Week 1 of 16 ~ Wednesday, June 3 to Saturday, June 6, 2015

Day 1 ~ Wednesday, June 3 - We got THE call just before noon from the auto repair shop announcing that the truck was ready for pickup. Hot dog! We were on the phone with Gregg and Gale when the anticipated call came in. So everybody got the news at the same time.

We got the truck back and, honestly, it runs like a new 2002 Ford F150; quiet and smooth. Two thumbs up! The mechanics had it for over a week and gave it a new valve job in trade for some big bucks. So, we packed all our stuff back into the truck and hit the road about 3:30pm just before the heavy rush hour traffic.

Vacation Pix
The back end of the truck did have a little room left for souvenirs. Things got rearranged a little during the trip; some stuff in the back seating area moved back here and some of this stuff moved up there.

Up I-75 we went to Flint where we topped off the gas tank and then continued on to Otsego Lake State Park, just south of Gaylord, for our first night's camping experience. It's a great campground on the lake. We just love this place.

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Here we are sitting in a rest area with our two portable homes, resting. How many times will we repeat this rest stop experience? Time will tell. It is the beginning of a long, long journey.
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Otsego State Park is our first campsite of the trip. Two side-by-side sites for the price of two.

So far, all is well at the end of our first day of travel. The weather was very nice; sunny and warm. We went for a nice walk along the lake's shoreline, ate dinner and went to bed.

Day 1 Summary ~ We drove about 212 miles today which puts us at 212 total miles into our journey.

Day 2 ~ Thursday, June 4 - Good sleeping at Otsego Lake State Park last night, cool and clear - no trains and no rain. They have a newer bathhouse and the showers were hot and refreshing. Michigan State Parks are the best. The truck is running like new, so we are heading north again, up and over the "Big Mac" bridge and out of the lower peninsula. We hung a left onto US2 heading west toward Alaska. Well, we have to go thru Wisconsin first... and Minnesota, and the Dakotas, and...

Zipping westward on US2, we passed by a lot of small towns such as Waucedah, Loretto, Vulcan where Spock grew up, and Norway, home to all those famous Olympic skiers, or is that a country? Well anyway, just before reaching Quinnesec, we stopped at Fumee Falls for some pictures. Our first waterfall of this trip. How exciting!

float pix vacation pix
This is a very nice little rest area with some Fumee Falls. I didn't smell anything weird.
Fumes or no fumes, a lot of weddings take place in the summer on this little foot bridge.

In the U.P., it's all about "Pasties". Get 'em hot, cold or frozen, beef, turkey or vegetable, but definitely get 'em. It's more convenient to make this purchase in St. Ignace because as you head out of town, your options become fewer and fewer. You can buy pasties all over the U.P, but locating a store on your route can become a treasure hunt. And then there's the famous Mackinac fudge. Oh, how we love this sugary sweet treat – just don't over-indulge.

vacation pix
Ah, yes, pasties and the U.P. A baked pastry or a clothing item. Pastry it is.

We're traveling along U.S. 2 and the black-top road is in great shape – 2 lanes with a wide, black-top shoulder and lined with pines, tamarack, spruce and birch. Lovely road with lots of road-side parks and much nicer than traveling through Chicago. Why can't the lower peninsula get their act together and have good roads??? Maybe roads here stay in shape because there aren't many semis here to rip them apart. Another question – why are all the weigh stations closed? Isn't the state supposed to collect taxes from the freight lines to help pay for the semi's damage to the roads?

We passed Kitch-iti-kipi, a large, fresh water spring where you can pull yourself across on a raft. Alan and I have never been, but it's raining, so we'll save that for another adventure. Hey, it's the U.P. We have simple entertainment here. We're passing lots of 10-12 bed motels, the Mom and Pop kind like the one in “Psycho” No, we're not stopping. We brought our mobile crib.

It's late now and the weather has dissolved into thick foggy, rain in patches and we'll never make it to our desired campground today, so we 're checking the internet for options – good thing Alan put together a “hot spot” in the truck. Thank you, God, for giving him intelligence and for making me smart enough to marry him so many years ago. Alan thanks son, Tim, for all of his help with the mobile Wi-Fi.

float pix vacation pix
We drove over the Menominee River and passed the "Wisconsin Welcomes You" sign at about four-thirty. An hour and a half later we were in some really nice Wisconsin countryside.

We found an alternate (over-priced) campground but encountered a new problem. While backing into the site, we went into mud – deep, thick, red, sucky mud and did something to the trailer because it's not sitting level anymore. Hmmm. We moved the trailer across the road to a better site and got out the hose and washed off the mud. No big deal.

After taking the tire off and inspecting the undercarriage of the trailer, Alan determined we did not break the axle as we had thought, but had broken the u-bolts that hold the spring to the axle on the driver's side only. Thank you, God, for not letting this be worse. We have a Wi-Fi connection and located a potential parts place not too far away and will see if they have replacement parts tomorrow. So here we are for the night at Apostle Islands View RV park in Bayview, Wisconsin.

Our poor little trailer sits cock-eyed in our campsite in Wisconsin. It'll get repaired in the morning. The weather is a bit rainy and there is a lot of fog here.
See what happens when we had too many flat tires on this side of the trailer over the past forty-two years. The trailer drops down so low that the U-bolts and plate drag on the pavement and the u-bolts that are supposed to hold the axle and spring together get ground down to nothing and disaster happens. This thing isn't going anywhere like this. The steel plate on the bottom will be okay, but the u-bolts must be replaced.
Day 2 Summary ~ We drove about 443 miles today which puts us at 655 total miles into our journey.

Day 3 ~ Friday, June 5 - Alan and Gregg are off to find the parts place and Gale and I are re-organizing our households. The thick, misty fog this morning has melted away to lovely sunshine and the promise of a good day today.

The Napa Auto Parts a few miles back up the road had the U-bolts we needed, but not the right size exactly. We'll make it work. They were a little wide so we used a hydraulic jack and the weight of the truck to squash the bolts and make them narrower. Perfecto. But, they are too long and I don't have a hacksaw to shorten them. After installation, they are only an inch or so from touching the pavement; sparks will fly if they do, but oh well. I don't think it'll be a problem, but I'll cut them off soon.

Check out how long the bolts are; only an inch above the pavement. But, its a good repair.

After the trailer repair, we met the nicest family staying in our campground and I mean “family”. There were 7 girls and 10 boys born to Roman and Dorothy Brunner of Wisconsin. The girls and Mom were out for a weekend reunion from all over Wisconsin. Mom is 91 now but, still spunky and having fun. She wore out 2 husbands along the way and is not currently looking for another. I believe she has 49 grandchildren and 57 great grandchildren – can you imagine what Christmas morning must look like? Many of her girls quilt and had recently completed the 7 sisters pattern – one quilt for each sister and one for Mom – each in a different color scheme. We were fortunate enough to meet this group and even more fortunate to still be around when they pegged their beautiful quilts on a line for pictures. What a wonderful showcase. By the way, the Italian casserole you shared with us was delicious! I guess with a group that large, a few more mouths at dinner is no big deal - but it WAS a big deal to us and we didn't have to cook tonight. We appreciate your generosity and friendship and hope your camping weekend is a great success!

Quilts in the campground. Beautifully handcrafted and displayed with pride.
The Brunner girls - a family of quilters. Nice to have met you on our way to Alaska.

The weather is nice and sunny and we hit the road with gusto (Gusto rides in the back seat). Great driving, pretty country. We are getting a bit more than 12 miles per gallon with the refurbed engine. Great! Greg is working on ten and that's expected and not terrible. With his 33 gallon tank and our 25 gallon tank, we stop for gas at the same time. Works for us.

We thought we'd buzz through Wisconsin to Duluth today – never made it. We stopped at Amnicon State Park to see their waterfalls and WOW, they were GORGEOUS! Wonderful cascades of water on both sides of an island with a charming covered bridge to bout. You'd never guess this beautiful area was there from US-2. Then we moved on to Pattison State Park and just thought we'd camp for the night, but were WOWED again with another gorgeous cascade. This one plunged 165 feet into the gorge and we could see over the tops of the trees to the horizon! The roar of the water was deafening and the power of the falls was amazing. God created earth just for us and he certainly provided enough eye-candy to keep our attention if we simply take time to look around.

That's Gregg there at Annicon Falls in Wisconsin thinking about white water rafting.
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Annicon Falls in Wisconsin is absolutely beautiful and not all that far from our home in Michigan. Take a visit there.

We saw and photographed a bunch of waterfalls today. I'm waiting for them to get developed at the drugstore. Ah, the good ol' days, waiting to see the pictures for the first time only to get disappointed because you couldn't aim the camera for crap and cut off peoples heads or forgot to take the lousy lens cap off. Yikes, another blank picture and 35 cents down the crapper.

Here we are all happy together. I don't know why we're all smiling. What do we know; we're old. Must have gas.
This is Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park in Wisconsin. This is one deep hole.
The falls start way up to the left; the part we can't see from here.

Manitou Falls

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This is a really pretty waterfall and noisy.
The Black River that feeds Manitou Falls in Pattison State Park, Wisconsin.
The water of Black River flows over the dam (way in the back under the bridge in this picture) holding back Interfalls Lake in Pattison State Park, Wisconsin.
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Here we are in Pattison State Park posing by some falls that I can't remember the name of.
Senior citizens with lousy memories.
We have a really nice, spacious campsite here in Pattison State Park, Wisconsin.

Tonight, we are the guests of Pattison State Park in Wisconsin. Very nice campground and some nice waterfalls to boot. Dinner was quick and easy thanks to the Brunners. We have electric on our shady, pull-through site and the water spigot happens to be located here too. Across the road is a large container for trash and fifty feet in back of us is the shower house – all the comforts of home so we're off to our soft pillows and warm blankets. It's a chilly 54 degrees out there at midnight according to the truck. So, after two-fingers of 12-year-old Glenfiddich (thanks for the gift Tim) I'm off to bed.

Day 3 Summary ~ We drove about 90 miles today which puts us at 745 total miles into our journey.
It is 54 degrees here at midnight according to the truck's outside temp gauge.

Day 4 ~ Saturday, June 6 - We got a late start today, but kept to the plan and away we went to Duluth. What a fabulous city! We had no idea. We braved the traffic and drove right to the Duluth Railroad Museum downtown. What fun! There were engines and cabooses and passenger cars and dining cars and sleepers and we could go right inside many of them. There were service cars for maintaining the rails and livestock and boxcars and loggers and mailcars - pretty much you name it and they had it somewhere. It was also set up as 1910 Duluth with stores of every kind. It was a fun kind of place and well worth the admission price.

Lots of trains; engines and passenger cars all inside out of the weather.
I love trains so this was a lot of fun for me.

And what did we see as we were about to leave? A real working train with a passenger car that was labeled Alaska! We ran, but it left the depot before we could get a proper picture. Missed the train again.

We just missed the Alaska train. It left us standing at the station.

The weather today has been cool, damp and overcast so it was a good day to be in a sheltered area away from the 50 degree breezes. We heard that rain was on it's way, so we hustled out of the city and into our cozy campsites at Jay Cooke State Park across the state line in Minnesota off highway 210 not very far from Duluth. We passed a dam and reservoir on the way into the State Park and noticed that there is a swinging bridge here that we hope to visit tomorrow when the rain is supposed to stop. We're looking forward to updating the website, a hot meal, some booze and a bed with soft pillows. It's rainy and we're tired.

This picture was taken the next morning after the rain stopped. Nice campsite with lots of room like most of the State Parks.

As campgrounds go, well, the actual sites are nice, spacious with lots of trees. The roads are all gravel, but smooth. The restroom is a dump. It needed updating 20 years ago. There is NO hot water so how cold do you like your morning shower?

Tomorrow, we'll see the source of the Great Mississippi River at Itasca State Park where we're supposed to be able to straddle the small creek before the water begins it's 2500 mile journey to the Gulf. We also have planned visits to a Viking ship and the world's largest buffalo. Quite a day ahead and we won't forget to thank God for our friends, family, health, and for creating this beautiful country!

Day 4 Summary ~ We drove about 47 miles today which puts us at 792 total miles into our journey.
This is the end of Week 1 ~ Tomorrow is Sunday and start of a new week, so you'll need to Click Here to Go to Week 2