Sault Ste. Marie

July 14 – 17, 2019

This stop is all about the ships.  We plan to sit and watch all the action in the shipping channel in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and hoping our spot is a good one.

On The Way

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We keep our eyes peeled for moose, but don’t see any despite the warning signs every few miles.  The drive is beautiful with lots more views of Lake Superior, and finally we make our approach to the US.

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Jackson’s watching as we go over the International Bridge and the Soo Locks down below.  We’re trying to figure out how this bridge toll/customs combo works while we’re rolling across.  Customs is first of course and then you pay your toll.  It’s another easy border crossing and all we have to do is NOT follow the semi into the x-ray machine.

Aune-Osborne Campground

Our campsite in the Aune-Osborne city campground is amazing.  It’s a city-run campground and according to reviews is the place to be if you want to watch the freighters up close and personal.

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We were hoping for a front row seat and we’re not disappointed.  Not only can we see them up close, we’re right in front of the city boat launch to view everything from kayaks, jet skis, fishing boats and even the Coast Guard.  A bonus float plane took off on the first evening.

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Just down the walking trail alongside the river is the ferry to Sugar Island, so we can watch that, too.

The Ships

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The ships on this route are flying mainly Canadian or US flags, but we do see a few from other countries (more than 60 other countries visit these ports).  This route is part of the Saint Lawrence Seaway that goes from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the western shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, with the freighters handling 40-50 million tons of cargo each year.

 

 

There’s a website you can visit that plots all the marine traffic with their course and current location.  It was perfect to figure out when the next big ship would be along so we wouldn’t miss it.  The campground also provided us with a cheat sheet of interesting Great Lakes shipping facts.  The ships headed toward Duluth are upbound (bows pointed to the left in my photos) and the ones going towards the Atlantic are downbound (bows pointed right).

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The Whitefish Bay and the Coast Guard cutter – one of the rare moments when two big ships were meeting.  They took turns with a single horn blast to signal a port to port passing.  That got everyone’s attention.  Other than when this signalling happens, they are quietly chugging by.  If you aren’t looking at the right moment, they just sneak along with more vibration than sound.

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One evening a group of sailboats was out on the river.  The wind suddenly died, so they weren’t going anywhere.

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Sailboat close encounter.

 

 

Clockwise: Tour boat, commercial fishing boat, small fishing boat at dawn, catamaran, and a tug pushing a barge.  We pretty much covered all manner of boats.

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One of the big freighters headed upbound towards the locks and the International Bridge around sunset.  They range from 500 to 1,000 feet long and seem to go on forever.

I’d love to tell you all about how the locks work and about all the surrounding sights here.  I can’t though since true to our word we were simply spectators enjoying our unbeatable view.  That means no boat tour, no museum visit, no outing to another viewing spot – nothing touristy at all.  I’m sure I did entertain our neighbors though, dashing out the door with my camera in-hand every time of the biggies came along.

Other Stuff

Although we didn’t take any sightseeing outings, we did have some errands to run.  First order of business was Jackson’s vet appointment for his monthly thyroid check.

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This place has an office cat, too.  His name is Oliver.

Jackson’s T4 level is still high, so we’re adjusting the medication and getting him checked again when we’re in Watertown, NY, about 6 weeks out.

This is also the stop for groceries, mailing packages (some of my best buds are having birthdays this month), and disposing of used motor oil.  Pat’s also troubleshooting a few issues since it seems we can’t have everything working at the same time.

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A perfect campground to just be and see the boats.  That’s it for us lazy ship watchers and the Soo.

Next Up: Mackinac Island and another bike rental adventure.  See you on the way!

Neys Provincial Park

July 12 – 13, 2019

It’s our second stop in Ontario and our last official stop for Lake Superior.  We just love the pristine lakeshore in Ontario seemingly untouched by anyone.

On The Way

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Simply a fantastic drive from Sleeping Giant with gorgeous views at every turn.  We stopped for lunch at a diner where I got my poutine fix.  What’s not to love about french fries covered in gravy and cheese?  About the halfway mark we stopped in Nipigon to climb the lookout tower.

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This thing looks like an Olympic diving platform to me, but it’s just the scenic overlook for Lake Helen to the north and the Nipigon River leading to Lake Superior to the south.

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The Nipigon River heading south to Lake Superior from the top of the lookout tower.

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We had to climb up separately since the stairs were those open metal pokey kind and Jackson couldn’t manage them.  Pat’s turn surveying the scene.

My favorite view was of the Nipigon River Bridge from the tower and from the road.

Neys Provincial Park

We’re not right on the lake at our spot in the park, but it’s a nice private location right next to a good walking area for Jackson.

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The visitor’s center has some great lake exhibits and a fun metal trout sculpture.  Did you know that the Edmund Fitzgerald is not only the most famous shipwreck on Superior, but also the largest at 730 feet long?  It was carrying a load of that taconite ore I mentioned in an earlier post.  The gales of November aside, the average water temperature of the Superior is 40 degrees and winds off the lake are like air conditioning.  Definitely the place to be during the triple digit temps in most of the US.

Crunchy The Camera

Let’s just say our hike in Ney’s Provincial Park has a good story behind it.

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Our first short hike was to the lookout point for Lake Superior views.  The trail quickly turned into rock and made it a bit hard to follow.

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We had to keep looking for the little blue hiking man symbol to find our way.  Do you see him?

Here’s the view at the top.  It was worth the scramble.

Then it’s down to the shore to hike along Lake Superior.  We parked the car and walked a short way before getting to a point where we’d have to cross a small river coming into the lake.

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There was a 10 foot or so tree trunk laying across the water to form a bridge and Pat said he didn’t think we should try that.  We’re both wearing brand new boots and didn’t want to mess them up so soon.  I  poo-poo’d that notion.  We didn’t bring our hiking poles so he found a stick for support and told me to find my own.  I did and promptly set out across the log.  Going too fast and losing my balance, I tried to make a flying leap to the rock at the end.  My feet went right out from under me and I landed belly down on the rock in the water.  The camera broke my fall with a sickening crunch, and I jumped up shouting “Oh my God!”.  I was sure I’d killed my awesome camera.  Fortunately the leather cover protected it from the water and my body weight.  It seems to be working just fine.  I relayed this story to Chuck, our former neighbor and camera expert, and he dubbed it Crunchy the Camera.

You may have noticed a spot on my lens showing up in some of my photos of late.  I’ve been trying to get rid of the spot, but no amount of cleaning seems to help.  After that debacle, I’m way less worried about the spot and just happy for any pictures at all!

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After the fall, I’m looking back at my nemesis and taking some shots to make sure all systems are go.  It turns out the trail really went a different way.  We could have avoided the whole thing had we gone just 10 feet from the car in the other direction.  Ah, but then we wouldn’t have a story to tell.

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We arrive at this scenic spot and Pat says I can go wander around and take pictures of whatever I like.  He’s staying right here to enjoy the view.  So I in my squishy new shoes and wet clothes went exploring.

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A few favorites.  The rocks look like beached animals and I already know how slippery they are.

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I found a pool of water in the rocks and watched the water striders for a while.  They use surface tension on the water to “run” across it catching bugs.

And the littles.  So much color out there and that pink one is a carnivorous sundew.

It turned out to be a grand day and I was almost dry by the time we got back.  Well except for the shoes.  Those took a few days.

The Laundry

This park has a laundry and since we’re right across the road, I decided to make use of it.  One dryer was out of order but the other one was working.  I did two loads and went to start a load in the one good dryer and poof.  The dryer is no longer working and I smell a slight electrical smell.  Well shoot.  Pat rigs me up a clothesline and we make use of the remaining sun for the day.

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How classy is this?  I did have the good grace to dry our underwear inside the motorhome and not out on the line for all to admire.  Again, when will I learn not to break that rule about using laundromats?

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It’s time to bid Lake Superior farewell so we can enjoy the other Great Lakes.  I’m thinking this might be my favorite one, but I guess I should reserve judgement until I’ve seen them all.

Next Up:  Back to the States to watch the big ships.  See you on the way!

 

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

July 8 – 11

We’re back to the land of kilometers, meters, loonies and Celsius.  It’s also a new province for the camping map – Ontario.  We do love Canada and we’re still enjoying the mighty Lake Superior.

On The Way

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This turned out to be an eventful travel day.  We’re losing an hour heading into Eastern Daylight Time, plus we have to cross the border into Canada.  Somehow we weren’t strategic and it’s also a longer mileage day.  Over 200 miles and that’s a big day for us.  We also need to find ourselves a bank in Canada and exchange American dollars for Canadian ones.

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Fortunately it all went without a hitch and probably took us a grand total of 2 minutes to cross the border.  22 beers, no weapons and one dog.  All good.  And, Thunder Bay has a bank not too far off the highway with a parking lot big enough for us to zip in and zip out.  Now we’ve got that pretty money to spend.  Unlike our boring money, every Canadian denomination is a different color and has that iridescent see-through window.  Plus the exchange rate is in our favor and I can say “but it’s Canadian” every time I want to buy something.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is our destination and it’s on a 32 mile-long peninsula which is made up mostly of the park itself.  We are big fans of provincial parks since they’re just like our state parks.  Usually spacious sites in a natural setting.  We ended up with a huge and I mean HUGE private campsite.  I drove in and turned around in the car without backing up.

We heard horror stories about the distance to the power poles in the Ontario parks so we came prepared with plenty of electrical cable.  Our spot was fine, but those lakeside spots shared pedestals between sites off in the woods – probably 30  meters away? (That’s 100 feet for you non-metric folks.)

Our first outing was a hike to Tee Harbor to check out the Lake Superior shoreline.

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There are lots of little coves and harbors and they all have a rocky shoreline.  The water is crystal clear and very cold.

So many rocks on the beach!  I had to hunt yet again for my elusive agate and I think I really found one this time.  If I can get it polished it might actually look like all those pictures I saw.

Along the way I had to take a 10-100 as my dad used to say.  (CB talk for potty break).

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Anyway, I had my first experience with a ranger box.  It’s just what it sounds like.  A box over a hole in the ground with a toilet seat on top.  Fortunately it was heavily wooded so I wasn’t feeling too exposed.

The littles – Anemone, Marsh Marigold and a White Admiral butterfly

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We’re on part of the Trans Canada Trail for this expedition.

On the return part of the hike, we decided to detour to the Sea Lion trail since it wasn’t very long.  That turned out to be the highlight of the entire day.

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Another beautiful cove and rocky shoreline strewn with driftwood.

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And then we get to this view.  That rocky arched outcropping is the “sea lion”.  It’s about 25 feet high and less than 5 feet wide, made of volcanic rock that remained when the surrounding sediment eroded away.  We’ve never seen anything quite like it.

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Look at that clear emerald green water.

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Another angle because I just love this thing.

This was also a favorite spot for an odd looking group of hikers on the trail ahead of us.  One guy was carrying a guitar case and another had a very large video camera in tow.   Turns out they’re working on a music video and getting inspiration from the views for new songs.  A perfect ending to our 13 kilometer day.

Amethyst Mining

On the way to the provincial park, I saw a sign advertising a local amethyst mine.  Well, that made the must-see list since it was only a short drive away.

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Before we even got into the visitor’s center, we spied some pretty big rock chunks filled with amethyst crystals.

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The photos just don’t do these crystals justice.  They are a beautiful lavender to purple color and huge.

At this place, they take you on a tour and explain the history of the mine and show you some amazing specimens.  The tour guide put on a head net to take us out to the mine, but the owner said the bugs weren’t bad.  More on that later.

 

According to our guide, they found the vein of amethyst back in the sixties while dragging heavy equipment through the woods to build a fire watch tower.  It’s been privately owned and mined ever since.

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It’s not a very impressive looking quarry, but that’s where all the beautiful stuff comes from.  They have core samples that show the vein to be about 40 feet deep and they only go down a small amount each year.

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A close-up so you can see a big rock chunk loaded with amethyst crystals.

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I’ll let the photo do the talking regarding the actual mining process.

The precious gem is made of quartz and gets its coloring ranging from light pink to a deep purple from iron impurities.  Those born in February know it as their birthstone.  Amethyst is valued in many cultures and thought to bring good luck and symbolize deep love, happiness, sincerity, humility and wealth.  That seems to cover about everything.  I just think it’s lovely.

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Ok, on to the “mining” portion of the tour.  After the fact-finding mission with our guide, we’re each given a bucket and a hunk of metal resembling a railroad tie.  The metal spike if for digging and poking around in the dirt to find that perfect chunk of amethyst.  I immediately went on a mission to find gift rocks since I have quite a few people in mind who could use a lovely purple crystal or two for love, luck or maybe just a paper weight.  Pat gets the big idea that we should find four big hunks to weigh down our carpet outside the motor home.  He’s always trying to find rocks to keep it in place on windy days anyway.

After we found our treasures, we hauled them over to a table and scrubbed them in buckets of water to make sure they were just right.  I went back to the “mine” more than once.  In the end we made off with 34 pounds of amethyst studded rocks for a mere $4 a pound.  Yes, we went a little crazy, but it was such fun.  And about those bugs.  I had welts on the back of my neck from the bites at least a week later.  The hazards of “mining”!

Thunder Bay Lookout

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Back in the park, we’re off on the scenic drive to the Thunder Bay lookout.  The provincial Park is directly across from Thunder Bay, Ontario with grand views of Lake Superior.

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Looking the other way on the viewing platform.

I took those overlook photos from the end of the viewing platform over the cliff edge that has open slats so you can see all the way down .  I’m holding onto the bars for dear life after creeping ever so slowly out there.  Pat of course can see just fine from back there, thank you very much.

The Sleeping Giant

The park gets its name from the mesas that make up the Sleeping Giant formation.  It’s supposed to resemble a giant laying on his back.  The Ojibwe people say it is Nanabosho, their spirit protector.  According to a postcard I purchased, he was sent to earth to help the weak, heal the sick and teach the basic truths of life.

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Marie Louise Lake lookout with Sleeping Giant in the background snoozing away.

The peninsula was a nice out of the way spot, but time to move along.  On the drive out, we saw a moose, black bear and deer.  Better than a lot of our days in Alaska!

Next up: Neys Provincial Park and our last official Lake Superior stop.  See you on the way!

 

Two Harbors

June 28 – July 7, 2019

I’ll warn you up front that this is a long post about a favorite spot so far this season.  We’re all set up in a private campground in Two Harbors, Minnesota on the Lake Superior north shore for 10 whole days.

Superior Hiking Trail

The reason we’re here for longer than our normal 3-4 day stop is so Pat can embark on his first backpacking trip of the season.  He’s been plotting and planning for months and finally has all his supplies for the big 6 day/5 night adventure.  My role in all of this is to drop him off on a Sunday after lunch, hike the first half mile for the scenic view and farewell photo, then return to hang out with Jackson until the Friday afternoon pick-up.

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Here’s the view at the scenic spot after almost the first half mile.  Lake Superior is in the distance and he’s hopeful that the rest of the trail will be just as grand.  Off he goes and I depart.  I’m not supposed to hear from him for the next 5 days and I have plans to get a haircut, go agate hunting on the beach, see the two state parks he’ll be hiking through, and make a crafty mess in the motorhome.

The Fog

It’s day one on my own and I get a haircut first then take Jackson down to Agate Beach in Two Harbors after lunch.  It’s a bright, sunny day and actually a little hot in the full sun.  I’m happy in my shorts and t-shirt.

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Down at the harbor I’m fascinated by the fog that’s rolling in this time of day without a storm in sight.  You can just make out the Two Harbors lighthouse right above the tree in the middle of the photo.  By the time we leave in about 45 minutes, the lighthouse is completely shrouded in the fog and the fog horn starts sounding off.

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At first I think a ship is coming in and I’m very excited until I realize it’s just the harbor navigational aid peeking out of the fog bank.  I don’t know about Jackson, but I was cold and wishing for my jacket by the time the fog wrapped itself around us on the shoreline trail.

I just love fog especially over the water and was completely captivated by it.  Like a living thing on the lake bringing things into focus and obscuring others.  Here’s that navigational aid again, fog coming towards the ore dock and finally the ore dock almost completely blurred from view.

Agate Hunting

Lake Superior is known for its lovely agates and people comb the beaches looking for them.  I had no idea until we saw it listed as one of the top things to do in the area.  After chatting up the owner of a cute little gift shop in town, I head to the spot she recommended for the best beach hunting ground.

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This is Flood Bay and the spot I hope to find that perfect rock.  Just what is a Lake Superior agate you ask?  Well, it’s made of the mineral chalcedony, a type of quartz, with colored bands throughout.  The bands are colored by mineral impurities, and in this area iron is the culprit giving the agates a reddish-brown to orange color.  If I was really into the geology of the whole thing I’d tell you about the basalt, lava flows, and glaciers that all played a part over a billion years ago, but I’m not so I won’t.  I just like pretty rocks and Lake Superior agates are certainly that.

Photo on the left – what they look like based on a picture at the state park visitor’s center.  Photo on the right – what I found.  Hmmm.  Not exactly a stunning haul, but then I wasn’t seeing very pretty rocks and losing interest to be honest when I got a text that stopped the hunt altogether.

Pat needs a pick up at a wayside park up the road.  He doesn’t answer his phone when I try to call.  I’m worried that he’s injured, but head his direction figuring I’ll find out what’s up soon enough.  I arrive to find him by the parking lot unhurt but exhausted.  The backpacking trip has come to an end after about 16 hours and 18 miles due to a crisis over water and disintegrating boots.  Nothing that a trip through the McDonald’s drive-through and about 12 straight hours of sleep can’t fix.

At least this time he takes some pictures to share.  Well, just the two actually – one of his campsite on the first night and one of his sad boots.  Apparently the trail was very sloppy with deep boot-sucking mud.  He knew his boots need replacing, but had no idea the mud would ooze inside and actually start unraveling the toe stitching.

Duluth

For our next outing, we headed to Duluth to the Duluth Trading Company to get new boots for Pat.  We ended up with three pairs of shoes and a few other odds and ends.  I needed a replacement for my campground slip-on shoes and my tennis shoes since they both had holes.  Right in the garbage they go.  And of course you know why Pat’s getting a new pair.  Those old boots are unceremoniously chucked in the dumpster since they failed him so.

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We like everything we purchased and we certainly laughed at the marketing.

After our shopping spree, we headed down to the aerial life dock to check out the Duluth harbor.

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The aerial lift dock at half open for the sailboat.

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There’s a guy missing his sailboat.

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We hung around long enough to spy a big ship in the distance.  Just what we wanted to see go under the bridge.

It’s the Michipicoten, a Canadian self-discharging bulk carrier, with a deadweight of over 22,000 tons.  Don’t ask me to define deadweight.  There are formulas and other bits of mumbo jumbo and I still don’t get it.  Just know it’s a darn big ship and very heavy!

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Now we’re on to Goosberry Falls State Park.  I went by myself after I dropped Pat off for his trip, but since he didn’t really get to see it, we’re going back again.

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There are two tunnels on the way from Two Harbors to Gooseberry and I thought the chunky rock opening was most interesting.

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Goosberry Falls State Park actually has three sets of falls – upper, middle and lower.  This photo was taken with me standing at the top of upper falls.

Middle Falls to the left and middle & lower to the right.

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And a wild iris for my friend of the same name.  You know who you are.

Split Rock Lighthouse

We weren’t too far from Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, so decided to keep on going to see that one on the same afternoon.

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The most beautiful lighthouse setting I’ve ever seen.  And we’ve seen a few lighthouses.

 

Split Rock Lighthouse from another angle.  And the view from the lighthouse – a misty cove with a kayaker.

The lupines are going crazy on the sides of the road and people are pulling off in droves to take pictures.  Like bluebonnet season in Texas.  I’d driven this stretch of road between Two Harbors and the state parks a few times by this point and had my best flower spot all picked out.  After our lighthouse visit concluded, I bee-lined it for “the spot”.

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So lovely and those flowers were tall!

I couldn’t get enough of them in shades of purple, pink and white.

Palisade Head

So we were walking around the campground with Jackson when another black lab named Maggie came running out to greet us.  Her people told us that we really should take a ride back up the north shore to see Palisade Head.  They insisted it would be worth it.

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Palisade Head was something and busy with rock climbers.

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This gal was dangling at the bottom trying to get her footing again.

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The view from Palisade Head was even better.  More delicious fog.

A few more from the outing.

We made the trip up this way once more.  This time it was to grab lunch at Betty’s Pies which was mobbed every single time we went by.  No exception when we went and the people watching was almost as good as the lunch and pies.  I had to try the Pastie (pronounced pass TEE), which is a meat pie filled with chicken in my case, rutabaga, onion, carrots and parsley.  Rrrrrutabaga! When was the last time you had some if ever?  My mom used to fix them when I was young.  I just remember them being orange and able to stink up the entire house.  I’m glad I tried one, but I’m not seeking out another.

The Town of Two Harbors

I’ve fallen in love with this little place.  We wouldn’t have stayed for 10 days if not for Pat’s hiking plans.  I’m sorry his trip didn’t work out as planned, but so glad we had extra time here to explore the area.  It’s a nice friendly, wholesome town and this is how I know.  We went out for pizza one night and a family of 5 rode up on bicycles just as we were parking our car.  We left about the same time they did and they hopped on their bikes and rode off.  Not a lock on one of those bikes.  On the way home from our pizza outing we stopped at the store.  Our total came to $11.04 and the cashier tells Pat that $11 is close enough.  You just gotta love friendly small towns.

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We headed back to the harbor one last time to soak in the sights and sounds.  The seagulls were quite vocal around the lighthouse.

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Here’s that navigational aid I showed you in the fog.  Most of the time it looked just like this.

A few more harbor views.

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I keep mentioning ore docks and here they are.  In this area, they mine taconite which is sedimentary rock containing iron.  A very big business and those huge ships cruising through the Great Lakes are full of it.  We watched the train back up on the dock our first night here.  Each train car load is dumped into a chute that’s lowered over the waiting ship.  We’ve heard it takes all day to fill one of those ships with trains coming and going.  There are ore docks all up and down the north shore, but these in Two Harbors are the easiest to see up close.  Another regional thing I knew nothing about.

Whew!  A really long post, but I didn’t want to leave anything out.  Two Harbors was one of the few places I’ve been sad to leave, but we’ll be back one day.

Next Up:  O Canada!  And more Lake Superior.  See you on the way!

Copper Falls

June 24 – 27, 2019

Our next stop is a short drive from Porcupine Mountains and the weather is icky.  At least we didn’t waste good weather on a travel day.  We’re headed back inland for some more waterfall action.

On The Way

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We’re dipping into Wisconsin for one last stay and I finally get my welcome sign photo.

Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park is nice and wooded, away from Lake Superior making it a little hotter and a lot buggier.  There’s plenty of running water with the Bad River, and plenty of huge mosquitos.  For this spot, we didn’t dare venture out without bug protection for us and for Jackson since the biters were relentless.

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This is Copper Falls, the namesake for the state park and our next destination.  The Bad River runs through the park providing the rushing water for several sets of waterfalls.  We guessed that the falls were named for the water color, but we were wrong.  It’s actually named for the copper mining that took place in the late 1800s.  They didn’t find any copper despite many attempts, but the copper name stuck.

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Brownstone Falls was interesting with the trees that fell down the side of the cliff face to lodge in the canyon gap.  Almost looks like they’re working on rooftop construction.

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Then there’s Tyler Forks Falls where the tributary joins the Bad River.  The two meet with sound and fury.

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The taller falls are grand, but I’m a bigger fan of the cascade look.  Here’s my favorite of the day from the Tyler Forks tributary.

A few more from hiking day – Pat on the North Country Trail, the calm stretch on the Tyler Forks, tell-tale square-ish holes from the woodpeckers, and a butterfly in the evergreens.  The North Country Trail runs from New York to North Dakota, so Pat started asking people where they were headed – New York or Nodak.  He got some confused looks.  Since then he’s discovered the trail is still unfinished, so you can’t actually get all the way across just yet.

Apostle Islands

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I’d never heard of the Apostle Islands before spying them on our road atlas. They sounded interesting, so off we went to the visitor center in Bayfield, WI.

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There are 22 islands in total if you count Long Island which really isn’t an island according to the National Park Service.  (So honestly why not just say 21?)  You have to take a private boat to get to them, so we just settled for looking at a few of them in the distance.  Here’s one – probably Basswood Island.

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Then there’s Madeline Island.  You can take a ferry to Madeline and camp at the state park there.  It’s definitely going on our list for another time.

We took advantage of the outing to go to the local Wal-Mart in Ashland, WI.  Just how is it you can go into the store with 3 things on the list, not find one of them, and still manage to fill the cart and owe $96?  Oddity of nature.

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And that’s it for this stop and Wisconsin, at least for this year.  The state has a lot to offer and we’ll be back.

Next Up:  The Lake Superior North Shore.  See you on the way!

The Porkies

June 20-23, 2019

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For this stop we’re in new state #3 for 2019 – Michigan, and Great Lake #2 – Superior.  So far we’re finding the Great Lakes to be, well…great!

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

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We have an odd little spot at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, but it’s right on the bank of Lake Superior.  Seriously, the waves were lapping not 30 feet from our door.  It’s 70 degrees, sunny, breezy, with almost no bugs.  Near perfect weather!  The rangers came around the first night giving out extra large gravy bones to all the dogs.  Jackson is in his element.

Fast forward to the second night, the waves are crashing and it sounds like the seashore out our door.  Jackson was so excited with the waves, yelping and barking at them.

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In fact, Jackson enjoyed the water so much that he got to go swimming.  Looks like Pat caught himself the big Loch Superior Monster.  Jackson needs a tether in case he gets too industrious and we have to pull him in.  We’re honestly afraid he’ll overdo it and drown.

Presque Isle River

 

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We were told upon check-in that there are three things you need to see in this park.  Number one on our list was Presque Isle River and the three waterfalls. So grand and our favorite thing we did in the park.  There’s a two mile loop that goes around the falls and the best way to see the falls in our opinion.  The viewing platforms are ok, but we enjoyed the other side of the river even more.

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The river had some really interesting rock banks carved from the wild waters.

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The trail takes you over the layered rocks and gives you a different viewing angle for one of the falls.

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The Presque Isle flows right out into Lake Superior.

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We took a little side jaunt to see where the river gets swallowed up by the lake.

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Doesn’t it look like there should be a puzzle piece somewhere that fits into these carved out whirlpools in the rock?

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Delight!  That’s what I felt finding these jolly little pollywogs in the pools around the rock layers.  There were hundreds of the little wigglers.

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Here’s the shot they have on the literature advertising this place in the state park guide.  I honestly don’t know which waterfall it is – Manabezho, Manido or Nawadaha.

More waterfalls, more rocks and of course, the selfie.  We’ve figured out that one of our selfie problems is putting the phone in my hands.  Pat is much better at that and his arm is longer.

And the littles.  Lupines, a solitary daisy and some colored leaves.

Summit Peak

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Number 2 on the list is Summit Peak.  There’s a tower there with 360 degree views of the entire park.

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Of course a good view of Lake Superior, too.  We weren’t super impressed with this spot, but we climbed the tower to say we did.  I was more impressed with the ants at the top.  Now they did some climbing.

Lake Of The Clouds

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Number 3 and probably the most famous spot is Lake of the Clouds.  It is pretty, but we’re guessing that the fall is the time to see it in all its glory.  All the advertising shots of the park show that view with the fall colors.

Enjoying The Porkies

 

Now I’m sure you’re wondering why I titled this post The Porkies.  Well, it seems that the Porcupine Mountains got their name from the native Ojibwa tribe.  They thought the silhouette of the mountains looked like crouching porcupines.  The locals just refer to them as The Porkies for short.  Sounded like a fun nickname so I went with it.

The mountains and the lake together make for a spectacular setting.  Our favorite part about the whole stay was just sitting out listening to the waves.  Tame as bath water one day, crashing the next and cloaked in fog on yet another.  I’m still amazed that this is just a lake.  And by the way, did you know that Lake Superior accounts for 10% of the world’s surface fresh water?  Yes, I said the world.  That helps put the size in perspective.

We’re also enjoying the weather and not missing sweltering summer temps and humidity.  In fact, on our second night here it got down to 44 degrees and we had to run our furnace!  Wasn’t expecting that in late June.

The Other Stuff

Pat is now spraying to try and get rid of the pesky ants.  We think they might be coming in around an electrical outlet.  Stay tuned for the ant report down the road.  I also did laundry in the campground which turned out to be an all day fiasco and the reason why I embrace laundromats.  You can’t beat doing four giant loads of every washable thing you own in an hour and a half flat.  Then there’s the new crock-pot BBQ chicken dish we tried and both loved.  It’ll be our new potluck go-to recipe.  And that’s about it for The Porkies.

Next up:  One more Wisconsin stop at Copper Falls State Park.  See you on the way!

 

 

 

Friends In Eagle River

June 15 – 19, 2019

If you look up the town name of Eagle River you’ll find one in Alaska and one in Wisconsin.  Now we’ve officially been to both with our latest Wisconsin stop.  My great friend Sue who I worked with for many years lives in Eagle River.  I was looking so forward to catching up with her and her husband Marc.  I hadn’t seen her since my retirement party three years ago.  My how time flies.

Wisconsin Dock Dogs

When I reached out to Sue many moons ago to see if they’d be around on Father’s Day weekend, she said yes,  They did have plans, but not with their two-legged kids.  She explained that their lab Maggy was signed up for the Wisconsin Dock Dogs competition.  We’d never heard of such a thing but thought it sounded like fun.  Count us in.

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This dock dog thing is a traveling competition and even has a beer label sponsorship.  Now what is a dock dog you ask?  Well, the competition that we saw consisted of two different events.  There’s the speed retrieve where a toy is on a holder at the end of the pool and the fastest time to snatch it off the holder wins.

Then there’s the jumping event.  Essentially the long jump for dogs.  The dog’s handler throws a toy into the water and the dog runs down a 40 foot dock to retrieve it.  The objective is for the dog to jump as far as possible measured by the end of the dock to where the dog’s back end hits the water.  This is Maggy’s event.

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Here’s Maggy and Marc getting ready for the first jump.  She’s so excited that getting her to stay at the end of the dock is a challenge.  Although she stayed in the seated position, she managed to wiggle her dog butt down the dock in anticipation.

 

The entire jump sequence so you get the idea.

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There’s our gal with laser-like focus on that toy in the water.  She qualified for the finals in the amateur division and came in second place!

So many amazing dogs and all quite enthusiastic about the sport.  Well, except for the ones that would run right up the edge and bark furiously at the toy on the water.  They tried everything to get some of the dogs in the water and they were having none of it.  A truly fun Father’s Day outing.

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And later that same day, here’s our “athlete”.

Jackson’s Appointment

A month ago we started Jackson on thyroid medication and it’s time to check his T4 level.  Sue recommended her veterinarian, Dr. John’s Dog & Cat Repair.  Isn’t that the most fun name you’ve ever heard?  If only Jackson could be “fixed”.

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While we waited for Jackson to get his blood drawn, the resident cat, Edward,  came up and promptly jumped up in my lap.  Somehow cats always know I’m missing my kitty.  Anyway, it turns out that Jackson is now hyperthyroid, so we’re adjusting the medication.  We know the drill and I have an appointment a month out in Sault St. Marie, Michigan.  Third time’s the charm?

Duck Lake

Sue and Marc were so good to us and fed us three nights in a row!  In addition, they took us out on their pontoon boat not once, but twice to see their chain of lakes.

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Their lovely abode on Duck Lake is on the left and their neighbor on the right has an observatory turned into a bedroom.  Definitely a conversation starter.

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It’s baby bird season and we spotted several momma loons on the lake with their babies.  This one had two babies.  The cutest is when the babies ride along on momma’s back.  I didn’t know they piggybacked the babies.

 

Baby geese and baby ducks, too.

 

A few more from the boat cruises.

On the way to their house one evening we saw our first fawn.  Oh the spots!  Sue is a deer whisperer, too, and one of them comes right up to her for corn.

Bond Falls

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We continued to see the sights with Sue & Marc and they picked us up one day at our house in Hi Pines Campground.  Needless to say our house tour was much shorter than the one at their lovely home.

Anyway, after the house tour we’re off to Bond Falls, just over the state line into Michigan.

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Bond Falls is gorgeous and so wide.  We loved hearing the roar of the water.

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Finally a photo of the four of us.

 

A few shots of the cascades and the water like brewed tea.  Reminds me of the tannin stained rivers in Florida.

Random Eagle River Things

There’s a secondhand store in Eagle River named Pancakes In Heaven.  We were curious about the name, so Marc explained that it’s a reference to a guy from town who claimed that aliens landed on his property in 1961.  These same aliens made him things that looked pancakes.  It’s a wild story, but if you look it up you’ll see that the Air Force investigated and classified the event as “unexplained”.

Then there’s this barn in town….

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I just can’t resist taking pictures of a good derelict building.  I hesitate to use the term derelict since this barn has character.

 

Apparently I’m not the only one.  While I was taking my photos another car pulled up and this lady got out so she could snap pictures, too.

Finally it’s time for us to move on.  We had a lovely farewell dinner out with Sue & Marc where  I got my Walleye fix and Pat got his meatloaf fix.  Such a great time with our friends and we’re still loving Wisconsin and its friendly people.

Next up:  Great Lake #2 – Superior!  See you on the way.