INTRO: Friday - June 11th

After 27 years of blood, sweat and tears - and some fun and good times, Betsy retired from the Monongalia County School System on June the 9th, 2010.

To celebrate the event we will be leaving, in just a few short moments, for at least two weeks of travel to one of our favorite places: The Upper Peninsula of Michigan

It was to the UP Betsy and I would flee the big city of Cleveland where she then worked some 30+ years ago. We would spend quiet weekends and more during our most memorable of courtships.

Over the years we made numerous trips to the UP. But, time slipped by and we now find it has been many years since we have seen the majestic cliffs of the Lake Superior shoreline or the flowers of the Dwarf Cornell spread out like a carpet before us.

It has now been many years since Betsy and I have been off on a long trip together. Readied with all the toys and a new tent we shall now be on our way and see what happens next. We hope you will join us through the trip reports sent out - although they may be more infrequent than usual do to limited Internet access in "Da Yooper". See you then!!! ~ Mike
(NOTE: The date entries are linked to my travelogue with photos. ~ mb)


The Journal Of Elizabeth Beal Breiding: 3 weeks in Michigan

Friday, June 11

The first day of our first big vacation in a long time. In some ways, I´d like to stay home after all the hubbub of finishing this school year and celebrating my retirement, but in the long run, I think getting out on a big adventure is what I need. After all, I have the rest of my life to get organized!

After stuffing the car to the gills, we pulled out of the driveway about 7:30 and shut the gate behind us. The morning was sunny and beautiful, with mist hanging in the valleys. Mike´s plan was to take back roads, so we started out on WV 7 west and wound our way across Ohio. I love this kind of travel, on little back roads and through small towns where real people live. I love to see the beautiful and quaint old houses and think about which ones I would like to live in.

One cool thing we saw on a back road in Ohio was a little shed labeled “Washy House’ with old wash tubs of all shapes and sizes hanging all over it.

It takes us a long time to do the back road thing, and as we finally streaked across OH 613 toward Ft. Wayne, it was late afternoon. We approached New Haven, IN with confidence, knowing that I knew exactly how to get from there to Daddy´s. But the “Canal Days’ street fair blocked the main streets in New Haven and getting to Golden Years was a fiasco!!!

But all ended well with a great dinner with Char and Joe out at their place. End of day !!

Day 2: Saturday - June 12th

We spent last night in the little guest apt. at Golden Years across the porch from Daddy. Mike got up early to do his “day one web page’ and I eventually got up and wrote in my journal. Finally at about 9:45 we hit the road and headed upI 69 to Michigan. At first everything looked pretty industrial and commercial, but that gave way to a less populated area. After stopping at the Michigan Welcome Center (on I 69) to gather info, we once again ventured out to the side roads.

There was one area around Allen that was absolutely stuffed with Antique places. Char and I will have to take a road trip together sometime to check it out!

 We stopped at a little roadside park with nice water features. We also found mosquitoes!

Around lunch time, we stopped at a beautiful old cemetery (Riverside). Very peaceful with ancient stones, a huge catalpa tree in bloom and an old stone house that served as an office for the cemetery.

We finally arrived at the Lakeside Motel and Cottages in Harrison on Budd Lake. We cracked open two cold Coronas and sat in a wooden swing overlooking the water. Although it had been hot and humid earlier in the day, there was quite a cool breeze coming in from the lake and I dug out my fleece jacket. Blue lipped kids still played in the water at the little beach.
We got pizza, ice and beer and turned in.

Day 3: Sunday, June 13th

We awoke to wind blown mist across the water and the call of a loon somewhere on the lake. Very idyllic. We´re now sitting, and working on our journals with quiet and coffee as companions. Don´t know if we´ll bike today as we had planned, but we found a 5 mile hiking loop and I may even get out in the kayak.

Later . . . . .  Mike´s busy with his journal so I got my kayak down off the car and took a long paddle around the lake. At one point I was very close to a pair of loons who were calling and calling. In another place I saw orioles flitting around a tree. I saw many nice houses and very few humans (just fine with me) and not a single motor boat of any sort. Saw two guys fishing from kayaks. A very enjoyable paddle!

After Mike finished his computer/journal work, we got ready to hike the Green Pine Pathway . We followed our back roads map and only got lost once. I went into a little grocery store to ask directions and a customer who lived near where we were headed had us follow him back and actually took us right to the parking lot.

The first part of the trail wasn´t that nice, having been timbered and grown up just a few years, but then we got into a more mature area. There were seas of bracken fern and we found sweet fern which smelled wonderful when crushed.

Our hike was to be a 5 mile double loop, but when we got into the second loop, a beat up laminated paper sign announced that the trail ahead was closed due to beaver activity. But not being able to tell how old or official the sign was, we continued down the trail. Sure enough, after awhile the trail became extremely squishy and we lost our blue blazes. So we doubled back and picked up the second half of the first loop and got back  to the car, figuring we had done about 3 miles.

I was extremely glad I had worn my hat as it made the deer flies bearable. Mosquitoes not too bad as long as you didn´t stand still for awhile.

We drove to the other end of the trail where there was a lake and a campground. I expected it to be very developed, but it was not so at all – one site filled in the small campground with a rowboat or a canoe in the distance on the lake. We hiked the one mile loop there and were glad to get to the end as it was very mosquitoey and we had left the bug juice behind in the car.

Back at the motel I decided to take a swim. The water was so pleasant!  I stayed in for quite awhile and wished I had taken my noodle which I keep in the kayak, so I could hang out in the water.

After my swim, I sat in one of their chairs on the beach. The air temp was perfect and the lake was calm and quiet – so idyllic!  I went up to get a beer, binocs and bird book and returned to the beach. A green heron was working the shore line, so funny yet elegant looking with his stripy front and retractable neck. Canada geese and their half grown still downy goslings floated by.

Still couldn´t identify those pesky gulls, but I got a cliff swallow, bringing our bird list to 50. What a great place to hang our.

For supper we went to a little bar and grill down the road called Sticks. It was obviously populated by the locals who knew each other and talked back and forth. We sat at the bar and I enjoyed my fish basket which I was afraid might be fish sticks, but it was deliciously tender and tasty fried Pollock and French fries they didn´t charge me for. Unfortunately I ate them!  Not sure how Mike´s French Dip was. He said it was “interesting’.

Then back to the room to read, computer and watch TV. I´ve got to get myself moving after supper so I´m ready to go to sleep at bedtime and don´t toss and turn so much. I know it drives Mike nuts and leaves him sleepless.

Day 4: Monday, June 14th

It rained overnight. Mike and I both worked on journal/computers, then I went out in my kayak again. Kayaking – my very favorite thing to do. I decided that if I were to name my boat, I would call her Serenity. I saw the pair of loons again and after looking at them through my binocs, I saw that the bump in the water with them I had noticed the day before was indeed a baby. I also realized that the reason they were calling so frequently yesterday was probably because I was getting too close to them.

Also saw several great blue herons. One human playing with a dog. We waved!  Another great paddle!

We then packed up the car, did a little light grocery shopping and headed north for what was to be our first night of camping in the U.P.

Right before crossing the Bridge, we heard the clear song of the white throated sparrow – our first encounter with that bird on our trip and it seemed to be a good omen for the days to come.

We turned left onto Rt. 2 and headed west. We were looking for The Queen´s Pasties, but it may be a thing of the past. (pun intended)  We settled on Lethoe's Pasties and it was a good choice – hot, flaky and delicious.

As the clock ticked, we talked about trying to find a campground and finally decided it would be better to spend one more night in a motel and start fresh in the morning. As we looked for a motel in Manistique, we noticed a Rangers´ Station and decided we should stop and see if we could get some campground info. It was good we did!!!  We found that all campsites have to be reserved ahead of time. Little books give you a description of the sites and you chooses and pay your money. No more pulling into a campground, checking out the sites, filling out the form and dropping it into the tube along with your money.

So with some help from them, we chose what they call dispersed camping – a place called East Lake with 3 sites, no water, a pit toilet and “excellent’ swimming from our side. We´ll be there for three nights  ($24.00 total)

Next we chose our motel – the Star - $54.00 a night (and that includes tax for a large room with two queens, a fridge and a lake view. Very nice!

We stowed our stuff, then headed to Palms Book State Park, a must-see suggested by George Dasher. And indeed it was!  A short walk from the near empty parking lot took us to a large karst spring. A covered “self propelled’ cable car took us out over the spring and we could look down to the depths through a window in the bottom of the car/boat (?) and see the water spurting through the sand on the bottom. It was amazing!  We then noticed dozens of pink lady´s slippers on the bank and went to check them out. Amazingly lovely.

Dinner at Marley´s, an old bar in Manistique. We both had Greek Chicken salad.  Then back to the Star and relaxation.

Forgot to mention that we drove by a place selling bird baths, garden statuary, etc., and it was called “Birdbath and Beyond’!  What a hoot!

Also, when we were checking out the lady´s slippers at Palms Book, we heard a black throated green warbler and a winter wren!

Day 5: Tuesday, June 15th

It was raining when I awoke in our motel room in Manistique. Mike was working on his computer journal which he started the night before and I did my journal entry for yesterday. A very relaxed start to our morning, but we finally stirred ourselves to pack up and head to our campsite at East Lake, in the west section of Hiawatha National Forest.

We found it to be a very nice site, off by itself with a little stretch of beach.

Since it was raining lightly, we decided to drop the boats and bikes and pitch the tent later. We then headed north on 94.

We decided not to do the 9 mile Chapel Loop at Pictured Rocks with the iffy weather. Instead we settled on the approx 5 mile loop to Mosquito Falls, the beach and back.

In the parking lot at the trailhead, we feasted on PB and J, then headed out. It was a pretty hike into the woods although the trails were waterlogged.

Mosquito Falls was beautiful  - not just one falls, but a continuing set of them, cascading and churning as they fell. When we reached the beach and saw Lake Superior stretching into the distance, I thought again of my affinity with water. Because I´m a water sign?  I never really believed in that, but I do wonder why people seem drawn to various habitats.

By this time the rain had picked up again and our trip back was not so pleasant as the one out, and by the time we reached the car, we were muddy and waterlogged.

A pause in the rain made us hope that the worst was over. We were able to set up the tent and make ourselves a big salad, which we ate in our new screened in porch. How marvelous to sit in comfort and watch the mosquitoes hover outside the screen!

The rain held off enough for me to take a paddle around the lake. Then we retired early to break in the tent.

Day 6: Wednesday, June 16th

It rained heavily overnight and we woke to more rain, gloomy skies and a series of fiascoes.

First, we had neglected to close up the screens on our “porch’ thinking that we´d like the ventilation and that it wouldn´t matter if our porch got slightly wet. Wrong!!! The porch was soaked as were all our personal items we had left there including Mike´s hiking boots, and my book satchel which dripped water as Mike picked it up. My books were wet, one paperback so completely waterlogged that I just threw it away.

We mopped out the porch with a hand towel which we wrung out over and over and finally got it relatively dry. We decided that cooking breakfast in the rain would suck, so we hastily threw this and that into the car and headed up the road to Shingleton where we found a pricey but fairly good breakfast including numerous cups of good hot coffee.

With our feathers slightly less ruffled, we returned to the car and heading to Munising. Seeing a public library, we decided to stop, but as it was not yet open, we sat in the car and wrote out postcards. Then into the library to use their computers to get some addresses and check our mail.

We walked around town in the light rain looking for a post office with no luck. We did encounter a nice café/bookstore which we wandered about in. We then opted to drop our postcards in a mailbox outside city hall.

As we thought about where to hike for the day, we realized we had left our rain gear back in the tent!  Rather than drive all the way back and all the way to Munising again, we decided to make the best of it and go ahead and hike and hope for the rain to remain light.

We opted for the two mile Songbird Trail west of Munising. Oops, our binocs were back in the tent. Oh well, let´s do it anyway. We arrived only to find they were paving the access road and parking lot. OK, what next?  The Bruno Run Loop looked like a good choice. 8.6 miles, but Mike was willing to try it on his sore feet. After much direction/navigational bickering, we arrived at the trailhead. Now to chow down on PB&J before the hike . . . .oops, the bread and PB&J were back at the campsite!  So it was yogurt, sausage and various other adds and ends for lunch. Then after about 45 minutes of getting organized and looking for things that we left back at the campsite, we were finally able to set out on our hike.

And here´s where our day did a turnaround. The weather turned sunny and breezy. The hike was spectacular with ferny, sun dappled woods, rushing rivers, peaceful lakes and picture postcard scenery wherever you looked. This was all interspersed with the song of the hermit thrush!

We ended our hike tired, but happy and were amazed to find that it was now 7:35 p.m., and by the time we neared our campsite it was 8:30. Did we want to cook!  Ha ha, what a question!  We headed up the road to Boot Lake Bar and Grill where we ate, drank and watched In Cold Blood on their big screen TV.

Back at the campsite, we quickly stowed stuff, crawled into the tent and went to sleep to the song of multiple whippoorwills.

Day 7: Thursday, June 17th

I woke up and looked out to see Mike sitting on the beach in a cloud of fog.  You couldn’t see the opposite shore or even the water. But that soon began to clear off and turn into a crystal clear, blue skied sunny day.

We did a lot of wonderful relaxing at the campsite all morning. I paddled around the lake, Mike took a snooze in the tent, I swam, Mike dunked and we both sunned on the beach. As we sat on our blanket on the sand, we realized the birds circling overhead were bald eagles!  The white head and tail were clearly visible even without the binocs!

We were out of the campsite by 1:00 and headed north to Miners Castle, part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Too many people at the overlook, so we headed east on the Lakeshore Trail.

After hiking just a short distance we began hearing the shrieks of ravens, louder and louder as we got closer. There were about 5 ravens in the trees there just shrieking at each other and they looked huge. We never knew what was really going on, but it looked like 4 of them were trying to chase off the other one. Who knows the ins and outs of raven dynamics.

We saw a beautiful river, hiked down to the beach of Superior and saw the greens, blues and turquoises of the Pictured Rocks waters – an unforgettable almost unbelievable sight! Unfortunately, the flies were pretty bad and made hiking less pleasant than it could have been.

On our way back we ran into a couple who were bird watching and struck up a conversation with them. They were Larry and Lucy Smith from Missouri and were a very interesting couple. In fact before we parted we got an invitation to visit and stay with them. They were bird watchers by sight and we are more bird watchers by sound so it was interesting to compare notes with them. I heard a Swainson’s thrush and they spotted it. We both heard an unidentified bird, they spotted it and from their description we decided it was a Blackburnian warbler.

We got back to the campsite and made salad and beef stew and washed it down with beer. We noticed that the lake was not all our own anymore. Site one was occupied and the two guys were out in their boat fishing. Oh well  - still a spectacular site.

Mike got up in the middle of the night – saw two shooting stars and much lightning activity but we got no rain.

The end of another good day.

Day 8: Friday, June 18th

Breezy and cloudy and 65 degrees overnight. It soon cleared to another glorious day. I swam again. Mike made bacon and eggs

We left the campsite around 10:00 and headed down to Manistique where we paid the Forest Service for our final night of camping (Fri) and gassed up. Then we headed down the coast (west) on the little peninsula – destination Fayette State Park.

The Lake Michigan shoreline looked almost like the ocean with rolling white capped waves beating the shore with a lovely stiff breeze accompanying them.

The little bay road we had turned down was dotted with large vacation homes, most of which seemed to be unoccupied. We stopped and made pb and j sandwiches and ate them at a picnic table in front of an empty beach house. We peeked in the doors of the house and it was a great place – obviously still being worked on inside, but the owners had made it cozy looking with two old overstuffed chairs covered with quilts facing the view.

As we continued to Fayette, we saw signs for a local pottery and tile shop and decided to stop in. What beautiful stuff they had, incorporating nature themes with lots of leaves and trees. Also handmade jewelry and of course I could not leave without a pair of earrings!

Fayette State Park was the site of a town built around the iron industry back in the late 1800s. They used the on site limestone for their buildings and also made charcoal on site to fuel the huge iron furnaces. The displays in the various buildings of the community really brought to life the hardship and daily routines of the people who lived there. Good place to visit – more beautiful views and a Mackinaw Island fudge ice cream cone at the end!

We then headed inland to check out some other dispersed camping sites for future use.  The one at Carr Lake looked the most promising – one campsite above the lake with steps down to the water and no motor boat access.

By the time we got back to Manistique it was about 6:30. We shopped at Jack´s for more beer and provisions. (Bag of apples $4.35!!)

Our beautiful camp site was waiting for us. We made a big salad and ate facing the lake, soaking up the evening breeze and sunshine. A pair of sandhill cranes flew over, honking (or whatever they do) to announce their presence. We reluctantly left all the splendor of the evening to retire to the tent.

Day 9: Saturday, June 19th

Our last morning at our wonderful campsite. Absolute serenity with a loon calling goodbye.

Now, down to business. It was quite a procedure to break camp!  We took the fly off the tent and spread it out to dry. Then Mike took everything out of the car to reorganize while I packed up the bedding and pads from the tent. We then collapsed the tent and stowed it, repacked the car, got the boats back up on top and the bikes on the back. All this was accomplished with clouds of gnats hovering around our heads. I certainly got my share of bites.

Finally we were ready to be on our way. We did some beautiful back roads to begin with and as straight forward as they looked on the map, we had our moments of confusion on these sometimes unmarked byways. At one point we encountered a guy in an old vanigan stopped pretty much in the center of an intersection. We pulled over to him and with an embarrassed smile on his face he said  “One of those confusing forest service intersections!’  Wonder where he ended up!

We stopped at Laughing Whitefish Falls St. Park to hike the 3.4 miles that included the falls plus a jaunt on a spur of the North Country trail to another little falls. Very nice hike with lots of ferns and a winter wren serenading us.

We then moved on towards Marquette, looking for a motel. Nothing in Marquette except the big name chains planted amidst MacDonalds, Targets and Beef-a-Roos!  After more miles and no hits, we headed up to the peninsula coast to L´Anse and Baraga. We checked out a couple of “maybes’ but were glad we had held out when we rounded the corner and say Carla’s Restaurant and Lakeshore Motel tucked along the side of the road directly across from the Keweenaw Bay. $52.00 a night for a room with two beds, a small fridge and a “$1,000 000 view of Lake Superior’. The restaurant also served drinks, a must for us, and the fish “were in Keweenaw Bay yesterday’. I had trout and Mike had whitefish – both delicious!  We sat outside to eat and our waitress (Carla) said we could sit there and she could serve us drinks, but we would have to come in to get our food and bring it back outside ourselves since we were sitting in a smoking area and by law they weren´t allowed to “serve’ food in a smoking section. However, she relented and brought our good out to us.

We took beers out to the lounge chairs over the bank on the other side of the road directly on the water. Truly a $1,000,000 view!

We retired to books and bed.

Day 10: Sunday, June 20th

Slept well and any traffic noise didn´t bother me. Mike was up early to catch the sunrise – I rolled out somewhat later to a beautiful sunny, breezy morning. While Mike worked on his web page, I finished my journal entry for Saturday, then I put on my bathing suit and headed over to the lounge chairs below the road with book and binoculars. I scrambled over the rocks and waded into the clear, shallow water. I walked out far enough to dunk and decided that was all I was going to do because it was COLD!

Sat out on a lounge chair warming up in the delicious sun and Make came over with his breakfast cereal to join me. Then as he continued to work on his journal, I puttered around making beds, reorganizing my duffel, reading some more in the sun, etc. until he was ready to head out.

Today we were heading to Tibbet Falls on the Sturgeon River, hiking in to an old camping shelter. We stood on the bridge above the trailhead eating some lunch before we started hiking. We enjoyed the view of the river with a common merganser paddling about.

We hiked in with the river gurgling and rushing along to our left. The woods was not as pretty as some we had been in, but the river made up for that.

We came upon a great skinny dipping spot and marked it in our minds for the return trip.

Tibbet Falls, when we came to them, were a spread out series of rock ledges extending across the river. Finally all the water channeled into one foaming, churning trough about 10 feet across. After that the river became more sedate.

As we headed on toward the shelter, the trail turned from the river into marsh lands and became more vegetated and steamy. We pushed on, consulting the guide book several times, afraid that we had passed our target. But finally we came upon what must have been the shelter. From the scarred and charred trees, we determined that there must have been a fire.

We didn´t tarry long and were soon headed back, sweating and thinking of our skinny dipping site waiting for us in the distance.

Yep, it was right where we left it and just as cool, breezy and inviting as we remembered. We peeled off our clothes and slithered in – aaaahh!!

Back in the car, we were surprised to see that it was 4:30 already. Time flies when you´re having fun!

Forget to mention that we stopped briefly to look around in Alberta – one of the little “village industries’ started by Henry Ford. The building with the chute that we had seen from the road was actually a sawmill.

On our way back to the Lakeshore Motel, we stopped in L´anse at Pat´s IGA for salad, beer, bread and ice. Got back to the motel for our “make your own dinner’, journals, books and bed. Our second night as the only patrons of this nice little place with the $1,000,000 view!

Day 11: Monday, June 21st

First day of summer – another beautiful morning.

I finished my journal entry for the day as Mike worked on finishing his web page. Then we got organized and started up the coast on Rt. 41. We stopped in downtown Houghton and walked around a bit. Nice river front and lift bridge.

We then took 203 out towards the coast and back in to stop at Calumet – a very funky little town with some great old stone buildings. We stopped at a little pizza shop where, luckily for us, their Monday special was pasties. Two nice and hot $5 each – we got them to go.

We drove on up the coast and stopped at a beach picnic table to eat our pasties with beer.

At Eagle Harbor we found our next wonderful little motel, The Shoreline Motel, a cozy-funky little place right on the quiet harbor beach, with loads of old Adirondack chairs. The houses along the road looked mostly empty, waiting for their July and August renters. The harbor beach was scattered with 4 or 5 people. We drove on up to Copper Harbor, but it was busier and more commercial, so we drove back down to the Shoreline and decided our day´s exploration was at an end.

I dunked in the cold water and fell asleep on the beach. We sat in those lovely old chairs, drinking beer and enjoying the quiet and the harbor view. Pam, the other person staying at the motel, came out and introduced herself and gave us much health info on something called goji – a drink of green tea with the amazing power of reawakening all your glands.

We walked up the road to the Eagle Harbor Inn for a delicious dinner of char broiled Lake Trout. Then we ended our day lazing and reading and a gentle rain began to fall as we turned out the lights.

(Nidia Schmidt, hotel owner, told me this year is the 40th anniversary of the motel.)

Day 12: Tuesday, June 22nd

What a restful night we had, listening to the gentle slap of waves on the shore and the distant clang of bell buoys. A muffled fog horn interrupted now and then.

The day started clear and sunny, but soon became cloudy and cool. We set off for Estevant Pines, stopping at the general store first for postcards and directions. What a great woods and trail!  Many uncut “big trees’ on this lollipop trail. And a toad that Mike got some great pictures of.

On our way back to the car we ran into a man working on the trail. It turned out he was a retired professional photographer doing volunteer trail work. We talked with him for about a half hour and learned lots of interesting little tidbits of info about the area. He told us about some hikes in the area and we thought we might give one of them a try later.

As we drove off down the woods road in search of Keweenaw Mtn. Lodge, we saw a small bear in the road. What a treat. He quickly ran off.

Keweenaw Lodge and cabins were built by the WPA. Very beautiful in and out, with old stonework chimneys. We ran into Pam again from our motel. She is a kooky school social worker who´s into all sorts of strange health stuff, but interesting.

After lunch at the lodge, we came back to Copper Harbor to look around at the Patchword Bookstore and Laughing Lion gift shop. Then back to the motel where I had a beer and read. Not a good idea – it really knocked me out.

By 6:00 it had cleared into a delightful evening and Mike asked if I wanted to take a hike. He suggested the hike to Mt. Baldy that the guy at Estevant Pines had told us about. It started just a short way from our motel.

The hike started uphill and sandy, then became uphill and rocky. As we hiked along, I looked down the trail and saw . . . .a large black bear coming down the trail towards us!  I said “Oh my god!  Mike turn around!’  Mike saw the bear, made noise and the bear ran. Yikes!  What an encounter:  We were careful to sing and talk after that.

We were sweaty and hot by the time we got to the top of Mt. Baldy. What a wonderful view was spread out before us – forests and lakeshore and breezes cooling our sweat soaked bodies. Definitely worth the climb.

Mike dropped me off at the motel and went to order pizza from the Eagle Harbor Inn. By now it was after 9:00 p.m.. A couple from Seattle had arrived at the hotel. She planned to make some genealogy contacts in the area to find out more about her great grandmother who got married at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

By 10:00 p.m. we were sitting in Adirondack chairs, watching the bay and eating our pizza. We sure hated to turn in for the evening!

Day 13: Wednesday, June 23nd

We woke again to the quiet, the bell buoy, and foghorn. I sat outside with my coffee and soaked in the calm. Pam came out and sang Happy Birthday to me, told me about rebirth and “youthing’. She is a kook, but a nice one.

We organized and packed up and set off down the coast once again. We had planned to stay in the Porkies at Union Bay Campground that night, but Mike wanted to get caught up on his web pages so we decided to stay at a motel in Houghton instead. Pam had suggested the Super 8 – upstairs corner room facing the river. We found it, but their internet was down, so no use staying there since that was our prime motive for the motel stay.

So we stopped at several other places to enquire as to rates and internet access and ended up at the Downtowner – noisy but with our own balcony and picnic table and a great view of the lift bridge.

We settled in and Mike got to computering – I to relaxing. It misted and rained off and on. So just as well that we were in a dry, cozy hotel instead of setting up our tent in the Porkies.

I forgot to mention the cats. In the small cluttered office there were five cats, most of them huge, with the largest weighing in at 30 pounds!  They were friendly and agreeable to petting, so we got our cat fix.

We took a break to visit the “Jolly Buddha Café’ just across the street and found (as we had been told) that it was also a used bookstore – so much so as to be a bit mind boggling. I ended up with two – one of them The Novel by James Mitchner. Then back to the room for more relaxing and computering.

Later I went out again. I went in little shops and browsed, mailed postcards, made a copy of my journal as requested by Mike and found a place to go for my birthday dinner – more on that later.

When I got back to the room, Mike was winding thing up. We cleaned up and changed clothes and set out for dinner. We walked along the river trail and came upon the library – one of the places Pam had suggested we see. Right on the river – they incorporated a boat theme in their furnishings – also tying in beautiful old wood bookshelves and furnishings from the original Carnegie Library. What a beautiful, open, airy, inviting place!  I bought two used hardcovers for $1.00.

Then on to our dinner destination called . . . The Library! – a brewpub in a beautiful old building that was once a morgue.

I must say we stuffed ourselves. Mike started out with a Keweenaw Gold beer, later switching to Whiteout Wheat, while I had a 5 beer sampler, then decided on a pint of Rabbit Run Brown. Good beer – I liked all the ones I tried. We shared an appetizer of tender steamed mussels, sopping up the juice with bread. Mike ordered shrimp and scallop enchiladas and I had crab and lobster ravioli – both dishes very rich. Then the restaurant threw in for my birthday a grasshopper – really a delicious crème de menthe milkshake and of course I finished it off. I shudder to think how many calories we consumed. Oh well, you only turn 60 once!

Then we stumbled back to the motel room for great birthday sex. (That´s for my journal only, Mike!  No putting it on the web!)

Day 14: Thursday, June 24th

After waking, coffeeing, journaling and packing up, we walked down the street to the PO for postcard stamps and stopped on the way back at Victoria´s Café for breakfast. $2.79 for coffee, two eggs, homemade toast and seasoned potatoes – our kind of price!  Then we headed for the Porkies.

Beautiful Lake and beach views along the way!

As we pulled into Union Bay Campground and began to look for a site, I began to get a bad feeling that this was not a good idea for us.

Of course, all the on-the-lake sites were occupied. We managed to find a not too objectionable site and got things set up. As we did, a pop-up moved in across the “street’ and began to set up with kids and a dog. More people stopped by to visit with them – another dog – barking. Big RVs rumbled by looking for sites. Hmmmmm . . . . .We closed up the tent, got in the car and headed for the park visitor´s center in quest of alternative camping. They told us there was dispersed camping in the Ottawa National Forest, but they didn´t know much about it. So armed with a map, we headed south for a look-see. On the way, Mike called the forest ranger folk to confirm some of the little campsites we had found on the map.

At Robbin´s Pond we spoke with an old guy set up there with his two dogs. He pointed out some other places on the map that we might try.

At that point, around 4:30 in the afternoon, we decided to go back up to Union Bay and break camp, try to get our money back, stay over in a motel and find a camp site in the morning. We found a little motel (Lake Gogebic Motel) and booked a room.

As we broke camp, we knew we had made a good decision. The state park family campground d will not work for us. Too crowded, too noisy. And by the way – they did refund our money.

Had salad and beer at the motel. Talked some to the owner who is trying to sell. He said people want to come up to the UP and have their playground, but they don´t think about the fact that the residents have to make a living in non tourist season.

So – our day was not spent in fun or hiking – but we learned a valuable lesson!

Day 15: Friday, June 25th

It had rained overnight, but the morning was bright and breezy. We had our cereal, packed up and headed to Norene´s grocery store across the street for peanut butter. Had to get the yucky kind, but I guess we´ll survive.

Now off to set up the tent in our woodland retreat. Right on the way I noticed a little lake called Steusser Lake with a “boat launch’ icon on the map. We stopped to see about the possibility of camping there – and it would have been a great site, another sandy beach with great swimming - but there were “No Camping’ signs. We even called the ranger to check and they said no.

So on to Robbin´s Pond. We got set up, then made pb and js and headed down the road for a hike. We hiked out to a T in the road and back, about a 6 mile round trip. Very ferny and pretty. It started to rain a bit on our way back.

We had talked several times now with the guy at the next campsite. At 71 he is now a homeless vagabond, but plans to settle in this area in the next year. Quite a pleasant and interesting guy.

We relaxed in the tent, went up to Steusser Lake for a swim, Dined on salad and Dinty Moore Stew, took another short walk, then climbed into the tent for books and bed.

Day 16: Saturday, June 26th

Mike made scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, then we got our things together and headed for our 6 mike hike just north of Bergland. Another of Eric Hansen´s hikes, this one was a loop with three sides – two of them made up of the North Country Trail and the 3rd was the Hack Trail where they used to go in to release peregrine falcons. Hansen said the Hack Trail was thin but marked with white vertical blazes. That would make up the last two miles of our hike. The trail was up and down through very pretty woods. Lots of fungi lined the trails – yellow, orange, red, russet, coral fungus, mushrooms, tree fungus – fantastic. We heard the veery, the Swainson´s thrush and the hermit thrush as we hiked along.

At one point two parent birds became very agitated (hermit thrushes?) and did the old broken wing act.

Forgot to mention that on the way to the hike, along Choate Road, we saw two sandhill cranes in the field. Very cool!

Our hike crossed several streams and finally led up to some views along the escarpment. Rolling, wooded hills, a sliver of Lake Gogebic, at one point we could see the Porkies in the distance. We hiked through some very swampy places where Mike sank in his darn toughs and chaco´s

Unfortunately, when we got to the point where the Hack Trail was supposed to be, we couldn´t find it and finally admitted to ourselves that we would have to backtrack our original 4 miles – now making it an eight mile hike. Whew!

Those last few miles were rough and I sometimes thought I couldn´t make one more hill, but of course we had to, so we did!  We made it back to the car where we peeled off clothes and wiped off sweat.

We had thought about swimming at Bergland in the city park but the lake smelled and was pretty foul looking so we opted to wait for Steusser Lake which was clean, cool and completely vacant, so we could skinny dip again.

On the way back to our camping spot we saw bobolinks in the field along Choate Road,  What a bonus to see those beautiful birds.

After a supper of salad, canned chili and beer we went to talk to our neighbor for awhile. Keith Warfsomething. Then books and bed where we were lulled to sleep by frogs, whip-poor-wills and showers.

Day 17: Sunday, June 27th

This was the day we planned to do the 6+ mile Escarpment Trail at Lake of the Clouds, but after yesterday´s long hike we knew that wasn´t going to happen, so we planned on doing an out and back on a part of that trail.

We stopped at Antonio´s in Bergland for breakfast and each had their ‘Mini Breakfast’ – one egg, hash browns, 2 sausage or bacon and 2 slices of toast for $3.99, then up to the visitors center and out to our spur off the escarpment trail. It was warm and humid and we were soon sweating with the climb, although nothing like yesterday.

Then we came out on the first escarpment!  Ah – the breeze – Ah – the view!  Beautiful Lake of the Clouds and its tributary.. What a sight!  We sat and enjoyed it all and twice again at the next two escapements, then turned and made our way back to the car.

Then we stopped at the beach along Lake Superior. Mike rested in the car while I barefooted it along the beach, picking up stones. Another nice walk.

We swam again at Steusser Lake (for the last time) then back to the campground.

A man had set up in the 3rd  camp site with the following bumper stickers on his car:  “Veterans for Bush’ and  ?   Mike said the guy had set up his tent and left screens and everything wide open. Mike thought about saying a word of caution about mosquitoes, then thought about those bumper stickers and decided not to.

Mike started the spaghetti and we were eating our salad when Keith came over to talk. We thought we night never get to the second part of our dinner, but he was funny and interesting – talked all about his trips to Europe and his various jobs.

Forgot to mention that we saw the bobolinks in the same place along Choate Road as yesterday and this time I had my binoculars at the ready. What a beautiful, talkative bird. Two of them were sitting on opposing fence posts. They kept flying off and circling back to the same place again. Then Mike spotted a purple martin on the wire – a new one for our trip list.

Another good day!

Also wanted to mention that the skies have been incredible the past few days, with big puffy clouds from white to stormy looking.

Day 18: Monday, June 28th

We had packed up as much as possible last night, so if it rained overnight we wouldn´t be stuck with a bunch of wet stuff to stow.

It didn´t rain, but looked very threatening when we arose. So we hurriedly packed the tent and were ready to leave by about 7:30. We stopped to say goodbye to Keith and Mike took a picture of him and his dogs.

We set off down 45 to 2 East – destination Manistique. At one point we made a pit stop on a snow mobile trail and talked with a guy on a 4-wheeler who was on a beer run. We talked with him awhile and it was interesting to hear his views on conservation of resources, population, etc. Just goes to show you that not every redneck is a redneck!

As we were driving along, we noticed a large dragon made out of old junk standing next to a funky little building. We stopped to take pictures and found all kinds of “junk sculptures’ clustered around the building. They were great and Mike took lots of pictures.

It took us about 5 hours to get to Manistique – longer than we had thought. We were going to stay at the Star Motel where we stayed on our incoming trip, but their internet was down so we went across the street to the Colonial Motel and got a nice big room with a king bed and wifi for $52.00

We brought in everything from the car so we could get organized for our next round of camping, Mike set up his computer and I went to do laundry, then stopped on the way back at Jack´s to get some beer and wine.

By now it had turned into a cool, sunny, breezy day. There was a great board walk along the beach across from our motel and we went for a short walk along it.

We drove downtown to dinner at Marley´s again. The bitchy woman behind the bar from the last time was not there, so we sat at the bar again to enjoy our dinner.

Then home for a shower (ahhh!) postcards, computer, books and bed.

Day 19: Tuesday, June 29th

A clear, crisp, beautiful morning. We went to town and had breakfast at the Cedar Street Café, then Mike came back to work on his web pages and I to take a walk to town for some poking around.

I took the two mike beach walk which started at our motel and ended downtown – a great walk that went quickly.

I started at Christopher´s Antiques and worked my way down the street. Lots of pretty and interesting things, but nothing that I couldn´t live without – especially when I would pick up a mug, tile, etc. with a beautiful North woods scene or motif and turn it over to find out that it was made in China!  Thanks to Mike for pointing that out.

Stopped at the “family restaurant:for a coney dog. Overly upbeat manager/chef kept calling me honey and dear – Yuck!  That was a mistake!

On the walk home I stopped and sat on the beach for awhile. Gorgeous!

Mike had finished two days of his online journal.

Later on we went in search of dinner. At my suggestion, we took a long walk across the river to Trader´s Point to try out the Upper Crush Café and Deli. Closed!  Back to the Cedar Street Café where we had a ho-hum dinner.

Mike packed up as much of the car as possible while I went on the Internet to search out some campgrounds to check out tomorrow

Lights out.

Day 20: Wednesday, June 30th

Can´t believe it´s the end of June already. On a normal school year, I would be bemoaning the fact that once June was over, it seemed like the rest of the summer just disappeared. Not this year!

In the morning Mike finished up another web page and I went grocery shopping. We rolled out of Manistique just after 10:00. We had enjoyed Manistique, especially the beach walk and the gorgeous shoreline, but it was nice to be heading away from the hustle and bustle, especially with Manistique´s 150th birthday coming up this weekend along with 4th of July.

Our plan was to take 2 east to 77, up 77 to 28 east, then over to Newberry where we would check out some camp sites. We drove by one last “Vote for Judge Nebel’ sign without getting a photo – sorry Terry.

The beautiful skies we had been enjoying were still with us along with plenty of sunshine. Just before we got to M123 up to Newberry, we saw Co. Rd. 405 which headed up to our first campground. “Natalie’ was a 12 site state forest campground with pit toilets and water. We were skeptical that we would want to stay there, since it was fairly close to Newberry and also had a boat launch, but we decided to look at it, since were driving right by.

The sites were nicely wooded and completely unoccupied and when we saw site 11, we were pretty sure we had found our place. The site looked out on large swaths of cat tails and grasses interspersed with slices of blue water and rimmed with conifers. A stiff breeze blew in on the sunny campsite. Wow!!

All the state forest campgrounds around here seemed to have their nightly fee set at $15,. And though that seemed high to us after $8 at Eastlake and $0 at Robbins Pond, we really couldn´t complain. The place was worth it!

We managed to set up the tent – no small feat with the strong breeze - and by about 2:00 we were ready to go explore Newberry.

Forgot to mention that while we were setting up the tent, Mike said “Your phone is ringing!’  That´s when we discovered that we had phone service at our campsite!  I´m sure we´ll be making lots of calls.

We decided Newberry must be the seat of Luce County – lots of county agencies. Also a lot of motels! – and open ones!  (although we also saw some obviously long closed ones, too.)  A nice little town.

We say a sign for Hamilton Lake Nature Trail at the edge of town and decided to go check it our. The lake was beautiful. One other car there, but no people visible.

The trail headed off into the woods and looked to be about ¾ of a mile long, so off we went. A nice little trail, canopied with young trees – nothing special. Then we saw a trail marker for Martin Somebody´s Memorial Trail, so we took that out and back. Then we saw a trail marker for Zeller´s Meadows so we took that. It headed uphill and was very confusingly marked and sometimes we thought we might be going in circles, but we continued to follow it and finally emerged onto a nice graveled trail with benches along it. We followed it all the way to the edge of town where we had started our drive out to Hamilton Lake. It truly was a meadow trail, with vetch, yarrow, clover, daisies and other flowers lining it.

We took the road back to the car and then drove back to our campsite where we enjoyed happy hour and dinner along with the beautiful view!

Forgot to mention our wildlife. There are coots out in the grasses and cat tails. You can hear them “chuckling’ and they really do sound sometimes like they´re laughing. We can hear the sand hill cranes, too.

Day 21: Thursday, July 1st

When we got up it was 41 degrees!  We put on lots of warm clothes!  The good thing was that it took the mosquitoes awhile to warm up, too.

We decided we would take a Tahquamenon Falls hike today – the Giant Pines Trail - about 4.5 miles. The trail included the Upper Falls, and they were spectacular!  The rest of the trail was pretty, but nothing special. After we hiked, we drove to Paradise and then up to Whitefish Point. Just before Paradise, we stopped at a shop that sold smoked whitefish. I had wanted to take some back to Indiana, thinking that it would be vacuum packed like smoked salmon. But the woman said it´s not sold that way. So I ended up buying a chunk for Mike and me and we ate it for dinner.

We spent a short time at Whitefish Point looking around, then went to check out some camp sites that might be possibilities for another trip. This included a lot of driving around on sand roads out in the boonies!

We looked at Reed and Green Campground. It was unoccupied, but there was zero privacy between the sites with limited river access. High Bridges Campground the same. Perch Lake looked beautiful, but there were 30 sites – yikes!  No thanks!

Back at the campground we had dinner and then I took a great kayak paddle from our campsite. So quiet and bug free!  I was hoping to stumble across those chuckling coots, but no such luck.

Tent and bed.

Day 22: Friday, July 2nd

We both got up around 6:00. Mike first and he made coffee and took it up to the boat dock. I joined him up there for awhile – just a beautiful morning, warmer than yesterday.  We watched a great blue heron feeding along the shore and again saw and heard the birds I hadn´t yet identified. I later found out they were black terns – slim and graceful. As I walked back toward the tent, I heard the familiar coo of the mourning dove – such a calming sound.

I was going to write in my journal, but just couldn´t concentrate, so we packed up what we needed for the day and headed out to find breakfast  Prices at Timber Charlie´s were high for breakfast. Mike got the “Big Breakfast’ and shared some with me since I just got eggs and toast. While eating breakfast, we decided we would go down south of Gould City to do the Birch Point out and back hike – another of Eric Hansen´s hikes.

What a great choice!  It was different habitat than anything else we´d done so far being along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. We started at Gould Township Park, nine miles south of Gould City. The beach there was fantastic and completely deserted. We headed west into a fabulous hike. There was sandy lakeshore with white capped waves rolling into the beach around and among the rocks. At some places there were rocks to climb across, reminding me of Dolly Sods. The cool breeze, the colors of the water, the blue sky, the abundance of interesting plants and beautiful wild flowers made it a hike to remember and recommend to friends.

In some places there were large slabs of dolomite stone along the shore and down into the water. Plant life grew among the cracks. Seas of milkweed spread their fragrance on the breeze.

The hike book mentioned eagles and ospreys and we saw neither, but there were many gulls and another bird that captivated us. It would hover in the wind above the water, then plummet into the waves to catch its prey. Later we looked in the bird book and discovered it to be a common tern.

At every turn on the beach we were amazed by the scenery. What a hike!  I found a place to skinny dip right near Birch Point and the water temp was actually swimmable – it felt great!  I would have liked to go in deeper and actually swim,. but it was a little too wild to do that without risk.

We completed our hike and arrived back at our campsite, tired but happy. We set up our chairs, drank a beer and watched the cedar waxwings feed on service berry. Not another person in the whole campground but us.

We packed up as much as we could, then went to dinner at Zeller´s. I had grilled whitefish and it was tasty.

We came back to sit in the sun at our campsite. Breeze, no bugs and no other campers – heaven!

Day 23: Saturday, July 3rd

We got up shortly after 5:00 a.m. I had not slept well – tossed and turned, tossed and turned. We had left the tent completely open except for the screens, and I could lie there and look at the stary sky. I could also see all the mosquitoes clinging in wait on the outside of the screen. Ant it was mosquitoey when we got up!  Thank goodness we had packed up everything but the tent the night before!

We said goodbye to the campground about 6:15, then stopped at McDonald's for coffee and breakfast and to plan our route.

We took 28 E to 123 and down to the Bridge. On the way we passed “Kings Fishmarket and Restaurant’ – fresh and smoked fish. Mike talked me into turning around to stop in and I´m glad I did. Even though it was only 8:00 a.m. and the sign said they opened at 9:00, the guy waved us in. I got smoked whitefish (head on) at $5.50 a lb and smoked trout fillet at $6.00 a lb. Outside you could see the fish hanging in the smoker and Mike took some pictures.

Then over the bridge and on down to Mio. We were having culture shock at all the traffic which probably wasn´t all that bad, but it seemed so to us, newly back from the relative quiet of the UP. And I´m sure there was more hubbub than usual do to it being the 4th of July weekend. Mio was not the quiet little town that Mike remembered from 35 years ago and we decided that we definitely didn´t want tot stay there. We would try taking some smaller roads to find somewhere more quiet.

But as we drove farther and farther, we just weren´t finding anything. We finally decided we might as well just drive on to Ft. Wayne even though it made for a long day.

We arrived at Char´s around 5:00. Joe was at a gun show in Lansing and Daddy was staying out with Char. We got out the smoked fish to have for hors duevers. Both trout and whitefish were good, but we all preferred the whitefish.

Char made a great dinner of shrimp and scallops with spinach and feta pasta and peach pie for dessert.

A shower felt great. Very nice to be there and we would stay until Monday morning.


  • Bird List - Michigan Trip 2010
  • 1. Meadowlark
  • 2. Cowbird
  • 3. Killdeer
  • 4. Red-winged blackbird
  • 5. Grackle
  • 6. Starling
  • 7. Pigeon
  • 8. Indigo bunting
  • 9. Chipping sparrow
  • 10. Catbird
  • 11. Mourning dove
  • 12. Robin
  • 13. Yellow Warbler
  • 14. Wood thrush
  • 15. Field sparrow
  • 16. Red-eyed vireo
  • 17. House wren
  • 18. Chimney swift
  • 19. Barn swallow
  • 20. Song sparrow
  • 21. Louisiana water thrush
  • 22. Phoebe
  • 23. Crow
  • 24. English sparrow
  • 25. Common yellowthroat
  • 26. Turkey vulture
  • 27. Kestral
  • 28. Mallard
  • 29. Canada goose
  • 30. Ruby-throated hummingbird
  • 31. Great blue heron 6/12
  • 32. Gold finch
  • 33. House finch
  • 34. Blue jay
  • 35. Oriole
  • 36. Wood pewee
  • 37. Loon 6/13
  • 38. Black-capped chickadee
  • 39. Veery
  • 40. Ovenbird
  • 41. Yellow-billed cuckoo
  • 42. Redstart
  • 43. Pileated woodpecker
  • 44. Flicker
  • 45. Rose-breasted grosbeak
  • 46. Brown thrasher
  • 47. Cardinal
  • 48. Scarlet tanager
  • 49. Green heron
  • 50. Cliff swallow
  • 51. White-throated sparrow 6/14
  • 52. Ring-billed gull
  • 53. Black-throated green warbler
  • 54. Winter wren
  • 55. Parula
  • 56. Swainson's thrush
  • 57. Red-breasted nuthatch
  • 58. Red-bellied woodpecker
  • 59. Great crested flycatcher
  • 60. Osprey
  • 61. Sand hill crane (camp - East Lake)
  • 62. Raven 6/16
  • 63. Whip-poor-will (camp - East Lake)
  • 64. Cedar waxwing (downtown Munising)
  • 65. Hermit thrush
  • 66. Junco
  • 67. Turkey
  • 68. Blue-headed vireo (Bruno's Run hike)
  • 69. Bald eagle (camp - East Lake)
  • 70. Blackburnian warbler (Miner's Castle)
  • 71. Kingbird 6/19 (Fayette State Park)
  • 72. Spotted sandpiper (camp - East Lake)
  • 73. Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Laughing Whitefish Falls)
  • 74. Common merganser 6/20 (Sturgeon River)
  • 75. Great horned owl (Eagle Harbor - Lakeshore Resort)
  • 76. Black-throated blue warbler (Estevant Pines)
  • 77. Black and white warbler (Estevant Pines)
  • 78. Bobolink 6/26 (on Choate Road to Steusser Lake)
  • 79. Purple martin 6/27 (on Choate Road to Steusser Lake)
  • 80. Ruffed grouse6/28 (Rt. 67 to Manistique)
  • 81. Coot 6/29 (Natalie Camp Ground - Lake Superior St. Forest)
  • 82. Common tern (Lake Michigan beach)
  • 83. Black tern (Natalie campground)