I never knew that the state of Michigan was broken down into two parts, the lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. The upper peninsula is referred to as the UP, pronounced 'you pee', and the people that live there are the Yoopers.
When we left Petosky State Park, at the top of the lower peninsula, we crossed the Mackinac Bridge that spans the area where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, onto the upper peninsula. As we were leaving, we saw some young Amish boys plowing a field with a horse and horse drawn plow. I wish I had the camera ready, because it was a really cool thing to see.
We made our way up to a state park on the shore of Waiska Bay on the southeast side of Lake Superior.The wind blowing off the lake was super chilly!
You could see Canada just across the water. We decided to not travel into Canada because of their strict gun laws. Plus, there are plenty of beautiful places to see in the US.
From there, we were going to stay at a park in the Hiawatha National Forest, not far away. It would have been our shortest drive between stops at about a half an hour. When Paul stepped out of the truck, he was surrounded by a swarm of mosquitos…ok, on to the next place! We decided to push on to a county park in Grand Marais, MI. We had planned on going there the following day, because they had laundry facilities, but we just moved it up a day. The fact that Superior Brewing Company was within walking distance wasn't a factor at all!
The park was right on the shores of Lake Superior. It's hard to wrap your mind around how enormous the lake is! It is memorialized by the poem from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in The Song of Hiawatha. I don't know why I know it, but I remember the part " By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, by the shining big-sea water". The area is known for it's beautiful agate stones. Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world. I talked to a local that said it had frozen over the last two years! Crazy that the surface area is 31,700 square miles.
The hard thing about going to new campgrounds, and picking them from a map, is you really don't know what it's going to be like until you get there. Or as in the case of our next planned stop, how bad the roads are leading to the campground. We planned on our last stop in Michigan to be at Anderson Lake State Forest Campground. When we were about ten miles away, we got onto the county road that led to it. After a couple of miles on the worst road we've seen so far, with no hope of it getting any better, we turned around and bumped our way back to the highway, at 10 mph. National forest campgrounds tend to be rustic like that, so we found the nearest state park, just up the road. Von Riper State Park was right on Lake Michigamme, MI. It ended up being the most mosquito infested place we have ever stayed. Paul was laughing as he watched me through the window, while I was walking Fiona. I was kicking my legs out, and swinging my arms around the entire time, trying to ward off the attack! I got to try out our new electric bug zapper for the ones that came into the camper. BBZZZTT! We stayed there one night, and couldn't get out of there fast enough! Needless to say, I didn't walk down to take photos of the lake.
We were on a mission to head west, so we planned on skipping across Wisconsin and Minnesota, only staying a night, or two if it was a weekend. Campsites in the summer are harder to find on weekends. We only stayed one night in Wisconsin, on a little lake campground we found along the drive. The drive through Chequamegon National Forest, in Wisconsin, was where we saw the most wildlife. There were flashing signs that warned of a lot of elk in the area, although we didn't see any. We did see three deer, two turtles, a marmot, and a bald eagle, all in one morning! The only thing missing was a partridge in a pear tree!
Since the weather was going to be good over the weekend, and we wouldn't need to use the air conditioner, we decided to stay at a state forest campground with no hook-ups, near Saint Cloud Minnesota. It was fine for a couple of days. As we were closing up the camper to get on the road, the remote control that raises and lowers the jacks and moves the slides in and out went haywire. We could manually raise the jacks, but the slides are super heavy, and we wouldn't be able to bring them in on our own. Since it was Sunday, we were stuck. Paul ordered a new remote, and had it shipped, overnight, to the nearest post office, seven miles away. He would ride his bike in on Tuesday when it arrived to get it. I was eager to leave, the campground was not my favorite. There was poison ivy, spiders, ants, caterpillars hanging from the trees, mosquitos, and some other bug that left blisters where they bit me. I'm thinking, maybe chiggers.But the worst part is we ran out of beer!
By Tuesday the temperature was in the 90's, so Paul paid a young military guy, camped near us for a ride. It was well worth the $50!
The new remote started to work, but was still not right. We got the jacks up, and slides in, and moved to a park in the town of Monticello,MN, close to an RV repair place. It was right on the Mississippi River. The repair shop had to order a whole new circuit board, which is the brain of the system, so we had to cool our heels for a week, before it could be fixed. It wasn't a bad place to stay, but we both kind of felt anxious, not knowing for sure when we would be back on the road. It must be left over from having jobs, and things that had to be done at certain times. It's hard to get used to having nowhere to go and nowhere to be. I know, big problem to have, right?
Once the part was in, it only took about 20 minutes for them to install it. It felt good to be back on the move!
We had one more stop in Minnesota, at Alexander Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls. It was a nice spot, right on the Redwood River. I wonder how it got its name, I didn't see any redwood trees. It would have been a nice place to spend more time, with a small zoo, lots of trails, and a beautiful waterfall, but since we had just been stalled, we got back on the road.
What we thought would be a five night trip through two states, ended up being two weeks. I must add that Wisconsin and Minnesota are beautiful places. Everything is so green and lush. There are lots on farms and lakes. I'm not sure how we drove through Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, and yet, we camped on two rivers and zero lakes!
Next stop, our "home" state of South Dakota!