Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sandy Lake to the Mississippi River

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A bright & sunny morning. Stayed that way most of the day. We continued west on Hwy 210 to the Sandy Lake Recreation Area; a C.O.E. facility north of McGregor, MN. In McGregor we spotted the McGregor Baking Company & CafĂ©. Shouldn’t have but we pulled in. My goodness. What a bakery. We bought four breakfast pastries, Carol got one of every type of cookie they had plus we bought a turkey sandwich to take with us for lunch. The sandwich: slices of real turkey, not lunchmeat turkey, cream cheese, avocado, cranberry sauce, sunflower seeds, Swiss cheese, sprouts and lettuce all on 1” thick slices of multi-grain bread. Probably the best sandwich we’ve ever had. I vote this the best bakery of the trip but Carol still thinks the one in Hermann, MO was better. Close call. Fortunately, I guess, the road between here & the bakery is all torn up with construction or we would be tempted to go back. No more bakeries for a week of so at least.
The Sandy Lake Campground is very nice. Well worth a stop. We got the last campsite. With the weekend coming up the campgrounds are full of families. There is a large lake with fishing plus it permits water skiing.
There is a memorial to the Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850. Wanting to get the Ojibwe Indians off their lands in parts of Michigan & Wisconsin so the timber and mining interests could take over, the Indian Agent in this area, told the Indians that if they came to Sandy Lake in October of 1850, he would give them food, blankets, money, etc. Some of the Indians came. A very harsh winter came early. There was no food or shelter. Over 400 died at Sandy Lake from starvation, dysentery and the measles. It’s said that only black slaves in America were treated worse then the Indians.


Continued west. The drive is through very rural MN along Highway 200. Crossed the Mississippi River near the very small town of Jacobson. At this point, the river is only about 100’ wide. We stayed the night at a Forest Service campground in the Chippewa National Forest; Stony Point. It’s mid-morning on a Friday, and as expected this time of the year, the campground was full. The host said some people were leaving today so just hang around and wait for them to pull out. We parked at the boat ramp, ate lunch then went back to try again. Sure enough, someone was pulling out and we got a nice spot. Like the campground we stayed at yesterday, the big attraction here is fishing. There is a boat ramp. Seems every other RV is pulling a fishing boat.


We headed our early this morning wanting to go to the Lake George Blueberry Festival. Got there about 10:30. What a disappointment in a funny sort of way. The only blueberry product we saw for sale was one guy selling his wife’s home-made jam. There was an Indian selling Indian junk and a few booths with similar Chinese stuff. The local fire department was selling tickets for a ham & bean dinner later in the day. Oh well. I did photograph the Post Office; the smallest one I’ve ever seen.
Continued on to our major stop for the day; Lake Itasca State Park. The home of the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Gopher & I walked across the river twice. The photos of some of the signs tell the story.
The plan was to spend the night at the campground but, as we had expected being a Saturday, it was full. We continued heading west on US #2 and stayed the night at a very nice city campground in Crookston, MN. Went to church and treated ourselves to dinner at Arby’s. Arby’s is our favorite fast food restaurant. They have a very good selection of sandwiches. Much better than your typical burger joint.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009



Drove to Superior, WI. Did laundry & made a Wal-Mart run. Continued to Duluth, MI. We have now officially traveled in all States except for Hawaii. Stopped at a Whole Foods Co-Op grocery store. Picked up some very good fresh salads & cookies for Carol. She weighed herself today and is right on her target weight so the cookies are OK. We have both been extra careful of our diet recently both having put on a few extra pounds from all those great bakeries. Now when we see a local bakery, we just continue on. We took our lunch from the Co-op and drove to the Canal Park area of Duluth. After we waited out an hour rain storm, we walked the paved walkway going around the area, saw the Aerial Lift Bridge (built in 1905) , the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, and an assortment of tourist type shops. We finally got to see one of the large freighters up close. The H. Lee White was built in 1974, is 704’ long and was delivering a cargo of limestone to Superior,WI. Watching the lift bridge operate was interesting. The waterfront area of Duluth is very nice; well worth the stop.
About 4:00 we headed to our campsite for the night; the Black Bear Casino & Resort near Carlton. Had a severe storm pass through about 6:00. Hail, rain, & lightning. I moved the camper next to a truck in order to block the worst of the hail and wind. No damage, thankfully.

Madeline Island to Amnicon Falls.

Monday, July 20, 2009

About 6:00am I received a call from Mom’s Life Alert service that Mom had called. She couldn’t get out of bed. The service called the front desk and an aide helped Mom. I called Dr. Boykin’s office and arranged for them to send a nurse over to check things out. Called Mom several times during the day. She sounds fine but her shoulder and neck are sore. I suspect I’ll hear from Boykin’s office tomorrow. Talked to Ginny. She was in Florida a few weeks ago and ran up to have lunch and dinner with Mom. Whenever things like this happen, like her fall a few weeks ago, I wonder if I should simply stay home. They I think about Carol and wonder what, with her limitations, would she do at home to keep herself occupied?
About 8:00 we headed to our destination for the day. The Big Bay State Park located on Madeline Island near Bayfield, WI. Madeline Island is the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands. The island was named after Madeline Cadotte, the daughter of Chief White Crane who married the French fur trader Michael Cadotte. The island was originally the home of the Ojibwe Indians. The Europeans arrived in 1659. Access to the island is by ferry. It cost us $93 roundtrip for two passengers and the motorhome. Wow. We stayed at the Big Bay State Park. An interesting place, but we wouldn’t go back again. The campground is nicely wooded with large spaces but with no view of anything in particular. We took a few walks to the beach area and some pretty overlooks.
During the winter the island is surrounded by ice. A wind sled is used to ferry people back and forth until the ice is thick enough to support the ice road. About 200 people live hear year round. The summer population is around 2,500.


Woke up to the sound of rain. Again. We drove around the island then decided to continue of our journey. We stopped at a few very pretty roadside pull-offs located right on Lake Superior. We spotted a sign for a city campground in Herbster and decided to spend the night. A well kept place right on the lake. As soon as we stopped, hundreds of common house flies descended on the camper. They were everywhere. I didn’t even get out. Just continued on our way. Strange. We wound up at a nice state park; Amnicon Falls near Wentworth. The rain stopped for a few hours allowing us to take a nice walk from the campground to the falls. Mostly a driving day but we passed through a very pretty area of Wisconsin. Tomorrow we continue west through Minnesota. We want to be at Suzanne’s house by about August 6th.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Munising, MI to Washburn, WI

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Continued to Munising. Stopped at a parking area right on the shore of Lake Superior. Let Gopher run and have a swim. In Munising, we walked to the Munising Falls and then to the Sand Point Beach part of the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. Stayed the night at the City campground called Tourist Park Campground. It’s right on Lake Superior.


Rained last night. The day was partly sunny. The last four days have been very nice; we’re grateful. Drove to the Miners Castle area of the Picture Rocks National Lakeside. After that we went grocery shopping at Glen’s Market and then bought pasties for lunch. Pasties, pronounced pass-t’s, is a lunch from the days of the Cornish miners in the 1880’s. It’s a filling of potatoes, rutabaga, meat, & spices stuffed into a heavy pastry shell then baked. Got one chicken, one veggie and one apple. The chicken & veggie were OK; wouldn’t make a habit of them, but they weren’t bad. The apple was like eating a good apple pie. We continued to our campground, the Au Train Forest Service campground. Our site is directly on Au Train Lake. For a while we had the place to ourselves. Let Gopher off leash. She swam and chased the chipmunks. There are chipmunks everywhere you look. Must have been a good year for chipmunk breeding.


A rainy day. We drove to Marquette. Toured the very nice Maritime Museum. The museum had a large collection of Fresnel lenses from old Great Lakes lighthouses, exhibits about shipwrecks and life-saving and the “best collection of Life Throwing Guns in the Great Lakes as well as an area devoted to two WW-II submarines; the Darter & Dace. The plan was to spend the night at the City campground but they were full. There is a festival at the park where the campground is so the place has been booked for some time. Continued west with no particular destination in mind. Stopped frequently at different roadside parks. Wound up in the parking lot of a casino in Baraga for the night. Didn’t much matter where we spend the night. It was cold, rainy & windy. The couple parked next to us had a border collie. We let the two dogs run around the large open field next to the casino. They lived in New Mexico but he graduated from the University of Florida and was in the same fraternity as I was, just 10 years earlier. Small world.


A dreary morning. Drove to the City of Hancock and stayed at the Hancock Campgrounds & Boat Launch Facility. Had a site right on the lake. We walked around the Quincy Mine which is part of the Keweenaw Heritage Sites. In 1843, one of the nation’s first mineral rushes occurred here. Copper was discovered. The Quincy mine #2 shaft reached 9,260 feet; there were 85 levels in all. The world’s largest steam hoist was constructed to transport men into and ore out of the deepest levels of the mine.
As we were driving back to the campground, I noticed a sign pointing to a food co-op. Stopped in and bought each of us a great sandwich for lunch, some roasted soy beans and prepared salads. Such a relief from Wal-Mart. Filled the tank with $2.33 gas. The cheapest in quite some time.
As the day went on, the sun came out. We sat outside playing Mexican Train and planning the next few days. Today is our last day in Michigan. Heading on to Wisconsin.


A grey, overcast day. Left the campground about 9:30. Stopped at Wal-Mart then headed to Wisconsin. Since we had no real plan for the day, we took our time stopping at several road side rest areas and a state park. In Ironton, MI we noticed a sign for a festival so we drove downtown to see what it was all about. Your typical small town festival. A handful of craft/junk booth, charitable organizations, food vendors, etc. We were hoping for some local specialty foods. Pasties perhaps, baked goods. Nope. Just burgers, fries, etc. We poked around for a while then moved on.
In Wisconsin we noticed a sign pointing to the Iron County Parks, Harbor and Campground on Lake Superior. What a nice find. We parked directly on the lake for most of the day then headed for the Bad River Casino in Odanah. They have a free RV campground with water, electric & a dump station. In addition, when you register for a players card, they give you $5 in slot machine tokens. Carol won $2.75. I lost all my tokens. We had the buffet for dinner; among the worst meals we’ve had in a casino. Oh well. The free camping helps cancel out that bad experience. Except for dinner, we thoroughly enjoyed the day.


Woke up to a beautiful, bright, sunny day. Our camping neighbor is from the Michigan U.P.. He and his wife were both marveling at the wonderful start of the day. He said last years winter was a tough one. Started early and ended late. Not for us, thank you.
Drove through Ashland, WI on our way to Washburn. Ashland has a city RV park right on Chequamegon Bay. We didn’t stay there but it would be a very nice location for a future trip. We parked near the city marina and all went walking on the bay front trail. Photographed the old iron ore loading dock. Until the early 1900’s, Ashland was a major iron ore port. Later we went to 11:00 mass at Our Lady of the Lake church. The alter was among the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. Later we stopped at the North Woods Information Center and museum. A very informative exhibit on the local timber, iron ore and fishing industries. Learned that Lake Superior is the worlds largest fresh water lake by surface area and Lake Baikal in Russia in the largest in terms of water volume. It’s over 2,400 miles from the Port of Duluth, MI on Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway. It was interesting to note that by 1900 the “inexhaustible” supply of trees was completely gone. There was a quote by a WI senator giving a speech arguing against regulation of the timber industry. He said the supply of trees was so vast, it would last WI for every future generation. Reminded me of the Bush Global Warming logic. By the early 1950’s the Lake Superior fishing stock had been so depleted the commercial industry essentially collapsed.
Continued on to Washburn; our destination for the day. Stayed at the Memorial & Thompson’s West End Park Campground. We have a beautiful site overlooking Lake Superior. As I type this,