Paradise, MI, the U.P. High: 64. Low: 53. Site 32, pull thru, electric only
It was only about an hour and a half drive from Sault St. Marie to Paradise, MI to Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Those kind of drives are fun and easy, when the roads are good, (which they were), except for when error messages or service messages on the driving vehicle crop up. Our truck started saying "service ABS brake system". We had brake fluid, but the system computer insisted we have it looked at by chiming every so often and then more frequently while we were driving, so we are going to have to check it out. Always something either with the truck or the RV, that is the way of an RVer's life and you just have to go with the flow and expect things to happen. We ARE putting a lot of traveling miles on our road trips this year, so things are going to crop up.
We were watching the weather carefully, as a fairly big storm with hail was imminent for the Sault St. Marie area, so we got on the road mid morning after the first rain came through the campground, and got to Paradise about noonish. We hooked up in great time, and the weather stayed clear for awhile. Check in time for the park is 3:00 PM so we were early, but if nobody is on your site, you may go in earlier. After getting settled into our site, which is electric only, (NO water or sewer), Sparky decided to go see the Lower Falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. (Wish the spell checker would finish that out every time instead of making Sparky spell it each and every time!) Tahquamenon Falls State Park is the second largest state park in Michigan.
Our site was wonderful! It was a corner lot with lots of room. The electrical hookups are weird for this site. You share an electrical post with the next door camper, instead of having your own box to plug into and it's 30 amp only. So we will have to watch our usage with big appliances, mainly the AC. With temperatures in the sixties during the day, and low 50's at night, we probably won't even turn on the AC at all. There is no water hookup here, (common at state parks not to have sewer or water hookups) so we had to fill our 38 gallon freshwater tank at the last campground before we came here. We only filled it part way full, because water is a VERY heavy load to be carrying while driving down the highway. There are nice campground showers and restrooms at the park close to our site, so we will use their facilities to save water usage from our rig while we are here. We don't mind that at all.
The lower falls are right close by to the campground. It's about a half mile walk to the boardwalk to see them. On the way there, Sparky was just thinking about nothing in particular, walking along the boardwalk, when all of a sudden, RIGHT NEXT TO THE BOARDWALK, there was a BIG BLACK LUMP--IT WAS A BLACK BEAR! It was startled, Sparky was startled, and it boogied out into the forest brush before she even had a chance to raise her camera or click the phone camera! Apparently, it had been spotted earlier in the day, and the word had spread that yes, there was a black bear in the area, a young one. It looked plenty BIG to Sparky!
Sparky was so excited to have seen a bear that close (there was a wooden slatted fence along the boardwalk, the bear was not on the boardwalk,) that she called Eldy right away. He was like, nah, no you didn't! Oh, yes, she did! It was very very cool! He then realized, by the excitement in her voice, that she really did see a black bear! He wasn't very big, but guess black bears are not as large as other bear species?
Back to the lower falls....very pretty...You can rent a rowboat for 7.00 a person or just 20.00 a boat and take it out and row around the bottom of several of the falls as long as you like. Sparky wants to do that! She loves to row! But by the time she thought doing it, it was late in the day and thunder was announcing a storm coming. She hurried home and all the fury of the storm let loose by the time she came in the door. Lots of hail and a torrential downpour. It lasted about a half an hour. We always worry about hail damage to the RV roof. It's not fiberglass, but can be easily punctured with tree branches or storm damage, like hail.
We will be here for three days....probably not long enough judging by all the hiking trails in the park. There's one 4 mile hike to the upper falls, but after seeing a bear today in the very same area that the trail to the upper falls starts, Sparky is not sure she should do that one by herself. Eldy's knees aren't up for something that, so maybe Sparky will find another one to do instead. We will check out the Upper Falls tomorrow, as the lower falls are going to be closed for bridge construction. Cancel that...we ended up at the dealership in Newberry. Remember that ABS brake light warning chime? We decided to stop by the dealership the next day and just schedule a time for them to look at it. Newberry is a VERY small town, but they did have a Dodge Ram dealership along with other makes of cars, and the dealership was Newberry Motors. They said they would like to run codes to see what the problem was and if they would need to order parts. Come to find out, the ABS motor was bad and not getting enough voltage, AND they DID have the part needed to fix it, AND we could have it done that very same day!!! What are the chances of that? Unfortunately, we spent the entire beautiful sunshiny day inside the dealership because it took all day to get to it and get it done. With the parts shortages out there, and problems with getting workers to fill jobs, we were so blessed that it happened all in one day. AND--the service manager drove us to a nearby restaurant so we could get some breakfast, and then drove back to pick us up when we were finished.
On the rainy day we went to the Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. We have been there before, but for anyone who hasn't, it's a must see. The museum was a 14.00 fee to view a beautiful museum filled with historic shipwrecks of Lake Superior, scale models of the vessels, stories of their demises, artifacts from all of them, and from the Edmund Fitzgerald, one of the most famous Lake Superior shipwrecks. It was VERY crowded the day we went, so we did not stay long. Many people were masked, but about as many were not. The lighthouse itself was closed to the public, but you could tour the different rooms of a keeper's house and learn about the lifestyles and stories of the lighthouse keepers and their families. We loved seeing it again.
Having lost two days one to weather and one to truck repairs, we made the most of the last day there. Sparky went hiking on the strenuous River Trail, a 4.8 hike from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls (the ones that was right near the recent bear sighting). Locals say black bears are the norm in the area and aren't too concerned about a sighting. They are more fearful of humans than other bear species, so they say. Even the ranger station wasn't worried about the sighting. What? They don't close the trail when one has been spotted? Nope. Sparky didn't have enough time to complete the trail, only enough time to know that this trail was indeed strenuous, and she would LOVE to come back again and try to complete it.
On to the Upper Falls! WOWZA! They were beautiful! Tahquamenon Falls is known for its root beer color from tannins leached from nearby trees and groundwater, but it didn't look very rootbeerish today. There are many amazing photos of these beautiful falls on the internet when they appear more brownish in color, but Sparky and Eldo thought they were just as beautiful today.
If you come to Tahquemenon Falls, we recommend more than just a couple of days. There is a lot to see in the park and a lot of nature to explore and experience if you are outdoorsy.
With that visit out of the way, we packed up at noon and headed out for a short drive (74 miles) to our next destination, Woodland RV Park, a city park in Grand Marais.....We are going to have a lake front site, which will be wonderful! See you there!