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The Great Lakes in July 2020

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

I want to thank you for joining us on this journey, today we'll tell you about our wonderful time in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. As we cruised along US Hwy 2 headed east we breezed through Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin and picked up WI Route 13. This route took us to see our first lake, Lake Superior. As we entered Wisconsin, we had traveled 3285 miles and decided to stop in Herbster on part of the Great Lakes Circle Tour. This lake is absolutely beautiful! Yes, we were ready for a swim and water frisbee. I do think this is about where we realized we were finally beginning to relax. As I'm sure you know, relaxing when you live the go, go go, life can be hard to do. But look at this serene view, can you see where the water ends and the sky begins? So refreshing for a warm July 2nd.

The day was coming to an end, we arrived in Herbster at about 5:30pm then continued on Route 12 to Bayfield. Bayfield is a quaint little town worth seeing. We walked around a bit and found the Pickled Herring restaurant right on the lake.

This salad was so delicious! I had never had grilled romaine - that I recall. I loved it so much so that I asked the waiter if they sold the dressing. Her response was a bit unexpected and took me off guard. She said, and I quote, "I think it comes from a big box". Wait. What?! Now I have waited tables before and I promise you that if a customer had raved about something like I had just done, my response would have been a bit different. I believe I would have gone on about how we don't sell it, it is the chef's masterpiece... blah, blah, blah. All to engage and hopefully get a big tip, nope, not her style. The dish pictured next was also really good.

Maybe it was so good because by then it was about 8:30 and we had worked up an appetite. Anyway, it was time to find a sleeping spot because it was already getting dark. As we were driving out of Bayfield we passed a few dark roads that looked like they went to the lake, we turned right on Friendly Valley Road. Take a look at this spot. This picture was taken in the morning, you can't see the lake but it is behind us. When we pulled in there were vehicles lined up, we assume finishing up the fishing and recreation for the day. When we woke, we were all alone, priceless.

We left the Bayfield area on Route 12 and got back on US 2 headed for Michigan. In Wakefield, MI we headed back to the Circle of Lakes Tour through Houghton and Calumet. Calumet is a great little town with wonderful shops and cool historic buildings. We stopped in at Cross Country Sports and spoke with Lorri, she was full of suggestions. One of which was to go see Copper Harbor and another was to eat at Michigan House Cafe, neither disappointed. She told us that Woody Guthrie wrote and sang a song about Calumet, 1913 Massacre. Pretty awful tale.

Copper Harbor is rich in scenery and a hidden gem for cyclists. The old brick walls along the drive bring out nostalgia and accent the views perfectly. The landscape is lush and green with cool breezes. If you ever get the chance to take the Circle of Lakes Tour, do it!

From Copper Harbor we took Route 41 south to the lower edge of the Upper Peninsula and entered Hiawatha National Forest. We found a large dirt parking area at a boat launch in Rapid River on Lake Michigan. We did stick our toe in but that particular spot was not inviting a swim. The sunset was breathtaking and we started the great debate about lightning bugs versus fireflies. We didn't need to put window covers over our back door because the only lights we saw were the lightning bugs, or were they fireflies?

The next morning, July 4th, as we were headed to the Mighty Mac Bridge on US 2 we realized we were fairly close to the Soo Locks and decided on a detour up I-75. Not really a detour if you don't have an itinerary but you get my drift. The only thing we had planned was a 60,000 mile service for our van on July 6th in Lansing so we had a couple days to enjoy Michigan. The Locks at Sault Ste Marie were interesting to watch. The next two pictures are of the same boat moving from Lake Huron to Lake Superior. Since Lake Huron is lower than Superior the boat went from this...

To this...

Right before our very eyes. People are so amazing to me, I love solutions to a problem.

The Mighty Mac is a magnificent bridge that took us to my favorite lake, Lake Huron was the one I enjoyed the most. From the bridge we took Route 23 toward the 'Thumb' of the mitten of Michigan. We stopped for a swim and some sun on the way to find a spot to see the Fourth of July fireworks, no idea where that would be. We ultimately ended up at a marina in Alpena perched on the roof of the van for a spectacular show over the lake.

The fireworks are never as beautiful in a photo so you'll have to use your imagination. We checked out Alpena and took our time getting back on the road. July 5th is a very special day and I love that the fireworks are just the beginning of it. My one and only baby boy was born on July 5th, he had LOTS of American Flag cakes!

Alpena has some great shops and cafes so we walked around a while and had a late breakfast. This was our sleeping spot after the fireworks...

Port Austin is at the tip of the "Thumb" and has a great lakeside park, time for another swim and some frisbee!

We followed the coast toward Sarnia and then took the freeway west to Okemos near Lansing and pulled into the dealership parking lot for the night so we could get that service handled. Well, it worked out great, at least we weren't late for the appointment, right? Living on the road in a self-contained tiny home on wheels gets your imagination working overtime. Boondocking can be in the strangest places, some are remote some aren't.

After our service we headed east to Detroit to get to I-75 South so we could get back on US 2. This route got us into Ohio and Lake Erie. This was my least favorite area of the Great Lakes but we made the best of it. The first restaurant we stopped in was unacceptable so we checked the Diners, Drive-ins & Dives app and found Melt Bar & Grill in Lakewood, Ohio.

Ohio had a smell that I couldn't quite pinpoint so we drove on to Pennsylvania and found a little spot in Lake City. We were traveling along Hwy 5 and turned left on Old Lake Road, we passed Uncle John's Elk Creek Campground and found a quiet little spot on the Creek.

It takes less than an hour to get through PA on the coast of Lake Erie, so we made Buffalo New York in no time at all. Our journey will continue in our next post.

Please do keep in mind that we are traveling during a global pandemic and we are following all the guidelines of social distancing, hand sanitizing and mask wearing. Some communities are very clearly supportive of the precautions and others carry on with reckless abandon. Please rejoin us as we make our way to Niagara Falls and on to Maine.

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