Our visit to Petoskey Michigan and surrounding areas

Wednesday (8/9) rolled around and it was once again time to lift our jacks and make another move, and once again it was a short move south of only 55 miles, our kind of travel day. Oh, and it would have only been a 42 mile travel day but we had to take the long way around because of a road closure on HWY 31 due to road construction LOL!!

So once again we found ourselves dragging our feet breaking camp so we wouldn’t arrive at our next stop any earlier than need be but this time with such a short day it really didn’t help. We rolled into the Petoskey RV Resort 1 hour before check in and they told us there would be a $20 early check in fee if we wanted to check in right then (even though our site was empty). SAY WHAT!!!! $20 for 1 hour LOL!! OH Hell NO!

Here is where we say and ate lunch waiting to avoid the $20 early entry fee. Hey we have sat at worse spots.

Here is where we say and ate lunch waiting to avoid the $20 early entry fee. Hey we have sat at worse spots.

They did say we could leave the coach parked at the gate until 1 if we wanted to avoid the fee which was nice I guess and I don’t think they really expected us to do that but guess what, we did. Yup, we opened the windows and made lunch and sat. Shortly after we ate I went in to see if they had any brochures about the area and at that point they decided to let us check in about 15 minutes early without the $20 charge. Oh, such good customer service that was, thank you so much. And to top it off this is one of those parks that you can’t even wash your windshield. At $79 per night I would think they could afford the water it would take to wash a windshield but I guess not.

Our site at Petoskey RV Resort

Our site at Petoskey RV Resort

Our site at the Petoskey RV Resort

Our site at the Petoskey RV Resort

View from our windshield at the Petoskey RV Resort

View from our windshield at the Petoskey RV Resort

This is the section of the Petoskey RV Resort right in front of our RV.

This is the section of the Petoskey RV Resort right in front of our RV.

That's us with the solar.

That’s us with the solar.

Now look at that, we wouldn’t have even mentioned the windshield thing if they just would have provided good common sense customer service in the first place and not try to gouge us for $20 to check in 1 hour early.

Putt Putt at the RV park

Putt Putt at the RV park

One of he 2 cardrooms at Petoskey RV Resort

One of he 2 cardrooms at Petoskey RV Resort

Front of the clubhouse

Front of the clubhouse

Looking at the backside of the clubhouse at Petoskey RV Resort

Looking at the backside of the clubhouse at Petoskey RV Resort

backside of the clubhouse at Petoskey RV Resort

backside of the clubhouse at Petoskey RV Resort

Weight room at Petoskey RV Resort

Weight room at Petoskey RV Resort

Theater room at Petoskey RV Resort. Anyone can use it at any time.

Theater room at Petoskey RV Resort. Anyone can use it at any time.


OK, we are really off track here and setting a tone that really does not portray how we felt about our overall stay in this area because we just love love loved it!!!

Ignatius Petoskey

Ignatius Petoskey

Ignatius Petoskey

Petoskey

Petoskey

First off the town of Petoskey has a population of 5749, even though it feels much larger because of the small towns that border it, so it is a great size. And Petoskey is located in Emmet County that covers 882 square miles and has a population of about 35,000. So again, it’s not jammed packed with people.

Beyond not being over populated the weather is about as perfect as anywhere we have traveled so far during the summer months (especially without having to deal with high altitude) with the average high in August being 75 degree’s. In fact feast your eyes on the average high & lows.

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec
Avg. High         25      26      36      48       61        71       77      75      67       56     42        30
Avg. Low            ?         1 7      17      30      40       50       57      55      58      38       28        16

Granted, there is no way in hell we would want to spend a winter here but you just can’t beat the average temps for June, July and August. And May and September are not too shabby either. Oh, and the record high for Petoskey is 99 which was set way back in 1955. So for a guy who does not like hot weather this is great.

Oh wow, are we starting to sound like the Petoskey Welcome Wagon yet? Well you just wait LOL!!

The harbor at Petoskey

The harbor at Petoskey

This is a shot of downtown Petoskey from the harbor with the toy.

This is a shot of downtown Petoskey from the harbor with the toy.

Not only is Petoskey a nice clean town sitting right on Lake Michigan with a quaint downtown area with nice shops, breweries and restaurant’s but there are a number of other small town’s very much like it within 15 miles or less in all direction that offer their own flavor and twist, and we spent time in all of them.

Taken in Boyne City

Taken in Boyne City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Towns like Harbor Springs, Bay View, Charlevoix and Boyne City are the main fun little towns that we spent time exploring but there are others scattered along the Lake Michigan shoreline and around Lake Charlevoix that I’m sure would have some nice things to offer if we took the time to explore them but we wanted to hit the hot spots with only a week to do it in.

All of these towns have pretty harbors filled with boats and quaint downtown areas. And all of the towns had their own schedule of events that could keep you busy almost every day during the summer months with everything from boat races, concerts, art fairs, live music, car shows, golf courses, farmers markets and a variety of festivals to attend.

And of course you can’t overlook the miles of bike trails and shoreline there is to explore. Heck you can spend hours on end just walking the shoreline looking for Petoskey stones like Diane has no problem doing LOL!! OK, now do we sound like the welcome wagon!!??

Looking for Petoskey Stones.

Looking for Petoskey Stones.

Searching for Petoskey Stones

Searching for Petoskey Stones

Looking for Petoskey Stone

Looking for Petoskey Stone

Stone before we polish them. That might be a project for Casa Grande.

Stone before we polish them. That might be a project for Casa Grande.

One of the things we wanted to do while in the area was tour a RV resort we heard about called Hearthside RV Resort. After doing some research it sounded like a very nice resort with activities, something we seem to have a hard time finding while traveling during the summer, in park activities that is. And it has Casita’s which is something we really want if we ever decide to buy into a place. We are not ready to buy into anyplace just yet but like we have mentioned before, we keep our eyes open everywhere we go.

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

A nice site at the Hearthside RV Resort

We loved this site at the Hearthside RV Resort

We loved this site at the Hearthside RV Resort

We loved this site at the Hearthside RV Resort

We loved this site at the Hearthside RV Resort

We loved this site at the Hearthside RV Resort

We loved this site at the Hearthside RV Resort


We attended an Art Fair that probably had the most talented bunch of people gathered in one spot of any we have attended before. Another one of those stops that made me happy we don’t have a house or that Diane does not care for jewelry or we would have dropped some serious coin.

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

Craft Fair in Charlevoix

We took a walking tour of the Mushroom Houses in Charlevoix.

We loved the mail boxes.

We loved the mail boxes.

Is that cool or what!!??

Is that cool or what!!??


We happened across a small but nice Car Show while touring Boyne City.

Taken at the small car show in Boyne City

Taken at the small car show in Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Back when trunks were REAL trunks.

Back when trunks were REAL trunks.


We also stopped in at the 7 Monks Taproom while in Boyne City for lunch, a beer and some live music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a tip, if you find yourself in this area on a Sunday be sure to stop in at 7 Monks, and if you get there by 1PM you can join in while they say the Pledge of Allegiance and the live music starts right after.

Having a grew at 7 Monks Taproom

Having a grew at 7 Monks Taproom

Having a grew at 7 Monks Taproom

Having a grew at 7 Monks Taproom

Another tip, we had the Steak Nacho and it just might have been the best Nacho we have had.
And while there be sure to stop in at a quirky little shop called Freshwater Art Gallery. We guaranty you will get a chuckle at some of the things they have in the shop and maybe even fall in love with a few pieces like we did.

Boyne City

Boyne City

Made out of old vacuum cleaners mainly.

Made out of old vacuum cleaners mainly.

 

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Good thing we don’t have a house or it would have been a costly stop as well LOL!!

We also found a great Market just a few miles outside of Petoskey called Bill’s Farm Market and would highly recommend it if you are in the area and need fresh vegies or fruit.

Bills Farmers Market outside of Petoskey

Bills Farmers Market outside of Petoskey

Bills Farmers Market outside of Petoskey

Bills Farmers Market outside of Petoskey

And we spent hours with our feet in the water walking the shoreline of Lake Michigan looking for Petoskey Stones. We found a few but nothing big like we had hoped, maybe next time.

Did we say “maybe next time”? Well if you haven’t figured it out yet, (come on it doesn’t take an Einstein), we really enjoyed out stay in Petoskey and the surrounding area’s and have already started talking about coming back “maybe” next summer to spend 3 or 4 months. Not just in Petoskey but bouncing around to maybe 2 or 3 spots. We will see how we feel by the time we drop out of Michigan in late September.

Just a spot we stopped during our drive around Lake Charlevoix

Just a spot we stopped during our drive around Lake Charlevoix

This was 1 of the harbors in Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix

This was 1 of the harbors in Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

The downside is that it’s not cheap here so we need to take that into consideration. But we wouldn’t need to treat it like a vacation like we have been treating this entire summer so that would help some.

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Boyne City

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs

Charlevoix

Charlevoix

Charlevoix, this bridge raises every 30 minutes and can sure back up traffic on a busy day. We will be driving over that when we head to our next stop.

Charlevoix, this bridge raises every 30 minutes and can sure back up traffic on a busy day. We will be driving over that when we head to our next stop.

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

Charlevoix,

 

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Ok, enough about this area, Wednesday (8/16) will be another short move day. We will lift our jacks and head 82 miles south to our next stop in Empire Michigan which is just 20 miles west of Traverse City. This entire area is another huge hot spot in Michigan and we are hoping we love it just as much as we have the Petoskey area.

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A tour of Mackinaw City and surrounding area

 Friday (8/4) came around and with it another travel day, we lifted our jacks, said farewell to Sault Saint Marie, jumped on I-75 and headed 65 miles south to our next home at the Mackinaw City KOA.

 Did we say KOA!!!?? Well yes we did. Normally we shy away from KOA’s because they seem to be more expensive than other campgrounds around them and they tend to be full of families. We are very happy to see families out camping but we tend to stay at places that are not geared towards kids. But this KOA seemed like the best place around and located close to town where we planned to focus our time while in the area.

 Once we were all set up we jumped in the truck and did our normal “get the lay of the land” driving tour through town and eventually to the McGulpin Point Lighthouse which helped guide ships on the Straits of Mackinac against storms, fog and rocks between 1869 and 1906. It was purchased by the county in 2008 and was reopened to the public on May 30, 2009.

 While at the lighthouse we walked the Discovery Trail to see “The Big Rock”. About 395 years ago, French explorers were traveling the Straits of Mackinac and using this rock to gauge water levels as they navigated in canoes along the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.

 To be honest we read about the rock before taking the short hike and expected to make a turn and see a HUGE boulder but instead found a less than impressive rock LOL!! I guess it’s more than just a rock, the dimensions are 33.8 feet in horizontal circumference, 37 feet in vertical circumference, it’s 9 feet tall and is estimated to weigh 54 tons. And it did serve a purpose which is more than most dumb rocks can say. Hmm, I’m sure there is a political joke here somewhere but we don’t go there LOL!! 

 Here is a link if you care to see more about the McGulpin Lighthouse.  http://www.mcgulpinpoint.org/history/

On day 2 we went back into town so we could tour the Mackinac Point Lighthouse and Colonial Michilimackinac.

 After paying the $36 entry fee to tour the lighthouse and the fort the first thing we did was get in line for the lighthouse.

 

 

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Built in 1889, the Old Mackinac Point Light Station was in operation from 1890 until 1957.  But when the Mackinac Bridge was completed in 1957 it eliminated the need for the lighthouse since the Mackinac Bridge has lights on it at night and it became a much better aid to navigation than the lighthouse.

 In 1960, the lighthouse property was purchased by the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, incorporating it into surrounding Fort Michilimackinac State Park and finally in 2004 it was reopened to the public.

 The light’s original Fresnel lens is on display in a small museum set up in what was once the living area of the lighthouse.

 After our lighthouse tour we walked over to Fort Michilimackinac.

Fort Michilimackinac was originally built by the French in 1714-1715 to control the fur trade and European development of the upper Great Lakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michilimackinac was more of a fortified community than a military outpost. The colonial community was located both inside and outside the walls and the walls were expanded several times during the French and British occupation of the area.

 There was an Odawa community along the shore when Fort Michilimackinac was built, but the Odawas moved 20 miles west to L’Arbre Croche (present day Cross Village) in 1741 when their corn fields were no longer fertile.

 As we walked around there were a variety of demonstrations of cooking, crafts, trades and artillery use by costumed interpreters going on throughout the day.

They called that gun a wall canon.

They called that gun a wall canon.

 We just loved going through all the reconstructed buildings. We say reconstructed because the Fort was relocated to the new Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island during the American Revolution, with some of the buildings being moved across the ice in the winter of 1780-1781. The remaining structures were burnt to the ground.

 After being abandoned the area was uninhabited for nearly 80 years until the community of Mackinaw City was started in the 1860s. The original 1857 plate laying out Mackinaw City preserved the Fort grounds as a park and in 1904 the city turned over control of the park to the State of Michigan and it became Michilimackinac State Park.

Then the project of erecting a wooden palisade along the lines of the old walls and the replica was opened on July 1, 1933. In 1959 archeological work at Michilimackinac began and much more accurate reconstruction of the Fort began in 1960. The work has continued every summer, making Michilimackinac the longest running archeological dig in North America. In fact there is still an active team working today.

 We must have spent over 3 hours touring the Fort and enjoyed it more than we expected to.

 After touring the lighthouse and fort we did a little more driving around the area and then headed home for the day.

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 On another day we took a shuttle from our campground, jumped on a ferry operated by Shepler’s and headed to Mackinac Island.

 The ride normally cost’s $26 per person but we got a $2 discount by buying the tickets at our campground. So the $4 we saved went to the tip for the driver LOL!!! But we did save by not having to pay for parking while we were on the island, I think that was $10 for the day plus we were dropped off right at the boarding area so it worked out well.

HEY!! It looks like they are screwing off up there but if I was the supervisor I don't think I would go up to check LOL!!

HEY!! It looks like they are screwing off up there but if I was the supervisor I don’t think I would go up to check LOL!!

 The water was pretty calm for our ride over but we opted to sit on the open top deck so it was darn chilly. On the way over we took a detour and got a little history lesson about the bridge and saw a couple guys up high painting, NO WAY!!!!

 What did we learn about the bridge? Oh boy let’s see, It opened in 1957 and is 26,372-foot (4.995 miles) long. It is known as the “Big Mac” and “Mighty Mac” and it’s the world’s 19th-longest main span and the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere. The depth of water beneath the center of the bridge is 250 feet, and there is a total of 42,000 miles of main cables (YES 42,000 miles of cable!!). And 5 workers lost their lives during construction which took 3 ½ years (4 summers, no winter construction took place). There was more but I sort of forget. OH I think it cost us $19 to cross with the motorhome and truck hooked up when we drove across, that I remember LOL!!

 We decided on the way over that the first thing we would do would be take a horse drawn carriage ride around the island to get a lay of the land and help us pick out places of interest that we wanted to go back and visit on foot. Of course there are no cars allowed on the island except for a couple emergency vehicles so the only form of transportation is by foot, by bicycle or horse (either horse itself or horse drawn whatever) and you can rent any of them or you can bring your own bike over on the ferry if you want.

 The carriage ride cost us $29 each so $58 for a 2 hour ride around the island not including a stop midway where we switched carriages and was able to tour the stables and an area of old but perfect condition carriages.

 To be perfectly honest even though most people will tell you that a carriage ride is a must when visiting Mackinaw Island we didn’t really feel it was worth the money spent. And even though we wouldn’t say not to do it we wouldn’t recommend it either. Don’t get us wrong, we did learn some history and it wasn’t totally worthless but it just wasn’t as great as we thought it might be for the money spent.

 After our carriage ride we decided to strap on the feedbag so we headed to Yankee Rebel Tavern to fill our belly’s and rejuvenate ourselves before continuing on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 After lunch we walked to the Grand Hotel, a must see if you visit the island.

 The hotel was constructed in the late 19th century and it claims to having the world’s largest porch at 660ft.

 It’s also well known for a number of notable visitors including five U.S. presidents, Russian president’s Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain. And now it has also been visited by Dave & Diane!!!

 You can’t just walk up and tour the hotel, oh no, there is a $10 per person fee just to walk into the place which we obviously paid.

 Speaking of paid, have you ever wondered what you could expect to pay if you wanted to spend a night at the Grand Hotel? Well make sure you are sitting down and then continue reading.

 The rooms are ranked by Categories and then by “Named” rooms and then suites but we will just talk about the basic cheap ol rooms.

Category I, smaller guest rooms with interior views, Weekday: Sunday-Thursday, Double: $319.00 per person, per night, Single: $563.00 per night. Weekend: Friday-Saturday, Double: $353.00 per person, per night, Single: $631.00 per night.

Category II, Larger guest rooms with interior views or smaller guest rooms with lake views. Weekday: Sunday-Thursday Double: $353.00 per person, per night, Single: $631.00 per night, Weekend: Friday-Saturday Double: $389.00 per person, per night, Single: $703.00 per night.

Category III, Deluxe Lake view guest rooms, some with a balcony. Weekday: Sunday-Thursday, Double: $435.00 per person, per night, Single: $795.00 per night. Weekend: Friday-Saturday Double: $474.00 per person, per night, Single: $873.00 per night.

 And as if that isn’t enough there are Additional Charges of 19.5% added hotel charge on the above rates, a 2% Mackinac Island assessment on the above rates, a 6% Michigan state sales tax is added to all rates, including the added hotel charge AND $8.50 per person for the round trip-transfer of luggage from the Mackinac Island ferry docks to Grand Hotel when you arrive and back again upon check-out LOL!!!

 Keep in mind that the rates above are not even the expensive rooms which can go as high as $1500 per night.

 And to think the place was pretty busy while we were there, damn we feel poor right now. But to be honest BEFORE we knew the rates we talked about coming back at some point in the future to spend maybe 2 or 3 nights midweek just for the experience until we saw a plaque on the wall stating the dress code (see photo). If I can’t go someplace in shorts (ok maybe a pair of Dockers, I do have 1 pair with us) and a nice shirt I don’t need to go. But after seeing the prices it’s a definite no.

We were told they paint under the eve's blue because birds won't nest there.

We were told they paint under the eve’s blue because birds won’t nest there.

 Maybe just maybe we might still go ever for a couple nights but we will be staying in one of the other hotels for sure. The only reason we thought spending a couple nights would be nice is that you could enjoy the island after all of the “one day tourists” headed back to the mainland and the streets were a little more emptied out, because it can be downright busy during the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, we got every pennies worth out of our $20 entry fee by walking up and down every hallway and stairway we could. And by slipping into every room we were allowed and maybe even a couple that were questionable. And by grabbing a seat on the world’s longest porch while gazing out over the impeccably groomed grounds and Lake Huron.

 After the Grand Hotel we made our way to the boardwalk and headed back towards downtown, but not without a stop at the tree that Elise McKenna leaned on in the movie “Somewhere in Time” where she said “Is It You” to Richard Collier.

 I have personally not seen the movie but Diane has and said she would watch it again. Just watching the short clip on the internet of this one scene was enough for me LOL!!

 After the “Famous” tree we continued walking towards town. Once we reached the downtown area it was so crowded that you almost had to synchronize your steps with the people in front of you so you didn’t step on their heels, you know that type of crowd. Finally we just grabbed a open bench and people watched for a while before walking away from the downtown area and towards Mission Point where we sat in a couple Adirondack chairs and just enjoyed the great weather and scenery.

 Speaking of weather I have to say again how much we are enjoying weather that is Fall like in August compared to what we are used to on the west coast. It seems like it’s almost stretching to reach temps even close to 80 which is just fine with me.

 Once we had our fill of taking in all of the fresh air and kite watching we could handle we started walking back towards town where we enjoyed an ice cream cone before making our way to the ferry and made our way home. I think it was about 8PM when we made it home. Another fun day and another thing marked off our Bucket List!!

 One day we decided we had better do a walking tour of downtown Mackinaw City. We just did the tourist thing and weaved in and out of a few shops and then had lunch at Scalawags Whitefish & Chips (rated #3 as places to eat in town).

 

After lunch we headed to the harbor where it so happened some type of reenactment and craft fair was going on. But for the life of us we can’t remember just what it was called. A mind is a terrible thing to waste LOL!!

 They had a bunch of tents set up complete with outdoor kitchens all fired up, people showing off their crafts, they were also teaching hatchet throwing and talking about artillery fire. Of course everyone was in period attire.

 We managed to kill most of the day before we knew it.

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On our last day in the area we decided to break away from the crowds and go for a drive so we headed to the west shoreline and started driving it south.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0249.JPG

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 We drove through the Wilderness State Park, then south through Cross Village, Good Hart and Middle Village before getting to the 20 mile stretch of Tunnel of Tree’s which finally spit us out at Forest Beach and Harbor Springs.

 I keep telling Diane that if you were to blindfold me and bring me to the shoreline and take the blindfold off and ask me where I was I would say at an ocean coast.

 We just kept going until we hit Petoskey and then drove back up HWY 31 towards Mackinaw City but were re-routed to the freeway because of road construction, bummer.

 Another nice day of touring.

 That wraps it up for our stay in this area. Wednesday (8/9) we lifted our jacks and made another move south. Let Vacation Mode continue LOL!!

 For this stop we will spend 1 week at the Petoskey RV Resort. This will only be our 3rd time of spending an entire week in 1 spot since leaving Grants Pass Oregon the end of May.     

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A visit to Sault Saint Marie

As we mentioned in our last update, Wednesday (8/1) we ended out short 4 day stay in Munising and headed east. We lifted our jacks and jumped on HWY 28 and drove it almost straight as an arrow until we reached I-75 which we drove a few miles north to Sault Saint Marie making it a 124 mile travel day.

Glad that exit wasn't closed. I was starting to worry LOL!!

Glad that exit wasn’t closed. I was starting to worry LOL!!

Driving through downtown, we missed the truck route.

Driving through downtown, we missed the truck route.

 We had heard about a campground in Sault Saint Marie called Aune Osborn that is right on the Saint Mary’s River and just a few miles from the Soo Locks that helps all types of boats traverse the 21-foot drop between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

The electric hookup was on the drivers side and the water was way on the passenger side.

The electric hookup was on the drivers side and the water was way on the passenger side.

We still had a view of the ships going by from inside the coach but next time we will plan in advance and try to get a water front site.

We still had a view of the ships going by from inside the coach but next time we will plan in advance and try to get a water front site.

Sault Ste. Marie is rather unique because it is a city that exists in both the USA and Canada. These two communities were one city until a new treaty after the War of 1812 established the border between Canada and the United States in this area at the St. Mary’s River. In the 21st century, the two cities are joined by the International Bridge, which connects Interstate 75 on the Michigan side, and Huron Street (and former Ontario Secondary Highway 550B) on the Ontario side. Shipping traffic in the Great Lakes system bypasses the Saint Mary’s Rapids via the American Soo Locks, the world’s busiest canal in terms of tonnage that passes through it, while smaller recreational and tour boats use the Canadian Sault Ste. Marie Canal.

 The locks are legendary in the maritime world and have provided safe passage and a vital shipping connection within the Great Lakes for nearly 160 years.

 So here we have an engineering marvel and huge ships, need I say any more about why we wanted to pay this area a visit? I think not LOL!!

Hmm, I wonder just how that lifeboat on the back is deployed?

Hmm, I wonder just how that lifeboat on the back is deployed?

 The first State Lock was built in 1855. Up until then, explorers, fur traders, and Native Americans had to carry their canoes and cargoes around the rapids. And some went all out just to get their boats around.

During its first year of operation the canal was navigated by 27 vessels. In recent years, nearly 7,000 vessels pass through the Locks annually hauling 86 million tons of cargo.

 There is a nice observation platform behind the Visitor Center that provides a great place to watch ships go through the locks.

·         90% of the world’s iron ore moves through the Soo Locks

·         Poe Lock (the larger of the 2 operating) requires 22 million gallons of water to lift or lower a boat

·         The Soo Locks close from January 15-March 25 each year for repairs

·         It would take 584 train cars to move 70,000 tons of cargo or just one 1000 foot freighter’s worth of goods.

·         The Paul R. Tregurtha is the largest freighter on the Great Lakes at 1013.5 feet

 Our campground was also a great place to watch the ships go by. As ships were about to make a turn right by the campground they would give out one toot of their horn and campers would all scurry out to the river bank to watch them go by.

People scurry out to the river bank to watch each time a ship went by.

People scurry out to the river bank to watch each time a ship went by.

2 ships passing by.

2 ships passing by.

One of the tour boats checking out a ship.

One of the tour boats checking out a ship.

 If we were to know that we were going to come through this area again we would reserve much farther in advance and get a water front site, we will making hat note on our campground info sheet.     

 I’m not sure just how many ships we watched go by from the campground but it had to be close to 15 or 20 in our short 3 night stay and we didn’t hang around camp all the time.

 One day we took a drive out to the Point Iroquois Light Station that was first illuminated in 1857 and was deactivated in 1962, replaced by the Canadian operated Gros Cap Reefs Light, an unmanned buoy-type beacon in the St. Mary’s River channel.

 We also took a stroll down the Water Street Historic Block followed by a tour of the Museum Ship Valley Camp. The 550’ SS Valley Camp is a lake freighter that served on the Great Lakes for almost 50 years before becoming a museum ship in Sault Ste. Marie.

The ship is almost unmodified from her original configuration except for the cargo hold which now houses hundreds of artifacts, paintings, shipwreck items, models, two lifeboats from the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, and exhibits of objects related to maritime history.

Can you send down some bacon & eggs? Egg's over hard and bacon crispy please.

Can you send down some bacon & eggs? Egg’s over hard and bacon crispy please.

 There is also an hour long film about the Edmund Fitzgerald and the events that occurred on November 10, 1975 which caused the tragic loss of one of the best known Great Lakes freighters.

 

 

 

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The Valley Camp once housed a crew of 29 men in her cabins which are now viewable if you take a tour including the Captain’s Quarters.

 And of course you can walk the deck as well which I couldn’t imagine doing during rough seas.

  The cost to enter the museum was $14 each and we probably spent 3 hours touring the museum all together I would guess.

 We also tried 2 local restaurants that were rated #1 and #2 by Trip Advisor, Karl’s Cuisine, Wine & Brewery and The Wicked Sister, both were good.

 We enjoyed our short stay and can now cross one more area off our bucket list. And it was nice to see sky from our campsite for a change. The last couple campgrounds have had a thick canopy of trees over them. So thick that we were lucky to see any sky. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up in the area again.

Check out the funky sailboat!!

Check out the funky sailboat!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also have to say that we (me particularly) are enjoying the cooler temps compared to what so much of the country is having. Depending on what we think of the rest of Michigan I could see this part of the country making our list of summer places. So far Colorado is the only area that is really on it.

 That pretty much does it for this update. Friday (8/4) we will be making another move. We will be headed south less than 100 miles, dropping out of the UP. We will be headed to a full hookup site which we have not had for over 3 weeks so something other than military showers will be enjoyable LOL!!

Posted in A little about us | 13 Comments

A visit to Munising Michigan

Friday (7/28) rolled around and with it another travel day. So after 5 active days in the Green Bay area we lifted our jacks and continued north 185 miles to our new home just outside Munising Michigan.

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Taken from the Au Sable lighthouse

Taken from the Au Sable lighthouse

This would prove to be another short but chocked full of touring 4 day stay. Our plan was to hike to as many waterfalls we could in the area and take a sunset boat cruise and I think we fulfilled our plans pretty well.

Wagner Falls

Wagner Falls

Sable Falls

Sable Falls

Miners Falls

Miners Falls

Taken from a overlook at Chapel Rock

Taken from a overlook at Chapel Rock

I didn’t do a very good job keeping track of our pictures and I’m pretty sure I will name them wrong so we will just share pictures in no real rhyme or reason except for our boat cruise, I know which ones there are LOL!!

Chapel Rock with a couple tour boats in the water.

Chapel Rock with a couple tour boats in the water.

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

The falls we did manage to fit into our short visit were Miners Falls (a 50’ falls), Wagner Falls, Sable Falls, Munising Falls (a 50’ falls) and Chapel Falls. We also saw Bridal Veil Falls from our boat tour.

East Channel Lighthouse

East Channel Lighthouse

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

Munising Falls

The trail to Chapel Fall's. It was 3 miles round trip.

The trail to Chapel Fall’s. It was 3 miles round trip.

Chapel Falls

Chapel Falls

Top of Chapel Falls

Top of Chapel Falls

 

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Coming from the Northwest we will have to say that the waterfalls in this area don’t hold a candle to what we are used to seeing out west but they sure were pretty none the less.
The hikes to each fall varied in length but I think the longest hike was 3.5 miles so nothing too strenuous at all. And what I really like is its hillier out here instead of mountainous so nothing too steep to hike LOL!! On the other hand it was not uncommon to find stairs to climb, sometimes 75 to 100 of them to reach the viewing platforms.

 

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Our Sunset Boat Cruise with Picture Rocks Cruises was without a doubt the highlight of our visit. The cost of our cruise was $38 each.

Bridal Veil Falls seen from the boat

Bridal Veil Falls seen from the boat


We made sure to get to the gate extra early so we could get a seat on the top deck and by the side and we are glad we did, the views were fantastic. In fact Diane and I were the very first 2 people in line!! The boat departed at 7PM and we coasted back into the dock about 9:45.

Lovers Leap

Lovers Leap

Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

Do you see a Pirates face?

Do you see a Pirates face?

Do you see a Pirates face?

Do you see a Pirates face?

The Grand Portal Point

The Grand Portal Point


The boat we were on was about 65’ long and could hold 150 passengers between the lower and upper decks. The boat we took this picture of was loading at the same time we did and was an identical ship.
We sat in the back right corner of the top deck, our reasoning for that was we would be on the Pictured Rocks Shoreline side going out with no one behind us or between us and the rail for picture taking and we would be able to turn around and take pictures from the rear if we wanted on the return trip and it worked out well.

Lovers Leap

Lovers Leap


The only thing we didn’t plan on when figuring out our seating was for some loud and foul mouthed fool coming to the top of the steps and holding a conversation right over my head LOL. Before going any farther so you don’t think I’m just an ass before departing the captain made mention that there was no standing on the top deck allowed and that the stairway was to be kept clear at all times to which meant “loudmouth” was breaking both rules.


After a short time of “loudmouth” yacking in my ear and bumping be with his elbow I turned around and asked if he could hear what the captain was saying about the rocks in his narration, to which he answered “no, too much wind I guess” to which I answered, “well there is that reason to I guess”. It seems he got the hint and went back down to stand on the rear observation deck.
However I guess “loudmouth” had a short memory span because before long he was back at the top of the stairs with another person once again yacking up a storm with the “F” word tossed in at regular intervals. Maybe his vocabulary was as bad as his memory so he used foul language as a filler, I’m not sure. But this time I turned around and told him point blank that I would really like to hear what the captain was saying about the area and that with him talking it was impossible. I guess that did the trick because we never saw “loudmouth” again.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls


The captain did a great job of narrating on our trip out and also did a good job of letting everyone have a nice quiet ride back.

Mineral seep

Mineral seep

Mineral seep

Mineral seep

Caves of many colors

Caves of many colors

As we were getting back the captain mentioned that they do a drawing for a hard backed picture book of the area and that 1 person from each tour win’s one and to be sure to check inside the gift shop for the name of the lucky person from our tour. And guess who that lucky person was!!??!! Diane of course!!! She is a lucky girl.

Of course during our stay we took a driving tour up and down the shoreline and also made it to Grand Marias, a little town we heard someone mention so we figured we may as well check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After our drive to Grand Marias we made a stop to check out the Au Sable Lighthouse. From where we parked it was a 3 mile round trip hike on a very easy trail.

The 1.5 mile trail to Au Sable lighthouse

The 1 mile trail to Au Sable lighthouse

Au Sable Lighthouse

Au Sable Lighthouse

Au Sable lighthouse

Au Sable lighthouse

Au Sable lighthouse

Au Sable lighthouse

 

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Oh, and we just have to mention that we tried our very first Pasty while in the area. We were told about them by friends so we had to give them a try. We tried them at 2 different locations and bought a few to toss in the freezer for a quick lunch or even an easy dinner.

Our first Pasty at Muldoon's in Munising

Our first Pasty at Muldoon’s in Munising

We have also been pretty lucky weather and bug wise. The temps were pretty much in the high 70’s during our stay and we have not had any mosquito or biting flies issues. We had mosquitos in the evening while in Door County and only a couple biting flies but nothing to really complain about. I guess we have been lucky this year because we have heard they both can be pretty bad in these areas.

That pretty much sums it up for this stop, like we said, it was a fast but full 4 days and on Tuesday (8/1) we lifted our jacks and made another move so be sure to check back, we will have a lot of LARGE boats to talk about at our next update.

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A tour of Lambeau Field and the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay

Tuesday (7/26) I will admit I woke up feeling still a little tired after our full day at the airshow. In reality I’m sure it was from our active schedule we had been keeping overall this summer catching up. This retirement stuff can take a toll after a while,,,, POOR US !!! LOL!!!

In fact as I checked the weather and looked at the radar on my phone app and saw a big ol wet patch headed our way I will admit all I really saw was an excuse to hunker down and chill for a day.

With that being said there really isn’t much to say about this day unless you want to hear about a trip to Walmart and what TV shows we watched, I didn’t think so LOL!!

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Wednesday (7/27) was our last day in the area and because of the down day due to weather we had 2 things left on our “to do” list that we had to cram into just this one day so we got an early start and headed towards Lambeau Field to do a stadium tour.

Anyone that has been reading our blog long knows that I’m a Chiefs fan and Diane is a ,,, well a,,, OK a Patriots fan (but I still love her) but you just have to admire the Green Bay story with it being the 3rd oldest franchise in the NFL and the only publicly owned team in American professional sports.

The players walk down this alley to practice. Some get on bikes that belong to kids along the way and ride them. That must be a lot of fun for the kids.

The players walk down this alley to practice. Some get on bikes that belong to kids along the way and ride them. That must be a lot of fun for the kids.

And of course there record demands at least a little respect as well. The Packers have won 4 Super Bowls, 9 NFL Championships, 8 Conference Championships and 14 Division Championships. I think I’m right on those numbers but we know of at least 1 ultimate Packers fan that will speak up and correct me if I’m wrong LOL!!

And who doesn’t respect the Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It so happened that this was the first day of practice for the season so we were able to watch them for a while before our tour time. Now it may be a little early to make predictions but we can say it looked like they were having a good time at least.

There are 4 different tours you can take of the stadium, the Classic Tour, Champions Tour, Legendary Tour and the Alumni Tour, each showing just a little more of the stadium than the other.

Diane is pointing to a brick with our friends Roger & Lynn's name on it outside of the stadium.

Diane is pointing to a brick with our friends Roger & Lynn’s name on it outside of the stadium.

The Classic starts in the Atrium, takes you into the Premium Seating Areas on the East Side of Lambeau Field, lets you experience the players tunnel and walk alongside the field. We opted to take the Champions Tour which shows everything that the Classic does but also takes you to the South End Zone and a couple other premium levels with some of the best views of Lambeau Field. Tickets were $33 each.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our particular tour lasted about 90 minutes and our guide was outstanding. As we listened and learned about the history of the Packers we couldn’t help feel the spirit and energy that everyone must feel when here enjoying a game.

And after seeing and sitting in some of the premium seats that are hidden behind the glass that we normally only see while watching a game on TV it makes me want to attend a game. I know I know, real fans sit on the 18” of aluminum that is provided down closer to the field where you can deal with the elements in the middle of December or January. Well we are talking Green Bay Wisconsin in December or January so do you know what we have to say to that??? We will keep it clean and leave it at that LOL!!

A pep talk before running down the tunnel to the field.

A pep talk before running down the tunnel to the field.

Running down the tunnel, can you hear the crowd??

Running down the tunnel, can you hear the crowd??

At the end of the tunnel and headed to the field

At the end of the tunnel and headed to the field

We enjoyed the tour and would recommend it if you are in the area and it makes me want to put Kansas City in our route on our way south so we can tour Arrowhead Stadium, and who knows, maybe catch a game!!

The tunnel the Packers run out of

The tunnel the Packers run out of

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After Lambeau Field we drove a short distance to our next thing on our “to do” list, The National Railroad Museum.

After watching a short video and walking through the doors of the museum the first thing you see is the Transportation China Collection Exhibit that features hundreds of pieces of china from Jay Christopher’s collection.

 

 

 

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The exhibit includes silver, service plates, prominent patterns and china used on railroads, steamships, and airlines. The exhibit discusses the rise and fall of fine transportation dining back when you got more than a bag of peanuts.

 

 

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This museum has the only A4 Class locomotive in the United States. It’s a British made locomotive that was renamed for Dwight D. Eisenhower after World War II. Along with this engine are two London and North Eastern Railroad cars that were converted for Eisenhower’s use during the war

 

 

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Then of course there is the Big Boy display, the world’s largest steam locomotive weighing in at 1.1 million pounds and measuring nearly half a football field in length. The Big Boy locomotives were designed to haul heavy freight for the Union Pacific railroad over the mountainous regions of Utah and Wyoming.

They also have a GG-1, which some say was America’s most famous electric locomotive. First built in 1932, and has had its streamlined body featured on a U.S. postage stamp, as a Lionel toy train and in dozens of paintings over the years.

Mail car

Mail car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After touring the inside and outside displays we decided to take a 25 minute ride on a vintage, full-size train that made a loop around the museum grounds. During the ride the conductor described various rolling stock sitting around and talked about the hobo culture. The train ride is pulled by a diesel locomotive.

We have done a few train museums around the country and I feel safe saying we have seen some of the best the country has to offer so it’s hard for smaller museums to get me overly excited. So even though we enjoyed our tour I can’t honestly say that this one is something you shouldn’t miss if in the area. But if you have nothing to compare it to by all means check it out.

What’s the best Railroad Museum we have seen you ask? Well the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg has to be one of the best if not the best we have toured. And here is a link to that update in case you are interested, https://daveanddiane.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/the-pennsylvania-train-museum/

Well that pretty much sums up our stay here and in Wisconsin all together. Friday (7/28) we lifted our jacks and made a move 185 miles north into Michigan and our next stop in Munising. In fact by the time we get this update posted we will be almost done with our stay in Munising and ready to make another move, but bear with us, we will get caught us sooner or later.

Posted in A little about us | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A day at the Oshkosh Airshow

 Oh BOY!!! It’s Oshkosh Airshow day!!! Tuesday (7/25) we got our act together a little earlier and headed about 40 miles south to the Wittman Regional Airport where the EAA Air Venture Oshkosh Airshow is held each year. Oh, in case you are wondering, EAA stands for Experimental Aircraft Association.

 Of course being our first time we really had no clue where we were going from the time we parked in a grass field and literally just followed a crowd of people about ¼ mile hoping they were heading to the entrance.

 Even though there was a large herd of us headed towards the entry it seems most everyone already had their tickets so we were able to walk right up to the booth without delay “our lucky day!!” A 1 day pass cost $48 for non EAA members and $33 for members.  I was not an EAA member but I am now!! It just made sense to join because the membership is $40 per year and by joining it allowed us to pay the $33 entry fee so we saved $30 just today plus by being a member we would get discounts inside the show, get discounts at over 400 other museums around the country plus other airshows. It will certainly pay for itself and more than likely save us money within the next 12 months. “I told Diane this means we will be looking for more aviation museums and shows so we could benefit to the fullest. I may have miss-read her but she seemed genuinely happy LOL!!)

 

The show lasts a week, usually beginning on the last Monday in July and we read that during the show the airport’s control tower is the busiest in the world. YES THE WORLD!! Now we found that hard to believe until we actually saw all of the planes in the air flying around in close proximity of the tower like yellow jackets around your plate during a picnic. In fact if there were that many bee’s around my plate I would run inside so the planes were thicker than bee’s around your plate LOL!!

 I have been hearing about this airshow for years and years and how it so big but I guess I still didn’t realize just how huge it was until we paid and walked in the gate and started walking around. If you ever plan to attend wear some comfortable walking shoes because if you are like us you will put on a few miles with ease.