September 4 Gogebic to Sault Ste Marie

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here:

Gogebic_to_Sault (11) Rain seems to be following us on this trip through the northern part of the country, and according to the weather forecasts, it will follow us into Canada.  Today we left Gogebic Lake in the rain and drove across Michigan to Sault Ste Marie, on the Michigan-Canadian border. 

Our northern route included a side trip to the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore in the northern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the small town of Munising, Michigan, we had pasties, touted as the best on the UP.  I think that may be true.  Muldoon’s Pasties specialty are the traditional beef, potato, rutabaga, and carrot kind, served with a rich beef gravy.  Mo liked the apple dessert pasty the best.  The definition of a “pasty” is a pie that is made without a pan, basically a kind of hand pie.  Yummm.

Gogebic_to_Sault (24) We left the MoHo in Munising and drove the 11 mile route to the shore through gorgeous hardwood forests. The weather was wild and windy, but Pictured Rocks was still the highlight of the day.  We hiked out to the overlooks and along the cliff trails of the one area of the park that is reasonably accessible.  I can see how on a pleasant day this would be fabulous coastal kayaking area, but it also wouldn’t have been as dramatic a visit as it was for us in the wild wind.

After our sidetrip, we ambled on through the UP to Sault Ste Marie.  The town actually consists of two cities, one on the US side and on in Ontario.  The locks here are operated and owned by a cooperative effort between Canada and the US, and were built in the mid 1850’s and one of them is the longest lock in the world.  After our tour of the Panama Canal last January, it was interesting to see locks that were built long before the Canal locks.  The level of Lake Huron is 21 feet below Lake Superior and the volume of commerce has been immensely important to the economies of this part of the world.

Gogebic_to_Sault (29) The visitor center here is extremely well done and informative, and there are viewing platforms for watching the ships go through the locks.  The rapids of the St Mary’s River have been preserved in a small section adjacent to the locks and are a very popular fishing site.  Because of the rain and high winds however, there were very few ships attempting to navigate from Lake Huron to Lake Superior.  The next big ship, a 1000 foot long freighter, was scheduled to enter the locks after 9pm.  We decided instead to go find an Irish Coffee in a pub, check out the souvenir shops in town across from the visitor center, and go back home to our warm and dry home waiting at the campground.

Soo_to_Killarney (5) We opted to stay at the Auld Osborne campground operated by the city of Sault Ste Marie.  As we approached our destination, the volume of big fifth wheels and motorhomes was surprising.  Once settled in, however, the site was OK, with a view of the river and a somewhat open site.  The pedestal for the power was in a pool of water, and the water was in a completely different direction. Not long after we got settled, we saw a parade of people heading for the riverbank, and figured that meant a ship was on its way.  Sure enough, a big freighter rolled by, moving amazingly fast.  Most of these freighters are hauling taconite, a form of iron ore that has been processed for easy transport.  The visitor center had information on the many types of freighters and their history, and in the shops we saw the freighter identification guide book, a worthwhile purchase if your plans include more than a single night.

 

September 3 Duluth to Gogebic, Michigan

JayCooke_to_Gogebic (15) JayCooke_to_Gogebic (8)

Cool rain for our morning walk

The St Louis River

The rest of the photos for this day are linked here:

We left Jay Cooke State Park this morning in the rain, but not before taking some time to check out the swinging bridge over the St. Louis River.  The bridge was originally built in the early 1900’s, flooded and destroyed twice, and then the bridge you see here was completed in the 1960’s. It spans the St. Louis River, a wild cataract of brown tinged water cascading over sedimentary slates.  The brown color is disconcerting at first for westerners used to white water, but is caused by the diluted acids from the organic soils that these waters flow through.

JayCooke_to_Gogebic (43) JayCooke_to_Gogebic (49)

The Bayfield marina is the jumping off spot for the Apostle Islands

Bayfield neighborhoods have many restored Craftsman and Victorian homes converted to B&B’s

We traveled across Wisconsin on a northern route, and spontaneously went north to the small town of Bayfield.  Even in the dreary rain, Bayfield was a beautiful place.  There were flowers everywhere, amazing creative little shops, an excellent visitor center and a gorgeous bay.  Bayfield is the gateway to the Apostle Islands, full of sea caves and wild trails.  These islands are a well known destination for kayakers, and we fit right in with our kayaks and bikes on the baby car.  Well known to everyone but us, I guess, since I had never heard of them until we saw them on the maps of Lake Superior.

I have an old saying, “I could live here”.  Of course other criteria comes in when deciding where to live, and proximity to my family is a big one, so maybe I really couldn’t live here.  But if I could just plop this town down somewhere in Oregon, it would be perfect.  The Chamber of Commerce has a great brochure with photos and stories of people who came to Bayfield to visit, and stayed to open small businesses and thrive.

JayCooke_to_Gogebic (59) After Bayfield, we knew it was time to find a place to sleep, and with this being a few days before Labor Day knew that it could be problematic.  A quick phone search revealed a large lake in Michigan to the east, and we called and landed a electric site in the park.  Something we have found in most of the state parks in this part of the country is that they are expensive.  The initial camping fee is reasonable, but all the parks have a day pass that is required in addition, and extra charges for other little details as well.  Most of our park stays are running over $30.00 a day at least.  Since we are only traveling for six weeks, it’s not ideal, but manageable, but if we were full-timing these state parks might be a bit too pricey.  Especially since electricity is sketchy and WiFi non existent.

JayCooke_to_Gogebic (62) Gogebic was windy and wild as we settled in, and also very crowded.  The sites were grassy, with big ruts from the wet soils.  The electric cost extra, and with the weather we were glad to have it.  We set up, hooked up the power, and it worked for a few minutes before going completely dead.  Of course, instead of looking at the storm around us, we tried to figure out what was wrong with our power system, or what we had done wrong.  Later, I finally went to the camp office thinking perhaps the breaker was down.  What I hadn’t considered was the weather.  Duh.  The power was out all over the campground. 

 

September 2 Duluth

the rest of the photos for this day of travels are here.

Duluth (2) Our campsite at Jay Cooke was perfectly comfortable, and after a very wild night of hard rain and thunder, it was good to know we didn’t have to rush off anywhere in a hurry.  Planning two nights in one place is great, because then there is at least a day to explore some of the local area. Once we reach Niagara Falls, Labor Day will be in the past and we do hope to spend a bit more time relaxing and seeing the local sights. 

We asked the waitress last night what shouldn’t be missed in Duluth, and she insisted that the Skyline Drive and Enger tower was something that everyone seemed to think was the thing to do.  After a relaxing morning, a good breakfast, and a good MoHo cleanout, we took off again in the Tracker to see a bit of the town.  Duluth (5) The visitor center near Spirit Mountain has a great display of panoramic photographs labeled with all the sights of the Duluth Harbor and is a great way to get oriented to the layout of the city.  They also provided two maps and a full page of descriptive directions for negotiating the Skyline Parkway.  The drive was dramatic even on a cloudy day.  The gardens at Enger park were filled with hostas and other familiar perennials that we grow at home, but they were so much bigger than what I can grow at Rocky Point.  Amazingly, the tower was open and there was no fee to climb the several flights of stairs to the top for the view of the Duluth Harbor.  In fact, no one was around except the pigeons, and Abby even managed to climb all those stairs to the top.

Duluth (37)After winding around the bluffs overlooking Duluth, we drove down to Canal Park to explore that area as well.  By then it was raining, so we got out the umbrellas and raincoats and made an attempt to see some of the area.  The Lakeshore walk follows the shoreline for a couple of miles but with the rain we decided to have lunch instead.  I was tickled to find my favorite Walleye on  the menu and enjoyed the succulent, delicate white fish found only in these cold northern waters.  The last time I had walleye was in St Paul several years ago when Mo and I traveled there during winter. I wasn’t disappointed.  Both times I have had walleye, it has been the most delicate, tender, moist, fresh, sweet fish I ever ate.  Bar none. 

Duluth (44)We checked out a few shops and then drove down to the Rose Garden.  This part of Duluth is wonderful, with so many walkways, trails, bike paths, and gardens.  I would have loved to spend some time here when it wasn’t raining, but even in the rain it was a special place.  Only one ship passed through the Aerial Lift Bridge while we were there, but I was glad to see it in operation. 

We skipped the traffic and ambled home to Jay Cooke in the rain and settled in for a peaceful evening.