Thursday, September 11, 2013
Back in St. Paul, MN
All good things come to an end and so it has been with Trip Seven. The weather cooperated with alternating sun and clouds as we left the shores of Lake Superior and Keweenaw Peninsula and drove through the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan, through back roads of Wisconsin and arrived back in St. Paul at day’s end. But I am typing this as I watch the glorious sun rise in the east over the Mississippi River valley. This must be a portend of a great six weeks here at home before we leave on Trip Eight in late October.
The Porcupine Mountains, or Porkies, are not western style mountains but rise just under 2,000 feet. At the western end of the UP, they were an appropriate finish to our visit there.
We stopped at Lake of the Clouds scenic area at the eastern end of the Porkies where the rise in elevation provides a view of a long, shallow lake in the mountains. Leaves have not yet attained their fall colors but the scenery is striking none the less.
Michigan has declared the area a wilderness area to preserve old growth forest. The copper deposits are small and not economical to mine. Had we more time, the hiking trails would have beckoned to us.
The roads in the park were undergoing stormwater culvert improvements. The culverts were in but the excavations had not yet been repaved. It was drive a quarter mile, brake, avoid the potholes, accelerate and drive a quarter mile, brake, avoid the potholes, etc. It made us appreciate the areas where the roads are smooth; fresh line stiping on the edges and center lines are great but not always evident.
At the western end of the park and mountains, Presque Isle River forms several falls just before dumping its water into Lake Superior. The hike to the falls required us to take hundreds of stairs along boardwalks providing varying views of the falls and rapids. The swirling water creates several areas of smooth, circular potholes in the rock. Part of the creekbed is layered with rocks laid down when ancient oceans covered the area.
Lunch was in Ironwood MI at a local restaurant. Nothing fancy but good food and dessert. Ironwood and Hurley WI share the border of this combined old lumber and mining area. I told Chris of brief comments I had heard over the years of Hurley’s legendary status as a red light and saloon town. The town appears to be re-inventing itself but the number of bars still seems disproportionately high.
Our trip through Wisconsin was on two lane back roads, state and county primarily. We did not hit a four lane road of any size until I-94 at Baldwin. Forests and lakes were periodically interrupted by small towns. While we have been in Wisconsin frequently, this part of the state was new to us.
Home now, almost 4000 miles in this 2.5 week trip. A memorable trip involving family, historic moments, scenery, and history.
Ed and Chris September 13 7 AM