Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Had a Ho Ho Whole Lot of Fun Here!

 June 11 - 14, 2022
Christmas, Michigan 

It's a beautiful morning for our bridge crossing, with very few other vehicles. Unlike the Columbia Bridge at Astoria, Oregon, and the one over Hoover Dam at Lake Mead, this bridge doesn't effect my "heights issue" at all. A small backup at the toll booth and then 100 miles of pretty lakeside and forest driving.

I still prefer to avoid the grate in the middle, used to reduce weight and allow rain and snow to fall through.

Along the water I see black smoke ahead. Bill notices first that it's a swarm of bugs, not smoke! Fortunately once we're past them we see no others. We've been warned and are crossing our fingers we avoid the biting black flies during our visit.

The rain starts about 20 miles from our campground, and when I turn on the wipers the glass on the driver side doesn't clear. Hmmmm. When I turn them on a second time the whole wiper arm comes off!! I think I see it fly to the ground - oh no! I'm able to see just well enough to make the last few miles to our stop in Christmas, Michigan.

Easy to find the turn - probably see it from space!

Wonderfully different from our crowded KOA at the last stop.

Silent Night Campsites (on St Nicholas Ave) is four level sites along the street in a residential area two blocks from the lake. Just enough trees to block our satellite. 30 amp FHUs. The sites are on solid road base so we're not worried about the continuing rain. 

Once parked, Bill shows me that the wiper arm is still there, remarkably holding on by the washer hose! 

I agree with the frowning wiper.

A very sweet spot.

Saturday night is blessedly quiet and dark and free of campfire smoke. The rain stops about 10 PM, at sundown :-) Sunday morning we wake to bright blue, and very cold skies.

Even with the lower temps, this is the best weather day for our boat cruise at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. A small festival is in full swing, and finding a parking place seems futile until we miraculously find two right by the boat - woohoo! We have E-tickets (electronic, not Disneyland), and after a fifteen minute wait we're loading. Topside on the right as recommended by our campground owner, we have empty seats between us as we pull out. Before we get half way, there will be many more empty seats as the cold wind sends people below.

I'm glad we prepared for the cold wind with hats and layers - it's 50 degrees on a big lake! Still, when the boat is at full throttle we're plenty chilly! 

Hooray for masks for an added layer!

Tessa uses one of the empty seats to cuddle with Bill and her blankie. 

Most of the photos on the website are taken on sunset cruises, so during the afternoon we don't see the gold of the sandstone as vividly. It's hardly disappointing though, as the natural beauty, variety and uniqueness of these cliffs is incredible! Again, I take a lot of photos of highlights I want to remember here. 

Heading into the wind and current, these kayakers are working a lot harder for their close-up views. 

Bridal Veil Falls is not at a reduced flow due to a drought, but because of a large beaver dam built upstream that the park has left in its natural state.

The cliffs serve as rookeries for gulls and Cormorants in the late Spring. 

Arches are always dramatic, and this one over the water is especially so. Called Lovers' Leap, that jump is a very bad idea as the water below is only 2.5 feet deep.

When the water is high, these sea caves suck in the water and shoot it out like a canyon!

Many of the points look like ships on the water. While I'm expecting the different color in the cliffs, the water color is a lovely surprise.

This white pillar of calcium resembles an abandoned lighthouse.

Rainbow Cave. Ground water drips year-round from the ceiling, making rain and icicles depending on the temperature.

Indian Head Rock. I struggle to see it - the tree at top is his headdress, and the rough rocks below that his forehead.

Grand Portal

Indian Drums

The Vase

Battle Ships lined up and entering the lake.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Chapel Rock. Not only beautiful, but a testament to Mother Nature's adaptability. 

The tree on top of the formation survives by keeping its roots attached to the cliffs behind it.

Turning around for our return to port, I'm reminded we're on the largest body of fresh water in the world.

The cliffs will continue to change their look for centuries. 

Nearly full when we headed out, on the return most have opted for the warmth of the interior deck. 

East Channel Lighthouse, built in 1867, on the southeast side of Grand Island. On Munising Bay, we pass it in both directions. 

Back in town we grab a decent early dinner at Foggy's, but don't opt for the $63 rib eye! 

Bill uses some percussive maintenance (always carry a rubber mallet!) to successfully repair our windshield wiper so the returning rain is no longer an issue. 

When I had to correct our reservation dates here I agreed we could change spots on the third night to accommodate other campers. No one ever parks in the other site, but we move as planned on Monday morning (satellite connects in #2!). When we return at the end of the day there is a trailer in #3. 

We spend our afternoon in the forests east and south of Lake Superior. So much green! 

Our first stop at Sandy Point.

Sunday we waved at the people standing above Miner's Castle. Monday we look down on the same spot. 

The water is very shallow here.

Our turn around point is Grand Marais, an unincorporated village on the south shore. For some reason I'm expecting a larger community, but I fall in love with the cute little burg. We fuel up at $5.42/gallon then head to the West Bay Diner for lunch. I'm now ready to move here :-) The new owners are delightful and open about just getting started with recipes they're trying and staff they're training. We enjoy the food and the staff - and the cute little shop filled with local goodies. 

One of those quirky little spots you remember for a long time.

US Coast Guard Light Station at Grand Marais.

We see these beauties on our way out of the village, and pass 10 of them on our way back to Munising.

Grand Sable Lake - one of several inland lakes in the area.

We take several side roads to check out the campgrounds along the shore. Some of the routes pass through dense, magical forests. I can see why this area is so popular during the heat of summer with lots of water and lots of shade!

Cue the pixies and unicorns.

It's only our first stop in the UP, and we're already so glad we came. There is another RV park on the lakeshore nearby which I'm sure is very popular, but for us this little private space has been perfect!! The owner is off-site but easy to reach, and very helpful. 

Tuesday we continue west to Baraga where the expected temperature upon arrival is 85 degrees!! 

M&M ready for summer!

Ezra helping to promote the latest Jurassic Park movie.


  1. Calm seas for Pictured Rocks…bonus! East Channel Light amazes me. How an unpainted wooden structure can stand all those years is beyond me. It has always looked like that when I’ve seen it, and my first time was 45 years ago! You are getting some awesome exploring in!

    1. It was a beautiful day on the water. That little lighthouse is in great shape at least on the outside!!

  2. Just beautiful!

  3. Oh that sounds like a horrid nightmare having your windshield wiper seemingly fly off when it’s raining. You are amazing to still be able to see no matter how light the rain with the water streaks. Love your little campground. How did you ever find it. Can’t remember when we were at Pictured Rocks but we kayaked it and didn’t wear that gear you had on that made me burst into laughter. Thanks! Kayaking in those little caves and through the tiny arches was fabulous. I just sigh thinking about having an on board percussive maintenance man. $5.42 for either gas or diesel sounds great at this point. We actually stayed in Grand Marais and loved it too. You are ready to move to Grand Marais until the snow starts in October and stays for 7 months or more. But it’s hard to beat the UP in the heat of summer.

    1. I remember you kayaking in the little caves when I saw them from the boat - told Bill you had an even better view than we did! The campsites were on campendium.com that I use for all my reservations - it's a special little place for sure. Alas yes GM would be brutal most of the year, but I sure would love it for the months it was bearable :-)

  4. It’s Gay…I can not imagine sitting inside for the boat ride either Jodee…what gorgeous rocks and formations…so worth bundling up for! Your back road adventures are amazing…green has always been a favorite color. The last photo of the ferns is a keeper!

    1. It did cross my mind when the boat was moving fast in that cold, but fortunately it was nice when slower and on the the way back. There's so much green up here - and of course blue :-) Those ferns are huge and lush, almost don't seem real.

  5. Great fotos and descriptions of Pictured Rocks. Nature at some of its finest. Any kayaks out? There were quite a few during our visit. And Pasties ???

    1. Ah yes, I did forget to mention the pastie at Grand Marais! Bill said it was in fact better than the one in Mackinaw :-) Several kayaks, mostly the ones from the tour.

  6. When you move up there and buy yourself a little summer place, please count us in as your first visitors! UP looks like just what we need these days --amazing rocks, blue skies, that inspiring water, and very few people ...especially in the winter :) But, you'd be in Tombstone for the winter anyway! Cindy

    1. Well having you visiting is an even better reason to move there!! It really is a perfect little, slow-paced (maybe not in July and August) spot on the water.

  7. WOW! Gorgeous photos!! Thanks for taking us along on your tour. You guys find the best places to eat!

    1. It was spectacular, glad you could come along! I'm so done with cooking that those fun eateries have become part of our regular routine now.

  8. Other than the cold you had a gorgeous day for your boat ride. Good you were prepared for the outside. Beautiful photos!! I loved how you had names for all the features. The Indian Head was a stretch. The East Channel Lighthouse is so cool!! Hope you miss the black flies!

    1. We really were blessed with a beautiful day on the water. The captain was good about explaining the formations in a way that was easy to remember. Saw our first mosquitos today, but only a couple and so far no flies :-))

  9. Laurel (www.ravenandchickadee.com)June 18, 2022 at 11:04 AM

    Oh, your photos of Pictured Rocks are fabulous! That turquoise water is just stunning. I'm so excited we'll be seeing it later this summer! Love the photo of you all bundled up. :-) If possible, we're going to try kayaking, but of course, that's very weather dependent. That cloud of bugs you saw sounds scary, but it sounds like you're not being bothered by biting insects, thankfully. Black fly bites are the worst, even worse than mosquitoes.

    1. There's a kayak tour place that carries you and the kayaks out to the cliffs where you all then get in the smaller boats to tour the cliffs - thought that was a great idea! I think Sherry and David put theirs in at Miner's Beach. Hope you get a nice calm day on the water like we had. Mosquitos have found us, but thankfully no biting flies!

  10. OMG, that boat ride provided the best views. Glad you know how to #planlikeaparkranger.

    1. LOL! Being warm enough to enjoy being on the top of that boat sure made a big difference. It was the highlight of our UP adventure.