Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Wawatam Lighthouse & Huron Boardwalk

  The Wawatam Lighthouse was built as a functional lighthouse to attract attention to a Michigan welcome center on Interstate 75. When the center was remodeled the lighthouse wasn’t part of the plan so the city of St. Ignace bought it and reassembled it at the end of the old railroad pier. In 2006, after being certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, it became a  working lighthouse.

   A boardwalk extends to the base of the lighthouse which is not open to the public. Interpretive signs explain how railcars crossed the Strait of Mackinaw on a 338 foot ferry capable of carrying 28 railcars. After viewing the lighthouse follow the boardwalk north along the shoreline where there are more interpretive signs on the history of St. Ignace.

     The boardwalk is accessible. It’s not in the best condition and navigating across parking lots is necessary in several spots.
   The parking lot is large enough for any RV. Lighthouse  45.86441, -84.71805


Monday, September 28, 2020

Bridge View Park

  The Michigan State Highway Department began a ferry service 1923 to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Eventually nine boats were in operation to transport people and vehicles across the Straits of Mackinac. Although building a bridge had been discussed as early as the 1880s it was until 1957 that the bridge- after three and a half years of construction - was opened.

  The bridge is five miles long and almost 200 feet above the water at its highest point. The bridge is closed occasionally due to high winds or ice falling from the cables and towers. The wind is a concern even on calm days. The speed limit for cars is only 45 and 20 for trucks.

  The park has a short paved walkway, picnic tables under shelters, and a small building housing displays, videos, restrooms, and large viewing windows for bad weather days(closed due to coronavirus).
   Everything is accessible.

   The parking lot is large enough for any vehicle.  Park  45.8469, -84.72595

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Father Marquette National Memorial & Museum

   A paved path leads to an open air museum with interpretive plaques about Father Marquette, a Jesuit missionary who came to the Americas from France in 1666. He helped establish missions around the Great Lakes and joined the expedition of Louis Jolliet, a French-Canadian explorer charged with exploring the Mississippi River territory. The expedition members traveled along the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers to reach the Mississippi River which they followed south to the mouth of the Arkansas River.  The expedition returned north but Marquette died from dysentery before he made it all the way back to St Ignace.
 The paved path continues to an overgrown amphitheater. Steps lead to an overlook of the Mackinac Bridge. A gravel path with interpretive signs also goes to the overlook. The gravel is loose and the path is not accessible without assistance.

   The parking lot is large enough for any RV.  Museum  45.85436, -84.72689


Friday, September 25, 2020

Tahquamenon Falls

  The upper and lower falls of the Tahquamenon River are about four miles apart. The rugged River Trail runs between them them but most visitors chose to drive to each of them. The upper falls is 200 feet across with a drop of almost 50 feet. The amber color is caused by tannin that leaches from the trees growing in the swamps upstream. The lower falls is a series of smaller falls with opportunities to get into the water which is a popular activity even though signs warn against it. Both are worth visiting.
   A paved trail at the upper falls leads to a viewing deck. Much better views can be had by following the trails to the left or right of the deck but both of these trails have steps so the viewing areas are not accessible.
  The lower falls has a trail that’s part asphalt and part boardwalk. Views of the lower falls are better than the view of the upper falls but some of the decks have high railings that block the view. This is the beginning of the River Trail and is accessible for about 1/3 of a mile.

  Both parking lots have long RV spaces. Falls  46.57857, -85.25189


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Andrus Lake State Forest Campground

  All of the campsites are roomy with a choice of shade or sun. The most popular are on the shoreline of the small lake. Amenities include tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and potable water.

  A Recreation Passport is required for both camping and day visits which makes the price of camping for just one day kind of high. An annual pass is the best choice if you plan on visiting at least four state parks.

  The ground is hard packed and the picnic tables have extended tops.  Campground  46.70384, -85.03896

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum

    When storms brew over Lake Superior, the 80 mile stretch of shoreline between Munising, Michigan, and Whitefish Point  is especially treacherous. At least 200 ship have been lost trying to make safe passage through the waves and fog. The most famous is the Edmund Fitzgerald which sunk on November 10, 1975 killing all 29 men of the crew. The museum covers the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald plus the stories of eight other shipwrecks and the discoveries of their resting spots.

   A ticket to the museum includes 1861 Lightkeeper’s Quarters & Exhibits, 1923 Surfboat House & Exhibits, and a twenty minute video - not shown due to coronavirus. There’s an extra charge to climb to the top of the lighthouse which was also closed due to coronavirus. A short boardwalk leads to a deck with access to the beach. Another boardwalk leads to a beach covered in thousands of colorful rounded stones.
  The museum complex is not completely accessible. The walkway to the main museum is steep and there’s a lip at the threshold. The interior is accessible. The Surfboat House has a short ramp and a door that opens outward making entering awkward. The interior is accessible. The Lightkeeper’s Quarters has steps and is not accessible. The boardwalks are accessible. The gift shop is accessible. A discount is given to visitors who use wheelchairs.
  RV parking is in a sandy lot about 400’ before the main lot. If it’s not busy short RVs can be parked in the main lot. Museum  46.77001, -84.95866


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Seney Township Campground

   Fifteen electric sites and ten tent sites are located around a single loop in this small, little publicized campground. The campground was almost empty when we visited but the Fox River is a popular trout fishing destination so weekends may be busy. Amenities include vault toilets, fire rings, and picnic tables.

  Rain kept us inside so I can’t report on the accessibility of the sites.

  Some sites are large enough for any RV. Campground  46.35404, -85.96296

Monday, September 21, 2020

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

  Attempts to settle this land by logging, burning, ditching, draining and cultivating failed and it became a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife in 1935. Only a small portion of the 95,238 acres of the refuge is open for motor vehicles but there are many miles of roads to walk or bike along. Pick up a map at the visitor center before exploring the refuge. We walked along a portion of the Marshland Wildlife Drive and even with a map were confused by the many intersecting roads and trails.

The roads are hard packed dirt and gravel so rolling along is fairly easy. We also walked/rolled on part of the Pine Ridge Nature Trail and found it overgrown and difficult to use.

The parking lot is large enough for any RV.   Refuge   46.28819, -85.94483

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Lakenenland Sculpture Park

Tom Lakenen, a welder by trade, creates large sculptures from scrap metal that he scavenges  from construction sites. The sculptures filled his front yard until the early 2000’s when local officials declared that the sculptures violated an ordinance. Tom promptly bought 37 acres of woodland, built roads, and moved his sculptures to the new property. He also built ponds, a playground, a picnic shelter, and a band shell for concerts.
  There are almost 100 sculptures which range from whimsical to satirical. The styles are so different that we thought there must be more than one artist represented but they are all created by Tom Lakenen. The park is opened 24 hours, every day, and it’s all free.
   Due to soft sandy ground the park is not accessible but the road is wide enough for any RV and all the sculptures can be viewed from a vehicle. The bog trail has roots and narrow boards for walkways and is not accessible.
  RVs can be parked in the small parking area or along the entry road. Park  46.49219, -87.15185