Glacier.

Getting There

US Highway 2 leaves Whitefish, MT and winds through Columbia Falls (a cool tourist burb), Coram (home of Glacier Distilling and their tasty North Fork Rye) and past West Glacier (Gateway to the Park). And I went past the entrance to the park because vehicle combinations longer than 21 feet are prohibited on Going to the Sun Road. As the crow files, it’s 49 miles from my campground in Whitefish to my campground in St Mary, on the east side of the park. So I had to roll down the longer 122 mile route—which was just fine because the route was fine (mostly!).

Winding along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and through a couple towns/outposts was awesome! I love how clear the rivers are! As you approach Marias Pass stunning views of Glacier National Park’s peaks appear. So hard to keep my eyes on the road.

On the east side of Marias Pass I passed by East Glacier (another route to the park) because the railroad bridge wouldn’t let Synko pass under (and because long loads aren’t permitted on MT 49 either). So I continued to Browning and then headed back westward to St Mary, the real eastside entrance to the Park.

US Highway 89 to St Mary
US Highway 89 to St Mary

That highway, US 89 was also under severe construction and I ended up shifting into four-wheel-drive to gain traction over the loose dirt and steep grade. I would not have wanted to drive that road in a half-ton truck or without 4WD. Anyway, I arrived at the nice KOA in the junction town of St. Mary and grilled up some wings for dinner, also mapping out my itinerary into the park on Saturday.

Glacier.

I bought the GNP t-shirt that just said “Glacier.” on a background of Montana because I though it was simple & solid. The national park is anything but simple & solid. It’s stunning & spectacular! I’ve wanted to visit here since high school (you know, for the past 20 years!) and my dream was coming true.

Jackson Glacier
Jackson Glacier

Going to the Sun Road is phenomenal. From the lower land meadows and large lakes on each side through craggy peaks and sheer cliff faces the road winds 52 miles across the Continental Divide and between the Park’s western and eastern portals. Exhibits in the visitor centers pique your interest in the incredible geology of the mountains. The power at work, through an awesome Creator’s hand never ceases to amaze and humble me. God, I love the mountains!

Crowds were fairly heavy but not overwhelming. I took advantage of the park’s shuttles a couple times to avoid parking hassles but I wanted the experience of driving Going to the Sun myself. It. Is. An. Experience. For the most part, the road is good and provides outstanding views of peaks, waterfalls, meadows, creeks, lakes, trees. The rivers simply amazed me in how the sparkling water rushes over colored rocks, so clear and pristine. In slower-moving pools, the glacier water reflects beautiful turquoise colors. It’s unreal beauty.

In other sections the road narrows considerably along the sheer cliff face and I knew I wasn’t being too cautious by folding my mirrors in when I saw other F250s with their ears tucked in too! There were a couple spots where I slowly snuck by oncoming traffic. On the east side of Logan Pass I passed an oncoming rig towing a 25-30 foot Airstream. What a fool. Back in camp later I was chatting with my neighbors who had advised the Park Service of this errant dude. The rangers said they’d intercept him but by that time, he’d have significant damage to his trailer. Yeah, the tunnels and cliff overhangs are real. I dunno how he missed the restriction signs, or if he was just “special.” Wasn’t my problem…

When I reached the west side (where I’d been with Synko in tow the day before) I fueled up to save $1.00 a gallon vs. the price in St. Mary and headed back across the Continental Divide. I enjoyed a quick stop at 1913-era Lake McDonald Lodge for a TwoSki Brewski Pilsner from Kalispell Brewing and then headed back up the hill. About three hours later I was back in St Mary and chatted with a cool lady from Hawaii by way of Calgary. We enjoyed a couple drinks at the local pub and then I headed back to camp (alas, alone, lol). My first visit to Glacier was so great; I’d be returning in a week to take in the “Many Glacier” section of the park.

Leaving There

But until then, in the morning I stowed my good wines and shotgun at the KOA since Canada is averse to such evils. Clearing customs 20 miles from St Mary was a breeze this time, quite different than last year when I tried to take my gun with me. The customs official asked if I had any firearms and when I said, “no” he replied, “you’re from Texas and don’t have a gun?!” I told him I’d left them at the campground in St. Mary and he waved me on through.

The drive through southern Alberta’s green and yellow farmland was easy and in a couple hours I arrived in Calgary and checked into the biggest hole of a campground I’ve found. But it was just for the one night to position me close to Banff and my next destination in Golden, BC. I was headed toward a couple more national parks (this time in Canada) that I’ve wanted to visit in the 20 years since high school!

People I’ve talked with tell of wonderful sights in Banff and Jasper. I can’t wait to get there!

Western Colorado Part II

Wonderful Risky Road

Heading north from Durango the Million Dollar Highway weaves its way up-valley, crossing a few high mountain passes. US Highway 550 requires diligent attention to downhill speed, several times as slow as 10-20 MPH. With 14,000 pounds behind me and sheer drop-offs, I heeded the speed warning signs! As risky as the road might be it’s a stunning drive. I arrived in the historic mining town of Silverton for a couple days. Silverton is base to tons of off-highway roads and the economy has transitioned from mining to renting ATV & OHVs. There’s a popular loop that runs between Silverton, Lake City and Ouray and I headed up that road for several miles before it was still closed due to slides. I probably wouldn’t have gone all the way anyway, as the road is pretty narrow and rocky, best suited for jeeps and OHVs. A long-bed truck runs the real risk of high-centering. Outside of the D&SNGRR crowds who flood the town each afternoon, Silverton is a pretty sleepy village. Even the bordellos have closed up (dang it!). Lunch at Thee Pitts Again, which has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, was only fair (think Spring Creek). Meat U Anywhere and AJs on Main in Grapevine serve up much better BBQ. Half a pizza for dinner and a Pizza Girl Black Lager at Avalanche Brewing were great!

Welp, the drive from Durango to Silverton is nothing compared to the northern section from Silverton to Ouray. Gorgeous, but I’d never consider this road at night or in the rain while towing a fiver. There’s a few videos from my newly acquired dash cam below.

Ouray

Ouray is a really cool little mountain town. A bit touristy but still very cool and very friendly. Troy’s crew at the Ouray KOA are awesome. I’m kinda jealous; he just bought the campground. Gonna be looking into that…

Ouray Perimeter Trail
Ouray Perimeter Trail

Friday I hiked the Ouray Perimeter Trail. This isn’t your typical walk around town. Yes, the trail has great views of Ouray but it also gets away from civilization with sections that wind into canyons and across plateaus. Clockwise from the visitor center the trail climbs constantly until it drops into cool Cascade Falls canyon. After that it rises & falls until the final stretch drops steeply back into town. The southern section through Ice Park is mosquito city and doesn’t add a lot to the overall loop; I should’ve taken the Ice Park shortcut. The reported 6-mile loop took me 5 hours, with a few stops at waterfalls and river crossings. I ran outta water the last mile-ish and got super dehydrated. I laid very low the rest of the day and the next. Lesson learned (dumbass). 🥵


Ok, I’m always skeptical of food offered at a campground. But I got to visit with Troy, the new owner of the Ouray KOA, and he insisted their weekend BBQ was very good. I’d had breakfast at the small café and it was, indeed, excellent. The combo BBQ plate Saturday evening (which I got halfway through for just $20) was some of the best I’ve had anywhere. Props to this campground for such a good operation in a beautiful place!

Made a day trip, backtracking 23  miles to Silverton. I wanted to drive the Million Dollar Highway again, this time without Synko in tow so I could easily pull off to enjoy the sights. Took another spur near Silverton, up South Mineral Creek about six miles. On the way out I saw two moose head off the road into the brush. Very cool!

Check out a couple video slices from my dashcam of Million Dollar Highway in the links below. It’s a beautiful, wild drive—especially towing 35′ Sykno!

Video Links

Million Dollar Highway I
Million Dollar Highway II
Million Dollar Highway III
Million Dollar Highway IV
Cascade Falls – Ouray
Bear Creek Falls

That’s it for now. I’m headed to Montrose for an engine oil change, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Gunnison, Lake City and Crested Butte to wrap up my western Colorado travels in the next week or so. Happy trails!

 

Idaho Part I

A Bit of Utah before Idaho

From Mustang Ridge I headed to the west side of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Nice drive across open brush-covered land with surprising grades along the way. In just a couple hours I arrived at Buckboard Crossing, a sleepy marina and sparsely occupied campground. But the campground’s dripping water sprinklers did draw the local pronghorns. Very cool to watch these animals.

Neighbors a couple sites down gave me two awesome filets of freshly caught Kokanee salmon. Sure beat the hell outta the frozen fish I had planned. Simply seasoned with lemon pepper and grilled skin side down, the pink flesh was incredible!

There’s not a lot of attractions between Flaming Gorge and Idaho so I put in a 6+ hour drive to Arco, Idaho near Craters of the Moon National Monument. I did stop by Fossil Butte National Monument for a few minutes. Anyone who’s into fossils would love this visitor center and quarry. I was impressed by the quality of the displays and knowledge of the Rangers.

Eastern Idaho

Arco, Idaho is a sleepy town (outpost?) near Valley of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. This national park land is awesome in its starkness, rawness, ruggedness, fragility. You can imagine the incredible power that created all the cinder cones and spatter cones and lava flows in this region. Truly amazing! I’ve pretty much come to learn that if you’re near a National Park or Monument, visit it!

After two nights in Arco, including a truck wash that unfortunately would not also accommodate Synko who is needing a bath in a bad way, I headed north.

The drive up Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway (which I did in the direction of Craters to Peaks) is gorgeous, winding along the Salmon River through wide valleys and tight canyons. I pulled into tiny Shoup Bridge Rec Area and snagged one of the seven $5 campsites alongside the Salmon. Pretty good digs for Mark.

The town of Salmon has services sufficient to get one by—just not on a Sunday, as the hardware and grocery stores were closed (kinda a nice throwback to better days!). I did sniff out Bertram’s Brewery on Main Street and, while lunch was good, the brews were only fair. I returned to my riverside retreat for the evening.

I continued heading up the Salmon River Scenic Byway to North Fork and camped at the very cool Wagonhammer Campground near North Fork. My site on the river was awesome! Beautiful views of the Salmon as it ran past, hills on both sides of the valley and lush, green grass throughout the campsite. A near-perfect campsite.

Without Synko in tow I drove up to Lost Trail Pass which separates Idaho and Montana. Nice hour-long drive to the pass, checking out several Lewis & Clark historical sites along the way. Those dudes were men.

Sawtooth National Rec Area

After a couple days in North Fork I headed south again to Stanley, the gateway to the Sawtooth National Rec Area. I see why they call ’em sawtooths—them are some rugged peaks! By the time I got to Stanley and got my bearings the most desired campgrounds were full. The friendly volunteer at the NFS ranger station recommended an area of dispersed camping off the Sawtooth Scenic Byway near Pettit Lake so I checked it out. It was a few miles up a dirt road and was pretty enough but, it just did not feel right; my spirit was not comfortable with it. So I ended up in an ok site at the NFS Salmon campground, just outside Stanley. It was fine for an overnighter after a full day’s drive but I wanted something better.

So in the morning I scouted out a couple other dispersed camping areas and landed in a cool spot off the road to Stanley Lake. The forest was mine and without any facilities I gave my new inverter and solar panels a workout; they performed flawlessly, powering the TV, Dish antenna and a couple quick microwave spurts. I did question, though, the wisdom of watching the movie The Edge while camped remotely in the woods. Sounds of wind and probably a few squirrels or deer outside in the middle of the night had me thinking bear and reaching for the shotgun, just in case!

After a couple days of remote camping near Stanley Lake I planned to spend another night in the Boise National Forest along the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway (lots of scenic byways in Idaho!). Unfortunately a wildfire was burning across the area, even requiring NFS escorts through a couple sections where fires and work crews were active. The air quality was less than stellar and signs of previous fires a couple/few years ago were prominent. I checked a couple campgrounds and dispersed sites along the way but didn’t find anything particularly compelling. (I’ve come to dislike weekends and especially holidays, as they bring out all the weekend campers. Just stay home, willya.)

Boise

I continued rolling down the hill and ended up in Boise about 3pm. Now that I’d finally returned to cellular coverage I called a couple campgrounds in town and found them to be full—thanks to the Garth Brooks concert Saturday night. (So I guess I’m not fond of concerts, either, lol.). As I was headed across town to a Harvest Hosts winery for the night, Brighton at Mountain View RV called me back and said they’d had a cancellation for the night. I told her I was enroute to Huston Vineyards but a minute later Huston returned my earlier voicemail to let me know they were in the midst of their release weekend and had no room at the inn. So I called Brighton back and took her up on the offer of the cancelled site. The tour of I-84 across southern Boise and back was oh-so-beautiful. Ha.

After setting up camp I drove by the apartment where I’d lived a few months after high school. Kinda cool to see the old place again, even if it had weathered some. Hell, I’ve weather some too! Also recalled the motel bar where my high school pal Joe Gomez and I would hang out Friday nights until they closed at 2am. Then the bar would reopen at 3am and we’d last another hour or so before going to work at 7am. I was less weathered way back then!

Seeing the old haunts also reminded me of the scam we pulled while working as receiving and checking clerks at the local grocery store chain. The story went something like this:

The milk delivery driver would hit Joe’s store first and leave a few extra cartons of milk which Joe would trade cookies for. Then the cookie driver would visit my store across town where we’d trade cookies for RC cola. And then the RC cola guy would pick up a couple cases of Coors back at Joe’s store. By the time we’d perfected our thievery the RC cola driver was delivering Coors beer to our apartment. We had cases stacked in the corner of our kitchen. We made only enough money to pay the $215 rent, drink, chase a few girls and watch TV at the coin-operated TVs in the Boise airport concourse. I’m not saying I’m proud of that caper today but we had a good time—as best I remember! I’m more weathered and wiser today (for the most part!).

After checking outta the Mountain View RV park near the airport I headed across town to the local KOA for a few nights to get Synko washed and my back adjusted by a Max Living doc in Boise. I’d also plot out my itinerary for the next couple weeks up the west side of Idaho and into Montana and Glacier National Park. Headed north in a couple days so I’ll get back to the blog in a week or so. Cheers!

Table Rock Lake

Spending a week on the clear, warm waters of Table Rock Lake at Port of Kimberling in Missouri with Julie & Brad, Rachael & Roman. We convoyed up here Sunday and have gotten pretty good at doing pretty little. Nice campground, although the site I’m in was a bear to get settled into; it is just a mismatch of trees & slides placements. But after a reset, all is good. Just chillaxing today after running up & down the lake yesterday and searing some skin in the sun Monday—and getting bit by a fish. It’s actually kinda cool today with thunderstorms thinking about making some noise.

I tried to find a brewery in Branson Monday afternoon but, sadly, struck out. Branson seems to be more of a Cracker Barrel and buffet kinda place… not so much into the world of craft brews. That’s okay; my few weeks in Michigan will give me plenty of opps to visit their breweries! The terrain around Branson is pretty. The town itself you can keep.

What the Port of Kimberling does have, is fire flies! These are the instant-on/instant-off strobe light kinda flies. Very cool to watch! Welp, that’s it for now. Gotta fix a skirting brace on the trailer and it’s nearly Modelo time. Cheers!

Kentucky

The Genesis Museums

For some time now I’ve been intrigued by the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, both projects of reputable Answers in Genesis. So since I was within relative spitting distance I decided to pay them a visit. The Creation Museum is just southwest of Cincinnati and the Ark Encounter is 45 minutes south of there.

Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter

Gotta say, I was a little disappointed in both. I’d visited the Museum of the Bible, in Washington DC last year and found it absolutely amazing. Information there was professionally presented in an intellectually challenging way. I think my takeaway on these two attractions is they are also well-done but seem to target a different audience: kids. Must be lots of kids in home schooling because the Creation Museum had lots of ’em, along with many seniors riding many scooters. The pervasiveness of strollers and scooters at both exhibits was unreal.

Anyway, both exhibits do a good (if somewhat elementary) job of explaining and promoting the Biblical view of the creation and destruction/re-creation story. I might not recommend traveling here just for the two museums but if you’re in or passing through the area, they are certainly worth seeing—especially if you’ve got kids or someone along who doesn’t buy the Biblical accounts. The museums present compelling information for the Creation by God worldview.

In the afternoon I backed into a really nice site at Elkhorn Campground where Elkhorn Creek flowed gently past me. I initially thought about cutting my stay here short but given the peaceful site along the creek and a couple breweries in Lexington and the Buffalo Trace distillery right next door, I’ll hang here until Friday morning when I make my next lap toward home.

Thursday was a kick-around Lexington kinda day. Read: I visited a few of their breweries. I started with  Country Boy Brewing where friendly & cute beertender Kelley and I chatted. Country Boy has 24 of their own beers on tap—every one of them quite solid especially 2nd Crop Wet Hop IPA and Little Black Train, a stout. West Sixth Brewing had an unique Oktoberfest with Dry Hopped Cascade that worked. The Heller Heaven Double IPA was also pretty tasty. Finally dinner at Mirror Twin Brewing—a superb BBQ chicken pizza topped off with a spritz of Kentucky bourbon—paired with the decent Citranomical IPA, but my favorite brew here was, interestingly, their Not Your Moms Pumpkin Pie.

I visited no distilleries while in Kentucky; just wasn’t feeling it. Will catch them next time since Kentucky is pretty centrally located.

Land Between the Lakes
Campsite - Prizer Point KOA
Campsite – Prizer Point KOA

An easy four-hour drive on the Bluegrass Parkway and then the Western Kentucky Parkway, both of which slice through the middle of the state, took me to Prizer Point on the east shore of Lake Barkley. Really a nice location where I backed the trailer onto a site literally hanging over the lake. This would make a nice week-long stay in the summer, as the KOA here includes paddle-boards, kayaks and other water sports in the site fee. As it was, I just stayed tethered to the truck, wanting an early start in the morning for the 7-hour drive to Hot Springs. I’ll spend two nights there, hopefully with TV signal to enjoy the Saturday evening and Sunday games from the comfort of my recliner since it’s supposed to rain all weekend. Weather-permitting I’ll be home Monday and will recap this incredible trip then.

Thru New Brunswick onto Prince Edward Island

Camper Church came late today, as the Grapevine 9:15 Service started at 11:15 Atlantic time. But, second week in a row the video streamed without issues, so there was no cussing at technology during church! As soon as the last word was said I was on the road toward PEI.

Four Rivers Brewery in Bathurst has a good reputation so, alas, I stopped in there for a taster flight on my way out of town. Each style was very good: the amber, the Belgian blonde, the American pale ale and the black IPA. Cool, friendly place too. Have I mentioned the people up here? 😀 I picked up a pint can each of the last two to go.

The drive across heavily forested northern New Brunswick was easy and enjoyable. I took the moose warning signs seriously, as they had 8′ x 12′ signs placed—no joke—about every 7 to 8 kilometers. Didn’t see any animals though, dang it.

West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI
West River, Cornwall PEI

A few hours later I was crossing the impressive, 8-mile Confederation Bridge onto Prince Edward Island. The island knows how to grow grass and fields of grain. Very colorful and nice to drive through. A short 20 minutes later I was setting up camp at the KOA on the beautiful blue West River which feeds into Northcumberland Strait. Having come further east in the time zone, the sun was already headed toward its resting place and the temps were falling from the low 70s of the afternoon toward the mid 50s. Good sleeping weather!

I originally thought I’d go into Charlottetown for dinner but decided to grill up a couple pork skewers and watch a movie. I’m here for four nights so there’s plenty of time to check out the doings in town, as well as the rest of the island. And I gotta carve out my Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (pronounce it like understand) plans. G’night Gracie!

Newfoundland — There’s Something . . .

I was excited as I drove onto the MS Highlanders, the ferry that would take me to Newfoundland. The seven hour, 111 mile, $344 crossing from North Sydney to Port aux Basque was mill pond smooth. Spent time chatting with bartender Sherry, watching a couple freighters cross our rhumb line, and making some vitamin D on the boat’s sun deck. When we arrived in Newfoundland it took me some time to figure out it was now a half-hour later, making the province 2½ hours ahead of Texas.

Disembarking was quick; I was off the boat and headed toward camp in less than 15 minutes from the time we tied up at the dock. And as soon as Trans Canada Highway left the port town, it climbed into the seaside hills, offering beautiful views of the mountains, lakes and coastline. I already knew there was something about this land.

Alice, owner of Grand Codroy RV/Tent Camping, welcomed a couple other ferry travelers and me so warmly. Alice and her husband Dennis have owned the campground since it was passed down from her family after being privatized in the late 90s. This is the best campground I’ve stayed in on this trip. The facilities are great; the people are awesome. Alice is also a great ambassador for Codroy Valley and Southwest Newfoundland . . .  so good, I knew I was not just staying one night before heading north. When she asked how long I’d be in Newfoundland and I told Alice just seven days she said, “that’ll never do.” I knew she was right. There’s something about this land.

That night I joined several other campers at the community fire pit, where we chatted and enjoyed Susan’s guitar and Newfoundland ballads (short video). It was so cool, so fun enjoying the warmth of the fire and new friends, surrounded by trees and hills and brilliant stars breaking through the clouds. I’d heard many times about how friendly Newfoundlanders are and the reports were spot on. I’m convinced you cannot meet a stranger here. Their friendliness must be contagious because all the CFAs I met were so friendly too. After I tossed out a wise crack, Susan laughed loud and said, “oh, you’re a corker!” I considered it a great compliment from a Newfie to a CFA (Come from Away) like me. I had decided to stay another day and was already looking forward to the next night at the fire. There’s something about this land.

(Note: My posts from Newfoundland will pretty closely align with the tourism brochures that break the province into geographic areas including Southwest Coast, Gros Morne, Great Northern Peninsula, Humber Valley, etc. Hopefully that makes sense and will accommodate what I’m sure will be tons of pictures and narratives about exploring this beautiful land.)

A Snug Site & A Failed Flop

After watching 121 Live Sunday morning (despite many weather-related video dropouts) I left Port of Kimberling heading northeast to Mark Twain National Forest, specifically Red Bluffs Recreation Area. ‘Twas a nice drive through the Missouri mountains (ahhh, let’s call them hills) with periodic light rain. I was just fine with the showers, as the forecast predicted strong thunderstorms. Upon arrival at the campground I was tempted to keep moving as it seemed deserted. LOL, the area I first drove into actually was deserted—I guess kinda an overflow area because it looked like the river had recently flooded it.

Red Bluff Recreation Area
Red Bluff Recreation Area
The Rig
The Rig

On the other loop I met a young family who was just setting up and they kindly offered me the site they had reserved next to the non-reservable site they preferred for “kid running room.” I squeezed into the short site for a snug fit but while setting things up my favorite Teva flops gave out on me. They’d been super-glued before and this blowout was more severe so I decided to give them a proper burial. Now I gotta break in a new pair of Sanuks.

In the morning I quickly broke camp (didn’t set up much the night before) and headed toward St. Louis. My map didn’t provide any detail of the remote area I was in and I was out of cell range so my phone app was worthless, so I made course decisions based on only the dash compass. Saw some pretty scenery; probably more than I needed to! No worries, since I was only headed to St. Louis, just a few hours away. Now am sitting at the local KOA fussing with the %#*+^$(&# Dish satellite system. It almost never works. Gonna call them tomorrow and insist on a new dish antenna.

Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Road

Nat Geo’s Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways recommends the 45-mile riverside road that runs from North St. Louis to Kampsville, IL. So I took it and am glad I did! Beautiful views of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Holy moly, that’s a lotta water! You kinda get that when you cross the Ole Miss on interstate highway bridges but driving alongside the river is an experience. There are a few small towns along the way, like Grafton, which would be cool to hang out in for a while. I passed through fairly early and they hadn’t really woken up yet (if they actually do!).

Once I got to Kampsville I realized the way back over the Illinois river was via ferry. While it was uneventful, it was cool to get the check in the box that I’d been on the water. Highway 108 headed east toward Springfield was a cool drive through corn forests and other crops this agriculture-illiterate guy didn’t recognize.

After I settled in at the tucked-away KOA south of Springfield (featuring a sad or just plain crabby owner a little obsessed with her trash bins, but that’s another story!) I headed into town to grab a brew at Engrained Brewery where I really enjoyed their German Helles Lager. Dude, these northern breweries seem to have a way with German style beers!

Back at camp I wrestled the original mattress outta the bedroom and the new mattress I’d had delivered to the KOA into its place. The stock lightweight mattress just wasn’t gonna cut it much longer. Since the new mattress needed 48 hours to decompress I bedded down on the jack-knife sofa. I already have pity for any guests who have to use  it and am beginning to see the value of a bunkhouse floor plan!

Headed back into Springfield today to visit Abe’s museum, home and other cool places (Buzz Bomb, Anvil & Forge Brewery & Distillery, etc.) More on that later!

North in the Southern Peninsula

Been bouncing around upstate Michigan, below the Upper Peninsula, for the past week. It’s not real clear to me what to refer to this part of the state as. The Michigan State Parks website calls it Central but seems everyone I talk with says it’s north. Shelly, I know you know!?…

Anyway, once I wore out my welcome in southern Michigan (that designation is clear) I headed north a few hours to Traverse City where the wooded state park is right in town. Cozy, tight sites but very nice. Lots to see in & around Grand Traverse Bay (see the post on Sleeping Bear).

Then came Young State Park on Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City. Beautiful beaches and views of the lake and I enjoyed walking around “Boink” City as it held the Boyne Thunder poker run. A few miles away the next day I found Burt Lake and it’s awesome, Caribbean-esque beaches. Unreal, warm, clear, golden water that’s waist deep a few hundred yards from shore. Michiganders probably wouldn’t even consider getting in the sludge of Lake Lewisville. These inland lakes up here are really a treasure. I had no idea.

My next stop, this time for a lazy three days was Aloha State Park on Mullett Lake, just down the road from Cheboygan. More warm, clear water. What’s not to love? Except that the third day the air temps dropped a bunch and it was a little cool to be splashing around in the water.

On a day trip to Ocqueoc (Ah-key-awk) Falls and Lake Huron I found the water, let’s call it, less warm. Nevertheless, the big lake is gorgeous and expansive views (if not the water temps) also mimic the Caribbean! Walking on the very cool shipwreck ruins at Forty Mile Point Lighthouse was an unexpected and fun roadside stop.

Enjoyed a great prime rib at Hack-Ma-Tack Inn on my last night in the Cheboygan area. I’m headed back west a few miles to Petoskey Wednesday to hang for a week, visiting Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, Mackinac Island and, who knows, maybe a couple breweries along the way. Until then! 🍻