Michigan

Wending our way to our summer gig on Wisconsin’s north shore found us at three stops in Michigan from its west coast to its east coast to its north coast. We have dubbed this Our Perpetual Spring because as we traveled, it was like we were suspended in time. We’d move on from one stop to the next and find the leaves and petals in the same state of progression as they were when we’d arrived at the previous stop. In researching our second of the three stops, I read that along the shore of Lake Huron where we’d be, spring was generally two weeks behind the rest of the state. The further north we went, however, the more we liked where we were.

Hart

We found it slightly difficult to locate campgrounds at the distances and in the places we needed and wanted without having to fork over major bucks for commercial parks. TBG found John Gurney Park, and it seemed to fit the bill for all we needed for four nights.

Overall, it did have everything as advertised, and though it wasn’t fancy or new and had a very tight odd layout, we liked it well enough. The host was very enthusiastic, and she let us switch sites when the one we’d reserved appeared too un-level for our comfort. Where you see Essie parked in the above photo is really a series of 3-4 sites, but she said no one else was coming in, and we could spread out as needed.

The biggest drawback was that the weather was cold with that darn breeziness still hounding us. The skies were blue, though, so we headed out for a late afternoon walk around the cute town.

And returned to find water cascading out the bottoms of our basement doors.

TBG rushed around to the spigot to turn the hose off, determined the connection in the wet bay was faulty, and then we opened all the doors to assess the disaster. TBG lowered the jacks on the passenger side so the lake could empty out of the bays, then he spent the remaining daylight sopping up the floodwaters while I moved and stowed things in the car. Once he’d removed all the water he could, we set up one of our ceramic heaters below to help finish the job. I was worried about the impending overnight freeze, and though it did dip below 32, it didn’t have any ill effects on the damp compartments. By the time we were set to leave, all was dry again. And clean, ha! We often disconnect or turn off the water when we leave the rig, but of course the one time we didn’t! It was one of those times when we throw our hands in the air and proclaim we’re just not doing this stupid, stupid RV thing anymore.

Then we get on with it.

There was a short, but sweet, nature trail in the park.

The trailhead for the Hart-Montague Bike Trail begins (or ends) at John Gurney, and we had what was mostly a very nice 16-mile ride. The not-nice part was the final four or so miles for me. The new seat I’d had TBG put on my bike while we were in Florida was only comfortable for the actual sitting areas, but made everything else a misery — my back, my wrists, my neck. I was so discouraged because I love to ride my bike, and I was distressed that I wouldn’t ever find a way to do so pain-free, especially with all the biking opportunities coming up this summer. I spent the evening researching new bikes, but we’ll come back to this topic at our next stop.

Our favorite outing of this stay was to the Lake Michigan shore to check out the Petite Pointe Au Sable (little point of sand) Lighthouse.

The wind was frigid, but we walked up the beach about a half mile anyhow, enjoying the multiple shades of blue in the sky and water and the polka dot sand formations. TBG returned early-early the following morning for some Milky Way shots.

Rogers City

Up next on the hit parade was P.H. Hoeft State Park on the west shore of Lake Huron. As we pulled around to our site, it was immediately clear that there was no way we were going to be able to maneuver Essie into it. Back to the office we went, where the employees were kind enough to give us a list of other available sites, and we ended up with one called an “Eyebrow Site,” a new term for us that seems to mean a pull-thru on a corner. Turns out, it was the biggest one in the park, though only 30-amp service, and the water hadn’t yet been turned on in the park for the season. That meant no showers or dump station, but this was another four-day stay, so none of that posed a problem. We were just very happy to not have been skunked out of a site.

The park had about 4.5 miles of smooth trails through the woods, which were great for walking and running, and, of course, beach access — if you could steer clear of the swarms of midge flies, that is. Fortunately, they don’t bite or really care about humans at all, but they will swarm your face and get into your mouth or eyes when you’re on the move.

Another great feature of this park was the Huron Sunrise Trail, an 11-mile paved trail that stretches from Rogers City to 40 Mile Point Lighthouse, ran right through it. From the park to the lighthouse is 4.75 miles round trip, and we walked that on a azure day.

The lighthouse wasn’t open yet for tours, but we chatted with its groundskeeper, Eric, who grew up living there. A credit to his job, the grounds were beautifully kept, he was full of knowledge about the area, and the lake views were spectacular.

Besides the maritime exhibits, restored buildings, and watercraft, I heard the unmistakable sound of one of my favorite birds. Chickens! Eric said he was pretty sure that it’s the only lighthouse in the U.S. that keeps a flock of chickens.

It was a much-needed day of warmth and sensational scenery, one that would turn out to be our favorite of that stay.

Still fretting about my bike dilemma, I decided to see if TBG would put my old seat back on so I could try it one more time before deciding to plunk down a lot of money for a new bike. He did, and we headed out on the trail in the opposite direction to Rogers City.

It was sunny and a little warm when we began, but clouds had gathered for the return trip, making it a nippy ride. My old seat worked well, especially since TBG had installed a taller handlebar post with the new seat. I’m still getting a few new accessories soon, though, but I’m so happy I can continue to ride without big, expensive changes for now.

Munising

Munising’s claim to fame is that it lies on the western edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (PIRO), a place I’d had pinned on my “Wishful Whereabouts” Pinterest board for years. Several of our RVing friends have visited, including The Lowes, who came off the road last year but whose blog is a treasure trove of their eight+ years of travel, and more recently, Chapter3Travels, who are still on the road, posting about their adventures on their chucklesome and beautifully photo-enhanced blog.

After settling into our site at Munising Tourist Park, we didn’t waste any time heading out to take in a few short walks at Munising Falls and the Sand Point Marsh Trail.

On our second day, we did some longer treks, but not too long since we were saving our legs for a big hike to come. We started with a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT or NOCO) technically a national park within a national park!

It was a nice mix of a rich green forest floors, short overlook spurs to view Lake Superior, and sunny, sandy sections. Next our boots took us to see one of the most iconic vistas in the park, Miners Castle.

While the above is our own photo, about a million just like it can be found all over the ‘net for obvious reasons. We also traipsed out to Miners Beach, where TBG had fun photographing a shoreline waterfall, and I relaxed on a rock shelf where my clothes unintentionally reflected the glorious turquoise and henna-colored scenery.

They say the best way to picture the rocks is from the water, and there are several options for doing that — paid tour boats, guided sea kayak tours, or personal watercraft. Both sets of friends mentioned above took a boat tour and did, indeed, get great views and photos, but it was too early in the season for the tour boats to be running. We briefly chatted with a kayak rental guide, and their outfit charged $125 per person for a tour. My personal watercraft was not sea-worthy enough for the lake, not to mention it only holds one person, and we, obviously, don’t own a motorboat. That left us with the only other choice, a 10-mile hike touted as the sole trail in the park from which the rocks can be viewed. Off we went!

Accessing the trailhead required a drive down the highway and then onto the absolute worst road we’ve ever traversed. TBG had read reviews ahead of time that warned of this, and he was at the wheel (I could have done it, but there would’ve been fighting.) We were surprised at the number of cars in the trailhead lot, especially since it was a weekday.There was still plenty of room, and we set off for our first destination of Chapel Falls, then Chapel Rock.

The next big landmark along the route was Grand Portal Point.

But really, from Chapel Rock to Mosquito Beach, which is the section of this loop that follows the lakeshore, it was a series of magnificent photo ops.

The loop turns inland after Mosquito Beach, and after a few miles, we had to make the decision about whether to add a little bit of distance in order to take in Mosquito Falls or not. It was a no-brainer, of course we did, but the back half of this hike as done counter-clockwise wasn’t as spectacular. How could it be given those lake views? It was not without its charms, though.

It ended up being over 11 miles, not 10 like anticipated, but we’d already made plans to stop and pick up a local favorite for dinner. Pasties! That’s “PASS-tees” even though the name derives from their pastry shells. From an NPR internet piece, “Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a landmass jutting out of the northern tip of Wisconsin. The pasty’s prevalence is linked to an early 1800s rush to mine copper deposits in the region. The resulting onslaught of laborers from Cornwall, England, brought over the pasty.”

We chose Miners Pasties and Ice Cream because also ice cream.

Traditionally, pasties are stuffed with potatos, carrots, onion, rutabaga, and meat. The Yooper had beef and pork, and the Chicken had tuna. No, of course it was chicken without a creative name. They were about the size of a large grapefruit, quite heavy, and tasty. Too bad they don’t rhyme with tasty. There are four flavors of exquisitely good ice cream represented in the above photo. It comes from a company called Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream out of Wisconsin, and you can bet your butt we’re going to find more of it when we get there.

We were too tired and full to do much the next day, but after we recovered, we headed out for one more day of hiking. It was a long drive to the east end of the park to see Au Sable Light Station. The pretty trail was hopping with baby toads, and the trees were alive with birdsong.

Because we don’t like to drive that far for a short hike, we stopped at Beaver Lake to add on another loop. The first half to the lake was prettier than after, and it was rife with garter snakes. Our total walking time was longer than we’d wanted, but it helped ensure that we covered a good lot of the entire park during our visit.

Even though it was a very long drive, at several places along the drive, great carpets of white trilliums glowed on the forest floor. TBG drove back out to a particular spot the following day, and met a property owner, Monte, a Vietnam vet, who was happy to grant permission for TBG to get some photos. Monte also indicated that he loves to get letters from people, and if you’d like to drop him a line, drop me an email contactchasingdirt@gmail.com and I’ll fix you up!

As you read this, we will have arrived at our long-awaited next NPS volunteer gig in Ashland, WI at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (NGLVC) where we will be until shortly after Labor Day.

It’s about time, isn’t it?

18 thoughts on “Michigan

  1. Pingback: Rounding Out Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks – Zamia Ventures

  2. We love Michigan! We’ve visited the state several times as we traveled back and forth across the country. Picture Rocks is such a cool area. TGB’s photos of the Milky Way are spectacular! Thanks for taking me back to a state that brought us so much fun and great memories. Too bad Michigan has winter and bugs:) Enjoy your volunteering gig. Can’t wait to here how it is going.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It really is a gorgeous part of our country, and we’re so glad to have this opportunity to explore it, since we never know when/if we’ll ever be able to return to any particular place. I like TBG’s nighttime photos, too, and one of the best parts is that he leaves me happily snoozing while he goes out to take them 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  3. We’re already far away from “spring” weather with temps in the 90s daily. You are in such a beautiful area, so green and cool looking. That Trillium field shot is spectacular!
    We always turn off the water when we leave Beluga, we’ve had more than one flood in her – hence her name! She’s a big white whale, she loves water – one way or another. One time, while we were visiting with friends one RV away, I went back to Beluga for another glass of wine (don’t judge) and when I opened the door I was greeted by three large, panicking dogs and water pouring down the stairs! It was early in our RV life and we all survived but sh t happens doesn’t it! Enjoy your beautiful MIchigan summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I’ve been watching your temps down there, and I have to say that although our northern spring can be tumultuous, I am not missing those cookers. Then again, we do have to deal with the ticks and skeeters. Man, it’s always something!

      I think we were having our RV flood while you were having your new house kitchen flood — this is not a shared trend I’d like for us to continue. All dry now, and we await the next…errrr…adventure! Yeah, that’s it! LOL

      Like

  4. I’m sure perpetual spring had its downsides, but it also had some beautiful upsides. Love the photos in this post – the milky way shots are incredible, the colors of both Lake Huron and Lake Superior really pop, and you guys found some really cool stuff we missed – the Petite lighthouse for one, and the beachside waterfall at Miners Rock for another. Not to mention the trillium… Those are a serious wow!

    As for the pasties, I really think they’re missing a great marketing opportunity by not calling a shop “Tasty Pasties” and just letting it rhyme. Sure, it’ll tick off the locals, but you know tourists will remember the name! Plus – it’s hilarious. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was so happy that a few months earlier I’d ordered a circular polarizer when we got here. Spin it to where it is engaged, and just like the cheesy TV infomercials for cheap polarizing sunglasses, bam, no water glare and you could see into the water. Mother nature did the rest.

      Liked by 1 person

    • True, we’d rather have Perpetual Spring than winter (though a few days/nights are hard to tell apart yet.) We were happy to have planned a few extra days at PIRO and gotten some good weather to explore and find those “extras.” The shores of these upper lakes are some of the most photogenic areas we’ve visited, no question.

      I agree someone needs to just buck the system and open a Tasty Pasty Shoppe! 😀

      Like

  5. Wow! a big wow! Thanks to you I now have seen two perspective of Pictured Rocks NS but hands down you had the better view not to mention you got a longer hike too! And we got mentioned too, Thanks 🙂
    Great Pics of the beautiful part of Pure Michigan and you made me jealous of that long hike 😦
    That field of Trilum is the bomb and TBG, its a great shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We got to see the rocks from the water in your beautiful photos, so it was only right that we shared the views from land! We were so fortunate to have a good-weather day to see it all on that long hike. Those trillium were just amazing to see in numbers like that. We’ve never seen so many!

      Like

  6. Uh-oh. A flood is a very bad thing in an RV. 😦 And totally understandable that you would have a moment of wanting to give up the stupid, stupid RVing life. We had a flood in our trailer a few years back, and then we had a flood in our house a year later. So as you know, doo-doo happens everywhere, and you might as well keep on adventuring, especially when your adventures are so grand!

    I’m excited again about Michigan now that I’m seeing your photos. That water color! The rocks! The trillium! As you know, the pandemic cancelled our plans for summering there in 2020, but we’re on for 2022! I think you’re in for a glorious summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • At least the flood was in the very bottom of the rig, not inside the coach, and no stuff was affected since it’s all stored on slider-drawers — whew! It’s true that it all happens in a stix-n-brix as well, so we’ll keep on keepin’ on 🙂 I know you two will love it up here whenever you come. It’s one of those places that will lull you in with it’s good-season beauty 🙂

      Like

  7. It’s a bummer that you had to deal with cold weather, not-yet-open facilities, AND bugs. It seems like you should get a break from the bugs in exchange for the other hardships! But I am very glad to learn that you were able to postpone your 2020 volunteer gig to 2021 and have the opportunity to explore the upper midwest this summer. I am looking forward to learning more about the Great Lakes from your posts because I know we will make it there eventually.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the chilliness is my least favorite drawback of traveling north a bit ahead of the warmth. We’ve not missed much with facilities being limited/closed EXCEPT for sometimes not having the brochures or maps and not having all the personnel available to get the inside scoop on things. That’s all easing up tremendously now, both in warmth and people! Now, bugs on the other hand…those midges don’t really bother people too much, but stayed tuned on ticks and mosquitoes 😐

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.