Day 23: Saturday, July 3rd

I woke unexpectedly this morning. It was 5AM and just getting light. Although this was my normal wake up time I sensed something had awoken me. I lay there for a moment, trying to clear the cobwebs. I raised my head from the pillow and then I heard it. The intrusive, continuous drone of a generator. The Ugly American was back.

It is always hard for me to believe anyone could be so thoughtless and inconsiderate as to inflict this unwanted intrusion on others. But then I remembered - these people are self-centered ASS HOLES who don't care if what they do bothers other people. They think only of themselves and their immediate gratification.

As the generator blasted away I got up and Betsy roused shortly after I did. This was unusual for her, but it was departure day and we had planned to get an early start.

The wind had died down and it had warmed up overnight. The mosquitoes were out in full force. We were both glad we had taken the time yesterday to pack everything but the tent and bedding. But, even packing the little which left was a maddening chore as the mosquitoes pestered us relentlessly. Add to this the constant noise of the generator and you can imagine what kind of mood it put me in.

We dispensed with coffee and got the tent dismantled and loaded in short order. The tent was still wet, but we knew we would be able to dry it out later that day.

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

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Betsy had a regressive moment and left this message behind along with the numerous others which already embellished the picnic table.

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A last look at our site. We hated to leave.

As we drove out to Natalie Road I decided to make a detour to the boat landing where the generator noise had emanated from.

As I pulled into the boat launch area there sat a monstrous "motor home", illegally camped in the turn around. Rules don't apply to Ugly Americans.

I got out of the car, went up to the door of this obnoxious rig and gave it a sound pounding. Then again. The door opened and there stood Mr. Ass Hole, scrambled eggs tumbling out of his mouth and down his chin as he said "Yes, what do you want?" I asked him if he was the one who had started the generator at 5AM. He just look at me. I then asked how he could be so inconsiderate as to do such a thing and didn't he are about anybody else who was camping there. He got a bit flustered, but then recovered and said somewhat defiantly "I didn't know anyone was camping here." That's because he did no look, or he would have seen us! Ass hole...

Trying to keep my cool I then told him he was rude and inconsiderate for doing such a thing. He said he was sorry, which meant nothing to me because I knew he wasn't. I turned my back on him and his egg covered t-shirt and we left. I was sorely tempted to record his tag number, and take photos while he watched. But, I did not want to make Betsy a victim of my vindictive anger. So, we just left.

Disgusted and somewhat depressed by this unfortunate ending to a blissful 3 weeks I drove down the road in silence.

We went back through Newberry and headed south on SR 123 and drove the 4 miles to the intersection of SR 28 where there was a Micky D's. It was now almost 7AM and we had not had coffee or anything to eat since getting up and we were ready for both.

We finished our grub and while sipping our coffee looked over the Michigan state map and started to think about our route south. The plan was to wind our way down to the Lower as far as Mio, spend the night, and then continue on down to Fort Wayne. For now, we decided to stay on SR 28 east rather than head down to busier US 2.

Our route as planned would take us east in and out of both Superior State Forest and Hiawatha National Forests, past Hubert Lake and then over to SR 123, just south of Eckerman. At the intersection of 28 and 123 I hung a right and headed south towards Trout Lake.

The drive was very pleasant thus far.There was very little traffic on either SR 28 or 123. When we got to Trout Lake we saw yet another closed motel complex, the Castlewood Inn and Suites.

Castlewood Inn and Suites, the official site for the State of Michigan tourism industry still listed this place as open for business on their website. I sent them an email and let them know the place was closed, and they then removed it from their database. Another one bites the dust.

Former Best Western, 41 Room Motel With 3 Bdr. Management Quarters, Indoor Pool, Free-standing Full Service Restaurant (30' x 50''), On 13 Acres. Close To Snowmobile and ATV Trails. Located Only 30 Minutes From Mackinaw Bridge In The Upper Peninsula Of Michigan. Close To Area Tourist Attractions, Lakes, Rivers, State Land And Casinos. Additional Acreage May Be Redesigned For New RV Park. Sold As Is With No Expressed Warranties. Site Has Just Re-opened For Business, Limited Financial History Available. Flexible Seller Financing To Qualified Buyer. Only $650,000. Email or call 231-218-1166 for more information on this Motel & Resort for sale.


This sprawling, two story complex must have had over a 100 rooms, not the 41 listed above. Note: it is only 30 Minutes from the Mackinaw Bridge and still it could not stay open. Bleak...

We continued on south through Ozark, past the 12,230 acre Mackinac Wilderness and then through the town of Moran.

Moran, Michigan (45°59'39"N, 84°49'51"W, pop. 200±) is the biggest town of its size in the world. My searches of the Internet over the years for some evidence of the recognition it deserves have come up empty. This is a modest attempt to remedy the situation.

I lived in Moran from the time of my birth in 1947 until 1962. Even then, Moran was long past its heyday. At one time it boasted an opera house, an amusement park, two sawmills, and regular rail service. Now, there is one gas station/grocery store instead of the two gas stations and two grocery stores of the 1950's, and the rail line has been torn up and is now a snowmobile trail.


As we went through the poke'n'plum town of Moran we saw smoke and a quick glance to the right showed it to be a fish smoker. I slowed down, made a uey and pulled up in front of the place. This would probably be our last chance to get some smoked fish to take back home. But, the place was without lights and the sign said it did not open until 9:00. Rats! Just then someone came out the front door and said: "I can take care of you."
So, while Betsy went in and checked out the offerings of King's Fish Market, I snapped a few pics of the smoker.

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I am not sure which is which, but I think the top row is Lake Trout and the lower row is Lake White Fish.

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The stack of wood on the left made me think of the Cooper's BBQ pit in Llano, Texas.

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I went inside the store/resteraunt where Betsy was selecting her goodies. The place was decked out with all kinds of fishing paraphernalia.

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I thought of Harlan Joe when I saw this!

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Yummy! Betsy got a pound of smoked Whitefish and 1/3 pound of smoked trout. The total was a whopping 7 bucks. We should have bought more. But, the iceless cooler was buried somewhere in the car and we did not know how well it would keep without being chilled. Next time we will stock up.

We continued south on SR 123 and 6 miles later hit I-75. From there it was just under 10 miles to the Mackinac Bridge.

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I could not help but wish we were seeing this view from the other side. How could 3 weeks have gone by so fast?

We took I-75 south to Indian River, exited and picked up SR 33 east to Onaway, then south past Clear Creek State Park and Velentine Lake, then on to Atlanta where we jogged east and then back south towards Mio.

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The view from our lunch spot. Compare it to yesterday's.

"We were having culture shock at all the traffic which probably wasn't all that bad, but it seemed so to us, newly back from the relative quiet of the UP." Betsy's Journal

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The only good Starling is a dead Starling.

This was the most interesting thing I saw at our lunch stop.

We continued on down 33 to Mio. What I remembered as a quiet little backwater, and it was 35 years ago when I last was here, was now busy, busy, busy! Still a small town, but with the added growth over the years and everyone out for the 4th of July weekend, it seemed nearly intolerable. I was already longing for the solitude and quiet of the UP.

Seeing how busy Mio was we decided to push on south and try to find someplace quieter. Still on SR 33 at about mile 100 we intersected with SR 55 and decided to take it west the few miles over and under I-75 on to SR 30 which would keep us on course - due south.

The dense and seemingly unbroken forests we had been so used to seeing were now giving way to endless fields of corn and soybeans and grazing cattle.

After another 80 miles or so we intersected with US 10, a four lane highway. At this point SR 30 disappeared shortly to the south and turned into North Meridan Road.

We were unsure as to what to do next. Then I noticed a road starting at Gordonville which went along the Pine River, west to St. Louis.
We decided to give it a shot and were soon following the meandering curves of the river on a tiny county road.

At one point we lost site of the river and were surrounded on all sides by cornfields. We then came to a 3 way intersection and had no clue as to which way to go. So, I went straight and were soon crossed back over the river which I knew we did not want to do. We passed by several homes hoping to see someone we could get directions from. Finally I spotted a place with the garage door open and two "old folks" sitting inside in lawn chairs. I pulled into the drive and Betsy got out to ask directions. After what seem like hours she came back to the car. It had taken a while for the women to give Betsy directions because she was unsure of what way to send her and ending up confused herself. She finally told Betsy we should just drive back the way we had come to the intersection and make a left and then we would continue on down the river road and onto St Louis. We drove on, still feeling like we were in th middle nowhere and loving it.

The closer we got to St.Louis the more "civilized" it started to become. The "Pine River Road" changed to "Riverview Drive" and about 5 miles northwest of St Louis we passed Harrier Farms Nursery which had a large sales yard and rows of poly houses.

Harrier Farms

Harrier Farms north of St Louis, Michigan.

Riverview drive turned from rural to suburban and then to urban and we were now on a city street. The main street was blocked off for a Carnival and we were uncertain of which way to go next. Betsy's sense of direction and signage interpretation proved better than mine and we were soon on the correct road - Business US 127.

I found some interesting information about St Louis while doing my web research for this report. In 1983, the EPA designated the old Velsicol Chemical plant site on the Pine River, the nearby Gratiot County landfill, into which Velsicol had dumped tons of contaminated wastes, and parts of the Gratiot County Golf Course [called the burn pit] as superfund sites.

The clean up is ongoing to this day as these two web sites will attest: Pine River Environmental Project and Pine River Superfund Site - Great Lakes Wiki.

When we got onto US 127 south and looked at the map we realized we were now only about 50 miles north of Lansing. At this point it seemed pointless not to just push on to Fort Wayne. So, Betsy got out here trusty cell phone and called her sister Charlotte and got the OK for us to show up a day early. That settled, we now drove the rest of what ended up being a 10 hour drive and arrived at Harlan, Indiana and Char and Joe's place around 5:00. Art, Betsy and Char's dad, was there, but Joe was away at a gun show - in Lansing!

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We decided a great use for the smoked fish we bought was as an hors d'oeuvre.

Then Char fixed a fabulous dinner of shrimp and scallops with fresh spinach and feta cheese over pasta.

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Thankfully, we felt none the worse for wear after the 10 hour drive and we had a very relaxing evening.

Now in the perfect place to unwind and decompress a bit we decided to stay at Char and Joe's until Monday morning. Thanks! to Char and Joe for making both the start and finish of our 3 week Yooper Odyssey very pleasant and relaxing.

Although we now considered this trip at it's official end the last leg of the trip cannot go unmentioned.

On Monday morning we left Harlan and all those good folks behind and continued on towards home. While at Char and Joe's we had contacted Jan and Bill in Berea Ohio about the possibility of stopping off at their place overnight for a visit. Of course they enthusiastically agreed to this but with a caveat: they were in the process of packing up to move to West Virginia and the house was in a state of disarray.

We assured them that would be no problem and we were stopping to visit with them, not the house. So, we would continue on east on a route which avoided interstate highways and take us out into the scenic, northern Ohio country side - sort of.

I cannot recollect the exact route we took. Some of it we had been on previously and it was fine. But at some point we got onto a series of roads which ended up taking a lot of time to make an progress on. Plus, the temperature was in the 80s and 90s the entire drive and I stubbornly refused to turn on the AC.

We were both glad when that drive was over! We got to Jan and Bill's around 3:00. They were both busy sorting, packing and labelling boxes. We chilled out with beers we had bought at a local K-Mart and got the full scoop on their moving plans.
Betsy and I then took much needed showers and it felt good to get the road washed off.

We then made plans to meet Lenny and Phil for dinner at Aladdin's in Middleburg Heights. I did not know it at the time but Aladdin's is a chain with locations in 5 states.

The six of us filled out the table nicely and, in short order we were all enjoying our meals and drinks. I cannot remember exactly what I had but I remember it was one of the rolled pita sandwiches and it was spicy and flavorful. Not bad for a chain joint.

Alway the lushes, Betsy and I had beer and everyone else had soft drinks. We had arrived fairly early - 5ish. But by the time we left it was getting quite busy. We left and then reconvened at Jan and Bill's but soon called it an early evening. Betsy and I said our farewells to Lenny and Phil and shortly after that Bill and Jan relinquished ownership of the living rooms so we could crash.

The next morning we had a breakfast date with life long friend of the family Don (aka Bud) Altemus so we departed Jan and Bill's shortly before 9:00. Now, the next time we see them they will be West Virginia residents. Yee-Haaaawwww!

I had arranged for us to meet Don at the Panera's just down the street which was handy for all of us. Betsy and I caught Don up on the highlights of our trip and told him about all the other travel plans we had for the year.
Then, it was back on the road and home to our Hillside Heaven.

  Mike and Betsy's favorite meal

Thanks! to everybody who went along on this trip with us - we enjoyed the company.

'Till next time...

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