After our marathon writing in St. Ignace, we got a good night’s sleep and left to head northward to catch back up with our buddies Nikki & Jason. They had been exploring some of the UP on their own, and we had coordinated a couple of potential meet up spots depending upon when we got our writing done.
Christmas in July
We started heading the direction of their next stop in Munising while they checked out the camping options. The 127 mile drive seemed long after we had gotten used to 40 mile drives over the past few weeks.
The Wynn’s selected the Kedawin Casino in Christmas, MI to base camp out of, and we both scored FREE electric hook-up spots in their parking lot.
Ironically, this was both of our first times casino camping. It was directly across the street from the Bay Furnace forest service campground that charges $16/night without hook-ups, which we kept as a stand by option or for moving over to the next day.
Given the temperatures were peaking in the 80s, and we were completely spoiled with cooler temps so far – we all opted to tough out a tight parking lot in favor of free cool air.
Besides, this was just to be a base camp – they had lots of hiking and exploration planned!
The first night back together again, we packed up some backpacks and headed out hiking along the shores of Lake Superior. We checked out waterfalls , and then ended up scrimmaging along the shores for a delightful sunset over Grand Island. Nikki & Jason surprised us with some yummy Crispin Pear Cider (gluten free, of course) to toast the completion of our manuscript.
And, they joined us for some toe dipping, to honor my father. Two years ago, Chris and I came this way as part of our Operation: Dip Toes – in which we brought him back water from all of the Michigan Great Lakes to dip his toes in. It’s so awesome to have had friends this time around to share this ritual with.
The next day, Chris and I opted to stay at home and catch up on sleep and some other projects – while Nikki & Jason headed out for more adventures. We reconvened in the evening, and hit the casino to patronize our gracious host.
We all played a few slots, attempting to at least pay for our camp spot – and instead came out with a couple extra bucks in our pockets.
Ok, so this is how casino camping works. We can get used to that.
Now they Pay Us to Camp??
Thinking this casino camping thing is a pretty cool way to free camp, we all opted to give Ojibwa Casino outside of Marquette, MI a shot. We were amazed when we pulled in to find spacious wooded sites with 50amp electricity. Surely this couldn’t be ‘free’ camping.
We followed the instructions on our electric boxes, and headed to guest services to check in.
Not only do they not charge to park here and use their campground – they PAID us to stay here!
Each day you stay at this campground, each person gets $5 in cash, a drink coupon and $10 in match play coupons for the black jack tables. All four of us agreed we’d stay here two nights together and check out this casino thing further.
We hit the slots and black jack tables both nights, and each couple walked away with about $40 in our pockets (and a little tipsy from free drinks). We really really tried to pay for our camping. But alas, it was destined that they would pay us… our beginner’s luck lead to us all cracking the nut. (For those new to casino lingo.. that means we at least covered our gambling expenses and a little extra.)
The campground was a great place to explore Marquette from as well.
First we decided to go visit a sculpture thing along the road we all noticed on our drive in. Turns out, it’s Lakenenland Sculpture Park – a wonderful road side (and snow mobile side) free attraction.
Beautifully done, with a walk and drive thru trail, with art sculptures all around.
We had so much fun exploring it, and added it to our list of amazing ‘artist gone crazy‘ art installations we’ve explored over the years (including Salvation Mountain in Slab City, Cathedral of Junk in Austin, City Museum in St. Louis East Jesus in Slab City, and Magic Gardens in Philadelphia.)
Nikki & Jason also invited us for an introduction to disc golf – a sport they both enjoy as a way to get exercise, be out in nature and explore a new town. It was way more fun than we ever thought, and we’ll be picking us up some discs to enjoy in our travels.
We also hit the local Black Rack brewery, explored around town, hit up a gluten free taco truck and shopped at the food co-op (the first we’ve seen in a while!).
What a charming area Marquette is, and we’d love to spend more time here.
But alas it was time for our little caravan to part ways. The Wynn’s have an engagement down in Chicago, and we need to get our butts westward. We had a blast hanging out with these guys, and so glad it worked out to share our first casino camping experience with them. We have no doubt we’ll be seeing them many times in the future.
Next up for us, we decided to head towards Baraga, MI to get a little more Lake Superior time. Originally we thought we’d snag a spot at either the state park or city park with water views.. but we decided to give this casino camping thing one more try.
At the Ojibwa Baraga location, they charge $20/night for a spot (which included $10 in casino money and a free drink). And it’s not overly scenic or anything, and the slots weren’t so loose here.
But, they have a different kind of water view that we’ve been craving..
And it was so so worth it to soak our aching bodies after so much intense research and writing.
Up Next: After dilly-dallying around for a couple months in Northern Indiana and Michigan, it’s time for us to get west. Our goal is to arrive to Billings, MT by mid week, where our engine will get it’s annual inspection before the rebuild warranty expires. And then we’re eying Glacier National Park to meet back up with some other friends. We need to be at Cape Blanco Lighthouse in southern Oregon for our hosting duties on September 1 – and we have no clue how we’ll spend August getting there. We do have tickets to Burning Man, but we’re honestly not sure the playa is calling us.
Video Chat Announcement: Monday Night (Tonight!)
Since we have so much free time on our hands (hah!), we decided to host a video chat. Join us Monday evening (yes, that’s TONIGHT) at 8pm Central for:
Topic: RVing as a Couple
How do you live & travel in a small space with the one you love, and not only not kill each other – but keep the love alive? How to create space for each other, balance varying desires and pursing individual interests during your travels. Q&A to follow.. so bring your questions!
[vc_button title=”Join the Video Chat” target=”_self” color=”default” href=”https://www.technomadia.com/couplerving”]
As always, yes, it will be archived if you miss it to our Live Video Chat Center.