Sunday, June 19, 2022

I'm Not Itching to See More

 June 14 - 19, 2022
Baraga - Ontonagon, Michigan

Hwy 41 west on the Upper Peninsula is a good road - a few construction zones, but mostly just a smooth drive all the way to Baraga.

2 signs, 4 cones, stop light, dropping arm, flag - they want you to stop HERE!

Just a lay-over stop of two nights, I'm not expecting to see much except a thunder storm. We're at the very north edge of the storm that flooded and closed Yellowstone a couple days ago - wow those pictures of the devastation are horrible! Such an unhappy experience for all those campers who had to evacuate, and those stranded in Gardiner. 

John noted a successful stay at the Ojibwa Casino in Marquette when they were here a few years ago, so I made reservations at the one in Baraga. Much smaller, but with FHUs (30 amp) on level asphalt, it's just right for our needs.

A couple sites have large puddles, so with storms expected I'm glad we are able to get one that's high and dry.

Baraga sits on the south end of L'Anse Bay, with a population of 2000. After our 50 degree Sunday, this 80 degree Tuesday is a bit weird. 

Wednesday is a no-destination day (I don't even bring my camera). In fact I'm convinced we'll have to come back home soon when the storm hits. Thunder rumbles to the west as we drive through light rain north on Hwy 41. I miss the turn-off to the lighthouse, and with the rain dissipating, we continue along the Keweenaw Bay. Houghton is a much larger town, home of Michigan Technical University. Not only is this a big campus, there are at least 15 fraternity/sorority houses just on the main road. Massive road construction has much of this area torn up. 

Keweenaw Bay

Historic Downtown Houghton

Bill finds the Ambassador Restaurant - a beautiful old world setting with delicious food.

Nice views of the water and the Portage Canal Lift Bridge.

After lunch we continue north along the bay just to see what there is to see. Lots of vintage homes showing signs of wear and age. Pretty Linden Lake, and a couple villages getting ready for summer. Still no storm, although it's cloudy and squinty and thunder heads are building to the southwest. 

We find the Sandy Point Lighthouse on our way back. It's on the Ojibwa Nation along with a good size electric-only campground on the bay. The views are pretty, but the huge stacks of firewood confirm the casino was a better choice for us. I discover later that several mosquitos found me here :-(

Built in 1878 with no other information at the site. Sadly dog walkers don't pick up after their pets here so it's not a pleasant walk around. 

L'Anse Bay

Protected area surrounding the lighthouse.

With much less gusto than anticipated, the rain arrives about 5:00. After a short time it becomes clear that we chose our site wisely....

Our site is still dry - whew!

Although we're under tornado watch overnight, the rain moves on by 11:00 and all is calm. In the morning the trees are dancing in the brisk wind. I call ahead to be sure we can check-in early at the end of our short drive of 42 miles (in hindsight I'm not sure why I stopped us in Baraga for two nights). We're welcome to arrive anytime, so we pack up and head out, hoping to beat the high winds expected in the afternoon.

It's definitely a blustery drive with lots of hard gusts on Hwy 38 through the trees, but it's doable for 45 minutes. River Road RV Park is actually on the river - just across a small entrance road. It could use some TLC, but the 50 amp FHUs work and our grass site is level. Lovely trees but no satellite connection. Park WiFi doesn't connect. During our stay a young woman works hard cleaning up the grounds, and by the time we leave it's already looking much better.

We never get neighbors on this side so it's a spacious spot.

Happy to find a local diner with fresh pasties, Syl's Cafe has the best so far. Very large and very tasty. We may have found the winner!

On our way home we check out the little lighthouse at the harbor near the park. 

This is half the town.

Maybe when we get tired of the road.

Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse, the second station built on this site in 1866 for $14K. Retired in 1964, a massive restoration was done in 2009 for $100k. It is currently maintained by the local historical society. 

Porcupine Wilderness SP is the destination here, and I'm looking forward to spending Friday exploring. I wake up with lots of itching bites, recognizing that the mosquitos have caught up with us, or us with them, although they haven't been very visible. Bill is fortunate that they don't effect him, while they find me irresistible :-(

We get up and out under breezy, blue and chilly skies. It is a glorious day!! 

The Ontonagon River that runs past our park is chocolate brown from the sandstone and red clay beneath it. Several of the creeks that enter Lake Superior "up here" are also brown, and driving the shore we see an interesting layering of brown and blue water several yards out.

Ontonagon River - all chocolate.

Mixing in the with the lake's blue water.

First stop is the Lake of the Cloud Outlook. A 300 foot board walk takes us up to the platform. We can see 20 miles over the pretty lake and acres of green forest. The weather is perfect, but the bugs aren't repelled by the brisk wind. Hikers pass by with face netting. 

A very nice walkway to the lookout.

Lake of the Clouds in the Porcupine Mountains - stunning!

On this clear day you can see forever!

The map from the visitors' center shows a few dozen hiking trails around the park, but only one other road that goes to the southwest corner of the park at Prescue Isle. A 45 minute drive through more green forest takes us to the campground and trailheads. The bugs are thick here. We're not hikers, but I would normally take the couple short trails to see falls if not for the threat of more itching. From the photos it looks like the falls in the park aren't like those we're used to. Here, they're more like rapids over rocks with a short drop.  While I'd enjoy seeing more of the park, I'm not so disappointed at missing these falls.

A few places you can see the forest through the trees.

Back through the forest to the lakeshore and downtown Ontonagon. Another tasty lunch at Syl's Cafe then a tour of the immediate area. 

Having mentioned to Bill that there are a lot of elderly people here, I can't help but laugh when I see this at a local restaurant. Gotta take care of your peeps!

Beginning in Mobile, AL, and traveling 1298 miles through seven states, Hwy 45 ends in this little town on the UP.

The original courthouse was built in 1886, then rebuilt with most of the same bricks when a fire destroyed the town in 1896.

Dunes line the lake's edge at the county park (70 water/electric campsites).

Several miles of accessible beach just outside the little town.

Saturday we take a short drive, through more forest, to Lake Gogebec. In the two-block village of Bergland, only one small park has access to the water, the rest of the shoreline is part of privately owned land. It's the largest inland lake in the UP so I'm sure there's more access further south, but after a mediocre lunch at Antonio's, we return home.

I was admittedly hoping for more to see in the Porcupine Mountains. The lush green forests are beautiful, as is the incredible Lake Superior. But little variety exists in the areas we explored. I'm sure there's a lot more to see for those who hike, and those without gourmet blood. We've been blessed with near perfect weather and a very quiet park - and those most excellent pasties, so there are no complaints :-))

Sunday morning I have bites on my face, and I'm very ready to return east and hope for fewer pests. Iron Mountain is our next stop.

Our youngest grand, Oliver is already six months old!

Almost two years old (!), Elliott just got his first hair cut. Still lots of pretty curls.


  1. I am a mosquito magnet so doubt I ever want to visit the UP! Those great lakes are so immense and I loved your photo of the dunes and the water. Those curls!

    1. I have to remember how to "prepare" for the nasty critters :-( Still hard to wrap my brain around the immensity of these lakes. I was sure glad to see the haircut didn't make them go away like they did with his dad's first cut!

  2. Thanks for the Pastie update :)) Will have to put Sly's in the UP folder.
    I too am a total skeeter magnet and surround our campsites with replant candles, but they think it's mood lighting for a feast.
    Always fun to see the Grands, and Happy Father's Day to Bill!

    1. LOL on the feast - that's how they see me no matter the lighting! Going to try more pasties before we head back over the bridge.

  3. Love the pictures of places we've been. June is a horrid month for mosquitoes but it gets better. We were in Taquanaman Falls SP and they swarmed INSIDE our RV. We left, maybe you remember that post. We loved Porcupine Mountain SP and stayed a couple of weeks hiking and kayaking to our hearts content. Went on up to Copper harbor and over to Isle Royale. BIG MOSQUITOES on Isle Royale. Great post. Eat pasties for me too!

    1. It's definitely a hikers' area! I do remember your inside mosquitoes - we had several but not a swarm, thankfully. We're hoping to try the pasties at these last two UP stops.

  4. It’s Gay…add me to the list of mosquito magnets. Those little pesky insects can sure ruin a good day! We don’t have any green forests around here so I am really enjoying the photos. And the dunes are so pretty! You have certainly shared some beautiful lighthouses along the way…hope you are keeping a list. What a great idea for a collage of pictures. Grand babies have a way of growing up fast…our oldest will be 29 in October. Love those curls and oh my those eyes!

    1. A collage would be great, especially since many are very different! I guess misery loves company when it comes to mosquitoes - I've stopped counting the bites :-( Yep he knows how to use those eyes too!

  5. Laurel ( 19, 2022 at 8:23 PM

    Note to self: "Buy hat with mosquito netting." I am also a mosquito magnet. Actually, any kind of annoying biting bug loves me. I have two big bottles of permethrin to treat our hiking clothing and several bottles of natural bug spray, but I definitely need one of those hats. I'm hoping that by the time we're in the UP that the bugs will be gone. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with them!

    1. We've been pretty lucky avoiding bugs in most of our travels - certainly better than some people. Still, they sure do put a damper on enjoyment when we do come across them. Hope they'll all be gone when you arrive and no netting will be necessary!

  6. I knew I liked you - we share gourmet blood! Our worst (or I should say My worst, Dave is never even looked at by a biting bug) spot was at Ft. Myers, Florida and continued in earnest at Chocoloskee Island.....shudder.

    1. I'm sure it's because we're so much sweeter than they are.....I can't remember the last time I had this many bites. They seem unimpressed by repellent.

  7. Michigan is so beautiful but they really have to do something about the bugs!! We had read about bloggers before us having a nightmare time with mosquitoes even inside. Luckily, when we arrived, they weren't bad. If you get over to the Sleeping Bear Dunes NP area and the town of Empire, they don't have bugs. We've been a few times and can sit outside at night and never get bothered. No one knows why. I, too, have gourmet blood. John is a tasteless meal so is never bothered. Guess it's our sweetness:) So much green and water!!! Wonderful. Oliver and Elliott are adorable.

    1. That stop in Ontonagon was -so far- the only bad mosquitos. We'll be at Jim and Diana's near SBD where we also had no bugs last time, so hoping that's always the case! I'm hoping we get to sit outside at this stop as we're right over the lake and it's beautiful :-)

  8. It is pretty country. The only time I was in the UP, near Bessemer, was fall and thankfully no mosquitos. You're just too sweet.

    1. I agree it's my sweetness :-) Fortunately they have not followed us out of the UP.