Yooper Duper

Sitting here in the Interstate with a #Vizsla snoring on the other bed, the sun setting over an apt-named Golden Lake, I am listening to Sibelius being performed by the Minnesota orchestra live at Carnegie Hall. (Oh, to have a public station that plays real music, not programmed.) Earlier, as I was eating supper in the front seat, I noticed movement outside and a male hummer was inspecting my bright red shirt through the window.

I am using Jennifer’s FitBit and aiming for at least 10,000 steps, even on long travel days like today. So we went for a post-dinner walk to get the 2,500 steps I was lacking. Of course I brought the binoculars and ended the session with two loons out in front of the campsite and a gorgeous Blackburnian warbler chipping away nearby.

My general plan is to get going early, drive for six hours or so, with breaks every hour or two. That gets us to campsites early enough to get some good walking/birding in. Monday, we left Rich, Lydda, and Bronson after a wonderful visit. Driving north through Ohio is nothing to write home about, so I won’t. Except to say that I wish I’d had someone on board who could identify all the spring plants just starting to pop. I guessed soybeans, corn, but then went by a sugar processor so sugar beets?

I drove up into Michigan, noting the change from crops to trees as we headed north. Aside from construction, it was an easy trip although I’m having issues with a “check engine” light. I’m sort of ignoring it.

We tangled with a line of thunderstorms but outran most of them. I had the weather radar on the iPad and it brought back my flying days, as I slid past yellow and red cells, which I could also see as angry black clouds off to my left. Soon the system was behind us.

I’m hitting a few Forest Service campgrounds (since I’m not happy with Michigan’s extra $9/day fee for non-resident visitors. The first was in the Huron National Forest which required navigating some dirt roads.

These campgrounds have no services except for some fancy outhouses. This one had only three campers on 30 sites so it was quiet – and after a cold front passed, pretty chilly.

After coffee and a chilly morning walk, we were on the way north on I-75 with very light traffic. The Mackinaw Straights bridge is pretty impressive and there was just enough crosswind to keep my mind on my track and not the height.

I took Route 2 which is an old-style highway skirting the top of Lake Michigan. It is interesting – you know you are in the Upper Peninsula when the signs say “ATM, Smoked Fish, Pasties, Diesel” and you pass dozens of old rundown cottages and closed restaurants.

Parts of the route were spectacular. The lake with whitecaps, light blue water, and sandy beaches looked like the Caribbean until you noted that the outside air was 52. After about 150 miles of interesting driving – more trees than I need to see in a day – we came the Golden Lake campground which was empty except for a host couple. I picked a site near the water and off we went on a long walk.

Wednesday I hope to start doing a little more serious birding. We will stay for two days at a Corps of Engineers campground in Minnesota. Then a couple of days in eastern North Dakota. So long from Yooper Country.

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