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Honeymoon: Locks, Falls and a Damn Ankle

Once we decided to exit stage Mackinac, we had to decide what to do asap.

We decided to skip I-75 and head up M-123 towards Bay View National Forest Campground. In Strongs Corners I stopped for gas at this tavern and accidentally pumped premium. Oops. Wait that's a bar and tavern? Yup, it also had an attached motel and grocery store.

We found our next campsite in the Hiawatha National Forest at the Monocle Lake Campground. We first tried the Bay View along Lake Superior, but it was already full.

  If you got a campsite along the water, like we did, you get your own part of the beach. Too bad it was too cold out.

We decided to take a drive to Sault Ste. Marie. We hadn't planned on going here, but the rest of our trip was do as we please.

Sault was the first of many suprisingly interesting cities along the northern shore of the Upper Peninsula.

While here I really wished I had a passport. Canada was in plain sight across the locks.

We decided on a Mexican restaurant for dinner. Their special was a cherry margarita. Only in Michigan.

The food was decent. I had a wet burrito with pork stuffed inside. The cherry margarita was way too sweet.

As you can see there is one draw to this place. Everything was named after the locks.

Brooke did not want to go see the Soo Locks, which for some reason has been anglicized despite the city still using the French spelling. Then when she got there she didn't want to leave.

Having been on an actual ship and going on numerous trips to Duluth I was actually quite interested in watching the ships go through.

We sat and watched a massive barge go through. Then this tiny tourist boast crept into the monstrous engineering feet. The Soo Locks made it possible for large boats to safely navigate from the eastern seaboard to the various ports on Lake Superior, notably the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior. With taconite still coming out of the Iron Range this remains a key navigation point.

I actually had to make Brooke leave. She would've gawked all night. It was getting dark and we had to get back to the campsite.

Day 8

To save room in our tiny tent we kept everything in our car overnight. I was too cold to get out of my sleeping bag to get our clothes bag.

We had our breakfast before continuing onto our next adventure.

Near our campsite was the Pt. Iroquois Lighthouse.

Unlike most lighthouses you could actually climb up this one.

The view was great, but the intricate webbing of the steel staircase was beautiful.

You can only stare at a lighthouse for so long. After 15 minutes we were on our way to our next stop.

Our next destination was the Tahquamenon Falls.

The last time I was in the UP I was 8. My family did a similar tour, starting in Mackinac, stopping at Sault and eventually making our way to Tahq Falls, as the locals call it.

The lower falls were cute, but we had come to see the "second largest water fall by volume."

It was a four mile hike to the Upper Falls and we decided to take on this challenge.

We had been hiking forever when we only reached the 1 mile mark.

I had no idea 4 miles would take so long. I was really tempted to jump in the water for a swim.

It was the hottest day of the whole trip. I was sweating like nobodies business.

After about 2 hours we finally made it. Was it worth the 4 mile walk? No.

Looking at this picture, it sure as heck seems so.

We took a long time to capture the beauty....I mean catch our breath.

These two nimrods thought it would be cool to play under the waterfall. Every two seconds they'd hoot like gorillas. What bros.

They kept waving towards us and the other onlookers. Nobody waved back.

We decided to head towards the parking lot to fill up our water bottle when we happened upon an oasis. A brewpub was right there in the park. We were hungry for food and beer.

In fact I had planned on going to the Tahq Falls Brew Pub the entire trip. I had no idea it was in the state park. The beer was really quite good. We both ordered the fish fry (something I'd never do before we were married). Oddly enough it was salmon. What the hell is salmon doing in the UP.

Then it was time to start heading back.

We were both probably as tipsy as this tree.

We planned it better with stretching first.

And we began.

With the buzz of our beers and the rush to get back we were speeding through quickly.

About half a mile in while walking down a steep flight of stairs I heard Scott fall and complain of his ankle. He had twisted it pretty badly and it had swollen to the size of a tennis ball.

I took a seat hoping it was my typical ankle roll. I have horrible ankles, but this wasn't an ordinary sprain. I got up and we hiked the mile back to the parking lot.

We had debated on taking the shuttle back before we embarked on the hike, but our frugulness said, "No. Walking is free." Instead we were forced to pay the 15 bucks for a ride.

The guy who ran the business asked us all where we were from. We said Minneapolis of course. He then said he had some folks from St. Paul earlier. For some reason I told the driver, "We don't go to St. Paul, it's too safe."

I had no idea we were going to spend so much time at the falls. I was hoping we'd get to Pictured Rocks a lot earlier. As it was the weekend I was nervous about finding a campsite.

I took over driving on what was the worst road I'd ever driven on. The gravel was embedded with tire tracks from the off road vehicles that mostly used it. My hands kept going numb from all the vibration.

We made a quick stop in Grand Marais (Michigan not Minnesota) to pick up a few groceries. Our cashier suggested we check out the town campground if all the spots in the Pictured Rocks were taken.

Now that we had dinner, we were ready to head to rocks.

We checked the Hurricane River campground first. It had one opening. I had my heart set on staying at the Twelvemile Beach campground (c'mon wouldn't you?). Almost to Twelvemile a sign said it was full. I was so nervous the last campsite was going to be gone I drove quite fast, racing back. We made it back in time and the site was ours.

This was the first national park campground we'd stayed at the whole trip. National forests are a part of the Department of Agriculture. I think that's so they can selectively log those forests. National parks are run by NPS under the watch of Department of Interior. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service runs national wildlife refuges. Despite all these competing agencies, every toilet, every campsite and every mile of these three types of parks were pristine. You couldn't say that about Big Bay Town Park.

This campground was really particular about leaving any kind of food out anywhere for fear of attracting bears. I couldn't even do dishes. We enjoyed our campfire popcorn anyway.

Do bears like popcorn?


emma said…
One time my dad and I took a lock and damn tour. I think we went south though.. not sure I visited that one. I've crossed the border there though.

I really want to do a lock and damn trip down the Mississippi. My dad and I used to always stop to look at them whenever we found one. My aunt used to be married to a guy who worked on barges so we would drive around Illinois to meet him at the various locks.

My dad and I also did a lighthouse tour around Lake Michigan. They get really boring after the first two or so. I think you used to be allowed to go in more of them than you can now.
Blake Romenesko said…
Why the heck you get an official campground when going to a national forest?
Because it's easier. Plus when we were at the National Lakeshore I had a severely sprained ankle.

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