After 2 weeks, 4 beaches, 1 family visit and a hot & steamy night at a giant Cabela’s Store, we finally made it out of Michigan. We began this journey back in mid-June with a general westward route in mind, the goal of reaching the pacific northwest sometime in September, but no real specific plans other than that. The decision to drive up through Michigan and into the Upper Peninsula was born out of a desire to visit family and the many, many recommendations from people who said the U.P. was a must see. Well they were right. The U.P. is a pretty spectacular place to visit, but what really surprised us was lower Michigan. Forget about Detroit, entire neighborhoods of foreclosed houses and struggling car manufacturing plants (yes, this is what used to come to my mind when someone said Michigan), there is so much more to Michigan. The entire west “coast” which stretches along the shores of Lake Michigan is simply breathtaking. Gorgeous beaches, warm, clean lake water, hiking trails along high sandy bluffs, picturesque towns with tiny harbors, acres and acres of cherry, apple & peach orchards, and two-lane roads littered with farm stands- this is the real Michigan. The Michigan we’re so thankful that we got to visit, and the Michigan we look forward to visiting again because we couldn’t possibly see everything in two weeks.
If we hope to reach the real west coast (of the US, not MI) by fall we must keep moving in a westerly direction. So on Sunday we said a final goodbye to the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan and headed into Wisconsin. It was our longest drive yet, about 6 hours and 250 miles from the western edge of the U.P. over to the southern edge of Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands. We originally planned on stopping mid-way at a forest service campground in the Superior National Forest. It sounded like another small primitive campground with lake front sites, but the weather was disgustingly hot and humid, and the air conditioning in the truck coupled with the promise of an electric outlet for more AC at the campground in WI convinced us to keep driving. It was an easy drive through national forest land, a scattering of small towns, and even a few ski resorts! We couldn’t see any mountains though, just a few rolling hills that barely looked high enough to ski down. I guess out here in the mid-west you work with what you have.
We ended up at Washburn Memorial park on the shores of Lake Superior. It’s a small county park run by the town of Washburn. Nothing too remarkable about the place, but it is on the water (no sandy beaches though), the nightly rate was cheap, we have electricity for AC and lots of tall trees for shade.
There’s 2 loops in the campground and some sites with water views, but we choose the quiet loop away from the water this time. It’s a funny campground with sites markers just plunked down in the woods with no attempt at making level spots and very little indication of where your site ends and your neighbors begins. We ended up with 2 picnic tables and 2 fire rings but no way to enjoy either of them because we had to squeeze ourselves in around some big trees and the electric box.
Most of the other campers are crowded into the sites with water views, so with the exception of a few tent campers we had the back corner of the campground to ourselves. We did have a neighbor for one night, but he snagged a choice water spot the next morning when someone else left. He did provide us with about a half hour of entertainment though. This is not the kind of campground that big motorhomes fit in very well- lots of trees, crooked unlevel spot and tight turns. This guy was determined though and we watched as he tried and failed to fit in the spot across from us, tried and failed to fit into a space by the water, circled back around and tried to fit in the first spot again, tried and failed to fit in a site several spots away from us and finally squeezed himself into the site two spots down. He was driving an older motorhome (not sure how big, but much longer than us) with a pointy front end that kept sticking out into the road every time he backed in. I gotta give him credit for his persistence- and his backing skills were mighty impressive too! Wish I had gotten a picture of this spectacle but the best I can do is share the view from our front yard after he left and you can picture a big motorhome tucked in there.
That was the extent to the excitement during our stay here. Yesterday if was so humid you could barely breath the air so we chilled in the AC and took a trip into town for some groceries. The plan for today is to take a hike to visit the sea caves and then drive to Duluth MN where we will stay for a few days. A visit to the Toyota Dealership, some much needed time at the laundromat and whatever else we find to do in the city awaits us.
I leave you with some photos highlights of the past two days.