Sunday, September 19, 2021

Moving Along to Munising

Munising, MI  High: 64  Low: 54.  AT&T service excellent  Site: 49 back in

It only took us an hour and a half to drive from Grand Marais to Munising, to the Munising Tourist Park Campground. Eldo likes those short drives! We are in a very nice site, but not on the water. That's ok. You'd have everyone walking in front of your rig walking up and down the beach. We are here for four days. There is so much to do in this area, that four days is not enough for sure. This is our second time here, so we thought we could get 'er done in the time we were here. Nope!

Tons of waterfalls, more than ten, visiting the beautiful Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area, kayaking the Pictured Rocks area, which the true amazing beauty of the rock formations are best seen from a  boat tour, or a glass bottom boat shipwreck tour, hikes through the Hiawatha Forest, visiting the Grand Island National Recreational area by ferry, seven lighthouses, short hikes, long hikes, art murals downtown Munising, mountain biking trails, ATV adventures, the scenic drive along Highway 58 from Munising to Grand Marais, and Kitch-iti-kipi and Manistique. It's all here and no way can we begin to do justice to the area in four days. So Sparky has listed the highlights, and we are just going to have to come back to the area again! Be sure to get the 2021 Guide to the Wild Places, Munising, Home of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. 

 Our site is off to the side in the park and is VERY spacious. We have water and electric but no sewer. It appears to be a newer site as it has a brand new electric post with 50 amp service. Many of the sites at the Munising Tourist RV park do not have sewer, they are just water and electric, but some of the sites do have sewer. You just have to pay careful attention when booking. This is a park that you have to book WA-A-A-Y out in advance to get a site on Lake Superior. We booked in May and couldn't get a waterfront site then. There's more driftwood here, and somebody built a teepee! Sparky is in there somewhere...

There is a LOT to do here, lots of hiking trails, mountain biking trails (Sparky doesn't have the right kind of bike for that) and anywhere from 10-13 waterfalls, (Sparky keeps seeing a difference in the number) most of which we've seen years ago, but of course, Sparky wants to revisit! Tomorrow it's going to rain all day, so Sparky has her work cut out for her, time for planning!

We ate at the Dogpatch Restaurant in Munising this evening....VERY old and quaint restaurant, great burgers....There's an old jalopy out in front of the restaurant...missed a photo of it! The inside of the restaurant is all about Lil Abner and Daisy and characters (cartoon strip from many many years ago) and a very folksy menu tops out the theme. Sparky barely remembers Lil Abner! That was a cartoon strip that ran from 1934 to 1977.
On our rainy day, we explored some back roads where Eldy used to go snowmobiling over 30 years ago. Some places had really changed, some had not. We ate supper at a place called the Buckhorn Resort, an updated restaurant that dates back to the 1930's. The food was all right, nothing amazing...They have bird feeders in front of the glass windows overlooking Hovey Lake, a beautiful lake. Woodpeckers and finches visited the feeders while we were there. Sparky wished she had had her nice point and shoot camera, which she didn't. This big chair reminds Sparky of Lily Tomlin playing Edith Ann, talking in that funny nasal voice, was that the Laugh In show? 

If you are in Munising, be sure to check out the art/mural displays all over town. Interesting snippets of history and representations of life in the Lake Superior/UP area.
Time for some waterfalls (there are FOURTEEN? of them in the Munising area!)....and a hike. Sparky tried to drive to the  Chapel Rock/Falls Basin loop hike. It's 15 miles east along H-58 to Chapel Hill Road, then a sandy dirt county road for 5 miles to park at the trailhead. The road disintegrated very rapidly from heavy rains the day before, especially after the county road responsibility ends. After a bone jarring, tooth shaking severe bumpy ride with deep hidden water filled potholes, with 2.8 miles still to go and the road getting worse, Sparky bailed and turned around. The potholes were HUGE and even with a 4 wheel drive big Ram truck, the amount of bouncing around in the truck was concerning. Sparky was also worried about being able to 
park in usually small trailhead parking lots with the big dually. On the way back, was Miner's Castle Overlook and two trails--Sand Point and North Country Trail. Sparky stopped there and got a couple of photos and did a short hike on Sand Point. The photo at the left is Miner's Castle. 

Sand Point is mostly just a pretty walk thru the forest, a little on the boring side. Sparky likes uphill and down, tree roots, boulders, stuff like that! (Until she takes her first spill, which I hope never happens, explains E. She's a trooper, that's for sure!) North Country Trail might have been the better choice. Then she tried to stop by Miner's Falls parking lot to see the falls and couldn't find a spot for the big truck to park. It was noon and very crowded.

Rainbow Cave
Back to the rig to reassess other possible hikes and let's take a Pictured Rocks boat tour! About two hours for 48.00 a person if you want to go all the way to Spray Falls, and 40.00 for a slightly shorter ride. Great boat cruise, you learn a lot about the geology of the rocks and learn some of the names of the rock formations--Chapel Rock, Battleship Row, Indian Point, Lover's Leap and more. Our guide was interesting and humorous. But we feel the extra 8.00 for the slightly longer trip just to see Spray Falls was not worth it, and the shorter, cheaper one would be just as cool. 

The best time of the day to go for the lighting and photos is the later times of the day offered. We took the 5:00 cruise. It was a wavy, choppy day, so sit in the front of the boat for less rockin' and rollin'. BUT--wear a raincoat because the front of the catamaran boat front seats gets spray from the bow plowing through the water! We got pretty wet! It was a lot colder on the water this time of year (mid September) so wear warm layers as well. 
On our last day at Munising....We drove back to Miner's Falls and managed to get in the parking lot. That was THE most beautiful walk, .6 of a mile one way through the most beautiful forest to see the falls. They did not disappoint!

The Miner's Falls are pictured below....
We also hit Au Train Falls which wasn't much of a falls at all this time of year...rather, cascading water down a series of shale rock shelves.
Then, we decided to go find Kitch-Iti-Kipi, (an Ojibwa word) also known as the famous Big Spring in Manistique, MI, about an hour from Munising, and off we went. What a great choice that was!

The Big Spring, is located at Palm Book State Park in Manistique. It is an amazingly beautiful spring that is constantly being fed to the pond water which is the coolest teal green you have ever seen. 
Sparky's photos do not do it justice. The reflections of the pines bouncing off the water just add to its beauty. The views below the glass bottom of the raft are incredible, with the fish swimming below.

It is right inside the park and a short distance from the parking lot by the gift 
shop. There is a glass bottom raft that is people propelled across the short spring. It is so rudimentary, that the park doesn't man it with anybody who works for the park, at least they didn't at this time of day or year--5:00 PM, mid September. A bunch of people show up, walk down to the raft entrance, get on, (the maximum is about 35 people), then someone offers to turn the ship wheel which starts the pulley moving the raft very slowly across the spring, which takes about 10-15 minutes depending on how steady the wheel gets turned. 

You know there are people waiting back at the start to get on, so you don't dilly dally so everybody gets a turn at the wheel if they want to, or stand and take in the views at the railing in the middle of the raft. It's really a very efficient sharing process. Everybody sort of takes turns turning the wheel, at least they did when we went. It is not easy to turn it! Then the rest of us gawk at the amazing greenish blue beauty of the 45 foot spring and as soon as we reach the other side, we head back again, each of us taking turns turning the wheel. Look at the color of the water! WOWZA!

No park ranger telling you to keep your arms and elbows inside the raft, nobody warning you not to drop your phone in the spring, etc. etc. It's really pretty amazing that the park just expects you to do the right thing and take turns helping each other enjoy the little trip and a brief moment of spectacular views. Sparky couldn't decide which views were the most spectacular, so she put lots of them in the blog.

You can see about 40 feet down, and a variety of fish (trout, perch) swimming underneath. The water temperature is a constant 45 degrees year round.
There are bubbling springs underneath on the bottom that you can see as well. The spring flows at a rate of more than 10,000 gallons A MINUTE! So cool. We saw herons in the spring area, a duck who meandered close by for quite awhile, who just kept watching us, probably amused at this funny looking craft that keeps going back and forth all day long. "Don't they get tired doing that?"

And with the day drawing to a close, we headed back home to our RV park in Munising, to pack things up and get ready to leave tomorrow for some more hop, skips, and a jump-(she means short driving trips, explains Eldo) to get back closer to Indiana. The next time you hear from us, we will be in "crack donut" country--Howe, Indiana and home of Sparky's favorite fabric stores...Yoder's and Lolly's, and the Rise and Roll Bakery which has the most amazing caramel cinnamon donuts. (Uh-oh, and here I thought we were going to get rid of some of our extra weight, worries E.) Hey, all's fair in love and war. Eldo just bought his 4th rocking chair from Camping World, as the three previous ones all broke in the same place. And this new chair, is a HEAVY one! We are trying to watch our weight with the items inside the RV as well as on our physical persons, haha, but it's a losing battle all the way around....See you next time!
Another Pictured Rocks boat tour