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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Manistee, and Munising Upper Peninsula Michigan June 2013.

June can be a little early to go camping in Northern Michigan unless you do not mind some chilly nights, and way early to go into the Upper Peninsula. Well, I suppose if you have one of those fancy travel-trailers (Definitely on my shopping list!) it would be OK, but ...just a few weeks ago they had 6 inches of snow in the U.P. (Yeah, snow in mid-May is not unusual up there.)

After the camping trip last year, we just could not wait to get back again and spend more time. Since
...I took the road on the left. This is an actual road.
finances are always tight, tent-camping is the way to go for us as it gives us more time to spend on vacation. The biggest expense is gas getting there and back. Because travel is the biggest expense I try to plan for as many days as possible once I get there.

Surprise! We went to the exact same place to start our trip, and camped in the exact same campsite. Good old number 12 at Marzinsky Campground in Manistee National Forest. Again, it was totally free! WooHoo!

We camped, and explored some of the off-road trails. The National Forest is just starting to set aside an area for off-road vehicles. We stopped at the Ranger's Office, and got a photocopy of a map stamped "DRAFT" in red all over it marking off the area of the more challenging trails with a couple shades of green highlighter. That was for us! There are 2 sections, and the one to the North is far better as the Southern area is all separated by roads, and is less challenging even though it is wetter and woodsier. Both are still well worth exploring. These trails are easily navigable for a Jeep in 4WD High Range in most places. There were only about 3 times I used low range to climb a hill, or slog through deep mud.

The original plan was to camp a few days at Manistee, allowing time one afternoon for Cindy to visit her son  in Travers City (an hour away), and then move on up to the Upper Peninsula for a week or so. Well ...plans changed: We camped for 3 days at Manistee, then went to Petoskey to meet Cindy's son, and visit  her ex in-laws which took a full day, so we stayed in a Motel that night. Happy Father's day to me! But ...I got through it.

The mud in this section was over a foot deep in most places.
 Any schedule I had went down the tubes on that Sunday. After that, I really didn't know what we were doing. I just went along as best I could manage. With bvFTD it is very difficult to make any kind of plans, and when they change "on the fly" it just wipes ya out - at least it did me. I didn't know weather I was coming or going ...but I got through it.

After the Petoskey fiasco we got to the Upper Peninsula, and all was well except for a side trip to Tahquamenon Falls. It turned out it was a Michigan State Park, so we turned around and left after a 2 hour drive to get there as we (and by we, I mean "Me') were boycotting Michigan State Parks due to their ridiculously high fees for out of state residents.

I suppose I should explain a little as to why I am so enraged by the policies of the Michigan State Parks towards out-of-state visitors. Because I live in Ohio they charge $36 for a yearly pass just to drive into the parks, or $8.95/day each time. Basically at Tahquamenon Falls all they did was put a fence around a huge waterfalls, and were charging people almost $10 to see it. That goes against my views of making nature more available for people, and in my view is unethical. Camping in the State Parks of Michigan is even worse if you are from out-of-state. The choice is to buy the $36 yearly pass (Oh yeah! The same yearly pass is only $11 for residents!), or pay an extra 8.95/day in addition to the regular camping fee which comes to almost $50 for the first night's camping fee with the Pass, or $25 a night without it.  That makes a week's camping in a Michigan State Park ridiculously expensive unless you are from Michigan. No thanks! Since they want to actively discourage out-of-state visitors, I will not go where I am not wanted. Hence I will not pay anything to the State of Michigan to use their State Parks. Maybe if there were a bunch of Parks I wanted to visit it would be a better deal, but until then I say, "Boycott Michigan State Parks!", and enjoy our National Forests.

 But I digress, as usual. As I said, "After the Petoskey fiasco we got to the Upper Peninsula, and all was well except for a side trip to Tahquamenon Falls." At least all was well after we left the Tahquamenon area, and toured Seney National Wildlife Refuge on the way to Munising. It was even better once we found our camp site ...and what a camp site it was!

It was getting late, and the campsite recommended by a friend turned out to be located in a Michigan State Park, so we looked elsewhere around the cluster of nearby small lakes about 15 miles South of Munising. We camped in Hiawatha National Forest, and with my Access Pass it was only $8.00/night. That is half price for a campsite with potties, a fire ring, and picnic table. Once again dispersed camping would have been free, but we were tired, and choosing a developed campground was easier than seeking out a dispersed site so late in the day after a long drive. As it was we were setting up camp as the sun was going down, and the mosquitoes were waking up for their evening meal.

We were camped right on a lake with Loons calling every morning and evening, a Whip-Port-Will that just wouldn't shut up, the occasional calls of a Sandhill Crane, and now and then a couple dozen Coyotes yipping and howling at the moon. Our first night there it got down to a very chilly 35 degrees! We had plenty of sleeping bags, and stayed warm and cozy inside the tent. We just layered on some extra clothing when we sat outside, and added an extra log or 2 to the campfire. The ghostly white mist rising off the lake next to the tent was beautiful in the moonlight. I spent over an hour after midnight enjoying some night photography. The half-moon, and sky full of stars reflecting on the misty lake gave plenty of illumination. The only sounds were the occasional laugh or call of a Loon, and that silly Whip-Or-Will.

We were the only campers in the entire campground near Munising until the morning we left when a monster travel trailer hauling a boat, a couple noisy kids, a couple dogs, and some grandparents showed up. It looked like there were 5 or 6 people, and 2 dogs, but sounded more like 30! Perfect time to leave !

Cindy screwed up her work schedule, so we came back 4 days early. Bummer! She had a calendar with her that she had maked Saturday as her day back to work. She had told our friend who watched Kroozer while we were away that we would be back on Sunday because she had to work on Monday, but somehow she forgot. I thought we had a few more days, but since my diagnosis I am unsure of myself. In the past I never would have doubted what I believed to be right, and would not have returned early. Now I trust other people's memory more than my own because my memory is unreliable sometimes. We ended up driving home on Thursday which cut the vacation a little short. We probably would have moved camp a couple hundred miles west into the mountains, or out on the point somewhere, or even down by Lake Michigan. But it all worked out OK because we got home and uncovered the pool, relaxed, and tended to the garden.

My bvFTD was cooperative most of the time. I did all of the driving except when Cindy drove off-road. We put 1665.3 miles on the Jeep, so it was quite a trip. I guess my driving is still passable using no accidents or close calls as a criteria. The cost of gas for the entire trip was about $320, and we spent less than $100 on lodging. Had we stayed a few days longer it would have been a very frugal vacation, but as it was I probably could have rented a nice cabin somewhere for a week

The biggest impact bvFTD has on taking a vacation for me is that I am almost totally incapable of planning anything. I can look at the brochures, talk to people, and see all the stuff online about our destination, and
what we want to see. I cannot put those places together. They are all disconnected, and unrelated to me. I used to have no difficulty planning a route including the attractions and stops in order, but not now. bvFTD has impacted the Cognitive Functions that facilitate Planning and Sequencing.

This really came to our attention about 5 days into the trip as we were driving to Marquette, the town just West of Munising, and in the "middle of nowhere." We had argued a little a few times over the past couple days, and it was always about where to go or what to do next, or what we were going to do that day. Discussing it in the car along the way to Marquette, I finally realized it was because I was no longer capable of sequencing and planning the events of the day. Answering the simple question, "What would you like to do or see next?" became an exercise in frustration.

I knew what I wanted to do, and what I wanted to see, but putting that into a plan that included driving to point "A", then on to point "B", have lunch at point "C", then explore around point "D" was impossible. I got frustrated, and didn't realize why at the time. Not realizing what is wrong is also a large part of bvFTD. I didn't even realize that I was frustrated because I was unable to make plans. Well ...Cindy was frustrated with me, too. That is until we finally figured out what was going on, and now she does the planning ... but in the future I will take charge of the vacation calendar!

Cindy read this post before I published it, and commented that I made it sound like she ruined our vacation. That is not the case at all. If it were not for her planning, and all of her organizing, and all of her hard work with the auctions, there would not have been any vacation. But ...we did come home early. Har!

I will post a few vacation pictures following this. Together we took over 700 pictures! There was lots to see.

Comments are always welcome.

Manistee and Munising vacation pictures 2013

This is the map showing the off-road trails. It took 2 days to explore.

The moon reflecting on the lake with flash to light the blueberry bushes in foreground. Loons were calling, and the Whip-Or-Will was singing non-stop.

The mist rising off the lake next to the tent on a chilly morning.

Nice camp site next to the lake at Island Lake Campground in Hiawatha National Forest.

Ruby dipping her toes in Lake Superior.

Cindy and I on the beach west of Munising on Lake Superior.

Old Iron Loading Docks at Marquette. These are no longer in service, but the newer ones are.

This is HUGE! In this picture taken in Marquette there is an ore freighter being loaded with iron ore, and if you look close you will see an entire freight train with 2 blue locomotives parked on top of the loading dock. I had to get about a quarter mile away, and use a wide angle lens to get it all in. Even at this distance I could hear the ore being loaded.

We went hunting for hidden waterfalls. Found about a dozen around Munising. There are a couple hundred in the U.P.. This is Wagner Falls, one of the easy ones to find near Munising.