Sunday, June 15, 2014

Into Wisconsin

Travel Day – starting to head toward home.

We left McLain State Park in a slight rain storm. We were heading around the southern tip of Lake Superior. Our path went through the Porcupine Mountains so there was a little bit of up and down but not too bad until we got into Wisconsin where it really started to pour and the wind picked up. Y'all know how much I love wind (Not). Through Ashland which caused me to think of my nephew Tyler and Carly who went to college in Ashland and who are expecting a baby who is only a whole week overdue. Come on kid – we want to meet you. Ashland also has a bunch of murals painted on the side of buildings and I think we will have to go back to check them out.

Ended up in the West Side Campground in Washburn Wisconsin. Another RV park, but it has WiFi and Cable TV. After five days without any sort of wired access, it is almost overwhelming. Sensory overload. We are only a few miles south of Bayfield and a couple miles north of Ashland. We are on the shores of Lake Superior again but there are not really any sites directly on the lake. But I can see it off in the distance. There is a gravel walking trail right along the shoreline which we walked. Maybe about a mile long. Miko went nuts in the waves again. She is now getting into the water about shoulder deep. Won't be too long before I have a swimming dog.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Quincy Copper Mine

Today we had to move the RV to a new site. The one (83)we had been in for the last three days had been reserved so we moved over to 79 which was still overlooking the lake. We had to move anyway because we were out of water and our tanks were full. Turns out that traveling with another person fills your tanks up so much quicker than traveling solo. Duh... Emptied the tanks with no accidents and settled in to the new home.

Tony thought it would be great to go see another mine. Do I love my man or what?  Off we go, leaving Miko at home. This time we went to the Quincy Mine which is located about 10 miles south of us in Hancock Mi. What a different experience this turned out to be.

First off, they take you down a 35 degree grade on the outside of the hill in a tram. 35 degrees is super steep. They said that normally the miners would be going down the shafts at a 50 degree grade at three times the speed that we were going. Once we got to the bottom of the hill, we loaded into a wagon which was pulled by a John Deere tractor. It pulled us into Level 7 of the mine. This mine eventually got to 92 levels, but everything below Level 7 was flooded out. The Michigan Tech School had Mining classes there and we saw a classroom carved into the rock. We probably went in the hill about 1800 feet and stopped and got out. Our tour guide Nate took us around the corner and explained how the miners worked through the decades, showing us the various types of drills and explaining how they worked. This mine was in business from 1850 through 1940 or so. He also followed the cave tradition of turning off all of the lights so we could see what true dark was like. Back into the wagon and then the tram up to the top of the hill.

Perky Audrey then took over the tour. Quincy Mine had the largest steam hoist in the world and Audrey explained how it worked and what happened to the copper once it got out of the ground. This was an impressive piece of machinery - it was a gigantic cylinder.   I can't remember how much it weighed but we are talking tons. They said that they have only extracted about 50% of the copper in this mine, but it just became too cost prohibitive to mine the rest of it out.

Home again – we are moving out in the morning so there is some maintenance items that need to be taken care of.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Delaware Mine and Copper Harbor

Another cold, rainy day.

Since the Keweenaw peninsula was mostly settled because of the copper mining, Tony thought it would be interesting to go to a defunct mine. We headed north on the peninsula to the Delaware Mine in the now ghost town of Delaware. It was a self guided tour, cost $11 to get in but it was dog friendly meaning that we could take Miko down into the mine with us. I was a little concerned that she wouldn't be able to handle it because she is not too crazy about closed in spaces. She did great. Me not so much. First you have to descend about 100 steps. About halfway down there was a gigantic iceberg which the guy at the top said came in this past winter with the cold and they had to chainsaw it to get the mine opened in the spring. Then you walk along a long corridor, I think it was about 1450 feet. They kept it lit as as it was when the mine was being worked which meant it was pretty darn dark. It was just the three of us, Tony, Miko and me. Damp and cold. There were signs along the way explaining various parts of the mine, but mostly it was just a dark dark corridor. I got a little spooked. Not liking it too much.

After we got done with the Delaware mine, we traveled further north on the peninsula to the town of Copper Harbor. We stopped and had lunch at a place called the Pines. I think it was the first time that I remember having a pasty which is a meat/potato/carrot pie that the miners used to take down into the mines. The waitress said that most people ate a pasty with ketchup, me – I asked for Ranch dressing. How upscale am I? We also stopped at Studio 41 which had 75 different Michigan artists. Nice to see art again. There were lots of copper articles. There was also a Pug puppy there who had a cleft palate. Black dog with a tongue hanging out even though his mouth was closed

We then drove up the Brockton scenic highway that goes along the west coast of Keweenaw. And I mean up – extremely steep. I had to laugh, after the first steep, steep hill, somebody had painted on the road like Burma Shave ads “You    Are    Not      Done     Yet”. They were right, it just kept going up and up and up.  I am so glad that we were in the car instead of the RV.  When you got to the top, you had a really great view of Copper Harbor. Continuing on, we got to another scenic site which overlooked Lake Superior and a few inland lakes. Breathtaking, although we almost got blown off the mountain, it was so windy.

Home for dinner and to finish off the fourth episode of Orange is the New Black – loving it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Start of the Copper Highway Tour

It rained all night – downpour type rain, but the interesting thing is that rain on the roof of the RV is not like rain on a tin roof,but more of a gentle pitter patter which is great for sleeping so we sort of putzed around – sleeping in, moving slow.

Tony took Miko for a short walk and then we left Miko in the RV and took off for Calamut Michigan. This was a copper mining town back in the day. Reminded me a lot of some of the mining towns in northern Minnesota. Sort of depressed and quaint at the same time. We ended up at the Calamut Visitor Center which was in the old Masonic Hall. This was an amazing museum. They had many interactive displays about life in the mines, life in the town and the big troubles between the unions and the mining companies. This was a fairly small town, but it had 63 saloons at the height of the mining effort. Woody Guthrie even wrote a song about a 1913 massacre that happened in the Italian Hall. There was a Christmas party and somebody yelled Fire and in the panic that happened, 73 people died, mostly children, just trying to get down the stairs. On the third floor, there was a display about the Odd Fellows and some of their rituals which I found very interesting.

They torn down the Italian Hall and this is all that remains of it.


We then walked down Fifth Street and stopped at several different art galleries. I really enjoyed that. Up to this point, when I've traveled with the RV, I have not been able to stop at places like this because most of these places don't have parking for RVs. Now, with towing the car, I have the ability to now mix up my touristing and see much more.

We also came across a roadside attraction that commemorated a mega snowfall that occurred.  Here is a picture of Tony standing next to the snowfall marker.


Got back to the RV around four to find a wind advisory in effect. Winds up to 45 mph. I am so happy I am not driving in this. The wind is wild and the lake is rather agitated. It is like being on the ocean, the waves are so big. The RV seems to be handling it OK, we can hear the roar of the wind, but we are not shaking very much. I think it is because our nose is pointing into the wind which is giving us a smaller exposure. It is going to be a crazy night.
These are really big waves - you could surf on them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan

Travel Day. Heading up to the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Packed up and went over to the dump station to dump out all of our tanks. I guess I can now call myself a real RVer. They say that you can't call yourself a real RVer until you have had a black tank accident. My sewer hose popped out of the sewer hole and let's just say it wasn't pretty. I must say though that my reactions were pretty quick for an old person and I got everything under control with a minimum of spillage. Cleaned everything up and got on our way across the northern part of the Upper Peninsula.

A new Jack White CD had come out this week and Tony became obsessed with getting it. What that meant was that when we got to Marquette, we had to go into a Target (they were sold out but we did some grocery shopping) and then on to a tiny tiny Best Buy Parking lot where he was able to get his CD. I am particularly proud of my maneuvering capabilities. Tony had measured the length of the car I'm towing and that plus the length of the RV is a little over fifty feet.

We are staying at McLain State Park which is on the west side of the Keweenaw Peninsula. We are in spot 83 which is overlooking Lake Superior. Lots of woods around us – can barely see any of the other campers. The only issue has been the electrical hookups. For some strange reason, they are not very close to where we park the RV. I've had to use several extension cords to get hooked up. There is just electric here, we had to fill the water tank at the entrance so we would have water. There is also hardly any internet service or phone service. This will be interesting to see how we do without being wired in.

Pulled our lawn chairs out and sat and watched the sunset. Me with my wine of course. Something about wine and sunsets just seem to go together.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Waterfalls and Beaches

We headed over to the Visitor's Center and lucked out with getting a ranger who knew her stuff. We told her that we had only one or two days and what should we spend our time doing. They have boat rides where you can view the Pictured Rocks, but they take two and a half hours and it didn't sound all that much fun. I wanted to see waterfalls and hike a little bit instead.

First up was Munising Falls. You hike a short distance on a dog friendly trail and see it. It is about fifty feet high. Again I apologize about the quality of the pictures. Some day I will figure out this iPhone picture thing.

Next up was Sand Point which is just a very very sandy beach. Beautiful white sand. We took Miko down to the water's edge and discovered that she is a wave chaser. Anytime I have had her near a lake or pond, she is totally non interested, to the point of refusing to even go close to the water's edge. Well, let me tell you – she went nuts over the waves. Running back and forth, trying to catch every single one. She ran herself ragged trying to keep up with them all. I think it was the happiest I have ever seen her – what a joy it was to watch her. After a while, we had to drag her away from the waves. What is interesting is that when we got back to our campsite, she heard the waves and practically pulled my arm out of the socket trying to get to the waves.

After Sand Point, we drove to Miner's Castle which is a rock formation jutting into the Lake. They have several observation points which allowed us not only to see some of the Pictured Rocks, but also we could see all the way to the bottom of the lake because the water was so clear. I think this was probably the favorite part of my day. It was one of those “Nature is just so friggin' cool” type of days.

On to Miner's Falls. This is the only time that we could not take Miko with us on the trail. She waited in the car for us. It was really a cool day with temperatures in the 50s. As we walked away from the car, she barked a few times and then did her little baby howl – she sounds so pitiful when she does that howl. We had to walk about a ¾ of a mile through the woods. It was really pretty – tall pine trees and some sort of blue flower blooming everyplace – sort of solid blue carpet under the pines. At the end of the trail, you descend down about 75 steps and see some massive falls. This time I was prepared for the army of mosquitoes and I could spend some time just watching the falls. 

Back to the RV for some lunch and a quick nap and then we went to two more waterfalls – the Alger Falls and Wagner Falls. This falls were only about twenty feet tall. Wagner Falls was pretty – it was more of a cascading falls over several different levels and wider than the other falls that we had seen.

We have spent quite a bit of time today trying to decide if we are going to stay here in Munising for another day or take off for the Keweenaw Peninsula further west in Michigan. We will probably decide for sure tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Munising Michigan

Walked around the campground, there is a Disc Golf course here. We made a major mistake in forgetting that it is mosquito season and we did not put on any bug spray. We almost got carried away, there were so many of them. It made it very easy to leave Holtwood Campground.

We drove up a scenic route along the west coast of Lake Michigan. It reminds me a lot of northern Minnesota. Lots of little towns and lakeshore homes. Pleasant Drive.

Our next destination was the Munising Tourist Park Campground on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan . I like the name of the campground – it sort of reminds me of something out of the fifties. We lucked out big time and got a place right on Lake Superior. Our whole front window is filled with nothing but the lake.

Unhooked the car – it took all of five minutes. I dragged the lawn chairs out and a glass of wine and settled down to watch the sunset. Going to like this place.
My view out the window:

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tony's First Venture into the World of RVs

Big day today. This is the start of a trip with Tony. Tony has been rather hesitant to join me on my RV adventures. The whole idea of travel is not something that appeals to him. He truly loves his home and because his home is so satisfying to him, he doesn't see much point in travel. Since I am sort of on the opposite end of the spectrum, it has been rather difficult to span that gap in a way that would make both of us happy. Tony has graciously agreed to venture out and see where the road leads us. Not only that, he agreed to go for a week and a half. This is huge. Of course his week and a half is different than my week and a half, but I'm sure that we will work something out.

We decided to go to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and along the south shore of Lake Superior. Several tasks will be accomplished. I will be able to knock off three more National Sites and Tony will be able to see what life on the road is like. I have tentatively planned a partial itinerary, some of it will be as the wind blows.

We spent the last few days getting everything ready. I told Tony that this will be just like living at home and he took me seriously. Let's just say, Tony does not pack light. We got everything loaded up and ready to hit the road.

I bought a new rug for the RV.  I wish it was a little bit bigger, but I think it works.  You can see where Miko's bed is right by the driver's seat.


The other big thing today is this is the first road trip where I am towing my car behind the new RV. I used to have a trailer that I would drive the front wheels of my car up on and tow that behind the RV. The setup I have now is totally different. I had a base plate installed on my car which allows me to tow the car with all four wheels on the ground. After spending about ten minutes hooking it up this morning and then towing it behind my RV, four wheels on the ground is definitely the way to go. Super easy, I can't even tell it is back there. The main benefit though is how easy it is to hook and unhook the car.

We took off about 10:30 from River Falls and headed straight east across Wisconsin. Mostly four lane highways until the last hour when we got off the main drag and started going through some of the tiny little towns in rural Wisconsin. What is so interesting about Wisconsin is that no matter how small a town is, there will always be a minimum of two bars. Each bar would have several locals hanging out in front on the sidewalks. We rolled into the campground around 3:30.

We ended up in Oconto Wisconsin which is just about 30 miles north of Green Bay. We are at the Holtwood Campground, right on the Oconto river. Not a lot of charm, but it is passable for an overnight visit. There are two types of camping spots, the type where you have to back in and the pull thru ones which is what I really wanted so I did not have to unhook the car. Settled in and about the time we got everything hooked up, two guys showed up and told us that we had to move because we had parked in a reserved spot. Of course, they had forgotten to put up reserved signs so there was no way we could have known. We had to move because there where three rigs coming in, each of which were seventy feet long (RV plus they were towing very big trailers) These made my RV look like a baby RV. The managers apologized up and down about the hassle and ended up giving us a free night of camping for our troubles. One of the managers (the slightly inebriated one) went so far as to tell us that we needed to come back again sometime and we could have a whole weekend free. Hmmmm.

Showed Tony how to set up the RV, washed the windshield and then had some sort of frozen dinner. Day 1 completed and everybody is still happy. Well, maybe not Miko – she has such a hard time traveling, I really do think she gets a little sick. She seems to have recovered although I'm sure she is not going to be happy when we have to road trip again tomorrow.