Tuesday, September 17, 2019


After crossing the Mackinac Bridge, we saw Mackinaw City...it is a town we would like to explore on our next visit. To get to Grayling Army National Guard Camp, we drove I-75 to the first Grayling exit. Bob wanted to top off Sol's tank before heading to the campground. We found a diesel station right in town that was a convenient in and out stop. Then it was on to the campground. We got a site not far from Larry and Connie. After we were all set up, we went for a drive.
We just happened on an historical artillery firing competition. The participants were dressed in period costumes.
It was a fun competition to watch and you really had to look carefully to see the shell hit. I kept watching the firing, Bob watched for the shell to hit. It was a windy day and a couple of the targets blew over. No one could go downrange to right them as the Army National Guard was firing on another nearby range.

We only spent one night at Grayling. We enjoyed the full hook-ups and cable at the campground. The next morning, we were on the road to Bay City, Michigan, to do more exploring.

Exploring St. Ignace

Our third day at Kewadin Casino, was a Saturday. Since the weather was a bit blustery, Bob and I decided to drive to St. Ignace and explore their little town. It was a good decision! There was an antique tractor show going on and the tractors were all driving over the Mackinac Bridge. Once off the bridge, they drove through the town of St. Ignace. People were lined up on the sidewalks to view the tractors.
 This was our favorite of the tractor parade. All the tractor drivers slowed down to wave at this fellow with his tractors on parade for them!
 After doing a little shopping in the local stores, Bob and I walked their riverfront trail. It took us to Wawatam Lighthouse. It was next to what used to be railroad tracks near a loading dock for the railroad ferry which ran until the 1980's.
 Yes, it was still a blustery day. We had on our jackets and the wind was whipping my hair in my face.
From the riverwalk we were able to watch the Shepler and Star Line ferries make the trip to and from Mackinac Island. I'm glad we went when the water was a bit calmer.
 We enjoyed our stay at Kewadin Casino, but the following day was a travel day...time to cross the Mackinac Bridge.
Next stop: Grayling Army National Guard RV Park.

St. Ignace, Gateway to Mackinac Island

Our drive for the day was not a long one, we drove south to St. Ignace to camp at Kewadin Casino for a few days. The casino was our base to visit Mackinac Island. We arrived at the casino before checkout time. We found a site without a tag and parked Sol, then we went to  the casino to wait for time to check-in. It was a good thing we arrived early, the sites filled up and so did the parking area!

After eating lunch at the casino, we returned to Sol and got ready to return to use the pool and hot tub. Not bad for a $15 dollar site with 50 amp electric! After a good soak, it was time to plan our adventure for the following day...Mackinac Island.

When we arrived at the ferry to take us to the island, we all decided to sit on the upper deck.
As we got underway, it got a little windy and chilly!
But the views of the island were magnificent! This is Grand Hotel from Mackinac Straits.
And this is Round Island Lighthouse.
Once we docked, there were horses with carriages and wagons everywhere. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. Deliveries are made by horse and wagon.
After looking around town and checking out the visitor center, we decided to split up. Larry and Connie took a horse and buggy tour while Bob and I walked the trails and found some geocaches. We planned to meet for lunch at the fort's tea room.

Bob and I took the road to Grand Hotel. No, we didn't take the tour; we will do that next time we visit.
We did get a good look at the grounds. We walked past the pool area and the yard games...croquet and corn hole.
 Then we took the rustic Pontiac Trail along the cliff side.
 These stairs were added several years ago for those who wanted a shortcut to Lakeside Drive.
We took a photo op near the old cottages. They all had well manicured lawns.
Bob and I continued our hiking and geocaching. We stopped in front of skull cave before heading to the fort to meet Larry and Connie for lunch.
We arrived first, so we claimed a table and relaxed after our island hike.
 We had an excellent view from our outdoor table.
 This is a view of the tea room from below...the yellow umbrellas mark where we had our lunch.
After lunch we toured the fort, then split up again until time to catch our ferry back to the mainland. We enjoyed our trip to Mackinac Island and would like to return another time to ride the bike trails and do more hiking around this historic tourist island.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

More of Sault Ste. Marie

Our campground was next to St. Marys River. It was the main channel for the freighters up bound and down bound.
 We enjoyed sitting outside and watching the freighters. Sometimes we would have a warning that they were coming and sometimes they were silent sentinels floating along the river.
Sunday afternoon, Connie wanted to go to Bulk Barn in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. So off we went to check out Bulk Barn. It is an interesting store that sells most of its items in bulk, you pick what you need. We visited one in British Columbia the last time we went to Alaska. Connie purchased a few items, then it was back to the American side. The wait to cross Friendship Bridge, going through customs, was longer as we re-entered America. It was an interesting trip for a Sunday afternoon.

Our next sightseeing venture was to Valley Camp Museum. It was not far from the campground. The museum is a 550 foot long freighter that details the life of a crew, the workings of the engine room, and also a memorial room to the Edward Fitzgerald.
 Here is a view from on of the portholes below the main deck. The pier is a public fishing area for Sault Ste. Marie.
 The deck was massive. The red covers would have protected the ore the ship transported.
I should have taken pictures of the life boats found after Edmund Fitzgerald sank, but it was so somber, I didn't. The two lifeboats gave an indication of just how violent the storm was that sunk the freighter. The first lifeboat had curled metal in the bow and some punctures in the hull. The boat was metal. The remains of the second boat were mutilated, it was only half a boat, and the metal was mangled beyond belief.

Once again, one section of the boat displayed stories of survivors saved by the Coast Guard.

We spotted Connie and Larry on the top deck after we had disembarked.
Another afternoon, Bob and I walked the Water Street Historic District to get some local geocaches. We finished our afternoon at Soo Brewing Company.
We enjoyed our stay in Sault Ste. Marie, but it was time to move on.

Sault Ste. Marie--Watching the Freighters

If you look at a map, you will see that we are not traveling far from campsite to campsite, less than 120 miles. For the next week, Aune Osborne Campground would be our home. The campground is along St. Marys River. No, I didn't leave out an apostrophe, that is the way it is spelled. The river connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron. The locks at Sault Ste. Marie enable the freighters and other boats to safely navigate between the two lakes.

Once again, we are parked next to Larry and Connie. Here we are in the open and would have had excellent solar, but, there were 50 amp hookups with water!
 After taking a rest, we all drove back to town to see the locks. No boats were going through, but we could see the way the locks operated.
 After that, we walked around downtown before heading back to the campground to play Pegs 'n' Jokers. As you can see from the score on the right, Connie and I aren't doing so well.
The following day it was time for a sightseeing road trip. We took the scenic drive from Sault Ste. Marie to visit Iroquois Point Lighthouse, Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum, and Tahquamenom Falls.

Our first stop was the lighthouse.
We climbed to the top for an excellent view of Lake Superior.
Then Bob and I walked the boardwalk to the beach. Many people were scouring the shoreline for agates. The water was a bit cold for me to go rock hunting!

Then it was back to the car and on to Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum. Yes, there have been many shipwrecks in this area. The most famous was in November, 1975, 'Edmund Fitzgerald.' The freighter went down during a storm. No survivors were ever found, nor were any bodies. The ship was found split in half, 535 feet below the surface the following summer. When you enter the shipwreck museum, the first item on display is the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald. This is not one of our pictures as Bob and I both failed to take one of the bell.
The bell serves as closure for the families and friends of the crew. It tolls 30 times each year...once for each of the 29 crew members and once for all others lost in Lake Superior. Another bell, engraved with names of all who were lost, was placed on the freighter.

Since the freighter was so deep, a special suit was developed to retrieve the original bell...

...the newtsuit. It protected the diver from the pressure at that depth and it had special hands to enable the diver to connect cables to the bell so it could be returned to the surface.

Not only is 'Edmund Fitzgerald' memorialized in the museum, but many of the other ships that went down have their stories displayed. Also, there is a replica of the Coast Guard Life Saving Station, with stories of survival.

From Whitefish Point we traveled to Tahquamenom Falls. The upper falls is one of the largest east of the Mississippi. The span of over 200 feet drops 50 feet to continue the flow of Tahquamenom River.

Our first view was of the lower falls. There is an island between the lower falls; people rent rowboats to further explore the island and the falls.
 We walked to an upper overlook of the falls before heading back to the car. The upper falls is four miles from the lower falls.
Once we arrived at the upper falls, we walked to view the falls from different perspectives. The first picture is from an overlook about 200 yards from the falls.
We continued walking to get near the top of the falls, then we descended about 95 steps to get a view of the falls from the side.
 The falls were impressive. The water below the falls was clear even though tannin makes it look brownish/yellow as it flows over the rocks.
 We enjoyed our day of sightseeing, but it was time to return to Aune Osborne. We looked forward to more adventures the next day.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Bay Furnace....Continued

We are enjoying our trip into new territory. So far the weather has been nice...cool and no rain. Saturday, August 24, we drove to Marquette, Michigan. On Saturday, they had a craft/farmer's market downtown. We were in luck because this Saturday they were also having a harbor festival. This was one of the better farmer's markets I have visited. Unfortunately, I didn't need any fresh fruits or vegetables. Bob and I did, however, eat a lemon blueberry scone for breakfast. Then I saw an unusual fruit that I had to try. It was a husk cherry. It looks like a small tomatillo, but the fruit is yellow with the taste of a tomato and pineapple combined. They are good for snacking and also for salsa.
Marquette is famous for its ore. This building on the water, an ore dock, was to fill boats with ore to be shipped around the great lakes area. Train tracks used to run up to the ore dock to unload ore from nearby mines.
At the harbor festival, we went to the old car show. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of my favorite sky blue Ford Thunderbird. But I did get this Ranchero....my brother used to own one.
And who could resist this old beauty?
After lunch in Marquette, it was time to head back to Bay Furnace. We were schedule to take a sunset cruise to view Pictured Rocks National Seashore. This was the boat for our excursion.
Our first stop was this old lighthouse on Grand Isle. From a distance it resembled a church. It was hard to believe that in its heyday it housed the lighthouse keeper, his wife, and their twelve children!

As we cruised, we saw a lot of kayak tours. It was the perfect weather for touring Arch Rock in a kayak.
This is the first time we saw kayaks launched and retrieved from a boat. Maybe on our next visit, we will try this.
 The cruise showed us what we couldn't see from our hikes, as a lot of the rocks were below cliffs.

Sunday, Bob and I hiked to Au Sable Lighthouse. There were two trailheads and we took the one that was deemed most scenic, it was also the longest. Our trailhead began at Log Slide Viewing Area and headed west along the coastline to the lighthouse. We could see the lighthouse from the trailhead and we knew there would be many ups and downs to reach it.
 The trail was part of North Country Trail which is the longest footpath in the United States.
 As we traveled to the lighthouse, Lake Superior with its rocky shore was on our right.
 We finally came around a corner and saw the lighthouse, the trees were so thick that we couldn't see it until we were almost on it!
 The first building near the shore held the fog horn apparatus.
From this building, we continued on to the lighthouse and were able to tour it. We went all the way to the top for the view. The dunes in the background are where we started this hike!
 Then it was time to travel down those 90 something steps to hike back to the log slide.
 Along the trail, there were many boardwalks and this crazy bridge that was definitely not level!
Traveling to the lighthouse we only saw one other hiker, but returning to the trailhead, we saw several groups that were hiking North Country Trail...they were headed to Au Sable Primitive Campground to spend the night.

Once we arrived back at our trailhead, we stopped to watch people slide down the STEEP dune. It takes less than a minute to slide down...but over an hour to climb back up!
 At the base of the dune, we saw a boat anchored, enjoying the beautiful day on Lake Superior.
 Bob and I continued to the car and then drove to Grand Marais, the end of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We visited the local pub/brewery, and then returned to Bay Furnace.

On Monday, we went with Larry and Connie on a day trip to Kitch Iti Kipi State Park. Kitch Iti Kipi is the largest natural spring in Michigan. This barge which is on a cable, takes you over the boil and to the other side.
 The water is a gorgeous blue/green and there are all sorts of trout swimming in the spring. No fishing is allowed in this park, so the fish are huge!
 It was a dreary day, but not cold.

 From Kitch Iti Kipi we continued on our sightseeing tour and visited Indian Lake State Park before stopping for lunch in a lakeside restaurant.

Tuesday was our last day at Bay Furnace, so Bob and I took advantage of another beautiful day to hike to Miner's Falls, Miner's Rock, and Miner's Beach.

Our first hike was to Miners Falls.
Along the trail we saw this tree with some strange roots...it must have been started on a nurse log that is no longer there.
 The falls were flowing pretty good, there was rain the night before we hiked.
 Our next hike was to Miners Rock. First we viewed the rock from an overlook...
 Then we got as close as the trail would let us. The rock and hikers are protected....there is no climbing allowed as the rock is fragile.
 Then it was on to Miners Beach.
The trail followed North Country Trail until that trail continued east and we headed for the beach. Yes, there were boardwalks on this trail as well.
As we were approaching the beach, we saw one of the Pictured Rocks boats heading back to town.
Miners River flows into the lake near the beach.
There were quite a few people on the trail. We talked to one couple who winter in Florida and have a home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Another young couple was having trouble reading their trail map and we explained how to follow the trail to the beach as another man and his teenagers who missed the beach told them you couldn't get to the lake on this trail.

We enjoyed our time at Bay Furnace and would like to return to do more of the activities offered in this part of Michigan.

Wednesday would be moving day...on to Sault Ste. Marie!