We just spent the evening outside in chilly weather, bundled up, noses red from the cold. Our little desert babies have never experienced this many days of cold. Weather like this makes me yearn for the sun and heat. I think I’m part reptile; get me on my heated rock! I’ve been seriously behind as far as getting up to date on where we are in our travels. Facebook and Instagram have been easy but the blog takes more time and I’ve just not been successful at keep up. It is what it is. So now while I’m bundled up and dreaming of warmth on my skin, I’ll share our time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and continue our circle tour.
We had originally tried to find boondocking spots in the UP. I searched online, even called and talked to numerous employees and a ranger in the National Forests. The general consensus was that we were too long to access the pull outs along the forest roads. But we were given a couple of “maybe” options. So I booked us a few nights at Little Bay de Noc campground where we only paid $9 thanks to our national park ACCESS pass. It was almost like boondocking in the sense that we had lots of space, were in the wild and no hookups. But we had access to vault toilets, fire pit, ice cold fresh spring water less than 50 yards away, free firewood & lake views. We planned on scoping out the “maybe” suggestions from the ranger but in the end opted to stay at the campground and even extended our stay. One weekend Jeff had an art show in Escanaba in a huge park right across from the lake. We enjoyed the day there where the kids had fun doing a belly dancing class and creating art and playing all day.
One day we went up north to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to explore the splendor along Lake Superior. I had been there as a young child and remember thinking it was the coolest thing ever to go to places named things like “Miners Falls” and “Miners Castle”, because of my maiden name. The day that we spent at the lakeshore was hardly enough time. We went to the falls and the castle like rock structure, hiked to Tannery Falls outside of the park and picked fresh mint. The water is a bright aqua color. And apparently if you take a boat trip, you can see waterfalls upon waterfalls spilling over the rock faces and into the lake. We plan on eventually doing a Lake Superior circle tour and will spend more time in this area then.
The tiny town of Trenary was a pit stop for us. We enjoyed the famous Trenary Toast: twice baked hard bread covered in cinnamon and perfect for dunking. Speaking of food; we also tried a Pasty (pronounced like pass-tee) while in the U.P. Think potpie in a pocket. It had a buttery, flakey crust and was filled with warm, diced root veggies. I could see walking around in the brisk of winter with one of these bad boys in my pocket. Yum!
The campground was on a peninsula, so one day we drove to the tip of it. The pavement turned into dirt, wide enough for one vehicle, with random pullouts for oncoming traffic. It was covered with a tree canopy, creating a tunnel feel in some spots, with peeks of the lake. There were lots of spiders dangling down! I joked that the U.P. was the land of green trees, gorgeous lake views, and spiders. They were everywhere! The road was lined with raspberry bushes and Jeff braved the spiders to fill a container of fresh berries. The road ended at Peninsula Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1865. It was open for us to climb the cast iron spiral staircase to the top. We wandered the shallow shores and saw tons of fossils. And itty bitty bright green and brown frogs unexpectedly jumped around our feet. This was such a cool place! We ended up spending a lot more time there than we thought we would. It would be wonderful to come here in the fall, as Monarch butterflies stop here during their migration before heading over Lake Michigan. There’s such solitude there that I can’t imagine how it must be when it’s filled with fluttering orange and black beauties.
We eventually made our way to the eastern end and stayed a few days in St. Ignace. There we dipped our feet in the frigid waters of Lake Huron, making it to the 3rd great lake on this trip! The water was crystal clear and amazing. I was in awe at how deep down we could see. The beach we went to near American Legion Park was very rocky in the water though. Not fun for frolicking, but so much fun for rock and sea glass hunting! The park hosted a free outdoor movie night where we watched Eddie the Eagle on a big screen. Free popcorn included. The park and lighthouse were on the shores of the lake, with views of Mackinac Island.
One day we took a ferry to Mackinac Island. On the way there, the boat went under the Mackinac Bridge. That was an added bonus that we all enjoyed. On the island we watched fudge being made, enjoyed giant heaps of ice cream, wandered the streets, climbed the steep roads to the fort (which we did not pay to go in). Did I mention STEEP roads? Prepare for a leg workout if you ever visit and decide to wander away from the downtown area. We rented bikes with tagalongs that the kids rode in. We rode the circumference of the island on Highway 185. It’s only accessible via bicycle, foot or horse. This was a wonderful way to see the whole island and get away from the droves of tourists that are on foot in the main shopping and eating district. I’m guessing the majority of visitors don’t leave that main area.
The island ended our time in the U.P. But first we had to make one quick pit stop. I’m saving that for its own post.