Friday, September 12, 2008

A Change of Plans

Sept 11, 2008

We woke up this morning to the sun rising over the lake in front of Mo, and it looked like another nice day. Certainly the view was great! We were not in a huge hurry, because other than a stop at something called the Music House Museum, we were only planning to drive as far as Mackinaw City, only a few hours drive.

It turned out that we needed to do some housekeeping first, however. The carpet was still a lot wetter than we were hoping, and Joe discovered that the external storage compartment located right under the sink was very wet also. We spent an hour drying out the things in there (nothing was really damaged, just wet) and drying out the compartment. After that, we had a quick breakfast, and left the RV park at around 9:30.

We had a wonderful surprise about 15 minutes later—a Dunkin Donuts! Joe gasped and pulled over—we were having SUCH a DD craving the day before, and we haven’t seen a DD since Pennsylvania, I think. So we stopped and got coffee, then continued up Michigan Route 31. This road runs right along the coastline of Lake Michigan, and is really lovely—with lots of lake views, and lots of orchards along the road. We decided not to stop at the music museum—we really weren’t in the mood—but did stop at a farm stand to pick up some local fruit and stretch our legs. Then we drove through Charlevoix, a very cute town with a small “downtown” area located smack between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, another large lake east of the road. Actually, there are so many lakes up here—I guess the glaciers were busy creating more than just the Great Lakes! Charlevoix had a number of more upscale touristy stores, a small farmer’s market lined up along the main road, and a beautiful lakefront. But we didn’t see anyplace handy to park the RV, so we didn’t stop.

We stopped at Big Rock Point, however, not much farther up the road, because the view was so pretty! There was a roadside “park” right there, and we got out again and took some photos.

Then we continued to Petosky, where I knew there were some parks, and I thought we could find a nice place for lunch there. We found a small park called Sunset Park (probably the sunset views from there are beautiful, because it was elevated above the shoreline.) We pulled over, and I got out to look at the view.

When I came back, I discovered Joe looking very sourly at the carpeting in the RV. We decided it was really WAY too wet for our comfort. This problem was compounded by the fact that we had put a plastic protector over the floor when we first got Mo, thinking to keep the carpet from getting filthy. This plastic was of course trapping all the moisture in the rug. So we decided to simply pull it off and let the carpet dry out. Joey then vacuumed the carpet, which seemed to help a little bit, and we drove the rest of the day with the breeze blowing through the RV. The carpet is still damp, but not nearly as wet as it was. Unfortunately I think when we get home, we’ll really have to thoroughly clean it, and perhaps even consider replacing it. I am concerned about the flooring underneath. But that is a problem we can’t do anything about now. In the meantime, though, these steps seem to have improved matters.

So we had lunch after all this cleaning up, and then continued through Petosky, which was another very attractive lakefront city, past Bay View immediately north of Petosky, a town full of wonderful Victorian houses all along the main route as well as within the community, and then on to Mackinaw City. We stopped at a state Information Center at that point, because I hadn’t made decisions about a lot of things yet. I picked up tons of literature about the area, and then went to talk to the girl at the desk. She told me that this weekend in St. Ignace (just across the bridge from Mackinaw City) there was going to be a big truck and tractor show, and that we might have trouble finding a campsite! I discussed some logistics with her, then went back to Joe and told him the news. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided that we really didn’t want to be competing for road space, campsites, and tours with lots of extra people—after all, this is supposed to be the off season, and we are not interested in fighting crowds.

So we decided to reverse our plans for the Upper Peninsula, and do the Soo Locks and Mackinac Island on our way back south. Instead of looking for a campground (it was about 3:30 at that point), we continued north over the bridge.

We stopped at a Memorial Park for Father Marquette, the French Jesuit who first came to the area and helped settle it, and then went on to Tahquamenon State Park in Paradise, on Lake Superior. We both think this is the first time we’ve been to Lake Superior, so it really is a “first” for us. The roads here were so empty, it reminded us of Wyoming—no one ahead or behind us. (Lots greener than Wyoming, however!)

We are now camped in a beautiful wooded area, with a river directly behind us (albeit about 40 feet down a slope!) It is raining, which isn’t wonderful, but we’ll see how we make out tomorrow. Since part of our agenda is the Shipwreck Museum, we will be indoors for that anyway. We also plan to see Tahquamenon Falls, and then I assume it will be late in the day, and we will continue west toward Munising. I do need to find a campground with a laundry, so I can wash the towels we’ve been using to clean up the RV with, so I’m hoping I can handle that tomorrow. Of course I really didn’t want more humidity—we want to dry out, not get clammy. Luckily it is still fairly warm up here, although some of the trees are starting to change their leaves. We are really quite far north!

I do have one gripe about the Michigan state parks, though—they charge a “day fee” of $8 for out of state cars. This is on top of the campground fee. I suppose I’d feel even worse if I were from Michigan, however, since they charge $6 for in-state vehicles, and those people are actually supporting the parks already with their state taxes! However, I think $8 is a bit steep for the day use in a park where you might not be doing anything but having a picnic. Oh well, I guess I can say it’s for a good cause—keeping the state park system running is important, and my own NJ taxes are useless from my POV, since they don’t allow pets to camp AT ALL, so there’s no way we’ll ever go camping in a NJ park.

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