Ok, enough about light houses, let’s move on to waterfalls.
We are at the top most part of Michigan. Like the rapids of the St. Mary’s River, which were converted into locks to connect Lake Superior with the lower lakes, so are there numerous other rivers with rapids, and therefore water falls.
Tahquamenon Falls is the closest one to where we are staying. It is located in Paradise Michigan which is on the eastern part of the Michigan Peninsula, on Lake Superior.
The brown color of the falls, and of the river, is caused by tannins leached from the Cedar, Spruce and Hemlock trees in the swamps which empty into the river.
We hiked along the river and saw other falls and rapids.
Most parts of the river were only 5 to 6 inches deep. It seems to be a pastime of people wading across the river to put up stone monuments,
as they were up and down the river.
We hiked 3 trails, one by the river and 2 through the forest.
In hiking through the forest up from the river I noticed the trails were blazed blue, so were the cross trails.
Barbara thinks that all 16 trails are blazed blue to let you know that it is a trail. I think this is confusing when reaching a spoon in the road.
There are 4 locks that connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Collectively they are called the Soo Locks. The locks are required as there is a 21 foot drop between the lakes. The connecting water way is the St. Mary’s River. The rapids of the river caused by this 21 foot drop prevented goods to be transferred between the lakes by boat.
In 1797, the Northwest Fur Company constructed a navigation lock 38 feet long on the Canadian side of the river for small boats. This lock remained in use until destroyed by the Americans in the War of 1812. No one bothered to rebuild the locks until 1853.
I don’t know why the 4 locks are collectively called Soo. It might be the anglicized word from Sault, which is from the Indian word for rapids.
It was a busy day at the locks, from large freighters
To a small dingy.
We happen to see the Tall Ship Niagara, from Erie, Pennsylvania, go through.
This man is either the Captain, or a deckhand being hung out to dry and disciplined.
The locks are run by the Corps of Engineers, and there is no charge for a ship to pass through the locks.
Sorry, we are experiencing technical difficulties.
The Valley Camp is a cargo ship built in 1917 that has now been converted to a museum.
I have never been on a cargo ship. It was cool.
We took a 2 hour whale watching cruise on Lake Superior.
Traveling down the west coastline of Michigan we saw what the locals call The Pictured Rocks. This part of Michigan’s coastline is made up of 50-200 ft. sandstone cliffs that extend for more than 15 miles along the shoreline. It is a very porous substance that allows water to drain through it from the above vegetation to the Lake.
That water has minerals in it, which stain the rocks, iron (red), manganese (black-white), limonite (yellow-brown), copper (pink-green), and other minerals. As the water evaporates, these minerals leave streaks of color.
Sea caves, arches, blowholes, turrets, stone spires, and other features have been sculpted from these cliffs over the centuries by unceasing waves and weather.
To appreciate how massive these cliffs are, I threw in some kayakers.
Wherever you have rock formations, people see strange things in them. For example in this outcrop
some people think it is an Indian Chieftain, but obviously it is soft serve ice cream in a cone.
And this one is a man with a gag over his mouth.
Of course, there was a lighthouse.
For those in the know, know that the Great Lakes are fresh water and whales are salt water mammals.
When we woke up this morning, the rain had subsided but the winds had picked up. They were now gusting to 30 miles per hour at the campground, and I assume more at the bridge. Nevertheless, we packed up our camp and headed off for the Mackinac Bridge. This bridge is 5 miles long. When it was built (who remembers the year from a previous post?) it was the longest suspension span in the United States. At it’s apex the roadway is 200 feet in the air.
When we arrived at the bridge, the winds had subsided to around 10 miles per hour. No trouble crossing the bridge.
Upon reaching our campground we asked the host, as usual, if anything special was going on in the area. He informed us that the annual Wild Blueberry Festival was concluding it’s three days of celebration “just down the road.” In the Upper Peninsula their concept of distance is a little different than us city folk. We kept driving and driving, and driving. The festival was 46 miles “down the road”, just outside the town of Paradise, Michigan, on Lake Superior.
Is that blueberry pie, with ice-cream and whipped cream, and blueberry sauce on top you are eating?
We travelled another 11 miles to the Whitefish Point Light Station. It now had turned out to be a beautiful clear day as a result of the wind.
You can see Canada across Lake Superior.
We came across Popeye the Sailor’s old tugboat.
Mackinaw City, MI to Newberry, MI 84.2 miles
2 hours 3 minutes
Mackinac Island sits in the Straights of Mackinac. You can only arrive there by boat. We took the Hydro-Jet Ferry.
It took us under the Mackinac Bridge:
The island has been a popular tourist get-a-way since the 1840’s. Before that, it was a major trading post between the Indians and European settlers. At that time the only means of transportation on the island was the horse and wagon. By the 1900’s the fur trade subsided, and tourism became the main form of revenue. With the advent of the horseless carriage the residents passed a law that these new fangled devises would not be allowed on the island. Hence, with the exception of a firetruck, ambulance, and police car, there are no motor vehicles on Mackinac Island.
Main street is lined with tourist traps and restaurants. We took a buggy ride for a different view.
Most of the island is preserved forest, part of the State Park
The main attraction of the island is the Fort. Dismantled by the British piece by piece from Mackinaw City, it was reassembled and enhanced on the island, which provided a better defense from the American rebel gunboats.
It has a commanding view:
No battles took place on the island during the Revolution. At the conclusion of the war, the new United States received all of the British occupied land, including this fort. However, at the end of the rebellion, the continental soldiers left the army to return to their farms. This left an army of only about 50 men, not enough to send a detachment all the way up to the Great Lakes. As a result, even though the fort now belong to the US, the British remained here for another 18 years, until 1796, when Colonial soldiers arrived. The British moved only a short distance away, as they had other forts across the lakes in Canada. There again, this fort was used mostly for trading with the Indians.
As you know, the peace between England and the United States was short lived with the beginning of the War of 1812. However, no one informed the American Commander of Fort Mackinac that the war had begun. (I don’t know why they just didn’t call him.)
During the night, the British sailed down the lake, came ashore on Mackinac Island, went to the rear of the fort with their cannons poised. At sunrise, the British Commander knocked on the fort door and inquired if the Americans wanted to defend the fort. The American Commander, seeing he was vastly outnumbered, plus his cannons were facing the wrong direction, determined that discretion is the better part of valor and surrendered the fort.
This, therefore, was the first land engagement of the War of 1812. Once during the war the Americans tried to retake the fort, but were unsuccessful. At the conclusion of the war the fort, again, was returned to the United States. The Island became a National Park, the second after Yellowstone. At the request of the State of Michigan, the Island was turned over to them and became Michigan’s first State Park.
The park hosts interpreters to tell you the history of the fort and life of the soldier and his family.
They had a cannon firing demonstration.
And that is how we spent the day.
I leave you with this thought:
We have now been traveling over 4 months and each day brings a new challenge. Today’s challenge is wind. On our way up to Mackinaw City there were numerous billboards about the Mackinac Bridge. Some of them warned you that the bridge was subject to high winds and use caution. Some informed you that if you were uncomfortable driving the bridge that you could have their driver drive you across at no charge.
With all these signs posted, would you be concerned driving a 40 ft. long 13 ft. high trailer? Your darn right. However, the entire time up to tonight there were no winds, and therefore no concerns. Tonight things changed. As I write this it is raining with high winds. We are scheduled to leave tomorrow morning with reservations on the Upper Peninsula. I am sure I will sleep good tonight. However, if there are no further posts, you know we went into the drink and didn’t make it.
The first Europeans to reach this area, which sits at the junction of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, were the French in the late 1500’s. They traded goods with the Indians for furs and pelts. In 1715 they built Fort Makinac, not for military purposes, but as a trading post. This drew many French settlers to the great lakes area. As a result of the English winning the French and Indian War, Britain received all the French possessions around the Great Lakes.
It was still used as a trading post for the exchange of furs and goods to be shipped back to England.
When the English rebels, in the lower part of the continent, began capturing English forts in the North, the commander of Fort Mackinac decided he would not be able to defend the fort against the rebel gunboats and dismantled the fort moving it across the Straight of Mackinac to Mackinac Island. (Is that a run on sentence?) He then burned the remains of the fort so it would not fall into the hands of the enemy.
On our way here from Traverse City we crossed the 45th parallel. Anyone know the significance? No it is not 54 40 or fight.
It is the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator.
Mackinaw City is located at the upper part of the State of Michigan where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. It wasn’t until 1957 that a bridge was built across this area which links the main part of the State to the upper peninsula, referred to by the locals as UP.
There have been 78 shipwrecks in the 5 mile Mackinac straight that connects the two lakes. There is a neat shipwreck museum, which we visited of course.
We also visited the lighthouse which is on lower Michigan.
It gave us a great view of the bridge.
Of course, you can’t go to Mackinaw City without visiting Wienerlicious which has the nation’s largest hot dog statue.
Traverse City, MI to Mackinaw City, MI: 149.3 miles
3 hours 25 minutes
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is located three quarters up The State of Michigan on Lake Michigan.
The dunes, formed by melting glaciers and wind, are humongous.
Climbing up them gives you a magnificent view of Lake Michigan.
White River, MI to Traverse City, MI 125.5 Miles
2 hours 50 minutes
Diesel: $2.00 gallon
We are greeted wherever we go.
The lighthouses of Lake Michigan are still functioning, although not needed. With the requirements that larger boats must carry designated navigation equipment, the need for lighthouses has ceased.
On our circle tour of Lake Michigan we have seen so far 19 lighthouses.
The first beacon for navigation on the continent was erected in Massachusetts in 1673, with the first lighthouse being erected in Boston Harbor in 1716.
On the Great Lakes the first lighthouse was located at Buffalo, New York, at the “junction of Buffalo Creek and Lake Erie,” and was erected in 1818. The first lighthouse on Lake Michigan was at St. Joseph Island, built in 1832.
Back in 1789 all lighthouses were placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Lighthouse Services. President Roosevelt consolidated the U.S. Lighthouse Service with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939 where it remains to this day.
During the 1960’s most of these lighthouses were decommissioned by the Coast Guard. Although still under their jurisdiction, they are dismantling them or selling them. The ones we are visiting have been taken over by the local historical society or organizations such as The Lighthouse Keepers Association.
We were able to tour the White River Lighthouse.
the Muskegon lighthouse.
and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse
We next wanted to tour The Mears Light House.
Was this it?
Nope. That is the Ludington Breakwater Lighthouse.
How about this one?
Yep, that’s it. No more traditional lighthouses. Current lighthouses are unmanned, powered by solar, use LED lights which are controlled by automatic sensors that turn them on in bad weather and darkness.
I got a fish for dinner, but Barbara would not clean or cook him.
Man traveling Country in RV looking for cook.
One of the great things about traveling around the Country in an RV is that you stumble upon the unique treasures of America, like the country’s tallest weathervane:
At Michigan’s Heritage Park in Whitehall, Barbara decided she likes living in an RV rather than a wigwam:
She also learned how to make candles,
and throw the atlatl,
This device is like a sling shot. In her hand is the thrower which has leather straps for her fingers and a hook in which the spear fits. She hurls her arm forward, holding on to the thrower which propels the spear with great force. She did pretty good.
During our travels we set up camp and explore up to a 100 miles from our campsite. We like driving through all the small towns. It is a challenge, since most of these towns did not consider a 21 ft. long, 8 ft. wide pickup truck with dual rear wheels when they laid out the roads. Nevertheless, we have not encounter any unsurmountable problems.
We are camping in Blue Lake, Michigan, but we haven’t found the blue lake. What we did find was the White River which empties into White Lake which empties into Lake Michigan. There we found this light house.
I would not think it is very effective, being below the tree line.
We are currently traveling around Lake Michigan on what they call The Lake Circle Tour. It is the only great lake you can circle without a passport. We entered the circle on the east side from Ohio. We will follow the tour around the top of Lake Michigan and down the West side to Wisconsin. At our current pace, we anticipate this to take 3 weeks to a month.
Grand Rapids, MI to Blue Lake, MI 62.4 miles
1 hour 30 minutes
We joined a club called Harvest Hosts. For a modest yearly fee, they provide you with locations around the Country of farms, wineries, and orchards, where you can park your RV overnight without additional fees.
Our first use of this program brought us to Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery.
Did we choose this one for the apples or wine?
We are parked in the cherry orchard. Unfortunately, we just missed the cherry picking season (July). They are now doing peaches and apricots. Our only problem were the big bugs.
They also have a winery, which Barbara had to test out (as a courtesy for them letting us stay here, of course).
See you down the road
Grand Haven to Grand Rapids 64.4 miles
1 hour 42 minutes
Grand Haven is the headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard on Lake Michigan. Every August the town of Grand Haven honors the Coast Guard with a festival. We were able to tour 6 ships, 5 of the Coast Guard, all ice breakers, and a Canadian patrol and rescue boat. (I can never remember, are they “ships” or “boats”?)
We walked to the end of the pier to view the lighthouse.
There are 95 operating lighthouses on Lake Michigan.
Barbara insisted on checking the nautical charts. . .
and then insisted on moving the boat to port (or was that rye?)
For those that cannot read naval flags
It says “Welcome Steven and Barbara, RV’ers”.
Barbara and those guys in uniform.
That evening, there was a water fountain show.
Holland, Michigan wants to be Holland, Netherlands. From wooden shoes
A dance was performed for us, wearing those wooden shoes.
Our guide was born and raised in the Netherlands.
Although we are traveling, Barbara still keeps my nose to the grindstone.
Finally, in addition to beautiful grounds and flowers, they had a player organ.
We ate lunch here, but they used a microwave rather than a Dutch Oven.
Kalamazoo is not only familiar by the Glen Miller song, I’ve Got a Gal In Kalamazoo, but also because it is the birthplace of William Upjohn, the founder of the Upjohn Company, who make a majority of our medicines. Originally called The Upjohn Pill and Granule Company. Medicine in this time (1884) were in powder form. Dr. Upjohn developed the friable pill, in which he compressed the powdered medicine to create a stable pill that could and was easily dissolvable in the stomach.
In walking through the city, we stopped at a park and saw about 50 – 60 people, of all ages, in which EVERYONE was on their smart phone. It was weird. We soon realized they were
playing the pokeman-go game. We stopped a woman to ask her about it, and she said she does it because not only was the game fun, but it kept tract of how far she walked. She tries to do 10,000 steps. At this point she had done 8,000. Since we walk an average of 2-5 miles a day, we saw no need to play the game.
On our way to Battle Creek, Michigan, we stopped in Marshall, Michigan to visit the American Museum of Magic. A great disappointment. However, Barbara did try to learn “hide the ball”.
The Battle of Battle Creek took place on March 14, 1825 and was initially called “the battle at the creek.” It took place about 8 miles from the present day city when two land surveyors working along a stream were approached by two Potawatomi Indians looking for food. An altercation arose and ended when the surveyors produced a rifle and settled the argument by mortally wounding one of the Indians.
John Preston Kellogg, who made his fortune running a broom factory in Battle Creek, was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He helped establish the 7th day adventist hospital and promoted holistic healthy living – healthy food, sunshine, exercise, refrain from smoking and drinking. He encouraged his son to go to medical school. When his son, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, returned, he agreed to be director of the hospital. The son carried on his father’s work and ideas of modern medicine, among which was a vegetarian diet. However, because of bad teeth, patrons could not eat the hard grains. He and his brother, Will Keith Kellogg, developed corn flakes which were easier to eat and digest. Will Kellogg commercialized those flakes into Kellogg’s Corn Flakes that we know and love today. The tours of the factory are no longer offered because Kellogg’s competitor, Post, were stealing their secrets.
It appears my last post was not worded correctly. The post should read: “Barbara had a drink called sex with the Captain.” The author regrets the error. (DUH! No I don’t.)
Saugatuck was originally a lumber town. It is now an art colony. The Johnson River flows through Saugatuck to Lake Michigan. We were here, like those over the last 100 years, to watch the boats and have a picnic.
We were fortunate to catch their annual boat show and fireworks. We sat in the bandshell, where Barbara talked the ear off the guy next to her.
Next to us was a chain ferry.
A paddle boat took tourists down the river.
This year’s theme was Vikings. The boats dressed up in their best viking gear and lights and paraded down the river.
We then watched the fireworks
South Haven is a quaint seaside town located on the Black River, which feeds into Lake Michigan.
The dark water is the Black River and the blue Lake Michigan.
We strolled down to the docks where numerous yachts were moored. Barbara had sex with the Captain.
Made arrangements with COSCO to get there early in the morning where they topped off my 4 Sphinx tires with nitrogen.
Farmington, MI to South Haven, MI: 192.1 miles
4 hours 6 minutes
Diesel: $2.00 gallon
William H.L. McCourtie made his fortune in the cement business. He had an estate of 42 acres in the Township of Somerset, Hillside, Michigan on which he had sculptured 17 bridges which crossed a meandering stream on his property.
Each of the bridges, as well as other structures, such as benches and trees, were made of sculpted concrete to look like logs, planks and ropes.
He ultimately gave the land, now called McCourtie Park, to the Township. Even the chimney on the garages was made of concrete to look like a tree stump.
Healthcare on the Road.
Before we left for our grand adventure we tried to minimize potential problems. We got our yearly physicals. Transferred all our vitamins and prescriptions to Walgreen’s Pharmacy, because they have the most pharmacys throughout the United States. Got our dental checkup and cleaning. And updated our health insurance and prescription cards.
Nevertheless, problems do arise. For instance, my tooth is beginning to bother me. I now need to locate a dentist on the road. Or, I can continue to treat it myself with chocolate.
Our hosts, Sharon Woodard and Mack Madrey, on whose property we have been staying for the last week and a half, graciously took us to their house on Lake LeAnn, in which we stayed for three days.
Each day we went out on their boat.
The lake is fed by springs, and you can see those springs bubbling up the water.
Barbara couldn’t resist dipping her to toes into the bubbles.
She also took time swimming with her noodle.
There were all kinds of watercraft enjoying the gorgeous day.
Mom, he followed me home, can I keep him?
The Cranbrook Science Center host a vast array of items.
Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well
Their Observatory was open to the public.
Let’s take the Way-Back-Machine to an era less complex.
Marvin had an attraction of oddities and mechanical machines.
Put a coin in the machine, and it performed.
It took us all day to view the Ford Museum, 10 AM to 5 PM. One of us reads every word, on every placard, at every exhibit, so when the guide says “Oh, you can see the Museum in 3 hours”, not us.
Now, that is what I call a snow plow.
The museum was divided into different areas. This one was on trains. Barbara was reading that this engine was used in the Canadian Rockies to clear the tracks of snow drifts. Actually, I jumped to the trains you can sit in:
There were many things to see, like one of the original RV’s:
Come on, crank it up to 3 lights.
They did have some very interesting items. For example, the chair from Ford’s theater where Lincoln was sitting when he was shot,
Do you think that is his pee?
And the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.
It appears that no matter what campground we stay, there is either an airport (jet planes), a highway, or railroad tracks. Therefore we hear those noises all night. Now that we are staying on a farm, I expected peace and quite, except for the sounds of nature. Not so, this is what we woke up to at 6:30 AM:
They were replacing the driveway and parking lot at the school, which now abuts up to the “farm”.
The cousin of our friend, on whose property we are currently camped, has a home on Lake Tipsico.
We were able to go out on his speedboat
and then his jet ski.
In 1845 a group of 15 German Lutheran missionaries left the Kingdom of Bavaria to bring the word of god to the Chippewa Indians. There settlement here became Frankenmuth.
The whole town emulates Bavarian culture. However, the most unique character of the town is that every street, every building, every house, every business, and every public square are covered in flowers.
As you enter Frankenmuth you smell the flowers before you see them.
The amazing thing is that there is not one dead leaf or flower in the whole town.
No visit to the Detroit area of Michigan would be complete without visiting The Henry Ford Complex. The factory, where Ford F-150’s are made, is a jaw-dropping experience. The assembly line, consisting of just over a 1000 workers and automated machines, produce a completed truck in 72 minutes. We watched as these trucks were assembled.
Another part of the Complex is Greenfield Village.
This area, 80 acres, was developed by Henry Ford in the 1920’s. There are 83 historic structures, including the lab where Thomas Edison worked, the workshop where the Wright Brothers had their bicycle shop and developed the concept of manned flight, Harry Firestone’s farm (I didn’t know Firestone had a first name), Abraham Lincoln’s office where he practiced law, and H.J. Heinz’s home. Ford went around the Country looking for these items to preserve them for history. The towns where these structures stood did not want them, or the expense of their upkeep. They were disassembled by Ford and transported here.
It is interesting to note that only 65 years after the Wright Brothers first flight, Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.
H.J. Heinz started his business in the basement of his home. His first product, when he had only 1 variety, was horseradish. He advertised that his product was fresher than any other that could be bought at the time. To emphasize this he packaged it in clear glass bottles so you could clearly see his horseradish.
An interesting thing we saw, at Edison’s workshop, is a demonstration of the only working tin foil voice system.
This was the predecessor of the vinyl dictaphone.
Barbara tries on a bonnet at the millinery shop.
As usual, we clearly did not allow enough time to see everything, and were kicked out at closing. We will be going back another day to see the Henry Ford Museum, which we will allow a whole day.
Every once in a while we must take time off our busy schedule to tend to those everyday tasks that allow us to travel independently around the country: hair cuts, nail and beauty stuff, shopping for supplies and household goods, etc. Today’s that day. Barbara’s glasses broke so we went to Costco for repairs.
It also gives us an opportunity to inspect everything for routine maintenance. The truck has a tire monitoring system, which I check periodically with a tire gauge. I still have not figured out how to check the inner tire of my dual rear wheels. I cannot access the tire stem. The Sphinx’s tires do not have a monitoring system and must be checked manually. Those tires are nitrogen filled. Nitrogen is an inert gas (I am not sure what that actually means, but it sounds cool) that has larger molecules than oxygen and therefore is less prone to leakage. It also does not heat up during travel, which stabilizes the tires.
My normal tire pressure on the Sphinx is 110 psi. I am 7 pounds low on each of the 4 tires. The question is: do I fill with regular compressed air, or find a place that has a nitrogen pump? I have an air pump that is capable of easily pumping that high air pressure. I use it to pump air into my air ride hitch which requires 100-110 psi. That is basically an air bag system that absorbs the rode bumps and takes pressure off the rear springs of the truck as we zoom down the road.
The last time I visited Farmington, Michigan, 42 years ago, I stayed with my friend and her family who lived on a 40 acre working farm. My sister and I came up to visit and ski. I called my friend from Sandusky to let her know we were in the area, and could we stay a few days on her farm. My thought was we would set up on a secluded area of the farm to be out of the way.
When I arrived today, I was shocked to see that over the last 42 years the farm had been sold off in parcels, so that now it was just over 2 acres, and no longer used as a farm.
Nevertheless, we were able to set up in back of the old farmhouse. It gave us a chance, for the first time, to live off using the batteries only. Our electrical system is divided. All lights, water and heater pump, jacks and leveling system, slide outs, and refrigerator run off the batteries, which are 4 six volts wired in series and parallel. The refrigerator actually runs on 110 volt power, but we have a 1000 watt inverter that converts 12 volt battery power to 110 volts. All electric outlets, air conditioner and heating fans, television and microwave, run on 110 volts, like your home.
Obviously, when we are on battery power only we cannot use the above. We therefore have a 5.5 kilowatt generator to run those items. That generator runs off our two 30 pound propane tanks. The generator will also recharge the batteries. Right now I am not using the generator as it is quit noisy, and I don’t want to disturb the neighbors. I will run it during the day when the noise will be masked by everyday sounds and traffic. It appears that the batteries will last a day or two before having to be recharged.
Based on past performance, I should be able to be self-sufficient for about a week (provided Barbara doesn’t poop too much).