Pictured Rocks in Michigan

Rocks definitely seem to be the theme of our trip this time. I have never been to so many places that were this interesting geologically. Our next stop was Munising, Michigan. But first I needed to drive the rig again. It works out so well for me to drive and Matt to work in the passenger seat. A few years ago, this wouldn’t have been possible. But with a mobile hotspot and cell phone coverage, he is good to go! Sometimes, I freak out a bit when I look at the size of the rig and think, “I drive THAT?!” It’s amazing how easily it drives though. Just take wide turns, brake slowly and take your time.Our rig

I’ve been amused by the different road crossing signs we’ve seen here. This combination kept me busy watching for awhile.snowmobile crossing

Matt says I’m usually right about things. But I should have listened to him on this occasion. We were eager to see the Pictured Rocks and I wanted to go on a sunset cruise for good lighting. I decided that we should go the evening of our arrival. The sun was shining, a bit, and I was eager. Sure, the forecast was for more sun the next evening, but I declared we should go. We bundled up, but it was still cold up on the top of the tour boat in CLOUDY 45 degree weather. This was one time that I wished I had my winter coat with me! I was glad for wool socks.On the Pictured Rocks tour

We passed a pretty little lighthouse on Grand Island. I snapped a quick photo as the tour guide declared that one of the lightkeepers raised 7 children in that small house. I dreamed of what that would be like, on an island, in cold weather.Grand Island East Channel Light, Munising, Michigan

Soon we were coasting along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The lighting was not good for photography since it was completely cloudy. But here are some that I took.Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Water sculpts the soft sandstone through time.Pictured Rocks, Michigan

It is said that this one was frightening to the Indians as they thought it looked like the profile of a chief. Pictured Rocks, Michigan

We were surprised as they took the tour boat into a tiny cove. It really didn’t look like we would fit!Pictured Rocks, Michigan Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Trees were growing in interesting places.Pictured Rocks, Michigan Pictured Rocks, Michigan

Minerals seeping through the rock caused fascinating colors! Once again, I was amazed and awed by God’s creativity and beauty!Pictured Rocks, Michigan. Colors caused by minerals

The next day in Munising was a bright sunny one! Thankfully, there is a lot to do in the area. First on Matt’s list was to find a place to purchase a yooper delicacy that we had been told about, a pasty.Muldoon'sOde to da Pasty

Muldoon’s was a fun place and had friendly people too! Matt bought two pasties to heat up back at the camper. He said they reminded him of chicken pot pies that he had as a kid. Quite delicious.Muldoon's pasty

Off we went to find more beauty. Here is a waterfall with a lovely sandstone cave.Memorial Falls, Munising, Michigan Memorial Falls, Munising, Michigan

We drove along the lakeshore and stopped at various overlooks. See how nice and sunny it is?!Pictured Rocks

A beautiful lighthouse, Au Sable Light Station, was on my list to see. The park service has kept this lighthouse furnished and as remote as it was in 1910. One must walk 1.5 miles one way to visit the lighthouse, but it is worth it! We got there just in time for the last tour of the day and our guide was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Of all my lighthouse tours, I think this was the most entertaining. Volunteers are sought to stay in the lighthouse and operate the museum. That sounds like fun!Au Sable Lighthouse, Michigan

Shipwrecks lined the shore by the lighthouse and some were even right on the beach. Tours are given in glass bottomed boats to see the many wrecks. But I just couldn’t go. Shipwrecks just make me sad.Shipwreck near Au Sable Lighthouse

Finally, we had to hunt for agates. We were no longer in the best area along Lake Superior, but I wanted to try. We met another couple as they looked for the elusive stone. Merritt and Susan wandered the stone covered beach with us for quite awhile. The men were intent on agates, but Susan and I just couldn’t resist all the lovely stones. Such treasures! She even tried to talk me into taking a class on geology as she had. “It changed my life!” she said. Susan found pleasure in knowing how all these different rocks were formed.Susan and Merritt

We got his and her pics of us looking for agates!Rock hunting along Lake Superior Rock hunting along Lake Superior

And here is our haul. We do think we found a tiny piece of agate. And a few more pretties! rock treasures

Michigan is a beautiful rock treasure!

Michigan and Lake Superior Agates

It was time to get back on track and head over to Michigan. It’s a little difficult leaving each place. It becomes a bit of home and I leave a piece of my heart there. We’ve met so many nice people along the way that we most likely will never see again but still have touched our lives. One couple was Dave and Heidi who were traveling across the country to start a new job. Dave is a neural scientist and professor. They had quite a menagerie with them: two dogs, a turtle and two birds. Matt had a great time discussing 3D printing with Dave and I enjoyed chatting with Heidi. DSC_8529 2

But move on we did. I was finally able to capture a shot of a typical barn for this part of the country. All through Wisconsin, Minnesota and now Michigan I have seen these sloped roof barns. I really wanted to get a photo of the red ones with a white roof, but at least this shows the type of barn.DSC_8532 2

We spent a few nights in Michagamme Shores Campground right by the Michagamme Lake. The campsite was a gorgeous double wide with a lovely view. Here is the lake that evening.DSC_8568 2

We were in for some rain and woke up to a different sight. In one day, the temperature dropped 40 degrees. We went from 80’s and hot to the 30’s at night. Whew! Time for sweatshirts and jackets.DSC_8572 2

It was a work day, but we got out in the evening rain to get some fresh Lake Superior fish to fry. Here’s Matt holding our treasures: lake trout and whitefish from Thill’s Fish House. We fried them up with butter and lemon juice. So good!! I had never had either and decided I liked the trout better.DSC_8565 2

Before moving on, there was one more place I wanted to visit. Some of you know that I love stones and in fact have polished many. Here are some that I have polished.Examples of Janine's lapidary work

Just as we left Minnesota, I learned that the area we had been in was well known for finding agates. Do you see that pink swirly stone on the upper left side of the photo? That is an example of an agate. Now I was very interested in Lake Superior agates and a bit upset that we had already left the prime area for hunting them. I did, however, spy a rock shop near where we were camping. After Matt finished work, I said that was where I wanted to go.20140911_184642 2

At first I thought that Carolyn’s Rock Shop was just on her porch. And it took me a bit to figure out which door bell to ring, but finally Carolyn asked us to come in. She slowly led us down the steps into her basement pointing to rocks on each step as she went. Each one had a story, it seemed, and she told it enthusiastically. Soon we were in the basement and I was surprised to find that her rock shop took up the whole thing! We were given the grand tour and it was quite enjoyable. There were many tempting treasures there, but I stuck to my guns and only bought a couple Lake Superior agate samples, one natural and one polished.Lake Superior Agates

Here is a close up of the unpolished sample. Notice the waxiness and the concentric lines? Those are two of the qualifiers for when searching for Lake Superior agates.Lake Superior Agate unpolished

We enjoyed talking with Carolyn about agates but also about her life. She is a stroke survivor and I was impressed with her determination. Even though the doctor said she would never be able to do steps again, she was not going to give up on her rock shop. This amazing woman tied a rope at the top of the steps and pulled herself up the steps. Now she has almost recovered fully and is so glad to have her rock shop to inspire her. Here she is holding one of her rock specimens.Carolyn's Rock Shop

Buying agates from Carolyn just fueled my interest and desire. Yes, the next day we were leaving the prime hunting area. But after more research, I learned that it was possible to find the agates all along the lake. That night I actually had a dream that I was agate hunting and found several. Then suddenly some of our family members were with us too and when I went to show them the agates, they had shriveled down to slivers. When I awoke, I had to chuckle. Was I interested in Lake Superior Agates? You bet!

Can We Please See Minnesota?

Since we were this far away from home in Wisconsin, I thought why not head on over to Mt Rushmore? That’s a place I’ve always wanted to see! Our original plan was to see something of Wisconsin, drive up and around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then make our way back home. I couldn’t convince Matt of such a big change in plans, but then I started saying things like, “Well, we are so close to Minnesota, don’t you want a geocache from that state?” And then, “We could camp just over the line and then we could count Minnesota as a place we have camped in too.” It wasn’t much out of our way and compared to trekking over to Mt Rushmore, I guess it didn’t sound so far. Minnesota

Our first view of both Minnesota and Lake Superior was when we crossed the bridge and entered the harbor town, Duluth.Duluth

We stayed at a KOA near Duluth and then I looked for things to do in the area. I didn’t expect to fall in love with Minnesota. I hadn’t known anything about it! We were just a few miles away from Jay Cooke State Park, so we went to check it out after Matt finished his work day. First we crossed a swinging suspension bridge over the St Louis River.DSC_8254 2

Of course, Matt had to make it sway! But it was sturdy and didn’t move much under his weight. This park was beautiful and we enjoyed a couple hours before the sun set hiking the trails and skipping stones.DSC_8294 2

Then it was Saturday and we had a whole day to explore Minnesota. After a bit of research, I realized that there was a lighthouse nearby on Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse.DSC_8509 2

This lovely lighthouse is built high on a cliff that is made of anorthosite which is extremely hard and erosion resistant. We got to the park in time to watch a well done video about the lighthouse and then take a tour. The light station was built in 1910 in response to three terrible Great Lake storms in 1905 that resulted in 116 deaths. It was explained that Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world and it’s water temperature stays around 39ºF. As I heard several times while near Lake Superior, “The Lake never gives up its dead.” Violent storms, cold temperatures and a booming shipping industry were a combination for disaster. Lighthouses were needed to save lives. DSC_8375 2

We climbed the stairs and enjoyed the view from the top of the lighthouse. Here was the view out of a window part way up.DSC_8377 2

The fresnel lens is no longer lit up, but it still turns.DSC_8379 2

And makes rainbows on the wall.DSC_8389 2

Here we are at the base of the lighthouse. A great view even without climbing the stairs.At the top of Split Rock Lighthouse

After the tour, we climbed down to the shore to take photos. Such a picturesque lighthouse!Split Rock Lighthouse, MN

But I wanted to also capture the lighthouse in evening light. We had hours to kill, so we hiked trails in the park to complete a multi-cache. We stopped every once in awhile to take pics.Canoe in Lake SuperiorTaking a break by Lake Superior

After hiking 6 miles and completing the geocache, our feet were hot and tired. Matt decided to stick his feet into Lake Superior. He didn’t keep them in that cold water very long!Matt didn't keep his feet in Lake Superior very long!

Finally, the sun was low on the horizon and I was able to capture the lighthouse in the evening light. Such a beautiful site, especially since it helped save lives!Split Rock Lighthouse, MN in the evening light.

Even though I only had a couple days in Minnesota, I loved the scenery and the friendly people. I’m so glad I convinced Matt to go! Guess we’ll have to catch Mt Rushmore another time.

Wisconsin’s Beautiful Rocks

For some reason, I’ve never really heard much about Wisconsin, well, except cheese. And I admit that I have a limited experience here, but I’ve been impressed with Wisconsin’s rocks. Our first stop was Pewits Nest, a 40 foot gorge formed by a glacier in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  It was challenging figuring out which path to take to get to the gorge.Which path to take?

We did indeed find it. There were many steep drop offs but here we could catch a picture. Pewits Nest, Baraboo, WI

The next day, we were off to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin’s largest state park. We had only two hours of daylight left since we were visiting it at the end of a work day. The lake was beautiful and many people were enjoying the beach.Devil's Lake, WI

In the hills surrounding the lake, there were many trails. We could have easily spent a week there exploring. But since we were fighting the clock, we chose to walk on the Tumbled Rocks path. This path took us along the lake’s shoreline that was covered with huge boulders of pink, lavender and red Baraboo quartzite. What lovely colors!Baraboo Quartzite at Devil's Lake

As I post photos of our walks, you’ll see that Matt is usually ahead of me. I often have a difficult time keeping up with my energetic tour guide! And if you are wondering what is in the ubiquitous backpack, well this sweet man carries water, snacks, extra camera lenses, tissues, flashlight, bug spray and anything else I decide I need. Aren’t I spoiled?!

It was finally a day off from work! And I knew just where to go, Wisconsin Dells. This area along the Wisconsin River is, again, lined with beautiful rock formations that are best viewed from a boat. We toured the Upper Dells.Upper Dells

Our tour guide regaled us with stories of Indians, loggers and thrill seekers. Each rock formation had a name and story.DSC_8045 2

I asked a fellow passenger to snap our pic.Matt and Janine enjoying Wisconsin Dells

Our boat made two stops. The first was at Witches Gulch which had fantastic rock passageways.Witches Gulch

My ever present tour guide leads me again!Matt in Witches Gulch

We then stopped at Stand Rock which had been made famous by H.H.Bennett, who was known as “the man with the camera.”Standing Rock

Bennett loved photography and set about to document the Dells. His photos made tourism in the area explode. People looked at his photos in 3D stereoscopes and determined to see the area for themselves. Bennett also invented the instant shutter and decided to show case it by photographing Stand Rock. This beautiful sandstone formation is 47 feet tall with a platform on top and was the subject of Bennett’s award winning photograph. The photo shows his son, Ashley, jumping across a chasm to the platform. Our guide told us that Ashley had to jump 17 times for his father to get the shot.Bennett's award winning shot

For awhile, tourists would come and make the same jump. This is no longer allowed but instead trained dogs make the jump for us. Here is our canine, waiting for his turn.Dog at Stand Rock

He did it and with seemingly no effort. Dog makes the jump

What a beautiful place were the Wisconsin Dells. Yes, Wisconsin is a lovely place…and not just about cheese!Beautiful colored sandstone at the Wisconsin Dells

To See What We Can See

After visiting with our son and his family for two weeks, we are on the road again. The song, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain,” kept going through my head. Just the part, “to see what he could see.” We’ve never seen Wisconsin, so off we go. I actually have gotten so I enjoy driving the rig while Matt works in the passenger seat. Here is where I parked with the big rigs at a rest area. We sort of fit in, don’t you think?20140902_120304 2 I liked this sign at the rest area. My driving limit seems to be about 6-8 hours. I can’t imagine driving for 11.20140902_120544 2 We have arrived at our first place in Wisconsin, Sky High Camping Resort. Here is my view from our campsite. I’ve been doing laundry and catching up on emails.20140902_160955 2 And while at the laundromat, I met a fascinating woman, Ida Gannon. She was so friendly and said I should come to her site to visit her. Then she mentioned that she was an artist. That was it! I was absolutely going to stop by! As I approached, I heard a drilling sound.DSC_7929 First she draws her beautiful designs on the gourds. Then she does wood burning. But today she was cutting out portions of the design.DSC_7930 2 Ida, who is in her 70’s and is a widow,  says she loves to stay busy. But sometimes, she works so long that her hands get completely numb. She was glad I stopped by and gave her an opportunity to rest.DSC_7932 As I admired her beautiful art, I heard a tiny crunching sound. I kept looking behind me and finally Ida said, “It’s a little red squirrel.” I moved slowly hoping to get a photo. He was quite tame and just kept eating.DSC_7944 3 There always seems to be fun experiences to be had while camping, even on the days when I have to stay at the campsite. Right now new neighbors are setting up, Mike and Janey. They are pulling a toy hauler that carries their motorcycles. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a motorcycle ride!