Round 2 of UP Travels: Northeastern Edition

Currently we are exploring the wild beauty of the UP but I know some of you are awaiting the next installment of life on the road with Shamy. Let’s do a little catch up session.

First up some of you may notice the website name has changed. That’s right Ralphie has his own domain name. The blog is now known as Ralphie Rough Road.

As I write this it’s hard to believe it’s September already. We revisited old favorites here in the UP and explored some awesome new places this time around. Let’s dive right in!

Manistee, Michigan

While this is not in the UP, it was a wonderful stay for the halfway point on our trek to the Upper Peninsula.

I found this gem of a campground right outside Manistee, MI. The Marzinski Horse Trail Campground is located about 15 minutes from the shores of Lake Michigan and it is free. The campground itself was beautiful, with nice spacious sites and plenty of trees. Solar was not great here but we managed to pull in some. Shane had ordered 2 lightweight and flexible solar panels to add to our power arsenal for situations just like this. The addition of the extra panels helped in this case.

My hammock was right at home amongst the trees. Special thanks to the kids for these awesome cups, great for holding adult beverages while keeping the bugs out.

During our week long stay we revisited last fall’s final spot while traveling back to family in southern Michigan/Indiana. We scoped out a boondocking spot for the way back down this year. Plus a visit to a favorite, the Nordhouse Dunes. It’s always fun to explore a place for the first time but it’s equally as fun to revisit that same place. I was thrilled to be back on one of the big lakes.

Josie was back in her element as well. Running around, playing in the water (thrilled it wasn’t salt water), laying in the sand and finally taking a nap in the warm sunshine.

We stocked up on supplies while exploring the small town of Manistee. Enjoyed lunch, a dinner out, beers, some beach time, and of course an incredible sunset over Lake Michigan.

The sunset was a nice send off as the next day we crossed the Mighty Mac once again for our second round of UP adventures.

Paradise, Michigan

What can I say, the name of the town says it all. Paradise, MI is a little town just south of Whitefish Point and the entry point to Tahquamenon Falls. There isn’t much here, so stock up before arriving. But I must say that’s its appeal to us.

The North Corner Store has a surprising amount of food supplies to choose from. But produce is hard to come by here and everything comes at a premium price, including the gas. It was $5.09 upon our arrival. Happy to say our tanks were full.

Last year we stayed at Andrus State Forest Campground. The price went up by $5 a night, costing $20 a night for a primitive spot in all of Michigan’s state forest campgrounds. We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and Andrus was almost completely full! Lucky for us we had plans to stay for free at a nearby spot, Shelldrake Lake.

We kayaked this lake last year and really enjoyed it. There are old remnants of campsites here left over from its old days of being a state forest campground. It’s no longer an active campground due to budget cuts but it’s a boondocker’s dream.

Downsides, mosquitoes were pretty relentless here. No fire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets, or trash. The sites are not maintained, so you can find yourself in taller grasses depending on where you park it. Upsides, parked right next to a beautiful lake with less people, a boat ramp, a dam and the nicest neighbor (more on him in a moment). Oh and gorgeous sunsets over the lake!

Our neighbor, Dale, was the sweetest older gentleman. He loves to fish, pick wild blueberries, and make rock art. We never had the chance to look at his rock art. But we chatted with him on several occasions. He gave us fresh fish he caught out of the lake that very day along with 2 large batches of freshly picked wild blueberries. I subsequently made a couple of delicious batches (my first ever) of wild blueberry muffins and of course we gave him some in thanks.

Our one week stay turned into two weeks. It was such a great spot with so much to explore. A small path from our site leading down to the water’s edge was a perfect spot to stow and launch our kayaks. We kayaked the lake a few times, enjoyed sunsets over the lake, explored old favorites, and found some new places that turned out to be real gems.

We revisited Tahquamenon Falls where there is now a bridge over to the island with a short hike. Plus we enjoyed a hike through the woods for our return trip back to the car. Finished it all off with beers from the brewery onsite at the Upper Falls.

A return visit to Whitefish Point where I recreated last year’s happy to be there photo.

We made it back to the Mouth of the Two Hearted River, this time without the Duke’s of Hazard moment. However, we passed the snow mobile trail we took last year in the gold Volvo and laughed. Eddie the Jeep, could handle that no problem but we didn’t try.

Due to our crazy unintentional off road adventures last year we didn’t make it to the Crisp Point Lighthouse but we did this year. After climbing to the top we were rewarded with amazing views of Lake Superior below.

This year we ventured out for some off road exploring, now that we actually have a capable vehicle. After looking at the paper map (this is key in the UP, as some of the “roads” are not on Google maps), we decided to explore Dune road. What a spot! Very remote, not a soul in sight, and beautiful beach littered with rocks for miles. It took 45 minutes to drive 10 miles! But worth the time.

We loved it enough to drive back a second time at night to look for Yooperlites. After walking the beach for awhile shining our UV lights at the rocks, we felt dejected. Surely, this remote area would have some. Where are these mysterious rocks hiding? On the walk back. Shane found one! Our first and only but we found one!

Looks like a normal rock in daylight but when you shine a UV light on one, look how it lights up. They are syenite rocks that are rich in fluorescent sodalite. Check out this article to learn more.

We found this lake while exploring roads, just one of many tucked away lakes in the UP. And this interesting cemetery with individual spots for deceased loved ones, all with their own space tucked in the woods. If I were going to be buried when I die, this is the kind of cemetery I would want.

Lastly, this photo proving that “Yoopers” (those native to the UP) have a sense of humor about winter.

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