Day 4: Monday, June 14th

We pulled up stakes and departed Harrison, Michigan at 10AM. Today, our route would be simple and straightforward: US 123 north to I-75 up to the Mackinaw Bridge and the US 2 West to Manistique, a distance of 224 miles.

The leg of US 123 was quite isolated and I do not recall seeing one exit with any businesses such as a gas station or restaurant. When we hit I-75 that all changed and there we the usual exits clotted with fast food joints and Super Junk Stores. But, between the exits were vast tracks of forest which walled in the Interstate with and impenetrable curtain of trees. Very nice.
The traffic was what I would call light with virtually no heavy truck traffic. This was a relief and made the drive more tolerable.

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

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Just south of Grayling we pulled into a rest stop for a quick pee. This poster just inside was a grim reminder of our (hopefully!) last wreck.

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You won't see too many Interstate rest stops which have a monument to a Warbler. But the Kirtlands is a rock star among the come back kids. From an all time low of 167 nesting pairs in 1976 the population has rebounded and in 2007 there were more than 1700 pairs censused. Not too shabby!

Kirtlands Warbler: Copyright © 2000-2010 by James Ownby

Kirtlands Warbler: Copyright © 2000-2010 by James Ownby

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Our next stop was another rest stop near Topinabee about 45 minutes south of the Straights of Mackinaw. This one with a short trail to an overlook. As soon as we started up the hill we saw this beautiful stand of Blue-bead lily (Clintonia borealis).

The plant is native to the boreal forest in eastern North America, but is also found in other coniferous or mixed forests and in cool temperate maple forests. It is not found in open spaces, and only grows in the shade.

The plant reproduces via seed or vegetatively by rhizomes. Flowering in May and June, it takes over a dozen years for a clone to establish and produce its first flower, 2 years of which are dedicated solely to germination. The rhizome starts to mold after approximatively 15 years, but a colony often covers several hundred m˛. Few specimens establish new colonies.

Source: WikiPedia

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These are the still immature fruits which will later turn a dark blue.

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Here is Betsy atop a giant Petosky stone we collected and have lashed to the top of the car. The glaciers missed this one!

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Just before we crossed the Bridge we stopped for gas. To our surprise it was manned by speedy fellows ready to fillerup and wash the windshield.

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At last - The Bridge.

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The bridge opened on November 1, 1957, ending decades of the two peninsulas being solely linked by ferries. A year later, the bridge was formally dedicated as the world's longest suspension bridge between anchorages. This designation was chosen because the bridge would not be the world's largest using another way of measuring suspension bridges, the length of the center span between the towers; at the time that title belonged to the Golden Gate Bridge, which has a longer center span. By saying "between anchorages", the bridge could be considered longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and also longer than the suspended western section of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. (That bridge has a longer total suspension but is a double bridge with an anchorage in the middle.)

Source: WikiPedia

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Our first look at the Lake Michigan shoreline. The gloomy skies did not detract from its beauty.

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This is at the first rest stop on US 2 not far from The Bridge.

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We had been looking forward to our first pasties of the trip as it had been many years since we had them.

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Hot and tasty!

The easiest way to describe a pasty, is a pot pie without the pot. Nobody knows for sure where and when the pasty originated. It's thought to have been invented when the preparation of food became an art rather than roasting a hunk of meat on a stick. The pasty came to the Upper Peninsula through Cornwall England. When tin mining started going bad in England during the 1800's the Cornish miners immigrated to America hoping to earn there fortunes in newly developing mines.

No one knows for sure though whether the Cornish invented the pasty, or whether they picked it up from some other group. Mrs. R.F. Ellis of Cornwall insist that the Cornish invented it and that it is a diminutive of the star gazed pie, which is a type of pie baked with fish, such that the fish heads stick out of the pie. Others think the Vikings may have brought the pasty to the British Isles when they invaded. And another theory states that it may have been derived from the Italian "pasta", since the Cornish were considered to be great seamen.

Source: History of the Pasty

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Pasties in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan have a particularly unusual history, as a small influx of Finnish immigrants followed the Cornish miners in 1864. These Finns (and many other ethnic groups) adopted the pasty for use in the Copper Country copper mines. About 30 years later, a much larger flood of Finnish immigrants found their countrymen baking pasties. The pasty has become strongly associated with Finnish culture in this area, and in the culturally similar Iron Range in northern Minnesota. Finnish immigrants may also have been familiar with Karjalanpiirakat, a kind of pasty from the Karelian region.

Source: WikiPedia

 

Prior to our arrival in Manistique at 4:00, Betsy proposed the idea of staying in a hotel for the night and then scoping out the area for camp sights the next day. This made good sense to me. After driving most of the day I was not to keen on wandering about the Hiawatha National Forest for who knows how long looking for a campsite.

So we hotel shopped and then decided to stop at the Hiawatha National Forest office and ask about camp grounds which were of the quiet and secluded type. Good thing we stopped in. We found out no sites could be occupied without first reserving the site. Turns out all the on site fee stations had been pulled so you could not just pick a site and then drop the money at the pay station.

This complicated things as it meant we would have to drive north, look around for a site, than drive back to Manistique to pay for it and get a permit. Leave it to the Feds to come up with such a ridiculously inefficient way to pay for a campsite!

 

The ladies at the office could tell we were not real keen on this and were obviously a bit put out by the whole idea. One gal knew nothing about the campgrounds, the other a little bit. But, between the two of them they managed to find a "dispersed" campground with just three sites about 20 miles north. The area is East Lake. The fee was $8 per night.

There are three primitive campsites located on East Lake.
Site #1 is a wooded area on a hill overlooking the Lake. The site is 100 ft. by 75 ft. and is suitable for three families. It is on the west side of the lake.
Site #2 is a small wooded site on the northeast side of the lake. It is approximately 45 ft. by 35 ft. and would be suitable for one family. The access road is narrow and winding but can be traversed by small trailers.
Site #3 is on an open point of land that extends into the lake. It is 55 ft. by 50 ft. and is suitable for one family. Trailers are not recommended.

Source: Manistique Ranger District

So, starting Tuesday, Site #3 will be our home for the next 3, possibly 4 days. Should be interesting as Betsy and I have not been camping of on our own for many years.

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A room with a view. Unlike the Lakeside Motel in Harrison which promised a lake view room and didn't provide one the Star Motel did - albeit a distant one.

The room was 50 bucks with tax and has two queen beds, fridge, strong, stable WiFi, the view, and Spring Peepers calling. The latter is like stepping back in time a month.

After we got checked in we headed up north about 15 miles to check out Big Spring (Kitch-iti-kipi), Michigan's largest spring.

Also known as Palms Book State Park and someplace I most likely would have missed had it not been for Caver George insisting I go there.

Two hundred feet across, the 40-foot deep Kitch-iti-kipi is Michigan's largest freshwater spring. Over 10,000 gallons a minute gush from fissures in the underlying limestone. The flow continues throughout the year at a constant 45 degree Fahrenheit.

By means of a self-operated observation raft, visitors are guided to vantage points overlooking fascinating underwater features and fantasies. Ancient tree trunks, lime-encrusted branches and fat trout appear suspended in nothingness as they slip through crystal waters far below. Clouds of sand kept in constant motion by gushing waters create ever-changing shapes and forms, a challenge to the imagination of young and old alike.

Source: Michigan DNR

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Our first look at the Spring and river.

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Just as we got there two families were leaving so we had the place to ourselves.

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I think this is a Wolf Spider

As we were approaching the raft area a woman warned us about it and then Betsy got nervous. But she did manage to get within 5 feet of it. I grew up with them so I don't pay them much attention.

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We boarded the cable driven raft and I put Betsy to work.

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If you click on this photo you can read about the spring source.

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The raft had an open well in the middle so you could see through to the bottom. This is the boil of the resurgence. Best I could get with the failing light.
Remember 10,000 gal a minute are coming up out of the ground!!

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Captain Winky of the good ship Retirement!!

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Pull, baby - PULL!

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Another look at the spring river from the raft.

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The spring was surrounded by thick Thuja hummocks.

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Betsy and I hummock hopped to get a different view of the raft, not being operated by another visitor and also to see...

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Showy Lady Slippers!

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I had spotted them on the raft ride and wanted to get a better look.

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They were scattered along the edge of the spring and river.

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Shoulda had my tripod!

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I had seen the beauties before in northern Minnesota. Also, there is a stand of the Showy Lady's-slipper Cypripedium reginae in Canaan Valley West Virginia which I was lucky enough to see. Gorgeous!

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A last shot of the cable drive raft. Ingenious and fun.

We then headed back to Marquette for dinner at Marley's Bar and Grill which is downtown.

We both had the Greek Salad. Betsy a small, me a large and a one beer each. Betsy enjoyed her salad thoroughly and I ate mine without much interest and wondered when canned beets became an ingredient in a "Greek" salad.

We got back to the Star Motel around 7:30. Betsy started planning then next days hiking and camping and I started selecting and processing photos for the web. By 9:00 Betsy was in never-never land and I stayed up to nearly 10:30 working on my travelogue.

Now it is 7am Wednesday as I finish this up. This morning I rose at 5:15 and took my coffee out to the lake shore. I was greeted by loons, veerys, and phoebe. It was nice and quiet and the sunrise was quite pretty.

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