Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ricketts Glen Adventure!

Last Thursday, July 24, Ken and I headed out in Willie to go to Ricketts Glen,  World's End, and Eagles Mere in NE Pennsylvania.  What a beautiful area!  We were there with 2 other couples that we do alot of camping with in the summer.  We stayed at one of our favorite campgrounds, Pioneer Campground located in LePorte which is a somewhat central location for all of the mentioned areas.  The campground owners, Ray and Kathy, are some of the nicest folks you will met and they are determined to make your stay enjoyable.  All the sites are wooded, private, level, and large. 

We hiked the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen, close to 4 miles, and you pass over 20 beautiful waterfalls.  World's End has hiking trails too and a very nice beach area.  We all sat on rocks in the river eating our picnic lunch.  Eagles Mere is a quaint little village with lots of history and an excellent free museum that is interesting and informative. 

We have campfires every night, good food, and of course, s'mores.  Played numerous games of ladder golf, with many games going into "overtime".  The men usually won!  Enjoyed the salt water pool at the CG, the free ice cream sundae making social on Saturday, and then the fire truck ride to the Roadhouse for drinks at 9:00 PM on Saturday.  What a hoot!!!  It was the 1st trip for Ray's "new" fire truck. 

If you get in the area, this is a wonderful area to visit!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Relaxing Day at the CG and then an early departure to head home!

Saturday was a slow down day at the CG in preparation for our trip back to PA.  We had been "on the go" so much that we were all ready for a quiet, slow day.  We enjoyed watching the National Guard launch 2 boats at the dock beside the CG and then place some floating bridge sections in the water that they connected.  (There were about 50 of them that they connected to each other!)  It was a drill that they do every so often in the St. Clair.  So, we only had "brunch" around 11:15, but it was delicious.

Sam went on the computer to pay some bills and Ken slowly started to pack up Willie for our return trip to PA.  Kathy and I played 2 handed Pinochle, several games of Word Nerd and ended with Bananagrams.  The men worked around us, but they really didn't mind.  We stopped numerous times to watch the freighters "float" by.  They are so quiet and looked so graceful on the water.  They are a sight to behold! They day just raced by!

We enjoyed making hot dogs over the open fire.  Visited with the Canadian folks beside Sam and Kathy and then the folks directly behind us.  You certainly meet the nicest folks when camping.  We made "snakes" for dessert over the fire and our neighbors joined us.  It was a great last night at Sault Ste. Marie.  We also rode bike just a short way to the ferry dock near the CG to see our last freighter round the corner.  At that spot, they are so close to the shoreline.

Ken and I got up at 5:30 and were on our way by 6:15.  Kathy and Sam probably left abbout 45 minutes after us.  We plan to meet at a CG near Cleveland towards suppertime, traveling about 550 miles.

Ken and I did take our last photo of the Upper Peninsula when leaving - the sunrise.  What a perfect end to this part of our adventure!!

Our Northern Adventure Continues!

I am abit behind on my blogging so I thought I would try to update it while driving back to PA.  Amazing what a great job this little mifi card does connecting us to the internet.  Reasonably priced and it has worked everywhere we have traveled with no difficulty!

On Friday we decided to leave Sault Ste. Marie and drive back towards Mackinaw City and take the scenic loop towards Harbor Springs and then onto Petoskey.  The drive was beautiful and the little seaport town of Harbor Springs very picturesque.  We enjoyed eating our picnic lunch at a park right at the marina.  This area does such a wonderful job of maintaining all of their small parks, harbor areas, etc.  So many beautiful flowers, benches, tables, etc.  Then we drove on to Petoskey, another town on Lake Michigan.  From here we got on our bikes and took the paved bike trail for about a 16 miles round trip along the shoreline and through some wooded areas.  Lovely, well-maintained trail.  After getting off our bikes (we looked alittle strange trying to walk normally), we sat in the town park near the marina enjoying the view.  Walked up to the town of Petoskey and had dinner on the upper deck of Pap Joes.  Delicious food!  Only got back to the CG around 8:30.  It was a lot of driving today, but worth it.

We played another game of Bocce with the women being victorious again!  We decided to have a relaxing day tomorrow at the CG slowing loading up for the return to PA.  Can't believe how quickly these 2 weeks have passed.  We have had so much fun and saw so many wonderful things. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tahquamenon Falls Day!

We were alittle late getting on the road today because I woke up with a migraine and it took me some time to get it under control.  We did leave the CG by 11:00 and headed to the Paradise area stopping at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse.  You could actually climb the 72 stairs to the top and then see the Living Room and Kitchen of the lighthouse keepers home.  They also had a very nice gift shop and it was all by donation.

On to the Pendills Creek Fish Hatchery where they produce more than 6 million eggs annually and right now they have about 11/2 million 6 month old trout that they are raising.  They will be used later to stock Lake Superior.

From there we headed to Tahquamenon Falls State Park to hike to the Lower Falls and then the Upper Falls.  The trails were so nice and the falls were beautiful.  The "boys" enjoyed a beer at the Brewery and Pub at the entrance to the park.

We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way back to pick up a few groceries.  Besides the Farmers Market, this is only the 1st time we did some food shopping since leaving home.  Wow!

We cooked ribs over an open fire and as per usual, we only had dinner around 8:45.  Maybe it was breakfast, I'm really not sure!  Got to see several freights go by the CG this evening either leaving the locks or heading there.

Large freighter passing our Campround
on Wednesday night!
Finally saw a moose up close and personal!
Another fun day!
This deer was right along the fence
where everyone walked by!  No fear!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Now we are at Sault Ste. Marie in Upper Peninsula of Michigan

We had to leave our fantastic campsite at Mackinaw City today and head to the final leg of our journey - Sault Ste. Marie, MI.  We really had a great time on Mackinac Island and the area around Mackinaw City.  The view from our campsite was a site to behold!

We were on our way by 11 and crossed the suspension bridge into the upper peninsula of Michigan.  At the exit where we had to get off for our next campground there was lots of road construction, so of course, we had to be detoured.  Not good when hauling a 5th wheel.  So instead of taking us 1 hour to get here, it took us about 2, after 2 calls to the CG.  Fortunately, Laura was a sweetheart and said she has had to guide many people to the CG via the phone.  When we arrived Sam and Kathy were already there and concerned about our "wellbeing".  All was well.
This campground offers us another terrific view of the St Clair River and we get to see all the freighters passing by, some over 100 yards long!  They are unbelievable.

After lunch we headed into town to the local farmers market and then went to see the freighters pass through the Soo Locks which get the ships "lock through" from Lake Huron to Lake Superior.  We got there at such a good time - there were freighters coming from both directions, so we got to see them lower the water close to us and then raise the water on the next lock.  It really is unbelievable to watch.  Those freighters get raised about 21 feet - hard to imagine it is all done with water and that the lock can actually retain all that water when the freighter is raised and lowered.

Back to the CG to cook over the open fire and play some games.  After all, we have light until about 10:15.  Makes for a long day!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lovely Day on Mackinac Island

Today was a positively beautiful day to take the ferry to Mackinac Island.  We rode our bikes 2 miles from the CG to Mackinaw City on the Rails to Trail to get on the 11:00 ferry.  It is only a 20 minute ride but so much fun.  We took our bikes along to the island and packed our lunches.  There are no motorized vehicles of any kind on the entire island and the majority of it is very nature and scenic.  The small downtown area is fairly commercial with lots of shops, restaurants, and hotels. There are gorgeous flowers everywhere in hanging pots, huge planters, window boxes, etc.  We rode the 8 1/2 mile trail around the outside of the island enjoying the views of the lake and the shorelines.  We stopped to hike up to the arch and then Sam and I decided we should create our own sculpture of the arch so that all the people who are riding on the trail could enjoy our handiwork.  Kathy and Ken just watched shaking their heads and laughing.  What's that about????  We were very pleased with our project.

We also did some bike riding in the center of the island enjoying the Grand Hotel - the largest seasonal hotel in the world.  The porch goes on forever and is edged by flower boxes filled with geraniums. Quite breathtaking.  We sat on the porch rocking and relaxing.  Returned on the 6:00 ferry and then rode the 2 miles back to the CG via our bikes. 

 The evening was extremely windy but that kept the pesty mesquitoes away.  Bocce was won by the women tonight - YES!!!! 

Our time here near Mackinaw City has flown by.  Can't believe we will be leaving tomorrow morning for Sault Ste. Marie.  Should be exciting!  One great adventure after another!

Crossing Bridge to Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Yesterday, Monday, we planned to take the ferry to Mackinac Island, but the weather changed our minds.  It was cloudy when we got up and then began to rain around 9:00.  Breakfast and a board game inside Willie.  By 11:30, it began to clear and the sun appeared, so we packed our lunches and crossed the world's 3rd largest suspension bridge and headed to St. Ignace.  The bridge separates Lake Huron from Lake Michigan and once on the other side, you have entered the upper peninsula of Michigan.  We walked the boardwalk around the small town of St. Ignace and checked out the lighthouse.  You can sense that the town is having its struggles with these economic times.  One local worker said that the bridge has raised their fare from $1.50 to $3.50 in the last couple years and plans could raise it again to $5.00.  So, many of the tourists are not coming to the upper peninsula but choosing to stay in the Mackinaw City area.  Obviously the local businesses in St. Ignace and nearby are hurting!

From there we drove Route 2 along the coastline of Lake Michigan.  You can stop almost anywhere along the shore and swim and sit on the beach.  The water is really beautiful.  We walked along the beach at Hiawatha National Forest and picked up some unique rocks and stones.  Then we drove further west to the Cut River Bridge to see the gorge and unique bridge with a great wooden stairway leading all the way down to the gorge.  Amazing!!

On the way back we decided to stop for supper and try out the local specialty - pasties!  In Lancaster County would call it a chicken or beef pie.  We ordered them at Bessie's where the family has continued the tradition for several generations.  They were delicious and totally homemade.  The make the dough and peel and cut the potatoes, carrots, onions, and sweet corn, then bake it and serve it with homemade cole slaw and gravy.  Quite a treat!

Back to CG by 8:30 and it was still light outside.  We played 3 games of Kubb and Kathy and I won all of them.  Yeah!!!!   Called it a night at 10:30 after the mesquitoes decided they liked us!!!  Would you believe it only got dark when we went inside!  These long days are great!!!

We plan to head to Mackinac Island tomorrow!  (Just a little tidbit - Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island are both pronounced th
e same way - Mackinaw.  Has something to do with the Indian name and translation)
Ken loves taking pictures of sunsets.  This
was taken from our campsite overlooking
Lake Huron!

Monday, July 11, 2011

1st Day in Mackinaw City Area

Today started out warm and partly sunny.  Much warmer than we anticipated for northern Michigan.  Sat outside drinking our tea overlooking Lake Huron.  Then ate breakfast enjoying the same view!  We decided to take it alittle easy today after so much driving yesterday and riding a lot of bike (at least for us older folks) the 2 days prior. 

So, Kathy, Ken and I rode our bikes on a Rails to Trail right across the street from our CG.  Sam stayed back with a little touch of a stomach "bug".  We had ridden ten miles when we got back to our campsite.  Not as scenic as it was in St. Clair and Ontario, but a nice wooded trail that was level. 

Sam was feeling better so we packed our lunches and drove along Route 23 toward Cheboygan.  Found a lovely marina and park along Lake Huron to eat our lunch and then sit on the sandy beach area.  Kathy and I waded in the waters of Lake Huron.  Amazing how warm and clear the water was.  You could see all the way to the bottom.  Ken enjoyed photographing the lighthouse!

On our way back we drove through Mackinaw City to see the downtown area and see where the ferry boat launch was for our trip to Mackinac Island tomorrow.  Walked along the water and checked out the local lighthouse and the view of the suspension bridge.  Back to our CG by 5:30 to relax for the evening.  We played 3 games of Kubb and the women won all of them quite convincingly!!  Yeah Women!!!!  It is amazing how long it stays light in this area.  It only got dark around 10 PM.  Love these looooong days!!!!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

On to Mackinaw City

On Saturday we left the St. Clair area and made the journey to Mackinaw City and the Mackinaw Millcreek Camping.  On the way, we stopped to see the Bronners Christmas Store (like a city!) and then into the town of Frankenmuth, obviously it looked like a German village, offering many unique specialty shops.  The CHRISTmas store was unbelievable offering everything imaginable for the holiday.  I never saw so many lights and ornaments.  You could have a theme tree of any kind!  But the only thing we bought was fresh cut lettuce, local strawberries and a bunch of fresh basil at the local farmers market!

We arrived at the CG at 4:00 and had to "turn over" all the firewood we had brought along.  Fortunately, they gave us 5 bundles to replace some of our wood.  Unfortunately, their wood leaves a lot to be desired!  The CG is huge, but very nice.  As we drove and found our sites, we were amazed at the site we had reserved.  We are overlooking Lake Huron and the suspension bridge that goes into Mackinaw City, the 3rd largest suspension bridge in the world.  Our site was rather narrow, but Ken did a phenomenal job of backing into it.  We just love our setting with such a fantastic view and across the road is an open grassy area for sitting and playing games like bocce, kubb, and ladder golf.  What more could we ask for?

We are excited to start exploring the area, but plan to take it abit easy today.  Probably will do some bike riding and maybe take a drive to check out the nearby towns.  Life is good!!!!