And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Fall 2020, Part 2


From Moose Rapids, we took off headed north and hit Lake Superior at the town of Baraga. We passed several campgrounds I had noted but earlier calls had ascertained that some were down rugged, long dirt roads and not being sure of access or turn around space, we bypassed. And thus, a few miles later we headed east on highway M26 on the lower Keweenaw Peninsula. Our destination was a small state forest campground of nine sites, situated on a lovely small lake.

We easily found it down a nice dirt road and were thrilled to see only one other camper there; a family in a popup enjoying a last weekend of camping. Although we passed a fair share of RVers out enjoying leaf peeping in the Yooper, the campgrounds were all blissfully mostly empty. It might have been the weather forecast. The entire trip held temps mainly in the 40’s and 50’s, with some periods of heavy rain. We don’t mind this kind of Fall camping however, finding the days when we must remain inside a cozy experience of cooking, reading, game playing, snuggly naps, and playing with the cats. Having changed out the RV furniture to comfy recliners, and having the ability to then turn the chairs to whichever window features the best view is the bomb as they say!

As an aside, we thoroughly enjoyed this small state forest campground and definitely want to return with the kayaks at a future date. Especially now knowing they stock it with Rainbow trout!

(Yes, this is often my lap during colder weather as all three cats feel a need to spend time with me at the same moment!)

We chose the very best Fall sunny day to drive into the peninsula’s largest town of Houghton/Hancock (pop. 8000) and are so glad we did! Cresting the hill and looking down into town I was gob smacked at the charm of it all, as white houses stood out against a brilliantly colored hillside spilling down to glistening water. It totally reminded me of New England! It only got better as we approached the old downtown section, which the town has preserved in a neat fashion, with riverside parks, free parking and marvelous old stone buildings. Even though it was a Sunday and most shops closed, we could sense that the place had a real heart and soul and liveliness to it, not seen in many towns of the UP. Maybe that’s because it has a couple of renown universities. 

From downtown, we wandered across the famous old lift bridge, spanning Portage Lake, dredged in 1860. This is actually a canal made for shipping purposes, which allowed larger ships access from both Lake Huron to the east and Lake Superior to the west. This bridge is pretty fascinating as it features the main deck (car travel) and a lower one for rail traffic. Now however, the lower deck is used only during winter for snowmobile traffic—how cool is that?

This area is historically an old mining town, at one time the largest producer of copper in the country, and we were able to freely visit a couple of the ghosts of yesteryear. We always love exploring old ruins and this was no exception! We finished up our lovely sojourn in Houghton with a take-out fresh lake fish sandwich; I had whitefish and Marc had the perch, both deep fried and so yummy!


(This section of the Atlantic mine ran from 1845-1945.)

This was to be our last good weather day in the UP and although we stayed until Tuesday as now the only campers at Emily Lake, we decided to take two days heading home. At this point we were only about two hours from the WI border, crossing into Land ‘O Lakes near Eagle River; always a beautiful little town. We decided to check out a county campground at Jack Lake, out of Antigo, which was due to close that weekend. We had our pick of sites so got one snuggled up as close as possible to the charming lake. If a person could snag a few spots lakeside, some of which are first-come, some reserved, it would make for good kayaking right from camp. However, at $30/night with electric (water and dump station available), it’s not a place we would normally choose to stay given the cost and likely fullness of sites during summer. Turns were fairly tight for a rig our size and I suspect it would normally be full of families as there were many amenities, including boat launch, hiking trails, disc golf and playground. It is however, conveniently close to home at around a two-hour drive.

Arriving home, we cleaned and buttoned up the RV for winter storage and did the same thing to the garden. Our weather is rapidly turning cold and we suspect we are not far from our first snowfall, which just might arrive by Sunday. The Northwoods has already gotten its fair share and we made our escape from the UP just in time to miss their first snowfall. Alas, sorry to see season’s end but we experienced some good camping trips this summer and now must bundle up and in for our long winter.

On the home front, Marc is still unemployed and enjoying semi-retirement. He has made the conscious choice not to work at this time, due to rampant Covid numbers in this state. He has several home projects to tackle this winter hopefully, but all in all, we suspect a long, quiet winter so my updates may be few and far between. Rest assured however, when there is something to share, I will be back! 


Fall 2020, Part 1


Before the days of Fall were waning, Marc & I got out on a couple of week-long trips north. We tried to go after the start of school hoping that would cut down on site competition, but in the end, the out of the way campgrounds we choose, did the job for us.

We returned to our previous lake but just missed getting that huge site 14, although we easily found another which placed the rig actually closer to the lake. It was a little more awkward to access the kayaks but not terribly so. This trip there was a noticeable difference in bugs and heat, with many days actually being so cool I didn’t care to kayak. We didn’t hit up the next-door lake either, although we did the main lake hiking trail, which runs about two miles around the lake, offering many nice vistas. As it turned out, the campground was mostly empty, even over the weekend and was to close ten days later. On one sunny day, we did take the truck out to explore other nearby campgrounds for future potential.

(We thought this odd natural bark and stick formation from our hike looked exactly like a deer).

In October, we waited out a cool, rainy start and then packed north to the Upper Peninsula during the second week. We left the kayaks behind, knowing it would be too cold to really enjoy them and weighing so much, they are a huge pain to pack and haul if not used daily. I had scoped out a few campgrounds over the internet and the plan was to stop for 2-3 days in each to see if they represented good spots for future trips with the kayaks. As it turned out, we only visited three, but along the way we saw entirely new country wrapped in its fabulous peak fall colors, visited a town I was absolutely smitten with, and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty that is the UP—or Yooper land as it’s called.

Our first stop was actually a municipal free campground, asking for a daily $5 donation, but when I say “municipal” it certainly was not located downtown! Townships in this area can run for many miles, and this one happened to be down a small frost-heaved paved and dirt road where traveling five miles took us about a half hour. Many fine cabins and homes lined Michigamme River and as we crept down the final potholed track into the campground, we found the best and only site on the river empty! At first, not realizing it, we parked on the boat launch gravel area but after a day backed the trailer more onto the grassy area. No one wanted to launch during our stay, save for the one guy we had blocked initially.

We took daily walks but mostly this is a place to hang out and enjoy the beautiful views. The campground features around eight sites, most of which sit on a shelf above the area where we sat by the river and most don’t feature access or view to the river, so we decided if one were to get any other site, the drive in just wasn’t worth it. Anything larger than our trailer would likely have trouble maneuvering as well, since portions of the loop road are steep and came close to hitting our plumbing. Moose Rapids Campground is a beautiful, rustic camp, but one we likely won’t be returning to.