Michigan – again and again
This has been an amazing year for Two Lanes of Freedom. Our plan for the summer was to slowly make our way up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and spend time exploring this beautiful part of the country. We wanted to plan our time in Michigan after the mosquito season, which is typically in June and early July. So, we’d hopefully be in Michigan by mid-August.
On June 3oth we pulled out of Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia where we had volunteered as camp hosts for the month and headed to Shenandoah River State Park. This is another beautiful Virginia State Park in the Shenandoah Mountains. We took several hikes and tubed down the Shenandoah River one day.
Our next stop was Sampson State Park located on Seneca Lake in New York’s Finger Lake region. We met up with David and Sherry (In the Direction of Our Dreams) and had a lovely time hiking, biking and just hanging out with them. We counted over 25 wineries within 13 miles of the campground so needless to say, we visited quite a few of them. We celebrated David’s 50th birthday at one of said wineries where we met a really nice couple that took us out for a boat ride on Seneca Lake the next day.
Along with David and Sherry, we took a day trip to Watkins Glen State Park which is truly a breathtaking natural wonder. We hiked around the Rim trail down into the gorge path that took us under and over 19 waterfalls. Sherry wrote about this and has some great pictures on her blog.
As well as Seneca Lake, we also spent time at Keuka Lake and Cayuga Lake. These are just beautiful and we know we’ll have to return to see all eleven Finger Lakes of New York.
We traveled over to Youngstown, NY to Four Mile Creek State Park which was just 15 minutes from Niagara Falls right on Lake Ontario; our first Great Lake of the summer. We could see Ontario, Canada from there.
Having never been to Niagara Falls, I have to say that I was completely giddy with excitement to see this amazing waterfall. We spent a few days at Niagara Falls State Park where we took a boat ride out to get really up close and personal to the falls and ate lunch at the Top of the Falls restaurant and hiked on some of the beautiful trails there too. The next day, we went to Devil’s Hole State Park and hiked the Gorge Trail down to the river and watched in awe of the Whirlpool Falls from our lunch spot high atop a craggy cliff. We took a day trip to Ontario and saw the falls from the Canadian side and ate lunch at an Irish Pub in Niagara on the Lake.
We left New York and headed to Geneva, OH where we bagged our 2nd Great Lake. We camped at Geneva State Park located on Lake Eerie. Our full-time RV friends, Dan and Trish camped there for a few days while we were there and we had several fun days of biking and exploring with them. There are around 18 covered bridges and several lighthouses in the area and we had a great time riding around trying to find them all. We’d occasionally get sidetracked and find a winery or a brewery along the way instead. We met other travelers, Earl and Shirley whom we had met in Panama City last year and joined them for music a few times. We all went to the Holden Arboretum in Kirkland, OH for a great day of exploring and a night of great blues music.
Our travels took us to Indiana where we camped at Chain O’Lakes State Park. Our dear friends Chris and Molly and their precious daughters, Cozette and Maya live in Indiana so we traveled to a campground not too far from where they live so that they could join us for a long weekend. We spent time swimming, playing games, fireside chatting and creating warm memories to take us down the road. Molly found Fox Trail farm and we went to their tomato tasting one day. There were so many different flavors of heirloom tomatoes and we had to sample them all. At the end of the day the owners/growers made a delicious bruschetta with the leftover tomatoes and we were invited to stay and enjoy it with them. Chris put Indiana on our RV map before we, way too quickly, said our goodbyes.
We dipped our toes in Great Lake Michigan, our 3rd great lake, at our next home. Muskegon State Park was a wonderful park and we had a great time in downtown Muskegon where we found a farmer’s market to beat all farmer’s markets and endless bike trails. We had the oil changed in the truck over near Grand Haven and turns out that our camp host buddies from Florida, Joe and Bev, were camping there so we met them for lunch and they gave us a tour of the downtown area. We picked up 12 DVD’s at the sidewalk sale for $10. Score!!! We ate lunch at The Toasted Pickled and it was awesome. This was our first time in Michigan and we now have a saying; “Mich-again, again and again.” We know we’ll return because there is just so much to see and do here in this beautiful state.
Tahquamenon State Park was our home for the next 11 days right in the wild and untamed wilderness of the Upper Peninsula. It was just a short walk to the lower falls and a four mile hike to the upper Tahquamenon Falls. Our friends Greg and Cori (The Restless Youngs) met us here and we spent the rest of our time in Michigan in the same campgrounds with them. Greg and David spent a few days installing our camper with solar panels. Now we’ll be ready to head out west and boondock next year. Yay!
While we were at Tahquamenon Falls we went to Whitefish Point and visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and lighthouse. The museum is a great tribute to the 6000 plus shipwrecks that have been documented on the great lakes. With a very special dedication to the famous Edmund Fitzgerald. We fell in love with the turquoise waters of Lake Superior.
Much to our surprise, we had an impromptu visit from a sweet couple that we married at Butterfly Hollow too. Tom and Mary came to the park and hiked to the falls before coming by our RV for a visit. They are thinking of buying an RV and joining us in this crazy full-time travel adventure. They had lots of questions and we had a great time catching up and sharing stories. We all had dinner at the park’s restaurant and since Cori had to fly to PA for business, Greg joined us.
Our final stop in this beautiful state was Munising Tourist Park in Munising, MI. We weren’t right on Lake Superior but Cori and Greg were, so we spent a lot of evenings in their yard enjoying a fire and sunsets.
We spent a lazy day at Grand Marais looking for agates on the beach, peddled almost 22 miles around Grand Island where we hoped to see black bear but spotted two eagles instead. The boat ride out to Pictured Rocks was by far the most beautiful sight I have seen in all of my travels.
To say that Michigan completely surpassed all expectations is an understatement. We will carry a little piece of Pure Michigan in our hearts forever. We’ve reflected in pristine lakes, soaked in the history of the many lighthouses that stand sentry along shorelines, marveled at and felt the cool spray of countless waterfalls and nearly cried from the beauty of rocks that are all the colors of a rainbow that lines the shores of Lake Superior. I wanted to share some of these beautiful sites with my friends, even though there is no way to truly capture this spectacular display of God’s splendor with a camera.