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Monday, September 14, 2015

Heading South from Lake Superior

 The clouds were passing through as they were chased away by blue skies. Then the sun came out and it was too hot. Camp set, I had some grilled lake trout for lunch. After splitting some wood for tonight I took a ride to L’Anse, drove around the quaint little forest town. Saw the shrine to Bishop Baraga on the way into town. Followed town roads out along coast to Aura and Pequaming. These towns hold wonderful beautiful secrets. They are quiet and gorgeous. The road hugs the Keweenaw Bay and is one dream cottage after the next. I discovered a phenomenal stretch of sandy beaches. This is such a protected bay and has to have been a haven for the Indians for many centuries. Another neat thing I saw were fish cleaning stations. Very civilized.  When I got back to camp, only one new camper. The campground of 75 sites has 10 being used. Now this is camping.  The best sign I saw were school buses filled with little darlings going home after the first day of school.
Woke at the crack of dawn, because the sun was coming in the window. First time this trip since I’ve been in woods. On the lake facing east, the sun wakes you up. Since I packed up the night before, it was just breakfast, hook up, dump, get water and I’m on Hwy 41 to Bay Furnace by eight. Into the sun, sweet. The drive is interior and easy. I get through Marquette without a hitch and onto 28 East. I make many stops along the coastline of beaches. I take a swim, I drive on to another beach, take another swim. The weather is incredible the water is gorgeous. It’s ten in the morning. I get to Bay Furnace and set camp by eleven and then have some smoked whitefish for lunch. Running out of fish so I inquire. From the camp host and he tells me of three shops just as I enter Munising. Two are closed and one is open. I inquire about smoked lake trout or fresh trout and am told only the Native Americans can sell it in Michigan.  I didn’t know this. I tell her of where I have bought and she tells me they are Native owned. The two closed shops are Native. As I’ve been driving around I’ve seen lots of houses with huge smokers in their yards. Maybe I should stop in at one that is cooking. After lunch I do a quick laundry and hang it to dry, wash the front of the Scamp, and head out up to Pictured Rocks National Lakeside. Munisink is a funny little town that serves as one of the ends of the Rt 58 Superior Lake drive. I first stop at Sand Beach and am sorry I forgot my swimsuit. Then I retrace my steps, which is so common on these adventures, back to 58 to Munising Falls and Miners Falls. The end is at the shore to walk paths to observe the storied Pictured Rocks. Magnificent!! Plan on a cruise to see them better. Another beach, filled with agates and wood constructed into tipis along the shore.  Mind blowing scenery and landscape. I decide to head home and save the trip to Grand Marais for tomorrow. Get some wood and stop at a brewery in Munisink; Shooter’s the Firehouse Brewery. When I sat down at the bar, a guy came up and said, “Long way from home?” I looked at him quizzically. He was referring to my Burley Oak t-shirt. They had been there and had liked it. We had a fun talk about breweries in the area and they left. Asked for a flight of what was available, three and found the stout the best. Stuff I would have preferred to drink was gone. I went back to camp, had dinner and took a trip to Marquette to visit five breweries there. It’s a nice drive in both directions.
I got to three of the five.  My first stop was Chocolay River Brewery which was a funky country bar restaurant on the lake just outside Marquette proper. They had a fine selection of Saisons, a very good IPA that I took home in a growler and a fine pale ale. My next stop was Ore Dock Brewing Company in town and a good ole brick building refurbished to be a well-stocked brewery. My takeaway from there was a glass, a six pack of Reclamation IPA, and a growler of a Harvest Saison. My last and favorite stop was Blackrocks Brewery which a fabulous quartet and a female singer who was GREAT!! Had a flight and loved their Scottish Ale, which I took home in a growler along with a glass in which to drink it. I stayed here for the music and missed to other two breweries: Vierling and Upper Peninsula Brewing. Next time. Got home had a fire, drank some of my booty and went to sleep just as it started to rain. Woke to a sunny morning, had breakfast and went down to the lake for a bath before setting out to cruise the lake and look at the painted rocks along the coast. The rocks were gorgeous, like the Paint Pots in Yellowstone as was reminded me by a friend. The size, scope, and color were astonishing and told so much history of this planet. Having already been to the Falls and overlooks, I now saw where I was and continued up the coast on the water. Water was rough and just like the ocean. When we docked I headed back on East 58 to Grand Marais. I stopped an scenic overlooks, the Dunes, and lighthouse before weaving along this scenic drive. When I arrived at Grand Marais, I found the Lake Superior Brewery and stopped for a flight, a sandwich, and a wool cap. It’s getting cold up here and I forgot my cap at home. Great night as the sky cleared and the stars came out in force. I found my bearings when I found the Big Dipper and then the Little and North Star. I broke camp in the last of the sunset and put the horse blanket on the picnic table, got my Vietnam poncho liner and watched the sky while the tipi fire warmed me. At 5:30 in the morning, the heater that came on awakened me. It was cold!! I woke at 7:30 to a light rain. Oh was I glad camp was deconstructed. Took a quick shower after breakfast and hooked up and headed out for Tahquamenon Falls SP near Whitefish Pt. Glad I have the new cap too. Got a great site.
I’ve been asked how I pick a site. First it has to be available for the number of nights I require. I like outside sites in loops so I have nature to my back and not another camper. I like a clear sight of the sky. I want my camper door to face south. I want some trees around not a forest when possible.
I left Bay Furnace at 8:30, shopped, got gas, got cash, and arrived at TFSP and set camp by 12:30. Sweet!! I had made some extra chicken the night before and hard boiled 2 eggs for lunch. Planning ahead, haha. After lunch, headed for the Grewat lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Pt. I took a leisurely drive through Paradise, aptly named, to the end and the museum. An amazing story about how these lakes have been so savage. Walked out to the point where a pair of plovers was protected this year. I spoke to the fellow there about the plovers at Assateague. He said how it was the model because of its success. From the point, I looked west and into the NW winds and saw 2-3 foot waves breaking on the shore and to the SE, a calm bay. I walked into the wind back to the overlook on the beach by the museum. On the ride back I picked up some wood and as I approached my camp, I saw a fireplace full of wood. It was at a site across from me. Apparently the young couple abandoned the site and left the wood, for me. Now I had twice as much wood as I had thought I would have. It’s cold up here and I need a good roaring fire tonight. Smoked trout for dinner.  I had decided on a bike ride back to the museum for Saturday. Weather was perfect and no wind. I roads are flat with a few undulations, so the 45 mile round trip to Whitefish Pt and back was smooth and wonderful. Took shower and nap upon return. The noise of the hiking campers woke me in the late afternoon. I cooked dinner and had a fire while I listened to the Yankees drop a third to Toronto at home, Yikes!! Sunday  was the most glorious of the three days and I had decide to do the hike from the Lower Falls to the High Falls since the trails would be more empty of hikers than yesterday. It must have been like Times Square on that one long trail from the lower to high falls. It was a mile to the lower falls and then four to the high falls. I snacked along the way, had lunch at High Falls and decided to venture onto another path but realized about a mile in I didn’t have time so I turned around and hiked home. In all it was a twelve mile hike. I showered and broke camp after dinner. The Yanks had finally won a game so I listened to the Big Broadcast while enjoying my last night on Lake Superior and a wonderfully full sky of stars. It is with a sad heart I have to leave Lake Superior tomorrow morning and head south to Lake Michigan.

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