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August 16, 2020

Pictured Rocks National Seashore and Van Riper State Park


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Minimal facilities at Soldier Lake, so a quick breakfast and off we went to Pictured Rocks National Park. We found that Pictured Rocks Cruise had an air conditioned kennel, so we figured it would be a win/win for keeping the dogs cool and satisfying our curiosity about the shoreline. We had an hour drive to the NP, and it took every minute of the drive to procure tickets as cell service was spotty at best. I would find the remaining 2 tickets, put them in the cart, try to purchase, coverage drop...wait for cart to expire and tickets to become available, and repeat. Our tickets were for 1:00 so we traveled through the NP scenic drive keeping an eye on the time. We did manage to sneak some time at the Lake Superior Overlook which was breathtaking. We got into Munising around noon to get the dogs squared away. The kennel was a bunch of crates in a small basement with an air conditioner; you were to provide your own lock. It took awhile to convince me that this was better than leaving the dogs in a van that may get incredibly hot. Logic finally prevailed, the dogs stayed in the kennel and we seriously enjoyed the scenic cruise. I had great fun with the SLR and the people around us were very friendly and fun. The tour was about 2.5 hours and sitting on the Upper deck with a mask on was getting a little tiring. Thankfully the dogs were excited to see us, and not deaf from all the barking within the kennel. Miner's Beach and Miner's Castle were open to dogs, so we drove over to check it out. We walked to the west edge of the beach and there was a quiet creek draining into Superior. The pups splashed in the creek so they were nice and sandy by the time we got back to the van for the drive to Van Riper State Park. We missed the park on the first pass (our usual batting average) but made it on the second. The sites were fairly small, but everyone was pleasant and we were parked right by the camp host. We are looking at taking a hike tomorrow.

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Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:06 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 17, 2020


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Decided to hike a trail at Van Riper to blow the stink off of everyone, so we crossed over the highway and found one side of the trail underwater and decided to take the other side of the trail. It started off as the Main Trail, then the River Trail, and then the Overlook Trail and when mosquitoes threatened to carry us off, we turned around and somehow ended up on the Old Wagon Trail. We noticed some large interesting plants and then noticed orange tape with a warning sign saying "Beware of Cow Parsnip". Ok...good warning so single file for rest of trip until we came upon the underwater section of trail we had previously avoided. We promised ourselves dry socks and shoes when we got back to the van and plunged into 3-4 inches of muck. The dogs were happy, the mosquitoes frustrated, and a quick dip in the lake washed off most of the sweat and mud.

Got cleaned up and drove into Houghton/Hancock and into McLain State Park to drop off kayaks. We could not find the electric hookup for the site even though we paid for it, but decided the day was too nice to lose to inconvenience. Back into Houghton for a beautiful tour of Michigan Technological University. It has gotten a wee bit bigger since Eric attended, but things sometimes look smaller in the rear view mirror. After that, Eric found the Keweenaw National Historical Park so off we went to explore. Most the elements were closed, but when open must portray an interesting picture of the Copper Mining Industry and the role it played in the development of the Peninsula. I picked up a few t-shirts because we were finding it inconvenient to do laundry when there were no laundromats close to the campgrounds. Nobody wants to sit in a laundromat watching your clothes go around when there are hikes to take and lakes to paddle. Headed back to McLain determined to resolve the power cord issue and find the dog beach. A 50' extension cord borrowed from the park office along with one of our 25' cords solved the power issue. The hookup was across a hike/bike path and in someone else's campsite... it was an interesting placement. The dog beach signs were marked at different areas depending upon signage/paper maps. It was rather confusing, and somehow we ended up on a hike that paralleled the shore of Lake Superior. The heady smell of cedars, pines and surf was amazing. When we got to the Dog beach, it was deserted, so we walked down the lake shore with the dogs having a great time. For supper, we opted for a glass of wine on a swinging bench overlooking Superior. The wine was nice, the company was the best and the views were intoxicating...or maybe that was the wine without supper. Anyways, the SLR got a workout and I hope at least one of the 20 million photos I took reflect the beauty present that evening.

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Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:07 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 18, 2020

Apostle Islands National Seashore and Washburn

We left McLain State Park bright and early because when campgrounds state first come, first serve...they mean 10:00 is when most campers are gone and sites are available. We had 5 campgrounds on the radar and found a nice spot at the Memorial Park in Washburn. We dropped off the kayaks and headed for a local beach at Friendly Valley Road. We stopped by and found the beach beautiful and very accessible. We continued into Bayfield and the Apostle Island National Park Visitor Center. Not open, but we snagged some interesting info and checked on Dalyrymple Campground, which was one of the campgrounds on our radar. It was tiny and full. We headed over to Meyer's Beach and hiked the Lake Shore Trail. It was full of twisted roots and breath-taking views. We used Bodie as an excuse for our many pit stops, but between the views, water and snack breaks, and picture opportunities, we enjoyed the hike immensely. We ended at the beach with all of us cooling off in Lake Superior. The water was bracing, but felt so good after miles of up and down hiking. We swung by Little Sand Bay on the way back and found the kayak launch to be much easier than the 60 stairs at Meyer's, so that is in the running for tomorrow's adventure. We looked for a boat launch at Red Cliff, but it doesn't look terribly public, so we headed back to Washburn to figure out tomorrow's adventure.

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Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:08 Comments (0)

August 19, 2020

Apostle Islands National Seashore and Cornucopia


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Today we attempt kayaking with the dogs. To keep things simple we decided a short hike might tire them out enough to sit still on the boat. We found the Houghton Point Trail and what a wonderful trail through Eden Dells. The trail was well maintained and the rock formations and hidden waterfalls were delightful. We drove back to the park, picked up the kayaks and headed for Friendly Valley. Our initial launch had Sera in the back with Bodie up front. It didn't take very long for us to figure out that was not going to work. We paddled into a small creek and after Sera complained bitterly, we switched Sera and Bodie. It was tight up front, but she did much better and we got to explore quite a bit of the coast before our arms quit. We headed back to our launch point, where we found that 2 people and 2 dogs in one kayak is a bit of a novelty. After posing for multiple photos, the dogs allowed us one more trip along the shore to a quiet location where all four of us could play in the water without disturbing anyone.

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We decided to hike Lost Creek Falls after lunch. It was out near Cornucopia and the falls felt spring fed because the water was really cold. On the way back, we found the Siskiwit Lake Campground rather by accident. It seems to be a local campground which is deserted during the week. I wanted to stay the night, but Eric convinced me to stay at Memorial where we had power and flush toilets. We decided to forego one of our nights at Coon Fork Lake and stay at Siskiwit tomorrow. The lake looks amazing for kayaking and it appears very secluded.

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Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

August 20, 2020


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What a weird day...started off warm and tropical, so we decided to bag the kayaking and head to Madeline Island via the ferry. Unfortunately, the weather was somewhat uncooperative and decided that lighting, thunder and rain would be a good way to start our adventure. We huddled in the Sprinter at the Bayfield Boat Launch until 9:30 and then hustled over to the ferry just as the rain started back up. It was a drizzled bunch of passengers sitting on the Upper deck as the dogs would take up too much space in the covered passenger cabin down below. Sera was able to bound up and down the open staircase without problem. Bodie was carried down the stairs cause they were too steep for his little body. The rain turned back to drizzle as we neared Madeline Island. We walked over to the Casper Trail and followed it to Middle Road. We decided a walk back down Middle road would be dreary and dangerous, so we hiked back to the the trailhead and wandered through LaPointe. It had some interesting shops, but nothing that snagged our interest so we hopped the ferry back to Bayfield and called our adventure a learning experience. We stopped by Andy's IGA for some bread, milk and beer....all the essentials and then headed for Siskiwit Lake Campground. We had been hungering for pizza and seen some good reviews for a local restaurant so we ordered for takeout. I think the reviews were from family members because it looked awful...like cheese surrounded by tomato soup, and the taste lived up to its first impression. We ate enough to sustain, and pitched the rest. There was a bunch of wood at the campground so Eric decided to get his Fire-starter merit badge and made a beauty, although there was a bit of cursing associated with wet wood and such. Sera accompanied me to get cleaned up down at the lake. She had a great time and I ended up almost as dirty as I was before my "shower". To make matters more complicated, the neighborhood dogs kept invading at the most inconvenient time, I spilled an entire glass of wine, we got tormented by flies and noseeums until we were forced to take refuge in our van with some tired pups. Like I said, it was a weird day, full of promise one moment and then tattered disappointment the next.
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Posted by LifeWithMurphy 07:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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