Since my last post I made my way back across the country to my hometown of Longview Washington in time to visit my stepmother, Marilyn Reisner, just before she passed away. She had been ill for some time and her body had grown quite frail, but we were able to share some smiles and memories, and hugs and tears… along with my daughter Elissa… before she left us. We will surely miss our visits, always filled with innumerable questions and loads of unfiltered but heartfelt advice like only Marilyn could give. Rest in peace Marilyn. I pray you know how much you were loved.
As of my last post I was crossing into Michigan from Ontario Canada. While there I routed myself within visiting distance of friends I met while camped in Florida during the winter. The first was Norm Webb, who I met in a rather hilarious way. Story here! Norm has a nice big front yard on the outskirts of Howe where I was able to set up camp and stay for a few days of down time. (I know you don’t have internet out there in the country Norm, but I hope you see this… Thank for your hospitality! It was great to spend time with you and meet your boys!)
My next stop was farther north and west near Mancelona, where my friends Judy and John Burton (and their super cool Goldendoodle, Karma) also have a sizable property AND full hook-ups for a motorhome!! After their warm welcome and help getting situated on the prime campsite in their side yard, they took me for a drive through the country and past several of the lakes the area is known for, stopping for lunch along the way at Torch Lake.
Most of the rest of our time together was spent relaxing, barbecuing, watching baseball and walking the dogs in the comfort of their back yard. I think I told them a time or two that they might have a hard time getting rid of me! Thanks you two! I truly enjoyed the visit!!
Next up was the completion of the Lake Superior Circle Tour. Last year, while traveling through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan I was able to complete (in sections) most of the US side of this 1,300 mile loop, from Duluth MInnesota across to the northeast corner of Wisconsin, and a few weeks later, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from west to east. (Those stories begin here and continue over the course of several posts.)
After saying good bye to Judy and John I traveled straight north, crossed back into “the UP” via the Mackinac Bridge and followed the road across the border to Sault Ste. Marie, and beyond to Pancake Bay Provincial Park where I stopped for the night.
I wish I had rave reviews for this campground, but I don’t. Admittedly, the weather was pretty dismal, and that can’t help but have an impact on any camping experience. And it was “snug”, meaning not planned with monster motorhomes in mind. I had no reservation, so I was fortunate to find a site large enough for The Beast. That was the highlight. My site was just beyond the trees from the shoreline, and after several hours on the road it would have been nice to enjoy a good walk there with the dogs, but they were not allowed. The mosquitos were so plentiful and persistent that grilling quickly became an aerobic workout, so enjoying dinner outdoors was not an option. With no wifi and no electricity the night ended early while curled up with a good book.
The following morning I continued north on Highway 17. It was a lovely drive even in the gloomy weather, with hundreds of small lakes on one side of the road, and the magnificent Lake Superior on the other. I was glad for a few opportunities to pull off the road when I wanted to, but most of the view was simply enjoyed from the drivers seat of my Winnebago. I have not lost my fascination for this lake. Maybe it’s because I grew up near the Pacific Coast, but I continually have to remind myself that it is not an ocean. It sure seems like one while watching the waves roll in on a sandy beach or crash against the rocky shores.
My next stop was at Wawa RV Resort and Campground which was much more to my liking. The grounds were clean and spacious, and the wifi worked well as promised. That evening, at the suggestion of the owner, I took a drive out to see some of the local area waterfalls.
This 28 foot tall Canada Goose sculpture sits high on a hill overlooking Lake Superior at the Wawa information center. It was designed and sculpted by Dick Vandercliff in 1960 as a symbol of the community of Wawa whose name is an Ojibway Indian word meaning “Wild Goose”.
The following morning brought a little better weather so before pulling steaks and moving westward I took a drive out to Sandy Beach which was completely empty of people and a perfect place to enjoy an invigorating walk with the dogs.
From Wawa we continued west on Highway 17 attempting a few stops along the way to see places I’d been reading about. Unfortunately the signs pointing to parks and scenic vistas along the highway did not indicate whether the roads were RV friendly. Twice I risked it only to find myself having to unhook my car, get both vehicles turned around in tiny little parking lots, reconnect the car and get back on the road because there was no place to park.
At another spot I drove a fair distance off the highway to hike to a scenic vista only to discover that dogs were not allowed on the trail. Since I couldn’t leave them in the motorhome with the high temperature I had no choice but to forgo the hike and get back on the road yet again. After about five hours on and off the road I pulled into Rainbow Falls Provincial Park where I confirmed at the gate that I’d have room to turn around and dogs were welcome on the trails before paying the entrance fee and driving to the parking lot at Whitesand Lake for a hike along Whitesand River and Rainbow Falls. Jazzy and Sadie were thrilled to be out on the trail with me. They are great little hikers!
Once back in the motorhome we continued on toward Thunder Bay where I intended to camp for the night. I should note that, although I arranged for international cell and wifi service before crossing the border, I had neither. This makes it nearly impossible to plan and make arrangements while in route, and a little unsettling as you drag 52 feet of metal into a big city. For the first time since I bought it, I opted to use the RV campground locator on my GPS system. My evening went from somewhat amusing to frustrating and tiring very quickly as I was routed into the tight streets of downtown Thunder Bay, taking turns that seemed to have me going in circles at times, and then… as I excitedly made a left on my final approach to the campground… I was faced with a tiny little bridge that I KNEW I could not cross. (I actually located a picture of it on google! View here.)
Gulp!! Now I have cars turning on the same road behind me, and nowhere to go but the little parking lot of some sort of low income housing project to my right. I had no choice but to turn into the parking lot with visions of going through the drill of unhooking my car, getting both turned around in a tight space AGAIN… with lots of curious eyes on me… and most likely having to block traffic and drive a short distance the wrong way on a one-way section in order to get back on the main road. (For those who don’t know; while towing a car behind a big motorhome… backing up is not an option.)
Thankfully I noticed a small drive to the back side of the building and made a split second decision to see where it went rather than pulling directly into the lot. I’m sure I was holding my breath as I made that turn because it could have put me in an even more precarious position, but I was relieved to find the narrow drive (we barely fit between the building and the fence) ran the entire length of the structure and back to a road I could turn on. With little faith in my trusty GPS I ignored it’s jabbering (still programed for the campground) and followed my instincts until I found a main roadway that I could follow to the west. At this point I’d pretty well resigned myself to continuing my trek however long it took to reach a safe place to camp over the border in Minnesota. I was tired. Beyond tired… I was fried. And I was hungry. As I drove and attempted to rally for a long night ahead, I noticed a restaurant just off the road… and as I drew closer noted the size and layout of the parking lot… and pulled in thinking I could at least revive myself with a meal.
I drove through the parking lot and around the building to a place where I could park out of the way of other patrons. As I walked to the entrance, one of two gentlemen sitting on the restaurant deck nodded toward my motorhome and said something about it being a great way to travel. I mustered a smile in agreement. The hostess seated me a couple tables away from the two men, and with nobody else on the deck we quickly engaged in conversation. They learned a bit about my journey, and the frazzling adventure I’d just experienced in town. Little did I know my luck was about to change. One of the two was Chris Davidson, owner of the fun and historic restaurant I’d found myself in… BeauxDaddys CAnaJUN Grillhouse.
After hearing my tale of the evening Chris immediately offered to let me stay and camp for the night in the parking lot. I’m sure he had no idea how exhausted I felt, nor what a hero he was to me at that very moment. After a good meal, a couple glasses of wine, and enjoyable conversation with Chris and some of his staff, I walked a few steps out to my motorhome and enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
Feeling refreshed in the morning I took Jazzy and Sadie for a good walk, left a thank you note on the door for Chris, turned “The Beast” onto Highway 61 and headed west toward the US border at Grand Portage.
Note: Normally my GPS system will not allow me to turn onto a road I can’t physically or legally take, so this was unexpected. Needless to say, Nathaniel (named for my favorite character in Last of the Mohicans because I couldn’t think of anyone I’d trust more to blaze the trail and keep me safe 🙂 ) and I had a bit of a falling out that night. He’s been working hard to gain my trust ever since! haha!
Up next… new discoveries in Minnesota and a long trek west for yet another visit to one of my favorite places; Grand Teton National Park!!!
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