September 7 thru 8, 2018 Britt helped me load the truck (she’s so adorable!), washed a small load of clothes and waited until Nick got home to head out. It was hard to say goodbye, but knowing it was temporary helped!
I used some swatches of Britt’s extra material to close holes in my most comfortable pants; hope they last awhile. From the list of surcharge-free ATM locations, Nick suggested Target; it was an easy stop off 41. Bought a cold coffee, then headed north toward the UP. Called Mom and we had a giggle about Hwy. GG. Stopped along the way for spicy peanuts (2 for $1) and again in Peshtigo for gas at Eagle Express ($2.76/gal).Across the Michigan line and the Menominee River, switched from 41 to scenic 35 North Shore Drive). Around the northeastern point of Menominee, I took the turnoff to John Henes Park. Awesome stop! It had a winding path around the entire park, lots of trees and walking trails, picnic areas, wildlife, clean restrooms, swimming beach and incredible views of Green Bay. Several people enjoyed a slow drive through the park.
Stopped at Cedar River Plaza for ice-cream on hot-ass day. Lots of motorcycles on 35. Swung off at camp symbol for DNR land. Drove about 6 miles in backcountry to the free camp area. Made judgement call with a u-turn and back to the highway.
It was exciting to be in the UP! I learned Michigan is one of 20 states with a township form of government. Into the Cedarville Township of the U.P. I drove, to a beautiful site at Fox Park for $15. Although a fabulous tree line was between me and the highway, I was a bit concerned about highway noise, but set up camp and cooked hard salami with peppers and onions.
Ate dinner by waters-edge, then enjoyed a smoke while watching the sunset. The temp dropped, I layered, got cleaned up, updated my journal and zipped for the night.
Woke before 7 am to a windy, chilly morning, feeling great. I was so much more comfortable through the night with the added foam pad.
Waves magically drowned any highway noise attempting to penetrate the tree line.Ahhh, loved the morning walk! Used instant coffee packet Carol gave me in Texas, with coffee, sugar and creamer. Awesome! Blocked wind around stove with truck sunshades, then used wind off the bay to fly-dry tent and tarp, like kites. Wind was so strong I thought I’d lose grip couple times, but it worked fast and was a blast!
Continued to Escanaba with a stop at Elmer’s County Market for potty break, coconut oil (left mine at Britt’s) and fresh greens. Huge veggie variety and super clean. I liked hearing the northern accent; lots of ‘yeps’.
Stopped at the Masonville Township Rec Area, well-maintained with a beautiful tribute to soldiers, surrounded by rocks and greenery. Made a salad with organic black beans, garlic sauce and fruit. Walked around, used potty and slid down the slide, before heading out.
Swung off the highway at the National Hiawatha Forest boat dock exit. About 5 miles off the road, explored long trails through the woods, read all the historical markers and tried not to step on critters. There were gorgeous elms and white pine; I wanted to sleep there and thought briefly about how to avoid ranger checks. Farther up the road were more trails and campgrounds along Little Bay de Noc.
Just past Thompson, on Hwy 2 – f*ing incredible drive – along Lake Michigan, stopped at the Thompson Roadside Park honoring Frank Rogers (several of these that honor different locals). It was pretty, with a fountain and shoreline access.
Drove into Manistique, a cute town with lots of lodging choices (cottages, cabins, Inns, B&B’s and hotels), as well as signs for winter activities; liked the one for snow sleds, with and without dogs. Stopped at the Visitor Center for information on lighthouses and camping; I was first greeted by the huge Paul Bunyan outside. Picked up information handouts and used their toilet.
The only campground suggested was across the street from the VC. The owner was very nice, but the only barrier from street noise was a short, dirt wall, so no way! I headed east toward the local lighthouse, just over the bridge per the VC gentleman; parked at the Boardwalk.
The wind was blowing and it was getting cooler as the sun gradually dropped, but down the boardwalk and over the rocks I climbed. Seagulls were everywhere, but I really liked this one who manned its post, like a dedicated Walmart greeter.
The waterwall stretched across the water like a bent arm to the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse, opened in 1916. Although no longer operational, it was super cool. The water spray (cold as shit!) made its way between and over the boulders to the walkway. Some people were much smarter than me with their cute little wind breakers. Next time I’ll be prepared!
Back to the truck at almost 5:30 pm, quick stop at Bayview BP to top off gas ($2.97/gal) and buy postcards.
Followed signs down gravel and dirt roads to a state-DNR campground, Merwin Creek, about 9 miles northwest of Gulliver. There was a clearing with a bunch of RVs (later told it was a women’s annual retreat). Picked the #2 spot, in the woods away from the group, Paid $21 ($13 camp fee + $8 f*ing daily passport fee) and set up camp.
Had an amazing view of the Manistique River and was within a short, beautiful walk to the vault toilet through the woods. Relaxed, ate a salad and updated my journal.
Those women woke the entire woods with their microphone and me! I wanted to throw the damn thing in the river or knock their asses out with it. When they finally called it quits, I could hear the frogs, squirrels, birds and even deer in the woods (hoped like hell they were deer). Pee time hit, so shoes back on and I stepped out, into cold, wet air. Basically sprinted through the trees to the toilet, flashlight swinging all directions, then back. Zipped and cozy again when the mic sprung to life. I was about to go looney tunes on their ass when the woman shouted a drunken goodnight to ‘all the girls’ and that was that. Considering I’m a girl, I accepted the goodnight wish.