Tuesday, July 19, 2016

To Northern Michigan

Do you realize that I 75 has a lock at one end – the Soo Locks in Sault Saint Marie Michigan and keys at the other end – a whole string of them just south of Miami Florida!  Go ahead – get out your U.S. map and see for yourself!  Last winter in Florida, H and I passed over or under that hectic, traffic jammed roadway a lot and managed to stay off of it as much as possible.  Heading north into the tip of the mitten of Michigan we tried to do the same - until we reached Grayling Michigan.  In the highway’s defense – that section of cement north of Grayling and south of the city of Mackinaw, is the prettiest stretch in the entire 1700 miles of it!

In order to stay off of either I 75 OR US 23 we chose to drive state roads that led north on our annual trip “up north” - especially since H and I had our own wagon train going – him in the truck, pulling the trailer and me in the minivan with the boat.   Rt 50 is dotted with small farming towns and the Victorian town with an Indian name – Tecumseh.  Rt 52 is lined with farm fields and small towns w/names like Chelsea and Stockbridge.  A left turn onto Rt 21 in Owosso, led to gently rolling hills and an easy traveling expressway - US 127.  Farmlands gradually gave way to tall pine forests!
Higgins lake south beach

Just south of where US 127 joins with I 75 are two of the prettiest and largest lakes in the state of Michigan.   Houghton Lake is Michigan’s largest inland lake checking in with over 22,000 acres of water and is over 5 miles wide in some areas.  Higgins Lake, just to the north, is somewhat smaller at only 3 miles wide, but has clear blue water and has been proclaimed by National Geographic Society as the 6th most beautiful lake in the world!  We parked for 2 nights at the West Houghton Lake Campground, which is a Passport America campground.  The “facilities” are old but used to be kept up much better. The road needed grading, the grass needed cutting and the “facilities” needed cleaning!  Neither H nor I remembered smelling so much sulfur in the water before!  We spent our two hot afternoons, out exploring the circumference of both lakes with stops at most of the small township parks and the 3 state parks – 1 on Houghton and 2 on Higgins.   On future visits – either the north or the south state parks on Higgins would get our votes!
Boat ramp at Houghton lake

On our only morning there and before the heat of the day set in, we slid the boat in the water at the DNR boat launch that was across from the campground and cruised by the cottages and homes along the waters edge. The waters were calm in the bays on the south side of the lake so it was a nice ride.  Part of the time we trolled for whatever fish might choose to sample the generic taste of the rubber lures we tossed out over the water.  Only one lunk of an underwater creature latched onto my lure.  It hit like a big dead log and never fought until I had it almost to the boat.  It was no bass.  And it was not a feisty bluegill either.  I had hooked a 20-inch, toothy pike and H does NOT like pike in his boat!  He slid my knitted water bottle sleeve over his hand, grabbed the fish right behind its ugly head, carefully removed the hook from its mouth full of sharp teeth and then quickly flipped that slimy thing back into the water!

Thursday morning we packed up and hit the road early so we could meet my high school friends, Glenn and Beth for breakfast!  We entered I 75 just south of Grayling and exited at Waters, which is the exit just south of Gaylord.  Traffic was light, the scenery was gorgeous, the sky was blue and the sun was shining!  No more WJR out of Detroit on the radio so one of my favorite CD’s was playing!  We made a right turn at the exit and then an immediate left turn into the sprawling parking lot of our usual meeting place – the Hilltop Restaurant.  Good food and great conversation followed with a promise of getting together again before we headed back home.   Then it was back in the vehicles for the last leg of our road trip to Petasega Campground on Pickerel Lake! (See Previous Michigan Blogs!)