We continue driving east on the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan exploring the coast of Lake Superior and the eastern Hiawatha National Forest. Taking notes and making tentative plans for our UP Michigan Tour slated for August 2023.
Our next stop is in Sault Ste. Marie. A place full of historic significance for the Great Lakes region. It is here in Sault Ste. Marie that locks were constructed connecting Lake Superior with Lake Huron and Lake Michigan making it possible for ships to pass through .
Inside the tower there’s an elevator to the top observation deck.. There is a nominal fee to use the elevator. If you are feeling energetic, take the long stairs to the top for free.
Pics from the Top of the Tower of History
Pics from the Road in the UP
After leaving Sault Ste. Marie, we back-tracked a little and drove back into the eastern side of the Hiawatha National Forest. Our next stop is a first-come-first serve national forest campground called “Soldier Lake.”
Join us next time as we continue our exploration of the UP, making stops at Michigan’s Straits State Park and take a ferry to Mackinac Island. Until next time, safe travels everyone…
We continued our scouting tour of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan leaving Munising Falls and travelling east to Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. We decided to go the road less traveled and chose to camp in the Little Beaver Lake Campground which is part of the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.
Little Beaver Lake Campground is a hidden gem, literally. The dirt road leading us down through the steep hills of the national forest has so many sharp curves that the length of vehicles is limited to no more than 36 feet for motor homes and if towing a trailer, the length cannot exceed 42 feet.
Since our Leisure Travel Van (LTV) is only 25 feet 1 inch long, we didn’t have any difficulty navigating the road down to Little Beaver Lake. Our campsite was located right on the shoreline of the lake.
Pics From The Road In The UP From Munising To Picture Rocks National Lakeshore
Even though we were now in the middle of July it was still quite chilly with day temps only getting to the low seventies and over night temps were in the upper forties, (fahrenheit). Also a thick fog would come into the campground every night, so thick it significantly reduced visibility and made it feel a little scary. Made us think about the buggy man and we were glad we weren’t in a tent. We felt warm, safe and dry in our LTV.
There were hiking trails there at Little Beaver Lake and “short” (MaryAnn’s definition of short is different than mine) walking distance to the beach along the shores of Lake Superior. Once we were settled into our campsite, which doesn’t take long when you are dry camping, we started out on a hike to Lake Superior.
The trail took us along some very high cliffs and some caves. This cave opening looked large enough to house Big Foot, if he really does exist…
Pics From Around The Lower Falls On Tahquamenon River
There are two areas to visit here at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls. The Upper Falls are the most popular and hardest to get to because of the crowds of people. So we decided to save the Upper Falls for next years LTV caravan tour.
In fact we decided to save the rest of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore for our 2023 UP Michigan LTV Tour as well. We need to have something to look forward to and to keep some of the mystery and adventure for next year.
On our next post we take a day trip to Sault Saint Marie and then go back into the Hiawatha National Forest (This time to the east side.) Thanks for coming along on our scouting adventure of the UP. Until next time, safe journey my friends…
In part eight of our summer roadtrip the adventure continues from the Porcupine Mountains in western Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan as we travel east to the city of Marquette. We camped for three nights at Tourist Park, a campground owned and operated by the city of Marquette. The campground was roomy with full services and is very well maintained. The staff are friendly and professional, I would give Marquette Tourist Park a 5 out of 5 star rating, we would definitely come back.
Marquette is a great place to ride bikes which we did a lot there. We rode our bikes downtown and found a great pizza restaurant called “Third Coast Pizza” and for desert we went about a half block up to an awesome bakery called “Baby Cakes”. The bakery has amazing pastries (including gluten free and sugar free). Come along as we explore Marquette and then travel deep into the Hiawatha National Forest and beyond…
Pics from the Road in the UP
Tourist Park is convienently located near downtown, but isolated enough to give that camping vibe. Paved bike trails lead directly into town and beyond.
Pasties have a cultural history of the UP dating back to the copper mining days. The wives would make these pasties with meat and potatoes and send them with their husbands into the mines to eat for lunch and dinner. Since then these pasties as they were affectionately called, have become a delicacy here in the UP. You haven’t been to the UP unless you have eaten a Pasty.
From Marquette we drove deep into the Hiawatha National Forest. MaryAnn and I prefer to be unplugged from electric and water hookups and camped in the wilderness far from the crowds. The fourth of July was approaching and we were hoping to avoid the noise of fireworks as well.
Since our Leisure Travel Van is completely self sufficient with solar, a diesel generator and lithium batteries and a full size bathroom (a “dry bath” for you RVers out there) we have no problem camping in the national forests, we make a point to be unplugged and in the national forests around the country whenever possible.
There a literally thousnds of campgrounds in the national forests around the country to chose from, we use a phone app called, “Campendium” to find the ones near us. In the UP there are so many campgrounds to chose from in the two national forests, the Ottawa in the west and the Hiawatha in the east, making it a little overwhelming trying to decide which campground to camp in, we look for campgrounds that don’t require reservations (first come – first serve).
By the way, we didn’t get a nice quite Fourth of July. Some locals came by the campground and treated us to some fireworks, there was even a parade with candy being thrown out to each campsite and people dressed up like farm animals singing the song, “Farmer in the Dale”! Don’t ask me, I haven’t a clue what “Farmer in the Dale” has to do with the 4th of July.
After Camp 7 Lake, we drove about 20 minutes to Kitch-Iti-Kipi – a fresh water spring in the Hiawatha National Forest. The name is Ojibwa, one of the native tribes in this region when the Europeans arrived and it means, “The Great Water, or “The Blue Sky I See, or “The Roaring Bubbling Spring”. Your guess is as good as mine.
After Leaving Kitch-Iti-Kipi, we drove back into civilization to the town of Munising, UP on the shores of Lake Superior. Without reservations, we camped in the overflow area, but still had electric and water hookups. We arrived on the Fourth of July and were treated to a parade and July 4th celebrations down at the harbor.
After our visit in Munising, we continued east through the UP stopping at the Munising Falls for a photo shoot. Our next stop will be in the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore.
Marquette, Hiawatha National Forest and Munising are definitely highlights on our summer roadtrip 2022. Next time we will explore some of Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. Be sure to tune in as our epic adventure in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula continues…
Our first stop in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan was at Copper Harbor. Named after the rush to mine the large deposits of copper in the area. The copper is long gone, but the history and scenic views remain. Come along as we explore Copper Harbor and near by Porcupine Mountains…
Pics from the road in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan
Historic Fort Wilkins at Copper Harbor
We liked the state park a lot and when we return here next year we plan to stay here at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. We would have stayed here this time, but the website indicated they were full. We rode our bikes over to this park from Fanny Hooe to explore it instead.
Pics from the Road in the UP
We invite you to join us as we continue our summer adventure 2022, exploring the UP of Michigan. Next time we head for one of the many highlights of this trip in Marquette…
On this part of our summer roadtrip 2022, we begin scouting out Wisconsin and then the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for our next Leisure Travel Van (LTV) Caravan Tour slated for 2023. We led a tour of southern Arizona in 2021 and we just ended a tour of Idaho in June of 2022. Now we’re planing to lead a caravan tour of 12 LTVs through the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan in August 2023.
The UP caravan tour, like the Arizona and Idaho tours, will be advertised by the Southwest Roadrunners LTV Travel Club, We are currently in the process of finalizing the itinerary for the UP tour.
We arrived on the banks of the Mississippi River, near Fountain City, Wisconsin and decided to spend the night at a Wisconsin state park called Merrick State Park. We thought the Wisconsin state parks would be cheaper than staying at a private park, but because of an $11 non-state residence fee per night, we actually paid the same amount as we would have at a private RV park. Plus Wisconsin state parks don’t have water or sewer hookups at the campsites, they only have electric at the campsites.
Pics from the Road to Merrick State Park, Wisconsin
Can’t see them in this picture, but this state park is swarming with mosquitoes! We had to spend a good part of our stay here sequestered inside our tiny house. Between the mosquitoes, gnats and biting flies we were completely out number and over whelmed!
During our night at Merrick State Park we decided to change our plans to go to Duluth, Minnesota. We saw on the map an interesting area in northern Wisconsin called, “Apostle Islands” on the shoreline of Lake Superior that looked interesting and it’s part of the National Lakeshore. Duluth will just have to wait for another trip at another time.
Pics from the Road to the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
Views from our campsite on the shores of Lake Superior, Apostle Islands
Pics from Our Cruise Tour of the Apostle Islands
We decided there’s so much to see and do here in the Apostle Islands that this place will be our rendezvous for the beginning of our UP Michigan Tour in 2023.
In the Next post we continue our exploration for next years UP tour in Copper Harbor, Michigan…
Before we left Devil’s Tower, we took a group picture of our mini caravan travelers. Then we continued our summer roadtrip to South Dakota and Mount Rushmore.
Pics from the Road
Gutzon Borglum is the artist who carved the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore. But do you know the history of one of the other carvings Gutzon Borglum has done?
Here’s a usurp from one of my earlier post, “I’ve Got Georgia on My Mind, Part Five – Stone Mountain” – “It was the bust of Lincoln that prompted Helen Plane, President of United Daughters of the Confederacy, to contact Gutzon Borglum (the same man who would later carve the images of Mount Rushmore) about the Possibility of doing a head of Robert E. lee on the side of Stone Mountain in Georgia. He agreed to visit the site in 1915 but upon seeing the size of the place he said, “Ladies, the head of Lee on the side of that mountain would look like a postage stamp on a barn door!” Having thus crushed their dream, he proceeded to give them a new one –a large group featuring Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback followed by a column of soldiers. Because of World War I, work at Stone Mountain did not begin until 1923. Carving was limited to jackhammers and chisels until a visiting Belgian engineer taught Borglum the use of dynamite for precise work. The head of Lee was unveiled in 1924. Soldiers in the audience who served with the Confederate leader were moved to tears by the likeness.
However, trouble had been brewing between Borglum and the businessmen directing the project, and Borglum was abruptly dismissed. He destroyed his models in order to protect his design and this so angered the directors that a warrant was issued for his arrest and he was forced to flee Georgia. Augustus Lukeman is hired to replace Borglum and Borglum’s head of Lee was removed. In fact, none of Borglum’s work survived when the carving was finally finished in 1970.”
Just an interesting back story of the man who carved Mount Rushmore.
Pics from the Road
After leaving Mount Rushmore we stopped for the night at Wind Cave National Park. Situated just south of Mount Rushmore, the park is a must for every explorer. We have yet to see the cave do to lack of time and the fact that there are a lot of steps leading down into the cave and of course a lot of steps coming back up out of the cave. Because of health challenges we decided to continue down the road.
More Pics from the Road
Our mini caravan tour ended just west of Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the town of Mitchell. From here Nathan and Paula will go to Sioux Falls to visit a friend for a few days and then they will head out on their own to Wisconsin and parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then on to Indiana to attend a wedding.
Danny and Paulette head east on a fast track to Massachusetts to attend a funeral. While we will continue on to Iowa then Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.
We parted with a word of prayer and then continued our summer roadtrip alone for the first time since we left home in Arizona almost two months ago. It was strange to be on our own again and seemed kind of scary with no one talking to us on the radio and no one to share our adventures. But, we did continue texting each other as our roads got further and further apart.
Pics from the Road
Visiting Minnesota and Iowa means we now only have Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio in order to fulfill our goal of visiting every state of the Union, except Hawaii of course, with our Leisure Travel Van! It’s taken us about 4 and a half years and over 80,000 miles to do it!
We didn’t spend a lot of time in Minnesota. Once we discovered Minnesota has a state law that all gas stations must sell bio-diesel. Also, no one could tell us exactly how much the percentage of bio-diesel was at the pumps, the sign says, “5-20% bio-diesel.” Our Mercedes engine can only handle 5%, any more than that is not good for our engine and we would need to change the oil as soon as possible after using 20% bio-diesel since it will thin out the oil. So we left Minnesota as soon as possible.
The bike trails were great here at Spirit Lake. The trails made it easy to explore the area and visit the nearby communities. We road our bikes every day for about twenty miles a day. E-bikes of course.
The road of life continues on through ups and downs, twists and turns. We don’t know what is waiting for us over the next ridge and there’s no way to be prepared for every possibility, good or bad the road never stops and there is no way we can prevent what happens next.
Fortunately there is someone ready to carry us over the mountains and through the valleys that the road of life may bring us. That someone is Jesus Christ. Only call upon His name in both the good, bad and terrible and Jesus will lift us up and carry us.
Next time the road takes us to Wisconsin. Where we battle mosquitoes along the banks of the Mississippi River and camp on the shores of Lake Superior. Until next time may the peace of Jesus Christ that passes all understanding be with you….
We decided to leave Yellowstone behind and continue our caravan tour driving east from the Gallatin National Forest in western Montana. Our next stop would be Cody, Wyoming. What is there to do in Cody? Plenty! Everything from river rafting to museum exploring along with dinner, a concert and the longest running rodeo in the world.
We parked our Leisure Travel Vans (LTV) at Ponderosa RV Park in Cody. The rv park is conveniently located within walking distance of the best museum I have ever explored and I have explored a lot of museums.
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a must see the next time your in Wyoming. It’s actually five museums in one and in order to see everything there allow at least one to two days, perhaps three, especially if you like to read and see everything.
Cody, named after Buffalo Bill Cody a historical icon of the Wild West, has a lot to offer anyone interested in learning more about how the West was won and tamed.
The Cody Cattle Company offers a great deal on dinner (Old West Style), a country music concert and a rodeo all together on the same night. A van came to the rv park to pick us up and transport us to all the festivities. First up is an all-you-can-eat country western style dinner and concert. After the concert the van then transported us to the longest running rodeo in the world. After the rodeo the van takes people back to the rv park. A great night of entertainment. If you don’t like rodeos there’s a ticket that doesn’t include the rodeo and the van will bring you back to the rv park after the dinner/concert.
After a great weekend in Cody we continued driving east. Our next stop will be Devil’s Tower National Monument in eastern Wyoming. About 20 miles south of Devil’s Tower the skies started to blacken and look very ominous and foreboding. Then weather alerts sounded on all our cell phones that a tornado had been sighted in our area and we should find shelter immediately.
Sirens were sounding the alarm and loudspeakers were giving the town of Moorcroft instructions to seek shelter immediately. The voice over the loudspeaker said a confirmed tornado had been sighted on the ground just northwest of town.
We were praying for protection from the storm and the Lord Jesus was faithful in keeping us safe. There aren’t any atheist in foxholes when the bombs are falling all around.
It was a scary experience, but in the end the tornado missed us and eventually the danger passed so that we could drive further east and stop for the night in Sundance, Wyoming.
Devil’s Tower National Monument
We were determined to get to Devil’s Tower so the next day we drove north from Sundance to Devil’s Tower. As we approached the tower from the south the tower became visible from a long distance away.
Devil’s Tower is the site of the movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” 1977. Actually, the film crew for the movie only spent a few minutes filming here for the movie and they were never at the top of the tower as indicated in the movie.
Nathan, Paula, MaryAnn and Paulette hiked around the base of the tower. Danny and me sat on a bench at the visitors center and waited for their return.
In our next post we continue our summer road trip 2022 driving east to South Dakota, Mount Rushmore and beyond. Come along as our road trip adventure continues…
Immediately following the Leisure Travel Van (LTV) Caravan Tour of Idaho 2022 we started part three of our summer road trip with two other LTV couples. On this part of our summer adventure we head for the Grand Teton National Park and then on to Yellowstone. Along the way we have the privilege of seeing more wildlife then I think we saw on our entire caravan through the Maritimes in 2019, a 7 month journey from our home in southern Arizona.
A much smaller caravan this time with plans to explore as many of the national parks as we can on our way to scout out the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for our next caravan tour in 2023.
Since we purchased our LTV in September 2017 we set a goal for ourselves to visit every state in the Union with our LTV. In 4 1/2 years of ownership (soon to be 5) and over 80,000 miles, we have only 7 states left to visit: Hawaii (of course), Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. We intend to fulfill this goal on this trip through the mid-west. Obviously we won’t be taking our LTV to Hawaii – we had to get on a plane in order to check it off the list.
Pics from the Road – American Falls, Idaho to The Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park
The Grand Teton National Park is one of our favorite of the national parks. We were here last year and back again this year, looking at these majestic giants never gets old for us.
If you plan to camp inside the park I recommend getting reservations 6 months to a year in advance. Last year we managed to get 2 nights inside the park. This year we were just outside the main gate about a mile at Gros Ventre Campground.
Grand Teton Mountain Range
Pics from the road between Grand Tetons and Yellowstone
Pics from the Road in Yellowstone
We didn’t spend a lot of time in Yellowstone this year. We did stop to watch Old Faithful again. Next post we continue east from the national forest in Montana to Cody, Wyoming and then on to Devil’s Tower.
Immediately after the Southwest Roadrunner’s Leisure Travel Van (LTV) rally in Reno, Nevada we started our LTV caravan tour of Idaho. Our itinerary for this years caravan tour started in Reno with a 4 hour drive to Wells, Nevada. This years caravan had 12 Leisure Travel Vans, including ours.
Our itinerary for the tour of Idaho was planned to be a 17 night/18 day adventure. We will visit Hagerman/Twin Falls; Glenns Ferry/Three Islands State Park; Boise; Cascade; McCall; Lewiston/Hells Gate State Park; Lake Coeur d’Alene/Heyburn State Park; Hamilton, Montana; Stanley/Sawtooth Mountains; Arco/Craters of the Moon National Monument; and American Falls, Idaho.
Twin Falls, Idaho
Our first stop in southern Idaho was at the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls and Hagerman, Idaho. The water was low for this time of year, (May) but still beautiful.
Pics from the Road in Idaho
We lost the latch in the door to our LTV while we were in Reno just before we left for this trip. Not a show stopper, the deadbolt still worked so we continued on with our caravan tour of Idaho as planned.
However, on the highway between Twin Falls and Hagerman, Idaho the house door started rattling and shaking as we were going down the road to the point that I thought we might lose the door. So I strapped the door in place with a strong tie down strap that Tai, another LTV owner on the tour had given me. After talking to Leisure Travel Vans in Canada and calling around to local RV dealers in the area as we were traveling, I found out that the entire door lock would have to be replaced and no one had one available.
I finally found the lock I needed on Amazon and made arrangements for it to be shipped to McCall. Idaho to the RV park we were going to be staying at a few days later. But in Boise after texting a picture to various repair shops, I found a dealer about 10 miles from the High Valley RV Park where we were staying that had the lock assembly in stock. On our way to our next stop in Cascade we stopped and bought the lock assembly and cancelled the Amazon order, thinking “a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.”
One of the benefits of traveling with other LTV owners is that when things don’t go as planned there are people who can help solve the many challenges that can occur while we are on the road.
On our Alaska caravan in 2018, one of our solar panels on the roof caught on fire. There were ten LTV owners also in our caravan who came running to help us with this problem.
Of the 12 couples that joined us on this years caravan tour, 6 couples were with us on last years tour of southern Arizona. The southern Arizona tour lasted 12 nights and covered all of southern Arizona south of Tucson.
Hells Gate State Park, Lewiston, Idaho
Heyburn State Park, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
In order to travel to the Sawtooth Mountains from the Lake Coeur d’Alene area we had to take interstate 90 east through Montana. There were mountains in our way that we had to go around since our LTVs don’t have wings.
Custer City, Idaho – Ghost Town.
We took a side trip to see a ghost town called Custer City. It’s the ruins of an abandoned mining town from the 1800’s. There are volunteers there dressed in the clothing worn by the long gone residence of the town who will answer any questions about the people who once lived here.
If you ever find yourself driving through the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, I highly recommend stopping here at Custer City. It requires driving on a dirt road for a few miles, but definitely worth it. There’s a lot of sad stories here at Custer, stories of how the people lived in this harsh environment and also how they died. Most died from the extreme harsh winters, the town was completely isolated and cut off from the outside world for several months each year. Its amazing what people are willing to do, especially in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries for the hope of sticking it rich.
When driving the road to Custer, it will also take you back in time in an area that still bears the scars from over 200 years ago when the miners used large water cannons to blast away the sides of the mountains looking for gold. You can see large piles of gravel on each side of the road from these water cannons.
Stanley, Idaho – Sawtooth Mountains
Arco, Idaho – Craters of the Moon National Monument
On our way to Arco, Idaho we stopped at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Craters of the Moon is all about the volcano activity here in Idaho. Interesting place that reminded me a lot of Big Island, Hawaii.
Pics from the Road in Idaho
American Falls, Idaho.
After our 18 day trip through Idaho ended, the next day MaryAnn and I continued traveling with two other LTV owners to the Grand Teton National Park and beyond. Stay tuned to see what happens in our next post as we continue our Summer Road trip 2022…
Listen… Can you hear them… Can you hear the little voices calling? It’s the road calling, and we must obey…
We replaced our refrigerator which took an entire day to do since we chose to go with the NorCold refrigerator instead of the original Dometic refrigerator. The NorCold was less expensive, about $600 less than the Dometic and slightly smaller. We also replaced the sealant on the roof, reattached the bathroom cabinet to the wall and replaced the pee-trap under the bathroom sink. Our house door latch and locks needed to be replaced, however that turned out to be more complicated than we had expected since the lock on the house door is connected to the door FOB for the cab doors. We did replaced the latch for the screen door, but left the outside door lock alone since we would lose the use of the FOB if we replaced it.
After spending the night at a friends house in Las Vegas, we continued our trip to Reno. A long the way we stoped at a state park called Fort Churchill. This park is a day use only park that contains ruins of a fort from back in the 1800”s and a museum. Allow about an hour and a half if you plan to stop here. The park is located on State Route 95 west of Las Vegas.