Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Houghton, MI

I went back to one of my favorite places the month of July – Houghton, MI.  This is my 4th time here since I have been full timing.  I really love the cooler weather and I enjoy the 4 mile paved walking/biking path that starts at the RV park. 

The thimbleberry is a berry that is known in the Upper Peninsula and other parts of the country, but I had never heard of it before visiting the U.P.  There are a good many bushes in the RV park and several miles down the path that I walk/bike. 

Early in the month they were blooming and just starting to show the berry.  Towards the end of the month I would pick and eat some each day.


The above picture is some thimbleberry bushes beside the bike path. 

I went back to one of my favorite places several times, Canyon Falls.  This is about a 45 minute drive from the RV park, but goes beside a great produce stand so not a bad drive! The falls are only a 10 – 15 minute walk from the parking lot, but continuing on leads to great scenery in the small gorge and a few places where the locals hangout for fun.


Above shows some folks jumping off a 10 – 15 foot cliff. 

Exposed roots and trees that live even though it looks impossible always interest me. 


One day I drove a couple of hours to Porcupine Mountain State Park.  I had hoped to also visit the Black River Harbor area where there are some great waterfalls but we had a lot of rain in the last few days and a small tornado hit that area so it was closed for cleanup of the trails.  But I enjoyed my trip to the Porkies.  There was more water going through than I have ever seen. 

The first picture is a picture from this visit – 2016.  The next 2 are pictures of the same area taken in 2011 and 2012.  Many people come to see the circular holes the water has worn into the rocks, but they were not visible at this time.


2011houghton_2011pork_presque_isle_1 (768x1024)

2012houghton_2012wake_porcupine_river (1024x768)


I don’t know if this damage was from the storm just a few days ago or past storms, but there was a 3 – 4 foot gap in the trail.  I thought I could step across, but luckily I had brought my hiking poles and where I thought I could step was just debris covering more of the hole.  It looked like some people had jumped across, but I decided since I was alone it wasn’t something I wanted to attempt.  So I backtracked a bit and went up the small hill/cliff on the side and went around it. 

Have you ever wanted to go to the end of the earth?  As you can see below I was close!!!! 


One day I drove into Marquette to do some shopping in a larger town.  On my way I wanted to go to a waterfall close to Ishpeming.  I don’t think I would try it again because the road was close to being a 4-wheel drive road and I never found the falls, even with the few directional signs I found.  I found what I thought was the parking lot, but there were 3 – 4 trails that lead from it and I could not figure out which one lead to the falls.


I went to Coopers Harbor a couple of times.  One of my favorite places up there is Hunter’s Point.  I love the rocks!


I walked and/or biked most mornings.  One of my favorite things to do was bike the path a time or 2 and stop at Nara Nature trails before heading back to the RV Park.  This year the really need to cut the plants along the boardwalk. 


There were many Cedar Waxwings. houghton_nara_cedar_waxwing

The photo below was taken from a bench at the end of one of the boardwalks ( a nice resting place after biking and walking). This is not a black and white photo, just taken very early on a grey day.  houghton_nara_trails

From Houghton, I headed down to Iron River where I currently am. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sault St Marie–part 2

While in the Upper Peninsula (and the upper part of the lower peninsula) my GPS started doing some strange things.  The first time was when I was in Mackinac City and was headed to  St Ignace, which was just across the Mackinaw City bridge – maybe a 15 – 20 minute drive.  My GPS showed 12 hours or so (I can’t remember exactly) and took me way out of the way. Here in Sault St. Marie I was having similar issues.

Below is a picture of when I was at my RV park in Michigan and headed just across the bridge I walked in the previous blog to Sault St Marie, Ontario – maybe a 20 minute drive. 


The GPS took me all the way across the upper peninsula, Northern Wisconsin, a bit of NE Minnesota and then around Lake Superior on the Canadian side.  A long way to go just to go on a short hike! 

Just one of the joys of technology!!

Well as mentioned, I did go into Canada for some sightseeing and for some Crystal Light.  Last year while in Newfoundland I discovered a flavor of Crystal Light that is not available in the U.S.  So since I was so close to Canada, I decided to stock up.

The Canadian locks are much smaller than the U.S. side and only allow small boats, basically privately owned personal boats and tour boats. 


The locks are in the Canadian Sault St Marie National Historical Park and included some trails I wanted to hike.  On 2 different days, I walked the trails below.  sault_st_marie_canada4





One of the trails took me under the international bridge that I had walked across a few days before. 


One day I toured part of the Upper Peninsula and went to Tahquamenon Falls and a couple of lighthouses.  Since I have blogged about both in years past, I will only post 2 pic from the falls. 



Close to the end of my time in Sault St Marie, I went back to the locks.  This time I went up the observation platform.  I watched a Soo Locks boat go through the locks.


A day or 2 before this I took the Soo Locks boat tour.  We went through the  U.S. Locks once and then back through the Canadian locks.

Coming up on the locks -


The locks opening so we can enter - sault_st_marie_boattrip3

Note the water level - sault_st_marie_boattrip2Notice the water level 10 – 15 minutes later.  It had risen 20 feet!   


While in the RV park, we could watch the freighters go past.  The freighter below is the longest (according to a freighter expert that I met at the park).  It is 1010 feet long. 


I learned about several websites and apps that let you know where boats, ships, freighters are.  I loaded FindShip on my phone and enjoyed following the freighters journeys before and after I saw them. 

From here, I headed back to Houghton, MI for the month of July.

Sault St. Marie, Mi–part 1

Its a rainy day here in Iron River, Michigan so I am finally working on updating my blog!

I visited Sault St Marie, Michigan June 25 – 30.  In early June I tried to make reservations at Aune-Osborn Campground for late June , I was told that they were full Thursday and Friday night, but could get me in on Saturday and for a few days after that.  I went ahead and took it, but started thinking that was strange.  Typically the weekend would be full.  So I figured there must be some event going on. 

I was right, it was the Sault St Marie Locks Engineers Weekend.  They had several different activities that looked interesting, so I called the RV park several times and finally someone had cancelled and I was able to get in on Thursday.

The day I got there was the one day of the year that people are allowed to walk around part of the locks, including across the locks walls.  Normally you can only get as close as a 3 story observation platform.   These locks allow freighters to easily handle the 21 foot drop between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes. 

It was extremely crowded and I almost didn’t push my way thru the crowds, but I realized the lines were moving quickly and were basically around the areas where you walked over the lock walls.  (The shots below were taken after the crowds dispersed, so not too bad at this time)sault_st_marie_locks4sault_st_marie_locks3


I was lucky enough to have been there when a freighter went through the locks.  It was interesting seeing this and learning how it all works.   P4360432 (1024x683)

The locks opening up so the freighter can leave.  I left before it started going through to avoid the crowds trying to leave at the same time!.


The next day I did the International Bridge Walk.  Again, this was an event you can only do one day a year.  We started in Sault St. Marie, Michigan at the Lake Superior State University Norris Center and ended up in Ontario, Canada.  Just before the walk I met 2 people who were staying at the same RV park I was and ended up walking the 2.8 mile walk with them. 

1500 – 2000 people typically attend this walk, I never found out how many participated this year. 

Below is just before we turned to get on the road that the bridge is on.  It is basically where I-75 ends.  Since the bridge is only 2 lanes,  they closed one lane for the walkers and would let North bound traffic go for 10 – 15 minutes and then let South bound traffic go. 


There were some great views of the locks from the bridge and a freighter was leaving the locks while we walked across.


The picture below is blurry, but I liked it anyway showing the crowds headed up the second hill on the bridge.sault_st_marie_bridge_walk4

This is the border of the U.S. and Canada on the bridge.  sault_st_marie_birdge_walk5

The worst part of the walk was waiting at customs.  Below was just after the walk, waiting at the Canadian border.  They did scan our passports, but I didn’t get the typical questions they ask. 


From here we had to wait on buses to take us back to Michigan.  Once on the bus, we had to stop at the U.S. customs, get off the bus and walk inside and once again show our passport so we could get back into the U.S. 

It was a fun walk, but the waiting in lines was not fun!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mackinaw City, MI

On the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I stopped at Mackinaw City in the middle of June.  While there I stayed at the KOA, where I have stayed before.  I really am not a fan of the campground, but since it is next to the bike path that leads into town I stay there because it is convenient. 

I ended up going to Mackinac Island 3 times.  Two times, I rode my bike around the island 3 times (24 total miles) and just goofed around a bit.  The other time, I decided to ride up into the interior of the island.  There is a big hill that you must go up and even the locals pushed their bikes.  Once I got up I realized it was quite hilly and wore myself out since I am not good at biking hills. 

Headed up the start of the hill to the interior--


Fort Holmes, which was built by the British is one of 2 forts on the island.  It is the smaller of the 2.


A view of the lake and bike path from above --mackinaw_city_mi_viewfromabove

Heavy traffic on the main street on Mackinac Island --


The road/trail around the island -Mackinaw_city_mackinac_island_path

A sign about the seagulls at a small walkup restaurant on the island--mackinaw_city_mi_sign

It is fun to watch how things operate without vehicles.  Below they are taking a bunch of luggage to the Grand Hotel.  mackinaw_city_mi_trucks

The day I rode up the hill, I was really tired when I finally made it back down and enjoyed a nice break on the lawn of this hotel.  They have provided chairs facing the lake for guest.  But since there were plenty available I used one for a while.  I think I fell asleep for 15 – 20 minutes!!


On days I didn’t go the island I walked to the city and sat in a park for a while.  My view while relaxing in the park was the Mackinaw Bridge that connects lower Michigan to the Upper Peninsula. 


From Mackinaw City I headed to Sault St. Marie, MI.