Enjoying Up North – Michigan: August 14 – 30, 2015

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Our third RV trip almost didn’t happen at all… Immediately at the start of our trip, we realized that the brake lights of the Jeep we tow weren’t lighting up. Besides being pretty dangerous, I imagine that situation is probably against the law as well. So, while we were on our way, I called the company, Blue Ox, that manufacturers the towing mechanism we use. They located a dealer that stocked their parts in Fort Wayne, Indiana and gave me the address and phone number. I called them, told them we had a 38 foot motor home and explained our towing dilemma. I said that we were an hour away and the lady on the phone stated that although they were very busy, they could have someone look at the towing gear and determine if they had the part we needed in stock. What she didn’t tell me was that they actually had a very small parking lot and it didn’t have a place for a RV to make a turn in or pull through. GPS guided us to the place and we realized we couldn’t pull in. We thought we could go around the block in the surrounding streets but unfortunately, the street that went right by the store (with no warning sign) ended in a cul-de-sac. That would have been fine, but as Roy swung into the court to make a wide turn we heard a terrible crunch. I flew out of the RV and discovered that the back end had “caught” a boulder. We unhooked the Jeep and just stood there looking at it for about 20 minutes. We couldn’t move forward because it would have completely torn the fiberglass all the way across the back along with electrical wiring. We couldn’t move backwards either for the same reason. It seemed like we were completely stuck. I walked over to a nearby house and asked to borrow a shovel. Roy and I took turns trying to dig the rock out so we might be able to roll it out of the way, but it wouldn’t budge. Roy said we really had no choice but to just move forward. I said to wait just a few more minutes; I knew there had to be some idea that would come to us. All of a sudden, Roy remembered we had road side assistance that came with the insurance! After making the call, a guy with a huge hydraulic truck came within a few minutes. He hooked some cables up, used a remote control devise, and lifted our RV straight up and over the huge rock.  We moved the RV out of the court and parked it on the street in front of the place that carried the Blue Ox parts. They fixed a piece that had faulty wiring for ten bucks, but they didn’t have time to help us bind up our right back end. We managed to drive to a Walmart that was across the street and bought rope. We actually tied the back on to the rest of the RV with a whole lot of that rope. Then we hooked the jeep back up and drove until dark when we stayed at another Walmart outside of Detroit. The next morning we went to Roy’s Uncle Jim’s and cousin Brian’s in Detroit. They further enforced our rope work with additional bungee cords and sent us on our way to see Roy’s cousin Kathy. Kathy has a beautiful home with a gorgeous pool and I could have stayed there forever. However, we had a chance to spend a few days at our family cottage so we continued up north to lick our wounds there…

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My grandparents bought the cottage about 1957. Later it became my mom and dad’s and now I share it with my brother and sister. It really is a little slice of heaven. The area is absolutely beautiful and there are plenty of fun things to do. Besides claiming to be the cherry capitol of the world, the climate is also very good for wine production. We love to pick cherries and for the best cherry pie recipe ever CLICK HERE. It’s also fun to rent bikes in nearby Sutton’s Bay where there is a wonderful path that runs along several wineries. My favorite, Black Star Farms, serves a delicious salad. For that recipe, CLICK HERE.

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We spent four days enjoying the lake life, and then we headed north again. We spent half a day in Charlevoix before heading up to Petoskey.

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Northern Michigan is full of cute little beach towns and Charlevoix is one of them. The main street has plenty of shopping but what’s really interesting to watch is the draw bridge that allows large boats to travel from the harbor into Lake Michigan.

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We left Charlevoix and drove up to the Petoskey Motorcoach Resort. Frankly, this RV park comes off as just a bit snooty. When I made the reservations, I was asked for the make, year, and model of our motor home. Only class A RVs are allowed and when we checked in, I had a moment when I wondered if they were going to ask us to leave after they saw our back end! The facility boasts a lovely club house, nine hole putting course, tennis courts, swimming pool, and hot tub. A couple of the sites have outdoor gas fireplaces and freestanding small indoor kitchen. The grounds were beautiful, but I missed having a picnic table, a fire pit, and being allowed to dry our beach towels outside. It was an interesting experience though, and we enjoyed all the amenities the place had.

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The weather turned kind of crummy while we were in Petoskey, but we still had a great time renting bikes at the Bahnhof Ski Shop and riding along a portion of the Little Traverse Wheelway, a 26 mile bike path that runs from Petoskey, through Charlevoix, and ends at Harbor Springs.

 

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After bike riding, we ate lunch at Julienne Tomatoes. Roy and I gave it a definite thumbs up rating!

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Most of the time, we cook dinner in the RV. One evening we decided to go out.

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We wanted to eat at the Bay View Inn on the left. Unfortunately it closes at eight, so we ended up down the street at the Side Door Saloon. I enjoyed seeing the stuffed racoon even more than the food.

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To get to our next stop in the Upper Peninsula, we had to cross the Mackinac Bridge. It was rainy and windy on the morning we crossed it. For Roy, it was a hair raising experience and I know he was glad when we made it to the other side.

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We continued north all the way to the very top of the eastern UP to the end of Highway 123. There on Whitefish Bay, we visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Remember the song “The Edmund Fitzgerald”? Well they have the whole story of it here along with a lot of the ship’s artifacts.

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We also toured a restored light house right next to the museum.  Then we moved on to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The RV sites here had electricity only – no water. So we went from the lap of luxury to roughing it. But staying in a motor home is far from actually roughing it. We had a nice warm, dry place to bunk in. I felt a little bit guilty next to the people staying in campers and tents since it was rainy and 50 degrees the whole time we were there.

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The upper and lower falls are the main attraction here and they are easily accessible via paved walkways. We found the hiking was well marked and ranged from rugged to easy. The park also has a brew pub type restaurant that was surprisingly upscale.

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We ended the Michigan portion of this particular trip in Port Austin. We visited yet another of Roy’s cousins, Beth. Port Austin is right on top of the thumb of Michigan’s mitten. It’s another beautiful lake town and we enjoyed walking around and seeing the harbor and shops. Beth’s husband John has a huge heart and even bigger stories that I could listen to for hours. By the time we reached their house, the ropes and bungee cord’s on the back of the RV were beginning to loosen up and things were sagging. John, a retired iron worker, shored everything up and made it possible to continue on our trip back down south. We said goodbye to John, Beth, their daughter Lisa, their dog that loves to ride in their golf cart, their two huge Maine Coon cats, and headed to the Newmar factory for our next adventure.

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