Pictured Rocks is Picture Perfect

Upon leaving New Hampshire we decided that we would drive as far as we could in hopes that our second day of travel would be slightly less painful. Our route was across New York State and through upper Ohio, staying over at a slightly scuzzy hotel outside of the Detroit Airport. We woke up early and busted through the rest of the state of Michigan pretty painlessly. We got to the Upper Peninsula (UP) around noon on Tuesday and rolled down the windows for the fresh crisp air. I was driving, and nearly the first sign I saw  was for "Homemade Pasties". I promptly asked Ben to look up what the hell a pastie was and he said, "Are you sure it didn't say pastries?" This is understandable as I am misreading things constantly (thank you Collier County Public Schools and the "whole language" approach). But then we saw sign after sign for homemade pasties. Ben looked it up and found out that it's a meat pie of sorts; so we Yelp the nearest/best one we can find and stopped off for a pastie at Wildwood Pasties. Once inside there were three other couples with the same intentions of trying as pastie. Fortunately the gentlemen in front of us asked for a Pastie, and the women behind the counter corrected him that it was pronounced, "past-tee, like past tense." Then it became clear that this food invention started out as a leftover use up. They did not have the smoked fish pastie that the Yelp review mentioned but they had pounds and pounds of smoked fish that looked amazingly delicious. The other couples were sharing a traditional pastie filled with ground beef. We opted for one with Italian sausage, green peppers, onions, and potatoes. It was like a calzone but without cheese or sauce. It was kinda meh but it did the job.  I'm not sure the traditional one would be any better, but I'm not a huge fan of anything that needs gravy to make it edible. Along with pasties they had a bizarre gift shop of furs, taxidermy, woodland "art" and other tchotchkes.

After our official UP rite of passage we continued to Pictured Rock National Lake Shore, and stopped in at the visitor center on the east side of the park. They don't take reservations for camping but we figured that since it was a Tuesday we would luck out with a campsite; that however, was not the case. All of the campsites were full... goo! (Ben's proof-reading interjection: goo is Katie's new word for "eww".) We signed up for two back-country passes near the Twelve Mile Beach campground that we had originally picked out. Our "hike in" was less than a half a mile and took only about five minutes to get to.  We took what we deemed most important and set up camp. After that, we headed to check out Sable Falls and took the path out to the beach. The dune area was closed due to erosion but they were still beautiful. 

Sable Dunes
Sable Falls
Afterwards, we headed back to the parking lot to make a picnic dinner on the back of the Forester and then went down to the Log Slide overlook. In the 1800's they were logging the UP and sending logs down a giant cliff of sand and down to a ship to haul them other places. The interwebs tells me that it's a 500 foot cliff with a 300 foot vertical drop, but it didn't feel quite that big when we were there, but maybe... We then headed back to another campground, called Hurricane Beach, where a river meets the lake. We met a women there who was living in Charlotte, NC but grew up in the UP. We asked her what were the things we shouldn't miss while we were there and she said, "ummm a pastie?" LOL. Check. 

Log Slide - it drops straight down.

Katie at Hurricane Beach
Ben at Hurricane Beach
We headed back camp to watch the sunset. Being from Florida we are used to a sunset around 8:15 or 8:30 PM in the summer, so we headed down to the beach at 7:45 and we took a walk, we talked, we skipped rocks into the water, we waited, we took pictures, we took pictures of throwing rocks in the water, we waited some more. Holy goodness folks, the sun did not set until 9:15 PM. It was a bit chilly but we crawled into bed and had a great night's sleep.

Passing Time for a very late sunset

The next morning we slept slightly longer then we had at other places we camped - like until 8:30, which is nearly unheard of while camping. When we arrived, our park ranger Judy, who had set us up with our camp site, had suggested that we do the Chapel Beach loop as our hike. She confidently said it was the best part of the park. So after a slightly later than anticipated start we packed our day packs and headed to the parking lot down a five mile dirt road. Apparently people in Michigan are not familiar with dirt roads - they were all driving 8 MPH *insert crazy emoji face here. Regardless, we arrived at the same time that all of the philistines arrived and decided that while everyone is going the way that Judy suggested we should head the opposite way and do the last part first. And it was quiet and wonderful. We went around to Mosquito River and Mosquito Falls, then through an area of ferns that looked like we were going through Middle Earth.

Through Middle Earth
Beautiful Coastline, does it get any prettier? We'll see. 

We felt like we should come across a hobbit home any moment, but instead we came across Mosquito Beach with the most beautiful blue green water. It looked like it should have been in the Caribbean somewhere. We were in awe. There were a ton of people kayaking down in the lake and we both said that viewing Pictured Rocks from the water would be something we would want to do should we ever come back. We had lunch on a cliff and then continued our hike to Grand Portal Point and Chapel Rock. By this point we had already hiked 6.9 miles, but there were some falls a little way down that we decide eh, we've come this far let's go a little further. That idea was silly - much like in Maine the weather changes pretty quickly, and while we had a beautiful day so far as soon as we headed up to Spray Falls the fog set in. We hiked to the falls only to find out that they fall off the cliff into the water and it's an attraction best viewed from the water, not from the trail. We probably should have gathered that since the trail was not very well worn. At that point we were 10.1 miles in on the day with 4.9 left to get back to the parking lot. Luckily for us the path back to the parking lot was the I-75 of hiking paths, mostly flat and well maintained. We jogged some of it because we wanted to get back that badly and rest our weary feet. We made it back to the Forester, ate the rest of the cookies that Momma Lyons had sent with us and headed back to camp to make dinner and be in bed at 8:30 and asleep long before the sun went down.

At Mosquito River outlet.
Ben at our lunch stop with kayakers in the background. 
Our new friends along the coast.
The top of Chapel Rock
Chapel Rock in it's entirety
Pictured Rocks
The following day we packed up our camp and exited out of the west end of the park and headed through Wisconsin on our way to Minneapolis to see my brother Keith and his girlfriend Hope. We made a pit stop at a liquor store in Wisconsin to pick up some New Glarus Spotted Cow per Keith's request. I had been to Wisconsin before but forgot how much they love cheese and sausage. The store we stopped in not only had great beer, but two cases of cheese as well as a case for sausage and locally made ravioli. We headed through Duluth and down to Minneapolis to meet up with Mom, Keith and Hope.
Home Sweet Home, Big Red.

Still very light out. 

Katie and gear. 
Ben and gear. 


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