Once back on the mainland Meadow got to pick up her Junior Ranger badge.
This one was made of wood!
Before heading to our next destination we went in search of lunch in Bayfield.
We got a simple lunch from a tiny little bakery, the Starlit Kitchen.
Meadow says this was the best sandwich she ever had.
The bread was very good.
I was ready to go but Scott and the kids wanted ice cream first.
We chose Sweet and Salty because they had massive homemade cones and a lot more flavors than the other shop in town. Either way we were getting Cedar Crest. You know the "best ice cream north of Manitowoc."
You could say we got too much ice cream. At least Brooke would.
We found a good place to let the ice cream melt in our laps.
Then it was back on the road to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.
Day 4 of no screens and Theo is still doing great.
Dont' worry, eventually he'd have screen withdrawl.
Porcupine Mountains is one of our additions on this trip. I had a few places saved that I wanted to see. Starting with the Presque Isle Waterfall Loop. Meadow was not happy to have to hike, she wanted to stay in the car and read.
If she could read in the the car the whole trip she'd be happy.
Theo took time to stop for the views.
Otherwise Meadow was always 50 feet ahead of us.
Do I spot some old growth forest? Most of the roads take you around the massive virgin forest in the center of the Porkies, but the waterfall loop takes you along the edge of the old growth.
The trail actually cuts across right here.
I was a bit confused. Like were they having a drought too? Nope. That's just how the trail is.
A suspension bridge then takes you over to the other side of the river.
We detoured over to Lake Superior first. Now Meadow was glad we came.
If we kept swimming we'd make it back to Madeline Island.
If we kept swimming we'd die.
Aww thanks Scott.
I know, I'm sweet sometimes. Wait, I didn't do that.
We finished the loop after going the wrong way a few times. Thanks for the bad signage Michigan State Parks. We then crossed the park, checked in and set up camp for the night.
Union Mine Trail.
After a lot of convincing, I talked the family into taking the 1 mile loop.
It was a nice hike, but it wasn't in the old growth zone that makes the park famous. I would've preferred hiking into the parks interior.
The trees weren't old growth but it was still pretty.
There were a few large stands. Or at least compared to little Theo.
One half takes you through where an old mine was. Underneath the trail are tunnels that are no longer accessible.
The last half follows the river and to many waterfalls.
They tried building a water wheel along this river to power their mine, but it didn't work out well.
We didn't have a lot of time to spend here so next we went over to Lake of the Clouds.
The kids were more interested in catching grasshoppers than checking out the view.
What a view. Somewhere down there is a couple of folks canoeing. We wondered, or at least I did, how they got the canoe in.
If you squint those are almost mountains. I guess it's all relative.
Meadow wanted to bring this grasshopper back with us.
I didn't realize this park was big on backpack camping. Even most of the cabins here are backpack only. We've been trying to come here for my birthday weekend for the last few years but everything books up fast.
The trick is you need to get on the booking site 6 months before you want to book.
We checked out a bit of the old growth forest near Lake of the Clouds. It was mostly sugar maple, so we turned around. I wanted big pines.
We wanted to see more of the park but we had our longest drive of the trip.
At least we weren't driving all the way from Bayfield.
We stopped for lunch in Bruce Crossing at Char's Cafe.
The lunch was just typical diner food. Meadow and I both got pie after our lunch, which probably bumped this place from just OK to pretty good.
Our original plans for the day were to stop in Escanaba for a swim and spend the night at the Flowing Well Campground in Rapid River. The weather had other plans.
The kids thought this place was the coolest. The Hillcrest Inn & Motel's midcentury grandma but not crummy look worked really well.
We had a double room and a little kitchenette. We picked up some frozen pizzas from Dollar General for our dinner.
The rain ended up not being nearly as bad as anticipated, but it was nice respite from camping.
And we got to take showers.