Our first eleven days on the Upper Peninsula

Hard to believe we are spending so much time in a state about which we knew so little and had so few expectations, but Michigan has been fantastic for us.  After three stops along Lake Michigan, we made the lengthy drive NE to the Mackinac bridge, which connects lower Michigan to the UP.  After our usual All Stays and RV Park Reviews research, supplemented by recommendations from a couple of Michigan folks, we were bound for Woodland Park Campground, a county park in the very small town of Grand Marais on the shore of Lake Superior.

The five hour drive is significantly longer than we prefer, but we had dallied enough and couldn’t justify an interim stop along the way.  Given the popularity of this park during the summer tourist season, we did pull over just after crossing the bridge to call and confirm that this first come first serve campground had openings, and given the green light we pressed on for the remaining two hours.

As soon as we arrived we knew we made the right choice.  A nicely arranged campground with reasonable sized sites, elevated and directly overlooking Lake Superior, all at a very affordable price, which is dependent on specific position within the park (waterfront or not) and services.  We took a spin around the perimeter, and selected one of the non-waterfront spots (site #19) that still had an amazing view of the lake.  Seeing the view we would have every day there, we made the on the spot decision to remain for a full week, which gave us a 14.3% discount, or seven nights for the price of six, basically.  So for $23 a day we got 50 amp power, water, a clean shower house, and this from our front yard:

The stairs down to the shoreline were 50 feet from our door, and we spent part of nearly every day on the fantastic beach, littered with driftwood and covered in beautiful stones. We had more than one dinner and a few glasses of wine in the sand, and even Pad Kee Meow seemed to enjoy the beach, so long as we did not get to close to the crashing waves.

Though we did not find any of the prized agate’s that this section of Lake Superior is known for, Rosemarie collected plenty of attractive alternatives to display or transform into jewelry.

We made a day trip to Sable Falls in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, making the short but stair filled hike down to the river side, following it all the way out to Lake Superior.  There we could observe the huge sand dunes under continuous assault form the elements, an the huge piles of lake stones continually washed ashore.

Back in the campground we took note of the prominently displayed sign advertising a weekly Thursday evening farmers market, and upon casual inquiry learned that it is an extremely casual affair with no table fees or even an official organizing entity, just people that want to sell stuff setting up in the city park for two hours once a week until the weather precludes it.  So for the first time since leaving Key West, we planned to sell Rosemarie’s wares at market.  We had no expectations, really, and looked at the entire affair as a dry run for our return to the Keys.  Rosemarie pulled out everything she had in the way of completed jewelry and supplies, and motivated by the impending potential sales constructed a lot more items.

Meanwhile I gathered driftwood and purchased wire mesh from the small local hardware store, and per Rosemarie’s specifications constructed a couple of jewelry display stands.  These are intended to look rustic.  I think “crude” might be a better descriptor, but they are pretty sturdy with a very basic single tongue and groove at most corners, supplemented by a screw and wood glue.  I cut the wire mesh to size and attached it to the back of the frame using tiny nails that we bent into makeshift “u-nails” with needle nose pliers, and then attached the frame to a large piece of driftwood at a slight backward leaning angle.  Whatcha think?

Anyway, we showed up half an hour early on Thursday evening, only to find not a soul there.  Ah well, at least Rosemarie increased her inventory, reorganized the supplies, and has some stands to her liking.  We killed a bit more time on errands before returning maybe 10 minutes before the official start time and found five or six people setting up tables.  Great, not a dead event after all!  We picked a spot between a pie/baked goods lady and a dude selling difficult to describe compilations of animal hide and found objects, at least one of which was a small set of drums.  Directly at 5 PM a smattering of people showed up, and a light stream continued all the way until the end of the event.  We made more than $70, easily exceeding our expectations, particularly since we got to sit in a nice park overlooking the bay in beautiful weather and meet both locals and tourists.

Aside from having padded our budge a bit, which allowed us to purchase a few fresh food products from the other vendors without guilt, the experience made us wonder why we had not been doing this in other towns; surely some of the many places we had been offered similar markets?  We were determined to fix that for our future stays, and much research ensued.

But the immediate issue was where to go next and when to do it?  Approaching the end of our paid week in Grand Marais, we faced the prospect of moving west, without reservations, right as Labor Day weekend hit.  So we extended another week in Grand Marias, happy with the location, the town, the campground, and the prospect of another farmers market.  More on that after our 20 Months Fulltiming Report next post.