saw a few that didn't seem conducive for a big rig, but most were nice. We walked around the park and it took a half hour to walk the perimeter, so it covered a lot of property, 400 acres they said. Plus, there was a private beach on Lake Michigan accessible from across the road. We planned to check that out sometime.
After getting set up, we did our usual ride around the area and drove up to Pentwater to find the library to do our email, and then we drove up to Ludington. Both were on Lake Michigan with Pentwater being a small town, but with lots of very nice boats at the marina. We drove up to Ludington State Park to check it out. The road into the park reminded us of the drive we made on South Padre Island in Texas back in 2000. Water on one side, sand dunes on both sides of the road. On the way back, we stopped into Charles Mears State Park and drove around. Both parks were nice, but one has to be careful about site assignment as some won't take a big rig. Given that it was a Friday, the parks were filling up with campers, mostly tents, pop-ups and trailers. We saw very few motorhomes and no big rigs.
Saturday, September 7 - Nothing much planned for today, so we drove into Hart to find the library to do email. We spent about an hour playing on the terminals and then drove back through Mears to Angel's Diner for lunch. After lunch, we went to check out Mac Woods Sand Dune Rides. We planned to do that on Sunday or Monday. We drove through Silver Lake and saw that it was loaded with hotel rooms and campgrounds, so it was quite a tourist destination. On the way there, we saw an Escapees sticker on the Silver Lake RV Resort sign, so we stopped on the way back to check it out. It was one of those very pricey places ($30-35 per night), with a 10% discount for Good Sam or Escapees. All full-hookup, open sites on concrete pads. They did have a special 2 for 1 deal going, so it would have come to $17.50 per night. Still too much considering there was a C2C park in the area, but a good deal for non-C2C folks. We drove around the place and it was pretty much empty. We got back home in time to watch the end of the Agassi-Hewitt match at the US Tennis Open.
Sunday, September 8 - There were lots of sand dunes in the area, so dune buggies and ATVs were plentiful. One of the things to do in this area was a dune ride. You can rent your own Jeep and go off by yourself, or rent a Jeep and go with a guide, or go on a multi-passenger vehicle with Mac Woods Sand Dune Rides, which is the one we did. It was a 40-minute ride across the dunes and down to the shore of Lake Michigan with a couple of stops along the way. It was fun, although it seemed short. On the way home we stopped to check out a golf course not far from the campground. It looked nice from the road, but the entrance into the place gave us pause, probably because of the barn. One never knows if the course is a "cow pasture". Well, I'm sure at one time it may have been a cow pasture, but this course, Golden Sands Golf Course, was one of the nicest executive (short) courses I have ever seen. The greens were better than greens on some courses that I paid more than $40 to play, the fairways were nice, and most of the tees were nice, although some of the par-3 tees had seen a lot of play given the number of divots. The course had six par-4s and three par-3s and offered some challenges. It gave the ladies a great break on the distances with nice tee placements. We thought we'd play it sometime in the coming week. After dinner, we went down to the private beach owned by the campground and walked along the shore of Lake Michigan as we watched the sunset. It was a beautiful way to end our sixth week in Michigan.
That concluded our sixth week in Michigan. One more week to go. We would spend a few more days in Mears and then head to Holland for a couple of days before going to the Spartan factory on Friday for some free parking over the weekend and a service appointment on Monday. No doubt that we would go to Lansing over the weekend to catch up on some movies......and POPCORN. ;-)
Monday, September 9 - it was a beautiful day to play some golf, so we went over to the executive course down the road to play a round. It was a nine-hole course and we went around twice. Diane played from the ladies tees and I played one of the nines from the blue tees and the other from the white tees. We thought we would walk both nines, but it got hot quickly, so we walked one nine and rented a golf cart for the second nine. Not only was Golden Sands a nice course, the price was very reasonable. It was $8 to play nine holes and only another $4 if you wanted to play another nine. Pull carts were a buck for 9 or 18 holes; golf carts were $4 per person per nine holes. So two people could play 18 holes walking for $26 (easy walking course) or ride for $40. We had fun and the course was just about empty, whereas it was pretty crowded over the weekend. The rest of the day was spent hanging around home and then a couple of hours in the evening at the library to play on their computers.
Tuesday, September 10 - We were going to leave today for Holland, but our mail didn't arrive yesterday and a front was supposed to move through, so we just decided to stay in Mears another day. We found a diner, Angel's Diner, in Mear's that was a great price-performer, so we went there again for breakfast and then to the library to check email.
Wednesday, September 11 - We took our time leaving Mears and then drove to Holland. We wanted a full hookup site for a couple of days and decided on the Dutch Treat Campground. Diane wanted to get caught up on laundry before we headed to the Spartan and Newmar factories next week. We got set up and then went to the movies and did a double feature (Good Girl and City by the Sea). At this point, we aren't sure what we'll do with our day here tomorrow. There's the Dutch Village and the Windmills, but I spent five weeks in Amsterdam, three of those with Diane, and we've seen windmills and lots of Dutch villages. So we'll just lounge around, and do a Wal-Mart run, and then maybe go out to eat.
Thursday, September 12 - Today was a do nothing day. We went to a place called J's Again for breakfast, got our filthy car washed, and went shopping at Wal-Mart. Then we just hung around.
Friday, September 13 - We arrived at the Spartan factory where they had five sites with 50-amp power. The price was right, too....FREE. We scheduled maintenance on the motorhome for Monday, followed by warranty work at the Newmar factory in Nappanee, IN on Wednesday and Thursday. We just hung around the rig and took a couple of walks around the area.
Saturday, September 14 - We like to go up to Lansing to take in a movie when we visit the Spartan factory for service. We decided to do a double feature (Full Frontal and One Hour Photo). We were pretty much toured out, so it was nice to do nothing but hang around and movies.
Sunday, September 15 - This was officially the end of our seven-week tour of Michigan. We just hung around and took some walks, did the Wal-Mart run, church. That's it.
We have enjoyed the past seven weeks. Following are some "Final Thoughts" about our tour of Michigan.
Diane and I were very glad that we decided to tour Michigan. We loved what we saw and know there was much more to see. We especially loved the UP. Of the seven weeks we spent in Michigan, four were spent in the UP. We didn't see any of the eastern part of Michigan, and there was much more we would like to see in the western and central parts of the state. Here are some final thoughts of our tour.
* state roads - We were told to not to be concerned about driving the state roads as they are sometimes better than the US highways. That turned out to be true. The state roads ranged from good to excellent, with only some sort sections that I would say were less than good. But some sections of the US highways were pretty bad.
* sites and sounds - most of our travels were near the Great Lakes. Including our trip to Niagara, where we saw Lake Ontario, we saw parts of all five of the Great Lakes this summer. Pretty cool. We love being near the water. Away from the lakeshores, the drives through the countryside could have been in any of lots of states, such as the Catskills in NY, or the Berkshires in New England. It's the lake shores that made the tour memorable.
* the Mighty Mac - cool bridge to cross, especially in a motorhome towing a car in high winds. ;-)
* I-75 and US 41 - it was pretty cool to see the origin of both of these roads that both went through Marietta, GA near where we lived for 18 years. We drove on those roads many times. We were on I-75 near Sault Ste Marie and US 41 in Copper Harbor in the Keweenaw Peninsula.
* traffic - there was none, at least where and when we were driving. I was amazed as how little traffic we saw as we drove around Michigan. It was great.
* Pasties - YUMMY
* Pannukakka and nissu toast - YUMMY
* state parks - we only stayed in two, Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise and Indian Lake in Manistique. We did check out several others in areas we were visiting. They were all very nice parks with nice campgrounds. However, we urge people to avoid the Michigan state parks until they change their rules that call for charging extra to park an RV in a campsite ($20 annual pass or $4 per day). They used to only charge for the vehicle that went in and out of the park, which is fine. We recommend that people stay in city parks.
* city parks - we stayed in the city parks, sometimes called tourist parks, in Munising (water and electric; Lake Superior), Marquette (full hookup; near Presque Isle), Houghton (full hookup on the canal). We paid $18-19 for these sites, which were all a good size.
* public libraries - love that library system. Except for one, there was no charge to use the terminals to do email and surf the web. The libraries were very convenient to where we stayed.
Finally, we did the kind of traveling this summer we talked about doing when we started full-timing, that is, taking our time and spending at least a month in each state rather than rushing from site to site. I'm not sure that we will accomplish that every year, but we'll try. Although we do sometimes move every three to five days, we prefer to stay longer.
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our tour of Michigan as much as we have enjoyed doing it. Now it was time to start making our way south. We'll stop for service on our motorhome in Charlotte, MI and Nappanee, IN; visit a former colleague in Columbus, OH; and another former colleague in Lexington, KY; visit Asheville, NC; and then head back to Atlanta to visit kids and grandkids.
Until next time....safe travels.
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