New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey: 10/19 – 12/31/2021

Our last hiking together for awhile was in New Hampshire. We returned to New Jersey to attend my Aunt Dorothy’s services. We were able to take my mom with us with the use of a borrowed wheel chair. It was more difficult than ever for her to get around. Of course, she looked beautiful and everyone was so happy to see her. It had been a very long time since she had gotten out of the house. Our plan was to return to New Hampshire, but I decided to send Scott back up alone so that I could spend time with my mom. Little did I know at the time, that her days were numbered.

Scott spent the next two weeks in Gorham, NH, hiking and exploring on his own. Here are some moments he captured.

While Scott enjoyed many solitary steps in the wilderness, I was a socialite. I was cooking and visiting with mom, saw the dentist and doctors for well checkups, and even saw couple of old friends. One highlight was going to Baltimore, MD, with my sister Pattie to visit her son, Patrick, and to see his new digs.

Me and Patrick in Severn, MD
New York City Dinner with the Ski Ladies!!

On November 9, Scott returned from New Hampshire. We had reserved a site for three weeks at Black Bear RV Resort in Warwick, NY, so that we could visit with family, be around for Thanksgiving, and celebrate Danielle’s 30th Birthday. Some nights I stayed at the RV park with Scott. Others nights I slept at my mom’s house as I had the use of her car while visiting. While I was socializing, Scott took some local hikes that he frequented over the years when he lived in Vernon, NJ.

On November 16, my mom was taken out to lunch with her cousins and nieces. They all had a wonderful time, as you can tell from the smiling faces!!

Here are some more highlights of our Jersey visit.

Bergen Catholic Playoff Game in Oradell, NJ
Me, Mom, and Dani Thanksgiving Day 2021
Jake, Mom, and Dani Thanksgiving Day 2021
Jets Football Tailgate
30 Balloons for 30 Years!
New Birthday Earrings!
Getting ready for the birthday party
Celebrating Dani’s 30th at Van Saun Park Zoo train ride! (without the b’day girl)
Breakfast in NYC with Vicky and Michael

After three weeks of back and forth to moms and visiting with friends and family, I drove to my mom’s house on Tuesday, November 30th, to return her car. Scott and I were set to leave the next morning for West Virginia to being our travels back west. When I saw my mom, I noticed that she had a bad looking cut on her shin. She told me that it was nothing, and that she had put peroxide on it. We postponed our departure, and I took my mom to Urgent Care. None of her shoes fit her swollen foot, so she wore my Uggs and I wore her black boots.

Mom heading to car in the garage sporting my brown Uggs.
Wearing Mom’s Black Booties – Quite the Fashion Statement!

The doctor at Urgent Care took a culture of the wound, and told us to go straight to the Emergency Room. They also took a sample and immediately gave her antibiotics via IV. We were instructed to see a Wound Specialist as follow up. Two days later, they cleaned out the wound, wrapped up her leg, and told us that mom had to come by weekly to have the wound unwrapped, cleaned, and rewrapped for several weeks. The following day, we received word that that her culture tested positive for MRSA. They changed her antibiotics to Bactrim, and within 24 hours she had an allergic reaction to that medication and was unable to stand on her own two feet. We were in the process of looking for an Assisted Living facility for mom that was nearer to my sister, and now we began to expedite the process.

My mom’s younger brother, Bernie, and his wife Rose, stopped by the house the day before we were scheduled to move mom.

Aunt Rose, Mom, and Uncle Bernie

On December 10th, we packed mom’s suitcase and left 42 Beverly Road for her new home. Although she didn’t want to leave her home of 65 years, she knew that given the latest circumstances it had to be done.

Leaving 42 Beverly Road, Oradell, NJ – Mom’s home for 65 years
Scott, Mom, and Me in her new home.
Me and my sister, Pattie, at the Murphy Fundraiser
Bobby, me, and Kevin – Good ole’ friends

With Mom settling in nicely in her new home, I hopped on a plane and flew to Florida to see my sister, Rose. I enjoyed celebrating her 58th and her husband, Dean’s, 60th. They were celebrated quietly as many people were still coming down with Covid. It was a gift for me to be able to celebrate their special days with them.

December 15, 2021 – Morning Boat Ride
Rose with Captain Deancee
Birthday Luncheon
December 18, 2021 – Cody, Birthday Boy Dean, and Rose

The second birthday luncheon celebrating Dean this time!

While I enjoyed spending time with family, Scott had been on the road for a few days. He stopped in Durango to see Molly and Mara. The weather was a bit different for Scott.

Oasis RV Resort, Durango, Colorado
Scott and Mara

I returned to New Jersey on Monday, December 20th. I was scheduled for my first booster shot the next day. I didn’t go to visit my mom because their was a Covid breakout in Florida where I had been. I wanted to wait to be sure that I wasn’t going to start having symptoms. On Thursday, December 23rd, I learned from my siblings that mom was in a different way. She went from seemingly adjusting well to her new home, to being quiet and non communicative. It had only been two weeks since we moved her there. During the first week, she told me that she met some ‘Irish friends’ that she was eating meals with and that there were a lot of very nice ‘mommies’ taking care of her. We did a zoom call over the phone, and I could tell that she wasn’t in the mood for chit chat. I told her that I would be down on Christmas to see her again.

She stopped eating and drinking of her own accord. By Friday morning, she wouldn’t get out of bed. Her facility, Bentley Commons at Paragon Village in Hackettstown, NJ, took her by ambulance to the ER on Christmas Eve morning. We were able to see her one at a time on Christmas Day in a private back room in the ER. She didn’t realize that it was Christmas. I sang Silent Night with her while holding her hand. She told her granddaughter, Danielle, “I’ve had a wonderful life.” Mom had three daughters and two granddaughters by her side as she quietly and peacefully left us. The services won’t be until January 6, 2022. Scott will be flying in next week. In the meantime, I will be staying around to help with cleaning out mom’s house.

To my faithful followers, this will conclude my blogging via WordPress. Scott and I are planning to continue our RV-ing adventures into 2022, however, all posts will be made on my FaceBook page. We hope that you enjoyed following us around our beautiful country these last three+ years.

White Mountains of New Hampshire: 10/7 – 10/17/22

Before arriving in New Hampshire, we spent three nights in Lake George, NY, at Ledgewood Village RV Resort. It is a clean and impeccably maintained seasonal campground conveniently located near all of the popular Lake George attractions, yet just far enough away to guarantee your peace and privacy. the campsite is directly off of NY 149 and about 5.6 miles from the town of Lake George. Temperatures were in the mid-fifties to low sixties. It was mostly cloudy, rainy, muggy and wet. Indian Summer was a thing of the past, and the nights were cooler now. It felt, appropriately, like fall on the East Coast. And, I was finally hiking again with Scott.

It cleared up somewhat the next day. Scott and I took a short drive to the trailhead for Inman Pond Trail. It was a short, mostly flat, 5.1 miles hike with elevation gain of about 794’. You could see that the fall foliage was beginning to take place.

It’s been awhile since we had to “check-in” before a hike.
Beaver Dam

The next day, we stayed at the RV Park and invited Scott’s old boss, Chris, and his wife Marie, over to our place to have some lunch and catch up. It’s always nice to see some fellow retirees and catch up on what they are doing.

The 3.5 hour drive from Lake George to Lincoln, New Hampshire, was pleasant. The weather got warmer with temps in the 70’s during the day and high 50’s at night. We were excited to meet up again with our friends, Gail and Charlie Brunner. We were hoping to find a spot to boon dock, but all sites were taken. So, we found Big Rock Campground, located directly off of Kancamagus Highway. There are about 25 sites, first-come, first-serve. We got the last two sites and they were directly next to each other!

Big Rock Campground – The Brunner’s were in Site #4 just below us.

The next day, the four of us set out to hike Chocorua Trail, a 7.24-mile hike with 2,171’ elevation gain. Our lungs got a good workout today!

Gail, me, and Charlie
View of the valley and the gorgeous, fall foliage
The wind was about to take me over the edge!
Charlie & Gail chillin’ on the top of Mt. Chocorua
Happy Camper/Hiker

The next day, we walked 7.35 miles along the Penwamagasatt River. We needed something easier to hike after yesterday’s exertion.

I am so excited to capture a group selfie, but my group was already off the bridge.
Sitting on rocks at Franconia Falls
Charlie taking a snooze at Franconia Falls
Fresh Margarita Time!
Enjoying a night time campfire
Looking up at the night sky above the campfire.

Gail and Charlie had to leave the next morning, but we stayed another night. On Monday, we drove north to White Birches Camping Park in Gorham, NH.

Site #24 at White Birches Camping Park

The next day, we drove a short distance to the trailhead for 19 Mile Brook Trail.

We hiked 7.6 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of approximately 2,000’. The half-way mark was 3.8 miles in to Carter Notch Hut, where hikers can find some shelter, buy a hot meal, and even spend the night.

It was a perfect “fall” day for a hike.
Front entrance to Carter Notch Hut
Taking a lunch break outside the hut.
Carter Notch Pond

We left White Birches Camping Park and was able to find a nice site on Barnes Field Camp.

Barnes Field Camp
View of Peabody River

The weather continued to be perfect for day hikes. I was happy to be moving my body again. Today’s hike at Howker Ridge Trail was long and arduous.

Beginning of trailhead
Howker Ridge Trail – 4.87 miles hike with 2,121’ elevation gain
Navigating another stream crossing at Howker Ridge
Enjoying the beautiful view into the valley
About three hours later, we are about to head back down. Can’t you see that I love hiking?

The following day, we returned to Rattle River Trail. Today’s hike was not nearly as long or strenuous as yesterday’s; however, the fall slippery conditions got the best of me today. We hiked 4.25 miles with only a 685’ elevation gain.

Spot where I fell while taking a picture of the mini waterfall.
Ouch! At least my ankle is feeling pretty good!
Almost at the end of the hike. The leaves were beautiful, but slippery.

We took a break the next day and went for an early dinner in town.

Delicious Italian dinner in Gorham

Our last hike together was another a longer one, 6.05 miles with 1,132’ elevation gain.

Beginning of Great Gulf Trail
Crossing the Peabody River
View of Mt. Washington summit

Later that evening, we got news that my Aunt Dorothy Galea has suddenly passed away. We returned to White Birches Camping Park. We felt more comfortable leaving our rig in a RV park while we traveled back to New Jersey so that we could attend the services. The next morning as we got ready to leave, the automatic leveler was not calibrating properly and kitchen slide was stalling. Also, the jacks would not retract. It took Scott four hours to make it happen manually. I don’t know how he does some things, but he is definitely an all around handyman. Instead of leaving the rig in New Hampshire, we took it with us back to New Jersey. This wasn’t the plan at all, but plans do change. After the services for my aunt, I decided that I wanted to spend time with my mom. So, Scott took the truck and RV back up to New Hampshire, while I stayed in New Jersey. On November 9, we will meet up again at Blackbear RV Resort in Warwick, NY.

Barnegat, NJ: 9/26 – 10/4/21

Entrance to RV Resort

We spent a week here at Long Beach RV Resort, also known as Sun Retreats Long Beach Island RV Resort & Campground. Besides wanting to visit my beloved LBI again, we came to spend time with my brother, Jim. He was almost a year into his liver cancer diagnosis. He was feeling pretty good during our visit. Luckily, we were able to go out for dinner and spend an afternoon at the beach together.

Scott and Jim heading to the shoreline in Surf City.

It was a gorgeous, late September day. Jeanette, Jim, Scott and I spent a few hours at the beach. It was warm and breezy in the high 60’s, but the water temperature was quite cold. Jim put his feet in but decided he would get too cold with a full body dunk. I didn’t go in either. It was nice to see him out of the house, enjoying the ocean and our company.

On Wednesday, Scott and I took a drive to the tip of New Jersey to Cape May. Again, it was a beautiful sunny day with a slight chill in the air. We walked the beach but neither one of us went for a swim.

Instead, we reached out to our old friends, The Finleys, and went to visit them at their home on Cape Island. I hadn’t been to their home in years. They had done some renovating over the years including a new master bedroom wing and an outdoor bar! We enjoyed some beer and delicious food cooked by Chef Michael!

Scott, me, Mike and Gwen

On Saturday, Jeanette attended her high school reunion in Bergen County overnight. So, I spent the night with my brother at his home. It was important for him to not be alone, and it gave me the chance to cook dinner for him and hang out. And, to watch him rest.

Jim sure reminds me of our Pop in this picture. Same body language.

The next day, Scott and I drove back onto LBI and went to Beach Haven to have lunch. It was October 3rd and the weather felt like a typical summer’s day.

Cheers!

Next stop, New Hampshire!

Florida, New York: 9/3 – 9/16/21

The main reason for staying in this area was the proximity to my mom’s home in New Jersey. Black Bear Campground is the only full-service RV park in the area, located about a 10-minutes drive from the quaint town of Warwick, NY, and about 45 minutes to Oradell, NJ. It is open year round, but most park amenities were closed due to Covid. All transactions were handled over the phone. Their facilities had been closed since March of 2020. While the RV sites are well maintained, their buildings look quite outdated and in need of some loving.

Located off Wheeler Road in Florida, NY
Our truck is parked on a separate site. Due to Covid, they were leaving every other site empty to create social distancing.

The next day, I woke up with a nasty headache under my eyes and in my forehead. I was very congested and achy with a slight sore throat. Did I have Covid? I didn’t get tested. Did Scott actually have asymptomatic Covid or was it a false-positive? By the next morning, I was completely fine. We walked around the campground talking about how much I wanted to go visit my mom. All I could do right now was call her on the phone. I was so close…yet so far.

On Tuesday, we drove to Anthony Wayne Recreation Area in Harriman State Park. It was so good to get out somewhere. We enjoyed a six-mile hike out and back with 1,386’ elevation gain.

Late Summer View of the New York Skyline
View of Hudson River and New York Skyline to the right
A hidden cell tower that was not here two years ago.

The following morning, I woke up with a pulled hamstring in my left leg. It was quite painful. It would last for six months.

Our quarantine period was ending and I got a PCR test for Covid. It was negative! Scott headed to New Jersey with the RV for a week while I flew to Charleston, SC, to meet up with my sister, Rosie, to attend a conference at Wild Dunes Resort. Fabulous!!

View from our room…ocean in the background

We borrowed the Oliver’s chairs.
Rosie, Michelle Chalfant/Adult Chair Life Coach, Me
Beautiful Sunset Cruise

Poolside fun
Girls Night Out with our “other” sister

While I was playing in Charleston, SC, Scott was hanging out at Worthington State Forest in New Jersey.

Worthington State Forest
Garvey Springs Hike
Cooling off in Sunfish Pond

Our next stop together is Barnegat, New Jersey.

Lake Seneca, NY: 8/30 – 9/3/21

We left Niagara Falls area and headed southeast toward the Finger Lakes Region. We stayed at Back Achers Camprgound located in a secluded area on the west side of Seneca Lake conveniently located on the Finger Lakes Wine Trail.

Back Achers is the only private campground Facility located on beautiful Seneca Lake with private lake frontage. The campground is old yet fairly maintained. There are a few seasonal renters from May 15th – October 15th. The lake was not far from our campsite. The next day we walked about 100 feet straight towards the trees and then the road dropped down about 100 feet to the water’s edge.

Lake side beach with roped off swim area and a private dock
Looking in the other direction
This sign didn’t make me feel better about going for a swim.

It was a hot summer’s day of 88 degrees and I could feel the humidity building. It was around 3:30 p.m. and Scott went right in for a swim. I made it in about three feet and stopped because I couldn’t see my feet. Boy, I sure did miss the crystal-clear blue water of the Great Lakes.

The next day, we took a drive south to Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca. GPS got us lost. We met a couple who said we could follow them to the park. There is a vehicle use fee ($9 for our car) to enter the park. Stopping at the Visitor Center, we got a park map and took the Gorge Trail via the Red Pine Trail to Lucifer Falls.

The first of 12 waterfalls.
115 ft. Lucifer Falls (Notice hikers on the steps top right)
Stream-fed pool beneath a waterfall. Swimming is allowed in lifeguarded area only.

In total, we walked 4.96 miles and gained 775’ elevation. Our plan was to first stop at Watkins Glen State Park, the most well known park in the Finger Lakes. I had been there before with my daughter and her best friend, and was happy to check it out again. The parking lot was full, so we continued on the Lucifer Falls. Our intention was to stop back at Watkins Glen on our way back from Lucifer, but we were too tired. We did stop at a local Mennonite farm stand to load up on vegetables and to buy flowers for our PA friends. Their prices were very reasonable.

The next day was the beginning of Labor Day Weekend. The weather had been perfect and the forecast looked good. Our next stop was Pennsylvania to visit with our friends for the long weekend. Since they were leaving Labor Day Monday to babysit their grandson, we took it upon ourselves to get tested for Covid – just to play it safe. Well, Scott tested positive with absolutely NO SYMPTOMS! Instead of spending three days with them followed by a week by my brother’s home in Barnegat, NJ, we got to quarantine for 10 days. We found out weeks later that the batch of tests of which we purchased from CVS were giving out false-positives. We will never really know for sure.

Next stop Warwick, NY, our quarantine location.

Niagara Falls, NY: 8/27 – 8/30/21

We drove for about three-and-a-half hours on 90E from Geneva, Ohio, until we reached Niagara Falls in New York. It was a beautiful, sunny, and windy day with a fabulous breeze coming off of Lake Ontario. It was in the mid-eighties, but the humidity I have missed from the east coast had not set in…just yet. We found a RV Park in Youngstown, NY, about a 15-minute drive to Niagara Falls State Park. It also abuts Lake Ontario.

Four Mile Creek State Campground, Youngstown, NY

We got up early the next morning and headed to the park. Due to Covid restrictions, our exploration was limited to the American side of the Falls. Scott and Eileen took Molly when she was a child and they stayed on the Canadian side. We plan to go back again some day.

We were able to get tickets for the Maid of the Mist boat ride for 9:00 a.m. While we killed time, we took some photos from above the water at Prospect Point.

Looking west at the American Falls on the left and Canada on the right.
Looking east at the Bridge crossing over America to Canada. Boat ramp is directly below.
Ready or not! We are going to get wet!

Needless to say, this was our first “super-spreader event” that we attended since the pandemic began. Since we were both vaccinated, we didn’t feel threatened. The Maid of the Mist is a short ride from the American side boarding dock to the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Ponchos are provided with the purchase of your ticket (Adult $25.25, Child $14.75).

Off we go!
Time to put the camera/phone away!

At the conclusion of the ride, you are given the option to drop off your rain poncho to be recycled. Next, we headed for the Caves of the Wind. Since we were already partially wet, why not continue the fun. Cost of ticket is $12 Adult, Youth 6-12 $9, and child 5 and under Free. It includes a yellow rain poncho (that you can also recycle at the end). Fun Fact: The name ”Cave of the Winds” is a bit deceiving. In the 1800’s there was a rock overhand — or cave like structure — that allowed people to stand under the Falls. the Cave collapsed in the early 1900’s but the name stuck.

HURRICANE DECK/CAVE OF THE WINDS

You walk up the red steps to the right and stand on the deck. It feels like you could be blown away as you are pounded with heavy pellets of rain. It’s incredibly loud, and it’s difficult not to laugh.

Soaking wet, but enjoying the intensity of the moment.
View from above Hurricane Deck/Cave
View of the Maid of the Mist boat heading to the Falls and Cave of the Winds.
Another view of the Falls from above.

Later, we wandered over to Three Sisters Island taking in the beautiful sights within the Canadian Rapids.

First bridge crossing over to Three Sisters Island

The next day we returned to the park to hike Devil’s Hole Trail and Whirlpool Loop near the Niagara River.

View from the trail.
Heading down to the water’s edge.
Canadian aerial cable car up above – only accessible from the Canadian side.

The aerial cable car travels round trip 3,500 feet above the Niagara Gorge and takes about 10 minutes. The capacity of the car is 35 standing passengers.

Capturing the essence of Whirlpool Loop Rapids
What East Coast humidity feels like!

Needless to say, the weather was hot and humid, and I preferred to hang out in the air conditioned truck. Next stop, the Finger Lakes area.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, MI: 8/23 – 8/26/21

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is located on the northeast corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It took us six hours to drive from Echo Lake/Camp 7 Lake Campground on the Upper Peninsula, over the Mackinaw Bridge into Mackinaw City, and finally to our next campsite in Traverse City State Park. Traverse City is a densely populated waterside city that runs along Highway 31. This huge state park has almost 500 RV sites, and it is located directly across from a free, public beach area. The traffic is a nightmare, making it difficult to pull out of the huge campground. It could take up to ten minutes to make a left hand turn out of the lot. We had to pay a $34 for a State Park Pass, which would cover our entrance into all of Michigan’s state parks for one year.

Traverse City RV State Park and Kenissee Grand River Campground

The following day, we set out for Sleeping Bear Dunes.

This is a land of legend, change, and survival – a masterpiece of ice, wind, and water. Over two-million years ago glaciers advanced from the north that were heavy, powerful, and up to a mile thick. Around 14,000 years ago temperatures warmed and the glaciers started to melt. The glaciers retreated, leaving behind ridges, glacial kettles, moraines, and other glacial landforms. The melt-water filled in the holes, creating the Great Lakes, smaller lakes, and wetlands.

The Legend of Sleeping Bear was too cute not to share…

Taken from park brochure
Taken from park brochure

We began our exploration at Pyramid Point, which was a short walk from the parking lot through forest land until you reach the dunes and the view of Lake Michigan.

The color of the water was unbelievable!
Our view from up top
Guess who wanted to to down?

We got back in the truck and headed east to Good Harbor Bay to relax, eat lunch, and go for a swim in Lake Michigan.

Scott on Paddle Board

The next day we headed back to Sleeping Bear Dunes to tackle the popular 3.5 mile Dune Climb hike. What fun!!! It was a perfect day for a hike in the dunes to be rewarded with a swim in the refreshing blue-green waters.

Parking lot at the beginning of the Dune Climb.

It was a beautiful, warm day with temperatures in the mid-eighties. Many tourists walked to the top of the hill and then turned back around. Only a handful continued almost two miles, repetitively walking up and down to reach the prize that awaited us.

Shoes off…getting ready to swim in the beautiful water of Lake Michigan.
We did it! Now to walk back 1.8 miles to the truck.

We definitely could have played some more in this beautiful area, and will definitely go back again some day. The next day it took us just over seven hours to drive south past Grand Rapids in central Michigan, and then east through Cleveland. We stopped for one night at Kenissee Grand River Camp and RV Park, located in Geneva, which is just east of Cleveland abutting Lake Erie. It was late in the day, but we drove about 15 minutes north from our campsite to a beach on Lake Erie. We were truly disappointed with this beach. It was not like the previous three Greats (Superior, Huron, Michigan) we had seen. The water was dark and not clear. The surf was loaded with small, hard rocks that hurt to walk on. The water temperature was also warmer than the others and not as refreshing.

Hard sand
Swimming in Lake Erie, the fourth of five Great Lakes!

Our next stop is Niagara Falls! Scott was there as a child, but this will be a first for me. The burning question is, “Will we actually swim in Lake Ontario?”

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI: (8/19 – 8/23/21)

We drove east out of Wisconsin and the Central Time Zone to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Eastern Time Zone. We found a campground at Camp 7 Lake Recreation Area, located about 60 miles from Pictured Rocks and about 100 miles from Mackinac Island. We set up in Site 27, and then took our paddle board out on the calm lake. It was a sunny, hot day in the mid-eighties. Since there was no electric hookup, the water was refreshing.

Steps from Echo Lake

The next day, we decided to head to Mackinac Island, which sits in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas. The Mackinac Island State Park, with trails, woods and the limestone Arch Rock formation, covers most of the island. It has an area of 3.776 miles with a population of 492 (2010). We drove two hours to Shepler’s Ferry in St. Ignace. It was a stunning day for a boat ride. Our Captain took a semi-circle route so that we could go under the Mackinaw Bridge, which connects the Lower Peninsula of Michigan at Mackinaw City with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan at St. Ignace. West of the bridge is Lake Michigan and East of the bridge is Lake Huron.

Lake Huron/Lake Michigan division
Mackinaw Bridge looking south to the Lower Peninsula
Arriving at the pier

We biked around most of the island, stopping for photo ops and infrequent shady spots.
Getting ready for the steps
Fort Holmes Lookout
The Famous Arch
The Grand Hotel
Afternoon Cocktail on the front porch.
The Grand Hotel is a popular spot for weddings!
Leaving the Grand Hotel – Mackinaw Bridge in the distance
Lake Huron near Missionary Beach. Look at the crystal, clear water!

Just before the above picture was taken, Scott took a dip in this beautiful water. Next time, I will wear a bathing suit under my clothes. Unfortunately, I cannot say that I swam in all five lakes.

The next day, we drive north about 50 miles to Pictures Rocks National Seashore area.

There are several sand beaches along the coastline of Lake Superior that are suitable for sunbathing and swimming; however, there are warning signs to use caution as cold water and rough conditions can make swimming hazardous. “Observe surf and rip current warnings. Lifeguards are not present.” Since we only had the day to explore, we chose Miners Beach. First stop was a short walk to Miners Falls. Then, we drove to the scenic overlook for Miners Castle. Finally, we headed to the parking lot for the beach and took a dip in Lake Superior!

Beginning of uphill trail
Miners Falls
Miners Castle
Heading to the beach
Guess who was first in the water
It was beautiful!!!

In the morning, we will drive to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, via the Mackinaw Bridge.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI (8/16 – 8/19/21)

Let me say that I have always wanted to see the Great Lakes, having taught a song about them to many young children during my teaching career. I did not expect the awe and beauty that surrounded us as we began our travels to all five.

We drove east from Duluth, MN, along the northern edge of Wisconsin through Ashland to Saxon, which is located a few miles due south of Lake Superior’s border of Wisconsin and Michigan. As we drove through Ashland, we stopped for a photo op at one of several free city parks that run along Route 2 on the water’s edge and feature docks, beaches, and even a spot to jump off a diving board!

Hello Lake Superior! I wish I was wearing my bathing suit!
The town of Ashland bottom left.

The 22 Apostle Islands were formed by ice, wind, and waves. The Ojibwe are the most recent group of native people to live in these islands. Through the centuries people have used Lake Superior as a route of travel and commerce. Ojibwe and other tribes navigated the lake in large birchbark canoes that voyageurs adopted for the fur trade by the mid-1600’s. Often asked, “Who is the boss?” Commercial fisherman Julian Nelson put it: “The lake is the boss. No matter how big you are or what kind of boat you’ve got, the lake is still the boss. Mother Nature dictates a lot of things.” Today the Great Lakes shipping industry still links commerce between North AMerica’s heartland and the entire globe.

This national lakeshore is a fantastic recreation area for travel by foot, kayak, or boat. We enjoyed sightseeing via the first two means of transportation. We headed north to the Bayfield Peninsula to access Lakeshore Trail.

The beginning of a three-mile hike on Lakeshore Trail.
Getter a closer look at the edge
We spotted a group of kayakers on the water.

At this point, we were hot from hiking and decided to get back to the truck and grab our kayaks. We drove to Meyers Beach for the launch. In order to put your own kayak into the water, we needed to show our floatation device and then register for free. We were advised by park personnel that right now the water current and wind status were safe to proceed, but that we should not get too close to the cliffs/caves if the wind kicked in. We paddled about a mile north to reach the first of several Sea Caves. It was awesome! I admit that I was a bit scared at first. One cave opening was completely black on the other side. I would not go in. The rest of it was magical!

Just look at that water!!

The following day, we drove to Potato Lakes Falls. The Upper Falls had 139 steps down to the water and then 139 back up.

Down, down, down we go for 139 steps.
Halfway down to the Upper Falls.
Rain needed

The Lower Falls had 196 steps down and obviously back up again. We felt that the views here were much better than the Upper Falls.

196 steps to Lower Falls
We spotted a human with a dog swimming near the falls.

Next stop, Michigan!

Voyageurs National Park, MN: 8/11 – 8/15/2021

The first time we were in Minnesota was back in 2018 when we began our journey. We came in from the east and travelled along Route 90 along the southern border of the state. This time, we were coming from the west and traveling along the northern border. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

To the north, Minnesota borders Canada and Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes. We found a campsite at Echo Lake Campground, located about 60 miles southwest of Voyageurs NP. It features 24 campsites at $12/night, with only a few “First Come, First Serve” FCFS sites. We were lucky to get the “premier” site with only a short walk to the water.

Site #16

In the morning, we drove a little over an hour to the Ash River Visitor Center entrance to the park.

Voyageurs is a water-based park. Travel to the 500-plus islands and 655 miles of shoreline is by water-craft. Many years ago, these waterways include an important segment of a 3,000-mile fur trade route of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The big demand was for hats – beaver hats desired by fashionable Europeans. As the fur trade expanded, it relied on the “voyageurs”, or French-Canadian canoe men, to muscle trade goods and furs between Montreal and the Canadian northwest. It is interesting to note that the voyageurs shaped the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada, and the legacy of these voyageurs inspired the naming of this national park.

We enjoyed a short .5 mile hike to Vermillion Falls, and then drove to the trailhead for a longer 3.2 mile hike on the Vermilion Gorge Trail.

Overlooking a beaver dam
Vermillion Gorge near Crane Lake

We enjoyed sunny and pleasant, dry weather with low 70’s during the day and low 40’s overnight. For August, this was pleasantly enjoyable!

Our next planned adventure was a drive along Minnesota’s North Shores, which is the shoreline of Lake Superior that runs from Duluth, Minnesota, in the south, up to Ontario, Canada. The shore is characterized by cobblestone beaches, rocky cliffs and ridges, scenic rivers and waterfalls, and hillside forests. Since we planned to stay at state parks, we purchased a $35 year-round vehicle permit that provides unlimited visits to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase. We had no prior camping reservations, and soon found out that there was NO room in the inn along the shoreline. So, we had to nix our trip to Isle Royale National Park as there was no place to park our RV. Instead, we drove south to Duluth, enjoying the scenery from the comfort of our truck. We found a campsite in Duluth at Jay Cooke State Park for one night only. It was time to adjust our plans again. Next stop, Apostle Islands, Wisconsin!