Michigan

Rambling into Love in Ludington

May 31, 2014

Stealing a few words from The Four Seasons, “Oh, what a night”…late May in 2014 (and day too)!  I spent a very short weekend in Ludington, Michigan to celebrate Chas and Ellen’s wedding, and Saturday was a big day!

I started out with a light breakfast at the Holiday Inn with my mom before we parted ways.  I ventured to Ludington State Park, located between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan.  The park offers a variety of trails, and I chose two different hikes after paying the $9 entry fee.

My first hike followed the 3 mile Lighthouse Trail, essentially an unpaved road that fit between the foredune and the forested backdune.  I chose this trail first as I felt its openness to the sun as it followed behind the dunes might be warm later in the day.  The foredune is created by pioneer grasses.  Marram grass slows the blowing sand thus building dunes.  Behind the foredune is a trough where water collects in small ponds.  Amazingly, there were not any mosquitoes as I searched for snakes, frogs, and dragonflies around the edges.

For the most part, I stuck to the unpaved road with exception of climbing over the dunes to the lake’s shore where a sign pointed to an old shipwreck.  I tried in vain to find remnants of this shipwreck, but it eluded me.  Instead I found sand art of a ship.  Maybe all the bad weather this winter blew sand over the excavated portion of the wreck.

Eventually I reached the lighthouse.  I believe it took me an hour to walk the quarter mile through the absolutely packed campground and the 1.5 miles along the trail. It would have been good to know the lighthouse doesn’t open until 10am and there is a $3 charge to climb to the top.  The Big Sable Point Lighthouse was built in 1867 after Congress appropriated $35,000 for its construction the prior year. The 112 foot tall lighthouse was important to the lumber industry as multiple ships sank in the area prior to the shoreline being well marked.

Upon completing the Lighthouse Trail, I rushed to the other side of the park to try out Lost Lake Trail.  The 1.5 mile path circles a watery cove off Hamlin Lake beneath a canopy of trees.  I thought the shade would be perfect for beginning shortly after 11am, though I knew I was giving up my opportunity to spot a significant amount of wildlife by starting later in the day.  Instead I watched park goers fish, canoe, and kayak around the lake.  Clearly, water sports is the popular choice in Michigan.  I, on the other hand, enjoyed following the footbridges from island to island as birds chirped all around me.  Robins, woodpeckers, and red winged blackbirds flitted from tree to tree, swans dunked their heads underwater in search of food, and a heron glided into shore.  A turtle sunned on a log in the tranquil water that offered marvelous reflections.  This wooded hike was lovely.

It was almost noon, and I had to be ready by 1:15 to drive out to Ellen’s parents ranch for the wedding ceremony.  As such, I zipped back to town, asked the waitress at House of Flavors if she could rush an order on a Reuben sandwich, and rewarded her with a healthy tip.  I say healthy, I gave her a whopping $2.50 instead of the customary 20% tip of $1.50, and with a smile she replied, “Thanks, are you sure?”  Really?  She totally hooked me up!  I had 45 minutes to prepare for the wedding.  Yes, I’m sure!  The hostess was great too.  The people of Ludington are very friendly!!

Twenty-three miles later and after Come to Me by the Goo Goo Dolls perfectly played on the radio, I arrived at “the Tank” near Manistee.  Villanova and Michigan State flags flew at the entrance of the driveway, pots of flowers lined the stone walls, and guests gathered in the shade of the towering trees.  We all meandered to the open, sunny area and found our seats complete with sunglasses stamped with Chas and Ellen’s special day.  What a sunny day it was!  Given all the cold, snowy, and wet weather around the country this winter and spring, sun was very welcome, but when I say it was scalding hot, I’m not exaggerating.  A family friend pointed to my chest later in the evening and asked, “where did you go to get so red?”  I pointed to the white chairs!  I suppose I should have remembered sunscreen. 🙂

The ceremony was lovely…both traditional and unique at the same time.  All the nieces and nephews participated.  The oldest was a groomsman and the rest held other duties.  Two passed out flowers, one young man carried the rings down the aisle in a wooden canoe (cute since Chas was a fishing guide for years), and another young boy pulled a wagon down the aisle carrying the youngest niece!  But that’s not all, with several artists in the family, two nieces held a banner letting Chas know that his lovely bride was about to arrive.

Ellen, donned in a beautiful white dress, wore giant smile as her father walked her to the alter.  Beige was the chosen color for the bridesmaids and groomsmen who looked quite handsome surrounding the happy couple.  The priest performed a full mass and offered some sage advice to the newly weds and congregation.  Upon completion of the ceremony, Chas’ best man, Travis, rowed the two down the river while the guests wandered the grounds.  There were a few hiking options through the woods and by the river.  I considered a short walk, but the swarm of mosquitoes at the trailhead turned me back to the bar, red barn that Chas painted with a brush this week, the house, and the dinner tent.

The dinner tables included runners and utensil holders handmade by a friend of Ellen’s family. The juicy, prime rib dinner buffet hit the spot.  The dessert table included sugar cookies, Rice Krispie treats (my favorite), cake and pies…a slight detour from the traditional!  The bride and groom danced their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Chas Marsh.  Ellen danced with her dad and Chas with his mom.  Then the guests joined the dance floor to the live music.  The fun continued past nightfall.  This far north, it doesn’t turn dark until close to 10pm.  What a busy day and nice evening!  I’m so glad I got to celebrate Chas and Ellen’s joyous occasion. ETB

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Michigan

Day 225 – Lake Michigan Tour – Part 2

Day 225 – Lake Michigan Tour, Friday, July 29, 2011

Before leaving Traverse City, we took a short driving tour
around the historic district, but unfortunately missed the seven wineries!  I didn’t time that very well.  Too bad I didn’t arrive earlier
yesterday!  That’s ok, we spent a lovely
morning on Old Mission Peninsula.

We poked along the 18 mile drive past harbors, countless
orchards, wineries, farmland, and roadside cherry stands on the way to Old
Mission Lighthouse.  The beach here was
so interesting.  Beachgoers had set up
cairns on the boulders that poked up in the shallow water offshore.  It was very serene looking.

Mission Point is a few hundred feet south of 45th
Parallel of Latitude which marks half way between the Equator and the North
Pole.  Also located at the point is the
historic Hesler Log House, home to a virtual cache.  It is a rare
surviving house from the early settlement on the peninsula and dates back to the
1850’s.  The cabin is built of hand hewn
pine and hemlock. Dovetailed joints kept the corners together without nails or
fasteners.

While exploring on the peninsula, I found an awesome street
name too.  I wonder if the residents like
happy hour.

In the late afternoon, I strolled the streets of Charlevoix,
flanked by two lake shores; Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix.  I ducked in an oyster bar and tried a few
fried oysters…delicious!

We ended the day at Wilderness State Park.  I snagged one of the last eight
campsites.  I camped by Joe, his family,
and lots of dogs.  Joe worked in the
defense industry and was up from the southern part of Michigan.  He planned on retiring soon and taking some
road trips as well.  They might take a
tour of all the HGTV dream homes.

The campgrounds were on the lake whose beach didn’t allow
dogs, thus I was very shocked to see so many.
It seemed like every camper had a dog.
Then I noticed a flyer posted by the bathroom…Dog Show, 2 p.m.
Saturday.  I wonder if there is a
category for ugly, needy mutt?  Petey
could win!  ETB

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Michigan

Day 224 – Lake MichiganTour

Day 224 –  Lake Michigan Tour, Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Ludington, a cross, memorializing Pere Merquette, stands
over the harbor.  It is thought, the French
missionary and explorer died nearby in 1675, though the exact location remains
a controversy.

After a quick drive by, we continued to Lake Michigan
Recreation Area where we took a few minutes to walk along the beach in the dog
area.  Petey hasn’t been that energetic
recently, so our walk wasn’t long.  The
weather was a bit gloomy anyway, making the view not more than a few hundred
yards.

Further along the way, we stopped in Manistee, which has a
lovely downtown that is listed on the National Registered Historic Places.  Visitors may walk along the quaint streets
lined with Victorian-era buildings or along the river walk.  The wooden walkway is wedged between the wide
river and historic buildings.

Continuing north up the western coast of Michigan we turned
down a long, sandy road to Point Betsie Lighthouse, one of the oldest beacons
on the Lower Peninsula.  It was closed
for renovation, so no interior tour. I got a glimpse of the red, white, and
green lighthouse from afar.

From here we meandered along the roadway through the forest and past lakes and rivers to take a short scenic drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The Chippewas
claim a mother bear swam across Lake Michigan with her two cubs to escape a
Wisconsin forest fire.  While she reached
the shore, her weary cubs drowned.  In
pity, the great spirit Manitou turned the cubs into the Manitou Islands and the
mother bear into Sleeping Bear Dunes.  The
Sleeping Bear Dunes, some of which reach 480 feet, are some of the tallest in
the world.  The extremely steep, cream
colored slopes abutted the deep blue lake.

After a short walk along the dunes, we passed by farmland and barns as we moved on to Fishtown,
a collection of charming quayside restaurants, galleries, and shops.  As I strolled along the streets, I found a
virtual cache to keep my daily streak alive.

Eventually we reached Traverse City for the evening.  ETB

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Michigan

Day 223 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore – Part 2

Day 223 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore, Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We spent most the day driving, but got in a few stops along
the way as we continued south down Michigan’s eastern shore.  When we arrived in Oscoda we took a 40 mile
roundtrip scenic drive through the Huron National Forest along Au Sable
River.  We stopped at one overlook, took
the stairs to the river’s edge to test the waters, and picked a few wild
raspberries on our way back to VANilla.

Back on Lake Huron’s shore, we visited Tawas Point State
Park which features the Tawas Point Lighthouse, an 1876 structure still in use
today.  The light shines two colors; red and
white.  The white extends 16 miles out to
Lake Huron and the red, which can be seen from 12 miles away, marks the
entrance to Tawas Bay.

After visiting the lighthouse, we explored Bay City State
Park.  We took a walking trail around
Tobico Marsh in hopes to spot a variety of wildlife.  Not much was out in the overcast,
rain-spitting afternoon, but I did see a mama with six ducklings!  I also found another cache…I’m liking having
decent cell service for the last week.

Bay City Hall was our final stop.  I had planned to climb the bell tower, but
the building was under renovation.  With
that, we ventured across the middle of Michigan to start our tour north of the
west coast.  We are spending the night at
Wal-Mart in Ludington.  ETB

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Michigan

Day 222 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore

Day 222 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore, Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This morning Petey and I boarded the 8:30 ferry to Mackinac
(Mak-in-aw) Island.  The double-decker
catamaran whisked us across Lake Huron in 18 minutes or less on a calm, clear
day.  We disembarked into a land of
pedestrians, cyclists, and horse drawn carriages…no cars are allowed.  Even the island’s garbage truck is a giant
wood cart pulled by horses.  For a brief
moment I thought what a nice way to live…no noise, no exhaust fumes, and
naturally exercising to get around.  Then
I thought of the snow, the rain, and running late…I wander what the islanders
do, especially in the winter.  Perhaps
snow mobiles are allowed.

For this morning, however, the weather was perfect and I
enjoyed every minute of our walk around the island. The ferry docks unload us
tourists, known as fudgies, since most visitors can’t resist buying the
fudge.  Given about every third store
sells fudge, it’s hard to skip it…there’s not much else to buy.  I didn’t stop to inquire if horse drawn
carriages allow dogs or if the bike rentals shops rented bikes with a baby cart
to pull Petey around in, but instead headed up the hill toward Fort Mackinac.

Fort Mackinac, once part of the mainland in modern day
Mackinaw City, was moved to Mackinac Island in 1780 during the American
Revolution by British commander Patrick Sinclair.  Sinclair chose the island due to the high
limestone bluff that would protect his soldiers from an American attack.  The white fort, perched on the bluff,
overlooks a grassy park and harbor of sail boats.

Petey and I walked around the perimeter of the fort, past
the governor’s mansion, and toward the Girl Scout barracks where we found a
cache hidden beneath a tree nearby.  I
think there are at least eleven caches on the island, but my phone was going
dead, I wanted to see some sights, so I settled for just one for the day.  We turned the corner around the barracks and
followed the signs to Skull Cave.

It is said that English fur-trader Alexander Henry hid out
in Skull Cave during the Indian uprising in 1763.  He claimed the cave was covered in human
bones, thus the name.  Skull Cave is one
of Mackinac Island’s oldest geological formations.  It is located at the base of a limestone
stack which was exposed 11,000 years ago as waves of ancient lakes eroded the
softer material surrounding it.  The cave
was formed as waves washed into its side, wearing a narrow opening.

Not far from the cave were a variety of cemeteries including
St. Anne’s Cemetery, the US Post Cemetery – Fort Mackinac, and the Mackinac
Island Cemetery.  The US Post Cemetery
was the most interesting.  A white picket
fence enclosed at least 100 matching headstones, each marked with a US flag
like the ones a child would wave in a parade.
The original wooden crosses which marked graves of American and British
soldiers who fought in the War of 1812 have long since disappeared.  The entry to the St. Anne’s Cemetery, however,
was quite beautiful.  Trees shaded a
stone wall topped with a cross arched over wrought iron gates built in 1924.

We passed by the cemeteries and continued up the manure
tainted roads to Lookout Point.  I use “tainted”
lovingly as after having lived horses my whole childhood, I find almost any
horse smell pleasing, though I suspect many others would disagree.  Ok, well manure might be pushing it, but I am
used to trouncing through it, and it does bring back other horse aromas that I
was quite fond of though my mom used to say my car stinks!

Upon reaching Lookout Point, we turned east toward Fort
Holmes.  In 1812, the British built a
blockhouse and stockade on the island’s highest point and named it Fort
George.  The British were able to repulse
the American attack in 1814.  After the
war, the Americans renamed the post in honor of Major Holmes who was killed in
the attack.

While we had been walking the roads in the shade beneath
canopies of trees, Petey seemed to be tuckering out, so we made one last stop
at Arch Rock.  I came so close to
skipping this natural attraction as it added one more mile to our return to the
ferry docks, and I wasn’t sure how long Petey would last.  I am SO glad I didn’t, despite arriving simultaneously
with two horse drawn covered wagons with five rows of bench seats full of
tourists, the majority of whom weren’t capable (for one reason or another) of
making the mile walk from town to the attraction.  Petey looked like the next Olympic star
compared to some of these folks as we squeezed up the stairs to get a look at
the sandy beach and aqua marine waters below.

On the way back into the main shopping district we took in a
few more sights:  a church, beach clubs,
hotels, and the harbor; watched some tourists wreck on bicycles; and listened
to a guide tell some gullible wagon riders to lean to the right to help the
horses make a left-hand turn up the hill.
After they all leaned to the right, he said, “That was funny because
leaning doesn’t help!”

Petey and I boarded the 11:30 shuttle back to the
mainland.  This time the ferry was a triple-decker
mono-hull.  I felt so lucky for the ferry
times I chose.  Mobs of people flooded
onto the island from the 11 a.m. ferry.
I don’t think there was an empty seat, yet both coming and going for me,
there couldn’t have been more than 15 travelers.

We arrived to Mackinaw City just in time for lunch.  I found countless fudge, candy, ice cream and
popcorn stores, yet only one restaurant in a shopping center similar to Snider
Plaza (for those of you from Dallas).
The order at the counter eatery offered a handful of fried fish baskets…I
went with the one piece whitefish basket that comes with hush puppies, fries
AND coleslaw.  It wasn’t as good as
yesterday’s fish tacos, but the hush puppies helped carry the weight.

After lunch in Mackinaw City, we headed back to Cheboygan,
re-provisioned at Wal-Mart, and turned down the eastern coast of Michigan.  We stopped a few times to admire the Lake
Huron’s sea green shoreline and watched some teenagers (girls and boys) shriek
in a high pitch tone with each step as the icy water got closer to their waist.

On the south side of Rogers City, we visited one of the
world’s largest limestone quarries.  The
pit is three miles long and two miles wide.
Just after I arrived at the overlook another car full of people arrived,
so I had to wait them out to find the cache hidden nearby.  I didn’t think it would take that long given
there’s not much to see in a rock pit, but three out of the four of them smoked
and each of them seemed to light up at a different time.  In addition, they needed to take Muffy for a
walk.  That dog got the longest walk
around ten car parking lot I’ve ever seen.
I was beginning to feel sorry for Petey…parking lots call for a lift
your leg and let’s go routine with me.  I
was running out of emails, texts, and posts to write…but they finally left…and
the fresh air returned too!

We moved further to the south and stopped in Alpena where
the choppy waters of Thunder Bay are home to 80 shipwrecks.  We walked around the harbor where I met the
most polite three year old boy in the world.
He asked if he could please pet my dog as he held up two fingers and
claimed they had three dogs. When he was finished he promptly said, “thank you”
without any reminders from mom!  Then he
got on his two wheel bike, no training wheels, and rode down the sidewalk.  We continued along the sidewalk as well to
the breakwater where we found one more cache.
I passed a couple who clearly noticed my geocaching app on my iphone and
when I stopped at the light post, they hollered, “Keep Going”.  I moved onto the bench and they waved, “Next
Bench”.  Judging from the log, their pen
name was the “Trawlin’ Two”.  Wow, my
second time in one week I have run into fellow geocachers when I never had
previously!

It was time to find a campground.  I tried Negwegon State Park, but it was very
remote and required reserving backcountry permits in advance.  That was a long three mile drive through the
woods on a sandy road for nothing!  Well,
I did see a porcupine and managed to get a “butt shot”.  We moved on to Harrisville State Park for the
evening.  ETB

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Michigan

Day 221 – Upper Peninsula Drive – Part 3

Day 221 – Upper Peninsula Drive, Monday, July 25, 2011

Well, I thought I did a lot today, but looking back at my
pictures I don’t have much to show, at least in quantity.  We started the morning visiting the Upper
Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
The Upper Falls are in a different area of the park from the campgrounds
as can be reach by a long trail or by a lift from VANilla.  The roundtrip walk for Petey was a bit long,
so I steered VANilla to the Upper Falls parking lot where we took a more
reasonable walk to the falls along a paved pathway and down 94 grated, metal
stairs that Petey hates!  He had his
choice, wait in VANilla or maneuver the stairs.

The Upper Falls is often called the little Niagara as 50,000
gallons of water per second rush over a sandstone ledge in copper-hued
arc.  The volume of water that tumbles
over the falls is second to Niagara Falls in the eastern United States.  While the falls were beautiful, I couldn’t
help but think what the falls, river, and surrounding trees would look like in
the autumn.  In fact, I’ve entertained
that thought quite a bit while being on the north shore of Minnesota and
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula over the last week.
I may have to revisit this area in the future!

After visiting the falls, we turned north to Sault Ste.
Marie, Michigan’s oldest city, to see the Soo Locks where freighters squeeze
through one of the longest, busiest canal locks in the world.  I watched a Canadian ship go through, but my
view was poor at best.  Given I had an
excellent view of this procedure in New York last September, I didn’t snap any
photos as it would have just looked like a freighter in the water.

Instead of driving one more mile north to Canada, I turned
south and headed toward St. Ignace.
Intermittent showers gave VANilla a few washes while I took the
afternoon to rest and blog.  I’m not sure
why I was so wiped out.  Perhaps it was
due to a week’s worth of sleepless eighty degree nights.  In St. Ignace, I stopped at The Gangplank for
dinner.  I ordered fried cheese curds and
whitefish tacos at the counter window and sat at a picnic table on their deck
facing Lake Huron.  Nick and Nikki, the
couple I met in Wisconsin, suggested I try fried cheese curds, and they didn’t
steer me wrong…they were great!  As
always, I’m hesitant with every fish order, but the fish tacos topped with
vinegar coleslaw and pico de gallo were superb.

After dinner I stopped at the viewing area on the north side
of Mackinaw Bridge just as the sky behind me was filling with dark, storm
clouds.  Some almost looked like roll
clouds.  I snapped a handful of photos
from the north side of the bridge, paid the $3.50 toll, and raced across the
metal grated, middle lane to Mackinaw City in an effort to snap a few shots of
the bridge with the clouds to its west side.
By the time I got parked and walked to the shore of Lake Huron on the
east side of the bridge, the clouds had almost crossed Lake Michigan on the
west side of the bridge and reached shore.

The storm was coming in fast as the sunset and the waves
churned in the two Great Lakes.  I was
wondering if I needed to prepare for a tornado while several drivers pulled off

the road to snap photos.  Many pedestrians
seemed to be oblivious to the approaching weather and went about exploring the
lighthouse and Lake Huron’s shores in the city park.  Once a few big rain drops landed on target, I
hopped in VANilla and headed for the Wal-Mart in Cheboygan for the night.  I loved to say that word…Cheboygan.  Perhaps I should have stuck around a bit
longer…the view from my side-view mirror of the peppermint colored clouds was fantastic!  ETB

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Michigan

Day 220 – Upper Peninsula Drive – Part 2

Day 220 – Upper Peninsula Drive, Sunday 24, 2011

This morning I investigated another portion of Pictured
Rocks National Seashore.  Since Petey
wasn’t allowed on the trails, I did a quick hike through the hardwoods to
Chapel Lake and Chapel Falls.  I got a
kick out of the Chapel Lake Overlook as my only view was a splash of water
through the trees.  The falls was
relatively protected by trees, but with a little work I was able to snap a
photo of the water streaming down the cliff.
Overall, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about this hike as my book led me to
believe I would be.  Perhaps I needed to
make the six mile roundtrip to Chapel Rock.

From Pictured Rocks we continued east through the Hiawatha
National Forest and along the shore to Grand Marais, where I took a short break
to walk Petey around the local park and make a quick stop at the Old Post
Office Museum which displayed hand stamps and scales.

From Grand Marais we turned south to Seney and stopped at
one of the few gas stations around before visiting the Seney National Wildlife
Reserve.  Animal pelts seem to be popular
up here.  I had my pick at the filling
station.

Seney National Wildlife Reserve was having a photo contest,
so I took numerous pictures, but the birds just weren’t that close, even with
my zoom lens!  The reserve is home to
several Trumpeter Swans and one pair had two cygnets.  In addition geese, turtles, and loons dotted
the marshes along with countless lily pads.

Shortly after leaving Seney National Wildlife Reserve, a small
rodent (didn’t get a good look) scurried across VANilla’s path.  I wasn’t sure if my reactions were fast
enough to miss squashing it, so I looked in my rear view mirror to see if it
was ok.  As it flipped from its back to
its belly a hawk came swooping down and grabbed it…oh, it was awful!  I guess that is why it never slowed down or
even tried dodging VANilla…it was already running for its life.

We ended the day at the Tahquamenon Falls State Park which
was lovely.  The campground was one of
the best I’ve stayed in for a while.  I
believe it was only $21 for electric and offered free showers.  Furthermore, the sites were shaded and it was
only a mile walk to the Lower Falls of the Tahquamenon River, the same river
described in Longfellow’s poem The Song
of Hiawatha
.

A much longer walk from the campgrounds would have gotten me
to the Upper Falls, but I planned on saving that for tomorrow.  ETB

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Michigan

Day 219 – Upper Peninsula Drive

Day 219 –  Upper Peninsula Drive, Saturday, July 23, 2011

With a little bit of a late morning start (lost an hour in
Michigan), VANilla, Petey, and I motored up Highway 2, through Hiawatha
National Forest, and toward Fayette Historic State Park.  To get to the park, we turned south at Garden
Corners, followed a road along Big Bay De Noc, and passed by an old house, covered
in peeling white paint with “FREE STUFF ->” spray painted in large, black freehand.  Next to it, a smaller phrase in black spray
paint demanded, “Don’t put anything here without my permission”.  I’ve passed a handful of quirky signs over my
last 48,000 miles of travel, but many times I forget to mention them.  Perhaps that one was amusing enough to
remember.

The Fayette Historic State Park features a 19th-century
iron industry community.  About 100 years
ago, Fayette was a bustling company town where barges delivered ore and ships
took away tons of pig iron – the product of Fayette’s giant smelting
furnaces.  The furnaces and many other
original buildings still remain including a hotel, houses, the town hall, and
remains of the company store.

In addition to exploring the historic buildings, visitors
may take a variety of trails that follow along the bay and through the dense
forest.  A handful of caches are hidden
in this park in an effort to increase traffic to the area.  I found the virtual cache and one of two
containers I set out to find.  Not
finding the second one was a little trying…UGH!
Petey and I originally set out on a low path which led to a dead end…we
should have taken the overlook trail.  I
almost didn’t go searching for it as Petey was tiring, but I decided to coax
him along as it was only another ½ mile and we came up empty…bummer.  At least we got to enjoy a nice view and see
a deer.  Speaking of deer, I think I
might be able to claim I’ve seen one in every state when I’m finished with this
trip…or at least the lower 48.

After visiting Fayette Historic State Park, we turned north
and made a short stop at Palms Book State Park known for its 45-foot deep
natural spring, Kitch-iti-kipi, an Indian word meaning Mirror of Heaven, which is also a virtual cache.  The crystal clear water that appears emerald
green due to mineral deposits maintains a temperature of a cool 45
degrees.  Visitors may climb aboard a
wooden raft and using a guide cord pull themselves across the 200-foot-wide
pond.  The center of the raft is made of
clear windows so that tourists may watch the aquifer pump 10,000 gallons of
water a minute, stir up sediment and spot oversize trout glide among the
limestone-coated branches of fallen trees.

We spent a short time in the park before moving on to the
north shore of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to enjoy Pictured Rocks National
Lakeshore.  Pictured Rocks extends forty
miles along Lake Superior from Munising to Grand Marais and encompasses a
fascinating wildnerness:  dense forest,
multihued sandstone cliffs, unique rock formations, waterfalls, rivers, and
sandy beaches.    Our first stop along the National Lakeshore
was at Miners Falls.  Petey waited for me
in VANilla on our first cool afternoon in about a week while I hiked along a
well-maintained gravel, interpretive trail to Miners Falls.  The thick forest of trees kept most of the
spitting rain from landing on me.

By the time I had returned to VANilla, the sprinkle had
subsided.  We turned up the gravel road
toward  Miners Castle, a rock formation
that stood above the sandy shores and striped sandstone cliffs.  As we bounced along the road, a wolverine
crossed our path.  I’m not sure if that
is common or not.  I’ve never seen a
wolverine.  In fact, I wasn’t exactly
sure what it was.  It sort of looked like
a badger or a giant, brown raccoon three sizes too big.  I had to do a little Wikipedia research for
verification.

Upon visiting Miners Castle, I finally decided it was time
to search for a campsite.  I didn’t
expect to have much luck given it was late on a summer Saturday.  I had planned to go to some campgrounds
outside the park, as generally they don’t fill up as quickly as campgrounds
within the park, but frankly, I was tired of driving.  I decided to try my luck at Little Beaver
Lake which required maneuvering a 3 mile twisting, hilly dirt road that was off
limits to vehicles in excess of 36 feet.
I couldn’t believe that the very first site of only six to eight sites
total, which may have been the smallest campground I’ve ever been to, was
available.  I felt so lucky that I didn’t
even care my site seemed to be the one that people lugged their canoes across
to get to the lake!  It was so nice to
find someplace cool too…an incentive to turn on my computer and to not simply
lie motionless holding a fan two inches from my face. ETB

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