One of the great things about full time RVing is how many friends and family members we see that we might not otherwise visit as often if we still lived in a sticks and bricks house. Since leaving Key West in late March we have visited family in eight different cities and hooked up with two sets of Key West friends in Sanibel (Rusty and Cherito, and Stan and Marilyn.)
PKM observing the Big Lake out of our front window.
So come Monday we locked in one more week at Woodland Park and began scoping out sites for another pair of Key Westers, Steve and Deb. Or Bev. Sometimes I call her Bev. Even though they would be arriving on a Tuesday and plenty of spots would be available, the front row tends to fill up quite quickly after a departure. The one on our left side became available the morning of their planned arrival, so I secured it for one day on Steve and Deb/Bev’s behalf while they made the seven hour drive up from Lancing.
Someone built this driftwood structure and flagpole since we were here last year.
It’s a nice site with a big tree providing shade for part of the day, and though it’s is not particularly wide, Steve had no problem getting his big fifth wheel in, but had a devil of a time getting it positioned such that it could be properly leveled. After a couple of attempts at getting it far enough to the left side and over the unfortunate hump, they settled for a somewhat angled line up in the center of the site.
Deb and Steve, obviously.
We packed in as much as possible for the next three days, serving as tour guides for Grand Marais and joining them as tourists for day trips in other areas, hampered by some heavy winds and light rain they brought with them from the lower peninsula. We started with a solid meal at Bayview Tavern followed by an evening inside sharing drinks and stories.
The next day Steve drove us on a trip to hit three places that had been on our “to see” list this year, starting with Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Steve has the state park “passport” available to Michigan registered vehicles on his license plate, so entry into both the Upper and Lower Falls was free. Its a nice set of falls, and probably decent swimming, though the water is brownish from high tanin amounts. The park has a microbrewery on the grounds, which made for a nice drink before we had our hors’ d overs type mid day snack.
We continued east to Paradise, a nearby town on the shore of Lake Superior we wanted to get a feel for so that we do not blindly go to Grand Marais each year without at least considering other options. It’s a nice little town a little smaller than GM, but struck us as a bit less well kept up. We took the short drive up to Whitefish Point which juts out far enough into Lake Superior such that Canada is visible on the horizon, and is close to the point where teh Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 1975.
We headed back to our campsite, with stops in several campgrounds to check on possible future options in this neck of the woods. Once home Steve cooked up an excellent and very tender set of baby back ribs for all of us. I got a campfire going with the wood I have been salvaging from departed campers all week, something a fellow camper referred to as mine sweeping.
Steve’s two step cooking and grilling process yields not merely tasty but falling-off-the-bone tender ribs.
We started their last full day with lunch at the West Bay Diner and Delicatessen. We forewarned Steve and Deb that the place was a bit different and to adjust their expectations, particularly with regards to speed of service and options accordingly. In short, the stories about the place, backed up by our own experience last year, suggest that you can wait a long time for your food even if it doesn’t seem that crowded, and it might not be exactly what you ordered if the cook feels like something different.
The Diner has personality. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Good thing we prepared them and ourselves: they have eliminated the breakfast options I loved so much last year, and each meal was cooked separately such that by the time Rose and Steve got their meals Deb was nearly done with hers. Regardless of that, the food was fantastic, and the experience unique.
Thanks for the Happy Camper sleeper, Deb!
Deb and Rosemarie spent the rest of the afternoon on the shore of the big lake hunting rocks. While no agates were found, they came home loaded with other attractive stones from the plethora available. Steve and I went geocaching, scoring finds in 7 of the 8 we hunted.
The rocks shoved up onto the shore by the ice pack each year are pretty amazing.
They joined as at the Mercantile for the Thursday evening market and music event, where we made modest sales but enjoyed the experience. We were all so full from lunch that we abandoned our plans to partake of Fired U.P. Food Truck’s excellent burgers. Instead we did an ad hoc meal back at the campsite with wild foraged mushroom quesadillas and left over ribs before starting one more evening around the campfire.
They departed the next morning and we settled back into our typical Grand Marais routine. I did the Friday pop market solo, allowing Rose to prep for the big event in Marquette the next morning. It was drizzling and I considered skipping it, but three other vendors showed up despite the weather and one of them convinced me to set up the tent and give it a go. Sales were quite slow, but I got to spend some time with the locals and said our goodbyes for the season.
Deb on the stairs down to the shore from our campground.
Saturday we headed to Marquette, trying to keep our expectations in check since the weather was iffy. We did much of the drive in a light drizzle, but things cleared up by market start. We did not do nearly as well as the previous week’s record breaking event, but by our standards of success it was still a great event. We made our biggest set of purchases yet from our fellow vendors and thoroughly enjoyed the gourmet burger “The Brand” and fries from The Burger Bus food truck.
Beautiful oyster mushrooms from one of the two shroom vendors.
We did our usual round of stops for resupply before making the two hour run back to GM, punctuated by a stop at the Kewadin Casino in Christmas. Though we have pulled in there a couple of times, I never noticed the RV sites until this stop: they have ten sites with 50 amp electric, free and first come first serve. Definitely something we will keep in mind if we need a stopping point between Marquette and Grand Marais.
Bumblebee getting the last of the pollen from Rose’s just purchased sunflower.
Our last full day in Grand Marais I stopped by the green space park where Diane, one of the local market bakers sets up alone on Sunday, and purchased a few more of her fantastic cinnamon buns and then hit the West Bay Diner for some specialty items. Then it was one last walk to the beautiful Lake Superior shore.