We finally reached the Upper Peninsula of Michigan after months of talking about it. When the Mackinac Bridge came into sight, I felt this overwhelming sense of emotion wash over me. We had finally made it. When we started this journey, spending some of the summer in the UP was top on the list. It felt exhilarating to arrive! The Mighty Mac links lower Michigan to the upper portion and it is an impressive bridge. I was only able to snap photos with my phone.
After a short stop in St. Ignace to do laundry (very exciting) and have lunch we continued north. The best view I’ve had while doing laundry!
Brimley State Park our landing spot in the UP, was the first place I made reservations. They included 3 nights at one site and the last night at another site within the same campground. What can I say, places are booked and we were lucky to find a spot available. Brimley State Park is situated right on Lake Superior. After setting up camp, it was finally time to see the big lake after almost 10 years! And what a sight it was. Lake Superior is aptly named and it feels like you are at the ocean. At this particular spot you are actually in a smaller bay of a bigger bay looking across at Canada. As for the campground, it’s a typical state park campground. This one packed to the gills with campers and tents. But having access to Lake Superior within walking distance of our site, made it all worth it.
We spent time every evening playing in the lake, which was surprisingly not cold. Josie retrieved sticks while dodging the waves. And I took in the serenity of this stunning lake.
However, every moment could not be magical and one in particular was far from it. It happened at our second campsite, after what I term a magical afternoon spent playing on the lake.
Just as we sat down to eat dinner, it all happened so fast. Josie took off after something. Within seconds she ran back to us, coughing, sneezing, and rubbing her neck on the ground. I couldn’t figure out exactly what happened. I thought her Mini-educator collar was burning her. Acting quickly I took off her collar. Within an instant I knew what happened. The smell gave it all away. A skunk had sprayed her.
Needless to say the evening was wrecked and we spent the rest of it trying to get her cleaned up the best we could. We ended up using baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap. It took a week to get rid of the smell completely. I now refer to it as the skunk incident. Not fun when you live in an RV. But that’s life on the road.
Our next campground turned out to be my favorite thus far and our longest stay outside of friends and family spots. Andrus Lake State Forest Campground is where the game changed for us. Here we made the decision to seek out more of the primitive campgrounds and boondocking in state forests. We bought an inverter thus cutting our dependence on electric hook-ups or the need to run our loud generator often. With an inverter we can power everything on board simply by charging the batteries with the truck, generator or eventually solar panels.
Andrus Lake is just north of the small town of Paradise, MI and just south of Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. The campground consists of 25 sites with many right on the lake. It’s a beautiful place with plenty of trees and space for quiet. Plus it is close to Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point, and many other spots to explore.
It was chilly upon our arrival + I made poke bowls for the first time!
It was also at this park we made the decision to stay put longer at sites and explore the area with day trips. This saves on extra planning, travel time, and gas. We also came up with the strategy to only travel Monday-Wednesday to miss the busier travel days later in the week. Arriving at this SFC on a Friday, we got lucky I scored 1 of 3 remaining sites. A very spacious site surrounded by trees.
Then on Monday, we moved to the best site in the campground (in my opinion). Right on the lake, a corner spot with only one neighbor. We had the best neighbors at this spot! Plus a trail leading out to two great spots to watch the sunset, enjoy a beverage, launch our kayaks and practice yoga. Our very own secluded spot on the lake, my happy place.
Within our first two weeks in the UP, we ditched the idea of staying mostly in Michigan State Parks. Letting go of the need for electric plug in was truly a game changer for us. Spending time and exploring the different areas near our campsite is freeing in a way. We start to feel almost like temporary locals as we learn what stores have what, who has fresh fish caught that day, and off the beaten path places to check out. It gives us a sense of being more grounded when we have a week or more at one campsite. Plus it translates into big savings over time with state forest campgrounds costing $15/night vs. state parks costing $25-$34/night or boondocking on state forest land for nothing. With less stress of trying to find a spot and traveling twice a week like we were before, I can say we are all much happier campers!