When the pilot suggested we plan a weekend getaway, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to check something off my list. We both agreed that we had been itching to check out Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and began quickly planning our food and supply lists.
This was a bit of what I planned in terms of food. I planned breakfast sandwiches for the morning, pb&j&bs for lunch (extra b for banana, of course) and then I figured because of travel time we would only have one dinner, so hot Italian sausage was my meat of choice. 😉 I also decided to make a salsa variation, and I am so glad that I did, as we were ravenous when we got to our campsite to start cooking after the boat ride. For the corn/bean/avo salsa I chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro and added drained corn and black beans. Seasoned with s & p and added lime juice and just a little drizzle of italian dressing. As you can see, I left the avocado until the last minute to prevent browning, but those little green suckers really complete the whole shebang.
Once we had meals and supplies planned, all that was left was to head north as soon as possible after my last school bell on Friday.
The time passed quickly in the car as he had studying to do, so my job was to quiz him and not mispronounce too many terms/acronyms. It also didn’t hurt that it was a gorgeous fall evening to enjoy from the passenger seat.
We pulled into Munising around 8:30 pm, and we really weren’t sure what our next move would be. We wanted to camp, but we were unsure as to whether or not there would even be a spot available when we got there. It didn’t help that the road that led to the campgrounds was completely shut down for construction, so after a few attempts we decided our evening would probably be better spent at a hotel so that we could get a fresh start in the morning. So, Munising Motel and Sydney’s Bar it was.
We entertained ourselves that evening with multiple rounds of me being destroyed in quarters, and I was adamant that we check out the bar next door. I had all these romantic notions of it being a dive with plenty of hearty regulars and maybe even some karaoke. The pilot was crossing his fingers that it would be so Yooper that they would still allow smoking indoors. However, much to our dismay, it was absolutely dead at 11pm, and this was how we spent the course of one round of beers:
Even though it wasn’t quite the camping evening we had planned, this night was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We both were able to relax, enjoy each other’s company, and anticipate a fun weekend ahead.
We woke up Saturday with the plan to visit a few spots in the park but also to incorporate that into our morning run. We started at Miner’s Falls, which was a little over a mile jog total. The view was awesome, but of course we wanted a closer look:
We then quickly made our way to Miners Castle, where we jogged about a mile down some fairly rooted and rough terrain before making our way to the beach. These awesome sights greeted us there:
After putting my fingertips in the water and declaring it “not that cold”, I turned around for a moment and turned back to find..
Crazy man had jumped in the lake. While I contemplated this insane maneuver, I also thought about how exhilarating it would actually feel- and you must know, I very very rarely will even swim in a small, warm lake. I will just about never swim in Lake Michigan, even in late August. But something was telling me to just do it (maybe still a bit slap-happy from the vodka arnold palmers from the night before?!) and before I would let myself think twice, in I went.
It was terrifically freezing, but I also barely let myself stay in long enough to feel it. Of course, the coldest part was being absolutely soaked when I came out, but we jogged about a half mile down the beach in the sunshine and dried off a bit. I am pretty proud of myself for just bucking up and jumping in, and I also consider it a bit of practice for my future polar plunge. 🙂
We rushed back to the hotel to shower and grab our stuff, and drove to the campsites at Beaver Creek. We were crossing our fingers that there would be a space for us, as there are only 8 at Beaver Creek and it is first come first serve. We found a great spot, pitched the tent, and then saw a yellow tag on the spot marker. Disheartened, we moved the tent to another, much less desirable spot. As we went to fill out our own tag, we noticed that the date on the tag was actually the departure date, so we quickly moved back to our original, better spot. We really were happy campers once we could relax and knew that we had a place to sleep.
When we were planning this trip, I really thought we were going to be roughing it, but the campsite had a pit with a grill over the pit, a picnic table, and a fairly decent outhouse. I greatly appreciated those small amenities.
We had to hustle back into Munising to catch our 1:30 boat ride. The pilot booked the boat ride ahead of time, but we were about the last people to get there, so we didn’t get a seat on the top of the boat. However, we just stood in the sunshine on the back of the boat for the “3 hour tour” (gilligan’s island reference, but it really was) along the shore of the National Park. We enjoyed the captain’s witty humor and of course the absolutely beautiful sights along the shore.
The way there was calm, but the way back was very windy and a bit rough. However, it was really a great way to see just about all of the park from the water.
We made our way back to our campsite and, tummies growling, worked as quickly as we could to assemble dinner. As I mentioned previously, we chowed down on the salsa, and after a failed taste test (basically raw italian sausage inserted into mouth…) we were able to get into the grub. It was REALLY windy at that point and hard to avoid the smoke from the fire, but otherwise it was a great night spent enjoying some beverages, listening to music and chatting away.
I can’t exactly say that the night was uneventful. It rained pretty hard for quite a while, and I had some seriously crazy bad dreams. We are also pretty sure we heard what he thought was a bear and what I thought was a person right outside our tent. I honestly was having a panic attack… might have been one of the most terrifying moments of my life.
Amazingly and thankfully, I was able to fall back asleep and continue in my crazy dream world until morning. We woke up and assembled a breakfast of champions:
We planned for two breakfasts camping, but because of all of our events the day before we actually didn’t eat until a pb&j at lunch. Therefore, the amount we ate for this breakfast definitely overcompensated for not having breakfast Saturday.
We then enjoyed one last quiet moment with coffee by the lake before we packed up and headed out of the campground.
The rest of the late morning and early afternoon was spent driving along the park up to Grand Marais. We checked out another waterfall and the Grand Sable Dunes. Not quite the Sleeping Bear Dunes, but still very pretty.
We stopped in the town of Grand Marais very quickly, and then it was time to hit the road. We had planned to take the long way back and drive along the tunnel of trees to Harbor Springs, but unfortunately we made a turn right before them and didn’t quite go the right way! Another little bummer on the way back was that my ’05 RAV4 hit 100,000 miles- we had been talking about how close it was the whole trip, but we missed the actual moment! I really wanted a picture!!
I had a thought on the way back while looking at the “Adopt-a-Highway” signs and seeing one in memory of someone that that might be a neat way to get a group of people together to honor Grace. Just a thought…
And finally, for some crazy reason on the way back, we got on the subject of blogging.. and the inquisitive pilot asked me if I had a blog. I admitted I had just started one and that our trip was actually part of the whole thing. When he learned this, he wanted me to make sure I documented a beef jerky purchase made right before the bridge- so enjoy.
I had such a phenomenal time on this little weekend getaway. I would go back to Pictured Rocks in a heartbeat- we didn’t even skim the surface in terms of hiking. But I am VERY grateful we went two days before the government shutdown closed all national parks- talk about timing!!