|Sat, 07 Sept: A rainy road day.
We knew our spate of gorgeous weather couldn't last. We awoke to leaden skies and a threat of rain. Fortunately the rain held off long enough for us to get Carpe ready for the road and Dinkum hooked up. Then it was time for hugs and good byes. We'll see the the Davilas in a few weeks, but we still hate to say goodbye
We departed Carmen & Domingo's home about 0915 and drove north along Saginaw's Washington Street (M 13) to I 675 north. When I 675 rejoined I 75 north of Saginaw US 23 also joined for the run north thru Bay City. West of Tawas City US 23 bade farewell to I 75 and we did so also as we headed east for the shore of Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.
The rains started north of Bay City and we were pretty much in the wet most of the way north. Despite the weather, we made good time. We stopped at Spruce (south of Alpena) for fuel and then continued to Alpena where we stopped in a mall parking lot for lunch. Once back on the road the rains pretty much abated and the skies started to brighten, as did our spirits upon seeing hints of sunshine.
The run north continued along the Lake Huron shore and we passed thru many ports that we'd visited in Carpe Diem, our 26' SeaRay. We spent much of the drive recalling fond memories of those days boating on these gorgeous "Sweet Water Seas".
We passed thru the town of Cheboygan and continued north toward Mackinaw City. Roughly midway between Cheboygan and "Mac City" is Robert's Landing, a Passport America park with a "knock your socks off" view of Lake Huron and Bois Blanc Island.
The park is very small with narrow and tight roads. We had a challenge squeezing Carpe's forty feet into our space, but we managed to do so without any ill effects. After we got parked Bob had to spend time pruning the trees that were rubbing against the sides of the coach. Who'd have thought pruning shears would be an essential RVing tool?
Altho the rain had stopped it was still grey and gloomy with little to discriminate between the lake and sky. We decided, nevertheless, to take a drive to Mackinaw City to get the lay of the land. We stopped at the tourist info center and got a handful of brochures and flyers. Then to Wal*Mart for some essentials and back home to "veg".
We'd had a long day (235 very damp miles) and we were both in bed before ten.
Sun, 08 Sept: A gorgeous day!
We slept in and didn't out of bed until well after eight. It had been a cool evening and the furnace was running off and on most of the nite. We're on a 30 amp circuit, but with plenty of voltage so we don't feel deprived power-wise.
We awoke to a stupendous day with cobalt blue skies and cool temperatures. Yesterday's rain had scrubbed the crud from the air so we could see "forever". Before breakfast we took a short walk to the lake shore (about 100 meters from our coach) and, for the first time, fully appreciated the view from Robert's Landing.
With unlimited visibility we realized that not only could we see Bois Blanc Island, which is only a few miles directly off shore, but we also had views of Mackinac Island, the Straits of Mackinac, and the Mackinac Bridge (the "Big Mac"). You probably heard the shutters clicking from wherever you were.
Following breakfast we loaded our camera gear in the car and headed out to play tourist. We headed north on US 23 to Mackinaw City where we stopped at the Icebreaker Mackinaw kiosk to confirm the schedule for tomorrow. We're planning to visit the museum ship tomorrow (Monday) and just wanted to be certain we knew the lay of the land.
From Mac City we headed west along the northern tip of Michigan's "mitten". Our first stop was the McGulpin Point Lighthouse. This beautifully restored and maintained lighthouse was not mentioned in any of the tourist brochures. We lucked out by seeing a roadside sign and making a spur-of-the-moment decision.
McGulpin Point Lighthouse overlooks the Straits of Mackinac and allows visitors to climb to the light tower. The views of the Straits from that lofty perch are breathtaking, especially on a day as gorgeous as this. We then hiked down to the beach for more views and pix.
After the lighthouse we continued along several county roads that skirted the shoreline. The roads were not marked and do not show on the state map. They were, however, passable in our car and we enjoyed the beautiful lake views.
At Cross Village we elected to take Michigan 115, locally known as the "Tunnel of Trees". This picturesque road hugs the coast and, when the trees thin sufficiently, offers lake views. The rest of the time it lives up to its nickname as the tree covering is so dense that headlites are a prudent option, even in a bright and sunny day such as this.
The road ends in Harbor Springs, where we stopped for lunch. Then onto US 31 north to Alanson where we took local roads that parallel the Inland Waterway. Yet again this was a journey down memory lane as we'd boated this waterway several times in the nineties. The Inland Waterway almost connects Lake Huron with Lake Michigan some thirty miles south of the Straits. "Almost" is the operative word as the waterway ends just a few miles east of Harbor Springs.
Back to Cheboygan we visited the marina and took several pix of the new Icebreaker Mackinaw (WLBB-30). This modern cutter, commissioned in 2006, replaces the venerable "Mighty Mac" that was decommissioned the same day after having served since 1944. While she bears the same proud name, she just tain't the same...
We returned to the coach a bit after four with 110 miles under our wheels. It was as perfect a day as one could wish and we hope you enjoy the pix we've posted of our adventure.
Mon, 09 Sept: Today we be tourists...
The forecast rains never materialized, but the dawn was very grey and threatening. We had a relaxing breakfast and took our time getting ourselves ready for the day. Not too much on our agenda, other than our anticipated visit to the Museum Ship USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83).
But first, some background... In March 1994, when we lived in Bay City and were active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, we had the privilege of riding aboard the Mackinaw during her annual "break out". The Break Out was her first excursion from her home port of Cheboygan to Sault Ste Marie. The route was across Lake Huron from Cheboygan to the Saint Mary River at Detour Village, and then north to "the Soo".
It was a bitterly cold, yet beautiful early spring day. We didn't encounter any ice till we neared Detour Village, when there was thin ice that didn't even slow the Mighty Mac down. Nearing the mouth of the St. Mary the ice became thicker until we were breaking ice several feet thick.
We regret that we cannot find any pix of that excursion. Our memories of that trip are, however, firmly etched in our minds as is the sound of the ice groaning and screaming under the Mac's attack.
Today we got to revisit the Mackinaw in her new role as a museum ship. We were given complementary tickets thanks to our good friend Beach Day, a member of the ship's board of directors. We were greeted by Lisa Pageli who welcomed us aboard. From there the tour was self guided so we were able to linger where and when we wanted.
The cutter is beautifully maintained (while we were aboard a crew of active duty Coasties from the "new Mac" were chipping and painting). While we got to visit many areas during our cruise, this time we could also visit the engine spaces, captain's quarters, and other areas that were off limits while underway.
We spent more than two hours aboard and enjoyed every moment. We thank Beach, Lisa, and the volunteers who make this treasure available for us.
We're now back home and the skies continue to threaten rain (radar shows that some are, indeed, heading our way). Our plans are to head south tomorrow, but as of this writing our ultimate destination is still uncertain. So, as you've been urged to do before—stay tuned...