Munising, MI

Another three hours or so East of Ontanogan lies Munising, Michigan.  It is the gateway to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to the East and just off shore to the Grand Island National Recreation Area.  And as we found on our trusty travel tools a very nice Munising Tourist Campground with 80 sites.  It is located right on Lake Superior.  About 1/3 of the sites are right on the lake.  Ours put the Lake about 30 ft from our front window.  Put the chairs out there and enjoyed the beach and the warm afternoon sun.
Grand Island
Grand island is off in the distance, a short pontoon boat ride away.  The island is about the size of Manhattan.  It is owned almost entirely by the National Forest Service.  There are a few lake side cottages still privately owned as long as their owners are still alive. You can take your bikes with and there are many miles of bike trails ranging from a 24 mile leisurely trail around the island to extreme mountain bike trails.  The island is crisscrossed with back country hiking trails as well with regular backpack campsites scattered all over or the opportunity to just camp where you find a likely spot.  This is a place you could spend just one or several days.  We didn’t even know it was here.  Next visit we will be going over on the pontoon ferry ($).
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
The PRNLS extends from Munising to Grand Marais, MI about 40 miles or more along the Lake (55 miles to drive).  It encompasses about 20 miles of enormous sandstone cliffs, most over 200 ft high, miles of sand beaches and about 10 miles of sand dunes that come right up out of the lake to a height of 300 ft or more!
Lots of ways to see the sights.  There are boat rides, kayak rentals, pontoon boat rentals and other adventure sort of things.  We chose the tour boat ride.  At the breakneck speed of 13 mph and a narrated 34 miles cruise we got to see a lot and start to understand why it was there.  The Western end of the PRNLS is all upthrust sandstone . The exposed face of the many layers of sandstone have been eroded by the lake since the last ice age.  There are sea caves, natural arches and other amazing features.  And since this is an ongoing process it is always changing.  Ground water seeps through the layers and water runs over the upper edges and then down the face of the cliffs.  Depending on what sort of dissolved minerals in the water the sandstone is stained different colors.  White is from calcium, greens from copper, reds and browns from iron and I don’r remember the rest.

The boat snuck into a little cove where we were surrounded by rock cliffs.

Pretty amazing views.  All along the route there were kayakers  and pontoon boaters.  We went by water falls, big beaches where boaters were having picnics and hikers along the shore.  Just like the North Shore there is a lake side trail from Munising to Grand Marais, about 50 miles.

Grand Marais, MI
We drove up to Grand Marais, a small town at the other end of the PRNLS.  It is another example of a once thriving logging and fishing towns now down to a few hundred folks depnding on tourists.

A nice, safe harbor beach and playground.  There was a bakery that had strawberry rhubarb pie.  One ended up in our Jeep.  

There is another campground in Grand Marais that we checked out.  It was close quarters with lots of trees and obstacles.  Probably not a good place for us.  

Grand Sable Dunes
On the way back we stopped at the Grand Sable Sand dunes.  These are the renmants of the glaciers pushing up sand and gravel at this end of the PRNLS.  Huge sand dunes going right down into Lake Superior.  The wind continues to blow sand up the face and over the top of the dunes cusing them to grow higher and further back from the lake.

The dunes are more than 300 ft high and the distance along the face of the dune from the top to the lake is more than 500 ft.  This is the site of a log slide from the early 1900s just to the right of where were standing.  The logs slid down a wooden ramp to the lake below to be tied together in huge rafts and floated to the nearby mills.  The signs at the top of the dune said that it would take only a few minutes to get to the lake but at least an hour to climb back up through the sand to the top.  Lots of warnings about not trying it if you had health issues.  We looked.  Nope.  On to our next adventure.

The Lost and The Found
On the way back to Munising we took a side road, off road to be exact for four wheel drive only as the map said, to an overlook.  The road was just bumpy, not much of a challenge.  At the end was an overlook of an inlnd lake.  There we found about 20 weary looking young teens and a couple of camp counselors who had been on a four day backpack trip and were waiting for their bus (on this road?) which was several hours overdue.  No cell phone service here so we took their info and a contact phone number.  We drove out and down the road to a small store where we could maybe make a call. And there was the bus and a bus driver who had no idea where he was supposed to pick up his YMCA camp hikers.  We showed him on the map where they were and saved the day.

Miner’s Falls

On we went to another hike, a mile and a half, to Miner’s Falls.  Easy in, all down hill.

That means the return was all up hill. Oh well.  There are many falls in the area, this was one of the nicer ones.

New Friends
When we got settled in the Munising Tourist Campground we went for a walk around the campground as we do in most places. It is just for some moving around after driving but also to see what it looks like, what the campsites are like and what other camping setups we see.  Lots of tent trailers, tents, conventional travel trailers, many fifth wheel trailers, motorhomes and motor coaches.

On this walk we happened on a classic Foretravel, the same brand that we have.

No one was home. The Motorcade number on the front of the coach and the “Hayfever  Express” name on the front gave me some clues.  It took me about 10 minutes for find out whose coach it was, where they were from and how to get in touch.  Don and Trudy from Texas called a while later.  We swapped cookies and stories one evening at thier coach, a 1992 36ft GranVilla.  It was in great shape. Don and Trudy travel several months a year since they retired about 8 years ago.  They have been to the Maritimes in Canada and to Alaska in their coach.  Tough, capable, durable.  That describes a Foretravel pretty well.  The next evening they stopped by to our coach and we shared the pie we found.  What nice folks to run into in such an unexpected way.  
Off next toward Delta, Wi.  Why Delta?  It is the home of the Delta Diner.  And then on to Duluth and then home.

Don’t pass it up!

More later.

Roger and Susan

Ontanogan, Michigan. Porcupine Mountains

We were here once in the distant past, mid 70’s as I recall.  It is all a bit fuzzy, hazy, indistinct.  Nothing seemed familiar but then nothing is the same now as then.  For those of you that remember the 70’s or  are struggling to, you understand.
But we returned.  We stayed just outside of the Porcupine Mountains State Wilderness Park.  There is one “modern” campground which was pretty much full and three more drive in “primitive” camps mostly suitable for cars and tents.  There are many cabins that you can stay at, 1-4 mile hike in to each and dozens of back country campgrounds and camp sites accessible only by way of one of the 90 miles of backpacking trails. 
 A few miles away in the small village of Ontanogan there was a township sponsored campground right on the lake (Superior) with nice RV accomodations.
It was very nice looking out over the lake.  Eastern Time though which really goofed up our clocks.sunset at 10:30 PM!  But we were at the beach.  There is a lot of long sand beaches on the south shore of Lake Superior.
We were hoping to escape the heat and humidity but no.  It was upper 80’s both temp and humidity our first day there.  Oh well.  Of to explore the Porkies.  Visitor’s Center first where we learned a bit about the geology, the history and the lore of the Porkies.  Susan’s early relatives came from England to work in the copper mines of the UP so there is a lot to take in.  Then on to check out the Union Bay Modern Campground.  It is OK but not right on the lake, pretty close together and almost all of the sites were in the open with full sun all day.  The Township campground was pretty basic but on the lake and in the shade.  It worked for us.
We drove up to the parking area near Lake of the Clouds and walked up the trail to the overlook.  There are large upthrust rock layers that form an escarpment between the Lake of the Clouds and Lake Superior to the North.  The escarpment cliffs were as amazing as the lake.
It was several hundred feet down to the lake.  Remember the heat and humidity?  Both going up!
Then we went to the trailhead for the Union Mine Interpretive Trail.  Loaded up with water and out hiking poles and off we went into the woods.  The tree cover gave us some shelter from the sun but not from the insect life.  This trail follows part of the Union River and some of the earliest exploratory digging and early mines in search of copper.  It is hard rock country and the work must have been backbreaking, all done by hand.  Once in a while they would blast something but not often as the hard rock was also prone to collapse.  This was all pre civil war.  They were big fellows.  Chack out the shovel.
I thought this was a flower but it was a quarter sized mushroom, poisonous, I’m sure.
We saw several old mine shfts, mostly collapsed or filled in.  At one point on the trail there were eight shafts going down as much as 80 ft with four horizontal tunnels between them.  These were working, just barely making money, very dangerous places to be up until the mines finally cloased about 1900.
It was very hot and humid.  I mentioned that didn’t I.  We were soaking wet down to the skivies after that hike but went for one more.  When we got there and relized it was a half mile with a 300+ ft elevation increase we admired the picture on the infomation board of the view and went in search of ice cream.
We found some. It was good. And we didn’t have to walk far.
That night the wind and rain came howling across the lake with thunder, lightning stuff blowing every which way.  At least that is what it appeared to have happened in the morning.  We mostly slept through it.  The folks next to us had three tents set up.  They were all sitting in their cars and the tents were off in the woods.  They were not prepared and were gone by noon.  By then the sun was out, the temps much more Lake Superior like and the humidity had taken it’s own hike.
We headed for Ontonagon to discover what it had to offer.  The lady ar the visitor’s center was quite chatty.  She told us all about the town’s successes and demise as the mining, logging and paper industries surged and then waned.  Just next door was the local Historical Society.  These are place we seek out.  They are always interesting and the people are full of oral history and insight.  This one was no exception.  Susan found a newspaper article about a mining executive who retired and went to Duluth where he opened a hotel.  In that same hotel, Susan’s Uncle Jack lived to a ripe old age.
Then we went to where the old bridge used to be.  From there one could see the old lighthouse.

It guided ships into the mouth of the Ontanogan River.  There really is no harbor there.  There is a huge building right down on the lake where a company built some small ships for the Navy.  That business dried up and the building stands empty and unused.  Too bad.
Then we went to the Nonesuch Shop.  Edna had been there four fourteen years.  Most of the amazing

Edna’s quilts we beautiful.  We hung around chatting for maybe a half hour.  What an interesting person.

Up the street was a bakery selling pasties.  Since the UP is famous for them we had to get a couple to try out. The ones we make are better.

A quiet and cooler evening coming up and then East to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

More later.

Roger and Susan.

What’s New?

We skipped any travel in May and June to get stuff done at home and in the coach.  It was odd not going anywhere.
We got the stairway railing done and installed and the stairway carpeted.  A significant accomplishment and a fair amount of work. It looks nice, the carpet is soft and makes the stairs quieter.
We are now almost 100% LED lights inside.  Not only did we replace all of the flourscent and halogen lights with LEDs we added more.  The new LEDs are at least 50% more lumens and use about 1/3 of the energy of the replaced bulbs.  The living room and bedroom LEDs are on dimmers.  
More light in the kitchen too.

And the bathroom.

And the bedroom.

And lights in the cupboards.

Makes stuff easier to find.

And we took out the front window shades and put in a motorized roll up/down sun shade and night shade.  Very nice.

And I am adding speed controls to the heater fans in the living room, put in a switch to turn off the dash blower motor when the heat comes on (quieter for watching TV), put in a new pair of USB charging ports in the dash, added a signal light to let me know when the brakes are activated on the Jeep while towing it, rewired the Jeep tow wiring harness and put in new connection sockets on both the Jeep and the coach, added a new map light next to the passengers seat and still more to do.  Whew!  Oh, and I replaced the two air pressure gauges in the dash.

I have magnetic proximity switches that I am adding so the interior cabinet lights will come on when the door is opened.  I am replacing lighting in the basement storage bays with LED lights.  And I have a couple more projects to finish before next winter.

Sounds like a lot but most of these got done in four or five days spread over few weeks.  Most of what is hard is deciding what to do and then finding the parts to make it happen.  Actually doing the work goes pretty fast.

And Susan came up with a real winner.  Where to put the paper towel roll?  No matter where it seems to be in the way.  So with a piece of silicon oven shelf liner (the black stuff) in a small space over the microwave to help the roll unwind easily and the paper towel fed under the edge of the door we have a great solution.

Hall of Fame idea.

So now that this pile of stuff is done we are off to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
More to come.

Roger and Susan