Bump on the head is gone and along with that the weeklong headache. We stayed in Ohio for 2 ½ weeks. When we left Ohio Zach and Lauren’s kitchen looked really nice. They had a little work left but the cabinets were up and that is what we were there to help with. The rest was up to them. Since we left they have been sending pictures and have installed the dishwasher, stove, and microwave. They just need the countertop and trim and it will be done. It was a long process for them but I think they would agree it turned out beautiful. They also learned some lessons on the way like you can’t always use the recommendation of a friend for a contractor, but that is another whole story and one for Zach to tell. Joe and I can now hire out to assemble IKEA kitchen cabinets. We are now experts at ripping out cabinets, assembling and hanging cabinets. Well maybe not experts and maybe that would be Joe is the expert at hanging the cabinet and the two of us together to assemble. Oh well, it was fun but not a career choice either of us would make.
We decided to take a northern route back to Minnesota and see Michigan and the UP. This would be our first time in Michigan and were looking forward to it since we’ve heard so much about the beauty of the UP. Our first stop was at Bristol, IN, close to Elkhart, the RV capital of the US (or maybe the world). For some reason we both have always wanted to see where so many of the RVs are made. Maybe Joe thought it was great but for me it was ‘boring’. I guess you can make an appointment to do a tour of a plant but all we saw was fenced in areas of RVs after RVs. By driving through the area I would say there is no shortage of RVs. The inventories are plentiful. What we both loved about the area was the Amish people. Everywhere we drove we saw the horse drawn buggies. We drove through the countryside to look at the beautiful farm land with the neat little white houses and the horses and buggies sitting out front. We went to an Amish bakery called Rise and Roll Bakery & Deli that said it had the world’s best donuts (that was supposed to be in Grand Marais, MN). This store was out in the country but when you pulled into the parking lot you’d think you were in a big city. The lot was full and people were standing in line at both the bakery and deli. There was also an Amish store with so many homemade items; pickles, jams, pies, cookies, candies, relishes and on and on. We picked up a few things and then stood in line for the bakery. I think Joe and I both thought these donuts cannot be as good as ‘our’ Grand Marais donuts. We each picked out one donut and with our goodies we went outside to try the donut. WOW! There was no comparison to Grand Marias (sorry GM). We went back inside and bought donuts for our breakfast the next morning. Out of this world, fresh, melt in your mouth donuts. Glad we weren’t staying in this area.
Just have to mention that we stayed in a private campground in Bristol which neither Joe or I like but it was a weekend when state parks are hard to get into unless you have reservations. Number one reason for not liking private campgrounds – golf carts. Hate those things! Maybe someday I’ll eat my words but for now I do hate those things. For some reason the private parks, especially those that consist mostly of seasonal renters have golf carts running all over and this particular park even rented them. So you have these carts running all over and they have no problem running you off the road if you are biking or walking. I don’t get why young people can’t walk from their campsite to the swimming pool or bathroom or taking the garbage to the dumpster. Some might call it fun but I call it laziness – okay off my soap box. So we will look for more state parks or private parks that don’t have seasonal renters.
As we travelled into Michigan we stayed at two nice state parks, one on Lake Michigan, P.J. Hoffmaster in Muskegon and the other on Higgins Lake in Roscommon called North Higgins State Park. Both were really nice and we would easily go back to either one. We did notice a difference in travelling during the summer than we do travelling in the winter. In the winter you see families only on weekends in the state parks but travelling during the summer months we see families everyday of the week in the parks. It is so good to see families enjoying the beauty of our country’s state parks. Sometime Joe and I say we’d like a little quietness after camping next to a busy family but then we think about how much fun they are having as a family and just watching the kids enjoying outside makes us smile. We have had some pretty grumpy old farts next to us that haven’t been much fun so we will take the fun loving families any day.
We decided we would spend a couple of days close to Mackinac Island so we could check out the island. We were able to get one of the three remaining sites at Straits State Park in St. Ignace, MI for three nights. The ranger told us to go look at the three sites before we took one. Very nice park but as most state parks we have been in you have either unlevel sites, to many trees on the site or too small for our unit. That is exactly what these three sites were. The only one we thought would be manageable would be the smallest site at only 25 ft long. Our 5th wheel happens to be 33 ft and then we have the truck. The ranger said as long as we could get our vehicles in between the two white lines on the road you can take the spot. Joe did a little maneuvering and we were able to get in a 25 ft spot just fine. Of course we couldn’t use our fire pit or any of the grass but we fit between the two white lines. Michigan parks don’t care if you park on the grass or anywhere else as long as it’s between those lines.
St. Ignace is on the UP side of the Mackinac Bridge and Mackinaw City is on the Lower Michigan side. The Trolls are people from lower side of the bridge and the Uppys are from the UP side. I tell you this because we met some interesting trolls during our stay (and they call themselves trolls).
The weather didn’t look favorable for the three days that we were going to be in the area plus there was a huge old car show and drive the Friday and Saturday we were there. We decided to go over to Mackinac Island on Thursday. Cars are not allowed on the island so we decided to take our bikes. There is an 8 mile flat paved bike trail around the perimeter of the island with many more challenging trails through the center of the island. We bought our tickets for the ferry the day before and discovered that a shuttle would pick us up along with our bikes for no cost at the state park although it did cost more to take your bikes over on the ferry. It is cheaper to take your bike than rent on the island. Thursday morning the shuttle picked us up at 9a.m. and we caught the 9:30 ferry. We meet two very nice women, one a troll and one an uppy, who were going to the island and they gave us a lot of useful information. There are only three modes of transportation on the island; bike, walk or carriage pulled by horses. You can rent any kind of bike you want, you can take a tour on a horse drawn carriage or you can rent a horse drawn carriage and drive it yourself around the perimeter. We had our bikes and because it looked like rain we decided to do the 8 mile biking trail around the island first. It was a nice ride but a lot busier than we anticipated. A couple of times we had to stop when someone was coming towards us but not watching where they were going. It might make sense if they had all the bikers going in one direction. Anyhow it was a beautiful ride and it just started to sprinkle as we came back into the town. We found a place to chain up our bikes which isn’t easy because there are only a few thousand bikes on the island and find a place to have lunch and hope the rain stops. I had brought raingear with but most of the time we were able to stay under the awnings of the buildings. We found a nice Italian restaurant with outside seating under a cover and had a wonderful lunch watching the carriages and people pass as the rain came down hard. The rain stopped about the same time we finished our lunch and we took off for a hike to see the sites in the central part of the island. Our shuttle driver told us not to take our bikes if we did the central trails because they were steep. We shouldn’t have listened to him. They were hilly but we’ve done worse. We ended up walking on the paved roads that the tours in the horse drawn carriages took and it wasn’t just one or two carriages. So I don’t have to tell you what we had to walk around, through, and smell. At first it was a nice walk through the woods but after a mile or two we both were ready to be away from the smell and the horses. Neither Joe or I are much for shopping in these tourist places so we only stopped at one of the several dozen fudge shops to buy a taste of fudge that Mackinac Island is suppose to be so famous for and off to the dock to catch the 5:30 ferry back to St. Ignace and our shuttle home. It was a great day but it is one of those places that once you see it you don’t have to go back.
Friday we went into St. Ignace to see some of the old cars. We met a troll who stopped Joe to ask him about the t-shirt he was wearing (Joe had on his shirt from Churchill, Canada). This was another character that was interesting that Joe just picked up on the street. He lived in the area all of his life and gave us many interesting facts. BUT this fact I know for sure is not true. He told us that before we left the area we had to taste whitefish, the best fish (where did we hear that story before – could it have been those terrible mullets in Florida). I had had perch the night before and they were wonderful so I asked him to compare the whitefish with a walleye. He laughed and said they consider walleye garbage and throw them away. WHAT? So I know for a fact the whitefish can’t be the best tasting fish. Garbage? A walleye? We did go to a fish market the next day to buy some whitefish but just looking at them I knew they couldn’t be as good as a walleye. I think I would have disliked those whitefish even if they were good after what the troll said.
We were told that on Friday night at 7:00 a thousand old cars would drive from Mackinaw City over the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace. We rode our bikes from the campground to the highway to watch. The police came, closed the highway for the regular traffic and we were waiting for the cars to come and it started to pour. Not just a little rain but a real downpour. No raingear this time. We tried standing under a tree but then just gave up and rode our bikes back. At times it rained so hard I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. We laughed so hard when we got back. It has been a very, very long time since I played in the rain where I was soaked down to my undies.
One little note about the Mackinac Bridge. Before we got to the bridge we stopped at a visitor center to get information. In the literature it said the bridge is said to be the eighth wonder of the world. It is compared to the Golden Gate Bridge with the Mackinac Bridge being over 2,000 feet longer. And yes you have to pay a toll to cross either of these bridges but if I would pick the eighth wonder of the world and I had to pick between those two bridges it would have to be the Golden Gate. I think the residents of Michigan have a bridge to be proud of but the Golden Gate, in my opinion, is truly beautiful.
Off we leave the Mackinac area to make our way back to Ojibwa, WI and then Minnesota. But on the way we stopped at a nice county park, Gladstone Bay, on Lake Michigan and Lake Gogebic State Park in Gogebic, MI. Both very nice parks and of course we would like one park more than the other because our site at Lake Gogebic sat right on the lake. This is always our preference. But along with the lake came Mayflies. The Mayflies were horrible. The ranger said because they had such a late winter the Mayflies were late and really bad. At least they don’t bite!
Michigan did not disappoint us. What we saw of the state was absolutely beautiful especially the UP. Maybe it was because it reminded us so much of northern Minnesota. We have always been drawn to forests, lakes and wildlife and Michigan has all of that. We did notice that the people in the Michigan state parks were not as friendly as other state parks across the country. Maybe it is us but I can’t tell you about one person that we met in a state park in Michigan. No one talked to us except to say hi. Maybe summer campers are busier than winter campers and they just want to come and relax and not visit. We’ll have to pay more attention next winter when we head south.
So we are back in Ojibwa sitting at the kid’s land enjoying the lake but are lonely because Cassie, Aaron and Cate aren’t here. We will see them in a few days but until then it is too quiet.
Stay safe and if you are camping visit with your neighbor. After all it could be us.