Tuesday, September 22, 2009
There are two competing ferries, a longer faster one which would have cost $120; and a shorter slower one which runs more frequently and costs $26 for 2 round trips. This is what competition is all about, I think.
This trip up the tower was our first opportunity to get the Senior Pass from the National Park Service for lifetime free admissions -- pretty good deal.
We had been seeing ads for the best lobster bisque in the state. So we went to the Boardwalk Cafe and tried it out. It was indeed wonderful -- must be the fresh local lobster right out of Lake Erie. We rented a golf cart for the day and covered just about the entire island. Stopped for a dish of Buckeye Delight icecream before the trip back.
When we returned to Morty, his map had one thing to say: the distance to the next campsite is not much different from the distance home. Also, staying in Ohio Parks was getting painful to be reminded that if we had our Golden Buckeye card, the daily fees would be cut 50% from Sundays to Thursday -- something to remember for the next go-list. So that was it for this trip. We are now home for a spell, trying to catch up with the backlog of mail etc.l
Sunday, September 20, 2009
There are some rocks in the park which showed extensive parallel grooves as the glaciers moved over them millions of years ago. Although we have some of both Cleveland and Toledo TV, we had no afternoon football. We spent quite a bit of the afternoon hiking around the lagoons and shooting pictures of the geese, ducks, swans and egrets. Better for our photo fans.
Thinking about a stop at Findlay St Pk tomorrow.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
One of the more evocative displays was the street car -- "Rappy" -- like the one I rode with my mom from Shaker to Downtown Cleveland. Usually they ran a more modern version, but during rush hour the older models were used. One time separation anxiety set in when I exited on the way home and Mom was blocked by standing passengers. She rang the bell on the cord frantically to get the driver to stop again.
After a brief visit with our friend, we drove a little over an hour to Lakeside, OH and East Harbor State Park. We did little after that, except for a little wine and cheese followed by a bite of dinner.
Hope I don't get flagged for excessive uploading with this batch of pictures.
Friday, September 18, 2009
We picked the closest campground which turned out to be the Wayne County Fairgrouns. The first drawback was that they were hosting a couple of dog shows and had only 20 amp sites available -- no problem, it wasn't hot enough to require the coach air conditioning. The deal that wasn't mentioned was that they are improving the road around the campground, grading and rolling the dirt/stone mixture. Most likely only a small inconvenience, except that they started this process at 7PM, and are still at it as of this writing -- 9:45 PM -- HUH?
We meet our friend at 10 at the Henry Ford. Should be fun.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The pavement painters came through in the late afternoon for the campgrounds roads. We got a straight ahead arrow in front of us and a left turn arrow behind us right into our side. Might be time to leave, before someone follows the second arrow literally.
Had dinner at Ginii's again: pork chops and fish and chips -- excellent and very reasonable again. Walking back to the campground, we noticed the gulls all over the beach suddenly get agitated and take off. Then we look up and see a huge blur through the gap in the trees. Then a moment later it comes back and, wow, bald eagle. Got a picture, not a great one but finally something to remember it by.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Yesterday's neighbor, mentioned this place as "required" stop on Morty's sashay South. Why East Tawas City Park? It's also pretty unusual: very few open sites, even though hardly anyone is around this time of year -- meaning many people pay full freight to keep their choice spots; full hook-ups including free cable TV; right in the heart of the city -- next to restaurants, Wal-Mart, and fast food of all types; right on the Lake Huron beach; great bath houses; lovely shaded sites; low cost; no reservations -- you can keep your site as long as you pay for it. It's as if they were using the city's capital resources, without having to earn a market rate of return -- oh wait, that is the deal here. Great for the happy campers, not so much for the good citizens of East Tawas. Maybe the business that is brought to town is the clincher -- it would be interesting to see the actual numbers. The Wikipedia entry has no mention of the campground.
Dinner was at Ginii's Family Restaurant, practically next-door. We were tempted by the fresh local fish, but ended up with oriental -- Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Thai Pad shrimp. Both were very good, and extremely reasonably priced. I guess we need a little more courage to go with the local specialties, due to recent experiences. Mulligan's on the main downtown street looks to be the place for a 99 cent breakfast -- also on the list of the former neighbor.
Now were ahead of the daily mileage curve. We're targeting Grosse Isle south of Detroit for a Saturday meet-up with an old friend
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
We passed a couple on bikes about 30 miles out from our destination. I remember them because one had a Meijer traffic yellow vest on. I was surprised when they took the campsite across from ours.
We parked next to a friendly couple from Ann Arbor, who told me about the secret bike route into the town of St. Ignace -- one that avoided the most severe hills. That was great, but it still had me in the granny gears that I hadn't used in years. From the town, the view of Macinaw Island and the Grand Hotel was superb. When I got back, he was ready with packed of brochures on all about getting to and exploring the island.
He recommended a campground in Tawas City, which we will make tomorrows alternated destination since it is 160 miles down Route 23. If that proves too far, we will stop at Alpena which is right at the 99 mile benchmark.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Pictured Rocks is a National Lakeshore. I knew nothing about it except that it was on the map and some highway singage, oh, and it was the right distance from McLain and in the direction of home. As we were getting close, we noticed a National Parks Service Information Center, so I wheeled in there to get the campsite info – not a typical, but still pretty good move. The roads to the national parks campsites are all at least 12 miles of gravel, and good chunks of those are closed for construction. This was on the eastern edge of Munising. As we came into town form the West, I noticed this commercial campground, so I asked about it and the notoriety of the pictured rocks themselves. Well, the campground would be the best alternative for someone like us who were finished driving for the day. The Pictured Rocks can only be seen from the water, and the boat cruises were just ready to leave, but the fare was $33 and would take the rest of the afternoon. We headed for the campground, and passed up the boat ride.
The City of Munising Tourist Park Campground is a very interesting place. It appears to be municipally owned. It was unattended at our arrival at 4PM, so pick a spot and leave your money in an envelope! The views of Lake Superior are outstanding. The Internet is free and open. The utilities are fine. The rates are as good or better than the state parks. The brochure/guide is slick and professional. The showers and lavatories are clean, hot where needed, and supplied with soap, just a little shabby in the building department. It’s just that the roads and most sites are very dusty and gravelly. Oops, too pessimistic maybe?
This evening’s sunset was spectacular. Every time I thought it was played-out, Lynne pointed me in an new direction, and my camera kept grabbing marvelous pictures. So we kept on taking pictures, and I now have 135 pictures of Munising sunset of 9/14/09! In the old days, that would have been four rolls of Kodacolor and processing -- costing over $80 in the 70’s.
|From McLain St Pk, MI UP|
Been marveling at the construction of the chair/table conbos along the beach here. They are in some of the pictures. Perhaps the objective was to make them heavy enough to withstand the storms. Whatever the reason, their massiveness and craftsmanship must be admired. There’s a full 2 x 4 frame around the seats, extending out the back; another frame around the base with a stringer across the base and six legs for each seat. If only they were a little more comfortable, they would be the ultimate seating solution.
Well, it just goes to show that if you praise a thing too highly it will turn on you. The weather today started foggy, and just as it looked like it might dry off, it came rolling right back in. Then our view of the lake and horizon, was cut in half by a 40 foot rig pulling into the site next to ours. I guess after some people pay for one of those monstrosities, they are too low on coin to afford a suitably glamorous camp. Well, at least it is good bike riding.
Just learned that my class reunion is to be moved up to the 23rd. So this is making it look like we need to skip Wisconsin, and take the shorter route back through the Land to the North. Another factor is that the yearly permit is $35 in Wisconsin, and the one for this here state is already paid for. So will probably be headed for Pictured Rocks Nationals Lakeshore tomorrow.
Later in the afternoon the ferry to Isle Royal did appear in the fog as it sailed out to the island – got a picture, but not a great one.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
We traveled through the mining towns of Houghton and Hancock, deep in their valley, with mining shaft buildings high on the hills just outside of town. All the best views were captured in beautiful stained glass right in the McDonald’s dining room – quite an experience, even though we were eating an early lunch.
McLain State Park is delightful. We have a spot right on Lake Superior with a 180-degree view of the lake on the horizon. Warm days in the 80s and nights in the 50s. It is so nice we are extending another night. Lynne likes that there are two full soap dispensers in the lavatory; just that she finds the showers a little cool.
Chatted a little with a family staying in one of the cabins. I had my big camera out, and was just sitting on the cliff over the shore. He had a bigger Nikon – D700 with extra battery handgrip and flash mounted on a tripod – some very serious hardware. I couldn’t get him to show me any of his photos, and he wasn’t too interested in what I had been doing -- photo envy averted. He did say that earlier, before our arrival, they saw the supply ship returning from Isle Royale National Park. I hope the ship makes the return on Monday for us to see, but from what I read on the web, the normal trips aren’t that frequent.
I am wondering about the spot where the sun will set. It may just miss the water from where we are camped -- if so, then I’ll have to bike around the point for the good angle of sun into water. The solid stretch of great weather has really been something to behold. We have had a magnificent high-pressure zone stay with us for the last two-plus solid weeks. You couldn’t have ordered it up any better than it has turned out.
We watched a little fishing boat make its way from the east horizon to the west. Just as it came abeam our location, we could make out a massive swarm of seagulls, around it. In itself, not too unusual, but then the gulls began to move out ahead of the boat. Seemed very strange, since, presumably, there would be no extra fish activity in advance of the boat. Maybe some more experienced fishermen can help me understand what this is all about.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Getting into Van Riper campgrounds had a few difficulties. Seems that someone made a reservation for tomorrow instead of today. Fortunately they still had a couple of open spots when we arrived around 3PM. The ladies at the check-in were no better than I was at reading the tiny on-screen print of this notorious system, which continues to charge a 36 % premium for making a one-night reservation. The grumbling on this point continues.
This park is famous for being in Moose Country. This was the locale of an airlift of entire moose families from Ontario in 1985. They are thriving just a little northwest of the park. I set out on bike to spot some, but ran out of decent biking trail before the moose ran out of habitat.
The reason for the full park this weekend is the celebration of Halloween. Wait, you say, that holiday is still seven weeks off – but we fail to realize that in terms of parties, decorations and developing traditions, this is now our most important holiday of the year. Here at Van Riper, the celebration – including trick-or-treating -- runs for three solid week-ends at the end of September. That’s ideal then for everyone to pull up stakes and take the celebrations home for the month of October – what could be better?
Sunsets were again quite photogenic so several are in the picasa album for you. The lake here is Michigamme. If you, like I, thought that was a football game with the Buckeyes at the end of November, you now have a new piece of knowledge.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Well, here are some after dinner pictures of the campground -- Indian Lake Travel Resort. A spot that we highly recommend. The birds are seagulls.
In some bizarre radio wave propagation phenomenon, we had a TV signal from the station in Traverse City yesterday afternoon, but nothing later in the evening or at all today. All the better to work on the blog.
It's pretty interesting to see the stream of campers coming in to give this lady a big end of season boost -- all due to the construction in the state park across the lake.
We also enjoyed the Wi-Fi to get the old emails into the blog. Also turned out to be a fairly active day of trading stocks and options with just eight days to go until the expiration of the September contracts. Was glad to have the fast data connection for that, it would have made me crazy trying to do it all over the cell phone.
Tomorrow, we head for Van Riper state park, about 90 miles to the northwest. When I looked on-line, it said all but two sites were already reserved, so I paid the crummy reservation fee again, and repeated it for the next night at McClain on Lake Superior.
At least, we will be all fresh and clean now.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
We want to head North from Cheboygan, right over the Mackinaw Straits Bridge, but our navigator lady says to head South. After many fretful minutes, I finally discover that she is avoiding tolls. Since we were hitting so many of them on the prior trip to Oshkosh -- going through Chicago -- I had “optimized” her instructions. So now, instead of arriving at 2PM, she was assuming we wanted to take the long way around Lake Michigan and arrive at 2AM – not exactly how my program was reading. Once that little instruction was rescinded she and I were on the same page.
After a fairly long drive to Indian Lake – the one in The Land to the North, not in Ohio – we arrived at the State Park only to find them closed early for the season to do some construction. So we drove around the lake to the first commercial campground. We found a nice one, with about the same costs, but more amenities – not including huge state park grounds. So, I am doing some laundry while writing this. And the real Wi-Fi will make it much easier to upload and edit the new blog that I’m working on to incorporate most of these emails.
Next objective: heading further north to Lake Superior.