J found out Smith Bros. Coffee in Port Washington, Wisconsin, would be closed permanently after Labor Day weekend. On Sunday we took a quick trip to stop there and a few other places.
It was a good day for me to be in an air-conditioned car — the car thermometer read 97ºF at the Lake Forest Oasis, where the sky was sunny and the atmosphere heavy and oppressive with heat and humidity.
As we progressed northward I noticed enough dark clouds gathering to obscure the sun. Near Milwaukee the skies opened up, accompanied by some lightning and thunder. I’m not sure how long the bad spell lasted — maybe 20 minutes. By the end of it, the temperature had dipped to about 78ºF — that’s more like it.
I found a slightly different route into town that took us past Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. It’s now on my list.
Our first stop was Bernie’s Fine Meats, which is the source not only of deliciously addictive but unhealthful garlic summer sausage, but also many unhealthful European sweets. I spent well over $100 there. It’s showing in the waistline I no longer have.
Smith Bros. is across the street, part of the Duluth Trading store, which will expand into the Smith Bros. space when it closes. I ordered an iced coffee and sandwiches to go, and picked up coffee beans and an insulated travel mug. Of course I posed with the fisherman sculpture which was installed in 2020. It more or less replicates the sign on the roof, down to the fish on the man’s back, but without the man’s pipe. Our health-conscious times!
Reservations at Twisted Willow were not to be had, so we ordered food and drove around until it was ready to be picked up, about 40 minutes. We re-found the light station, but more important we found Port Washington has extensive lakefront parks. This was a good time to find them because sky was still dramatic from the on-and-off thunderstorms in the area. We decided to return with dinner and use one of the many picnic tables.
After we ate the salad portion of dinner in a strong breeze, during which another rainbow appeared, J took a brief detour toward Belgium and Harrington Beach State Park, home to one of my favorite views on County Road D — a single tree by the side of the road that leads to a stop sign and Lake Michigan. Fail to stop at your peril.
On the way back to the interstate I noticed the sky that had produced drama and rainbows earlier now gave a fire-breathing dragon cloud. What a great way to end a great day.
J. wanted to go to northeastern Wisconsin to see family, so I went along. The trip didn’t begin well, as he was delayed by a protest and closed exits along the Dan Ryan. I should pay more attention to local news.
Traffic wasn’t bad the rest of the way, and the weather was perfect — clear sky, sunny, about 74ºF when we left and at Port Washington. I noted that I prefer a summer sky with interesting clouds, although later the cloudlessness would prove perfect for part of the plan.
We arrived in Port Washington (80ºF) at 3:40. I remember the time precisely because it was 20 minutes to closing at Bernie’s Fine Meats, where I promptly spent a small fortune. (I’m not a big meat eater, but, oh, the garlic summer sausage.)
We stopped for a bit at Smith Bros. Coffee for the namesake beverage and a sandwich. It’s one of those places where I could people watch all day.
Finally, we hit the road again, passing through Green Bay and continuing north.
I’m not sure when we arrived in Crivitz, perhaps around 7. We continued northwest toward the family tree farm. Along the way I noticed many stands of conifers planted in regular rows, but what struck me was how dark the interiors of these cultivated “woods” appeared. In places it seemed almost black between trees, across from the sun low in the sky.
After arriving at the tree farm and looking around, J. saw he’d gotten a message earlier that the family had gone to a fireworks show with “Boat Landing 3” as the destination. After heading out from the farm, we asked a man for directions (no mobile phone coverage in the area) and with his directions found Twin Bridges Park on Boat Landing 3 (a road). Earlier there’d been a waterski show and fireworks were also advertised. Now we just had to find the family. Someone in the huge parking lot pointed us toward a sandy path through the darkening woods to the spot for the main event. We found a crowd in a clearing, along with concessions stands.
J. sought his family while I waited in the line for the facilities. By then I was tired enough I couldn’t tolerate the crowd (or the smoking). I went back through the woods to the car, where I took several videos of the fireworks through the trees along the Peshtigo River while countless mosquitoes feasted on me.
After a surprisingly good display, we headed toward an inn, 20 to 30 minutes away. The front serves as a bar and pool room (with one table) and the back as a restaurant. Everyone there seemed to be part of an extended family, friends, and neighbors group.
July 8, 2018
Next morning we passed Dirty Joe’s Laundry on the way to Java Lodge Coffee. Is there a Joe? Is he dirty? Does he launder? We may never know.
When we walked outside at midnight, the sky that had been so clear during the day had exploded with stars in a way that urbanites don’t experience without getting out of Dodge. Despite the lights around the building, there wasn’t much surrounding light pollution. We could the outline of part of the Milky Way. I wish I could see that every clear night. When I wasn’t soaking up the firmament (as the mosquitoes drained me), I was watching a few bats flying back and forth overhead (dealing with some of the little blood suckers, I hope). And so back to Crivitz for some rest.
I’d love to show the coffee shop, but the proprietor told us photos aren’t allowed due to the vendor works displayed. It had a north woods vibe, with bear and moose artwork and goods featured. Lovely place. We spent more time there than we could afford.
We returned to the tree farm, where we were given a tour of an addition, in progress, to the house, and I was offered a ride on a four wheeler (passed). My plan had been to head to Veteran’s Memorial Park afterward, but J’s brother talked him into a visit to Dave’s Falls, also a county park.
Nothing but a click happened when J turned his car key, and he realized he’d turned on the lights and left them on — don’t ask why as it was sunny and cloudless again, about 88ºF.
If you’re going to drain your battery, do it in the front yard of a family of mechanics. His brother appeared with a charger and clipped it on, then scraped and rinsed off years’ worth of corrosion. He advised running the engine for at least a half hour to 45 minutes — just about the amount of time it would take to get to Dave’s Falls.
Dave’s Falls, at least from what I could see from where I could get to, reminded me of a more open version of Parfrey’s Glen near Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin, where a small waterfall splashes into water suitable for horsing around. The river seemed to run pretty fast with some foam. I wish I had felt steady enough on my feet to get closer to the falls, but the ground was rougher and more angled than I could handle at that moment.
Too soon it was time to head south without looking back. We stopped at a Marinette County historical marker about Wisconsin forestry with a forest overlook. Next was a pullover at Half Way North marking the 45th parallel halfway between the equator and the North Pole. It seems this is marked in only a few places in Wisconsin, so I’m happy I landed at one of them.
It was getting late in the afternoon by the time we reached Karvana south of Green Bay, one of J’s favorite coffee spots. The mac and cheese was pretty good, and the yam fries were amazing. Because I dislike the idea of bottled water and the massive amount one-use plastic it consumes, I loved their filtered water tap. I could fill my 32-ounce bottle with cold water before setting out again.
The final planned stop in the area was Fonferek’s Glen, a county park with a barn and other farm buildings. My objective, though, was the waterfall a short distance from the parking lot. When you first drive up, it looks like a serene meadow. Soon you notice, however, the many warning signs, especially once you pass the waterfall overlook.
The trail, as they say, is not maintained. Hidden behind the buildings is a creek that you drove over that’s carved out steep cliffs with unstable edges. On this day, we didn’t see the waterfall — the creek bed was partially dry. So was the grass, we noticed later. We passed the overlook and walked on the unmaintained trail along the creek bed to the top of the waterfall. I’ve never done that before. Fenforek’s Glen is not far from the highway and is well worth the little detour.
Time flies when you’re having fun. It looked like we’d run out of time to enjoy dinner at Twisted Willow in Port Washington. I had an idea — stop in, order dinner to go, and have a drink at the bar while waiting. I ended up with a great drink and enough Twisted Willow dinner for two meals. Another well-worth-the-detour moment. And getting back later than planned.
And so back to a routine work week under stars obscured at night by city lights.
August 12, 2014: Chippewa Falls to Black River Falls to Prairie du Sac to Petunia to the end of the road
On which I don’t think of the Wizard of Oz
After breakfast at Avalon Hotel and Conference Center, we hit the road. J. had been wanting to stop in Black River Falls, which is named for a dam. After passing vintage train cars we arrived at Molly’s Rude Awakening, then located in a colorful garage, but they were in the midst of a move to a new location. We pulled into a parking space designated for hippies — more for a VW bus than a gray Toyota Corolla. Because of the transition, Molly’s was walk-up/drive-through only, but the ice cream was good.
Now all that was left was another detour to Prairie du Sac and Blue Spoon Café. We arrived at about 1:30 p.m. or so and dragged ourselves away maybe an hour or so later — it was so hard to leave. After a quick drive through town to look for a post office, it was really time to leave.
Thanks to construction at the Wisconsin-Illinois border, progress was very slow before and after the Turtle Creek rest area in South Beloit. It was so slow that we wondered if our new plan would be thwarted — to stop at the Hyde Park Animal Hospital to pick up Petunia a day earlier than planned. Just as it was looking highly unlikely, traffic opened up, and we made it to the hospital by 6:20 p.m. or so, nearly 12 (very) full days after starting out on this long, yet short northern adventure.
Now the trip really was winding down under more gray skies with occasional rain. After taking some photos of the low but wild-looking Baptism River, we left Baptism River Inn and took a brief detour to Palisade Head, hoping for a slightly better view. Lemon Wolf Café isn’t open on Mondays, so we settled for Northern Lights Roadhouse and Pub, where we were seated on an enclosed porch overlooking the lake and the downpour for a relaxed, homely lunch.
Because of the rain, we thought about skipping Gooseberry Falls State Park, but I knew I’d have have regrets if we drove on by. We, along with many others, waited under the shelter of the visitor center porch as the rain came down, watching drenched visitor after drenched visitor return on the trail.
After a time the rain slowed and stopped, so we took off as fast as we could toward the falls. With the overcast sky, the lighting was poor and the colors washed out, but I continued to work on improving my waterfall photography techniques. We had been there for a while — maybe a half hour? — when we sensed the weather shifting again, so hightailed it back to the visitor center just as the clouds opened up again.
South of Gooseberry Falls State Park we came to the Silver Creek Cliff Tunnel, which was bored through the volcanic rock between 1991 and 1994. We stopped at the wayside to walk along the trail between the tunnel and the lakefront, but after a few feet the rain, which had slowed somewhat, picked up again, and I hurried back to the shelter of the car while J. opted to hang in and get drenched.
Further south, we passed through Two Harbors in search of a coffee shop, but if I remember right the one wanted to go to was closed. Further along we stopped at SuperOne to pick up containers for all our leftovers. At this point, it truly felt like the wilder parts of the Gunflint Trail and North Shore were well behind us — we were back in town.
Too, too soon we were in the city, Duluth, passing what appeared to be ritzy historic mansions, one of them a museum. We said goodbye to Highway 61, which merges into I-35 at 26th Avenue East. It was like a farewell to a beloved friend you may never see again.
It had become sunnier, and Duluth in full daylight is not nearly as eerie as it had been the first time I passed through in July 2013, at twilight on a misty night that made the city and hills appear as ephemeral as Brigadoon.
We pushed on to Superior, Wisconsin, and Red Mug Espresso, a half-underground coffee shop steeped in colorful art for sale and housed in a historic building. Their website cites one of Mike Royko’s favorite ideas:
Sociologist Ray Oldenburg talked about the importance of the “third place” — a community anchor, separate from home and work, where people feel welcome, socialize, and meet friends new and old.
(For Royko, his third place was a bar.)
“It’s a place to live your life,” the site adds. I would if only it were closer. As with so many places I’ve found on journeys both short and long, it was hard to leave this experience behind, but we still had plans for the remaining daylight.
One of these plans, a visit to Superior Entry Lighthouse, was thwarted by a combination of diminishing daylight time and the bumpy nature of Moccasin Mike Road, which isn’t that long. We couldn’t guess at what Wisconsin Point Road would be like on the narrow strip leading to the light, so we agreed to turn back on Moccasin Mike (I just wanted to say that name again) and head for our next out-of-the-way stop, Pattison State Park.
After driving down what seemed like endless country roads, we arrived at Pattison State Park, which is home to Wisconsin’s highest waterfall, Big Manitou Falls. You’d think it’d be easy to find a 165-foot-high waterfall, but it was surprisingly difficult — maybe because we were tired and easily confused by the directions some people we ran into gave us. The first spot we found seemed to be above the falls and didn’t offer a view. J. went one way while I went another. My way led to a platform on a cliff side overlooking the falls. To my left below, the falls roared. To my right, the sun was headed toward the horizon in a show of bright clouds and dark hills. The view on both sides helped make up for missing Superior Entry. Alas, we missed Little Manitou Falls, which are a few miles upstream.
With the sun setting, it was time to move on and get as far south in Wisconsin as we could. We made it — with effort — to Chippewa Falls, where we stopped at a chain hotel with no rooms. The very helpful desk attendant called two other chains — also no vacancies. She told me that’s not unusual for Chippewa Falls, which is a hotbed of business. The last place she called is, like the Bates Motel, somewhat off the major road. For that reason perhaps, they had available rooms. Avalon Hotel and Conference Center is a hybrid hotel-motel; many rooms have both inside rooms like a hotel and outside doors like a motel. Nervous guests can get a room with an inside door only. After a long day and the experience of last year, all that mattered to me was being able to crawl into a comfortable bed before the wee hours arrived and getting rested for the long day ahead.
The sequel to last summer’s Lake Superior trip began July 31, when J. helped me take Petunia to the Hyde Park Animal Hospital, followed by a quick dinner at Plein Air Café. Finally, we stowed all my stuff in the car and set out, with the goal of reaching Cedarberry Inn in Sauk City.
This isn’t as easy as you’d think. This summer, as last, the Jane Addams Expressway is under construction, which meant for J. driving at night at reduced speed through dozens of miles of construction barrels and barriers. Although I wasn’t driving, I could sense how stressful it was, with no end in sight. I don’t know how people commute through this nightmare every day. Of course, we’d be taking the same route back — something to look forward to! After reaching Wisconsin, we ran into pockets of construction. Even after leaving I90/94 for Sauk City, we faced construction. At least when we got to Minnesota, off the interstates, we thought, we’d face no more construction mazes.
Finally, we arrived at Cedarberry, where the next morning you bet I immersed myself in the warm jets of the whirlpool. So far I had not felt the sharp pangs caused by sitting confined in a car for long periods.
August 1, 2014: Prairie du Sac to Mill Bluff State Park to Amnicon Falls to Fortune Bay Resort & Casino in Tower, Minnesota
On which I discover sea stacks in Wisconsin
The reason for driving out of the way to Sauk City was to visit Blue Spoon Café in Prairie du Sac. Started by the Culver family of “Butter Burger” fame, Blue Spoon is nestled between one of Prairie du Sac’s main streets and the Wisconsin River. Sitting on the patio overlooking disused, abruptly ending train tracks and the river, I felt relaxed and peaceful in a way I’m not sure that I ever have. Only the need to press on and get to Tower, Minnesota, at a reasonable hour weighed on me.
J. noted some state parks along the way that he thought would make great stops, but I’m doomed to be the nay-saying killjoy. When we spotted a series of stone stacks along I90/94, however, I agreed this was worth investigating, however briefly. This proved to be Mill Bluff State Park, and the bluffs are what you might call sea stacks, formed underwater. Mill Bluff State Park is part of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve in the Driftless Area.
Even though this park is in the driftless area, the area the glaciers missed, the geologic features are partially the result of the last (or Wisconsin) stage of glaciation. During this glacial advance, the Wisconsin River was plugged near Wisconsin Dells. The river spread out to form glacial Lake Wisconsin, covering most of what today are Adams, Juneau and other adjacent counties, including the Mill Bluff area. During this time, some of the mesa and buttes stood as islands in the glacial lake, while others were submerged. Wave action hastened erosion of the sides of the rock forms.
The unique flat-topped, cliff-sided rock structures are capped by layers of somewhat more resistant sandstone; and weathering tends to break the rock off in vertical fragments. There are remnants of the Dresbach Group, Upper Cambrian sandstone. The heights of the bluffs range from 80 feet to over 200 feet. The mesa and buttes are isolated “outliers” of the continuous limestone-capped escarpments south of the park.
We drove around a bit, talked to an elderly staffer, drove some more, then found the trail that lead to the top of Mill Bluff, up about 223 steps crafted by the CCC during the 1930s. We have a lot to thank the CCC for, 70-plus years later.
I wish I’d known more about the geology of the area as I stood on top of Mill Bluff, but even to the ignorant like me, the view is spectacular. It takes a little imagination to see the park without I90/94 dividing it.
After Mill Bluff State Park, we did have one scheduled stop — Amnicon Falls State Park, not far from Duluth. After a brief detour down a residential gravel road, we found the park we’d been to before at about the same time of day but two weeks later in the summer, with earlier nightfall. A staffer told J. about a photo contest and to look for Snake Pit Falls near the park’s namesake falls.
Amnicon Falls is indeed a photogenic spot, complete with rustic footbridge. The view of Snake Pit Falls in the growing gloom was a delightful bonus, although I’m resigned to never seeing this park in sunlight or even daylight.
The original plan had been to stop at K&B Café and BBQ in Eveleth, Minnesota, at the recommendation of J.’s co-worker. By the time we hit Eveleth, however, it was past closing time. We did stop at a rest area, where we learned about the Laurentian Divide. How did teachers make earth science sound so dull?
At last, perhaps around 11:30 p.m. or so, we arrived at Fortune Bay, a huge resort and casino complex on Lake Vermilion owned by the Bois Forte Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa. A little worse off for the 223 steps at Mill Bluff State Park, I welcomed the comparatively early night.
At last, after our thwarted attempt on Monday the 15th we were able see the Apostle Islands clearly, although I couldn’t get any good photos. Afterward, we checked out the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore headquarters in Bayfield, and ate a late lunch at Greunkle’s.
Finally, and reluctantly we left beautiful Bayfield behind, saddened by the knowledge that vacation was over and that in a day and a half, Lake Superior, Kabetogama, Rainy Lake, Crane Lake, and all of their historic, cultural, architectural, and wildlife treasures would also be behind us. We made a few stops, including at an out-of-the-way fishing hole and at a castle-like building in the middle of nowhere (J. took a photo of it). At Rice Lake, we ate at Lehmann’s Supper Club.
We soon faced an unexpected problem — there didn’t seem to be many places to stay in northern Wisconsin, and a big event at Wisconsin Dells meant every lodging was booked. Even an operator from hotels.com couldn’t help. By now both of us were very tired and desperate for rest.
At last, I found a place with a room — Devil’s Head Resort. The problem was that it was more than an hour and a half away. As we got closer, we ran into another problem — unbeknownst to us at first, the GPS decided to take us through Devil’s Lake State Park instead of on the regular roads. Poor J. was trying to stay awake while driving on the park’s hilly, sharping winding, snaky road, while I was trying to stay awake to keep him awake. In hindsight, it was terrifying.
Despite poor coverage, I managed to get the resort’s desk attendant long enough to get better directions. At last we arrived — after 3 a.m. Never did a cinderblock-walled room look so welcoming and comfortable.
July 21, 2013: Devil’s Head Resort to Prairie du Sac to home
After a better rest than I expected, we went to Blue Spoon Café in Prairie du Sac, a little out of the way but worth it for a good breakfast on the tiered back patio overlooking the Wisconsin River. A railroad track lies between the river and the buildings, a little above river level. It reminds me of the dreams I used to have that I’m at home and that a train runs behind the trailer, curving around Dad’s garden and Virgil’s ash tree before heading west to an unknown destination. Sometimes it derails, sometimes it never ends, and sometimes it takes me with it.
We spotted a Harley Davidson dealer, so J. stopped to get something for his brother while I got a free bandana.
At about this time rain came, and I don’t remember that it quit. For long stretches, it was pretty bad. Closer to Illinois we ran into an almost unreal amount of road construction, which, with the rain, meant a slow, tiring return — just in time for the work week starting Monday, when Lake Superior and all the other lakes and the waterfalls receded into the realm of a dream.
July 15, 2013: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to Madeline Island to Amnicon Falls State Park to Kabetogama
The Bayfield Inn offers whirlpool suites. Is it necessary to say that as soon as I woke up from the long drive and late night, I inserted myself into warm, soothing jets for as long as I could, which wasn’t long enough?
Today’s objective was a cruise around the mysteriously named Apostle Islands. Our genial captain told us quite a bit about the unpredictability of Lake Superior weather, and it was soon clear that current conditions were conducive for a thick pea soup fog. After we had learned a great deal about the islands we could barely see through a few breaks in the fog, we headed back to shore with the option to get a refund or choose another day. Fortunately our plan had us staying in Bayfield Saturday before heading home, so we signed up for that morning’s tour.
With the afternoon in front of us, we lined up for the ferry to Madeline Island. Maneuvering the car around the narrow space by the pilot house made J. nervous, but the man guiding him said, “Trust me.” All, including the car, made it unscathed. Even better, the morning’s fog had cleared, and the sun had emerged. I looked happy enough!
On Madeline Island we ate outdoors at The Pub at The Inn on Madeline Island, which has a wonderful view of the lake and mainland. The only fly in the ointment were the flies, which weren’t repelled by the natural repellent J. had bought when exchanging the cruise tickets. Even so, you can’t beat a good bar lunch on the lake.
Afterward, we drove around, eventually heading out of town and checking out the houses and properties. I imagine, but don’t know, that most people leave the island for the winter — which was hard to picture on a sunny summer day.
We found ourselves at Big Bay State Park, where we fought off mosquitoes while gazing across the lake. A kayaking class floated by. On one of the Pictured Rocks cruises, someone had told us that sea kayaks are recommended for navigating Lake Superior and its unpredictable weather, and that it’s a very bad idea to go out alone. We’d seen a few brave souls on their own.
Our last stop on Madeline was at Grampa Tony’s, where so many teenagers were working that I started to look for Richie Cunningham.
Our next goal was Kabetogama for two days, but we detoured to Amnicon Falls State Park until it was too dark to take photos.
The never-ending road took us through Duluth, which, in the growing twilight, appeared surreal. As at Porcupine Mountains, there was something unearthly about the muted light.
On this long drive as on others, we were terrified of hitting deer. On one of these night drives, someone ahead of us flashed their lights. We found a mini-herd parked in the center of the road. They didn’t budge even as the car passed slowly within a couple of feet of them. They know who rules the night. After that incident we jokingly hoped for “deer buddies” ahead of us in remote areas who could warn us of deer near or on the road.
The rest of the night reminded me of entering Shawnee National Forest. In the dark, it felt like we were surrounded by forest and fields, with signs of habitation and commerce seemingly scarce. When I needed a bathroom break, it took some time to find a rough, almost deserted bar that was still open.
After an interminable time in the darkness (unbroken, alas, by the aurora borealis), we found the Sandy Point Lodge area, but with spotty to no cell phone coverage it was difficult to navigate. Finally we arrived, exhausted — but it was closer to 1 a.m. than midnight, there was no light, the door was locked, and no one answered the phone. We learned a valuable lesson — call ahead to make arrangements.
Although coverage was weak, I was able to check Yelp and make a few calls. At last a sleepy-sounding woman answered and said we could stay at her place, Arrowhead Lodge and Resort. Delirious with joy that I wasn’t going to have to sleep in the car, I told her we’d be right over. “No hurry,” she said. “I have to get dressed.” We found Arrowhead and brought in as little as we could, following her up a narrow staircase. By then it was after 3 a.m. That was a long day, and then some.
July 12, 2013: From Chicago to Port Washington, Wisconsin
J. and I set out very late for the northern adventure, leaving a little before 11 p.m. The first port of call was Port Washington, north of Milwaukee, where the only place that seemed to be open was Holiday Inn Harborview — nothing like the Hamburg Thruway Holiday Inn circa 1970.
July 13, 2013: After a stop at Smith Brothers, breakfast at Tellos Grill and Café, and a thwarted attempt to get into the lighthouse, we were on the road again. We had to be in Munising, Michigan (Upper Peninsula), before the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore sunset cruise left harbor at 7 p.m. It’s a more daunting drive than it appears to be on a map, especially with only one sleep-deprived driver.
After passing through Green Bay, the next notable stop was Escanaba, Michigan, for old-style fast food at Hudson’s Classic Grill, where we squeezed onto a bench outside to save time.
By now I’d noticed the mix of trees along the way had been changing, and by the time we entered Hiawatha National Forest I’d figured out that this is what a boreal forest looks like — magical, because it’s not the beautiful but familiar deciduous mix of Western New York and northern Illinois. I couldn’t help but think of Hiawatha (the poem) and “From the land of sky-blue waters” (the Hamm’s beer jingle). I haven’t heard the Hamm’s commercial for years, but it’s part of the detritus the human brain collects.
While the drive from Port Washington to Green Bay seemed long, at least after Escanaba we knew we were closing in our target, although at a slower pace through the forest.
Munising, Michigan, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
At last we arrived in Munising and headed straight for Sunset Motel on the Bay. We checked in, dropped off some stuff, drove the short distance to the dock, and found a place to park. By this time, a long line had formed, and a few minutes after we’d joined it at 6:40 it began to move as people boarded one of the two boats. At least we didn’t have to run to catch the boat, so the timing was as perfect as could be — considering the hundreds of miles we’d covered and the limitations that come with having the one overtired driver.
As for the cruise, the photos tell the story, I hope, of perfect weather and nearly ideal lighting from the setting sun glowing on Pictured Rocks. People jumped up and down or stood at the rail, holding up their phones to try to capture the wonder (and probably missing much of it as the boat sped along). When the captain reversed the boat into a tiny bay where we were surrounded by ancient color, I knew the rush had been worth it. What a glorious end to a long day.