Thirty days ago we arrived in Petoskey, Michigan with plans to stay here two weeks and then continue to the Upper Peninsula on our way to Wisconsin and Minnesota for the remainder of the Summer. As previously mentioned, a manufacturing defect is causing us to return to Newmar for corrections on July 15. Although initial Summer plans are completely scrapped and are still being rebuilt, we both wanted to visit the Upper Peninsula….if even for a day. We decided to give Spangler a break from us, so she stayed home solo for one overnight and Lynn found us a Delta Hotel (Marriott) in Sault St. Marie, Ontario.
Given the time constraints in a two-day trip, we decided to leave Petoskey around 8:00AM, arrive at Munising around lunchtime in order to take a two hour tour by boat to see two sunken Great Lakes freighters and Pictured Rocks. After the tour, we’d drive a few hours East to Sault St. Marie, Ontario for the evening and lunch the following day with friends we met on a cruise 5-6 years ago. After lunch we’d visit the US sister city of Sault St. Marie to view the marine locks visitor center and hope to catch current day freighters making their way between lakes Superior and Huron. Then, a ninety minute drive would get two hungry humans reunited with one hungry cat.
So, the guy that a month ago was nervous about crossing the Mackinac Bridge once was now going to be driving it (albeit in a Jeep, not motorhome) four times. Once over the bridge, Route 2 turns West along the Northern Lake Michigan coast. It was a beautiful drive and amazed us that five weeks ago we were 380 miles to the South at the bottom of Lake Michigan in Chesterton, Indiana. Lake Michigan is one huge body of water. We then turned North and drove an hour through nothing but the Hiawatha National Forest until it opened up into Munising. Along Route 2, every few miles we passed billboards for some food called pasties (pronounced pass-tees), so we found an online recommendation for the premiere pasties in Munising.
We arrived at Muldoon’s Pasties with few expectations…..which as it turns out was the correct approach. Lynn opted for the chicken pasty, featuring chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots and rutabaga (although we both suspect NOT in that order of magnitude). To be different, I pulled the trigger (think Russian Roulette) on a beef pasty featuring the same garbage but substituting a dusting of crappy chicken for crappy “beef”. Thankfully the half dollar cup of coleslaw was nice. We both took our first bites, then stared at each other with frowns. Think a handheld chicken pot pie, chock full of diced / dry potatoes and a hint of animal flavoring. Half way through I dipped mine in ketchup, then thankfully tried masking the weird consistency, taste and (yuk, I’ll leave it there) with hot sauce. If…and only if…I was a mine worker, I could see this passing for an actual meal. We both choked down two thirds of our “lunch” and because we are not mine workers, dumped the rest into the trash can. We did see a Yeti though, so there’s that.
The boat tour was booked through Glass Bottom Shipwreck Tours and it was fun. They took us over two wrecks and then along the coastline to view the famous Pictured Rocks . The two ships were the Bermuda, a 150 foot wooden schooner which sunk in 1870 and the Herman H Hettler, a 200 foot steam barge which sunk in 1926. We viewed these wrecks from above via a glass bottomed boat. In some cases the ships below were just six feet below the glass. We could see ship hulls, anchors, spilled iron ore, a steering wheel and believe it or not, a toilet from one of the ships laying on the bottom of the lake. The Pictured Rocks were very interesting, although to me not spectacular. Lots of different horizontal bands of colors through the rocks and the water itself is amazingly clear. We even got to see a local bald eagle.
Once back on land, we drove a very forgettable two hours East to Sault St. Marie, through multiple State Forests. Over the international bridge at 50 kph, through Canadian Boarder Patrol and to our mid-range Delta Hotel with a nice view of the St. Mary’s River and the four channels of locks on the American side. It felt funny sleeping somewhere other than our rig and in a real building. Lynn loved the bed and we had a leisurely morning till we met Emmy and Rick for lunch. We met these 2 six or so years ago on Oasis of The Seas and have stayed connected on Facebook, cruising vicariously through them. Both Sault St. Marie’s look like Northern small towns that get beat up pretty good by Winter weather then bounce back in the Summer. Back to the US we went and we spent two unexpected hours at the Soo Locks Visitor Center watching three ships enter, rise (or fall) and then transit to the next lake.
We had a blast on the three story open air observation deck. The ships slowly enter, are tied to the dock then the locks close and in a matter of 30 minutes, they slowly rise or fall twenty one feet till they are at the correct level of the next lake. Fun, fun, fun!
All in all….to me…it was fine but nothing spectacular. Lots of amazingly remote / open land, but not as beautiful as hoped for, So our missed opportunity to spend a full week in the UP was mitigated. I think we were happy enough spending two days up there.
So, tomorrow we fire Julie up for the first time in a month and drive 3 hours to the South to a small town called Hopkins, Michigan which is located thirty minutes from both Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Temperatures are supposed to be in the 80’s…something we have not felt since Charleston in March. Stay tuned!
Lynn’s 2 cents – Pictured Rocks was actually high on my bucket list for places to see in Michigan. I thought it was spectacular and I was thrilled we had great weather the day we went. I also loved going over into Canada. Even though it was just one night it felt like a mini vacation. This is something I think we will continue to try to do from time to time.