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Trolls, Yoopers and Ducklings

Coming up the western coast of Michigan is Nikki & Jason of Gone with the Wynns.. and up the east coast, Chris & Cherie of Technomadia.

Yeah! The trolls collecting their toll!

Yeah! The trolls collecting their toll.

Which dynamic RV blogging duo would cross the Mackinac Bridge first, leaving the trolls (what lower Michiganders are called) behind in the rear view camera and being welcomed by Yoopers (what Upper Peninsula Michiganders are called)?

Place your bets folks!

We awoke to a rainy morning at Cheboygan State Park but opted to make the crossing over the big bridge anyway.

We had been invited to stop at Castle Rock Campark (our review) in St. Ignace by our bus nut friends Dave & Amy and John & Lois. Both couples were workamping at the park, and we hadn’t seen them in a couple years since attending previous bus conversion rallies together.

Gorgeous light. Gorgeous lighthouse. Gorgeous couple (Nikki & Jason).

Gorgeous light. Gorgeous lighthouse. Gorgeous couple. Nikki & Jason really are this lovely.

The Wynn’s met us there for a re-uniting after having spent a week together in Goshen, IN almost a month ago. We arrived first, and were given our choice of a couple of sites next to each other. Site 44 just had our name written all over it – completely treed in and private.

A perfect writing retreat to finish off the manuscript of The Mobile Internet Handbook.

We were immediately impressed by the park – definitely not your standard commercial park. Most of the sites were private feeling with trees surrounding them, and the entire park very well maintained with beautiful views at every turn.

And this is why you can't rely on free campground WiFi.

And this is why you can’t rely on free campground WiFi.

And many site were right on Lake Huron with views of Mackinac Island.

We were of course amused that the advertised WiFi was being served by a cheap Linksys router, hanging haphazardly underneath an outdoor roof and only serving one very small area of the campground. It wasn’t even reachable by our new NanoStation from our spot.

We ended up staying five nights at the park.  Two nights with the Wynn’s before they departed to go explore more of the UP while we finished our book manuscript.  We also enjoy getting to know our bus nut friends better.

Processed with Moldiv

The park is family and locally owned, and apparently the father had previously raised ducklings every year to become eventual hunting game. After his passing, the family wanted the duckling tradition continued – so one of John’s workamping tasks is being a duckling wrangler.

He ordered ducklings to be delivered by mail and tends to them throughout the day. Word is, in a few weeks they’ll be set free into the campground’s duck pond… but no hunting will occur.

We greatly appreciated the distraction between writing chapters to play with and feed the adorable ducklings.

Processed with MoldivWe had aimed to complete the book manuscript by Friday the 18th. And were on track to do so, after several days in a row of 18 hour days of shift rotations.

We were settling in for our last overnight writing session, when we got a text message from our friends at Master Tech RV – the RV service center in Elkhart that invited us in to complete some overdue bus projects.

They were passing through the area after having attended a rally in the UP, and wanted to stop in to see us!

It was awesome to hang out with Tim & Austin for the evening, even if it did put us behind schedule on our self-imposed deadline.

Lovely wood sites - the Master Tech RV 1974 Winnebago joining us!

Lovely wood sites – the Master Tech RV 1974 Winnebago joining us!

So, instead – we extended for another day, and spent all of Saturday finishing up the manuscript and delivering it to our editor on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, that mean missing an opportunity to meet up with the Mali Mish family as they were passing through St. Igance as well.

Whew.. after a few weeks of no social interaction, it was tough to balance our need for seclusion to finish the book, with lots of opportunities to hang out with friends.

We caught up on some sleep, fired up our Detroit Diesel 8V71, dumped the tanks and headed off for a long 120 mile trip to Munising, MI to catch back up with Nikki & Jason.

And tales of our adventures together will continue in the next chapter..

Up Next:  Our time in Michigan is unfortunately soon coming to a close – we’re a bit reluctant about that. We’ve really and truly loved our time here. But it’s time to get our butts westward for lighthouse duties starting September 1 at Cape Blanco. Our next major stop over point will be Billings, MT for an annual inspection of our engine rebuild and we want to be there by the end of July. So a much quicker pace than our meandering slow roll of the past couple months.

Here’s our Google suggested route…

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.47.39 AM

 

We’d absolutely love any recommendations nearby the route – for things to see or places to stay.  This is a totally new area of the country for us to explore, even if we’ll attempt to cover it in less than a week.

And definitely, if you’re along the route and would like to meet up or have bus parking for us…. please do let us know!

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42 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Make sure you have either lots of windshield washer fluid and good wiper blades, or soapy water and squeege to clean your windshield. We drive thru N Dakota a couple of weeks ago and the mosquitoes were very abundant. As in clean the windshield every couple hours due to way more rain there than normal. But I do drive a truck and it was at night. Skeeters were bad enuf in 3 hours so I really couldnt see out the windshield. But N Dakota is really pretty in the summer… lots of hills and pretty views.

    • Thanks for reducing the mosquito population on your drive thru.. if you don’t mind, come back and get a few more 🙂 They are rather abundant. And you’re right, it’s been lovely driving.

  2. Since you will not have a lot of time given the miles you have to go, I will just suggest you look up the “enchanted highway” in North Dakota. I believe you will be going right by it and it would be a cool diversion along the road.

  3. Love the pic of The Wynns by the lighthouse…such a beautiful combo! I’m still amazed that you managed to finish a book AND socialize. Hard core! Your posts on MI have definitely peaked our interest in the place.

    Nina

  4. If you have time for a day trip, the Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorehead MN is fantastic. The story of the replica Viking ship they have there and the man who built it is unbelievable. They also have a replica stave church that is incredible to see.

  5. Looks like you two have a good choice of camp site number. We too are in space 44, except we are in Fort St John, BC

    It sounds like you have a lot more trees than we do in the park. This park is pretty much like all campgrounds in Canada.

    Happy travels
    George

  6. In North Dakota, there are some historical sites recalling the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Fort Mandan, and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park with all its wildlife and geological scenery.
    I’ve heard some say the capital of Bizmark has some interesting places to visit, but I haven’t any experience there.
    On the road from ND to Billings, I’m assuming you’ll be going by/near Miles City, MT, where a worthy detour to Pompeys Pillar is fun to see. It’s the only place in the country where members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition carved their names into rock, and is preserved and visible today. I believe they camped there as well.
    Enjoy the journey! 🙂

    • Pompey’s Pillar is really cool.. we got to visit last year during our engine rebuild in Billings. Up until we broke down, we had been following the L&C trail, so it was very special to visit!
      Thanks for the recommendations in North Dakota!

  7. My sister lives in Billings!! I am a Montana native, leaving in 1983, returning summers occasionally. You need to see the Grand Tetons in WY and of course, Yellowstone (WY & MT) and Glacier National Park. We are in
    Polson and will be in Kalispell. We are so close to Canada, which is spectacular and, of course, you can see
    Canadian mountains from Montana. You would enjoy all of these areas. Billings is also near Custer’s Last
    Stand and lots of nearby areas to see while there.

    • We had the ‘pleasure’ of spending 7 weeks in Billings last summer during our engine rebuild – we’ll be trying to keep this visit to a minimum. But we did enjoy using it as a base camp to explore Yellowstone. Our plans post-Billings is probably taking us up to Glacier to meet up with some friends. We stayed a few nights in Polson last summer, and it’s such a lovely area!

  8. Lauri hit the nail on the head with Tom’s Burned Down Cafe. If you stop at one place on your trip, definitely make it Tom’s!

    • Oh gosh.. was just looking it up.. looks like an fun experience! But probably beyond our timing this time around – we only have 5 days to make 1200 miles 🙂 Ok.. mental note… next time through this area of the country, concentrate on this area!

  9. Check your Harvest Host Directory. Forestedge Winery in LaPorte, MN was wonderful but north of our proposed route. There is a small vineyard about 35 miles west of Fargo and a couple miles north of the Interstate. We spent a lovely, quiet night there. We also stopped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park a few days after we visited you in Billings last summer. We stayed at a commercial campground in Medora, ND that would not be to your liking, put the town is cute and the park is fabulous. We saw wild horses there. ~B

    • Excellent.. Don & Kim have sent us some HH recommendations – and we hope to make at least a stop or two along the way. Whew, it’s going to be a quick shot through tho.

      Thanks a bunch guys!

  10. Ditto on Brent’s recommendation for the boat basin camping in Duluth; it’s within walking distance to a nice little area of shops, museum, great views of the lake and of ships coming in and out. The bridge is kind of cool, not your typical drawbridge type. And I think up in that area, North Dakota is known as “Nordakota” LOL

    • That location looks fabulous… and sounds like the kind of place we’d be so tempted to put down for a few days and explore. And we so love watching ships! Unfortunately, this time around.. don’t think we’ll have the time to stop more than a night.

      Nordakota…. ok.. will keep practicing that. Thanks!

  11. From Duluth, take a day trip up to Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls on the North Shore. I’m from MN and still plan to make one last trip up that way before we leave the state because it’s so beautiful! In Wisconsin, stop in Bayfield to either hike to or kayak to the Sea Caves (if you kayak, go with a guide. Lake Superior can turn angry quickly!) and the ferry to Madeline Island for a drink at Toms Burned Down Cafe is an…experience. Enjoy!

    • Oh gosh.. Duluth is sounding like a place we need to put down the wheel chocks for a few days to fully enjoy. Unfortunately, not in the cards this time around.. we spent too long being charmed by Michigan.

      Sounds like a great place to put on the list to spend some time in at another time. Thanks a bunch!

    • It was so wonderful to hop scotch with you guys! We’ll see you wherever next our paths cross, and we miss you guys already!

      Oh.. we learned a new Ojibwa word tonight….

      Baa-Maa-Pi = ‘See You Later’

      Baa-Maa-Pi our friends..

  12. Oh crap. I should have zoomed into your map and looked a bit closer. I thought you were going thru *South* Dakota, not North Dakota. So, never mind.

    We did just visit Teddy Roosevelt National Park and the Capital Bismarck this past spring and enjoyed both very much. 8^)

    — jc

  13. I don’t remember if you’ve spent any time in the Black Hills of SD, and it doesn’t look like you are going to have much time to explore the area, but it is one of our most favorite areas in the country and I have put together a list of things to do in the Black Hills. Maybe you can find the time to do one or two of them…
    (I hope the formatting holds)

    Things to do in the Black Hills of South Dakota:

    Towns to visit:
    Rapid City
    Keystone
    Hill City
    Hot Springs
    Custer
    Deadwood
    Leads
    Sturgis

    Attractions:
    Reptile Gardens
    Bear Country
    Black Hills Playhouse
    Mount Rushmore
    Crazy Horse Memorial
    1880 Train
    Hot Springs Mammoth Digs
    Flying T Chuckwagon Supper Show
    Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper Show
    Circle B Ranch Chuckwagon
    Supper Show
    Museum of Geology
    Journey Museum
    South Dakota Air and Space Museum
    Thunderhead Falls

    Lakes:
    Sylvan Lake
    Stockade Lake
    Sheridan Lake
    Pactola Reservoir

    Caves:
    Wind Cave
    Jewel Cave
    Crystal Caverns
    Black Hills Caverns
    Rushmore Caves

    Miscellaneous:
    Michelson Trail (rails to trails)
    Bad Lands National Park
    Custer State Park
    Custer State Park Wildlife Loop
    Spearfish Canyon Road
    Needles Highway
    Iron Mountain Road
    Mustang ranch
    Roughlock Falls
    Devil’s bathtub

  14. Duluth is definitely worth a few day stay. It is beautiful from the rv park at http://www.lakeheadboatbasin.com. The campground is a parking lot with the rigs crammed together, but you get to see gigantic boats and freighters going in and out of the harbor. Granted the air horns will scare the crap out of you, but the views are amazing. Plus the town has so many micro breweries you will freak out. I don’t know what our route is but we are leaving on the 1st to go to Michigan so maybe we can met up for a meal or something on the way. Have fun!

    • Sounds like our kinda place!! We shall see how the timing works out.. we just love watching freighters go by! Sounds like that’s your current location? Maybe we’ll see you as soon as tomorrow night or the next!

      How’s the availability for snagging a last minute spot?

      • Their is a music festival this weekend so all the full hook up spots are filled. They are booting us this morning to an electric / water spot for the weekend. The good news being the non full hookup sites have much better views of the lake/harbor. I would call them at 218-722-1757 to get a spot reserved. They have a few non-spots that are awesome. They actually parked us in front of a boat loading area the first 2 nights, so beg a little if they say no – they actually have lots of weird odd spots they don’t like to fill all along the harbor that are actually the best of the spots. If you think you might show up, drop me a note. My wife is an excellent cook and she will make us all a meal if you are interested.

  15. I was at a Cass Lake campground (up by Bemidji, just north of your route in Minnesota) one summer when I first saw the northern lights.

  16. It has been awhile since we were there, but Duluth has a Great Lakes freighter named the William A. Irvin that you can tour. It is a very well done presentation that we are sure you both would enjoy. Check it out, if you get a chance!

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