Saturday, August 2, 2014

Still in the land of the Yoopers

Indian Lake State Park is stretched out across the southern edge of Indian Lake, the fourth largest inland lake in the U.P. and is in the middle of the Hiawatha National Forest.   It is 6 miles long and 3 miles wide.  The land was acquired in 1932 and the 2 picnic shelters, which are made of huge, black logs and large sandstone blocks were built using CCC and WPA workers.   We selected one of the few available lakefront campsites and H deftly backed the condo in at an angle that would allow the best view from the back window.  It was so close to the waters edge that during the night you could easily listen to the waves lapping the shoreline. It was going to be perfect for sliding the portabote off the truck and practically right into the water - - IF all the ducks would get out of the way!  Families of ducks and ducklings of various sizes called this shoreline home!  The weather was gray and cool so of course we felt the call of town and headed back the four miles to Manistique to reacquaint ourselves with this busy little historic town.  The red brick 1921 water tower and nearby siphon-bridge are still listed on all the brochures!  The harbor was hosting their annual salmon and trout fishing tournament but we arrived there just as the winners were being announced.  Downtown was quaint and had more full stores than empty and the shopkeepers greeted everyone who entered their shops.  On Monday, it was way too windy and the waves were topped with whitecaps so the boat stayed on top of the truck a bit longer!  Our campground hosts, Ralph and Karen are real Yoopers – accent and all and shared local information and gave me a cute story about the “Creation of the U.P”!  They even served coffee every morning, starting at 8 a.m.   Bud and Carol arrived from their trip up thru Wisconsin and we all relaxed and caught up with each other’s travel adventures! 
Munising Falls

Pasties were on the “must find” list for Tuesday so we all loaded in Bud’s Chevy Equinox and headed north to Lake Superior and the small town of Munising, the home of Murdock’s Pasties AND of course the Pictured Rocks National Seashore.  The last time the 4 of us were in Munising, B&C attempted to see the beautiful sea sculptures by water but were turned back by the fog.  The boats were not venturing out in the wet/windy weather today either.  It was even TOO cold to order pasties at Murdock’s and sit outside to eat them.   We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and then drove up the road and walked the short pathway up to see the 20-foot vertical drop of Munising Falls.  There was plenty of white spray coming over the high cliff and splashing down on the rocks and tree trunks that had fallen in its path before stumbling and bubbling down the rocky creek-bed.  We did find our pasties at Shooters Firehouse Grill and were almost as good as Murdock’s!   Our return trip home always requires a different route back and we ended up on a forest road heading south.  One side-venture turned into a 2-track road that even dared to boast a sign that stated it was an “Adopt a Road” – and it dead-ended into a small boat launch and a pretty little lake!

Wednesday started out windy – AGAIN, so we headed to town for breakfast!  The Cedar Street CafĂ© was the mutual choice and H and I chose to split a “Garbage Omelet”!  Well worth the price and PLENTY for us to share!   From there we strolled out onto the long cement break-wall, lined with huge quarried boulders, built out into Lake Michigan to protect the harbor and the mouth of the Indian River.  At the very end of the jutted barrier was the bright red  Manistique light house.
Back at the campground, since the sun had come out and the winds chose not to blow any longer, it was time to get the boat in the water!  We sure were not going to get another chance on this lake.   Off the truck, unfolded and put together, it slid easily into the shallow (now calm) water.  Off we went, mighty fishermen, out across the vast open waters!   Again, the fish, teased us by nibbling and yanking at our lures.  Finally, H landed his feisty small mouth bass.  I followed with a nice sized brightly colored yellow perch!  His bass was bigger than my perch but my perch was at least big enough to keep!  We didn’t.  Three more small perch made it to the boat before we called it quits and headed back to shore to regale about our fishing prowess to B&C!!   After “Happy Hour” the clouds moved back in and before our supper was over, the winds and rain returned.   Oh well, time to pack down anyway because it was time to head out in the morning.  We’ve more places to go before we have to go south instead of going further north.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Up North

Between late June and late July, our trips have been limited to just daytrips because our annual “Up North Trip” always happens in late July!  One such trip was a boat ride, starting out in Sandusky Bay about 50 miles east of Toledo and venturing out onto Lake Erie (Oh No - - - another Great Lake!)  Our ride took us along the downtown area of Sandusky Ohio and out and around the peninsula that the whole world knows as Cedar Point - - the amusement park that is home to all the famous sky high, fast moving roller coasters.  From our floating, bobbing perch out on the water, the set of coaster cars looked like inchworms slowly creeping up a long skinny branch and then zooming down the steep other side at 60 miles per hour!  We crossed the choppy bay waters to the famous Marblehead lighthouse that sits on thick layers of rugged limestone and finished up around island that held the historic prisoner camp and civil war cemetery - Johnson’s Island.   Our other road trip took up to Baldwin and Houghton Lake Michigan, checking out campgrounds and small lakes on the way up and back.

And now we are really UP NORTH!  This annual trip began in Gaylord Michigan at the county park on the west side of Otsego Lake.  The campground was pretty full but there was one lakeside site available and we took it!  Our big picture window looked out over a sandy beach complete with a relaxing 4-person swing and tall shady trees. Downtown Gaylord is Alpine in design and architecture and hosts an Alpine Fest each summer.  We just missed it!  But we did not miss seeing the herd of elk that live in a multi acre enclosure on the outskirts of downtown!  Lots of babies and their mommas and lots of mammoth big bulls with their wide velvety antlers!  They are very flighty creatures. When one got spooked, they all got up from their resting spots and galloped out onto the wide open field before them. Once there, the whole group stopped and grazed again.  We were also fortunate to visit with good friends, Glenn and Beth whom I’ve known since high school.  We won’t say how long ago that was but we did just celebrate our 50th class reunion last September!

We went up and over the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge to spend a night at the Straits State Park in St Ignace, JUST over the 5-mile long, double arch that was built in 1957.  On the west side of the bridge is Lake Michigan.  On the east side is Lake Huron.  Remember that the back of your left hand is Michigan? The tip of your long second finger is where the bridge is.  Those that live in the Upper Peninsula are called Youpers (U P’ers).  Those of us who live “below” the bridge are called “Trolls”! 

Heading west on Route 2, the road follows the shoreline of the rugged, beautiful, extremely blue, Lake Michigan. The roadway is lined with lush green pine trees and dotted with the occasional Pasties Shop. (Pah-stee, NOT Paste-ee!!)  We stopped and enjoyed one of those handholdable potpies filled with meat and finely chopped vegetables but smothered with rich brown gravy on our way to Brevoort Lake National Forest Campground.  This park sits on a prominent peninsula and is surrounded by sandy beaches on one side and lily pads and thick forest on the other.  While we did not get one of the many wooded lakeside spots, our inland spot was wide and sunny which was perfect for the cool weather and no electricity.  H put together his little PCV pipe trailer and we towed the Portabote to the small boat launch.  On our 1st day of fishing and exploring this 6-mile long wilderness lake, I “let” H catch the first fish and the most.  I caught the biggest!  On the 2nd day, I again caught the biggest, the 1st and the most – all 2 of them. H caught one.  It’s just too bad that not one of those pretty yellow perch were big enough to keep, filet and fry!  But it was indeed a fun time, trying to snatch all those many nibbles on our lures. While out on the lake we encountered an eagle soaring high overhead and looking for his lunch with his dark wings outstretched and his bright white tail acting as his rudder, guiding him in the thermals above.   A lone loon kept diving down into the deep water and swam farther away, avoiding our curious gazes.

On one gray foggy afternoon we ventured out to find something exciting that we had not seen before.  We stopped at the Cut River Bridge parking area and walked out across the 640-foot long green cantilever steel bridge that is 147 feet above the tiny river below.  At each end of the bridge is a set of stairs and passageway under the intriguing structure, which lead to the other walkway on the opposite side of the heavily traveled road.  In one of the under bridge passages was a round topped, narrow wooden door with a brass plaque which read “ T Troll”!  On our way back, the GPS took us on a “trail” that lead thru deep green forest and then out across a wide sandy meadow. Alongside the rutted sandy trail were cars and trucks parked haphazardly every bit of the way.  They were out picking wild blueberries! So we also stopped and picked some. To complete our venture we finally saw a deer and H even stopped the truck to investigate some strange looking tracks in the soft sand.  Bear Tracks!  But we saw no bears.  Back at camp, the tiny but tasty blueberries tasted sweet on our pudding that evening!
The air has turned even cooler and the rains have moved in. Thunderstorms are threatened.  Time to move farther West on Route 2 to Indian Lake State Park, just west of Manistique.  Time for some electricity!  Our shower in the “condo” works just fine but we don’t push much water thru.  Time for a GOOD, HOT shower - - and shampoo!!