Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bayfield, Benoit Cheese, Wisconsin; Little Girls Point, Baraga State Park, Bay Furnace in Hiawatha National Forest, Michigan

We were enjoying Bayfield , Wisconsin so much that we stopped in again on our way south and east.  A perfect sunny day. Very noticeable the difference in tourists.  Very few here.
 Some very nice sailboats here.  The opportunities to sail around the Apostle islands or along the shore must be quite tempting. The following link gives some good facts about Lake Superior. Little things like the shoreline would stretch from Duluth to the Bahamas. And the surface area is larger than all of the New England states combined.
Lake Superior Facts 
Some wooden sails reminds us of Provincetown boats.
How about that. You can sail here or at Key West in the winter.
 While in town, we stopped at Bay Fisheries, a small fish store, to pick up some fresh whitefish.  While there we noticed most of the showcase was filled with smoked fish--like whitefish, trout, salmon, etc.  We decided to try brown sugar smoked whitefish.  Delicious!!
While in the store we had some questions for the local woman behind the counter.  Being an 80 degree day and the previous day about 90, we wondered if the ice covers  all the way to shore in the harbor during the winter.  
She answered , absolutely.  Solid ice . So solid they drive trucks out on the ice to the Apostle Islands for fishing.  She also mentioned that there are a few weeks of 10 to 20 degrees BELOW ZERO during the winter.  
That would do it !
Leaving Bayfield, we head south on Route 13 to Route 2 west . Just a little west of Ashland on Highway F is Benoit Cheese Haus.  We had stopped here a few years ago on a suggestion from a local.  All kinds of cheese from Wisconsin.  We liked the Raspberry Sartori Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and a Colby Salami .  
We were quite pleased to know that Jill, who was the manager a few years ago, is now the owner. Check the link for cheese info. Click on the "about us " link and scroll down for Jill's information.
We noted before, that there were a number of customers stopping here. at what you might think is an out of the way place. But the store is known for its over 150 varieties of cheese. Jill indicated many customers come north from the Minneapolis , Minnesota area.
Benoit Cheese Haus
From Benoit's , we head on back roads into Ashland. A little fill up for gas and propane and we are back on Route 2 east into Michigan.  We had read about Little Girls Point north of Ironwood. Such a help to have a cell signal occasionally, because the listed Route 505 did not have any signs we could see. But, the online information gave specific directions.
We find a great dry camping site at the city park ---right on Lake Superior.  Even have the flowers for decoration.
The point was named for an eight year old Indian girl who drowned in the late 1800's.  
A short walk takes us to a path down to the beach.  This section is noted for the various rocks. Books indicate many varieties of Agate.  Jan and I could not tell you for sure.
What we can say though, is that we were treated to an outstanding sunset. 
The campground was about 14 miles north of Route 2.  We head back east on Route 2 to Wakefield and branch northeast on Route 28 to Bruce Crossing(Yea!) From there it is north on Route 26 and eventually Route 38 east to Baraga--back on Lake Superior.
This is mostly wilderness with few houses. One section is the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness.

 This is Baraga State Park . It sits on Lake Superior in a cove formed by the Keweenaw peninsula that juts way out into the lake and the Lanse Indian Reservation to the east.  
The sites are quite nice.  There is no site driveway, but paint marks on the pavement indicate your spot. There is electric--in our case 20 amp on this site--with fresh water at spigots or at the dump station.
Our view is very relaxing.
This wigwam is available for camping--picnic table, fire ring, and chairs too.  The camping fee was only $19 per night.  But Michigan, like Texas and some other states, requires a park fee per night . Baraga required an additional $9 per night.  As in Texas, we realized we would be at state parks long enough to justify purchasing a year pass , which was $32.  Too bad we will not be here to enjoy the rest of the season.  Fall in this area can be quite colorful.
From Baraga, Jan and I head east and south on Route 41 back to Route 28 east. Along the way are some roads that head into the Escanaba River State Forest and then further east the Hiawatha National Forest.  There are a number of campgrounds along these roads, many of which are dirt. The Hiawatha Forest  shows a number of lakes as well.  
Once we reach Marquette, we are back on the Lake Superior shoreline with many great views.  
Just a little before Munising, we take a left into Bay Furnace Campground.
From the name you can see that this was once an iron producing area. The furnace was super heated with on site made charcoal and forced air 2,600 to 3,000 degrees.  Wisconsin and Michigan were areas where there was a lot of iron ore. The furnaces brought immigrants from many areas including, Prussia , France, and Sweden.  Surprisingly, the 29 blast furnaces in the area lasted only from 1858 to about 1940.  The iron product--bars called pigs--would be shipped via Lake Superior to Duluth or back east.
The water at the campground is crystal clear.  It is also cold.  
The host at Baraga State Park was indicating how careful boaters have to be . At a recent fishing derby, two boats were overwhelmed by a sudden storm. One was flooded by huge waves over the transom and another was completely destroyed on rocks around an island.  No one wants to be forced into the water. The average water temperature is 40 degrees. Swimmers can be rendered helpless in cold very quickly.
Good time to probably mention the large amount of lake effect snow. At Houghton,north of Baraga State park, the average can be 207 plus inches per year.
This area is close to the Grande Island Recreation Area sometimes called Grand Isle. That is what you see behind Jan in the background.
On our travels this year, Jan and I have noticed that this kind of trailer--in this case an R-Pod--has become quite popular.  We have noticed them mostly in state parks, national forests, and some Corps of Engineer.
The add-a-rooms seem to set up quickly and attach quite well for water and insect proofing. Kind of the 2017 version of the old Shastas from the 1960's

Did we forget to mention. Bay Furnace is in Christmas, Michigan.
While we are here, it has rained every day in the afternoon.  From clear blue skies, suddenly to thunder and heavy rain. In this case also large hailstones. They were forecast as ping pong sized, but these were not quite.  
Also the forecast said 
" there will be vehicle damage" not "might be", but "will be".  Can we tell you how loud this was on the roof.  Worried about damage but the solar panels and the hood survived.  Thank you.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Buffalo River State Park, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Jay Cooke State Park,Minnesota; Dalrymple City Park, Lake Superior, Wisconsin

From Jamestown, North Dakota, Lady Blue, Jan , and I head east on Interstate 94 towards Fargo.  Once through Fargo and into Minnesota, we exit north on Route 336 for a short connector to Route 10.  Just a short distance away is Buffalo River State Park.

This is a very popular park, one of the few close to Fargo.  Lots of hiking trails

The sites are well separated.  We choose to dry camp.  Quieter.

Leaving Buffalo River, we still follow Route 10 east.
We have seen many Deere sales in the Midwest.  However, these are not your lawnmowers. How does it unfold?
A little hard to see, but in the front you can see a 6 step ladder used to get into the cab.  And yes, you can walk under the unit between the tires. This looks like a giant plant sprayer.
If you haven't seen a John Deere website lately check this website.
One of the biggest machines we have ever seen along the road is a sugar cane harvester, seen in southern Florida.

Around Motley we leave Route 10 for Route 210 east to Brainerd where we can pick up our mail.  We have had some problems with our mail recently.  Not the Escapee mail system( from our RV membership mailers out of Texas.). However, we discovered that if you do not address a general delivery package to just "general delivery" plus a zip code it will be returned.  That happened with a sneaker order. We gave the street address of the post office and it was rejected by , evidently, another office within the post office building, even though it clearly said "general delivery".  In this case, for Brainerd, an order from LL Bean went astray to Maine instead of Minnesota because the online order first confirmed the Minnesota address and then rejected that for an older address in our shipping history.  Note to selves---erase old addresses. 
Did you notice the shape of the park sign?
How about the Indian  influenced design of the eagle and fish?

Postal difficulties are small in the order of things and they are quickly corrected.  We learn not to worry too much.
We follow Route 18 out of Brainerd to Garrison and down the west side of Mille Lacs Lake  to Kathio State Park.
Above is a view from the observation tower.
This is a huge state park.  It is a two plus miles drive just from the office to our campground.  We easily did 5 or 6 miles on bicycle while here just from our site to the office and the lookout tower and back.

Minnesota, the" land of 10,000 lakes" actually has 11,842 lakes of 10 acres or more.  Mille Lacs is the second largest lake in the state and is a fishing center with many tournaments  all year.
The Walleye above can reach 17 pounds 8 ounces.
Compare to the yellow perch at the bottom.
The average annual expenditure in Minnesota per angler is about $1500.00
That's a lot of earthworms. Or poles plus a good Bass boat and motor.

The top fish is a Muskellunge or Muskie with a record weight of 54 pounds.
The lower fish is a Northern Pike with a record catch of 45 pounds, 12 ounces. 
Leaving the park, we head east and north around the lake. Note: The town of Isle has one of the best bakeries ever.  
Jan and I notice some beautiful homes on the east side.  All with great lake views, but mostly very modest homes.

Once at the top of the lake, we take Route 169 north to Route 210 east again.  This time, we are heading to Jay Cooke State Park which is about 20 miles south of Duluth, Minnesota.

This park is on the St. Louis River.  The bridge is the latest version of a bridge across the river and the rock formations.  Hard to believe looking at this, but in 2012, after 8 plus inches of rain in 24 hours, the last bridge---same height--was destroyed.

Also known as the swinging bridge.

A good example for budding geologists.  
Millions of years after a seabed disappears, the sandstone turns to rock and a lifting of the crust creates the vertical slabs.

From Jay Cooke, we head north towards Duluth on Interstate 35.
Duluth, Minnesota and neighbor Superior, Minnesota are the furthest western end of the Great Lakes St.Lawrence Seaway.
There are different ways to get into Wisconsin, but we just follow 
Route 35 to the exit for Route 53 and Route 2 east.  A short bit of travel and we are through Superior and ready to exit onto Route 13 north towards the Apostle Islands and Bayfield, Wisconsin. 

After a quick stop at the Visitors Center for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Jan and I head about 1 mile out of town to Dalrymple City Park. 

Beautiful views of Lake Superior from the campground. We could have taken a ferry boat to Madeline Island and a state park campground on the island. But , the ferry cost would have been about $108 for a round trip plus camping fees.  For a short stay that didn't seem to fit.

It is quite easy to take a the boat over to Madeline Island, but there are a total of 22 islands that offer hiking, fishing, caves, and more.
Some of the sites here offer better views than those found at the state park campground( we are told).

Bayfield is a small town that reminds us a lot of Camden , Maine.
Some homes have been renovated to great Inns like this one, Le Chateau.  It is one of two listed under Rittenhouse Inn.

It seemed that all of the properties in Bayfield had a number of lilac bushes of various colors. And they were all in full bloom well over a week into June.
This is the other Rittenhouse Inn.  This one seems to be the main Rittenhouse and the earlier pictured house is known as Le Chateau.
The colors, the porch, the balconies, and more are very impressive.
Also impressive is their website.
Old Rittenhouse Inn Link 
Once on the website, hover your curser over the words 
"lodging", "offers", "restaurant", and "weddings"
You can click on each listing and see pictures of each room, etc.
A very small town, but the main street gives views of the lake.
The store on the left, Joanne's was a classy store offering Scandanavian  merchandise.

The ferry can carry cars and RVs over to the island.
These kayakers are taking lessons close to shore. High winds made venturing out not very safe. 

Some of the history of the harbor .  5 skilled coopers working to build barrels to ship salted fish.
This section of the harbor bears a resemblance to a smaller Bar Harbor, Maine. The walkway is very similar heading over to the marina.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that this is a fresh water lake. It is the largest fresh water lake in the world.  No wonder the Coast Guard needs this special boat with a solid see through cabin and two 225 horsepower motors. 
The info in this town reminds people that the lake is the boss, no matter what size your boat or how good you think you are.
One reminder is the song by Gordon Lightfoot 
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald 

An eyecatcher on the lawn of one of the museums in town.
This brings attention to 1942 when a massive flood buried cars in up to 4 feet of sand.  Of course, the whole story can be found inside the museum.