Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Sunday, August 7, 2016

August 1-3, 2016 - Ft. Wilkins State Park - Copper Harbor, MI

August 1-3, 2016 – Ft. Wilkins State Park – Copper Harbor, MI

Monday, August 1, 2016
I worked until almost 12:30am getting the blog up to date since I knew we would be without an internet signal for the next 3 days.  When I went to bed I had a hard time falling asleep.  I read somewhere that you should not be on a computer for at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.  Maybe that was the problem!

This morning we walked 2 miles here in the campground, then we started getting around and packing things up for our move.  We have a 4-5 hour drive ahead of us today.  It will be an easy drive – straight north on Highway 41 all the way to Copper Harbor, Michigan. 

Here’s one last shot of Pioneer Trail Campground in Gladstone, MI.  It was really a beautiful place, very serene.  Everyone was very low key with very little noise around the campground.

We passed this lake about halfway into our drive today.  I just snapped it as we drove by.  It came out so good I have to include it.

There were several rest stops along the Michigan highways.  We made a stop at this one right along the shore of Lake Superior.

I took this one of the trees at the rest stop.  Everything is so green here.  It is just beautiful.

As we drove through Houghton, I noticed this ski lift.  It’s not the best picture since we just drove by, but if you enlarge the picture and look just above the two cars in the center (white & dark colored one) you will see the ski lift.  Of course being from Kansas and never having snow skied, I’ve never seen a snow lift.
This is what our drive way like for several miles along Highway 41 as we neared Copper Harbor.  

We had to stop at the park office to check in.  I picked up several brochures and maps of the area.  We were quite fortunate this time, we have another pull-through site.  It is 50 amp electric only.  We filled our water tank before we left the previous campground.  It’s a little extra weight however the location for water at Peninsula State Park was not the best.  Dean would rather carry the water than have another awkward hydrant to deal with.

We unhooked Bentley just before 4pm.  It was 68 when we left Gladstone, and 80 when we arrived here.  We set up everything outside and turned the air on inside, got something to drink and set outside for a little bit to unwind.  It was nice outside in the shade.  Dean was ready to take a ride and get our bearings of the area.  Not that it will take long here, as Copper Harbor is VERY small.  The entire town borders Lake Superior to the north.  Fort Wilkins is next door to the campground and there is a walking trail we can take to reach it.  Just east of town there is a lighthouse viewing deck for Copper Harbor Lighthouse, established in 1866.  We stopped there and I took a few pictures of the lighthouse but it is across this bay so they are not real clear.

There was a couple in a canoe that paddled up to shore.  It was a beautiful bay so here’s an option for us to use the kayak.  The beach is a pebble beach like Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island.  It is just beautiful.

The Campground sets on the north shore of Lake Fanny Hooe.  We walked along it this evening and it will be great for kayaking also.  There were a number of people on it this afternoon and several people swim here as well.

This evening we walked 2 miles around the campground and over to the entrance of Fort Wilkins.  It was a beautiful walk.  The campground is nearly full, mostly families.  I can’t believe how much stuff they have – carloads of stuff – I’m not sure where the kids fit in all of that stuff!  Lol!

Dean finally got the satellite dish to work enough he could find something to watch in the evenings.

Here are some pictures I took of our campsite.  Our site is 50amp electric.  There is no water or sewer on site.  The road and campsites are all paved.  The site is wide, with a fire ring and picnic table.  It’s pretty quiet in this end.  It’s mostly larger 5th wheels and motorhomes.  Most of the families are in the smaller sites in the section east of us.  

Lake Fanny Hooe, behind us.

Nice fire rings and picnic tables.

August 2, 2013

After our coffee this morning we walked just over 2 miles on the trails around the campground.  It was a beautiful morning.

Here are a few pictures:
Fishing dock on Lake Fanny Hooe.

Looking west
Looking east

The trails were very nice, mostly wide like this.  There were a few inclines but mostly flat.  Many bicycles used them as well but plenty of room for passing.
I had mentioned to Dean last night that we should make some breakfast burritos some time, and this morning he thought we should have them for breakfast, so we made them together.  In fact, we made enough that I froze 4 so we could have them a couple more times in the next 10 days or so before we get to Matt and Megan’s as they freeze really well.

After breakfast we talked about what to do and since they are calling for some rain today we decided we would drive the various loops from Copper Harbor around the perimeter of the area between here and Calumet.  We left about 11:30 and returned about 5:30.  It was a long day but we saw so many amazing vistas it was well worth it!

Our drive was part of the Copper Country Trail National Byway.  We learned later in the day that Upper Michigan has the most “pure” copper and a significant amount of copper was mined here over the years.  The last copper mine was shut down several years ago.  While there is still copper here the cost of mining it isn't feasible today due to the price of copper itself.

The first leg of our trip today is Brockway Mountain Drive.  The first stop is at an overlook of Copper Harbor.  Here are a few pictures.  Of course the pictures never do justice to the view you see in person, or provide the detail that you would like to show to those you are sharing the pictures with.  I no longer use a camera, only my Samsung 7 phone.  For something as simple as a phone it does much better that many of my old cameras but after looking at these pictures it makes me wonder if we should invest in a camera that has a decent zoom.

Here is a panorama of Copper Harbor.

Our next stop was to take this panorama of the beautiful forest covered mountains of Keweenaw County.  There was so many mountain views along this road that were just amazing but I don’t want to fill this whole post with trees.

The next few photos I want to share was my favorite stop of the day.  This first panorama is of Lake Superior.  It was so amazing because it didn’t even look like water.  It resembled a huge area of small gray craters.  You could not really see the water moving at all – possibly because we were so high, maybe because of the wind – it was just an amazing sight. 

The next pictures are of signs that were onsite.  I specifically wanted to share them to show you the metalwork used on each one of them.  The third picture “A Wonderland by Nature” shows the area where we were at when these pictures were taken.  As you look at these pictures notice the family in the background, especially their hair.  Where they were standing was this amazing updraft and the little girls were having a hard time even standing up.  You can see in the picture that we are on a very high point between the mountains to the east and Lake Superior to the west.  

If you ever travel to Upper Michigan do not miss this stop!  Today with the clouds and the strong winds here it wasn't just cool to look at, but it felt very cool too!

I was so glad to find this before we left the area.  We had already driven several miles and stopped numerous times to look around, and we had several miles to go.  I walked up to it and turned right, and then right again and there was the “toilet”.  I looked around – really, no door?  I even walked back out to make sure I had not missed it, but sure enough there really was no door.  I felt almost like I was in the open but when you gotta go, you gotta go!  Sorry, but I had never seen one quite like this, so I had to share.  I envy guys who can keep their backs to anyone who might walk in, and fortunately I did not have to worry about it – this time!

We traveled on down the road until we reached Eagle Harbor.  Our first stop was on the northern side where the Eagle Harbor Life Saving Station Museum was located.  At one time this was a Coast Guard station but it was closed in 1951.  We didn’t take the time to go in the museum, but I snapped a picture of this metal boat, TNT. 

Here is a picture of the Eagle Harbor lighthouse at its location across the bay from us.  We will visit it on our next stop.

We soon arrived on the other side of the bay and found our destination.  The Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Tour includes 4 buildings and an overlook.  The first stop on the tour was the Keweenaw Museum.  There was quite a bit of information on the copper mining in the area, with several specimens of copper ore on display. 

The most interesting part of this building's displays was the story of the City of Bangor ship.  The story itself was displayed on a series of maybe 10-15, 11x14 plaques on the wall.  The ship was carrying 248 new Chrysler vehicles when it ran into a storm near Copper Harbor.  They entered Bete Gris, a bay located on the southeast side of Keweenaw County, directly south of Copper Harbor by land.  Not all of the vehicles were lost surprisingly, and all but the 18 that went overboard were eventually driven out of the ship's hold to safety by way of the iced covered bay.  

The next stop on the tour was at the Lighthouse.  The lighthouse keepers had very nice living quarters.  They were actually part of the lighthouse itself.  You entered into the kitchen area which was quite large, followed by a large dining room, and a comfortable living/family room.  Off of the dining room was another smaller room.  I’m not sure of the original use, but today it houses the fresnel lens that was once used in the lighthouse before it was replaced with one of the newer type lens that uses LED lights. 

From there we entered a door that took us up a spiral metal staircase to the second floor of the living quarters, which included two bedrooms – the children’s room and the lighthouse keeper and his wife’s room.  Surprisingly, the lighthouse keeper’s room was quite large. 

Since it is still a working lighthouse we could not go into the very top where the lens is located, however we could go up to the second platform where we could look out a window over the harbor. 

A sign that tells some of the history of the lighthouse itself.

These pictures were so amazing I could not help but include them; pictures of the lighthouse taken on January 29, 1938 after a severe storm hit the area.  I also took a shot of the story noted below the pictures so it is easier to read.  It makes me shiver from head to toe just looking at it.  I don’t know how you could ever keep warm enough in weather like this!

For those of you who don’t know I love lighthouses and always look forward to visiting them in the various locations we visit.  Dean will tell you we have visited MANY!  I also really enjoy reading about the lighthouse keepers.  Edward Byttyla served here longer than any other keeper.  His comments were interesting to me.

The stairs in the lighthouse were metal spiral.

Dean going up.

Standing at the top and looking down.....freaky!

The Commercial Fishing Museum was interesting, but we were both getting hungry so we hurried through it.  I thought this large ice saw was pretty interesting.

Our next stop was the Maritime Museum.  I did not take many pictures as there were quite a few people moving about at the time, and as I mentioned we were ready to move on.  I did take this one out the window that shows a few items on display.

A couple of pictures of the lighthouse:

More information about the lighthouse itself was displayed on the overlook, and also some facts about Lake Superior.

Our next stop was for lunch at the Eagle Harbor Inn.  It was recommended by the volunteer working at the lighthouse.  Dean had a bacon cheeseburger and I had a black and bleu burger.  They were pretty good.

When we left the Inn, Dean wanted me to drive, so pictures are few and far between from this point on.  He’s just not the picture taker in the family.  He did manage to take a picture of me driving and one picture of the cliffs located on High Cliff Drive.
Surprise - you're on candid camera!!

The "cliffs" along Cliff Drive.

We did stop at a few places along the way so I could get out and take a few pictures including Great Sand Beach where they had these beautiful red-pinkish smooth pebbled rocks on the shore.  There is sand leading down to the beach and back up the road there was actually an area where there was sand nearer the beach.  (Note:  I found out later this is a great place to look for beautiful agate colored rocks that wash up along the shore.  I wondered what all those folks were doing digging around in the area.)

Not too far down the road was Jacob’s Falls.

Followed by a stop at the Lake Shore Drive Bridge and Eagle River Falls.  Here’s a sign explaining the bridges.  The bridge I took all of the pictures from was the Lake Shore Drive Bridge and the one with the panorama shot is the newest bridge.  I realized I failed to take a picture of the one we were standing on, but it was a wooden floored bridge.

Eagle River Falls

Panorama of the new bridge.  I loved this wooden frame.

We made a stop in Calumet for fuel – we have not seen a station with diesel anywhere north of here so thought we’d better fuel up for the trip south.  I was still driving at this point when my phone rang – yes we do have phone service once we leave Copper Harbor, and it was my sister Crystal.  She was on her way to a meeting in Topeka to discuss Pike Passes for the State of Kansas.  She is the County Treasurer of Labette County, the county where we reside.  She was just reading my post about our experience with purchasing a Pike Pass.  I wish all states with toll roads would participate in the Pike Pass Program.  It sure would make it easier for those who are constantly traveling cross country.  Looks like Kansas will be one soon.

So now, our trip back was not quite as exciting as what it was to this point.  From Calumet we drove to Gay, MI, took pictures of the Gay Bar.  I read about this in a blog some time back and how popular it was due to its name.  It’s a typical bar, and derives its name from the town itself.  While there were several cars parked outside, with some leaving and others arriving we did not stop.  By this time, we were getting tired and were ready to make it back.  By looking at the map, we still had quite a drive in front of us.

This structure was interesting to me so I had Dean pull over long enough for me to take a picture of the remains of the Mohawk Stamp Mill.  The mill was part of a copper mining company.

Not too far past Gay we found Brunette Park – the first sand beach we’ve seen that we could get to, so I had to stop to write this in the sand.  Carolyn is one of my dear friends from high school.  She asks friends and family to send her pictures of her name in the sand.  So Carolyn this is for you – taken August 2, 2016 at Brunette Park, Superior Lake.  I have to say it did seem a bit odd to stop at Brunette Park when Carolyn is a Blonde! 

This is the small road size park where we stopped to write Carolyn's name in the sand.
And that dear folks is the end of our trip today.  From this point on it was a long drive where we saw glimpses of Lake Superior and a few bays but it was mostly trees and driveways into beachfront homes.  We were glad to get back to Bentley, but we look forward to another adventure tomorrow.  Not sure what it will be yet, but I’m sure it will be an adventure!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Neither Dean or I slept well last night.  I’m not sure what the problem was but I had trouble going to sleep and I was up three times in the night, finally getting up at 4:45.  I was miserable just lying in bed.  I made good use of the time though so I could write the blog for yesterday while Dean was still sleeping. 

I finished writing and making notes on the pictures to go in the post about 7:30, so once we have internet I am hoping to have these posted pretty quick. 

We walked 1.6 miles this morning.  Here’s a picture I took of Lake Fannie Hooe.
This is a path right near our campsite.
After breakfast, we decided we would give the kayak a try.  We loaded everything up and took it down to the parking lot where the boat launch is located.  Fortunately, there were only two women there when we arrived.  With it being our first time out we really didn’t want a big audience!  Lol!  Since I didn’t chance taking my phone on the water with us – I just took a photo of the kayak after it was blown up.

Of course we had to visit with the two ladies for a minute.  They wanted to know where we were from and when we told them Kansas they both knew someone or had family there.  One in Bird City – northwest Kansas and Spring Hill - northeast Kansas. 

Well, the kayak was tight with both of us in it.  We probably need to place the seats a little better than we did, and one side was either losing some air, or we didn’t get it aired up enough.  We floated okay but I was leaning back too far and it was very hard to use the oars at that angle.  We probably went 300-500 feet and turned around and came back.  The ladies we talked before we left said they thought we needed more air in the kayak, so we’ll do some more research before trying it again.  Our son Matt has a canal running behind his house that people kayak regularly so we hope to give it another try there.

After we got around, we had lunch and then drove over to Ft. Wilkins Historic Fort.  We started our walk through the park near the Park Store.  The first sign explained about soldiers accidently finding copper at the Fort.  Here is the picture of the area where they mined.  It was fenced off and the hole is now full of water.

Here's a layout of Fort Wilkins. 

I took a few pictures – Married Enlisted Men’s Quarters.  They set outside of the main part of the fort.

The Bake House oven and information.

My Flag picture of the day. 

Blacksmith shop.

Barracks Squad room.

List of Inhabitants of Copper Harbor on June 9, 1870.  Name, ages and where they were originally from.  I thought this was really interesting.

Information on the mining in the area.

Powder Magazine.

Discovering the cellar.

We enjoyed walking through the fort.  Seeing the conditions that people lived in really makes me appreciate all that I have.  I do not need much anymore but life is sure easy for us compared to what these men and women went through. 

We stopped in the Park Store.  I purchased some post cards.  One of the post cards showed pictures of the Northern Lights.  I asked the lady who was waiting on us what the chances of seeing the northern lights tonight were, and she said oh they are really good.  You could see them well last night.  Ahhh!  I had no idea, so tonight we are going to try and get up about 1:30 or so and drive down the road to the Lighthouse overlook.  We have already put our chairs in the truck so we can sit on the beach to watch for them.  What an experience that will be!  There is an app you can check to the best chances and tonight it is a 5 out of 10.  She said that last night was only a 4 but it was really beautiful.  I hope we can share some beautiful pictures with you.

Yesterday while driving the various loops, our Verizon signal started working.  We headed up to Brockway Mountain which is fairly close to Copper Harbor to see if it we could pick it up.  No luck with the internet signal, but today the view was so much more beautiful than yesterday.  The sky was so clear and blue.  Here is another panorama shot of the area.  We also saw a large cargo ship to the left. 

Here is Lake Fannie Hooe.  We are on the north side of the lake but you cannot tell where the campground is in this picture but we are toward the west end and not that far from town – we estimate it is less than two miles from the trail coming out of our campground.  We had planned to walk it this morning but they had that part of the trail closed off while they were working.

We drove back to town and then we took Highway 26 that runs along the northern coast of Lake Superior, west of Copper Harbor.  We stopped at this Park to take a picture.  Notice the hammocks on the right.  There was a couple there who evidently had been swimming – their towels were hung up to dry and they were either resting or sleeping in the hammocks hung here.  Looked pretty comfortable and you couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful view.

We visited a few of the gift shops but we didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without.  We stopped in the Gas Lite General Store and bought an ice cream bar.  Notice the bicyclists, they are everywhere here along with runners or walkers, kayaker’s, and paddle boarder’s. 

We drove to the end of the paved road (Highway 41) on east of the campground where we found this sign.  Dean and I talked about how much fun it would be to find roads that went great distances like this and travel them from beginning to end. 

We were both tired so we returned to Bentley to rest.  Dean watched a movie and I fell asleep after writing only a few paragraphs of this blog.  I started working on it again after dinner.

Dean baked some potatoes and chicken on the grill and we had loaded baked potatoes with chicken and broccoli for dinner.  Later we walked down to the bathhouse where we can get an internet connection so Dean could get the route for our drive to Gwinn, MI tomorrow.  We will be staying at Farquar-Metsa Tourist Park for one night and then moving on to St. Ignace (Ig-ness), MI for three nights.  We have several things we want to do while we are there.

We are getting closer to our countdown to reach our son and his family in Grand Island, NY.  We are looking forward to seeing them and of course our new little granddaughter Sarah.  She looks like a little doll.  Her big brother Josh sure seems to love her in the pictures that Mom and Dad have been sending us.

What a great time we've had in the Copper Harbor area.  It's a beautiful area.  This time of year is perfect to me - not too cold, not too hot, lots of water activities, beautiful scenery, may hiking trails, etc.  It is not just below Maine in my book of favorite places!

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