Transit to Oshkosh WI and Day Trip to Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

I gotta tell ya…if you’re ever in Oshkosh WI and have a chance to eat at Dublin’s Irish Pub…don’t do it. More on that later though.

Thursday morning we got up early for our 300 mile transit down to Oshkosh. After coffee and breakfast we finished up packing, dumping, hitching and such and were on the road from the campground a bit before 0900. Neil headed on through Newberry down to the main road and filled up BAT with fuel. While he was doing that Connie stopped and got a couple of pints of fresh Michigan blueberries that we’re going to freeze and use for various things over the next couple of months. After that we hit the road and most of our trip was pretty nice…2 and sometimes 4 lane roads with not too much traffic. We did run into one section of US-41 in southern Michigan that was pretty rough but other than that had clear sailing most of the way down.

Once we got into Wisconsin…there was about 15 miles of construction as we passed through Green Bay. We also figured out that Wisconsin drivers are pretty rude…lots of them cutting us off, weaving back and forth through traffic and wildly exceeding the speed limit. Not much fun but we continued on and after our almost 300 mile day pulled into the Country Harbor Campground and got set up in site 5…a nice pull through 50 amp full hookup site. The sites are pretty close…but it’s right on Lake Winnebago and hence campground owners tend to pack them a little closer than we like. The view is nice though and it isn’t a bad place to park for a few days. Here’s a shot of our site…followed by Neil turning around and taking another shot looking toward the lake.



So…about that pub.

We were trying to figure out what to eat and Connie saw the Dublin’s Irish Pub…we weren’t really interested in anything heavy but figured that some beer and bar food would taste good. We got there and had a couple pints, Smoky Hemp Porter for Neil and I can’t remember what Connie had. Neither was particularly good but we had also ordered a Combo Platter of appetizers for dinner. Most of them were fried…and the onion rings, egg rolls, and mozzarella logs were all fried in the same fryer obviously, along with whatever else they were cooking. Very strange flavors indeed. On top of that…we’ve never had egg rolls with corned beef, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing inside of them. The final appetizer was some sort of potato skin which (again) had sauerkraut and thousand island dressing in it…then was topped with cheese and ranch dressing.

We ordered another pint of a beer we had quaffed before…Left Hand Milk Stout. This is normally a great beer, kind of milky tasting as it has some milk sugar in it (which does not ferment into alcohol) and a creamy texture like Guinness or any other stout. I don’t know what they were serving but it definitely wasn’t Left Hand Milk Stout. It tasted more like some sort of porter or dark ale…lousy indeed. Overall we gave this place the “worst bar of the year” award and moved along. 

Luckily we found a DQ and split a Blizzard on the way home…then we stayed up and hit the bed about 2200.

Our original plan for today was based on the all day rain forecast…imagine our surprise when we got up and the forecast had changed to mostly cloudy all day. We quickly changed our plan for Connie to work and Neil to do laundry in favor of a trip about 30 miles southwest to the Horicon Marsh NWR. As it turned out it was bright sunny, no clouds, and 90 degrees today.

Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the US…about 32,000 acres total. It’s 13 miles north to south and 3-5 miles wide and is adjacent to a state preservation area. Our plan was to take a 36 mile driving tour around the entire refuge and visit a bunch of overlooks, ponds, and wildlife areas.

Our first sighting was on the way south…this scraggly looking Red Shouldered Hawk up on a power line.

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We next spotted some Black Eyed Susans and a neat seed pod on some sort of weed…it’s about 3 inches long.

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Following that we spotted what Neil describes as a good snake (hey, it’s the only good kind of snake he says)…if you can’t tell from the picture this specimen is only about an eighth of an inch thick and is quite dead.

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Some turtles, a blue dragonfly to go along with the red one from the other day, and a grasshopper…then a group of female mallard ducks.

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Some Grebes and a White Pelican…really didn’t expect to see either of these this far north and inland.

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An Eastern Phoebe, a pair of Kildeer shorebirds and a White Heron.

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A nice pano shot overlooking a large area of the marsh with several ponds. Lots of ducks and herons in this shot but they’re way, way, way out there.


Another Kildeer we spotted in a field full of puddles.

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After this we passed through a really small town named Leroy WI. How do you know a town is really small as opposed to just small? Simple of course. After we passed through the single corner between road YY and road W that formed the crossroads at the town the shot below shows you the speed limit signs as the limit increased as we left town…the 3 signs you see in this shot are maybe 50 yards apart.

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It was so cool that Neil turned the car around and went back to get this shot.

With that the Fun Stuff© part of our day was done. We stopped by the Walmart and got groceries on the way home…then after a shower headed out for a Chinese restaurant Connie found…we’ve had a hankering for some Chinese food lately and it turned out Royal Kitchen was truly outstanding. We had a couple of Tsing Tao beers followed by steamed dumplings, spring rolls, and orange chicken with rice. All were truly outstanding and we even have leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

We got home and changed for bed then watched a game on TV (Colorado vs Colorado State) until we got tired and went to bed.


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Day Trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior

I gotta tell you about this book Connie has been reading…it’s all about this area of the country and she has been using it to help figure out places to go and things to do up here in the Michigan Upper. It’s called Sketches of a Tour to the Lake, Of the Character and Customs of the Chippewa Indians, and of Incidents Connected with the Treaty of Fon du Lac. It was written by Thomas L. McKinney of the US Indian Department…who was charged with meeting all of the Indian tribes in the Michigan Territory and negotiating peace with them. His efforts resulted in the first treaty between the US government and the Indian Tribes which was signed at Fon du Lac in 1826. Neil’s forbear (some number of greats–Connie says it’s the Fourth Great Grand Uncle) uncle Thomas Connor was the translator for the exhibition.

The book details Mr. McKinney’s travels from Washington DC up to the Great Lakes area, their journeys through the lakes and the subsequent negotiation of the treaty. She’s gotten some good info for our travels and used it to figure out several Fun Stuff© days including today’s visit over to the Painted Rocks National Lakeshore.

So…did you know that there were cliffs 250 feet tall that resemble the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland on Lake Superior? Did you know there were sand dunes 500 feet high right on the shore of Lake Superior and that they were used for logging back in the old days. Neither did we…although Neil was vaguely aware of the sand dunes at least. Anyway…that area was our destination for today; it’s an area about 40 miles east to west and 20 miles north to south starting about 25 miles west of our current parking spot in Newberry.

We had coffee and breakfast and then headed out. Our first destination was Sable Falls at the far northeast corner of the National Lakeshore. We got there after about an hour and started out on our half mile or so hike down to the falls…there was a 184 step staircase that we had to negotiate down and then back up after our viewing of the falls. The falls were pretty nice an we got several good shots.

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Our second stop was at the Grand Sable Lake overlook…which overlooks over the lake from some dunes about 200 feet or so tall…well, it overlooks the lake after you climb the dune at least. Connie elected to stay in the car while Neil hiked up…steep and soft sand so it was hard climbing up. Here are a few shots from the top. Connie is in the car down on the road you can see in the first shot…it’s parked just out of sight behind the dune to the left/

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For this shot he turned around 180 degrees from those above and looked out over the dunes toward Lake Superior in the background. Pretty nice views from up there.

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After that we headed another 10 miles or so west to the Grand Sable Dunes area of the park…this area features dunes that are right on the edge of the lake and about 500 feet high…we hiked up to the edge of an area known as the Log Slide…this was used back in the late 1800s and early 1900s to slide logs down into the lake and thence to sawmills to be turned into lumber. The sign at the top of the Log Slide said that it would take you 5 minutes to hike down from the crest to the shoreline and probably over an hour to climb back up as it’s about a 45 degree angle and is very soft sand.  Here’s a shot from the top of the Log Slide…then we hiked a quarter mile or so to the left (southwest) and got a shot of the dunes from the side…the Log Slide is visible just above the tree branches in the second shot.

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From there we headed over to Hurricane River in hopes we could see the Au Sable Lighthouse…but alas it was not visible around the point and time constraints prevented us from taking the 2.5 mile round trip hike over to see it. We did get a couple of shots of where the Hurricane River empties into the lake…these two shots are 180 degrees opposite from each other without actually moving. We also spotted this chipmunk along the way; our only wildlife sighting for the day except for a hawk that we could not identify. Neil thinks it was a Swainson’s hawk based on the coloration from the admittedly poor photo we got but Peterson’s says the Swainson’s is a western plains species so we’ll just leave it as unidentified for now. Ospreys are common here but the coloration was wrong for that species.

From the camera location to the bridge looking south was about 20 yards and from the camera location to the lake shore was about 20 feet. Total drop from the bridge to the lake shore was 5 or 6 feet as the water run down a rock face into the lake. 

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Our next stop was the Chapel Falls which required about a 3 mile round trip hike to get to…but it was worth it even though we were ready to be back to the car by the time we returned to the parking lot. The first shot shows the lower portion which is about 60 feet tall, the second the upper portion which is maybe 10 or 15.

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From there we headed on to the Miner’s Castle area…where you can see the most famous individual feature of the Pictured Rocks…and after hiking another half mile or so round trip we also got the lower overlook which included a closeup of the Miner’s Castle itself as well as a shot of the Pictured Rocks escarpment…most of the best views of the Rocks are only visible via boat and we didn’t have the time to spare for a 3 hour boat ride in the middle of our long, long day.

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From there we headed off to our last destination for the day…Munising Falls and Sand Point to see if we could find the famous East Channel Lighthouse over on nearby Grand Island. As we headed up towards the falls we didn’t think it would be very good as the river it was on was more of a small stream…but it turned out to be an 80 feet or so tall fall with a large single drop and then a flow down a rock face towards the bottom. Much better than we thought it would be. We did find East Channel Lighthouse…but couldn’t figure out why it was supposed to be famous as it’s a relatively nondescript house with a steeple attached for the light.

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With that our day was done. We hopped back in the car and pressed Home James on the GPS and an hour later arrived at the Newberry Elks Lodge where we had a pitcher of Amber Bock and a couple plates of soft tacos since it aaas Taco Tuesday after all. After that it was home for showers and rest in the recliners until bedtime.


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Day Trip to Seney National Wildlife Refuge

Today we decided in late morning to head about 20 miles west to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge…they have a 7 mile loop drive through the marshes and ponds with lots of over looks. After looking at the skeeter situation we decided to pass on the 1.5 mile hike at the Visitor Center and concentrate on the drive instead.

This NWR was established in the 1930s and is designated as a wilderness area…which essentially means that there is no as in almost zero development in it. No hiking trails, no camping sites, just a few roads that mostly transit over the various dikes and spillways that were constructed in the 1930s when it was established to provide nesting and stopover places for migratory waterfowl. Today it’s a hotbed and prime location for seeing Trumpeter Swans (of which we saw a lot today) and also the Common Loon…both of which are on the threatened species list. We couldn’t quite understand how the Trumpeter was on the list as we probably saw 200 of them today…Loons on the other hand were relatively scarce and we didn’t see any until almost the end of our drive.

First up though…a shot from our hike at Tahquamenon Falls the other day…this is a first year Herring Gull. This particular gull is one of the large brown gulls and reaches adult size in it’s first season of about 20-24 inches long. It goes through a 4 year plumage variation…mostly in the color of the beak and how the eventual adult stripe is formed…it didn’t take us long looking at Peterson’s Field Guide to North American Birds to zero in on the identification. The Herring is one of only 2 large brown gulls and is the most common large brown gull sighted in the eastern part of the country although it also nests as far west as Montana. It’s particularly seen around large inland lakes and we just happen to be pretty close to 5 of them (the Great Lakes). This particular specimen was spotted in the picnic area near the Tahquamenon Brewery at the upper Tahquamenon Falls the other day…but Neil forgot to look it up and put it in the post the other day.

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So after visiting the Visitor Center at the Seney NWR we took a quick turn around their observation deck and almost immediately spotted this Eastern Phoebe on a tree adjacent to the deck. We also spotted some Blue Wing Teals off in the pond to the east of the visitor center. Finally Neil spotted a Golden Headed Boobie on the observation deck…she was looking up the Phoebe in Petersons at the time.

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With that we headed off on our 7 mile drive. After a quick discussion with the Visitor Center folks we took the Marsh Trail Drive…which actually has a lot more water and a lot more bird sightings than the Fishing Loop Trail. That might appear to be wrong…but we saw a lot of ponds and wildlife…and we figured the Visitor Center volunteers should know. We gave a little consideration to redoing the drive and taking the Fishing Loop…but about 3/4 of the drive was common and it’s one way so we decided against it as it was over an hour for us to drive around.

So…what did we see. Lots of Trumpeter Swans, some turtles on a log, a Red Tailed Dragonfly, some bees sipping from wildflowers, a little baby turtle on the road, a Sandhill Crane, some Monarch Butterflies…they summer up here and winter in either Mexico or South America so they have quite a flight ahead of them in a few weeks. We also spotted a Common Loon right towards the end of our drive and got some shots of it…it appeared to be a mature specimen and there is normally only one mated pair in any particular pond or lake.

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With that our day was done. We briefly discussed heading over to Painted Rocks on the Lake Superior coast…but decided it was too late in the day to try and do that trip justice so we’re leaving it for later in the week. We headed home and after resting a bit Neil made some Linguini with Bolognese sauce for dinner…think tomato sauce with some beef (courtesy of a Walmart Vidalia Onion Angus hamburger patty), a strip of bacon chopped fine, and a can of chopped green chiles…mighty yummy particularly topped with fresh Parmesana Reggiano and a glass of Merlot to go along with…we even got leftovers for another night for dinner although we’ll have to make some garlic bread to go with it as there aren’t quite two servings left.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Mass and then we’re off to a Music Festival featuring Bluegrass/Folk music at the Logging Museum nearby. Monday and Wednesday are more Fun Stuff©, with work and Taco Night at the Local Elks Lodge on Tuesday (we had the Friday Nite Fish Fry there last night and it was really good) then we’re off to Oshkosh on Thursday.


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Transit to Newberry MI and Some Fun Stuff©

On Tuesday 19 Aug we got up and after coffee and breakfast finished hitching up (in the rain) and headed out on our 220 mile transit to Newberry MI. The drive was pretty much without incident or much traffic…we stopped for lunch at Hardees and arrived at Clementz’s North Country Campground here in Newberry and got settled into site 15. It’s a grass site with pretty open sides and full hookups…it actually is a lot nicer than we thought it would be based on the google satellite photos but that’s OK. It is nice and quiet and the folks running it are friendly…although the wifi sucks so we’re just using our air card and running down to the local library for Connie to work as even the air card doesn’t have much signal here. The Internet at the library is wicked fast so we headed out there yesterday for work and computer stuff and will head out again Friday as it’s supposed to rain again.

Thursday, however…was forecast to be partly cloudy and nice so we headed out for some Fun Stuff©…our first stop was at Whitefish Point at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society. Turns out that Lake Superior narrows way down here at the eastern end and of the over 500 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes since navigation here started almost 200 of them have been on or near Whitefish Point.  You might think that Whitefish Bay (which is adjacent to Whitefish Point) sounds familiar…if not I’ll just offer you these lyrics to help refresh your memory.

“The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald”

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
With a crew and good captain well seasoned
Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
Then later that night when the ship’s bell rang
Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
When the wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the captain did too
‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’
The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashin’
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane west wind

When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
Sayin’ “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”
At seven PM a main hatchway caved in
He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”
The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
The islands and bays are for sportsmen
And farther below, Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral
The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

Yup…it’s that part of Lake Superior…the graveyard of many ships including the Edmund Fitzgerald. For maximum effect…you should listen to the song as you read the rest of this post so here’s a link to open in a new window or tab so you have some nice ambiance for the post Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Turns out that the most common cause of shipwrecks in this area is collision between loaded ships heading east and empty ones heading west to pick up more ore or grain. There’s lots of fog, lots of ships, and a narrow neck of Lake Superior. One ship back in the late 1890s was responsible for colliding with and sinking 4 (yes, 4) different vessels in a single month. The master of that vessel’s excuse was “We’re a Royal Mail ship…and everybody else should just get out of our way.” The second most common cause…and one which has taken at least 6 vessels as we observed in the museum at the Historical Society…is loss during bad weather. Of the six large ore carrying ships that sunk up to and including the Fitzgerald in 1975…all of these 6 just broke apart and sank according to the survivors (and radar returns in the Fitzerald’s case). The cause is thought to be some strange interaction of the wave period and bottom depth causing the bow and stern of the ships to be on wave crests with the trough of the wave underneath the middle of this ship. Loss of support in this situation in the center portion of the ship breaks it’s back and results in rapid sinking with very few survivors.

 Anyway…here are some snapshots we took in the museum.

The Edmund Fitzgerald’s bell which was recovered in 1995, 20 years after it sank.

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A lens from one of the many generations of lighthouse lights that mark the inlet to Whitefish Bay. This is a Fresnel lens type light…this specimen is 9 feet in diameter and is only a Second Order light, First Order lenses are even larger. This particular lens floated on a liquid mercury bearing and was turned by a weight and cable mechanism to provide it’s 7.5 second periodicity…the movement is very similar to that in a grandfather clock (except that the weight was wound up 44 feet in the 125 foot tall tower) and it had to be wound every 2 hours and 18 minutes so obviously the light keeper didn’t get much sleep at night.

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So, how does this Fresnel lens thing work? Glad you asked. You need a sharply curved lens in order to take the point source of the light…which is located at the center of the lens…and turn it into a straight beam that will be visible a long way…28 nautical miles for the lens above. The trouble with a lens that is the proper shape is that it’s almost hemispherical shaped…a full lens of 9 feet diameter would be a bowl shape about 4 feet in depth; and in addition the bowl shape would require a lot of glass which means a lot of weight. So…this Frenchman named strangely enough Fresnel…figured out a better way. What he did was take the large lens and cut it in some concentric circles then compress the circles into a single vertical plane; essentially the same thing that happens with an extendable pointer. Collapsing the rings…and there are about 23 or so in the lens picture above…into a single vertical plane makes the entire lens only about a foot thick. This means less glass, less weight, and much easier to mount and move the thing. That’s probably way more than you wanted to know…but hey, it’s my blog and I felt like putting it in.

This shot of an anchor that was recovered from one of the shipwrecks is displayed like just about every other anchor you’ve ever seen…with the flukes (the sharp iron pieces) parallel to the floor and the stock (the wooden piece at the top) vertical. Unfortunately…this very common display position is 100% wrong in that it’s not the way an anchor actually works. In actuality the weight of the chain (and there is always chain attached to the anchor itself even if most of the anchor line is hemp or manila instead of chain) pulls the wooden piece of the stock down to lay on the bottom. This turns the flukes vertical so that one of them will dig into the bottom and thus the anchor will actually anchor itself to the bottom and work…the standard display position would result in the anchor dragging and the ship ending up on the rocks instead.

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Here’s a shot of the lighthouse itself…this is the 125 foot tall tube that the weight went up and down in to power the mechanism that rotated the Fresnel lens above along with it’s light source.

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The last item we saw at the museum was this 12 foot 9 inch Lego model of the Edmund Fitzgerald…it’s got over 18,000 pieces in it. We figured out (well, Neil figured out, I had nothing to do with it) that at an average number of pieces per pound of 160-300 based on our Internet research that this model weighs between 60 and 115 pounds.

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From there we headed back home and after a quick stop for a sandwich at a convenience store we decided to stop by and see the Tahquamenon Falls. This is composed of the upper falls which drops about 40 feet or so and the lower falls which has 4 or 5 parallel drops of just a few feet right as the river gets pretty close to the lake. Connie missed this one originally on her Fun Stuff© planning but it was a nice afternoon so we decided to see them instead of leaving them for the weekend. Good thing we did as it was pretty crowded on a Thursday afternoon…we would hate to be here on the weekend. when it really got bad.

Here’s a shot of the largest portion of the lower falls before we walked around to see them from the top…the top section is about 6 feet and the two lower sections are just a couple feet each. Water depth below these is just a foot or so…which means that there were lots of idiot children whose even more idiot parents let them crawl out into dangerous situations.

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After a half mile or so walk on a nice paved path we got around to the top of the lower falls.

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We walked a half mile or so back to the car and drove to the upper falls…the alternative was a 4 mile hike up the edge of the river…which would have been OK but then there would have been another 4 mile hike back to the car so we took the easy way out. Once at the upper falls we had another walk of a half or three quarters of a mile out to first the top of the upper falls and then a slightly downstream gorge view of the upper falls. The top required negotiating a set of 94 stairs down partway into the gorge then back up…the gorge overlook required a set of 116 steps down and up. The upper falls are about 40 or so feet tall and much more impressive than the lower ones…but again were pretty crowded so we again congratulated ourselves on not coming on the weekend. Here’s the upper falls after our 94 step descent to the top and then a closeup of some pink flowers Connie liked with the water in the background.

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After hiking back up the 94 steps we headed a quarter mile or so downstream then down the 116 steps to the overlook in the gorge at river level for a more classic view of the upper falls. You can just see the viewing platform he took the above two shots from at the far right of this shot.

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With that our day was done…or so we thought. After trudging back up the 116 steps and the almost 3/4 of a mile back to the parking lot (for about 2.5 miles total with 350 feet or so of climbing) Connie was getting pretty wore out and was barely going to make it the car. Neil happened to look off to the left as we passed the restrooms and said “It’s a miracle…look, I see the Tahquamenon Brewery and Pub”…at which point we took an immediate left turn, did not pass Go, and proceeded directly to the bar where we had a pint each of their Black Bear Stout…which was really more of a black ale than a stout…but it was mighty tasty anyway. I gotta tell ya…finishing up the day with a cold brew before you even let the sweat dry off is a pretty sweet way to celebrate your hike.

After that it was home where Neil grilled some chicken that was marinated in Italian dressing…we had that along with some cranberry stuffing and veggies along with another beer and a glass of wine. After that it was showers and rest until bed. Tomorrow we’re off early to the library for Connie to work and Neil has some computer stuff and travel arrangement stuff to finish up…once he’s done with that we’ll have all of our parking arrangements completed until we get back to Seminole Campground in Fort Myers on Nov 1. Then we’re off to the Elks Lodge in Newberry tomorrow evening where they have a fried perch dinner…yum.


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Transit to Ontonagon MI and Two Fun Stuff© Days

Well…life is better now we think; all in the family are feeling better from whatever it was we had, we kept relapsing on alternate days so only one of us felt decent at a time.

Luckily by Tuesday we were pretty much over that so after a leisurely breakfast we got up, hitched up and headed out on our 150 mile trip over to Ontonagon, MI about 1030 or so. We had practically no traffic and given the short distance were anticipating a nice easy travel day with arrival about 1500. We stopped for a bathroom and soda break about 40 miles before our arrival and when Connie got back in the car she called Neil and asked him if the tire was supposed to be that low. Turned out that we had picked up a screw in the left rear tire not too long before we stopped. We found a station with air and limped over to the place that was supposed to be able to fix it for us…but they were closed. So Neil put on the mini spare tire and we headed back the way we had come about 6 miles to the nearest tire store. Fifteen dollars and about 90 minute total later the tire was patched, remounted, and we picked up the house and BAT from where we had left it in a gas station rear parking area and made the rest of the trip to Ontonagon…where we are parked in site 29 at the River Road RV Park. Another great pick by Connie…it’s nice and quiet and we pretty much had our pick of spaces. So we picked one with nice satellite visibility of the southwestern sky and shade on the entry door side in the afternoon. The Ontonagon River is about 200 yards away from our spot. Neil got all the outside stuff setup while Connie cleaned the countertops inside and then we had some frozen fish filets for dinner. Here’s a shot of our setup in site 29. The site next to us is empty so we have lots of space at least until somebody pulls in next to us.



Wednesday morning Connie spent a couple of hours planning our week here in Ontonagon…which is located about halfway up the Keweenaw Peninsula which juts out into Lake Superior. Once her planning was done we set off on our first outing…about 15 miles south of us to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Unfortunately…once we paid our $9 park admission we had another 25 miles to drive to the extreme southwest end of the park to the Presque Isle Scenic Area where we had about a 2.5 mile hike planned to view 3 sets of falls on the Presque Isle River…Manabehzo, Manido, and Newadaha Falls…as well as a couple of other smaller unnamed falls on the same stretch of the river. We hiked south up the left bank of the river to view the falls from that side then crossed the river on the highway bridge, then another 1.3 miles back north along the other side to return to the parking area. This is the first really hard hike we’ve been on this summer and we were still feeling a little weak from our earlier illnesses so it was a bit of a struggle and turned out to be closer to 3 miles than 2.5 anyway. Lots of up and down along the river banks both ways as well as plenty of tree roots that you had to be careful not to trip over.

A shot of one of the unnamed falls…this one is about 2-3 feet high. Next is a shot of this same falls from a lot farther back on the riverbank…there’s a large ledge that is currently dry but is obviously underwater at higher flow time of the year…you can se the eroded section of the bank in this shot, the unnamed fall on the left side is underwater at higher flow periods.

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Manabehzo Falls; closest to the Lake as we hiked up. Note the rich copper colored stone…particularly where it is wet. This area was a huge copper mine back in the late 1800s to about 1930…with about 2 million tons of copper metal extracted during the period. The copper in the stone is responsible for the color.

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Manido Falls; the center drop.

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And finally Newadaha Falls.

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Shortly after this one we crossed the highway bridge just out of frame upriver here…then came back down the right bank to the parking area. One more shot of Manido from the other side as we hiked back.

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We headed home and after a shower headed out to Ontonagon for dinner…we found two bars. The Shamrock was our first destination and it had outstanding vibe and atmosphere and great beers…but no food except for frozen pizzas. The nice lady bartender sent us two doors down to Roxie’s which had  similarly great beer, great bar food…but fell a little short on the atmosphere part…but that was ok because we were looking for food by then. After dinner we went hoe and rested until bedtime.

Today…was going to be a long day…our plan was to go north to the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula and return…there are a bunch of waterfalls along the way along with some nice views of Lake Superior from atop a 800 foot ridge and there is a Nature Conservancy place out at the far end we were planning on visiting (the plan failed as I’ll discuss in awhile).

Our first stop was at Hungarian Falls…which required a 2 mile trip up a dirt road, a quarter mile hike down another dirt road that wasn’t car passable (and was the wrong road anyway), and another hike down another non passable road to get to what turned out to be not a waterfall at all but the spillway at an abandoned dam. We took a picture anyway…but it wasn’t much to really write home about I guess.

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Next up was the Upper Eagle River Falls…which were pretty nice although more of a cascade type than a straight drop. We also couldn’t really get downstream where we could get great shots but we did the best we could.

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From there we proceeded into Eagle Harbor and got a shot of the Lower Eagle River Falls right near the village. These are much taller…about 100 feet or so…but again are mostly the cascade down the hillside type rather than a straight drop.

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Next up was Jacobs Falls…literally right off the road about 20 feet and about 25 feet high. Following this is a picture of a young lad named Jacob Blocker we met standing at the falls with his family…Jacob thinks the falls is named after him and his parents have been bringing him and his siblings here to have their pictures taken for about 10 years. We told him we would make him famous.

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Following this we decided to stop for lunch…our first idea was not open for lunch today (too bad, they were smoking BBQ and it smelled really, really good) so we headed on to the next wide spot in the road and had a truly outstanding fresh caught char grilled lake trout sandwich and a Keweenaw Brewing Company Black Widow Ale…which was quite tasty as well. While having lunch Connie noticed that there were a couple of deer heads up on the wall mounted so that they looked like they were canoodling…Neil took a closer look and said “Hey, they’ve both got antlers which means they’re both bucks.” Neither of us ever heard of a gay deer if ya know what I mean so we grabbed a shot of them. After we laughed about it awhile the folks at the next table gave us a newspaper article with the real story…turns out that they got tangled up while fighting during the rut and the one on the left side was dead and his hindquarters were already eaten when a local hunter happened across them and shot the one on the right…so they mounted the heads as they died.


After lunch we headed off to our next stop at the Nature Conservancy property…and happened across the Silver River Falls which weren’t on our list to see but were pretty nice anyway. Along the way we headed up Rock Ridge Road which gave us some nice views from up on high. We also got a very nice shot of the Eagle River Lighthouse which marks the entry into the harbor there.

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After these we got to the Nature Conservancy area…which turned out to be about 3 miles down a series of worse and worse dirt roads. Unfortunately we could only make it about 2.5 miles down this series of roads before we ran into a puddle/hole/rock pile that Neil decided we couldn’t make it past so we had to turn around and give that one up. We headed for our last scheduled stop of the day at Haven Falls and got there for another picture of a nice waterfall.

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With that our day was done…we got back in the car and punched “Home James” on the GPS and 90 minutes later were back at the house after a quick stop at the IGA for a couple groceries we were out of. Dinner was a very nice NY strip from Costco and some Rice with Black Beans and Corn…quite a yummy dish that Neil invented a couple years back as a riff on your standard beans and rice. A nice glass of Merlot to go with it and dinner was great.

We’ve only got one more day of Fun Stuff© scheduled…but it will depend on the weather  as between Fri to Monday it’s got a good chance of rain 2 of the 4 days…so we’ll head off and do the museum on whatever day looks better.


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Finally We’re All Feeling Better

Oh, what a relief it is. Yeah…after almost two weeks of us feeling poorly today we actually are pretty much back to normal.

So; after breakfast Connie worked until about 1400…she had a lot of niggly little details piled up that she had to take care of. While she was doing that…Neil replaced a couple of our floor lights that were bad, paid some bills, scanned some paperwork into our files, and made lunch. Once that was all over…we decided that it was time for Fun Stuff©…and all that entails.

We headed out and after a quick stop at a nearby mailbox to send out some work related mail and another quick stop at the Duluth Library for some amazingly fast Internet…we headed out to our destination for the day. It wasn’t much of a destination as it was just a historical marker but here it is…Fon du Lac, Minnesota.

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So…as you can see from the above monument dedication…Fon du Lac Minnesota was founded by Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Luth in 1679 and was also the location of a fur trading company post in 1817…and most importantly it was the spot of the first Ojibwa Indian treaty in 1826.

Surely you understand the importance of that last piece of history, don’t you?

Hmmm…I see many puzzled looks on your faces so allow me to explain. In 1826 the first treaty between the Ojibwe (or Chippawa) Indians and the white man was signed at this location in Wisconsin. The treaty was negotiated by Governor William Cass of the Michigan Territory and Colonel Thomas  L. McKinney who was the first head of the US Indian Department. While you may have never heard of either of these two gentleman or their treaty…it’s important to the Laubenthal family history as the interpreter for the expedition was none other than Henry Connor…who just happens to be Neil’s fourth great grand uncle. So…I guess means that he’s famous (or something like that).

We also got a shot of the St. Louis River next to the historical marker…the trading post was located on the banks of this river.

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It was raining pretty hard off and on so we didn’t stay long…and instead headed off to our second destination for the day…the Anchor Bar and Grill in Superior Wisconsin just about 10 miles from our campground. This is a burger joint that was featured a year or so ago on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives show on the Food Network…and since we knew we were coming this way we put it on our list.

Here’s a shot of our beers…look at the size of these things.


After we had a couple more sips out of them than you see above we ordered a couple of burgers…which are the house specialty. Neil had a bacon cheeseburger and Connie had a cashew cheeseburger. Both were excellent and the total bill for the beers and burgers was only $16.75…good thing since we didn’t have much cash and the sign on the door said “As of 1977 we are no longer accepting credit cards.” The joint opened in 1977 and has never taken credit cards.

The beer was cold…the burgers were outstanding…and our tummies feel good so it was a great early dinner and happy hour. Afterwards we came home and have no plans for the evening other than TV and bed.

Tomorrow we’re off to Ontonagon MI for a week.


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Another Really Bad Week Around the RV

Well, things went from worse to worst after Connie got back on Sunday morning. Somehow she infected (we think) Neil with her disease. The first thing he knew about it was Monday evening when he was outside dumping tanks for our planned departure from Barnesville last Tuesday morning. He started feeling bad and by 2100 was throwing up just like she was. Fortunately he only did it 4 times and that part of it was done by about 0130 Tuesday morning. He didn’t get much sleep but seemed to be a little more normal by Tuesday morning so we made the decision to stay an additional day before leaving Barnesville.

That seemed like a good idea until the other end started later on Tuesday afternoon and he still felt bad Wednesday morning. At that point we decided to stay 2 more additional days in Barnesville and leave Friday morning. He felt pretty decent and the illness was mostly gone by Thursday morning but we went ahead and stayed anyway…good thing we did as he felt bad off and on until late afternoon on Thursday.

Friday morning he felt pretty decent although still a bit weak so after some breakfast we got packed up and on the road by about 1000 or so for our 240 mile drive over to South Range, WI which is jut across the border from Duluth, MN…well actually Superior, WI is just across the border and South Range is next to Superior but ya know what I mean.

Anyway…we got here and got a nice full hookup back in site 39 here at the Northland Camping and RV Campground in South Range. The sites are a bit narrow but we got backed in first time perfectly and did the minimum amount of setup yesterday. We went out and had some dinner at a local place (packed, really good food although nothing really tasted very good to him last night).

Today we both felt a little tuckered out from the illness…Connie has continued to feel bad off and on…but after lunch we felt well enough to head over to the Apostle Islands National Seashore. This is a series of 22 small islands in “the big lake they call Gichigami” (Lake Superior for us English speakers). They islands were occupied by the Ojibwe Indians…and I know, I know…you’ve all heard the Gordon Lightfoot song but Chippewa is the English name of the tribe that called themselves the Ojibwe and yes, it’s -ami, not -umi like it sounds like in the song.

Anyway…we had a nice drive over there and hauled along our folding camp chairs…so we just sat on the beach at Sandy Bay for awhile then drove back home. Stopped and got some ice cream on the way back for snack as we were hungry. 

Once we got back to the house we had leftover Bacon Mac and Cheese from Connie’s dinner last night…the bowl they gave her was huge and she ate as much as she wanted last night and there was still enough for both of them for dinner tonight. Neil’s dinner was grilled shrimp which he thought would be pretty mild but they were over seasoned so he couldn’t eat all of them last night. He did eat all of the potato panakes that came as a side dish and they were really good. The Bacon Mac and Cheese leftovers were also really good for dinner tonight.

Don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow and Monday…might go some place if we feel OK and it doesn’t rain but we won’t do anything too strenuous. Connie has some work she needs to do and we’ll go ahead and make our scheduled move over to Ontonagon, MI on Tuesday unless we have a total relapse. Hopefully by then we’ll be completely back to normal and can do some more Fun Stuff©.


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