Thursday, June 30, 2011

Michigan's Upper Peninsula + Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Hi all, Dianne here.  We left Duluth harbor and made our way along Lake Superior's southern shore to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

We had to giggle as we passed this sign during our drive to Munising.  (For the uninitiated, "Yoopers" is a term to describe residents of the Upper Peninsula, more commonly referred to as the U.P.)

Our base of operations here is Munising Tourist Camp RV Park, a very pretty park administered by the Town of Munising, with several beautiful sites right on the shore of Lake Superior.  By the time we made our reservations a few months ago, all the lakeside sites were booked.  

Our site is grassy, open, with lots of space and a view through the trees of Lake Superior, so we're not complaining!

One of the best things about this campground is the easy access to walk the dogs along the lake shore. 

 You can't walk along the Lake Superior shore without eventually becoming obsessed with all the smooth, pretty rocks of every color.  

Most folks seek out the elusive agates, but I just like the different colors and textures of the rocks.  

It is addictive!

We arrived on a gray, chilly day and were greeted with rain on our first full day in Munising.  The only thing we accomplished was to pick up our general delivery mail at the post office.  I'm including a photo of the post office for my Pendleton, Indiana friends and former neighbors.  

Does it look familiar??  It is pretty much identical, even on the inside.  No WPA mural, though.

We stopped on our way home at Muldoon's Pastie shop to sample this local delicacy.  Yum!  

The next day dawned bright and sunny (although cool, in the 50s), so we decided to drive to Grand Marais and take a short hike on the way back.  Grand Marais has a pretty harbor and quaint homes.  We stopped for a coffee and then headed back toward Munising.  

On the way, we stopped to take the short hike to Sable Falls.  

Our calves are still reminding us of the steep stairway that we took down to the falls and then back up.  

Some of the wildlife we've seen so far include a pair of sandhill cranes and this deer.  We're still looking for a moose!

Today we took the very popular Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore cruise.  

Once again, I took so many photos that I'm including a link to a 
slide show for the die-hards among you who wish to see them all.  Here is just a sampling:

"Indian Head."
"Chapel Rock"

"East Channel Lighthouse"

Just a pretty one!

Copper staining on rock cliff:
To see the entire slide show of photos from our boat trip, here's a link:

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior

Once again I'm borrowing someone else's pet for our pet photo of the day.  We met this very nice man and his beautiful irish wolfhound here at the Munising RV park.  One of the largest dogs we've ever seen!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Duluth (part 2) - A Drive Along the North Shore

Roger here...  Before our visit to Duluth, Minnesota, my impression was that it was a cold, industrial place.  How wrong I was.   It is beautiful in the summer (probably in the winter, too) and one of the most pristine cities I have ever encountered -- so many outdoor activities to do in this amazing setting.  We like it so much here that we are doing two days' worth of driving tomorrow, just so we can stay one more day.  

Our days have been spent watching the river traffic, wandering around the entertainment area by the lake,  touring the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, walking the dogs along the seemingly endless lake-side beach, and viewing the huge "Lakers" or "Salties" as they glide under the aerial bridge, to the accompaniment of the cheering crowds enjoying food and beverage on the elevated decks of the riverside pubs.  We have been able to enjoy all this without even getting in the car -- all walking distance from our campsite.  

We did, however, get in the car yesterday.  I was told not to miss the scenic drive along the north shore of Lake Superior on highway 61.  We drove 24 miles to Two Harbors, and then traveled an additional 13 to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  Bandido went with us.  Chaplin does not like car travel, and he seems to be less tolerant of uncomfortable things than he used to be.  We continue to be concerned about him.  (Better that he enjoy a nap in the motor home than watching him pant in the back seat of the car.  We felt badly leaving him behind, even though we knew he was happier.)

Moving on....  The drive to Two Harbors was so pretty.  Mile after mile of lake views, jutting tree-covered peninsulas and rocky ledges.

I thought Bandido needed an adventure, so I encouraged him to walk along the top of a rock fence.  (He was on a leash that I was firmly holding.  I was also holding his collar - no danger of falling.)  

Our stop at Two Harbors was brief.  It is a quaint little town that boasts a well-maintained lighthouse.  We did not stop at the lighthouse, because we wanted to spend our time hiking at the state park further down the road.

The drive continued to be scenic.  We passed through tunnels chiseled through the rock.  

Acres and acres of purple, white and pink lupines lined the roadway.

Sue and Jim urged us not to miss Gooseberry Falls State Park.  Thanks to them we discovered a magnificent place that we did not know existed.  After spending some time searching for a place to park, the three of us (including Bandido) leisurely walked along the trails that surrounded the three water falls (upper, middle, lower).  By the way, Bandido was great on his leash among the crowds of people -- no lunging, lots of friendly petting.

All the trails, bridges, and retaining walls were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.  On our travels we have discovered endless public works projects that gave people work during those tough times, and which we continue to enjoy decades later.

Due to the huge local rainfalls, the waterfalls were turbulent and spectacular.  Enjoy the photos:

Below the three falls, a gentle walkway meandered along the river on its way to Lake Superior.  We followed it for a while. 

 We did not see any beaver, but we certainly saw evidence of their presence:

Eventually, hunger trumped any further wanderings down the trail.  It was lunch time and we needed food.  Back we traveled to Two Harbors, where we spotted a Culver's with outdoor seating.  Bandido was able to join us.

In a completely unrelated matter...  we took the dogs on a long walk on the beach this morning.  Walking Chaplin is like walking a butterfly, so Dianne typically walks him.  Bandido, on the other hand, is like walking a bull.  He needs a firm presence on the other side of the leash, so I typically walk him.  Since there were a lot of small kids on the beach, we kept both dogs on leashes.  At one point, Chaplin started his mule routine where he refuses to walk unless it is where he wants to go.  I offered to switch dogs.  Dianne accepted. 

 Within a minute, when Dianne's attention was focused elsewhere, Bandido went into a full run while on his expandable leash. When he reached the end of his leash Dianne was sent air-borne and eventually landed face-first in the sand.  (SPLAT!!  -- D.)  My first reaction was to laugh -- probably a mistake, but Dianne was laughing, too.  Bandido's first reaction was to run back to Dianne and climb on her back so she could not get back up while licking her face at the same time.  Too bad we didn't have the camera.  So funny!

Tomorrow we travel to Munising, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula for an eight-night stay on the banks of Lake Superior.  

The pet picture of the day showcases Bandido as he contemplates life while gazing across the vastness of Lake Superior.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friend Time in Duluth!

Hi all -- Dianne here.  We first met Jim and Sue  in Mission, Texas this April when I saw them walking their two whippets around Retama Village and chased them down on my bicycle.  Lo and behold, they ended up liking Retama so much they purchased a home.  They spend their summers in Duluth to be near children and grandchildren, so we knew they were here.  Fast forward to this week....

Thursday evening, Jim and Sue graciously gave us an "insider's tour" of Duluth, including a delicious meal at Fitger's Brew Pub, and suggestions of sites to see while here. 

 On Friday morning we met with all four dogs for an off-leash romp on the Lake Superior beach.  Their whippets, Gabe and Click, are fine specimens, indeed!  Expertly trained, full of life and fun.  The photo above shows Bandido and Click playing tug-of-war with a stick they found in the sand.

Here is a photo of Jim and Sue's two whippets, Gabe and Click:

I took a movie clip of Click running circles around Bandido.  Bandido tried to catch her, but everyone but Bandido knew there was no chance!!  Here's a link to the very short video snippet:

One more whippet photo, this one an especially pretty photo of Chaplin on the beach:

After the beach romp, we took Chaplin home for a nap and the rest of us drove to the marina where Jim and Sue's boat is moored.  (Chaplin might have had a panic attack on the boat, so rather than risk it, we took him to the motor home for a little alone time away from Bandido.)

We loaded up three dogs, three dog beds, and four people and took a grand tour of the harbor on the "Lola B."

Sue fixed a delicious lunch while we cruised along.  The dogs were very laid back and spent their time basking in the sun patches on the floor, except when Gabe decided he'd like to pilot the boat.  (I won't apologize for all the whippet photos, because once you've loved a whippet, there's no going back!)

  Once again, I was sad that Jasper wasn't still with us.  He would have really loved spending the day on the beach and the boat.

We cruised out to the mouth of Lake Superior.  Roger took a photo of the lighthouse.

We also cruised into the harbor area where our motor home is parked at the Lakehead Boat Basin. What a unique RV park! 

 They park boats here in the winter, but in the summer it opens up to RVs for a great view of the marina, Duluth hills, and the large ships going under the Aerial Lift Bridge.  Above is a shot of our motor home taken from the boat, showing us surrounded by sailboat masts.  

On the way back to Superior marina we also cruised by some picturesque old tugboats.

After a thank-you and farewell to our friends, we headed back to the RV.  Bandido was ready for a nap, so we put him inside and Roger and I walked down to the Canal Park area.  While there, we picked up a free copy of the shipping schedule, so that we will know when to expect the large ships coming through.  

Here's our view from the motor home in the daytime, showing the Duluth hills in the background, and the 768-foot John G. Munson coming out from under the bridge, and then passing right in front of our motor home in the harbor.  What a view we have!  

What a unique spot this is.  Below is a shot of the same view at night, showing the lights on the Duluth hills.  
And another shot at sunset:

We owe a special thanks to another "friend" from the blogosphere, Laurie and Odel (See sidebar for a link to their blog, Semi-True Tales of our Life on the Road.)  Laurie and Odel posted several blogs from Duluth and this RV spot last summer.  If not for them, we never would have known to visit this very cool city and this very unique RV spot!

There are 12 full-hook-up sites overlooking the main front dockage area of the marina, but we chose a water/electric only site down on the end for a better view of the harbor (we are in site #30).

One more photo of our site, showing the view to the rear.

Our pet photo of the day shows Gabe, Click, and Bandido trying to "help" Sue in the galley of the Lola B, as she prepared our delicious lunch: