Heading east, we come to the spot on the highway where we have to make a choice – turn south to head across the Mackinaw Bridge, or continue east toward the unknown. The steering wheel tugs briefly in John’s hands, but he wrestles it away from the southern turn. We’re still in the UP, baby!
We pause at one of the many roadside parks to get our first good glimpse of Lake Huron – the last of the Great Lakes we’ll see on this trip. Looks cold – no surprise.Our goal is Detour, the easternmost spot in the UP, unless you count Drummond Island (which I’m not). We find an excellent campsite in the Detour State Forest Campground, about six miles west of Detour. As usual, the campground is deserted. Clean vault toilets, water pumps, but no trash collection. The dumpsters have been removed (or, perhaps they were never even there). We’ve got our own private lake shoreline. Beautiful. We even find two big boxes of cut-up wood to augment our dwindling campfire supply. We relax, get a great fire going, and actually get dinner made before the rain begins.
By noon the following day, things have cleared up to a mere drizzle, so we head off on our bikes to explore Detour. There’s a beautiful State Harbor, a view with a shipwreck, and a very unusual project gone wrong.
While riding along a street with homes that afforded an occasional glimpse of the shoreline, we spot a driveway with an enormous chopped-off freighter backed into it. This is actually between two other (normal) homes. Most curious. We find out later that the owner purchased this, with the intention of turning it into his home. After paying $80,000 to have it towed and moored to its site, he began sanding the hull. That, apparently, is when he ran out of money. So, there it sits, awaiting for the owner to refresh his cash flow so he can continue working. I can hardly imagine the horror his neighbors experience every time they drive by. Yikes!
We stop in to the Detour Village Inn, looking for a munchie and a beer to fortify ourselves for the ride back to camp. We see a fat ol’ yellow lab sitting outside the bar. Inside are a young female bartender, one customer, and the elderly owner. Betty, the lab, is the owner’s dog. She comes in for a game of fetch – inside the bar. The bartender is making our french fries, and playing fetch by throwing an old tennis ball across the bar for Betty, taking it from her mouth, and throwing it again! Pretty gross, actually, but we’re dog folks so we don’t remark on the impropriety of this whole scene. Betty apparently is an institution in the bar – the owner told me that he thought she was having a stroke a few weeks ago. Rolling her eyes, and stretching her tongue out in a very awkward way. Turns out that one of the bar’s breakfast customers had given her a pancake off their plate, and she had maple syrup on her whiskers that she was trying to lick off. That’s the UP for ya!
On the way back to camp, we cycled through the Detour Botanical Garden, a lovely spot where individuals and groups have staked out small plots and planted them as they wish. It was charming. John fell in love with this new Bell helmet.We’re in no hurry the next morning to leave. We want to check out the International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, then roll into Wilderness State Park for a few nights. We cross the Bridge, with me driving. I’m sweating bullets – the metal grid beneath the tires is swaying the Firetruck/Fireball slightly side to side, and I’m nervous as a cat. When we finally reach the southern end of the Bridge, my fingers are clenched around the steering wheel in a death grip. Bridge driving – check!
Not much to see at the Dark Sky Park. A motor pathway has info on our solar system. We make a mental note to schedule a return trip with a friend who owns a powerful telescope. There’s a terrific viewing area out into the darkness of Lake Michigan.
Wilderness State Park, however, was a huge disappointment. The campground road was so rutted that the Fireball lurched back and forth perilously. We found the bathrooms locked up for the season, and the water spigots all shut off. Although we can deal with the closed bathrooms, the lack of fresh water is a big deal for us. We’re about 300 miles from home.
So, after a quick stop at our favorite Petoskey brewery, we find ourselves home. Our neighbors are stunned to see us a week early. In addition to mowing the grass, they edged the yard! We may have to leave more often, and put them in charge of the Crankshaw abode. As I write this, the washing machine is chugging, sunshine is streaming through the window, and the temps are climbing. Going to be in the 60s this weekend. Maybe (just maybe), it’s good to be home.