Waterfalls in Michigan – Really?

Kathy and I were both born and spent our early years in Michigan on the west side of Detroit and then spent our school years in Redford Township where we met in high school, got married shortly after we graduated and started a family of our own.  I’ll tell you about those early years some other time.

Our vacation travels as a young family consisted of driving on up to the Kalkaska area of Michigan’s lower peninsula where my folks had moved after Dad’s retirement from Ford Motor Company in Dearborn.  It would always be a “low budget” trip.  We would be able to stay close to home (about 4 hours away), the kids would have some time with Papa and Nana, and Kathy and I might even be able to sneak away for a couple hours alone while we got free baby sitting from my folks.  All in all, it was a “win-win” for all of us.  We had fun back then.

And although we spent a lot of time up in this neck of the woods, we had no idea there were so many waterfalls in Michigan.  Workamping here at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort gives us every other week (7 days straight) off so we can do what we want.  Kathy thought it would be fun to go on up to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula).  As we researched our potential trip, we found that Michigan boasts being home to nearly 200 waterfalls and all but 2 are located in the UP!  We had been up to Tahquamenon Falls years ago, but we thought that was it.  Boy were we wrong!

We loosely planned our road trip to take up 3 days time.  We decided to not take the coach and stay in motels 2 nights so we had more mobility and easier entry to some of the sites where the falls might be located.  It was a good thing we decided this as many of the sites had small access roads and/or parking areas with not much turnaround room.

We invited our new friends Chuck and Joanne to come along with

The Fantastic Foursome

us and we all had a great time.  They’ve retired from the Grand Rapids area and as a family they’ve done lots of camping over the years and they had some ideas on where we could go and what we could see.

Although we wanted to see LOTS of falls, we knew that time, money, and our “rear ends” in the car would tell us that 3 days out would be about all we could handle.

Here’s a map showing our 3 day route up and back.  If you want to see an interactive map where you can zoom and pan for yourself, click here.

Besides the numerous falls we saw, and the pasties and smoked fish we ate, there was something we learned that I had no idea existed.  I knew that folks who lived in the Upper Peninsula were known as “Yoopers”, but I had no idea that those of us who were born in or lived in the Lower Peninsula were known as “Trolls”.

I couldn’t imagine why I would be called a “Troll”, until a Yooper shared with me it’s because we live “below the bridge”!  Now it all makes perfect sense.

“UP” Road Trip Map

Here’s a slide show of some of the high points of our trip.  I’m including a few short videos too.

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Here’s the video montage of our UP Falls Tour to go along with some of the pictures in the slide show above.

All in all, we had a great time seeing beautiful sites with great friends and looking forward to our next adventure.  So long for now from your friends “The Trolls”.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Riding A “Cable” Ferry at Lake Charlevoix

Our road trip a few weeks ago took us up M-22 and M-119 through Charlevoix and Petoskey and on up to the Mackinac Bridge and across to St. Ignace.  On our way back down into the Lower Peninsula, we needed to head to Kalkaska on M-66 to visit my parents grave.

This return trip took us to a delightful little Village of Ironton where there is a ferry that crosses the “narrows” of Lake Charlevoix giving riders a shortcut from Boyne City to Charlevoix.

As we had already spent a thoroughly enjoyable time in Charlevoix the previous night, we instead crossed on the ferry and headed south on M-66 to Kalkaska.

To get a better look at the area and be able to zoom in or out, click on this interactive map link

 I thought the ferry was so cool.  A ferry boat has been crossing this narrows since 1883, with this present vessel being placed into service in 1925.  On most boats, ferry or otherwise, the captain (or pilot) not only controls the engine speed and direction, but also steers the boat by use of a rudder and/or bow thruster engines/props.

With this ferry however, the craft is “driven” by propellers on each end (from one small diesel motor that runs in both directions) but the direction that the boat travels is guided along by a 3/4″ diameter steel cable that is secured at the ferry dock at each end.  There is no steering and there is no rudder.

Back in the “old days” the passengers provided the power by pulling the boat along using hand-over-hand power on the cable.

“How do boats navigate the narrows” you ask?  There is enough slack in the cable so that it is only above the surface of the water at each end and at the ferry boat itself.  Otherwise the cable drops to a depth of about 25′ so that other watercraft can safely navigate.

The Ironton Ferry Boat

Looking Across The Narrows of Lake Charlevoix at Ironton
Waiting In Line to Board
The Ferry Rate Chart
The Ferry Has Departed
Placard Detailing The History of The Ferry

We are continually amazed and delighted at the opportunities that this workamping lifestyle affords us.  Although we were both born and raised in Michigan, we continue to be pleasantly surprised with all that this beautiful Water-Winter-Wonderland has to offer.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Workamping at Pere Marquette RV Park – Baldwin Mich

We’re coming to the end of our first year as full-time RV’ers and Kathy and I have taken stock of the decision we made to leave the stix-n-bricks world of home ownership and hit the road as Workampers.

We left our family and friends back in Ohio on Labor Day 2016 and headed west to Arizona for our first Workamping experience.  This position was for Sept 15th to March 15th, 2017.  I’ve written many posts about our experiences while working in Arizona, you can find them elsewhere on this blog.  Here’s a link to a post on our workamping experience there.

We had a great time and made some great new friendships there and we’d like to go back to Arizona again in the near future.  If you’re contemplating visiting Arizona, we highly recommend the central portion of the state near cities like Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Sedona, & Jerome.

Central Arizona – Not too hot in the summer, not too cold in the winter

These spots are far enough north of Phoenix to be a little cooler and less looking like desert, but in the winter you’re far enough south of cities like Flagstaff so the chances of snow are pretty slim.

Our 2nd and most recent gig is where we’re presently working and about to depart from (Sept 15th).  We’ve had the pleasure of working at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Resort in (of all places) BALDWIN, Michigan.

Baldwin, MI

This video below takes you on a bicycle tour of the park.  It’s a beautiful lush green RV park full of towering oak trees, an in-ground heated pool, hot tub, picnic pavilion, laundry room, and club house.

We don’t have to park new arrivals, answer the phone, or take reservations.  There is a rental manager for that.  Kathy and I are responsible for maintaining the rest rooms, showers, pool, hot tub, club house and laundry areas.

Take the tour and find out a little more.

Although it’s only been a year, we’ve come to realize that we are really enjoying this lifestyle change.  We have sold our home in Ohio (to our daughter and son-in-law), and will be registering as Texas residents this winter when we are there for our next (winter) workamping position.  Texas is viewed by “those in the know” as one of the 3 best states to domicile in for full-time RV’ers.

We hope to continue this lifestyle as long as our health allows and recommend to anyone considering some sort of lifestyle change to think about hitting the road in an RV and workamping along the way, both to help keep active and contribute to the household budget.  We look for employers/positions that ask for about 10-20 hours per week in exchange for a full hook-up site along with water, sewer, electric, cable, wifi, and laundry allowance.  We don’t want to work 40 hours+, we’ve been there / done that.

Thanks for reading … don’t be afraid to ask questions …we’d love to hear from you.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

We left Charlevoix the next morning after a comfortable stay at the Maple Leaf Inn and continued north on M-31 toward Petoskey.  We had an opportunity to go along Lake Charlevoix on our way to Urgent Care (that’s another story altogether) when we happened along some of the famous “Mushroom Houses” we had heard about.  You can read more about these famous homes and the self-taught architect that designed and built these beautiful homes by clicking here.

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Heading out of Charlevoix on M-31 along the south edge of Little Traverse Bay, we arrived in Petoskey (famous for Petoskey Stones) and we happened across their Farmer’s Market.  Since we don’t have a lot of room for storage, nor do we have a large refrigerator, the only thing Kathy bought was a bar of hand made soap. Here’s a few pictures from the market, everything was so colorful and attractive!

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Moving on up the road out of Petoskey, some friends of ours here at the park told us about State Route 119 and the “Tunnel of Trees“.  It sounded fascinating and we wanted to stay along the lake shore, so off we went due north on SR 119.  Video below.

The Tunnel of Trees starts at about Harbor Springs and ends at a small hamlet called Cross Village where we found the famous (and out of the way) “Legs Inn” restaurant.  Unfortunately for us, the restaurant doesn’t open until noon and we got there just a little too early, but we did take the opportunity to walk the grounds and check out some of the history of the place.  There are beautiful gardens out back with patio seating and the original designer, Stanley Smolak had an eclectic flair and utilized the local Odawa Indians to help him build the Legs Inn.  See more about the Legs Inn at this link.

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Beyond Cross Village (on M-119) we worked our way east and north on up to The Headlands International Dark Sky Park, McGulpin Point Lighthouse, stopped for ice cream in Mackinaw City and then on over the bridge.  Although the day was clear and sunny in the city, the fog was heavy at the bridge and visibility was poor if not non-existent.

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We ended up the day heading on down I-75, then over to Kalkaska where my folks had lived in their retirement years and are buried at the Garfield Twp Cemetery.  Kathy and I drove around the area reminiscing how we used to come up here to see them when the kids were toddlers (they’re now 39 & 40).

All in all it was a great trip.  Seeing new sites along with revisiting some places we used to frequent and bringing back pleasant memories.  A great way to spend a few days in northern Michigan.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

RC Jets – So COOL!

Each year, on the first Friday and Saturday in June, the Lake County Modelers and Flyers Association holds their annual RC Jet Rally at the Baldwin Municipal Airport.

This event is free and open to the public for all to come and see what it’s all about.  Kathy and I took a drive over on Friday to see what this was all about.  So COOL!

Although I never owned one, when I was younger some of my buddies had RC airplanes or RC boats, but JETS?  Really?  JETS?

These guys and gals have a club and, like most clubs, I’m sure they meet periodically and share ideas and talk about the art of building these beautiful birds and of course, learning to fly these things at fantastic speeds without crashing.

Although we didn’t talk to any of the participants, no questions asked, still we enjoyed see how beautiful (and fast) these guys are.  Some of them are up to about 6 feet long!

I hope you enjoy seeing these pix in the slide show below and check out the video I shot too that shows just how fast these guys shoot across the sky.

Although I’d like to play with these (like to have one of my own), I’m sure the average RC Jet hobbyist has thousands invested (too rich for my blood) and further, we’d have a hard time transporting one of these guys in the motor home.

Enjoy …

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Here’s a video I put together with some samples of the wild flying these guys are doing, I’d love to be in their shoes!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Down to The Little Bitely Tavern

Our first night out of the park, we decided to run down the road a few miles to The Bitely Tavern where, on Thursdays, they offer their $2.00 hamburger.

THIS is where you’ll find Bitely

Bitely is a small village that currently boasts a gas station/convenience store, township hall, the “Bitely Boys” Motorcycle Club, a post office, and it’s most popular inhabitant …. The Bitely Tavern.  It used to be a station on the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad in 1889.

The place was PACKED with folks that obviously knew each other … those that live nearby and those that come “up north” on the weekends.

Even though it was packed, we were served quickly and enjoyed our burgers AND liquid refreshment as well.  One of the fellas at the bar put money in the juke box and it blared country tunes of Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves.  The little 94 year old lady at the table next to us (right under the juke box) was there with her daughter and son-in-law.  Although she was sitting right UNDER the speakers, the bar maid had to keep turning UP THE VOLUME so she could hear!

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The service was great, the food was good enough to come back again and try something else on the menu (what the hell does that mean?) and everyone there was having a good time.  We’ll go back and try the pizza next time.

In our next post, we’ll share with you the “suburb” of Baldwin that was famous for top black entertainers from back in the 20’s to the mid-60’s.  Stay tuned …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our First “official” Week On The Job

It’s been a few days since I’ve written … we’ve been keeping busy here at the park.  Our new workamper partners, Russ & Mary arrived on Sunday the 14th and our first official day of work was the 15th.  The first few days of that week we all worked together to get the place “open” for the season.

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Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park is a beautiful park.  There are about 115 RV sites here.  All the lots are individually owned and each property owner is responsible for all the upkeep of their lot with the exception of the grass mowing and trimming which is paid for by the association from the annual association fees.  They hire the crew from the golf course across the street to take care of the turf and those guys come over every Tuesday morning to mow and trim and blow off all the edges.

This first full week the guys pressure washed all the concrete surfaces around the pool deck, the sidewalks, and the picnic pavilion.  We used a pretty slick tool that I wasn’t familiar with called a “PowerFit Surface Cleaner“.  This attaches to the gas powered pressure washer and helps to easily clean the concrete surfaces.

The ladies did the initial “deep cleaning” of the bathrooms to make them spic ‘n span for the season.  We brought out all the tables, chairs, and umbrellas to arrange around the pool … washing everything down as we set them up.  We installed the sand volleyball and badminton nets.  We worked to stabilize the pool and hot tub chemicals so that the water would be clean, balanced, and safe for everyone to use this Memorial Day weekend.

Our site here at the park is close to the main entrance so Kathy and I get to see everyone as they come and go.  Part of our responsibilities include “cruising” the park 3 or 4 times daily in the golf cart and just being aware of anything looking out of the ordinary on residents sites.

Although there are 15-20 folks that are here all summer, many of the sites are unoccupied during the week while their owners are downstate working and then they come “up north” on the weekend, so our weekends are often going to be “full house”, especially on holiday weekends like this Memorial Day weekend.

Kathy and I will be taking some day trips around northern Michigan and we’ll share some of that with you as time goes on.  Thanks for stopping by and we’d love it if you’d leave a note with your thoughts …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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