Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota-September 15-23, 2008

Paul and I left for northern Michigan on Monday, September 15.

We drove as far as Ashland, Wisconsin that day and parked our camper in the backyard at Jennifer's house.

I have to say I felt a little bit like Uncle Bill,

but the arrangement did work out well for us.

We were met there by Linda, who decided she could escape from her restaurant for a few days and join us on our trip to Michigan.

We had a great time bonding with Clara, Jennifer's daughter. She is a very gregarious and bright 21 month old toddler who did not hesitate to welcome us into her world. We were delighted!!!!

The three of us left for Ontonagon, Michigan on Wednesday morning.

The day was beautiful, 65 degrees and sunny.
We had made reservations at a private campground there, as the town is located near Porcupine Mountain State Park, our chosen destination. This was our first venture into a private campground. As you may have noticed, we love our state parks!!!

The place offered less privacy than we are used to, but we did not spend much time there. There was water and sewer and wireless internet, though!!! And, we could have watched cable tv if we had a television in the camper.

We spent the rest of Wednesday looking around the town of Ontonagon. It is located on the shores of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Ontonagon River.

We saw a huge coal boat come into harbor and unload.

Back at the campground, we grilled bison burgers we brought from the new butcher shop by our house and saw a pileated woodpecker by our camper.

We had a fire and crashed early (seems to be a trend.)

Thursday we got up, had our morning coffee,
and headed to Porcupine Mountain State Park, Michigan's largest area of undeveloped wilderness.

The park is 92 square miles big, with virgin forest, scenic waterfalls, rugged Lake Superior shore line, remote rustic cabins, 87 miles of hiking trails, and very few roads.

We stopped at the visitor's center for our permits, and headed out to do some hiking.

We hiked to Summit Peak

and to Overlooked Falls

and the Little Carp River Trail to one of the rustic cabin sites.

We ate our picnic lunch at Union Bay Campground, where we stayed with Suzanne and Nick when we camped with them years ago.

Then we walked up to the overlook of Lake of the Clouds.

On the way out of the park we walked into an old growth hemlock forest

at Deer Yard, where deer congregate in the winter time.

Paul had done his research well to find the best spots to experience these rare, old growth forests.

Back to the campground, where we grilled chicken breasts and baked potatoes in the oven.

Great day!!! We were exhausted.

On Friday, we woke to a much warmer morning and headed back to the park.

We started with a hike up both sides of the Presque Isle River where it enters into Lake Superior. It is absolutely beautiful with rapids and waterfalls.

We would love to see this area in the spring right after the snow melts.

It was a challenging hike at times and the day was warm.

We ate our lunch there after we finished the hike and drove to the trailhead of the Pinkerton Trail.

Paul and I hiked in as far Pinkerton Creek.

The trail led us through old growth hemlock, maple and huge old yellow birches. All sorts of mushrooms were growing on the fallen logs.

Paul saw brown trout in the creek.

We headed back to the campground, where our crockpot pot roast dinner was waiting for us!!!

On Saturday, we headed back for our last day in the park.

We started with a hike around the Union Mine Loop. We had taken this hike with Nick and Suzanne and had remembered how beautiful it was, so wanted to experience it again. It was a cloudy, but warm morning.

The hike brings you through an area that was mined for copper ore in the 1800's.

The mining trails are marked with a shovel and pick axe sign and that is for a good reason.

That is all those men used and the backbreaking work it required is beyond comprehension.

Paul and Linda got into competitive photography on this hike.

I kept looking for different mushrooms, which is pretty easy to do when walking through a forest!!!

We headed back to Lake Superior to do some walking on the shore line. Paul and Linda walked about a mile into the wind. The waves were pretty incredible.

We then hiked a section of the Superior Trail, which led us through some nice old growth forest

and then up on the high rocky ridges above the lake.

We headed back to the shore line and walked and looked for beach glass. Paul took the opportunity to enjoy retirement in every possible way.

We made a stop at a great little shop and bought some pottery. You may notice a few pieces of pottery around our house. These pieces serve as mementos of our "North American" trips. So, we "needed" to add to our collection.

Look for them by our wood burning stove in the family room!!!!

Linda treated us to dinner that night. We had a little trouble finding a spot to eat. I had to go into the grocery store (not one of the grocery stores, THE grocery store) and inquire where one could get a burger and a beer. The lady said, "Do you really need a beer?"

Well, I didn't think of it quite that way. We shared a good laugh (I'd like to think she was laughing with me) and she directed us to THE bar. Not what we quite had in mind, but the burger turned out to be great. It was like staying in Mooreton, No. Dak.

except with a BIG lake.

It was cold that night, so no fire. We stayed inside and taught Linda how to play Farkel. She learned quickly. A little too quickly, as she won the first two games. She let Paul and I win one each. We suggested she set up Farkel nights at Ella's Island Cafe on Madelaine Island. Look for it to become the next big attraction on Lake Superior.

We were up and out of the campground early on Sunday. We made a short stop in Ashland and said our goodbyes to Linda, Jennifer and Clara. We were so glad to get a chance to see them.

We drove across Highway 2 to Superior, Wisconsin and into Duluth. We headed down Highway 35 as far as Moose Lake State Park.

We settled into our campsite, feeling very much back home in a Minnesota State Park.

We grilled some polish sausages and had a great birch campfire. (Different woods burn so differently, so we always appreciate it when the campfire wood available is birch.)

We poked around the town of Moose Lake on Monday.

It was a warm day, so Paul rented a kayak in the park and paddled around Echo Lake, which is in the boundaries of the park.

I spent the time he was out on the lake running around like a

looking for the key to the kayak lock he had given me to hold while he was out on the water. Luckily, I was able to get my blood pressure back under control once I found the darn thing.

That evening we grilled a New York strip, cooked gorgonzola tortellini with a white wine mushroom garlic sauce and made a salad with chipotle mustard vinagrette. Marlys, this picture is for you, per your earlier request.

Life is good.

We woke up the next morning to a thunderstorm. The thunderclouds loomed over us as we headed back to reality

and the financial mess that had burst open while we were gone.

We aren't sure of our next trip, but hope to get out there before we have to winterize the camper and put it away until our trip to Florida in January.

I'll keep you posted!!!