Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tahquamenon Falls to Houghton, MI

One thing that has been a pleasant surprise is just how easy it has been to pull the trailer into places to do some sight-seeing while on driving days.

Here there had a great RV parking lot at Tahquamenon Falls.  Of course it is still early in the season so most places we go have 1 other RV or none.
There are 2 sets of falls this is the lower falls which split around a small island. You can rent a row boat and go out to the island but we skipped it.

More of the lower falls. Tannins from the trees turn the water brown it isn't muddy.

There was a 4 mile trail between the falls but 8 miles of hiking was just too much of a time commitment, and too far for Maxwell.  So instead we drove between the falls.

The upper falls were like a mini Niagara. I think they are the second biggest falls or something like that.

We did two short hikes to viewing spots each of which had stairs, one with 94 and one with 116 steps.

They had signs we didn't count them!

Our first road run-in with wild life. This deer was crossing the highway.

We didn't come anywhere near it but I had enough time (Will was driving) to grab my camera and get a picture of it's white tail as it bolted away.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was something we wanted to see but the boat tours weren't running full schedule yet and we missed the last one. They also ran 3 hours which was was too much time, so we skipped it and kept driving

Instead on the drive we came through Marquette, MI it had this cool Ore Dock.

We found a great parking spot in a big parking lot near it and walked through town to get a iced coffee.

Took a spin through Presque Isle Park and then got back on the road.

With touring the falls and the stop for coffee and probably another dog walking stop we pulled into Houghton, MI pretty late.

Instead of making dinner we parked downtown (it is a one street town basically) and ate some dinner at the Librewry a library themed Brewery. It wasn't special and is only our 2nd meal out for the trip.

We slept in a Walmart nearby since there was no nearby camping.

Today's drive was only 265 miles, not too bad specially when broken up with things to do.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mackinaw City

Today was a relaxed day, we took Maxwell out for hike nearby where we were staying. It was called Sand Dunes something or other but actually it was more like a forest.

It was primarily Cross-country Ski trails and we hiked a little over 3 miles. It was mostly flat or it might have been too long a hike for Maxwell. There were lots of deer tracks but we didn't see any.
 After finishing up the hike we drove back across the big bridge to visit Mackinaw City. Oddly it is spelled with a "w" at the end the way it sounds ending in "maw".  The odd part is that Mackinac Island is pronounced the same way.

We took a quick tour of this lighthouse, with a school group. It was a little crowded when we all climbed an old metal ladder into the top of the lighthouse. The tour guide just stood at the top of the ladder and gave the tour.

This is the view of the bridge from the lighthouse.

Big logging truck crossing the bridge, I am glad we didn't see any of these trucks when we crossed the bridge.

The still have the original lens used at the lighthouse. A tiny kerosene lamp could shine 16 miles when this lens was used.

We are told it is rare that the lens survives when the light houses are shut down because they are either broken up to be re-used or simply tossed out of the light house to watch them smash on the ground.

We are lucky it is still pre-season, because Mackinaw City has a Jersey Shore vibe to it. Full of horrible T-shirt shops and junk food. Although this store had some more fancy looking snacks.

There were a couple of interesting stores tucked in between as well. One with a nice dog and cat wondering around.

I tried to catch the bridge from our campgrounds beach in the good later afternoon sun, I thought I was too late but it came out OK. Turns out I was too early but I didn't make another trip down.

No driving today!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mackinac Island

Waking up and knowing we don't have to drive for a few days was really nice. We finally got the campsite all setup and I put up the awning for the first time this trip.

The weather today looks to be the best (Mostly sunny and around 70 degrees) day of our time here.

This is a view of the bridge from the beach at our campground.  I just missed taking a picture of it last night all lit up by the setting sun.

Here is the shoreline looking the other direction from the bridge.

A yellow Orchid very similar to a Lady Slipper we would see at home.

After a quick walk we had to head in St Ignace to catch a ferry over to Mackinac Island where we would spend the day.

Mackinac Island has no cars! None at all which is pretty amazing. Everyone rides horses and bikes, we brought our bike over.

The horses are BIG, and the town is very nice (In town they have horse poop patrols) . Although we forgot sunscreen and paid $17 for a spray sunscreen and 2 waters!

The best thing is the mail carriage which is a horse drawn flat trailer on which sits piles of boxes, a mail man, a ups man (in Brown uniform an all) and another deliver person. As the cart goes around they make deliveries.

After checking out a few maps we set off to ride the main state highway around the island. It is paved and is the only State Highway not to allow cars!

The scenery is great, we stopped a bunch of places to relax and hangout.

This is Arch Rock, there is a trail up to it but it is closed.  Later on we end up riding there on the bikes form the other side of the island.

The Island is only 8 miles around, and mostly flat, but we haven't been on our bikes in a while so we take it easy.  We are lucky it is early in the season and mostly pretty empty, I bet it is a zoo in the high season.

He I am following will on the smaller bike trail to Arch Rock, it goes past some old Cemeteries, a Battleground and the Airport. It also has a few hills.

We saw Arch Rock and ate our lunch before backtracking a bit to Fort Mackinac.

We saw a rifle firing and cannon firing demonstrations which were pretty cool, but the fort isn't nearly at impressive at Fort Niagara.

This is the front side of the fort overlooking town and a golf course.

It was time to get a snack and a drink!

In town we hit a fudge shop to get some fudge and grabbed some Iced Coffee.  We relaxed for bit and then checked out the marina where we met a cool dog who lived on a boat.  Her owners had great things to say about Alaska.

We finally got to have campfire and cook some more lamb over it.  Our neighbor came over while we were eating dinner, he was a retired farmer and also had great things to say about Alaska and the Yukon. We are really excited to get there!

We also have WiFi here so I wrote the last few posts here since we had nothing in Canada. Not sure what we are doing on our last full day here, it got much colder (lows in the 40 last night!) and it is probably only going to be into the 50's today.  We may take Maxwell for a walk and then checkout Mackinac City back over the bridge.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Long long drive back to the USA!

After waking up pretty early and walking Maxwell we made some breakfast (Coffee and Oatmeal with fresh cherries) realized we weren't going to be able to pay anyone for the nights camping so we hit the road!

Actually first we filled out water tank which had pretty much emptied because we drove for an hour with our water pump on and the kitchen faucet had wiggled on emptying most of the water.

As you can see above Maxwell gets the whole backseat to himself and mostly just sleeps. He used to love car rides but now he just tolerates them.

Although he loves to stop and get out someplace new for a walk. We did that once on this long drive back from Canada to Michigan. It was a short hike to a lookout and then we were back on the road to the Upper Peninsular of Michigan.

Finally we reached the Mackinac Bridge (Link to Wikipedia info on the bridge) it is really really long! Crossing it there were high winds and we were alerted to keep our speed with the trailer to 20 mph.  Then is was a short drive to our campground for the night. I had picked it out a few weeks ago as we were going to be staying a few nights and I wanted a nice place.  The view is great and the price is only $25 per night.

It was getting windy and about to rain when we got in so we didn't fully setup outside. That is our new camp mat and new director's chair.

We were pretty tired so we just relaxed, made dinner and watched some TV.

I tried our trailed "Roast" feature of the convection microwave which uses both heat and 30% microwave power to cook stuff quickly.

I made Lamb, potatoes and onions and some asparagus. This microwave thing is funky but it worked, dinner was fast, but the potatoes were kind of underdone.

It wasn't a large meal so we needed a little snack. We had more fresh cherries so we threw together a cherry crumble using Oatmeal, cherries, sugar and some blueberry sauce. We used the roast feature and it was done in 5 or 6 minutes. It was great but could have used some ice cream.
As the title says this was a long long day. We covered 432 miles! That is much longer than we really ever expect to drive in one shot but it actually wasn't that bad. We each drove about 1/2 of it. We used 37.2 gallons of gas for MPG of 11.6.

Our first trip milestone of 1032 miles, that is 1/5 of the way to Alaska.

We are here for 3 nights so now we get to do some fun stuff instead of all driving!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A quick shortcut through Canada

Our day started very early, we woke up and had breakfast in Walmart parking lot and got right on the road. We actually didn't need anything at the Walmart which is probably a first.

Today we opted for taking smaller highways which makes for more scenic and relaxing driving. And brings you though towns like Waterloo where a classic car fair was going on. I quickly snapped a picture of a classic car pulling an old Airstream.

We drove through some other small New York towns. Although we didn't really stop to see anything it is a lot nicer than just whizzing by the freeway.

Today is another long drive day so seeing stuff like this even if we are moving makes it more fun,

By about 10:45 we had already made some good progress so we stopped for a hike. We we only had to slightly detour to stop at this Iroquis Wildlife Refuge which had a nice couple of trails.

Maxwell very much liked hiking though the trails.

He doesn't love the car like he used to when he was younger. But what do you expect from a 17 year old dog.

The entire trail was under 2 miles and completely flat so it was just about his speed.

It was very pretty and not nearly as buggy as I had expected.

You could hear and spot all sorts of birds and frogs.

This trail wasn't at the main entrance of the park, but we lucked out it had a huge parking area, so parking the trailer was no problem.

We made some sandwiches and checked out our options for the next place to camp. It will be in Canada as we are going to cross southern Ontario to get to Michigan.

I tried booking a campsite at Long Point Provincial Park but they wanted extra money for doing it online and they were empty so instead we just got back on the smaller highways and continued on our way.

Crossing into Canada with the Trailer and Maxwell was a breeze, actually I think technically we snuck Maxwell in as they had no idea he was in the back seat.
When we got to Long Point there was no attendant but you could pick a empty site and check in the next day. So we picked and empty pull-thru since we didn't plan on un-hitching or anything.

It wasn't too late when we got in and we took showers and made a delicious chicken dinner. The sunset was very nice.

Long Point is a big long sandbar which must be absolutely mobbed in the summer... but was completely dead! Lucky Us.

This beach was a 1 minute walk from our site. It was beautiful not exactly beach weather but hey it is still May.

We got a good night sleep and again an early start.  It turned out there wasn't going to be staff at the park till the next day so we didn't end up paying anything for the campsite.

We drove 258 Miles today and used 21.3 gallons of gas for a much improved MPG of 12. This is more in line with our previous trips. I expect it was a combination of flatter terrain and reduced speed.

The Journey Begins

After many months of planning and looking forward to the our Alaska trip the day was finally here.

A few days before departing we managed to bring the trailer to our house to start the finally packing.

Today we worked all morning packing before we finally disconnected the trail from the power and did a final inspection and head off.

We planned on this first day being mostly driving, as we had been through this area of NY last fall in the trailer.

We covered some good distance and then took a couple breaks along the way. The traffic was very light and we made pretty good time.

The timing worked out very good and we ended up passing through Syracuse at dinner time and revisited The Dinosaur BBQ for dinner.

Luckily the weather was cool enough to leave Maxwell in the truck eating his dinner while we ate ours.

Plus we licked out with a great parking spot for the trailer which in a city is no easy feat. Luck for us the restaurant is in a quiet part of town

We haven't really seen anything in Syracuse except the Dinosaur so we took a little walk around some of the nearby buildings.

We enjoyed a beer in the outside patio area while we waited a bit for a table.

The BBQ was great again, if you are ever in the area check it out.

We are trying to be healthy so we didn't have apps or dessert.  But you should have the Fried Green Tomatoes if you go!

Driving all day we planned to stay the first night in a Walmart parking lot.

The local Syracuse Walmarts were both off limits to RVers so we drove another 45 minutes to Auburn, NY and tucked in for the night. No other RVs were there but we shared the lot with a trucker who was staying there.

Overall we covered 342 Miles used an astonishing 35 gallons of gas for terrible 9.7 mpg average. We were doing almost 65 the entire day and it was kind of hilly. Usually we do a little better on MPGs but with a fully loaded trailer and the bikes who knows.