Saturday, August 06, 2011

Grand Marais. 45 years later.

We started yesterday by swinging by the new bakery we came across in Manistique. OK, but nothing special. Did our last grocery shopping at Jack's then drove to Grand Marais on the Lake Superior shore. The sign tells the history of the area. Grand Marais has a year around population of about 500. The downtown area is a few streets with two restaurants, a hardware store, a grocery store and a few tourist junk stores.

The harbor area.

Grand Marais does have the Pickle Barrel House of which the village is justifiably proud. It's on the official list of historically significant places. A cartoonist from the Chicago Tribune built the house as his summer cabin.

We're staying at the town campground; Woodland Park. A fairly typical campground. Since we've been in Michigan, this is only the third campground we've stayed in that had electrical hookups. We arrived about noon time and there were only four available sites. We got the last one with a view of Lake Superior. The campground is just a few blocks from the downtown area. Each day the three of us took a nice walk.

Access to the lake shore is via a long and steep set of steps so, unfortunately, Carol couldn't get to the shore. She did, however, have a nice view. Gopher & I took some nice long walks. I collected rocks and she swam and chased sticks. The rocks are all worn very smooth from being tumbled for thousands of years. Some are very colorful. This area is very popular with geode collectors but since I don't know what they look like, I don't think I found any. We have a water garden in our backyard. Rocks & driftwood from our travels are scattered around the pond. Unfortunately, we can never remember what rock came from where, but we enjoy looking at them just the same.

RUST. Seems that any car or truck with MI tags, that's more then about five years old is rusted out. A camping neighbor I met a while ago was in the snow plowing business. He said the salt from the roads just eats cars up and there isn't much that can be done to prevent it. Undercoating helps, but not by much. The rust is the smaller issue. The worst, he said, was the damage the salt water spray does to electrical connections and fittings. We don't generally buy used cars, but if I did, it wouldn't be one from a snow state.


August 6, 1966 Carol and I got married in Groton, CT. Today is our 45th wedding anniversary. I was a newly minted ensign in submarine school and Carol was a medical technologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in New London.
After the wedding we had the reception at Carols parents house. That's where we were at this time of day 45 years ago. Who would have ever guessed we would be spending a beautiful day overlooking Lake Superior 45 years later.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Early this morning we continued west on Hwy 2 to Manistique. We needed to resupply with food before heading into the interior and north to Lake Superior. Manistique is the only town of any size around here.
We've been here before so headed to our "campground" for the night after we finished running our errands. There is a 1.83 mile paved path running along the lake so we were all able to enjoy a nice walk on a perfect day. The high today was about 80*. This morning we woke up to 58*.
During the heyday of the timber industry in the UP, there were four saw mills in this area. The practice was to dump the sawdust into the Manistique River or barge it to the lake and dump it there. It's estimated that over 5 million tons of sawdust was dumped over a period of about 25 years. The prevailing ideas were that the supply of trees was inexhaustible and that the sawdust, and other waste products, would just vanish in some magic way. They were wrong on both counts. In places, the lake bottom is still covered over a foot deep in hundred+ year old sawdust. It's a dark brown gooey mess and washes up onto the beaches near the river. The last sawmill in this area shut down in 1912.

100+ year old sawdust.

Tonights campground.

The harbor lighthouse

Earlier, I was trying to charge my cell phone from the outlet on the dash and noted that it wasn't charging. Investigation indicated I had let the headlights on when we parked earlier today. Called our road service company; Coachnet. About two hours later a guy showed up to jump start the LD. After we got started we took a ride to get the battery charged up. We remembered an ice cream store we saw earlier today, single scoops only, and discovered a bakery for the morning. :-) No sense wasting a nice ride.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan & Lake Huron are separated by the Straits of Mackinac spanned by the Mackinac Bridge. Saint Ignace is the first city in the UP after you cross the bridge. We are now west of the bridge.
We spent yesterday at the Forest Service Brevort (Sometimes spelled with two o's) Lake campground just north of US Hwy 2 near Brevort. We stayed here a few years ago on our MI trip. Our site backed right up to the edge of the lake. There is a dump station and water fill here; that's what we needed. $9/day. The weather was grey with a misty rain most of the day. Gopher is an all-weather dog. Rain? snow? Doesn't matter to her. She found a tennis ball on the beach and was soaked to the skin after playing in the lake for an hour or so. Between raindrops, the three of us took walks through the campground.

The view of Brevort Lake from our campsite.

We woke up to another grey day. As best we can recall, this is only the third or forth such day on this trip. Two years ago when we were heading to MI, the rain started in Atlanta and didn't stop until we were in Ohio.

We continued heading west on US Hwy #2 with no particular goal in mind. Stopped at the City of Epoufette campground ($10/night) just to take a look. OK but nothing real special. Drove through the MI state forest campground of Hog Island. This was nice; well worth a stay. About half the sites backed up to Lake Michigan. The really great sites were taken so we continued west. As we approached Naubinway, I saw the town harbor just off the highway. Off we went to take a look. What a great find. This is where we'll be camping tonight. There is a bath house and a drinking water supply.

Tonights campsite.

The harbor lighthouse.

There is an official NOAA weather station here.

The harbor area. Only one small boat.

In the morning we'll drive to Manistique to get gas & groceries before we head north to Lake Superior. We already have our special campsite picked out; discovered it two years ago.

Why people will pay from $30 to $50 night so they can have a view of the side of their neighbors RV escapes me.

A few hours ago, a fellow and his two dogs stopped by. He brings them down here each night after dinner for a nice run. He's about my age and is a commercial fisherman. One of the last in town. He said when he was a kid, fishing was the main industry around here. Not any more. We had a very interesting chat.

Our view at sunset

It's just us once again.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Made it to the UP

It was hot when we went to bed so all the windows were opened as well as the shades. Nautical twilight is about 4am this far north. By 5:30 Gopher & I were out taking our morning walk.

This is what our campsite looked like at about 6am this morning.

Most of the Great Lakes bulk carriers haul either grain, coal or limestone.

We were on the road by about 7am heading north to the UP. We stopped at the MI Welcome Center in St. Ignace and loaded up with UP information then filled up with propane at a nearby BP.

The plan was to stay the night at the DeTour State Forest campground. We drove through it but it didn't suit us. Very heaving wooded, small sites best suited for tents and no view of anything in particular. We continued to the Village of DeTour. It's as far east as you can go in the UP without taking a $50 ferry ride to Drummond Island. I thought $50 was a bit much for a one mile ferry ride. Not much in the village. On the way, we passed several very nice pull-offs on the Lake Huron side of the road. That's where we are now.

View from tonights campsite

It's just us, once again.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A productive day

Today, Sunday, was chores day. We did the laundry and dumped the tanks and filled up with water at the Alpena Fairgrounds. $3.00. We now ready for another five, or so, days of camping.
Tonight we're camped in a nice pull-off on the shore of Lake Huron. It's just us, once again. Lots of people prefer formal campgrounds. That's good because it saves places like this for us.
Swimming in the Great Lakes is so much nicer then swimming in Florida. No salt water, no sharks, alligators or water moccasins to watch out for.
It's turned hot again. This afternoon it was over 90*. Tomorrow we will be further north in the UP. Cooler hopefully.

Our own private piece of beach on Lake Huron