We arrived in Ishpeming, Michigan yesterday for a two-night stay on the U.P. That’s short for Upper Peninsula and the folks who live here proudly refer to themselves as Yoopers. Those unlucky enough to live in the lower part of the state below the Mackinac Bridge are, in good fun, referred to as trolls. Why? Well, because we all know that trolls live “under the bridge.”
With a full day to fill Sunday, we drove east to the town of Marquette, located on the banks of Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes.
Tomorrow we will continue east and set up camp at Straits State Park on the north side of the Mackinac Bridge. I guess we’ll see for ourselves if there are any trolls under that bridge!
It’s been just over four weeks since we hitched up Minnie and towed her east. With no set plan, other than to eventually reach West Virginia for a visit with (son) Chris and Gail, we weren’t sure what route we’d choose.
For some folks, traveling without a set itinerary is the stuff nightmares are made of. Understandable…we’ve had our challenges, for sure. For us, the rewards and discoveries far outweigh the negatives. Yesterday we pulled into this roadside RV park in Wisconsin for two nights, primarily to take advantage of their full hookups and laundry room.
As we turned off the highway, I noticed a sign across the road for Copper Falls State Park. With a day to fill, we packed a lunch, took a chance and discovered (what must be) one of Wisconsin’s most beautiful parks. Created in 1929, many Civilian Conservation Corp buildings remain, adding charm and a sense of history.
After our Nebraska Harvest Host experience, we popped back up into a corner of South Dakota for a night at Wilde Prairie Winery, another Harvest Host site.
The next morning we spent an endless day of driving into Minnesota, in part because I misdirected Reg down a narrow (paved) road with so many potholes and washboards that it took us a good hour complete the 20-mile “detour.” It wasn’t the only wrong turn of the day but I’ve got to say, Reg is getting really good at maneuvering the Minnie in tight spaces!
We arrived at Gull Lake Recreation Area, just outside Brainerd, Minnesota, for a three-night stay. As we settled into our oversized campsite, we silently thanked the Army Corp of Engineers for understanding what makes a great camping experience.
Tomorrow we leave this beautiful part of the country and continue east into Wisconsin, then down a part of the Michigan coast. We have a week of reservations ahead of us with relatively short drives…according to google maps. Google won’t let us down, will it?
Before we left on this trip, we purchased a membership in the Harvest Hosts program. This allows us access to a variety of “hosts” throughout the country who will let us camp, free of charge, overnight on their property. No hookups available, simply a place to spend the night and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Wineries, farms, ranches, breweries and museums are but a few of the options available. Reservations 24 hours in advance are required, and as a courtesy, guest are advised to purchase a bit of what is offered.
We arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado two days ago, eager to discover if the bike trails were as incredible as we’d heard they were. Our Friday outing began in the small community of Laporte, just north of Fort Collins. The Poudre (pronounced poo-der) River Trail would lead us 9 1/2 miles downstream along a beautifully maintained concrete trail, eventually reaching Fort Collins.
Saturday we rode a different segment of the Poudre River Trail, joining it just south of Windsor, Colorado and aiming ourselves toward the town of Greeley, roughly 12 miles away.
This was another easy ride for Reg, but for someone who hasn’t really ridden a bike much in the last 30+ years (like me), things were beginning to feel a little sore. We turned around after about 10 miles, found a spot for a picnic lunch, then returned to our starting point, convinced that the area bike trails are some of the best we’ve ever seen!
A quick trip to see North America’s tallest sand dunes, including the 755 foot Star Dune, was today’s outing. Driving toward the entrance to the park, the Sanger de Cristo mountains dominated the skyline and left me wondering just how impressive sand dunes could be in comparison.
Three days in Durango, Colorado allowed us to experience a range of weather conditions. Cold nights, windy days, a brief bit of snow while we picnicked and finally, a beautiful spring day. The high point (literally) of our stay was the hike we took up The Animas Mountain Trail with college friends Emily and Rich. A great day and a long overdue visit!
Sunday morning Durango faded in the distance as we drove east, aiming for the highest mountain pass of our trip…so far. Today was new territory for us and the scenery did not disappoint.
We’ve got Minnie back on level ground for the next two nights, parked in the little town of Alamosa, gateway to Great Sand Dunes National Park. More adventures to come.
As we enjoyed our last views of the gorgeous red cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park, we wondered what our day’s drive would reveal. Our planned route would take us along another lonely road where a sign warned there were no services ahead. While Reg likes this sort of excitement, I am far more nervous about driving off into the great unknown.
Utah’s Bicentennial Highway, otherwise known as Highway 95, was completed in 1976, and stretches between Hanksville (in the north) and Blanding (in the south). We noticed a lot of narrow, unmarked dirt roads that turned left and right off the highway, disappearing in the distance. No doubt a haven for off-roading enthusiasts. Keeping our wheels on the pavement rewarded us with a trip through another stunning red rock canyon.
Continuing south, we arrived at the Hite Overlook in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. This is a good place to stretch legs while taking in the panoramic view of Glen Canyon, the Colorado River, Lake Powell and Hite, Utah. The Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1963, eventually swallowing the boomtown of Hite as the newly forming Lake Powell increased in size. Unfortunately, the Colorado River Basin has been experiencing drought since 2000, leaving dangerously low water levels, leading scientists to speculate that Lake Powell will never fill again.
Eventually we arrived at our destination, the inconspicuously named town of Blanding, Utah, where we checked into our site at Blue Mountain RV &Trading. Our pleasant spot included a patch of green grass and a strip of concrete to help keep our shoes clean.