Deep in the Wisconsin woods

Day 103

LOCATION:  Port Wing, Wisconsin – about an hour east of Duluth, MN
CAMPGROUND:  Bark N Beavers.  Quite unique – about 10 RVs here, some derelict.  No office.  Unpleasant bathrooms.  Nice shaded site with electricity and water.  George is delighted with a stand-up grill.  $33/night (cash).  2 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Sunny and hot.  84

We had a slow, pleasant morning at Apostle Islands Area Campground in Bayfield, then hit the road.  We drove west along Lake Superior.  Lots of undeveloped land here as well as Indian reservations. 

We stopped in the quaint town of Cornucopia.  What a great name!  It probably was named this, in part because of the shape of its bay, but also because of the bounty they captured from the lake – 3 million pounds of fish per year.  The harbor is still a busy one.

George bought some pickled whitefish, to give it a try.  There are a few shops like this one that used to be fish processing houses….

The beach is very nice and there were quite a few people swimming and sunbathing.  The land across the bay is northern Minnesota.

We walked back through the dunes to have a picnic in Joy….

Then on to our campground.  We had a premonition that it would be a little sketchy.  It was a 2.5 mile stretch on gravel road from the highway.  Pretty remote…

This is Saturday night, and due to my mistake with Ashland, Oregon instead of Ashland, Wisconsin, it was about the only thing last-minute I could find.

Over the phone, the lady said that there isn’t an office, but she would “find us” to pay.  Ummmm.  No credit cards; cash only.  Ummmm.  She also told us that a big dog would come to greet us.  He did. 

This is our neighbor….doesn’t look like it has been used in a long time…..

As we were setting up, a few biting black flies found us.  So, we spent most of the afternoon inside.  George watched golf on TV (great reception) and I read, all in air-conditioned comfort.  Actually, a nice quiet rest.

DINNER:  George scrounged enough wood to make a good fire on the stand-up grill.  He cooked some of our spinach/feta brats in an iron skillet over the fire.   Side was sweet corn.

On to Wisconsin!

Day 102

LOCATION:  Bayfield, Wisconsin
CAMPGROUND:  Apostle Islands Area RV Park.  Full hook-up on gravel site.  Not too level.  Good bathrooms and laundry.  Poor wifi.  New area with swimming pond.  $48/night.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Very nice.  High 74

We had a good overnight at Island View, the Harvest Host fish resort, then left mid-morning.  Our battery was getting a little low, and we wanted to rev it up. 

We stopped at Ashland, Wisconsin for lunch at a Lake Superior beach park.  Very nice.  Then, on to Bayfield

We stayed at this RV park last year, when we visited the  Apostle Islands.  They have added a new section, tripling it in size.  We could only get one night here so we did not unhook. 

One of the nice things about this RV park is that it is within walking distance to a cool brewery/athletic gear shop.  It is the kind of place where bikers and hikers come in, sweating and parched for a beer.  Cool vibes.

Back at our campsite, George got a roaring fire going (sort of)…..It kept going out.  He got it hot enough to grill our dinner.

DINNER:  In an iron skillet (inside), I sauted onion, garlic, and scallions in butter.  Then, I placed the iron skillet on the campfire to cook the shrimp. Meanwhile, I made some orzo to go on the side.  I cooked some frozen spinach and topped it with leftover gorgonzola.  That made a tasty combo! 

BOOK:  “Bridge of Scarlet Leaves” by Kristina McMorris.  This is historical fiction, based on true accounts of Japanese-Americans families living in California during WWII.  It is really heartbreaking to read about the shameful treatment of them by our government.  Based on the mountain of tear-soaked Kleenex I used, I rate this a strong 5 star out of 5.  One of the best books I’ve read in a while. 

Good-bye, Michigan!

Day 101

LOCATION:  Mercer, Wisconsin
CAMPGROUND:  Island View Resort, a Harvest Host site.  This is a typical “Up North”  fishing resort with 9 cabins and a bar & grill.  Room for 2 small RVs.  Extremely hospitable  owners.  Very remote, but road to the resort was paved.  Parked on grass near cabins.  Great, friendly bar/grill.  5 stars out of 5.
WEATHER:  Cool and overcast.  High 66

This morning was our last day in Michigan.  We were in the Lower peninsula and Upper peninsula for a total of 75 days, a great way to spend the summer.  Except for one day, we had no issues with bugs, and have had superb weather.  Other than Alaska, Michigan has been the only cool spot in the USA this summer, I think. 

Out of the 67 breweries/brewpubs in Northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula, we hit 55, many more than once! 

Now on to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and then back to Texas. 

The ski resort was very peaceful overnight.  Not in any hurry, we hung around in the morning.  I took a “power walk” on the road down to the highway, all downhill.  Uh-oh, then I had to turn around and walk up the steep ski mountain road. 

We said good-bye to this good overnight stop, and headed south and west.

We drove to Mercer to get our bearings on how to find the resort. It is a cute town.  We parked in front of the community gardens.

Then, on to the resort, about 10 miles out of town.  Mid-way, we were stopped by some tree workers.  One guy was cutting down a big, dead tree while another was pushing it over into the woods with a forklift.  Interesting!

On to Island View.  We met the young couple who now own and run this place.  They are delightful.  They bought it 3 years ago when it was really run-down and a “ghost town”.  Now it is hopping, and their cabins are full all summer long.  The couple like to camp, too, and get away for a month or so in the spring and fall, and then return for their busiest season…..winter. 

We parked in front of the owners’ RV.

This is the view from our front door – overlooking some cabins and Fisher Lake.

It is called Island View, as this is the view of the little island from the bar.

If you dare swim in the cold lake, you can take your beer out to this raft and enjoy….

Bingo was the main draw this evening in the bar and grill. 

Guests in the cabins and locals all packed in for the fun and for beers and dinner.  The owner said it is always their biggest night.  We played 3 games, but alas did not win anything.  The little boy next to us won the first game.  He was so excited!

DINNER:  We munched on their French fries while playing bingo and took a delicious mushroom burger back to Joy. 

What a fun place!

Sleeping on a ski slope!

Day 100

LOCATION:  Wakefield, Michigan
CAMPGROUND:  Big Snow Ski Resort on Indianhead Mountain.  A Harvest Host site. They have a gigantic parking lot, so it is nice and level and super easy to park.  This is our second time here.  Unfortunately, their restaurant was closed today, so we could not spend any money here!  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Cloudy in the AM, sunny in early PM, then rain in late PM.  High 72

We talked with our schoolbus/motorhome neighbor Ryan who gave us a tour of his tiny house on wheels.  He did all the work himself – gutting it, designing it, then building it based on his needs.  He works from there so has a fantastic work station with lots of computers and printers.  Really interesting.

Since we will be leaving the Lake Superior area today, we made one last trip to a fish market to buy some smoked whitefish spread.  This shop came with high ratings.

We only had a 2-hour drive today, and gained an hour going west.  Not wanting to get to the ski resort too early, we stopped in Iron River to check out a brewery.  Are you surprised?

Sadly, and somewhat unusual for a brewery, the bartender was grumpy, so we didn’t have a great experience. 

We arrived and checked in easily at the ski resort.  From this photo, you can see how large the parking lot is. 

We walked around the ski resort property.  This area is famous for its Olympic ski jump training. 

DINNER:  Since I thought we were going to eat here, I hadn’t planned anything, so pulled a casserole of orzo/diced chicken out of the freezer.  Side was sauteed carrots in butter and dill.  Not too shabby for an unexpected meal. 

A plus here is that we get superb PBS reception, so we enjoyed watching the news and some nature shows.  The inverter works great for this, even though we are not hooked up to electricity.

Up through the Keweenaw Peninsula

Day 99

LOCATION:  Hancock, Michigan
CAMPGROUND:  City of Hancock Municipal Campground
WEATHER: Very nice.  High 79

We are enjoying the views from our campsite.  Some kayakers peacefully made their way down the lake in front of us.

Then, The Ranger III came whizzing by, transporting people to Isle Royale National Park.

Today’s plan was a trip up to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula.  Our first stop was the Jam Pot, a very popular bakery/jam shop run by monks.  Several people had recommended this.  We stopped and bought a piece of fruit cake, strongly preserved in rum, and several jars of jam to use as gifts.

This is a bustling business for these monks.  There was a long line to enter the shop.

It is nice to see that the monks have a sense of humor…

On to Copper Harbor, the end of the road.  Sadly, the brewery was closed “due to illness” so we had lunch in an uninteresting restaurant. 

The drive was really nice, following the coast of Lake Superior. We passed by a lot of defunct copper mines.  Copper was really king here.

We stopped in Calumet, one town that used to be a bustling copper community.  George wanted to check out another brewery.  While he was drinking his beer, I was using the bar’s wifi.  I had an email confirmation for the RV park where we are staying this weekend.  As I looked at it, I realized with horror that it was for Ashland, Oregon!!!!  (Not Ashland, Wisconsin).  So, I had to call and cancel.    Not only did we lose $40 on the deal, since it is the weekend, I now have to scramble to find Plan B.  I feel so stupid!

When we arrived back to our campsite, we found that we have new neighbors….

The owner is a young engineer who lost his job at Disney and told us he then decided to buy and refurbish a school bus.  He might give us a tour tomorrow.  He works remotely and has a lot of technical gear. 

DINNER:  George made another great fire and grilled us some stuffed jalapeno poppers.  Yum!

Main course were hot dogs covered with chili on a ciabatta bun. 

Watefront trail in Houghton

Day 98

LOCATION:  Hancock, Michigan
CAMPGROUND:  City of Hancock Municipal Campground
WEATHER:  Cool in the AM, warming to 73.  Sunny

The campground here has a laundry, so I took advantage of that and did a load this morning.  The lady behind me had about 5 loads as they had just returned from tent camping on Isle Royale National Park…in the rain.  With only one washer and one dryer, the poor woman was going to be there all day!

I walked around the campground.  The upper part seems a bit crowded, but there are only a few sites where we are, right next to the boat ramp.  Since it is mid-week, there aren’t many boats, so we have an unobstructed view of the water.

We went to Houghton, which is right across Portage Lake from us.  It seems to be much more up and coming than Hancock.  We read that Houghton, like many communities around here, boomed with the copper industry about 100 years ago.  When that era ended, the city became derelict.  The waterfront was empty, ugly old factories.  But, the city put a lot of money in downtown development, and now it is quite vibrant.  We walked part of a long “rails to trails” bike and hiking path that follows the water.  We started out at the bridge.

The trail has lots of flowers and informative signs.  It then led to a waterfront park.  You can see the ski slopes on the other side of the water.

Farther down the trail, we walked through part of Michigan Tech University campus.  We sneaked a peak inside their research center.  I think they do a lot of marine studies.  Then, back to town.  We got in about 4 miles. 

Parched, we stopped at The Library, a cool restaurant/brewery. 

Downtown has quite a few shops and restaurants.  George tried a few beers at the Keenawau Brewery, and then we returned home.

DINNER:  I saw this on a menu and thought I would try it, using the very fresh yellow beans that I bought at the farmers’ market on Saturday….


Green beans (or yellow)
Oil and vinegar salad dressing
1 T lemon or lime juice

Blanch and cool the beans.  Let them sit in the salad dressing/lime juice mix for about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle chunks of gorgonzola on top.  It was a really good combination!

We warmed up the leftover chicken wings on the campfire to go with the beans. 

Meeting up with friends

Day 97

LOCATION:  Hancock, Michigan – near Houghton
CAMPGROUND:  City of Hancock Campground.  Some sites (like ours) are right on the water.  Ours is gravel, fairly flat, with a picnic table and fire pit.  $25/night with electricity.  Water and dump station on site. Poor TV, but great wifi.   5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  A bit chilly and windy.  High 69

We had a nice, quiet night in the parking lot of the Houghton County Historical Society, compliments of Harvest Host. George made his traditional Sunday morning breakfast – grits, eggs, and bacon. It was especially tasty this week as he used some of the superb bacon we had bought at the farmers’ market.

We have friends from Iowa that are visiting Lake Linden for a week.  We realized that we would be here at the same time, so planned a get-together.  We met them at Dreamland Bar and Grill, dropped off Joy and our truck, and went with them to their nearby AirB&B on the lake.  We had a great conversation.  They are friends of mine from high school.  We love reuniting with people as we travel. 

We returned to Dreamland for lunch.  I ordered a Bloody Mary.  The waiter asked if I wanted it “loaded”.  I said “Sure!”  It came with practically a meal on top – huge pickle, olives, and……. a cheese and bacon sandwich! 

The bar has been in operation for more than 100 years.  The back bar is really beautiful.

Then, on to Hancock.  We were pleasantly surprised to get such a nice site.  It started to rain as we were setting up, but cleared up enough to make a camp fire. 

DINNER:  A Japanese feast!  First was Nasu Dengaku, grilled eggplant with miso.  It is not difficult to make, especially if you have a fire going.


1 eggplant (or 2 Japanese small eggplants)
2 T miso paste
1 T sesame oil
1 T sake’
Sesame seeds

Combine the miso, oil, and sake.  Slice, but do not pierce, the eggplant flesh..  Spread on a coat of the  miso mix.  Cook until the eggplant is quite well-cooked on one side.  Turn, paste the other side, and finish the cooking.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds to serve.

I found this recipe the other day that calls for smoked trout. Since smoked fish is common here, I bought some  the other day at a fish market so I could make this dish.  Then, I was lucky to find some beautiful shiitake mushrooms at Saturday’s Farmers’ Market.  So, I gave this a go….


8 oz soba
1 tsp sesame oil
1 bunch spinach, stemmed
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 carrots, sliced
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
12 oz sliced stemmed shiitake mushrooms
1/3 cup soy sauce
8 oz smoked trout, skin removed, flaked
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 Fresno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (could sub other hot pepper)

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the noodles and cook as label directs.  Remove the noodles to a colander using tongs and rinse under cold water; toss with the sesame oill and set aside.  Add spinach to the boiling water, cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Squeeze dry and set aside.
2.  Rinse out the pot.  Add 6 cups of water, carrots, garlic, and ginger.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook over medium heat about 8 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms and soy sauce, and cook 2 more minutes.
3.  Divide the noodles and spinach among bowls.  Ladle the broth and veg into the bowls.  Top each serving with the trout, scallions, and chile pepper. 

Note – I halved this recipe, but still had leftovers.  We paired this with some Japanese sake’.  Yum!

Good-bye to Marquette – It’s been great!

Day 96

LOCATION:  Lake Linden, Michigan
CAMPGROUND:  Houghton County Historical Society Museum, a Harvest Host site.  Huge, level/gravel parking lot in a quiet town.  Very welcoming host/museum caretaker. Even a brand-new porta-potti!   5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny.  High 79

Before leaving Marquette, we went one more time into town.  When we talk with locals, they are a bit puzzled why we are visiting here.  However, I think Marquette is a great blend of outdoor activities and urban vibes.  The downtown area has lots of cool murals like this one…

We went to the Farmers’ Market, which is bigger than the Wednesday one.  While shopping, we munched on a breakfast burrito that one vendor was selling.  We bought our first Michigan cherries of the season.  Can’t wait to try them.  Plus onions, green beans, carrots, and some unusual mushrooms…

We left Rippling River Resort about noon and drove to the one remaining Marquette brewery that we hadn’t visited.  They have a very big parking lot, and I will be recommending them as a Harvest Host site.  It is a fairly new brewery, located in a former old-style supper club.  It was cool inside…

Then, a two hour drive west and north, mostly following Lake Superior, with spectacular views.  We arrived at this Harvest Host site about the time the museum was closing, but that didn’t deter the kind caretaker from giving us a very detailed personal tour.  The museum and outbuildings are mostly about the copper industry.  This area was once the largest copper-producing region in the world.  This town, and surrounding towns, were then vibrant and about twice the population of today’s. 

After the tour and after setting up, we walked about 4 blocks to the downtown area to the town’s sole restaurant, the Loading Zone.  We sat at the bar and I chatted with the guy next to me who is an engineer on one of the lake’s big ships.  It was very much a local crowd.  The waitress served people drinks and food without them even ordering.  They must get the same thing every time! 

DINNER:  We shared a pizza which is the specialty of the restaurant.  It was really good, but we ate too much! 

Down by the river in Marquette

Day 95

LOCATION:  Marquette, Michigan
CAMPGROUND:  Rippling Rivers Resort
WEATHER:  Rain in AM turning into a glorious sunny PM.  High 80

After the rain stopped, we took a drive along Lake Superior toward Big Bay.  It is very remote.  Our destination was Thomas Rock Overlook, a beautifully laid out trail.  It is one of those that has stations along the way describing trees, flowers, etc. 

The Rock overlooks Lake Superior.  You can see Keewanau Peninsula where we will be heading next, 100 miles away by car.

We stopped in the town of Big Bay, at the end of the road.   There is not much here, other than this bar.   I think they filmed a movie here a long time ago.

Next up, lunch!  We wanted to hit a brewpub a few miles outside of Marquette.

  We sat at the bar and chatted with the very talkative bartender.  We shared a Reuben sandwich made with smoked corned beef.  Probably the best Reuben we have ever had….and a lot of food! 

Back to the RV park for some music.  There is a rushing river on the back side of the park’s office.  On weekends,  they offer live music.

We sat by the river and next to the big campfire one of the staff made.

They had a wood-fired pizza oven going and were selling lots of pizzas.

DINNER:  Pickled/smoked chicken wings!  We bought these out of curiosity at a Harvest Host smoke shop a few weeks ago.  We warmed them over the fire, along with a sweet potato.  The wings turned out great, especially because they are not breaded and fried.  Side was a medley of sauted summer squash, onions, and tomatoes.  Very summer-y!

Something fishy in Marquette!

Day 94

LOCATION:  Marquette, Michigan
CAMPGROUND:  Rippling River Resort
WEATHER:  Great!  High 79

Getting an early start before the weather heated up, we took a hike that had been highly recommended.  We followed a gas line road and were amazed at all the mountain bike and snowmobile trails leading from it.  The hike was supposed to be a 3 mile loop, but we missed the turn to the waterfalls, and ended up walking 5 miles!   We felt quite virtuous!  The destination was a pretty waterfalls. 

Near the falls, there was one section of the trail that was extremely steep.  I am always afraid that when go downhill on a steep slope that my legs will buckle and that I will break an ankle or something.  So, I did my tried and true method of sitting down and scooting along on my bottom.  Not very photogenic!

We hiked back through a beautiful forest following a gurgling river.

  As we approached our parked truck, we saw a policewoman putting tickets on all the cars’ windows.  She was at the one behind us.  So, we jumped in and sped away before she could reach our truck!

We had to stop back by the trailer so I could change out of my shorts, that were now dirty on the bottom!

Back to downtown Marquette for lunch.  We went to The Vierling that has been in Marquette for about 100 years.  Conveniently, it is also Marquette’s first brewpub.  We shared a Cajun open-faced whitefish sandwich on toasted French bread.  I think the waitress was concerned that it was too little food to share, but we were fine. 

We walked around downtown Marquette which is right on the harbor and is quite hilly.  This oredock is an icon of the landscape.

We stopped at a seafood shop that has a great selection of fresh and smoked fish.  We bought a whitefish fillet for tonight’s dinner, some whitefish dip for appetizers, a filet of smoked trout for a future recipe, and……whitefish livers!

From there, we checked out Superior Culture, a small-batch kombucha house – think flavored fermented tea.  George asked for a beer, and got a lemony mead that was the closest the bartender could get to a beer.  Likewise, I asked about a wine, and got a sample of their “boozy banana”, fermented banana that was a type of wine.  Quite unusual, but both were refresing!

We drove around Presque Island where a lot of people were swimming in the very cold Lake Superior. 

DINNER:  A seafood bonanza.  First we had whitefish dip on crackers, sipping on drinks, as George made the campfire.  He fried some bacon that we had bought at yesteray’s farmers’ market.  He always likes to have some cooked bacon on hand for BLTs, etc.  The fire really liked the bacon drippings!

He had bought some whitefish livers which are a popular specialty here.  He dusted them in flour, then fried in butter over the campfire. 

He made me taste one.  Yuck!  I don’t like calf livers and these tasted like “regular” livers only fishy!  Double-yuck!

Then, he cooked the  beautiful whitefish fillet, seasoning only with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. 

I made salads and steamed rice as sides.  We have some leftover whitefish which I will turn into a whitefish salad (like a tuna salad) for future lunch sandwiches.