As we are staying put a bit longer at each place we are venturing out for day trips. Leaving our trusty home, Ralphie, behind as our base and traveling to nearby areas in the “mini-moose”, aka the 1996 Volvo 960. (Our previous Volvo was “The Moose”). You should expect to see more of these “day trippin” editions as we explore the areas around us. While parked at Andrus Lake State Forest Campground here are a few of the places we explored.
WHITE FISH POINT
One afternoon we ventured just 6 miles north to a spot known as Whitefish point. The area includes the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, a beach area with plenty of driftwood, and Whitefish Point. We did not tour the museum (mostly because we are cheap and Josie was with us). The beach area in front of the Shipwreck museum was busy but as always we explored further down and found a spot all to ourselves. It’s funny how groups of people tend to stay near an attraction and very few venture a little further away.
But the highlight was discovering the boardwalk leading out to Whitefish Point. And it was deserted. You can tell from the photo of me below, this is my happy place.
When I first started researching the UP, this place popped up as a place to go. This particular day we were out to explore not only the falls but also the Mouth of the Two Hearted River. As expected the falls were beautiful but crowded, not quite our speed. I’m glad we stopped as we were driving right by them. However, I was excited about checking the other place out. This is where the adventure begin and what an adventure it was.
I loved the message of this sign. I also took a lot more photos of the falls with my Nikon camera. Those images still need to be processed and I will share them on the blog at a later date.
MOUTH OF THE TWO HEARTED RIVER
Getting to the Mouth of the Two Hearted River requires driving down dirt/gravel roads. Relying on Google Maps proved to be the wrong decision in this case. If you are ever up this way, DO NOT trust Google Maps. I knew this from reading reviews on the place. But I figured with my locator on we could figure it out, What I should have done is written down the exact directions to get there along with picking up a paper map. I did not do either.
All was well until Google said to turn on a road that was someone’s driveway. As we continued on looking for the correct road, we found a small sandy road that we thought might be it. But within minutes we made the decision to turn the car around and head out. It looked like trouble waiting to happen as we were in our 1996 rear wheel drive Volvo.
We tried going another direction to get to the place and ended up on another small road, more hard packed this time but that road ended at a stream. Google showed the road going through. I can assure you it does not. Finally making it to a gravel road that was close to our destination, we turned off on a smaller sandy road again (because trusty Google Maps said so). Quickly realizing there is no way to turn around and the only way to make it through this “road” (no longer on Google maps) was with momentum. Shane drove like a rally car and kept us going. Getting stuck in the sand in the middle of nowhere with no service, not our idea of a good time.
Then we crest the hill and bam, it was like in the movies. Dukes of Hazard style. (Maybe it wasn’t that dramatic but it felt like it.) The front end hit hard, sand went flying everywhere (the sunroof was open). Shane assessed the situation, we had a small crack in the radiator but it would get us to the campground spot where we knew they had water. Finally spotting a truck on a road nearby we knew we were close. And sure enough we emerged on a gravel road minus our front air dam, a potentially cracked radiator, and a sinking feeling of what have we done. I can tell you I’ve never been more thrilled to find a gravel road than I was in that moment. We later found out the “sand trap roads” are snow mobile trails, not meant for our car that’s for sure.
We arrived at our destination, where a variety of cars and even travel trailers were parked. We knew we took the wrong way in but we were just happy we made it. Initially we felt almost dejected, like it wasn’t worth the drive out. But once we began exploring we realized the beauty of this place.
Crossing the suspension bridge that stretches across The Two Hearted River, you are greeted by the majestic Lake Superior. The beach is littered with rocks of all sizes. Walking down the beach a ways you really start to take in how special this place is. On one side the river flows gently and on the other side Mighty Lake Superior. The day we visited it was calm, allowing for a clear view of all of the rocks through the crystal water. Venturing further down, the beach becomes more narrow as the river starts to pick up momentum. Finally to a point where the river meets the lake. Two ecosystems coming together, it’s quite magical.
The adventure it took to arrive made us laugh on the way home. But it also served as a valuable lesson. Know where you are going and how best to get there. Have a paper map on hand (we have one now). Don’t rely completely on Google maps. When you see a sandy road/trail off of a gravel road, stay off of it unless you have a four wheel drive, capable vehicle. In our case, we dodged a major bullet. Our adventure could have ended much worse. We consider ourselves lucky our car escaped relatively unscathed, no radiator leak thus far. It makes for a great story that’s for sure.
Nearing the end of our time near Paradise, MI we drove to nearby Shelldrake Lake for an afternoon of kayaking. The lake itself is only a couple of miles from our campsite and is a larger lake than our home base. And it was beautiful, peaceful, and serene. We were the only kayakers on it, on a Saturday! Paddling to the other end of the lake, we let the flow of the lake take us gently back. I call this the world’s slowest and most amazing “lazy river”, minus the people, trash, etc. Upon returning to shore we walked out to the dam. Josie and I stayed safely on the side while we watched Shane cross to the other side. There were some kids (teenagers) fishing and trying to coax Josie across. She was not having it. Smart girl.
Our time in the northeastern portion of the UP was filled with beauty, adventure, skunk encounters, kayaking, sand trails, wading in Lake Superior, and exploring some of what this beautiful part of the US has to offer. What adventures await us on the road ahead?