This day was truly amazing, from start to finish. Matt and I were just talking a few minutes ago about how much we did — and today is only the first day of the trip, and we are still in Michigan! So this will be a “Pure Michigan” blog post.
Most people probably would agree that driving in Michigan doesn’t get really interesting until you are north of the Gaylord area. Sure, there are things to do south of there, but the drive itself is pretty ordinary. And then you get into the wonderful hills and vistas, and you really are “Up North.” Our crossing of the Mackinac Bridge was uneventful, unlike some of the tales I heard from Sunday’s storms. Bright sun, almost no clouds, blue water — a picture perfect day. The first thing we did after crossing was stop at a scenic turnout to get some pictures looking back at the bridge.
In fact, we made several stops for short hikes and to enjoy the beauty of northern Lake Michigan along US-2. Then we turned north on M-77, and west on M-28, to reach our destination. We have a spot for the night at a campground just west of Munising, and if you hold your tongue just so you can see Lake Superior from our site. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got the tent up (yes, I helped!) — and then we were ready to do a little exploring.
There’s the beaten path, of course — the things everyone does. And then there is the road less traveled (apologies to M. Scott Peck). We chose the latter today, and we both were glad we did. Pictured Rocks is a lovely sight, and we were simply too late for the boat tours. Instead, Matt went waterfall-hunting online, and got us over to Wagner Falls. There again, we could take the boardwalk and see a pretty cascade tumbling over the rocks — or we could find the real trail and see the rest of it. It was a pretty rough trail, and great fun to hike and climb. And above that first cascade, we found waterfall after waterfall plunging down the hillside. It made me think about all the beauty we can miss when we are so attached to our routines and to doing “what people do” instead of expanding our comfort zones. I’m half a dozen waterfalls richer tonight, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I conquered a fairly difficult trail without any mishaps. My shoes and the seat of my pants are a little muddy, but that’s part of the deal.
Having my grandson along on this trip is a wonderful thing on two fronts: I get to watch him enjoying this beautiful scenery and the experiences of this trip, and he’s my courage — courage to try new things and to create a new, ever-expanding version of “normal.” With him along, I’ll do things and try things that I simply wouldn’t attempt traveling on my own.
After the hike, we stopped at a jaw-dropping scenic overlook that gave a great view of the Pictured Rocks shoreline in the distance. With the help of my 16×50 binoculars, Matt was able to get a nice picture of the shoreline on his phone. That’s as close as we will get this trip. And then we stopped at the Grand Island Ferry station, and although they were closed at the moment, we decided then and there that Grand Island is going to be a great idea for a future trip. People can take the ferry over, and stay on the island for hours to several days, hiking and camping. There’s nothing much over there except woods, trails, a few toilets and the occasional water spigot. The signs encourage people to gear up properly to spend time on the island.
Finally, it was back to the campsite, where we fired up the camp stove and made s’mores. You have to have s’mores when you camp. The camp office had pre-packaged supplies for making them, and they tasted wonderful.
And here we are at the end of Day 1. It’s a beautiful evening, and we are right out in it. Downside: apparently there is no hot water in the showers. I suspect that means a Huggies wipes bath for me. Intrepid though I am, I can see no benefit for me in a cold shower!
Cheer us on, my friends! The adventure is just beginning. I think it may need a slight detour via the ibuprophen bottle, but it’s definitely on!
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