Monthly Archives: August 2013

August 29, 3013 Kewaunee, Wisconsin

We left Green Bay and made the short drive to Kewaunee which is a city on Lake Michigan which will be our base camp for 3 days of exploring the Door Peninsula.  The northern half of the peninsula is an island.

Saturday we drove up to Sturgeon Bay passing through apple and cherry orchards, and farmland filled with silos on one side, and the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan on the other.  It truly was an amazing contrast so close together.  We did some geocaching and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  After a thunderstorm overnight and some morning clouds, the afternoon weather was perfect…not too hot and not too cold…just right!


This sign seemed to be on almost every street corner in Kewaunee


Beautiful farmland with silos, windmills, and cows grazing in the fields.


Wisconsin known for their dairyland


We found this little off the beaten path one lane road that took us from the farmland to the lakeshore in a matter of minutes.


We found this swing in a little park looking out over Lake Michigan.


Lake Michigan


Bill and Diane looking out over Lake Michigan. In case you are wondering, Bill used the timer on his camera to take the pictures of us on the swing!

On Saturday we drove farther up the Door peninsula through the small towns of Whitefish Point, Jacksonport, Bailey’s Harbor, Ellison Bay, and Sister Bay.  Sister Bay was clogged with traffic and small touristy shops even more complicated by Labor Day weekend events.  We hurried through town and were very happy when we were once again on the rustic roads that wound through the countryside and along the lakeshore. Once again we saw beautiful scenery, noticing the windmills that seem to be very popular in this area of Wisconsin.  We enjoyed visiting Whitefish Dunes State Park, as well as Cave Point County Park next door.  Then we went to Newport State Park which is Wisconsin’s only designated wilderness park.  Next we went to Northport, where we found one of the most interesting places we visited that day, Porte des Mortes, a French word meaning Door of Death, or Death’s Door, which is a strait linking Lake Michigan and Green Bay.  It is said that the strait is littered with shipwrecks. Some say it has more shipwrecks than any other section of fresh water in the world.  The strait is very narrow and shoals extend far from shore.  The winds on the Great Lakes are often very unpredictable and change unexpectedly and rapidly.  Door County is named for this narrow strait.  During our visit to Michigan and Wisconsin we were told several times that kayaking on the Great Lakes should be left to the very experienced due to the unpredictability of the weather and wind.  

We were very hungry by the time we worked our way back down to Sister Bay, and even though it was crowded with people we decided to stop here for dinner since it seemed to be the only place within miles with restaurants of any kind.  The restaurant was hopping inside as much as the streets outside.  One group of revelers was especially loud, to the point of hurting my ears due to their close promimity.  Luckily within 15 minutes they paid their bar tab and continued on their way.


Rock Cave County Park


Rock Cave County Park looking south at shoreline of jagged cliffs






We have noticed along the lakeshores in Michigan and Wisconsin, there are often rocks in very interesting formations piled up by beach goers.


Death’s Door


Ellison Bluff State Natural Area….what a view 200 feet above the shoreline!

Sunday we spent doing laundry, grocery shopping, checking the tires and RV for the next day’s move, and making tentative plans for the next 3 months of travel.



August 28, 2013 Green Bay, Wisconsin

Today we made the short trip down to Green Bay and found a great campsite at the fairgrounds.  We find that fairgrounds are a great place to stay for short times because they are cheap, grassy, and usually have some shade.  They tend to be in safe areas and away from a lot of noise and traffic.  This one had electric and water hookups.  We visited Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, and even found a geocache there.  Did some shopping at a new Cabera’s for new trekking poles and dinner at Famous Dave’s Barbecue.  Great day!

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August 26, 2013 Oconto, Wisconsin

Due to the extreme heat in Ashland projected for the next several days, we decided to forego plans for hiking, biking and kayaking in the area and head back down toward Lake Michigan. Before leaving Ashland, Bill checked the pressure on the tow dolly tires since he knows it is important to always check your tire pressure.  The NEW valve stems just replaced in Bessemer several days ago were leaking because of bad cores, so we had to make a quick run to NAPA to get the materials to replace those.  Sometimes things that seem to have been fixed are not really fixed and things do not always go as planned.  We finally pulled out of Ashland an hour behind schedule and headed to Oconto, Wisconsin about 30 miles north of Green Bay.  We have not driven on an interstate since we entered the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and today was no exception.  We enjoyed the drive through quaint small towns, farmland with silos, and even Indian Reservations.  Today we drove through the Bad River Indian Reservation and the Menominee Indian Reservation. We noticed that there is no cell phone coverage in the reservation territory.   As we drove by farms we noticed wood had already begun to be stacked high in preparation for the coming winter.  On this very hot day, it was hard to picture what the countryside would look like covered with snow.  We were told that some areas of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan can get over 200 inches of snow a year.  No thank you!!


August 23 Ashland, Wisconsin

Sadly we left Michigan this morning.  Our time in Michigan was wonderful and it certainly exceeded our expectations in beauty!  The weather for the most part was cooler than expected but that was fine with us.  The vicious mosquitoes and black flies we had heard so much about were not nearly as bad as we feared.  Perhaps it was due to the cool weather.

We arrived in the quaint town of Ashland, Wisconsin and was immediately taken with its beauty.   We found a campsite overlooking Lake Superior in Kreher City Park.

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There are two streets in Ashland that caught our attention during our visit.  Lakeshore Drive which takes you along Lake Superior with some breathtaking views of the lake.  The other street is Main Street where we found 11 huge murals painted on several building for 8 blocks along the street.  The first mural was done eleven years ago by Wisconsin artists Kelly Meredith and Sue Martinsen as part of the state’s sesquicentennial celebration.  This then became part of a long term project to bring art, history and tourism to Ashland.  Yes, these are murals painted on buildings!  Take a look!


Lumberjack Mural depicts the men and women of Ash;and’s lumber era


Waitress mural


Storefront mural…a compilation of Ashland storefronts from the early 1900’s


Veterans Mural in honor of all the Ashland men and women who served our country in wars and conflicts


Lighthouse Mural depicting 3 lighthouses within Apostle islands off of the coast of Ashland on Lake Superior


Asaph Whittlesey Mural depicts Ashland National Bank, 1892


Ore Dock Mural, the dock was built in 1916 and extended in 1924. It was 1800 feet long and at the time was the largest concrete dock in the world


Historical Ellis Avene Mural features Northland College, Wheeler Hall; the old Ashland high school; and the Knight Hotel


On Sunday we decided to make the 30 mile drive to Copper Falls State Park to do some hiking and see the waterfalls.  The forecast of 95 degree weather concerned, but did not deter us.  A brief history of the park is that thousands of cubic miles of lava oozed from deep fissures where Lake Superior now lies.  The lava spread in all directions, building horizontal layers that reached thicknesses up to 60,000 feet.  There was so much lava, the earth’s crust sagged and formed the basin of Lake Superior.  Evidence of the lava can be seen in the park today.  The Bad River and its tributary the Tylers Fork flow through a gorge and drop over several waterfalls.  Copper was mined by Native Americans and then later by European settlers.  The park has done an excellent job of creating walkways with many, many steps that takes us around a trail where we can view the waterfalls.  It was a great experience, but it was REALLY hot!


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August 18, 2013 Marenisco, Michigan

Today had us leaving the northermost point of Michigan and heading south to Lake Gogebic State Park.  This very small state park struck us as being more like a county park than a state park.  We found a nice shady spot overlooking beautiful Lake Gogebic.

The first day we discovered a leak in the tire stems of the tires on our tow dolly.  Lake Gogebic is in a pretty isolated part of Michigan, so we had to spend the day driving 30 miles into Bessemer to get the stems repaired at a small combination Firestone tire and service station.  We drove around the town while the work was being done and then drove back to the park.  Just goes to show you this lifestyle is not all a walk in the park!

The next two days we drove to Porcupine State Park to do some hiking.  We fell in love with this park about 45 minutes from our campground and actually drove there twice to do some hiking.  They also introduced us to a new form of geocaching called “letterboxing” and we enjoyed doing that both days.  We were both very impressed with this well kept, user friendly park that had wonderful steps around falls and different scenic areas, with numerous benches to rest while hiking.   The waterfalls were very nice, but we had definitely been spoiled by the splendor of Tahquamenon Falls.




Lake of the Clouds


View from Lake of the Clouds






Another new trail we hiked on!


Never saw a bear but we had a whistle and were on guard




one of 3 falls
















Very nice suspension bridge that took us over to a little peninsula, almost like an island






View from the top of the tower




Steps, steps and more steps, doesn’t even include all the steps we climbed to get to the tower.


Typical walkways found in the park…they really did a wonderful job of buidling walkways and stairways.


August 13, 2013 Copper Harbor, Michigan

Still marveling about the marvels of Picture Rocks and the surrounding area, we made the drive to the remote area of Copper Harbor, Michigan where we stayed at Fort Wilkins State Park.

We toured Fort Wilkins which was actually a Fort established in the early 1840’s when a copper rush took place in the area and the government was concerned about possible unrest and violence in the area.  The fort was only open for a couple years before the copper rush faded.  Today they have buildings showing military life during that time and some limited re-inactments.




We decided to do some geocaching since that seems to be the way to see out of the way breathtaking sights.  We rode along Lakeshore Road and the highlight of the day was a drive up Brockman Mountain.  The sights were breathtaking and the geocaches for the most part easy.








It was windy as you can tell by my hair!




Bill finding a geocache on top of Brockman Mountain.










Joshua’s Falls






Fresh blueberries were abundant in the woods and forests of Michigan. August is prime blueberry picking time in Michigan and when they have their blueberry festivals.

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Copper Harbor was beautiful, though a little less remote and isolated than we expected and a bit touristy.  We found the end of US 41 which goes from Michigan to Miami.  Bill has now been at both ends!


August 8, 2013 Marquette, Michigan

On the way to our next stop in Marquette, Michigan we decided to stop at Oswald’s Bear Ranch near Newberry. They rescue bear cubs from around the United States and give them a place to safely grow up and live. It is against the law in Michigan to breed and buy black bears.

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As we drove toward Marquette, we couldn’t help but notice the breathtaking views of Lake Superior.  We pulled into a private campground and were directed to a campsite overlooking Lake Superior.  We were hesitate to take the site because of the traffic noise, but the view won out over any hesitations.  We noticed immediately the campground was not at all as advertised on their website.  The website depiction must have been from 10+ years ago, but we had prepaid for reservations and again, the view won us over.

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We came to realize that first night that the water had a very strange smell….much like iron and some such minerals.  The water continued to be a source of concern during our stay, but we had several water filters on the coach and used a Brita water pitcher, but still we were uneasy.

Now for the GREAT part of our time near Marquette.  The highlight of our time here was without a doubt the ferry ride to view the cliffs of Picture Rocks.  There are 15 miles of sandstone cliffs which are up to 200 feet above lake level.  The colors are caused by large amounts of mineral in the rocks.  The water evaporates leaving streaks of colors.  The red color comes from iron, pink and green from copper, yellow and brown from limonite, and black and white from manganese.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words….

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Before we caught the ferry we spent the morning in Picture Rocks National Lakeshore Park where we hiked Munising Falls which was very easy, and Mosquito Falls which was quite a challenging hike over roots, rocks and trails muddy from the previous days rain.

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Another day we decided to go to Presque Isle Park, a beautiful peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior, to do some sightseeing and geocaching.  We found this to be a great park with some interesting and challenging geocaches, as well as some gorgeous views!

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August 3, 2013 Paradise, Michigan



We arrived in Paradise, and Michigan was certainly living up to the name!  We settled in at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, a very nice state park with tall trees and green grass.  The weather while we were there was cooler than we expected, and a little wet.  We did have some beautiful weather the day we went to Tahquamenon Falls, our main reason for going to Paradise.  Tahquamenon Falls are two different waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River near Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.  The upper falls which is 200 feet across and with a drop of 48 feet, is the most spectacular.  During the spring runoff the river drains as much as 50,000 gallons of water per second.  The brown color of the falls is due from the tannis leached from the cedar swamps which the river drains.


















We lost track of the number of steps we went up and down at the Upper and Lower falls. Let’s just say….A LOT!


We hiked and did geocaching on part of this trail.


Bill was glad he could add another trail to his list!


The lower falls are a series of 5 smaller falls cascading around an island.  They had rowboats available for rent so you could row across to the island.  It was pretty windy that day and we were tired from the climbing of many many steps to get to the upper and lower falls, so we decided not to rent a rowboat.


Lower falls not as spectacular and grand as the Upper.




We met a new friend, Bullwinkle!


Tahquamenon is in Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha”.  Years ago, the Ojibwa Indians lived, farmed, fished and trapped along the Tahquamenon River.

Also while we were in Paradise we drove up to Whitefish Point Lighthouse on Whitefish Bay overlooking Lake Superior.  There they have a lighthouse and mariner museum.  We found there are MANY lighthouses in Michigan!  This lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior and is at a critical turning point for entering or leaving Lake Superior. The current tower was built during Lincoln’s administration!  Whitefish Point is known as the Graveyard of Ships since more ships have been lost here than in any other part of Lake Superior.  Hundreds of ships, including the famous Edmund Fitzgerald, lies at the bottom of the bay.  The lighthouse is at the end of an 80 mile stretch of shoreline known as Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast.  The many rocks that line all the coasts of Michigan definitely explains why.  It is too detailed to go into here, but if you have time, research more about the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  The light from the lighthouse had shone without fail for 150 years until the night of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

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On the way back from the lighthouse we decided to do a few geocaches in the area.  We knew we were in a wilderness area of Michigan, but one geocache took us down a road that went from gravel to dirt to sand.  When the sand reached the hub caps we realized we were about to become stuck and barely managed to back up without getting stuck.  We did find another road and did grab the geocache!  We won’t easily forget that one!