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.


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