Sunday, August 4, 2013

2013-25 Marquette to St Ignace Michigan

Crossing the U.P.

Campground:  Ojibwa Casino, Marquette.  Free camping, 50amp, large back in sites with picnic tables and large pine trees.  7 campsites, first come first served.  Sign up daily for the campsite and they give you $5 cash and a drink ticket.  No water or dumpsite.

Campground:  Kewadin, St. Ignace.  $10.00. 50 amp elect/water.  A promotion was going on and I got tickets for 4 nights free.  Campsites are back-in around two sides of the lower parking lot.  Dumpsite available.

Distance Traveled:  115 miles.

I left the Keweenaw Peninsula on Monday knowing my sister Ann is doing well and enjoying that new top floor apartment.  The drive along U.S. 41 to Marquette takes about two and a half hours pulling a camper.  Speed limit is 55 but many folks go around 60.  The forests along the way have recovered beautifully from a couple years of drought.  Looking lush and green.  Even the narrow spruce trees surrounding many swampy areas look very healthy.

The U.P. has many wayside picnic areas and I stopped at one overlooking one of the many beautiful lakes with a smattering of cabins along the shore line.  The sun is out but it’s taking a while for the temperature to warm up to a high of 70 today.

Distance Traveled:  165 miles

I remember as a young boy, selling copper to the tourists of the North American
and South American

a traditional birch bark canoe

lights at the Maritime Museum in Marquette

a pretty little cottage in Marquette

The Marquette Lighthouse

the mystery of the Lake Superior jeans, found floating
in the water

A few days later, after touring a bit of Marquette I headed out on hwy 28 across the northern part of the U.P.  Wonderful views of Lake Superior from Marquette to Munising with many scenic pull-outs to view the lake, walk along the shoreline have a picnic lunch or go agate hunting.  Then the road travels more inland providing mile after mile of forested woodlands.  Very few farms are in this area, it being somewhat swampy with numerous rivers  winding their way through the thick forests.  I’m heading for St Ignace where there’s a casino advertising $10 a night camping.  I luck out and get a four nights free with a seasonal promotion going on.  You know how I love a bargain and with it being senior day, I got the soup/salad/dessert special for $4.95.  I’m living high on the hog as they say.  

St Ignace is one of the closest towns that has ferry service to Mackinac Island.  A major tourist destination.  St Ignace is a seaside town or in this case actually Lake Huron, but like most of the Great Lakes feels like an ocean.  Sail boats, fishing boats and numerous ferry boats use this charming little town to anchor their boats.  There’s even a tour boat that goes to all the lighthouses on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan with a crossing under the Mackinac bridge.  It takes ten years to paint the entire bridge and repairs and maintenance are done all summer long.

I stopped at the Father Marquette National Memorial.  Father Marquette was a Jesuit priest who established settlements in Sault St. Marie and St Ignace but is probably more recognized as one of the first explorers to travel the length of the Mississippi. The memorial is perhaps one of the least impressive sites I have visited.  No statue, just a few plaques a nice voice recording to tell a brief history of Marquette and a map on the floor of the open pavilion showing what routes he explored.  Though the voice recording was done with a heavy French accent, hard to understand.  Well, still a nice trail leading to views of the Mackinac Bridge.  

the floor of the pavilion has this map showing Marquette's travels

St Ignace is an ideal place to take a ferry over to Mackinac Island and I took the Classic Ferry by Arnold.  That’s an older ferry and only costs $15 round trip.  On the way back I could take any Arnold Ferry and ended up taking the new catamaran.  

The Mackinac bridge

Mackinac Island was a strategic island in the development of the U.S. and has Fort Mackinac on the Island.  Sitting imposingly on the top of a hill overlooking the small town.  It was not de-commissioned for many years after it’s usefulness evaporated, leaving the soldiers with little to do but maintain the fort and tend to their vegetable garden. They were then given the task of improving the island with roads and paths and pretty much made it into a park by the time they were done.  

An odd note in history, it became the 2nd named National Park in the U.S., after Yellowstone NP. Shortly thereafter the government decided to turn over the park and fort to the state of Michigan with the only provision being that it remain a park.  It’s been a state park ever since.  Today the whole island is considered historical with about 15% of the land privately owned.  Many of those grand homes have been in the same families for generations.  

The only mode of transportation on the island is by horse drawn carriages or bike or on foot.  I saw many college age porters lugging baggage to and from the nearby hotels by bike and cart.  The Grand Hotel has it’s own stable of horse drawn carriages or people and supplies.   I took one of the carriage rides around the island (1 1/2 hours) along pristine paved roads including highway M-185 which surrounds the island.  Imagine, roads with no motorized vehicles.  Now you’d think it would be peaceful wouldn’t you.  Well, add hundreds and hundreds of novice bikers on the roads and horse drawn carriages and it becomes quite a comical scene of bikes versus horses as they weave in and out and barely miss hitting each other.  

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Downtown scenes of Mackinac Island

Only bikes and horses allowed on the island

Hollyhocks have always been a favorite of mine

the bear makes me look slim

photo reproduced from Mackinac Island website
Overall it was a pleasant tour enjoying the scenery and history of the island at a klopoty klop pace. The Governors summer home is here and has two tours a day.  I missed both.  And a really odd and somewhat creepy statue of Gerald Ford’s head in gold stands out on the lawn near the scouts barracks. Now if I were a boy scout seeing that for the first time, I think I’d have nightmares all week long while staying on the island.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts alternate each week with a full week's stay on the island.

The main shopping area of downtown Mackinac Island is very crowded but if you go one block over, where many of the historical buildings are located and can be toured, it becomes a pleasant walk back in time.

Not a bad way to spend a cool August day.  Temps never got above 70 degrees all day long.

And that’s life in the North Country.  

I always love those roadside attractions, St Ignace Michigan

More photos on Picasa

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