In Michigan, we tried pasties (for the first time) from restaurants and stores, with gravy or ketchup or nothing. We also had smoked fish a few times. In one of the pictures, you can see gummies shaped like Michigan. I, having not given much thought to Michigan’s shape, thought that maybe they were supposed to look like bats and owls on branches.
On August 2, we moved to Green Light Resort & Campground in Chassell, Michigan. After setting up our RV, we went to see our friends, the Guilis, who we met our first time visiting San Antonio, Texas in 2015 before moving there in 2016. They had recently moved to the Upper Penninsula of Michigan from San Antonio. We got to spend that evening and the next evening with them catching up.
On August 8, we visited A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech in Houghton, Michigan. There were many displays about rocks, some precious or semi-precious, and copper, silver, and gold. There was a lot about copper, because there are lots of copper mines in the area, and in the late 1900’s, there was a copper rush. This place is one of the Keweenaw National Historical Park sites. We also visited other ones this day, which I will talk about later in this post.
After that, we went to Isle Royale National Park’s visitor center in Houghton, Michigan, where we did junior ranger books and watched a short film about the islands. The park is a wilderness that has many canoeing, kayaking, and hiking opportunities. It is a big island surrounded by many small ones, and it protects animals such as wolves, moose, and bald eagles. We weren’t able to go to the island because the ferry boats were cancelled for the summer due to COVID-19.
Then, we went to a few other sites of Keweenaw National Historic Park.
Quincy Mine in Hancock, Michigan: This is an area of copper mines, which were operated from the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. We did not go into the mine itself, but we were able to see some of the old buildings and structures that were part of the mining operations there.
Copper Country Firefighters History Museum in Calumet, Michigan: There were historic fire engines, some of which had hand cranked sirens. The fire station was in use during the time of the copper rush. It used to have stables for horses to pull the fire engines, which were horse powered at that time. The upstairs was set up to show how things would’ve been set up for the firefighters, with beds, tables, and a bathroom.
The Guilis joined us after the Firefighters Museum and took us to see a waterfall in Eagle River, Michigan. From there, they took us on a tour of the Keweenaw Peninsula. We stopped with them at some lookouts, beaches, and playgrounds along the shores of Lake Superior. One of the places we stopped at was Fort Wilkins State Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan. The U.S. army built and occupied the fort during the copper rush to keep peace in the area between the miners and Ojibwas, as well as help with law enforcement. The fort had buildings which were set up to look how they would’ve when the fort was occupied. After the fort, the Guilis took us to Brockway Mountain. It was a bumpy ride all the way up the mountain, but well worth the view at the top. The main picture above for this blog post is the view we had of trees and lakes below. We ended the day back in Houghton at a city park named Chutes and Ladders because of the huge wooden play structure that was made up of many slides (chutes) and stairs (ladders).
On July 26, we moved to Pictured Rocks RV Park and Campground in Christmas, Michigan. It was raining/drizzling when we left, and it was cloudy for most of the day. The clouds cleared and it was sunny in the evening. It was humid the entire day. After we had set up our RV in our RV site (in the rain), we went to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We visited the visitor center first to get information. There was a video about the rocks at the visitor center, but most of the video and displays were about fishing in Lake Superior (because Pictured Rocks is right on Lake Superior).
Next, we drove along the main road through Pictured Rocks NL which goes from Munising to Grand Marais, which takes about an hour to drive and stopped at a few places:
Munising Falls: We walked the short trail to view the waterfall from the bottom. The first part of the trail was walking along or near the river that flowed from the waterfall and we crossed some bridges to get there.
A lookout over Lake Superior
Log Slide: This trail is called Log Slide, but I didn’t see any logs as I had expected to see. A trail led to a big sand dune, which was almost 200 feet above Lake Superior. It was named after a chute that logging companies used to slide logs down into the lake. We didn’t go down the sand dune; it can take five minutes descend, and an hour to get back up because of its steepness.
Sable Falls and Beach: This trail had 168 steps. We hiked to the waterfall, then beside the river, then to the beach where it emptied into Lake Superior. The beach was mostly rocks. There were a lot of pretty ones like quartz and granite. On the beach, I was able to wade in the river that came from the waterfall and led into the lake. It was pretty fast flowing. I took a rock from the beach that was half granite and half quartz (or at least that’s what I think the rock was).
I will talk about the actual “pictured rocks” later on in this blog post.
On the way back home, we stopped at Seney National Wildlife Refuge. There was a seven mile auto tour route, called the Marshland Wildlife Drive, leading through the refuge that we drove on. It took us though forests and wetland areas with ponds and marshes. We saw some trumpeter swans and a few sandhill cranes. Along the sides of the roads, there were lots of milkweed plants with pretty pink flowers, berry bushes, pine and other trees, and monarch butterflies.
On August 1, we rented a pontoon boat from Seaberg Pontoon Rentals on Lake Superior. It was the perfect day to go boating, since it was sunny and warm. We went around Lake Superior and an island in it called Grand Island. We got to see an old lighthouse, waterfalls, beaches, rock formations, and the pictured rocks. The pictured rocks were very pretty. They were tall rock cliffs with stripes of color, from brown and red to green and blue, streaking across and down them. On top of the cliffs, I saw hikers and trees. Parts of the cliffs had fallen down into the lake and on the beaches under the cliffs, along with the trees that were on them. While we drove around the lake in our pontoon boat, we saw a lot of kayakers, who were looking at the rocks. They were able to go into small crevices of and very near to the rock walls. Under one rock arch, there was a pile of debris from something crumbling. It could’ve been part of the arch itself. The pile was really tall, and tons of seagulls were sitting on it. They made me laugh, for their squawks echoing off of the arch’s walls sounded like the hooting of monkeys to me. We got to drive through another arch with our boat, and the water underneath was quite shallow. Water was dripping down from the top of the arch, so it looked like it was drizzling in some areas. We stopped at a few beaches as well, where my brothers swam in the water and played in the sand and rocks.
We had lunch and dinner on the boat (spam musubis and pasta salad), and we stayed out almost all day. We also ate a lot of snacks, like chips and pastries. It was very enjoyable for me to be out in nature, and it was a very long day, but after boating, we went to one more place.
After returning the pontoon boat and taking everything back to our truck, we stopped at Bay Furnace Historic Site, which is in Hiawatha National Forest. There was the ruins of a furnace at the site (which was recently stabilized), that was once used to make iron in the late 1800’s.
On July 23, we visited the Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St, Ignace, Michigan. There, we read about different Native American groups who lived around Michigan. We learned how their lives were centered around family, and how their lifestyles changed when French came to them. For example, one display showed how the Native American children looked before and after they attended a school run by Catholic nuns. Also, did you know that different Native American tribes were hire to transmit coded messages (using their languages) for the U.S. during World War II?
The museum is near where a Jesuit priest named Jacques Marquette started the St. Ignace Mission in 1671. The mission was a log cabin, where he administered to Native Americans until his death in 1675. His followers buried him at the mission, where he is still resting to this day. The mission continued growing, and in 1705, it was abandoned then burned. In the early 1800’s, when settlers started moving into the area, a chapel was built, which is where the museum now is.
On July 24, we moved to Gerometta’s Resort in Manistique, Michigan. On the way, we stopped at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, where we walked two short trails to see the upper and lower falls. It was sunny and hot, but the trees around the path shaded us. The waterfalls were brown from tannins, which comes from decaying vegetation. The falls looked like root beer to me, complete with the bown color and foam. Tahquamenon River is near Lake Superior, which is one of the Great Lakes.
At the Lower Falls, people were swimming in the shallow-ish, rushing water, while in the Upper Falls, which were much higher and rougher, people were standing on a viewing platform to see the waterfall. People were also kayaking and canoeing in the river where it was calmer.
On July 25, we went to Fayette Historic State Park, which is a historic town that ran a iron smelting operation and made charcoal. The day’s weather was sunny and hot. The town was in use in the early 1800’s, and it had two blast furnaces, homes, a large dock, and charcoal kilns. Around 500 people lived in the town, most immigrants from Canada, the British Isles, and northern Europe. When the demand for charcoal and iron went down, however, the town shrank, and it became a fishing village and resort. It changed hands over the 1900’s but eventually ended up becoming property of Michigan’s government – and a state park.
The historic town was full of restored buildings, some of which we could walk through. We learned about life in the town, and what different buildings were used for. The park also had some really nice scenery, with the trees and lake.
After that, we stopped at the Manistique East Breakwater Lighthouse, which we were planning to walk to, but didn’t go all the way, since the waves were going up over the walkway. Instead, we just walked on part of the nice trail. There were nice flowers, some of which I picked and pressed. There were also monarch butterfly caterpillar. Mommy got three of them, and we named them Busy Bee, Billy Buchanan, and Bibimbap. We have since then put them in a plastic container with leaves from the plant they were on, with a paper towel on top to keep the caterpillars inside the can. We are waiting for them to turn into butterflies. An interesting thing about the sidewalk we walked on was that part of it had tilted down towards the shoreline, because the waves had eroded the ground underneath it.
Finally, we went to Palms Book State Park. There was a cold-water spring called Kitch-iti-kipi, which is up to 200 feet wide and 40 feet deep. More than 10 thousand gallons come out from it each minute. Above the spring, there was a viewing platform that could be moved across the surface of the spring by turning a wheel. We went on the platform after waiting in line for a little while. In the middle of the platform, there was an opening where we looked down into the water beneath us. I saw a bunch of big fish, as well as clouds of sand from where the spring water was coming out of the ground.
On July 16, we went to Soo Locks Boat Tours in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. It was drizzly and cloudy that day, but it was also warm. The tour boat took us on a relaxing two hour ride through two sets of locks (on both the US side and the Canadian side) which separate Lake Superior and Lake Huron. The lakes are at a 21 foot elevation difference from each other, so the locks act as elevators for boats. When the boat enters a lock, the gates behind are closed, and the lock fills up with water (or empties if you are going down instead of upwards). Then, the gates in front open, and the boat can sail into the higher lake ahead (or vice versa). It was really cool to see how the locks work by experiencing it on the tour boat.
On the way back to the dock, we went through the Canadian side of the river and its lock, which borders the city of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada. Yes, you heard me right. There are two cities with the same name, one on the American side of the river, and one on the Canadian side. Even though the US-Canadian border was closed (for non essential travel) due to Covid-19, we spent all of maybe 30 minutes in Ontario, Canada in the river. This was as close as we’d get to visiting Canada this year; no passports needed since we weren’t officially touching land on the Canadian side.
After that, we visited Castle Rock in St. Ignace, Michigan. Castle Rock is a limestone stack, formed by erosion. We walked up to the overlook by climbing tons of stairs (maybe five stories’ worth). We didn’t stand on the actual limestone rock, because there was a platform of protective cement on top with rails to keep people from falling over. Below, we could see forests and Lake Huron.
There were Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox Statues below all the stirs, which we took a picture by. These statues were of fictional characters from a tall tale. Because of COVID-19, Paul Bunyan was wearing a mask.
The next day, July 17, we went to Mackinac Island, which interestingly was American’s second national park (after Yellowstone) from 1875 to 1895. In 1895, it was turned over to the State of Michigan to become Michigan’s first state park. During this time as our nation’s second national park, Mackinac Island went from the center of fur trade to a Victorian-era summer vacation destination.
In order to get to the island, we had to ride on a ferry from St. Ignace where we were staying. Unlike the previous day’s boat ride, this one was way rougher and speedier. On the way to the island, the wind blew water from the lake into the boat from the right side. Leaving the island, water sprayed from the left side, and my brothers sat on that side purposely to get a refreshing splash after a hot day of exploring Mackinac Island.
On the island, we went to Fort Mackinac. During the Revolutionary War, the British decided that Fort Michilimackinac (remember, we went there last week in Mackinaw City) was too vulnerable to American attack. Therefore, they moved to Mackinac Island, where they built Fort Mackinac. When the U.S. won the war, it became America’s. In the years that followed, this fort was a center of the fur trade.
Fort Mackinac was similar to Fort Michilimackinac (see this post), with its buildings restored to look how they would’ve in the late 1800’s. There were buildings such as a storehouse, hospital, school, living quarters, guardhouse, and blockhouses. We explored inside of them and read the displays, which explained what each building was used for. To get into the fort, we had to climb a small distance on ramps. At the top, there were stunning views of Mackinac Island’s main city area and Lake Huron below.
During our visit to the fort, we watched a few demonstrations. There were demonstrations where guns and cannons were shot, and there was another where men dressed as soldiers showed how bayonet drills were done.
After visiting the fort, we rented bicycles and rode around the southern side of the island. An interesting fact about Mackinac Island is that in 1898, all motorized vehicles were banned on the island (due to their scaring the horse-drawn carriages, which was the main mode of transportation on the island at the time). The ban on motorized vehicles has helped to preserve the historical feel of the island. Currently, visitors can take horse-drawn carriage rides, as well as rent bicycles (or bring their own over on the ferry), and of course, can also wander around on foot. We rode our rented bikes around the main downtown area as well as a few miles out where we could see the shoreline and trees. Near the shore, waves from the lake splashed up onto the concrete in some areas. There were some uncrowded and very pretty areas. We also rode through small sections of forest.
Before leaving the island back to St. Ignace, we had to get some fudge. Some consider Mackinac Island as the fudge capital of the world. During peak tourist season, 10 thousand pounds of fudge is handcrafted every day. On the one short street in downtown Mackinac Island we saw about 13 fudge shops. This tradition started in the 1880’s when the Murdick family started a candy shop for all the tourists and started crafting fudge on marble tables as not only a sweet treat, but a show in seeing how it was being made.
The picture at the very top of this blog post was taken at Fort Mackinac. I added the speech bubbles.
On July 12, we moved to Tiki RV Park in St. Ignace, Michigan. To get there, we had to cross the Mighty Mac, which is an almost five-mile-long bridge. It is a suspension bridge that connects the Upper Peninsula to the rest of Michigan. The weather was nice and cool while we were there.
After setting up our RV, we went to different attractions that are part of the Mackinac State Historic Parks system. The first was Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse, established in 1892, housed four generations of lighthouse keepers as they maintained and operated the lighthouse to help sailors navigate the dangerous waters of the Straits of Mackinac. There was a foghorn demonstration, where we got to hear a foghorn. Then, we went inside the lighthouse and learned about how the lighthouse used the foghorn and light signals to warn ships where dangerous waters were.
The second was Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park. The mill was built by Robert Campbell and used from the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s. It was built to supply lumber especially for the Settlement on Mackinac Island. At the park, we watched a presentation where a man, dressed how someone would have dressed in the days that the sawmill was used, demonstrated how to cut logs into boards. The first way was a long process, using axes and a two-man saw. The second way was using the sawmill. The sawmill was powered by a river. It was also reconstructed to be as close as possible to the one that Robert Campbell would’ve used. By pulling some levers and turning a couple of wheels, the demonstrator was able to control the flow of water underneath the building, which powered the saw, and he was able to control how the water made the sawmill move and cut the log. The video of it being used is below.
We walked around the park as well, and us kids climbed up a tower with lots of steps. Once I got to the platform up on top, I could feel it swaying. Looking down did not help my fear of heights! However, the view was great.
The third was Colonial Michilimackinac. Fort Michilimackinac was built by the French in 1715. The British took over the fort following the French and Indian War. Then, after America won the Revolutionary War, the fort belonged to America.
At the fort, there were people dressed up as people would’ve been during when the British controlled the fort and doing work that they would’ve been doing. We first met a lady washing laundry the historic way. She explained to us how a woman doing that job could make more money that a soldier in a day, and how people during that time spent lots of money on keeping their laundry clean. The woman showed us the different things that she used to treat the clothes before rinsing them. There was lye water, bluing water (to contrast the yellow of old clothing and make it appear whiter), vinegar, starch, and other things. There were also sort of gross things which smelled bad before you rinsed out the clothes like milk and fermented pee.
There were other buildings in the fort which had been built based on archeological findings, like a blacksmith shop, storehouse, guardhouse, priest’s house, and a Jew’s house. These were furnished to look like how they probably looked like when they were standing. There was also a museum with lots of artifacts that had been found in the fort area when archeologists excavated the area.
Finally, at the end of our visit, we went to a musket firing demonstration, where the man dressed as a British soldier fired the musket that they would’ve been using at the time. The man fired it three times in total, but it misfired the second time. He said that that was to be expected because the musket has a low accuracy rate when affected by things like weather. The gun firing sounded about as loud as a firework.
Before going home, we stopped at the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show, where we got to watch two lumberjacks do a friendly competition/show. They threw axes at targets, raced at chopping and sawing wood, walked across a line of floating logs, tried to make each other fall off of a rolling log, and raced to climb up and down a tall tree. There was a bit of comedy involved as well, when the two men “tried” to make rabbits carved from wood. The first man just chopped off the top of the log and said that it looked like the rabbit he had seen on the side of the road earlier that day. He also said that it was “sleeping” (roadkill). The second man started to make a rabbit, but ended up with a small chair which he gave to someone in the audience.
On July 10, we moved to Northwestern Michigan Fair in Traverse City, Michigan. The RV park had only electric and water (no sewer connection) so we were only staying the weekend. The Traverse City area was similar to Michiana, but less populated since it is farther north in northern Michigan. The towns were more spread out and there were more pine trees and other beautiful foliage. It is also close to the sandy Lake Michigan shoreline, and Traverse City is along the shore of Grand Traverse Bay.
The next day, July 11, we visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and went to the following places:
Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, Michigan: There were displays with stuffed animals that could be found in the area. It was neat to learn about the different ecosystems in the park, such as the beaches, forests, and wetlands.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive: Very pretty drive where we could see Glen Lake from some overlooks, as well as Lake Michigan and North and South Manitou Islands (which represents the two bear cubs in the Legend of Sleeping Bear).
Dune Climb: We climbed about half of this giant sand dune. It was steep and very tall, so half was a lot. From the top, I could see Glen Lake and an ocean of shining cars in the parking lot below. Running down the dune was fun!
Glen Haven Village: It started as a refueling stop for ships traveling west on the Great Lakes. Over time, it grew into a village. We stopped at the blacksmith shop, where a blacksmith apprentice told us the history of the town and showed us a hanger/hook that he had tried to make to look like one done by an experienced blacksmith. He showed us some tools that are used in blacksmithing. The bike racks right outside the shop had been made in the blacksmith shop.
USLSS Maritime Museum: the Museum building was closed, but there was a volunteer in the boathouse who talked to us about the U.S. Life-Saving Service and showed us the equipment used by them in many rescues in the dangerous Manitou passage. He told us about the dozens of shipwrecks in this passage, which were common due to the shallow shoals that were unknown to sailors.
Esch Road Beach: Esch Beach is one of the many beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This beach had very pretty rocks and fossils on the shore. This stretch of shoreline on Lake Michigan is also known for the Petoskey stone, which is a rock and fossilized coral. The Petoskey stone can only be found around Lake Michigan. The water here at Esch Beach was just like we experienced in the lower parts of the lake: cool and wavy. In the water, there was a pretty quick decline to a (around) 4 1/2 feet deep water level. After that, it sloped back up to where the water only covered my legs. Out from there, I am pretty sure that the water was deep, but it was very cool to be standing on a sand dune/bar in the middle of the water.
On the way home from Sleeping Bear, we stopped at this U-pick fruit and berry farm called Jacob’s Berry Patch. We picked local Michigan grown raspberries and cherries. The strawberry season had just finished and the saskatoons were not quite ripe yet. The raspberries and cherries were sweet and tasty. The evening was cool and perfect for fruit-picking.
On June 22, we moved to Ohio. We stayed at National Road Campground in Zanesville, Ohio for a week, visiting with some friends, the Hoffmans. We had met the Hoffmans over 4 years ago in 2016 while we lived in McKinney, Texas and they lived nearby in Richardson, Texas. They recently moved to Ohio a few years ago to be closer to family. We went over to their house a few times, and they came over to our RV park once. The RV park had a playground with swings and a cornhole (bean bag toss game) area, so we played there. Mr. Josh made his famous bacon grease popcorn.
We also saw our first Tim Horton’s here in Zanesville since Canada last year in 2019. We didn’t realize Tim Horton’s was in the states and were thrilled to get coffee there!
On June 28, we moved to Bear Cave RV Campground in Buchanan, Michigan. This general area is known to locals as Michiana (a combination of Michigan and Indiana) because the areas blend into each other around the state boarder here. Locals go back and forth to shop, eat out, and recreate. In this area, there are lots of fruit farms (blueberries were in season when we were there as well as cherries) as well as fruit farm stands and U-picks. It’s a very pretty area but also very crowded as many locals and tourists flock to the beach along the shores of Lake Michigan during the summer heat.
On July 3, we went to an Indiana Dunes National Park in nearby Indiana. The national park stretches 15 miles around the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is known for its sand dunes. The state park area with beach access (which is within the national park) was packed this holiday weekend with a huge line of cars down the main road, so we opted to drive to a different area of the national park: the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education. Here we learned more about Indiana Dunes and did junior ranger books. Later in the day, we took a scenic shoreline drive within the national park and got to see the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Century of Progress Homes, which were built at that time to show the modern houses that could be built, with materials like glass, and with things like dishwashers and air conditioners.
After that, we went to Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois. We were given a tour by a ranger and learned about the Pullman area. George Pullman designed sleeping cars that were comfortable and luxurious for railroads. As demand for his cars grew, Pullman bought land and started a model town. He designed his town to be beautiful, clean, and orderly, and he allowed only his workers to live there (while paying rent). By the day’s standards, it was a very nice town, far above other towns’ standards. However, Pullman put strict rules over the town, even to where tenants had to ask permission to plant flowers in their front yard.
When the demand for Pullman’s cars went down, Pullman decreased his workers’ wages without decreasing their rent. This led to strikes and boycotts, which were sometimes violent, and they spread across America. Pullman died in 1897, the Pullman Company was ordered to sell all non-industrial holdings, and Robert Todd Lincoln became the new president of the company. Eventually, sleeping cars on railroads were no longer needed. Pullman’s model town was a failure.
At the town, we looked at the historic homes and some of the old buildings. We didn’t go inside, however. The houses were being rented out.
On July 4, we visited Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville, Michigan. We took a hike through a marshy forest, over hot sand dunes, and finally arriving at the shores of Lake Michigan. The sand dunes were really big, and they were also super hot. Climbing up them was difficult, but running down was fun. The water of Lake Michigan was refreshingly cool and there were fun waves to swim in (just like the ocean). However, unlike the ocean, it was freshwater, meaning that it didn’t sting my eyes. The sand here was very fine and soft.
When we were going back home to our RV park, we found people doing fireworks right outside the park entrance in the residential area. We were able to pull over and watched them set off tons of big aerial fireworks for about an hour. There must have been thousands of dollars’ worth of fireworks. It was like a professional firework show. At the end, they did a grand finale, which is the video below. It was a nice ending to our Independence Day.
The next day, July 5, we went to Local Harvest Michigan Fruit Stand, where we bought some local Michigan vegetables, blueberries, and cherries. (We recently tried the Michigan grown onions from there, and they were super sweet and delicious!) After that, we went to Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan and stayed on the beach for a few hours. Just like Indiana Dunes and Grand Mere, Warren Dunes is known for its huge sand dunes and the cool waters of Lake Michigan. The sand here was more rocky than the last beach, with small pebble-sized rocks mixed into the sand.