RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 12 & 13

Tuesday, October 13th and Wednesday October 14th, 2020

This morning the sun was shining and the temperature was perfect!

On Matilda’s walk I saw an RV that was decorated with the UM football decor. I had to take a picture of it since we are huge Buckeye fans and add my own adornment to the RV.

Go Buckeyes!

We were on the road mid-morning to head to the harbor town of Ludington that is located by Lake Michigan. It was about a three hour drive.

Our campground for tonight was at Whispering Surf Campground at Bass Lake. The campground is surrounded by the North Woods. Bass Lake is on one edge of the grounds and if you cross the road by the entrance it’s a five minute walk to Lake Michigan!

Our campsite! There was only one other family staying the night so the campground was quiet!

Once we were settled in, we went to visit White Pine Village. It is a historic village of the late 19th and early 20th century pioneers. You self-tour through 30 exhibit buildings. It is normally a living-history tour but due to Covid-19 you are on your own. We had the area to ourselves.

There were many artifacts and archives in the buildings that represent the area. It took about two hours to tour the village. It was nice not to have to dodge people!

Along the road back we stopped and looked at the hydroelectric plant and reservoir, the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant that sits on 1,000 acres along Lake Michigan.

When we got back to the campground we walked to the beach at Bass Lake. It is a small lake of 524 acres and it is popular for fishing, sailing, canoeing, and kayaking.

Bass Lake

After dinner we walked over from our campsite to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset and it did not disappoint!

Wednesday morning we packed up and took Matilda on her morning walk. There were quite a few wild turkeys around our campsite! Matilda ignored them and they ignored her!

Then we started our six hour drive home.

It was uneventful and Matilda was thrilled to be back home. We had a wonderful trip in Michigan and many new memories!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 11

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Today begins our drive from the Upper Peninsula to the Lower Peninsula! We gave Matilda her relaxation medicine because we are driving from Ontonagon to Petoskey which is about six and a half hours away! Petoskey is located on the shore of Lake Michigan.

A beautiful drive heading to Petoskey.

It was a cloudy day with some light rain. We arrived at the Petoskey RV Resort mid-afternoon and got set up.

Then we drove into downtown Petoskey to explore the area. The Petoskey Chamber of Commerce was open but due to Covid-19 you couldn’t go inside. They opened their front door and placed a table blocking the entrance. The table had hand sanitizer and brochures about their town.

Petoskey Chamber of Commerce

As we were driving into Petoskey we saw the Kilwins Chocolate Kitchen that was giving tours. We didn’t take the tour but we did find one of their stores in downtown so of course we stopped in, looked around, and purchased some chocolate treats! They were delicious!

Petoskey has a historic gaslight shopping district. We window shopped as we strolled along!

Ernest Hemingway spent time every summer in Petoskey as a child, from 1899-1921. His first novel, “The Torrents of Spring” was set in Petoskey. There are signposts around the town of places that are associated with Hemingway. We visited quite a few of the various spots.

The area around Petoskey has many wineries so when we finished walking around downtown we drove out of town to a winery called Petoskey Farms Vineyard and Winery that was open for business out on their patio.

It was relaxing and a great way to finish our day! After our wine tasting we went back to our campsite and rested because we will be traveling to our next destination tomorrow!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 10

Sunday, October 11th, 2020

Today began in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. We didn’t have far to go because our campground was near the entrance.

The Porcupine Mountains are also called “The Porkies”. They are a group of small mountains in the Upper Peninsula. The park consists of 60,000 acres and it is one of the few wilderness areas left in the Midwest.

We did stop in the Wilderness Visitor’s Center to view the exhibits of the wildlife in the park. The Summit Peak Scenic Area. It was a little over a mile walk round trip. Along the trail there was a viewing deck and then farther on was the Summit Peak Tower which is the highest point in the park, close to 2,000 feet above sea level.

It was a beautiful view of the trees and Lake Superior in the distance.

From the Summit Peak area we drove through the park to the Presque Isle Scenic Area. We hiked the Presque Isle River Waterfall Loop. We crossed over the suspension bridge to follow the trail.

Suspension Bridge over the Presque Isle River

The river was flowing quickly! It was a very sunny day and it was hard to photograph the river without reflections or shadows. It was a beautiful day for a hike!

Potholes formed from the swirling current with pepples and sand causing these formations.

We hiked down to where the river empties into Lake Superior.

Matilda did well with all the wooden steps and paths. It was another day of a lot of walking! It’s a good thing that she loves to walk!

Part of the trail in the Presque Isle River trail

Manabezho Falls on the Presque Isle River and has a drop of about 25 feet. It is the largest of the falls that are on this river.

The Lake of the Clouds Overlook was our next stop. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a spot in the parking lot! The park officers were coordinating the parking situation, it was one vehicle out and then one vehicle in! We followed the less traveled trail to begin our climb to the various overlooks. We read later that this overlook is the most popular area in the park and even more popular during the fall! The Lake of the Clouds is located in a valley between two ridges in the Porcupine Mountains. We have many pictures from here and so deciding which photos to share was very difficult. Words can’t describe the beauty of the views here. Make sure you click through the pictures!

When we were back at our campsite, we crossed the street to look at Lake Superior before we travel tomorrow!

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is worth a visit. We spent just one day in the park but with all of the trails you could spend a lot of time hiking to the various areas. Matilda was tired and wanted to go to bed and sleep when we got back to the campsite!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 9

Saturday, October 10th, 2020

Today was a travel day from Wetmore to Ontonagon. Because of the changing leaves the drive was stunning.

Matilda was so happy when the three hour drive was over!

Matilda enjoying our new campsite!

Our campground is called Union River Big Bear and is located at the entrance to the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park which we will be visiting tomorrow!

We were told in advance to be prepared because we are camping in a remote wilderness area. And they weren’t kidding, no cell service! It was a great time to disconnect. We did have limited Wi-fi service in case of an emergency!

Across from the campground is Lake Superior and a sandy beach. It was a little chilly for a swim but we walked over and checked it out.

Once we were settled at our campsite we drove into the village of Ontonagon. It is located at the mouth of Ontonagon River on Lake Superior. Ontonagon Lighthouse is located in town. We followed the directions online and that took us to museum which was closed due to Covid-19. We drove all around looking for the lighthouse and finally found it across the Ontonagon River! You can only visit the lighthouse by taking a tour. The lighthouse is surrounded by private property and you have to be on a tour to see it! It is a 39 foot square tower.

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 8

Friday, October 9th, 2020

This morning we had to get Matilda up and moving for our first adventure of the day to visit Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum which are located beside each other. Matilda had to stay in the car when we purchased our ticket for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It opened in 1986 and it is the only museum dedicated to the shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. There were artifacts displayed from shipwrecked vessels with explanations of what caused the ship to sink as well as models of the ships.

When we finished reading about the various shipwrecks and looking at the artifacts in the museum we walked around the Whitefish Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was first lit in 1849 on Lake Superior and shone out over Whitefish Bay. It is the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior. The lighthouse is located at the end of an 80 mile shoreline and this stretch is known as the “shipwreck coast of Lake Superior”. More ships have been lost at Whitefish Point than any other part of the lake. The most famous is the Edmund Fitzgerald! (Queue Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”) The lighthouse was replaced in 1861 with a steel cylinder that is 80 feet tall.

We were unable to tour the lighthouse but we were able to tour the keepers quarters that are attached. We walked around the grounds and then drove to Tahquamenon Falls.

Along the Tahquamenon River we viewed two falls, the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. We walked through the park to the 116 steps that lead down to the gorge. Matilda walked with us but as we started down the steps we noticed that the steps between each flight were metal with small openings! So Dave carried her down and back up! At least Matilda weighs only 16 pounds compared to a young lady we passed who was carrying a dog that was probably 50-60 pounds! When we reached the bottom we had a panoramic view of the Lower and Upper Falls. These falls have been nicknamed the “Root Beer Falls” because of the brownish color.

The Lower Falls is 4 miles downstream from the Upper Falls and is a series of 5 smaller falls that cascade around an island.

Selfie with the Upper Falls in the background

After our hike back up the 116 steps we walked over to the 94 steps that lead to the Brink view. These steps also had the open metal so we took turns going down the steps and viewing the falls. Matilda didn’t need to worry about navigating the metal steps and getting stressed. Being that close to the Upper Falls that has a drop of nearly 50 feet, over 2,000 feet across, and a water flow over 50,000 gallons per second was quite majestic.

On our way back to the campground we saw a sign for the Crisp Point Lighthouse. We turned off the highway and the sign said 18 miles to the lighthouse. For about a mile the road was paved and then gravel. We thought OK gravel isn’t so bad but then it became a dirt road the rest of the way. I wish I’d taken a picture of the road conditions as we got farther down the road but I was too busy helping Dave avoid the dips that were quite deep in places.

Matilda was freaked out by the bumps and swerves that Dave had to manoeuvre. We had no cell service so I could just envision the car falling apart and us stuck out in the middle of nowhere! ­čś│ It was definitely an adventure. I even told Dave partly through to feel free to turn around but he was on a mission to see this lighthouse. It definitely is in a remote and secluded location. The dirt road went through the heavily wooded Lake Superior State Forest! We should have been in an all terrain vehicle! The 18 miles took well over an hour each way!

When we finally arrived at Crisp Point Lighthouse we took our time exploring the grounds. The lighthouse was built in 1875 and was one of the five Lake Superior U.S. life-saving service stations between Munising and Whitefish Point. It stands 58 feet tall.

The drive back was just as bad as the drive in! We passed a sign on the side of the road that stated that this was the spot where two sisters were rescued in 2015. Read more about their story here. https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2015/04/missing_sisters_survive_2_week.html

After our busy day and our adventure going to Crisp Point we relaxed around the campfire! It was another busy day exploring!

Relaxing with a glass of wine and a campfire!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 7

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Today was another very busy day for Matilda! She was a real trooper with all of the walking and stairs we did! As we drove toward Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore we pulled off the highway to view Alger Falls. It is fed by the Alger Creek and the water flows down the rocky cliffs. It isn’t a big falls but it was worth the stop.

Our first stop in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was to hike down to Miners Falls. It was a beautiful walk along the trail.

Hiking to the Miners Falls

It was a little over a half of a mile hike to get to the falls. Miners Falls drops about 40 feet and we could feel a light spray from the falls.

Matilda taking a rest after that hike!

Our next stop was to go to the Miners Castle Scenic Overlook. The Pictured Rocks are about 50 to 200 feet above Lake Superior and are made of sandstone and follow the shoreline for about 15 miles. They are called Pictured Rocks because of the mineral stain and the various colors occur when the groundwater comes out of the cracks and runs down the sandstone. The minerals that produce the various colors are: iron- red and orange, copper- blue and green, manganese- brown and black, and limonite- white. The best view of the Pictured Rocks is from the water. We tried for several days to reserve a spot but two of the days we were there the water was too rough due to the wind and because of the rescheduling of those we couldn’t get a spot until after we were on to our next location. We’ll just need to come back so we can see the view from the water! I will say it was spectacular from where we hiked along the trail.

We walked down to the Miners Beach along Lake Superior. The beach is a mile long.

Sable Falls also is located in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and it falls 75 feet. It is down 168 steps.

We continued our adventures in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and hiked to the Au Sable Point Lighthouse on the south shore of Lake Superior. It is a mile and a half walk to the lighthouse. Matilda got her workout today! Au Sable Point Lighthouse was built in 1873-1874. There also is a brick oil building, a fog signal building, and the tower and the keepers quarters. It became fully automated in 1958 and still operates.

The weather was gorgeous and our 1 1/2 mile walk back was beautiful! We then visited Munising Falls which was a much shorter walk, only 5-10 minutes. I’m sure Matilda was so happy with a short walk. I have to say she was a real trooper and did very well. We made sure we only took her on the trails that were dog friendly.

Munising Falls drops 50 feet over a sandstone cliff.

Our day was packed full of exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. My watch recorded over 9 miles and 25 flights of stairs. It’s no wonder Matilda was ready to relax at our campsite!

“I’m exhausted!”

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 6

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

This morning was a travel day from our campground in Cedarville to the Picture Rocks KOA RV Campground in Wetmore, Michigan. The drive was about 2 1/2 hours. We didn’t want to give Matilda her sedation drugs again so she had a calming chew and I held her.

The drive was beautiful!

Our campsite was surrounded by beautiful fall colors!

After we set up our camp, gave Matilda a nice walk around the campgrounds, and ate some lunch, we hopped in the car to explore the area! Our first stop was Palms Book State Park.

Kitch-iti-kipi (or it is also called “Big Spring”) is a short walk in the park and is a popular attraction. It is Michigan’s largest freshwater spring. The temperature of the water is always 45 degrees and it never freezes during the winter because of the constant temperature of the water flowing from the fissures in the underlying limestone. Every minute more than 10,000 gallons of water flows out of the fissures. It is about 40 feet deep and the water is very clear. You can see the trout swimming around and the fallen trees down below!

At Palms Book State Park was this “Prayer of the Woods”. The author is unknown but I really loved what it says! It’s a reminder of how we need to take care of our environment and not destroy it!

When we finished exploring the park, we drove around the town of Manistique. In town was the former Manistique Water Tower. It stands 137 feet high and is a Romanesque brick tower in an octagon shape . It was finished in 1922 and held 200,000 gallons of water. It was used until 1966 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Manistique Water Tower

We found the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse which was first lit in 1916 and still used today. It is square shaped and red in color! It is located on the east side of the harbor where the Manistique River flows into Lake Michigan.

After exploring the area, we needed to stop at the store to get a few groceries. The view from the store was dazzling!

We also spent some time driving around Munising which was located just down from our campground.

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 5

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Today we were going to spend the day on Mackinac Island and the weather was perfect. We took an early ferry and Matilda was not thrilled about the ride. Our ferry ride to the island included a ten minute detour under the Mackinac Bridge.

As we got close to the dock on Mackinac Island we passed the Round Island Passage Light and the Round Island Light which are located about 4 tenths of a mile apart.

We walked along the main street and headed up toward Fort Mackinac. Since we had the dog we walked around the fort but didn’t go in. We also walked past the Governor of Michigan’s summer residence.

We then started walking toward the Arch Rock. Our walk took us by some beautiful homes along the waterfront.

When we were at the top of one of our climbs we looked out over Mackinac Island and Lake Huron. The view was spectacular and the lake water looked like the waters of the Caribbean.

Looking over the island toward the lake.
Such beautiful shades of blue water!

Our walk included passing by Mission Church which was built in 1829 and is the state’s oldest surviving church. St. Anne’s Catholic Church was also on our walk and it was built in the 1880s during the Victorian period. Many weddings are held in the church.

Since it was late in the season the Mackinac Harbor was not busy at all.

We were very careful to keep our social distance and wear our masks. We had pizza to go and ate it on a park bench! Matilda was quite interested in our lunch!

Matilda is thinking we should share with her!

Since we already walked just shy of 6 miles we decided to take a carriage tour. It took us around the island. The horses scared Matilda. She hid behind our legs when a horse was near and there were quite a few that she saw!

Matilda is trying to figure out how to escape!

The historic Grand Hotel is a famous landmark on the island. It was built in the late 1800s and boasts about its world’s largest porch.

The Grand Hotel

Arch Rock was a favorite stop for us. It is a natural rock bridge made of limestone.

We left not long before the last ferry back to St. Ignace. Matilda was just as thrilled going back as she was on our ride over to the island. She was happy to get in the car and head back to our campsite to watch the sunset again.

After our busy day on Mackinac Island, we enjoyed the relaxation of the campfire!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 4

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Today was a travel day from Grayling to our next campsite in Cedarville. This was a two hour drive. We didn’t want to drug Matilda so we gave her a calming chew and I snuggled her in her blanket until we arrived at our campsite; the Loons Point RV Park and Campground. The drive was filled with the beautiful fall colors!

We also went over the Mackinac Bridge which is across the Straits of Mackinac. It was a windy day and there was construction on the bridge.

It was a great site being along the water of Lake Huron!

Our campsite

Once we set up camp and unhooked the car we were a little concerned about the car because all of the warning lights came on and were blinking at us. Dave got online and looked for the closest Toyota service center. It felt like doom and gloom for being able to take off and go sightseeing in the car. Dave talked to the Toyota service center and got an appointment for Wednesday. In the meantime, I was reading online about towing a Prius and having all of the lights coming on and what that meant. One of the suggestions said to drive the car around accelerating and stopping quickly. Well, Dave tried it and the lights all disappeared! Whew! We canceled the service appointment and got in the car and headed to De Tour Village. It is located on the western shore of St. Mary’s River which connects Lake Huron to Lake Superior.

We also walked as far as the Nature Preserve would let us hoping to see the DeTour Reef Lighthouse. We were almost to the point where we would have visual of the lighthouse when the Preserve ended and it was private property. We turned around and walked back. At least it was a lovely walk!

As we were driving back through the village Dave spotted the DeTour Reef Lighthouse that we were hoping to see on our walk in the Preserve. It was built in 1931 and is located a mile offshore.

This evening we enjoyed our campfire and watched the sunset!

RV Adventures: A trip to the Upper Peninsula, Michigan Day 3

Sunday, October 4, 2020

We started our exploration early. The weather was a little gloomy and some raindrops this morning. Our first stop was Alpena. It is the second most populated city in the Northern Michigan area. It is known for its proximity to Lake Huron and Thunder Bay.

As we drove into town we saw this beautiful underwater dimensional mural. We stopped for a picture. Hundreds of community members helped paint the 3-D fish! This mural had to be reconstructed after severe weather destroyed it!

Our next stop was Thunder Bay on Lake Huron. Thunder Bay has the nickname of “Shipwreck Alley” because it is estimated that over 100 shipwrecks lie in the bay! (I’ve also read over 200 shipwrecks!)

The Alpena Lighthouse was built in 1914 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Our next stop was the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. It was built in 1840 and is not operational anymore.

Ringing the Lansing City Hall Clock Tower Bell

We then visited the “new” Presque Isle Lighthouse. It was built in 1870. You can climb the 130 steps in the lighthouse but due to Covid-19 we found that the lighthouses that permitted you to climb the steps were closed to the public.

We drove to the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse and it is located on Lake Huron. It was completed in 1896 and is still in operation.

Nearby was the shipwreck of the Joseph S. Fey. It was a wooden steamer and it encountered a strong gale on Lake Huron. The steamer hit the rocks at Forty Mile Point. It broke apart and we could still see a large portion of the starboard side of the ship on the beach!

Before returning to our campsite we stopped at a one room schoolhouse, the Glawe school. When it opened in 1885 the first teacher had 17 students that she taught for 3 months of the school year! Her pay was $20.00 a month!

It was a dreary but fun day with all of our stops!