Paradise Part II

Note: This is a pseudo cycling blog. This post is not about cycling; it is about my recent trip to the U.P. with my family. It’s a long account written—as per usual—more for me than anyone else. The trip will be broken into four parts. The time betweenst each of these posts will be filled with my usual tales of crap rides, short hikes, “needs work” photos and bad writing. 

Click here for Part I of the series.

Thanks,

Management


I rarely sleep well in motels, hotels, by the hour rooms, back alley cardboard boxes, cabins, tents, or car trunks. But for some unknown reason, I slept quite well in The World’s Smallest Two Bedroom Cabin™. It was refreshing to sleep so well, and that made getting up (reasonably) early on Sunday morning for our trip to the upper Tahquamenon Falls that much easier.

The Falls

As we approached Tahquamenon Falls1, we started seeing road signs warning of traffic backups. I began to fear that I was gonna have to wade through more tank tops, hairy backs, and bad tattoos and probably wouldn’t have a chance to set up my tripod to get the slow shutter speed shot I was hoping for. Luckily, we drove right into the park and were one of only four or five cars in the expansive lot. Yes!

After spraying down with some DEET and getting my camera gear together, we walked the paved trail down towards the steep staircases and various Upper Falls lookouts along the way.

This would only be my second attempt at using a neutral density filter, so I was glad that I could take my time and not have to contend with crowds or feel like a photo-jerk with my tripod getting in everyone’s way. I wouldn’t say I nailed my shots of the falls, but I was pretty happy with them considering my  lack of experience, the time of day, the uninspiring summer foliage, and that I was limited to a 30-second exposure due to not having a shutter release remote.

The Hike

After I got my shots, we stood around looking at the falls, taking family pics and all that good stuff before we headed to the car to drop my tripod off and apply more DEET before heading off for a four-ish mile hike in the woods.

With rain overnight, the woods were filled with vaginal-like humidity, and there was a decent amount of mud and standing water to contend with the trail. Many of the problem areas had some boards down which kept us from getting too wet. Sadly, those boards didn’t do anything to help ward off the mosquitos, and there were more than a few stops to apply more DEET as well as snap some photos.

By the end of the hike, we were tired, hungry and ready to head back to The World’s Smallest Two Bedroom Cabin™ for some chill time, showers, and food.

Chillin’ and a Paradise Walkabout

Our early start meant that we had plenty of time left to do things the rest of the day. The first thing on my to-do list was to go down to the small patio/dock on the property to chill in the sun and watch the waves crash into the retaining wall along the shore.

After that, I decided to walk into “town” to get a few shots of old signage and abandoned buildings that I dug and to see if there was anything else of interest. There wasn’t, but I did manage to get a blister on my left pinky toe from going sockless in wet shoes. Idiot.

Beach Time #1

B-Man was pretty exhausted from breaking his routine of sleeping until 2 PM and our 4-mile hike and was more than content to nap in the cabin for most of the afternoon. I was not so content and convinced Wifey to take a drive with me to a beach down the road a bit.

The Bark Dock beach was a really nice mix of small lake rock and sand and was pretty empty for a warm, sunny, Sunday afternoon in July. There was also a woodsy stretch of the North Country Trail that paralleled the beach which only added to the beauty of the beach.

Wifey and I hung out, walked the beach, and talked about all that stuff you talk about when you’re married for 21+ years before heading home to wake B up and get some sandwiches at a cafe in town.

Beach Time #2

We went to the Fresh Coast Cafe in town and were treated to some EXCELLENT hoagies and salads. As bad as the produce in the local grocery store was, I was not expecting much, but the bread, meat, and toppings of the hoagies were fresh and delicious and the dude making them was super friendly and dropped some local knowledge on us about a secluded beach north of town that we should check out. That info alone was worth the price of the food!

After inhaling a giant Italian hoagie with so much meat on it I actually had to take some off, I packed up my camera gear, and we drove up the road in search of the sandy dirt road that would lead us to the beach we were told of.

Once off pavement we drove close to six miles on a rolling dirt and sand road lined with woods and ponds until we finally hit the small parking lot of a natural area, some abandoned buildings, and an old pre-Coast Guard safety station. We unpacked and started the short walk down a sandy path towards the beach.

As we made our way past the old building and grassy dunes you could hear the waves crashing in the background. Once we crested a small rise, we looked out to see miles of beach with only three other people in view. And those three folks were in the midst of winding down their stay, so once they left, we had miles and miles of beautiful beach all to ourselves. It was truly amazing and one of the best beach experiences of my life!

We walked the beach, talked, goofed off, took photos and all that stuff. B had a great time letting the cold water crash into his legs before starting work on some avant-garde artwork (see gallery) made of beach rocks. We wanted to stay for the sunset, but with 6 miles of sandy dirt roads ahead of us, we thought it best to skip out early.

As we made our way down the dirt road, I saw a deer eating leaves off to our left. I expected it to take off when I stopped the car, but to my surprise, it continued right on eating like we weren’t even there. Wifey handed my camera, I took four or five shots, then we just sat in silence watching it munch away. It’s always a pleasure to see nature up close like that.

After we said goodbye to our friend the deer, we continued on towards the paved road and our temporary home—The World’s Smallest Two Bedroom Cabin™.

Next up: More hiking, more beach time, and more nature.

Later.


  1. Knowledge Drop: The Chicago Tribune sayeth that the Upper Tahquamenon Falls are one of the largest waterfalls this side of the Mississippi in the United States (Niagara is the largest). Tahquamenon is a Native American Ojibwa word meaning “dark berry.” Source: chicagotribune.com, July 30th 2006

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