After Nashville we were going to meet up with Cassie and her family in WI for the 4th of July and decided to go to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the two weeks before the 4th. On our way to the UP we decided to drive along Lake Michigan and stop to visit one of Joe’s fellow Toro friends who retired a few years after Joe and recently bought a summer cabin outside of Traverse City in the beautiful woods of Michigan. Paul spent a day showing us the sites in this area of Michigan which we had not been to. We eat lunch at Joe’s Tavern in Empire which was quaint. We took a walk in Sleeping Bear sand dunes, checked out a lighthouse, and just enjoyed a drive through the wooded area of Michigan. Really Michigan is so much like northern MN or Northern WI. We had a great time with Paul and can’t wait to see his cabin when he completes his remodeling.
Our goal in Michigan was to visit Grand Marais, MI. For those who really know us, know how much we love Grand Marais, Minnesota. This is where I want my final resting place. My ashes will be left in Grand Marias or I will come back to haunt my children but I got off my point. When we talk to people about Grand Marais, Minnesota we have been told we must visit Grand Marais, Michigan because it is so beautiful so that was our goal this trip – see this other “beautiful” Grand Marais. So off we went across the Mackinac Bridge but our first stop was at Sault St Marie so see the locks. We stayed at Aune-Osborne campground which was right next to the locks so we were so close to the big ships going into and coming out of the locks. It was great just watching the ships all day. The Soo Locks enable ships to travel between Lake Superior and the Lower Great Lakes. The locks are located on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Our campsite was on the St. Marys River. Pretty impressive!
From here we were off to Grand Marais, Michigan. Our route was on the Lake Superior Circle Tour except to get to Grand Marais you have to turn off the main road and drive 25 miles to the end of a road to get to Grand Marais and Lake Superior. Grand Marais, MI is a town of about 800 people with not much there. Don’t get me wrong, it is small town USA with a grocery/hardware store, one gas station, a few restaurants/bars, a marina, a hotel, and a pickle museum. We did take a nice hike one day to see Sable Falls and walk 199 steps down to Lake Superior and 199 steps back up to the truck. Nice hike! There isn’t even a close comparison to OUR Grand Marais. But it is all in the eyes of the beholder but this person doesn’t need to return to Michigan’s Grand Marais.
Sixty miles from Grand Marais, MI is the town of Munising. Between Munising and Grand Marais is the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. If you want to see the beauty of the Pictured Rocks you must take a boat tour out of Munising at a cost of $45 a person. It was beautiful but be prepare to be at the boat landing an hour before the departure time because the line gets long to get the best seats on the boat.
On this leg of our travels we had a little issue with the truck. Those familiar with a newer diesel truck know there is a tank next to the diesel tank for DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid). So I will try to explain this as best as a female can explain anything “truck”. Joe puts this stuff (DEF)in this tank by purchasing a 2 gallon container of this stuff when we are running low. He has been buying it at Walmart because they carry one of the recommended brands. He has a little tester that he tests the stuff with before he dumps it into the tank to make sure it is good because it can sit on the Walmart shelf over its shelf life (he also checks dates on the box to make sure it isn’t outdated). So we are in someplace Michigan and he does everything he is supposed to do and dumps that stuff in the tank. We are about 50 miles out of Traverse City, hooked up with the 5th wheel heading out to the UP and we get a warning on the truck that the DEF is bad get to an authorized Dodge dealer. The truck gives you another 200 miles and it will shut down (it does not want you driving with bad DEF). So Joe finds a Dodge dealer in Traverse City but they are booked and can’t do anything until Monday. Joe explains the situation and the guy was nice enough and told us to bring it in and he would see if he could work on it. We dropped the 5th wheel in a Walmart parking lot next to the dodge dealer and they were able to do what they needed to do to fix it or so we thought. Off we went to Sault St Marie, Grand Marais and Munising and set off down the road heading towards WI the warning came on again. This time we are in nowhere land and we are worried. We ended up back tracking to a small dodge dealer off our route about 125 miles from where we were and again the dealer was so great to get us in and run whatever they run to get our DEF stuff working. This dealer told us that Joe’s tester might not be the best way to see if the DEF is good or not. The best way is to smell it. It should smell like ammonia. So guess whose job it is to be the sniffer? You got it – Joe has a terrible sniffer and I got the job. We will see how this works. Another problem on the road but all is well just a few more gray hairs.
Yesterday we ran into a couple as we were checking into a RV park who excitingly told us that it was their first day of retirement and first day of being full-timers. They were as full of excitement as were we for them. We had a short but nice visit with them talking about all the wonderful things about being full-time RVers. As Joe and I walked away we realized that when we talk to other full-timers about our wonderful lifestyle it never comes up the little bumps in the road we experience. We only share all the wonderful places we have visited and how blessed we are. We have just started our seventh year of full-timing and wonder where those past six years went. We have so many more places to see – so many more things to experience – so many more people to meet and God willing we will have at least another six years to continue on this journey.
Yesterday a couple stopped by as we were sitting outside. They had driven by and did a U-turn and came back to tell us that we have a beautiful 5th wheel. We are so blessed in so many ways!
Stay safe! Love to all our family and friends. See you kids in Grand Marais, Minnesota in a few weeks!