Between the mountains of boxes needing to be unpacked from my recent move to Ann Arbor and my need for more experience with my motorhome, I decided to postpone my planned August 2011 circling of Lake Superior until 2012. Disappointing, but the right decision.
However, Henry Boy and I did spend a week in Grand Marais, Michigan, on the shores of this magnificent Great Lake. Grand Marais is a small town right where M-77 ends at Lake Superior. It’s a beautiful drive into town with the lovely natural harbor to the right and shops to the left.
We stayed in Burt Township’s Woodland Park Campground, which is a short four-block walk to Grand Marais and sits up high on a lakeshore bluff. Every campsite was reserved every day and it was quite crowded, but Henry and I got in long walks every day. Sometimes we walked to the lake, sometimes to town, and sometimes just around the campground.
Henry is such a terrific traveler and loves every human he meets. He especially is drawn to children, wagging his tail as soon as he spots them. But he’s not crazy about other dogs if he senses any aggression or imbalance. I’ve been working on this, but he was viciously attacked when he was 14 months old by a pitbull-type dog who broke through a gate and went straight for the jugular. This led to emergency surgery to repair his torn neck plus a second surgery a week later. Henry makes friends with some dogs immediately, but others he wants to go after. As I said, even though he just turned four we are still working on this because were both traumatized by the attack.
For the first couple of days Lake Superior was the calmest I have ever seen it. Most days it was like glass.
The sunset views from Woodland Park Campground were outstanding with many people and dogs gathering to witness the sun sinking into the lake each evening.
Two of my RV friends were also there. Rachel has a 29-foot motorhome and travels with her gorgeous green-eyed black cat, Buddy. Buddy walks on a leash as well as Henry, and has a netted enclosure for outside the motorhome. Mickey has a 30-foot fifth-wheel and travels with several fun dogs of various sizes. The three of us usually enjoyed one meal a day at the iconic West Bay Diner. The owners are Eric and Ellen Airgood. Eric is the chef and Ellen waits tables. It’s a popular place and the wait is long, but the food is well worth it. They also sell delicious baked goods including homemade pies, huge brownies, bread, and sticky buns. As you walk in there are new and used books for sale, and shelves inside hold various jams and syrups.
A special aspect of the diner is that Ellen Airgood has just published her first novel, South of Superior. I’m a fussy reader of fiction so wasn’t sure I would like it although it has met with critical acclaim. The good news is that I loved the novel and hope for a sequel. I bought a copy at the diner and read it in a couple days, and Ellen graciously signed it before I headed home.
With the dry hot weather, Henry kept getting dusty. This meant I had to brush him out each time I let him back int0 the motorhome. Rachel suggested I look for a rug at the local hardware store and I’ll be darned if I didn’t find the perfect rug for Henry! It folds up small to fit in my RV’s storage compartment and was only $19.99 (most RV rugs are $70 and up and too big to store in my small rig). A bonus is that the rug is a pretty with a bright blue and yellow striped design. Henry loved it immediately and settled onto it like he had had it since puppyhood. He looks quite handsome on blue, don’t you think? If you check the photo carefully you can see Ellen’s novel on the picnic table.
After the first few calm, hot days, the weather cooled and the lake kicked up small white caps. It just could not have been better. Rachel was able to move to a lakefront site and invited us to enjoy the views and share a bottle of wine. The life of Riley. I ached to stay and even drive along the lakeshore to places like Whitefish Point Bird Observatory north of Paradise, Michigan, but I had commitments at home.
The day I was to head home a huge windstorm came through so I waited a day for it to pass. There was no way a motorhome was going to get across the Mackinac Bridge with that wind, nor would driving be anything but stressful. But the wind settled down the next morning and Henry and I headed home on a perfectly glorious day. On the way north we had stopped for one night at the lovely, quiet Hartwick Pines State Park, but I decided to get home in one day so drove the 400 miles straight through.
I’ve decided to spend this fall and winter reading more about Lake Superior and contacting people I want to meet and interview next year. For now I guess it’s good to get settled more into my new home so that when I leave next year the pile of boxes is bearable or even gone. I do plan to update this blog as I discover interesting things about the lake, so please do stay tuned.