LAKE SUPERIOR CIRCLE TOUR
Day 1-Thurs. 8/4/11
Destination: Gooseberry Falls
Had a quiet, uneventful ride. Stopped at Moose Lake for lunch. Out of Duluth, we took the scenic route to Two Harbors. The weather was warm, little wind and we passed through a couple of sprinkles.
I am quite sure we have the best campsite here at Gooseberry Falls.
Day 2- Fri. 8/5/11
Destination: Grand Portage Casino Campground
We drove straight through except for one stop at Cut Face Creek Wayside because it is so beautiful there. Oh, we did stop at the Grand Marais library. The city of Grand Marais was having their “Fishermen Days”. It was a regular zoo. There were people and cars everywhere. The library part wasn't bad, but we stopped to eat at the Dairy Queen on the main road. Luckily we had scooters because they are easy to park in small spaces.
At the RV park, we are up on a treeless hill, but overlooking Lake Superior. The marina itself is at the bottom of the hill. It's pretty nice but there are mosquitoes. And after we set up the tent, John looked up and there practically over our heads was the streetlight. However the site was only $15 per nite and there are hot showers.
Day 3- Sat. 8/6/11
Destination: boat ride to Isle Royale
Last night we just walked around and then walked to the casino for dinner and when we came back, there were many more tent campers. There were a group of kayakers on the far end and then even later after we got back from dinner, the boy scouts came. We were practically tent to tent. They were pretty quiet in the evening, but the boy scouts and the kayakers were both leaving on a different boat than ours. So they were all up at 5:30am and were quite noisy. We did get to sleep again after everyone left.
Out boat was the Sea Hunter and we left at 8:30am. We sat in front and had a great view, but it was cold. They took us on a little tour of Lake Superior. We saw the Witch's Tree, and a sunken ship. Then our boat stopped at Windigo and everyone got off. Then the Nat'l Park Service people gave a little talk about the rules (stay on the trails, don't pick flowers etc etc) and the different options of what we could do in the time frame that we would be there. (4 hrs). We decided to go on a nature walk with Ranger Valerie and it was quite informative and enjoyable. Then we walked down to the campground where we discovered that some of their sites have screened in buildings. Then we went back to the visitor center and listened to Ranger Lucas talk about copper mining on Isle Royals. I thought it would be quite boring, but it was very interesting and we learned lots of stuff. Then we went to the store and I had a sandwich and it was time to head back.
This time we sat in the back of the boat. It was actually hot; the weather was warmer, and the sun was out. For the tour on the way back, we got to view the Rock of Ages Lighthouse, sort of in the middle of the lake. It was pretty cool.
Day 4- Sun. 8/7/11
Destination: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
We packed up and left about 7:30am because it was supposed to rain. Since it was so early when we got to the Grand Portage visitor center it wasn't even opened. However we did visit it last year and it's quite lovely and the waterfall there is awesome. So we just kept going about less than 1 mile to customs and there was no one else there; we got through without a problem.
We stopped right inside of Ontario at their wayside (it was 8am at the border and 9am as we entered Canada. It threw me off for the entire trip). Their currency exchange at the wayside was 88 cents to the dollar. Luckily John converted $100 at the casino at Grand Portage and their rate was 97 cents to the dollar.
On we went. We stopped at Kakabeka Falls, a provincial park. We just stopped to see the falls and they were beautiful. We only had to walk about 100 feet to see them. From there we headed for Thunder Bay and a McDonalds because we were told that they have wifi. And yes, they did, so we ate and checked emails and then just drove right through Thunder Bay without stopping. It was about another 25 miles to Sleeping Giant.
Most all of the people who are at these parks taking your money and giving information are young college kids. This one was so nice and told us all kinds of stuff we didn't know. We thought to camp that we would have to pay for the 2nd scooter, but no, unlike the US, Canada doesn't make you pay for a 2nd motorcycle. We also thought we had to purchase an admission sticker to camp, but the admission sticker comes with the camping fee. In addition to that, we can use that admission sticker to go to any other park until 10pm the next day. Awesome! We planned to stop at all the parks, to either just go through and look at them or camp. The bottom line is that we will be saving a lot of money as to what we thought we would have to spend.
Our campsite is on Lake Louise, on top of a medium size hill. It is a very nice campsite. It has steps that go right down to the lake. The lake is comfortably warm/cool and John went swimming. We went on a short little hike and it was nice. We saw 3 sets of deer this day. All mama's and a baby.
Day 5- Mon. 8/8/11
Destination: Rainbow Falls Provincial Park
We left Sleeping Giant and got out on busy hwy 11/17 for about 15 miles and then turned off to head for Ouimet Canyon Park. An incredible place. You have to hike a short distance to either of the 2 viewing platforms. From there you can look down to the floor of the canyon. It was really neat.
Then we drove back and got onto the busy highway. There didn't seem to be as much traffic now. It is a single lane road, but every 10 miles or so, they have a passing lane. The road itself is in very good repair and the drivers are very courteous. But they love to pass. And they don't mess around. In the US you'll have people hang around behind you for miles and then finally decide to pass. In Canada if they are going to pass they do it the first quarter mile or not at all. The fact that a car might be coming, or that there's a yellow line doesn't stop them. And that was true the entire way through Canada. They also don't come and ride right on your bumper (so to speak). They stay a nice distance back and when they're ready they just pass.
We aren't exactly in mountains, but it is super hilly. Not so much up and down, up and down; but longer gradual ups and then the long gradual downs.
We stopped at the city of Nipigon, at their library. It was closed, but we could still access their wifi. They had a nice little area to sit, so we stayed there for a while and checked email and weather and then went to their marina/park and had lunch.
Rainbow Falls Prov Park has 2 separate campgrounds. We were going to stay at the Rossport one that is right on Lake Superior. They only had 1 or 2 sites open. It was supposed to rain and being right on the lake, it could be bad, so we decided to go a mile or 2 down the road to the Whitesand Beach campground. This campground had very few people in it, plus the (Rainbow) falls is actually in this
The waterfall had a boardwalk alongside of it, plus you could get off the boardwalk and go walk on the rocks if you wanted. (There were 183 steps). At the bottom of the waterfall, we crossed the bridge over the river and there was a sign that said “you can keep hiking and even though it's very steep, you'll get a grand view of Lake Superior and Whitesand Lake up on top of the cliff”. We decided to take the challenge and it was pretty steep, but it wasn't too far; it took about 15 min to get to the top. And we did see some incredible sights up there on the cliff. But what was even better is that when we finally got to the top and got out of the shade of the forest, there were blueberry plants everywhere. It was a veritable plethora of blueberries. We ate so many. They were so good.
Day 6- Tues.8/9/11
Destination: Marathon, Ontario motel
We had quite an impressive storm last night. Torrential rain and lots of lightning. We fared well but it was raining so hard that you could feel wetness here and there inside the tent. The rain was apparently just be driven right through the tent and the tarp. And then it rained again (lightly) between 7-9am and then the sun came out. So we packed up and left.
We stopped at the city of Terrace Bay and saw Aguabasson Falls and gorge. Really neat. Then we went to the center of the city where they had like the replica of a lighthouse, but in fact it was a real building. We climbed to the top, probably about 3 stories and you had a great view of the surrounding area, including Lake Superior.
From there we went to Neys Provincial Park to look around. It was a big park, right on Lake Superior. We stopped at the visitor center and walked on the beach for a while. Then we drove to the city of Marathon. We had to go through about 10 miles of construction. It was odd because there were sections where the road was fine and nothing was going on and then there were sections where they rip the top of the cement off and it's all groovy (and icky) to drive on. We had to stop for flagmen twice because of just a single lane of traffic. THEN we had to travel on gravel. But we got through it ok.
When we got to Marathon and it looked so much like it was going to rain again so we decided to stay in a motel. However the sun came out after we got in our room. John talked to the clerk about drying out our tent and it was ok for us to go behind the motel and dry it out, along with our tarps.. We had dinner right there at the motel and then walked about 4-6 blocks to see Harry Potter part 2. This was really an odd place. It wasn't your run of the mill theater. It had only 1 place to see a movie and it was quite small and not modern. But the movie theater was in the middle of the building, an ice rink on the left and an Olympic size pool on the right. When buying your ticket you would get a discount on the movie price if you bought the ticket to swim and watch the movie. The price for adults said something like $5.75 per adult and John gave her $20 and we got back $11 and some change. Maybe we got the senior discount. At any rate I loved the movie and when we came out, we noted that it had rained. It was just 9:30 and we were both starving so we stopped at the grocery store and got some ice cream. Lucky for us that the grocery store was open til 10.
And we saw a grouse today.
Day 7- Wed. 8/10/11
Destination: White Lake Provincial Park
Left our motel and traveled about 16 miles to Pukaskwa Nat'l Park. It was a really cool park. A huge park, but the vast majority of it was wilderness, without even any roads. You had to get places either by canoe or hiking. I guess like the boundary waters. However the part that we stopped at, that had a road and a visitor center was great. It was on Lake Superior, and we went on a couple of hikes (2-3mi total). We got to walk on these huge lava flow big rocks, and down in little gorges, and right out on the face of the lake, and then on the beaches in the bay and through the forest and finally through the campground to get back to the visitor center. Then they had an authentic Indian village set up that was really nice. And it took you to this quiet little lake that was so peaceful and it was out of the wind so it was quite warm. It was just such a contrast to the hike we had been on.
We ate lunch there and then drove to White Lake to camp. Not too many people here. It's nice. We went on 2 hikes. One was an official bog walk and the other was almost like it, with boardwalks and both were nice. We saw 1 squirrel and 1 garter snake. The snake was sunning himself and I was walking first. So he just kind of changed his position. I stopped to see what it was that had moved and found it to be this cute little 20 inch snake, who wasn't planning on moving again. So John just got a tree branch and pushed him out of the way.
It was quite cool today, although very nice. There were not very many people in this campground. There was no one near us. In the evening we walked down to the beach to see the sunset, but we were too early, so we just walked a ways on the beach until we ran into the official beach. Then we walked back to our site, having missed the sunset.
Day 8- Thurs. 8/11/11
Destination: Lake Superior Provincial Park
It was about 50 degrees this morning; quite chilly but it was awesome for sleeping. We packed up and drove about 25 miles to the city of White River, the home of Winnie the Pooh. Then we drove another 25 miles to Obatanga Provincial Park. It was just a nice quiet campground, apparently doesn't get a whole lot of use except by fishermen as there are many lakes and I guess many fish in this campground.
Then we drove about 50 miles to Wawa. We took a side trip and saw a neat waterfall.
Then we drove another 50 miles to Lake Superior Provincial Park. Actually, for most of those 50 miles we were in the park the whole time, but our campground was at the far end – we were in the Agawa Bay campground. We were 1 row back from Lake Superior. These are nice big sites and the beach is huge. There are tons of beautiful rocks on the beach nearest to the water, then further back there is lots of sand. It is just big and beautiful.
In the early evening we drove about 4 miles to see the pictographs. They are situated way out on Lake Superior on a slightly sloping down ledge into the water. There are signs all over the place saying “DANGER WARNING - death has occurred. People have slipped off the ledge and drowned.” They had a nice trail down to the lake (with those signs all over the place) and it's easy to see where that could have happened. Lucky for us the waves were very small. The had a chain anchored into the one rock that you could hang onto. Then they had ropes hanging down into the water; in case you fell in. The pictographs were unusually good and the area itself, with those ledges going into the lake was just neat. But it was getting late and so we headed back.
Day 9- Fri. 8/12/11
Destination: Pancake Bay Provincial Park
We left the park and traveled maybe 10 miles to Montreal Bay River and got gas. Then we went a little ways further and stopped at Pancake Bay. We were there really early (about 10am) and drove through the campground looking for the best site. Well we didn't get it. The best sites were on the beach and they were all taken. This campground has about 325 sites. We did have a good site, but it was right by the highway and you could hear the cars/trucks go by. But there isn't that much traffic at night, so it was fine.
After we set up the tent we drove 1 mile down to a mall that had beautiful gift shops. We didn't buy anything except some smoked fish and some other groceries. Then we went on a 2.5 mile hike, did the laundry, took a shower and then went down to the huge beach. It's all sand; no rocks on this beach, plus there are also sand dunes at this park.
Day 10- Sat. 8/13/11
Destination: still at Pancake Bay
We decided to spend another day here because it's Saturday and we weren't sure if we could find a site on a Saturday. Also it was starting to rain, so we just decided to hang out here. We did quite a few Sudoku puzzles and rested. For some reason I really hurt my back, so I slept half of the day.
Day 11- Sun. 8/14/11
Destination:Sault Ste Marie, MI
We left the campground about 8:30 and traveled a short ways to Batchawana Bay Provincial Park. This is a day use park only and it too has a huge sandy beach. Then we stopped at Chippewa River Falls. Of course it was a beautiful falls. And we went to Soo St Marie Canada and bought gas with cash to try to use up our Canadian money. But we didn't need that much gas, so then we stopped at the Canadian currency exchange place, right before we were going to cross the border. I don't remember what the exchange rate was, but we had less than $10. And then he gave us some of the Canadian coins back.
From there we followed the signs to the border. As we entered onto the start of the bridge, someone official just waved us on and we zipped across the big bridge. And I thought “hah, that was easy!”. Then about halfway over the bridge there were signs saying “be prepared to stop” and I thought “uh oh”. And there at the end was the US Customs. I think they had 5 lanes open and they were all moving unbearably slow. When we did get up there we got through customs without a problem. We traveled about 50 feet and they slam you with a toll to cross the bridge. As we left the bridge we looked back and could see that there were way more cars sitting and waiting than when we were up there. We probably crossed about 10am.
We went to the Soo Locks campground, in Michigan, got a site, ate lunch and then went down the road a mile to sign up for the Soo Locks Boat ride. It took us on the St. Mary's River and we went through the locks on the US side going out and coming back we came through the Canadian locks. It was all very nice, we learned lots of stuff and had a good time.
This campground is right on the St. Mary River, and big barges travel on the river. So the people in the sites way down in front can see all this stuff from their RV's. However us tenters are back aways. So in the evening we would walk down there to the communal area and watch the sunset and look for barges. It was neat to sit down there in the dark and see the lights over in Canada.
Day 12- Mon. 8/15/11
Destination: DeTour Michigan State Forest
Today we went completely off our scheduled route. We took hwy 129 S. out of Soo Ste. Marie and went down to Lake Huron – and wound up at one of the best camp grounds ever. It was the De Tour State Forest campground. It had wonderful big sites and Lake Huron was just 100 feet (through the woods, but on a path) away. Lake Huron is very clear, fairly chilly and at least right here there are even some rocks to climb on near the shore.
We set up camp around 11am ($15) and then drove to the town of De Tour. It is a nice little city, right on the lake. From there we went off route even more because we just wanted to go down and see how much it cost to take the ferry across to Drummond Island. We stopped to talk to one of the guys waiting to board the ferry and he actually lived there. It only cost $6 per motorcycle and that included the rider plus it was round trip. So we just got in line as they were just beginning to board, and were on our way.
There actually wasn't that much to see but we drove all over the place on their nice roads. There were businesses here and there but most all the beach front was owned and occupied. So we had an ice cream cone and then drove back to where the ferry was boarding and crossed back to where we started.
Upon arriving back in De Tour, we stopped at this botanical garden. It looked like it was just a dinky little garden but as you started going through it, it just kept going and going. It was right by Lake Superior. It was quite an impressive garden. I loved it. Then we stopped at a beach on the way back to our site. And when we got back to the campground, John went swimming at our beach.
It was a beautiful day, sunny, calm wind, about 78 degrees.
Day 13- Tues. 8/16/11
Destination: Lake Tahquamenon
We left our beautiful site about 9am and took hwy 48 to 129 to get to Brimley State Park (Michigan). We stopped just to see what Brimley looked like and had a snack there. Then we went on a really pretty scenic road (hwy123) in the Hiawatha National Forest. Tahquamenon Falls has 2 campgrounds and we stopped at the first one, trying to find the waterfalls.
We got directions, but decided to first drive to Whitefish Point, on Lake Superior, to see the shipwreck museum and climb the lighthouse. It was pretty neat. Plus we got to see a 15 min movie about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. That, coupled with another little movie that we saw in the Lake Superior Provincial Park visitor center about the wreck of the E F, we feel quite knowledgeable about what happened.
After that we went onward to the other Tahquamenon Falls campground and got a site. We hiked down to the lower falls, that was very impressive and tomorrow we'll hit the upper falls on the way out.
We also stopped at some Tahquamenon wayside for lunch and it was on Lake Superior. There were people out wading at least ¼ of a mile. They weren't any deeper than their waists. It was unbelievable. Oh – and there seem to be no bugs!!
Day 14- Wed. 8/17/11
Destination: Grand Marais city campground
We left Tahq. Falls in the rain. It started raining at 6am and went on and off for a few hours. We stopped at the Tahquamenon High Falls, hiked a short distance to see that – very nice. Then we drove to Newberry and stopped at the library for wifi and got some groceries. Then we went 20 more miles to Seney, turned north and went 25 miles to Grand Marais, Mich. The road from Seney to Grand Marais was a neat road and there was no traffic. Grand Marais is a tourist town but quite laid back. We got a campsite on the lake, but we are as far back from the lake as you can get. Then after we got the tent set up we heard the church bells chime and noted that the church is right across the street from us. It would do some kind of ringing every 15 minutes, but not after 8pm.
After we got the tent set up we drove a couple of miles to Pictured Rocks National Seashore visitor center. From there we backtracked a short ways to Sable Falls. This was a really cool falls plus they had stairs whereby you could walk down and continue to see the falls. When we got to the bottom there was a path so we went on that a while and shortly came to Lake Superior! This beach had the most rocks ever! There were millions and millions of beautiful rocks and agates. It was a wide beach, but no sand, all rocks, an unbelievable amount and variety. They also had a huge sand dune just slightly to the east of where our path had taken us to the lake. It was super steep and high. There were 2 young kids walking up it and we were afraid they were going to kill themselves coming back down.
They made it ok, but the one kid, upon reaching the top, didn't come down the same way he went up; he moved to the right about 20 feet and as he was coming down, he got to a shelf that dropped another 10 feet straight down to get back onto the rest of the sand dune. However he managed to get down without being injured.
We ate dinner in Gran dMarais and then walked down to the beach by our campground. A big beautiful beach with lots of rocks (although not as many as Pictured Rocks) and sand dunes. These dunes are all very high (100 feet)? And there are steps that take you down to the beach. We went back to our site and were just getting organized and we looked to the northwest and noticed that the sky was the most gorgeous color of red. So we walked back down to the edge of the sand dunes and truly the sky was spectacular. We decided to walk back down the steps and view it from the lake. It was an awesome sky with reds and oranges over the whole western sky and moving northeast, changing to pinks and then light purple or violet. It was spectacular.
Day 15- Thurs. 8/18/11
Destination: Munising Tourist Campground
We left Grand Marais and entered the Pictured Rocks National Seashore and stopped first at the Log Slide. It was a 500 foot steep sand dune that the loggers used to send logs down. You could slide down it, the sign said, but it would take 10 min to get down, but an hour or more to climb back up. There was a chute entering into this massive slide that we walked down for maybe 50 feet, right to the edge. This part was quite steep and after we looked over, down into the lake, it was hard to get back to the top.
Next we stopped at the Au Sable Lighthouse trail. This was a couple more miles down the road, at the Hurricane River campground. I think there are 3 campgrounds in this park and they are all fairly small and all are first come, first served. That is why we didn't plan to camp here. This Hurricane River campground I think had 12 sites and there was 1 site open at like not quite10am.
The trail to the lighthouse was 1.5 miles and it was on a service road, so we walked quickly because we had other things we wanted to do today and when we got there, the sign said first tour is at 11am. It was like 10:15. We just walked around and looked at the buildings that were there, and at the lake and there were a couple of backpackers, we talked to them too. We then proceeded back to the scooters. The road was right alongside the lake, so we walked out to the lake because they had some shipwrecks marked.
We then traveled on highway H-58 all the way to Munising Tourist campground. The highway was a total of 48 miles and much of it was curvy and fun to drive on, with little or no traffic. We got to the campground and set up the tent and then drove a mile or so back into Munising to catch the 1pm Pictured Rocks Boat Tour. The tour itself was almost 3 hours long and we got to see the cliffs which go right into the water. The only other way to see them is by kayak. It was a very nice tour with gorgeous scenery and this time we sat inside which turned out to be nice because the sun was very hot and we were out of the sun for those 3 hours.
On the way back from the boat tour we drove to see the Miner's Castle waterfall. We had to hike back about .75 mile. It was neat, but you couldn't get close to see it; they had 2 viewing platforms. From there we drove back to Munising to see the Munising waterfall. Also very nice. There are waterfalls everywhere in Michigan.
Day 16- Fri. 8/19/11
Destination: Fort Wilkins State Park
Got up at 7:30am; looked at the sky and it wasn't good. We had wifi in the campground so I checked the radar on my iPod and that looked as bad as the weather. We packed up fast and got on the road about 5 minutes before the rain. No lightning, but it rained hard. We went about 40 miles to Marquette. It stopped raining, we got gas and were about to leave when 2 different people came up and told us about the thunderstorm/hail/60mph wind warning headed our way. There was a Big Boy restaurant right next to the gas station, so we went over there and spent close to an hour, watching the weather on the TV's that they had throughout the restaurant. It never did rain, but the wind definitely picked up; not 60 mph, but at least 20. Oh, and Big Boy is quite a nice restaurant. Our service was wonderful, the food good and the people very nice.
Just as we were getting dressed and ready to head out it started raining. And then it poured for about 30 min. Then it finally slowed down and by the time we hit a place called the Canyon Falls Wayside, the sun was out. We took off all of our rain gear and went on a hike down the Sturgeon river through the gorge, observing the incredibly beautiful waterfalls and rapids. It was clearly one of the nicer waterfalls.
The plan was to stay about 5 mi up the road in L'Anse, but we decided to go further to Houghton because we were expecting rain again and figured we'd stay in a motel. By the time we got to Houghton the sky was all blue, it was very windy and we decided to just keep going north on the Keweenaw Peninsula up to Copper Harbor and Fort Wilkins campground. We thought we might not be able to get a site since it was Friday, but went ahead anyway. And there was no problem finding a site. I'm sure we got the best one in the place. It was right across from the showers, and the bathrooms. They had wifi out of one of those buildings and the campground was set up such that there were no sites behind us, so no one would be walking through our site. We even decided to stay 2 nights.
We went into town (Copper Harbor) to eat and after that went to the information center. The lady there told us about the places we plan to visit tomorrow and all other kinds of useful information. From there we decided to go to Fort Wilkins, the historic fort and check that out. The place was truly neat. All the buildings were up and you could either walk through them or they had a glass/plastic barrier whereby you could see stuff as it was at that time period. It was almost closing time and the camp host was the one who was locking the buildings, but he said he would leave the one open so we could check it out. And he was a veritable fountain of information about everything in the area.
Day 17- Sat. 8/20/11
Destination: same place-Ft Wilkins
Our first place to today was the Estivant Pine area. A nature area with some virgin pines and other trees. We had to go down some god awful roads to get there, but it was a beautiful area. They had some hiking trails with some boardwalks interspersed here or there. I thought that what was even more amazing than the trees were some of the roots growing up everywhere from those trees. This was an extremely primitive area and they had an outhouse – pretty hard to believe. So John decided that he at least had to look in at it because it looked about 50 years old. It was in fact very clean and nice inside and I swear, they had to have 15 rolls of toilet paper in there. They had the extras in a wire contraption hooked up onto the wall. There was a sign that said in the winter to be sure the toilet paper was put in (like a coffee) can so that the rodents wouldn't come in and shred it/eat it.
After that we went back down the not good road to the Mary MacDonald Nature Preserve, and specifically Horseshoe Bay. We took whatever main road it was out of the campground and headed north and when the road dead ended, maybe a mile or 2, we kept going straight on this gravel road that wasn't too bad, but kept getting worse and worse. Then (after a mile or 2) there was actually a sign that said turn left. At that point I parked my scooter and rode with John to the end of that road (a mile or less). From there we hiked a half mile or less, on a nice trail to Horseshoe Bay.
Horseshoe Bay was quite awesome. The first thing we encountered was a rocky beach, that was behind some big huge rocks. So the beach was out of the wind and quiet. Then we walked over to the big rocks that were right on the shoreline and went along the shore for maybe the length of 2 or 3 city blocks. It was so neat. It was very windy and the rocks were very scraggily; that is they were very easy to hold onto if you want to climb on them. There were areas between some of the rocks where the water would come rushing in and it was beautiful. We found a place where we could get back on the rocky beach and away from the wind. There was a little pond at one area that had 4 huge leopard frogs in it. There were 2 other people there while we were there; although they never saw us. (It was a big place). And as we were hiking out, we passed 2 people who were hiking into Horseshoe Bay.
Next we went to Hunter's Park which was on the other side of Copper Harbor, near the marina. Hunter's Park was a peninsula between Lake Superior and Copper Harbor Bay. We walked down on the Lake Superior side and came back on the bay side. Super windy on the lake side with millions and millions of rocks and so many agates, you almost got tired of picking them up. Plus there were some big rocks along the shore that you could climb on. On the walk back, the trail was more in the forest and we walked through a thimble berry patch and a beautiful cedar forest. Glad we went.
And last, we stopped at the marina to find out about the lighthouse tour that you got to by boat. There was one leaving in an hour. It was like an old coastguard boat that they used to rescue people in heavy seas. You sat fairly low in the water. Most of the trip was through the bay and it was easy going, but the last short part we got out in the open on Lake Superior and we got bounced around. It was fun. The tour itself was not too neat. We were probably there about an hour. The ride back though was something else. You knew there might be a problem when the captain got out his big waterproof apron and put that on, then his big raincoat with the hood. Luckily I had on my gortex jacket and John's rainhat (I lost mine earlier today). You could look out and see that there white caps everywhere and all of us that were not seated under the enclosed area got drenched. It was a great ride and the sun was out.
Day 18- Sun. 8/21/11
Destination: F J McClain State Park
It rained around 3am last night at Ft Wilkins so everything was wet and that's how it got packed. We went on hwy 26, the road that went near the lake. It was a very nice road, very little traffic with beautiful scenery. It was quite chilly with white caps on the lake and the lake looked very cold and wild. We stopped on hwy 26 three different times for waterfalls, each of them distinct in their own separate way. And all really cool. We also stopped at a wayside that had steps to the top of the small cliff overlooking Lake Superior.
From there we stopped at F J McClain state park and got a site right on the lake! As I was sitting here writing at the picnic table, I felt something on my leg but just kind of ignored it. Then I felt something again, a kind of scratching and this time I got scared and without even looking, I just kicked whatever might have been doing that off toward the trees and as I looked it was a cute little chipmunk who I saw being flung into the grass; and he ran off unharmed. I had been eating peanuts while writing and he probably couldn't help himself.
We walked out to some lighthouse associated with this park. We had to walk out on a long pier and then go on the breakwater for a really long ways. The breakwater was made up of all these big rocks; it was like walking at Devil's Lake. It was great fun plus we saw some really cool rocks. Then we got out there and we were about 10 feet from the lighthouse.
Changed the oil tonight.
Day 19- Mon. 8/22/11
Destination: Ontonagon City Park
We left the campsite and drove straight through to the Adventure Mine for a tour. It is located in Greenland, MI. John and I, and 2 other people were able to get on a tour right away. There was a group that had just started and they waited for us to join them. Including us, there were 12 people on the tour. I think that was the largest amount of people they would take. We were all required to wear hardhats, that had lights on them.
In order to get to the mine shaft we got to ride in a Swiss combat transport; made in Austria I think.
It was a very rocky ride to get to the start. The mine itself was the way it was since it was closed down. (I don't remember when that was). But the equipment they were using was still there. We had to walk over gravel and through water puddles. It was a unique experience. Our 1 ½ hour tour took 2 ½ hours.
From there we went to Ontonagon to their city park. We had a site right on the lake. We went to the library and then we tried to get to their lighthouse, but no one was allowed to do that because it is a working lighthouse.
Day 20- 8/23/11
Destination: Ashland, WI
There was no rain in the morning when we got up, so we packed everything dry. We decided to take hwy 64 to hwy 28 to hwy2 and we wound up at Little Girl's Point. It's a county park and campground on Lake Superior with a very nice beach. In fact we were going to camp here, except you couldn't set up camp unless you checked in with the clerk, because this park does take reservations. And the clerk was gone for 2 hours. The campground was like strung out all over the place, with what appeared to be very few bathrooms, so we decided to just eat lunch there, check out the beach and head on. They did have lots of neat rocks to look at..
We continued onward, and after about 2 miles it started to rain, very lightly. We did decide to put on our rain suits as it was still 25 mi. to Ashland. Then it started to rain for real, It absolutely poured. We were just entering Ashland when it began down pouring and we stopped at Walmart to get out of the rain and check on motels. We decided to stay at a Super 8. It did quit raining, but the weather channel is predicting winds tomorrow of 20-30 with gusts to 40mph.
We drove downtown in Ashland to look at the murals that are painted on the downtown buildings. Pretty neat. John went and checked out some of the parks since the city is right on Lake Superior. They were all cool. And we went out to eat. I had some yellow fin tuna that they recommended be eaten medium. In fact part of it turned out to be cold. Nevertheless, I feel I can now say that I have eaten sushi and it was extremely good.. They did have an awesome tasting sauce (heated) that went with it. Ashland also has a 10 mile biking/walking trail along the lakefront.
Day 21- Wed 8/24/11
Destination: Little Sand Bay campground
We left our motel in Ashland and went 2-3 miles down the road to the visitor center; which didn't open until 9am so we wandered around the area for about 40 min. It was a neat setting outside, there were a lot of big open areas and some paths going off away from the building. Around the building were areas of wildflowers and there were benches to sit on. When it opened, it turned out to be an extremely neat place with lots of hands on stuff. They had about 3 floors and if you walked to the top there was a lookout area. To get up there, they took you on a somewhat circular path and there was a big tree inside that ran to the top of the building; it had an eagle's nest in it and the (dead, stuffed) eagle was sitting on the branch.
From there we went on hwy 13 to Washburn, and then to Bayfield. We parked and walked around the city. We went down to the docks and watched the ferry come back from Madeleine Island. It was very interesting to watch them unload the cars and then reload to take passengers, cars, trucks and a tour bus even – back over to the Island again.
And I got a new hat! Then we went to someplace and had a fabulous lunch and then got back on our scooters, back on hwy 13 and headed for Little Sand Bay campground. The winds were 20-30mph today. We got a lot of protection from the trees, but we got tossed around a lot.
The Little Sand Bay campground is on Lake Superior, but we are back from the lake. This is a city owned park (city of Russell) but the area itself, that is the dock and the bathrooms and the launch area, visitor center, exhibits and buildings are all associated with the Apostle Island National Park. It was a nice place except that they had a million signs posted: don't park here, no kayakers here, no unloading boats here, no cars here without something or other....
When the sun set, we went down to the docks. It was even windier I think than when we were on the road and I was freezing. One of the exhibits had a dock with an old time fishing building right on the water and an 8 foot wooden wall next to it. So we went down there and watched the sun set, out of the wind..
Day 22- Thurs. 8 /25/11
Destination: Herbster (city of Clover campground)
We just happened to be in a super sunny spot in the morning here at Little Sand Bay, so we dried everything out and even had pancakes for breakfast. We left our site with everything nice and dry and went less than 10 miles to Meyers Beach where the Apostle Island National Park has a parking (fee) area whereby you can either put your kayak in Lake Superior at this point and paddle to see the sea caves or you can hike about 1.75 back to see the sea caves. We find it quite upsetting that when we are on scooters, we usually have to pay for each scooter, whereas if we had been in a car, we would only have to pay 1 fee. There was a Nat'l Park person around, so John asked if we had to pay for both scooters, and she said if we park in a single parking slot, we only had to pay 1 fee. And since this was a Nat'l Park and I have my senior Nat'l Park card, we only had to pay half the fee $1.50! Hah!
It was a really nice hike back to see the sea caves, and we probably passed or saw about 15 people. We got to go up and down, crossing streams, walking on boardwalks and finally we came to an outlook. The point here was that we would be up on the cliffs and the sea caves were obviously down on the lake and we had heard that there is good viewing from up where we were. But this first lookout was not it. You couldn't see anything. We kept walking and kept checking all the 2-3 other paths that led to the water and you still couldn't see anything. Then we came to a sign that said (something like) DANGER and it clearly showed a person falling. Then we knew we were at the right place. It was a super cool area, among all the pines trees. And the way the water had made big inlets pushing back into the land, we were able to walk around all these inlets from on top and look down and see perfectly. It was wonderful.
After we hiked back we ate lunch at a picnic table in the parking area and then traveled another short way to Herbster. We got a site right on the lake. It (the lake) was even warm enough where John went swimming. We checked out all the beautiful rocks, watched a sort of neat sunset and then went to bed.
Day 23- Fri. 8/26/11
Destination: the Lodge in Siren WI
It started raining about 6am and we decided to just let it rain and went back to sleep. By 9am the sun started to come out and we packed up. We drove on hwy 13, and then took hwy 2 to Amnicon State Park to see the falls. They were quite outstanding. There were many of them on whatever river it is. They had walking paths nearby the river (and the falls) and a couple of bridges to cross from which you could observe the falls also. It was one of my favorite .
From there we went to the city of Superior and rode on the Wisconsin Point road which takes you out on the peninsula of land to where the ships come through. It's the point of land that corresponds to the point of land on the Minnesota side. It was an odd ride on the peninsula. The road started out good, then there was a sign about “drive at your own risk”. The road got bumpy and then there was gravel and just generally not in good repair. Then near the end there was new blacktop, the road was perfect and we rode among the pine trees and it was beautiful. It got a little worse at the end. The entire distance was about 5-6 miles. We stopped and went out to the pier where the ships go through and walked along the beach a little.
We then headed for Pattison State Park to see Manitou Falls at 165 ft and the highest in WI. It was pretty neat, but I still liked Amnicon the best.
Then we got on hwy 35 and headed south for Danbury. We were planning to camp, but the mosquitoes were terrible, so we decided we would stay in a motel. Also this would be our last night out. Well there was something going on in Danbury and none of the (2) motels had room. We had biked this route in June, but when we hit Danbury we went on the Gandy Dancer trail. Well now we stayed on hwy 35 and it was a great highway. When we got to Siren WI, we stopped at a park and John called about 3 motels and no one had any room. But there was 1 motel called the Lodge that was left and I figured it would cost a bundle, but he called anyway and they had a room for $100! $90 with an AARP discount. It was a super neat place with a huge room and we both loved it. We walked across the parking lot and had dinner at some restaurant.
Day 24- Sat. 8/27/11
We left the motel and headed south on hwy 35 to St. Croix Falls, WI and then crossed the river there, just like we did when we were bicycling. Then we took hwy 8 to Forest Lake and we thought we would try to follow out bike route. So from Forest Lake we took 61 south, to 85th and then got on Central Ave. and we took the beautiful ride through the Medtronic campus. That brought us right by Leslie's house, so we called and she invited us to lunch. After lunch, we drove the last 8 miles home.
This was one of the more relaxing trips I think we have ever done. Lake Superior is awesome and I never get tired of seeing it. An added plus were all the beautiful rocks we got to see and the numerous waterfalls. For the most part traffic was not a problem. Also finding campgrounds and motels was not a problem even on the weekends. We hit little rain, mostly good roads to drive on, we had no trouble with the scooters, and I had a great time.