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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Michigan 's Upper Peninsula and Mackinaw City


We have made it to Mackinaw City and are camped at the TeePee Campground, overlooking the Straits of Mackinac with a wonderful view of the Mighty Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island and offers a great view of the Great Lakes Freighter traffic going under the bridge.  By the way, we found this to be a great campground – quiet and really enjoyed sitting in the swings and taking it all in. The only down side is the weather……it may prevent us from taking the ferry over to Mackinac Island.
Big freighter

View from our campground
We visited the Colonial Michilimackinac, one of the MackinacState Historic Parks in town.  We loved this place!  They know how to bring history to life!  It is an 18th-century fort and fur trading village, reconstructed based on historic maps and 50 plus years of archeological excavations that still continue today.  They have docents that are dressed in period attire.  They have presentations of cannons and musket firings to hearth cooking.  It is located on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac. 


Camping outside the fort

Bridge views from the fort.

The fort

Kitchen garden

She's cooking lunch!

She explained what would be on the dinner table back in those days.

Getting ready for the mortar demonstration.

Yep - it was loud!


Inside the church

Within walking distance is the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, built in 1889.  It has a fascinating history as well.  Navigating through the treacherous waters of the Straits of Mackinac was extremely hard.  They had a movie, Shipwrecks of the Straits, that addressed this.  Geez……..kinda scary job as far as I am concerned!  The fog signal for the lighthouse went into operation in 1890 and the dwelling and tower were completed in 1892.  It was in operation for over 60 years, 4 generations of lighthouse keepers and their families lived at this station.  When the Mackinac Bridge was completed in 1957, the lights from the bridge made the lighthouse unnecessary.



Beautiful lighthouse



Speaking of the Mackinac Bridge, it’s the only way to get to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on this route.  It can be a little on the scary side due to the height and the winds.  Big trucks and rigs are asked to drive 20 mph and use the outside lane (I guess so if you get blown over, you disappear quickly! LOL!)  It’s a suspension bridge that spans the Straits of Mackinac to connect the upper and lower peninsulas. It is 26,372 feet long and is the world’s 20th longest main span and the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere. Construction started in 1954 and was complete 1957.  The clearance below is 155’.  So here we go across!  And I have to say, we made it safely. Hope our return trip will be just as easy!

The next leg of our journey is taking us to Pictured RocksNational Lakeshore.  We are staying at Pictured Rocks Campground, located in Christmas, Michigan. This is a new park and is very nice. Roomy, full hook up sites. We got settled in and went to the information center in Munising for help in planning our time here.  We visited with the NSFS office and they were so helpful!  Again, we got some questionable weather approaching and came up with a plan of attack.

There are beautiful waterfalls in this area. We stopped at a few of them. 

Wagner Falls - just stair stepped down
Munising Falls
We spent the best weather day doing 2 things – (1) Driving the Pictured Rocks scenic route and (2) taking the Pictured Rocks Sunset Cruise.

The pictured rocks are colorful sandstone cliffs that tower above Lake Superior, a lake that is just so vast and huge.  There are many forests to drive through on the scenic route and peak fall color is just about here. It was breathtaking! The park hugs Lake Superior for about 40 miles and is about 73,000 acres. 
Lake Superior beach

Grand Island Harbor
The colors of lake Superior are beautiful!

Looking at Miner's Castle. See the tour boat.

Miner's Castle


It can be hard to see the real beauty of Pictured Rocks from the land.


Leaves are about to peak here on the UP




Log Slide - quick down, but a couple hours to hike back up

Beautiful dunes

Straight down the log slide

One of the tools used to help with logging.

The name pictured rocks comes from the streaks of mineral stain that decorate the face of the sculpted cliffs.  If you don’t remember, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world.  It’s 350 miles long, and 160 miles at it’s widest and about 1,300 feet at it’s deepest.  Our cruise tour guide explained it well – if drained, the water would fill a 5’ swimming pool the size of the lower 48 states.  Wow.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.  I wish they were better but we were on a boat that never sat completely still!
Patiently waiting for our cruise

Pretty harbor

Look for the birds

Lighthouse on Grand Isle


View of Miner's Castle from the water.









The most iconic picture of Pictured Rocks.




Indian Head.....do you see it?


They called this The Ship.  And behind it are more ships, but the light wasn't good to my pics....

Looking at the front of the ship fleet....I know it's hard to see the rest of the ships.


The next day was one of those gray, 100% chance of rain days.  We decided to drive over to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, about 30 miles away.  You’d think we’d see a lot of wildlife, but we saw 1 deer, lots of trumpeter swans and mud ducks, maybe a beaver or something like it.  They have a really nice 7.5 mile paved road that takes you through the refuge.  It was too wet for any trail hiking.


Makes you laugh watching the swans when they are feeding on the bottom with their butts in the air.


That night there was a cold front coming in and they were predicting very high, strong winds with waves about 16’ at it’s worse.  I’ll say that those winds rocked this big old heavy motorcoach!  We went for a leaf peeping drive, but check out the waves on Lake Superior!  Looks like the beach!





The lobster matches the leaves!

The Hiawatha National Forest is stunning this time of year. It has one hundred miles of shoreline on three Great Lakes, so you definitely get a lot of different viewpoints here. We definitely enjoyed the fall foliage.  And it's not every day you get a chance to go camping in Christmas, Michigan. Here's a couple of shots from town.
Maybe we would have had good luck at a casino with Santa Claus in front of it. LOL!

Extra large pumpkins

Well, due to the weather, we canceled our trip to Porcupine Wilderness State Park. But guess what we woke up to!!  Snow!  Well, maybe a good touch of sleet, but it was so pretty! 










So tomorrow we are leaving to start heading south with our goal of getting to Charlotte MI for our week long class on the Spartan Chassis of our motor coach.  Ron’s excited about it!  I just hope that I will understand some of it!  We stopped for a few days at Michigan Oaks Camping Resort, outside of Indian River on our way. Very nice park.  Enjoyed the colorful trees and campfires here.



After the Spartan Chassis class we will be heading back "home" for the winter to Texas. We will be hosting at Brazos Bend State Park in Texas, which is conveniently located between our kiddos and grandkids.

Until next time!




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