Mackinac Island, Michigan – A Precious Walk Back in Time!

October 2018 – After enjoying some wonderful fall foliage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we made our way to the town of St. Ignace that peers over the Mackinac Bridge at Michigan’s Lower Peninsua.

Mackinac Bridge at sunset RV trip-min

Mackinac Bridge at sunset.

The Mackinac Bridge is a beautiful suspension bridge that sits between Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Huron on the other side. On a hunch we headed out at sunset to see if we could get some pics as the sky changed color and the lights on the bridge were lit.

Using slow shutter speeds we captured the traffic crawling across the bridge.

Mackinac Bridge at night Michigan RV trip-min

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During our RV travels this year we managed to hit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during a three week long spate of miserable rainy cold days, and a look at the forecast showed more thunderstorms, rain and cold for the next week. But there was one day that had a mere 20% chance of rain, so we decided to hop on Sheppler’s Ferry and head out to Mackinac Island for a day. (“Mackinac” is pronounced “Mackinaw” by the way).

Sheppler's Ferry arrives Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Sheppler’s Ferry brings tourists to Mackinac Island.

The surf was up and big waves hit the side of the ferry in blasts of spray. The captain took us over to the Mackinac Bridge so we could let Lake Michigan’s waves lap the hull for a moment, and then we headed over to Mackinac Island which sits in Lake Huron.

Sheppler's Ferry under the Mackinac Bridge in a storm-min

Water from the waves rolled off the ferry windows as we slipped under Mackinac Bridge.

Mackinac Island Michigan lighthouse-min

The water calmed down a bit when we passed the lighthouse marking the harbor entrance.

As the ferry pulled into the dock at Mackinac Island we got our first glimpse of the pretty buildings by the shore.

First view of Mackinac Island from the Sheppler's Ferry-min

The pretty Victorian buildings of Mackinac Island came into view as we pulled into the harbor.

Mackinac Island is unique because even though the island has lots of paved roads, there are no cars or motorized vehicles allowed anywhere. So, as we stepped off the ferry we were greeted by horses and carriages waiting to take passengers to their hotel destinations or on a ride around town.

Grand Hotel chauffeur Mackinac Island Michigan-min

An old time horse and carriage waits to take arriving passengers to the Grand Hotel.

Mackinac Island horse drawn wagon in Michigan-min

Horses drawn buggies were everywhere.

Mark had been to Mackinac Island many times before, but this was my first visit, and the quaint charm of the horses and buggies all around us captivated me. I could barely walk down the street for all the photos I was snapping of the teams of horses carrying tourists here and there.

Horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

These buggy rides are the local taxis!

Quaint horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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Horse drawn wagon on Mackinac Island Michigan main street-min

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Returning horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Heading home… Wow!

Even though it was cold and wet and miserable out, the mood on the street was festive and we quickly got into tourist mode.

Tourist at Mackinac Island Michigan fudge shop-min

We quickly got into tourist mode at the fudge shop!

When we poked our heads into an ice cream shop, we noticed that ice cream wasn’t selling quite as well as it does on hot summer days.

Ice cream line begins here fudge shop Mackinac Island Michigan-min

“Line begins here” … no line today!

We walked down the main drag and watched the comings and goings of the community. Mackinac Island has been a tourist destination since the Victorian era, and the behind-the-scenes work of serving tourists hums along smoothly. Peering down a back alley, we saw an open horse drawn wagon that was hauling some cargo. How neat to have a community where goods are carried by horses and wagons!

Working horses and wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A team of horses pulls a wagon of cargo.

Working horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Images like this gave us a glimpse of yesteryear.

If you ride a horse around town you can tie him up at a little post with a horse head on top. Folks with bikes like to lock them to these posts too.

Bike stand like horse head on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A decorative place to tie up your horse or your bike.

Bicycles are the most popular means of individual transportation, and there were cyclists, bicycles for rent and parked bikes absolutely everywhere.

Horse drawn wagons and bicycles on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Bicycles were as common as horses, even in the cold weather.

Bicycles everywhere Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Bicycles were parked all over the place.

Bikes on Mackinac Island Michigan main street-min

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Main Street Mackinac Island Michigan-min

No fear of cars here!

Mackinac Island is a destination for cruise ships too, and we saw one pulled up to the dock.

Cruise ship under storm clouds Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A cruise ship waits at the dock.

We wandered beyond the downtown area and found some gorgeous mansions. Standing in front of one with an ornate roof, we were soon deep in conversation with the gray haired owner of the place. It turned out his dad had picked up the property when it was condemned in the 1960s, and he had spent his childhood summers living in this picturesque house just steps from the beach.

Decorative roof on Mackinac Island Michigan-min

We met the man who spent summers in this beautiful house as a kid. Now he operates it as a B&B.

Private residence mansion Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A nice summer cottage!

Elegant house Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Beautiful (with Buddy streaking past)

Bike in the yard Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Tranquility — even on a blustery day.

Some of the homes are perched right on the edge of Lake Huron. Walking a little further on, we found a huge resort that has a slew of Adirondack chairs set out on a lawn facing the lake.

Summer chairs under storm clouds Mackinac Island Michigan-min

A spot to watch the sunset — when there is one!

Mackinac Island State Park Michigan stormy day-min

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Mackinac Island must be a true delight in July, but we were getting a big kick out of it on this dreary October day too. The wind was whipping and the waves were pounding.

Storm clouds and waves Mackinac Island Michigan-min

Storm and fury on Lake Huron.

Wandering back into town, we came across Lady Liberty and some pretty churches.

Mackinac Island statue of liberty in Michigan-min

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Church at Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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But it was the horse drawn wagons and buggies that captured my imagination all day long. How wonderful that there is a place where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed and visitors can experience a vivid immersion in another era.

Fall color and horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

We couldn’t stop taking pics of the horse drawn wagons.

Carriage ride Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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Mackinac Island would be a fantastic place to spend a few days during the holidays! Even though the ferry ride might be rough, the island has ongoing celebrations throughout the holiday season, and some of the hotels and restaurants remain open.

Horse drawn wagon Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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We won’t be there when the snow flies, but we loved our day trip to Mackinac Island in October!

Carriage Ride Mackinac Island Michigan-min

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If your RV travels take you to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (or the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula), set aside a day to spend on Mackinac Island. No matter what the weather forecast is, it’s a very fun excursion!

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Fall Foliage in Michigan’s U.P. + Lake Superior at Sunset

September 2018 – In mid-September we traveled in our RV to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see the fall colors and to experience the beauty of the shores of Lake Superior. In the small coastal town of Ontonagon we wandered down to the beach just as the sun was setting.

WOW!

Sunset Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

The sun says goodnight to us across Lake Superior at Ontonagon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

We were both in seventh heaven as we snapped one gorgeous image after another of the sun giving us its final winks before it slipped out of sight below the horizon.

Lake Superior Sunset in Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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The waves rolled in and pounded the shore relentlessly while the clouds moved quickly across the sky. The dark blanket of storm clouds turned a vivid pink for a few minutes as they passed.

Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula Sunset_-min

The clouds turned pink for a moment as they marched across the sky.

These kinds of moments are our favorites in our traveling lives: admiring Nature in all her glory and trying to capture what we see on camera. We each stake out a spot that looks appealing and fire away.

When we were contemplating whether we should introduce a puppy to our crazy lifestyle one of our biggest concerns was what he would do while we were busy taking pics. It turns out that he loves these moments too. He keeps himself busy running between us and sniffing everything there is to sniff around us.

Sunset at Lake Superior Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Buddy loves these sunset outings as much as we do (and he photo bombs a lot of our pics too!).

After the sun disappeared and most of the color had faded a storm appeared on the horizon.

Lake Superior Storm Ontonagon Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Storm clouds gather in the distance and pour rain on Lake Superior.

Until this season I had seen Lake Superior for just a brief visit years ago. I had dipped my toe in the frigid water in early May and said, “Okay, that’s enough. We’re outta here!”

Mark had told me stories over the years of visiting Lake Superior one winter long ago and seeing huge waves standing bolt upright, frozen solid mid-curl. The whole lake had looked like a lemon meringue pie!

Yet so far in our travels along Lake Superior this fall the lake had been as calm as could be, giving us one wonderful beach experience after another as we skirted along the coast in Wisconsin and in Michigan’s U.P.

However, that sensational sunset we had just witnessed in Ontonagon was the last we’d see of the sun for the next three weeks! Lake Superior started to snarl and the whole Upper Peninsula snarled with it, delivering clouds and rain and nasty cold windy temps day after day after day.

Lake Superior waves Ontonagon Beach Michigan-min

Lake Superior waves dwarf a lighthouse in the distance.

Lake Superior was still fabulous, even in its bad mood. We just had to wear a lot more layers of clothing, that’s all!

Lake Superior surf Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

The waves were enormous and neverending.

We traveled up the Keweenaw Peninsula to Copper Harbor where we got a whiff of what a fantastic summer spot this is. There was a haunting beauty in the cold gray autumn air, but what a place this must be in July!

Kayaks at Copper Harbor Michigan-min

Kayaks wait for better weather at Copper Harbor.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan-min

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse has assisted mariners for over a century.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan-min

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse.

In our mission to see the fall color we had seen lots of hardwood trees starting to change, but hadn’t yet witnessed the peak anywhere. When we first arrived in Michigan we stopped at a visitors center that had a wonderful Fall Color Map on the wall. They didn’t have a printed version so I took a photo to help us with our travel planning as we zig-zagged around the U.P.

Fall foliage color map for Michigan-min

The peak fall colors in Michigan occur from late September to late October depending on where you are.

It was bitterly cold, but we just bundled up and had a ball, even though it drizzled off and on for days, in between vicious downpours that pummeled us and our trailer!

Dressed for cold weather leaf peeping in Michigan UP-min

These were One Dog Nights and we were glad to have him!

In planning which areas to visit in the U.P. we had seen spectacular photos of fall color captured in reflections across small lakes and ponds, so we started heading down small twisting dirt roads to get to a few lakes and were well rewarded for our efforts. The wind didn’t die down for a while, so our earlier pics were simple lakeside shots without reflections.

Fall foliage Worm Lake Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

A brilliant maple tree lights up a dreary morning at Worm Lake.

Fall foliage Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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We took many walks in the woods where the trees were starting to show off their most vibrant shades.

Fall foliage Ottowa National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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Autumn leaves Ottowa National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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Up close it is amazing to see the color patterns on each leaf.

Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Pretty patterns.

Autumn leaves Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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The colors were absolutely yummy. Buddy thought so too!

Fall foliage is yummy to a puppy-min

Buddy samples the fall colors.

Fall color Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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As we walked around we saw other fun woodsy things like bright red berries and pure white fungus.

Fall berries Michigan Upper Peninsula Ottowa National Forest-min

A hint of Christmas to come!

Ferns and mushrooms Michigan Upper Peninsula forest-min

These bright white fungi were shaped like miniature willow trees, each one about an inch tall!

We made our way back to the coast to visit the Miner’s Castle Overlook which is part of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Lake Superior is shockingly clear in this spot, and if you didn’t know you had to wear a winter jacket to enjoy the view, the turquoise color would make you think the water was as warm as the tropics!

Miner's Castle Pictured Rocks National Park Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Miner’s Castle at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Some of the best color we found was in Hiawatha National Forest on the small ponds and lakes scattered in the woods south of Munising.

Fall foliage Ottowa National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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Fall foliage Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

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At Moccasin Lake and Red Jack Lake we saw some wonderful mirror reflections in the early morning before the wind picked up.

Autumn leaves Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Colorful reflections at Moccasin Lake in Hiawatha National Forest.

Autumn leaves Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Red Jack Lake

One day was particularly cold and when we got to the edge of the lake mist was rising off the glassy surface.

Autumn Hiawatha National Forest Michigan Upper Peninsula_-min

Mist at Moccasin Lake

East Lake fall foliage Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Mist at East Lake

Another fantastic spot we bumped into that doesn’t get any press and isn’t even labeled on Google Maps is Mequisten Recreation Area just a few miles south of Munising on National Forest Road H-13. A beautiful boardwalk takes you all around a series of small ponds with lookouts positioned every few hundred yards. We loved this little jewel so much we went back three times. Buddy had a blast running on the boardwalk. He sounded like a herd of elephants as he tore around, especially when he met another dog and they tore around together!

Mequisten Recreation Area Munising Michigan Upper Peninsula-min-2

Mequisten Recreation Area has a wonderful boardwalk with benches and overlooks.

We didn’t get the crisp sunny air that we had expected during our Upper Peninsula fall foliage tour, but the autumn colors were everything we had hoped they would be!

Puppy at Red Jack Lake in Autumn Michigan Upper Peninsula Hiawatha National Forest-min

Buddy framed by autumn leaves at Red Jack Lake.

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Waterfalls in Michigan’s U.P. – Taquamenon, Bond Falls & Black River Jewels

September 2018 – After taking our RV along the southern shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin, we arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a place known for spectacular waterfalls.

Happy campers at Bond Falls Waterfall Michigan Upper Peninsula cascade

Three happy campers at Bond Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula


There are so many waterfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that it is really hard to decide which ones to see. We started with a cluster of small waterfalls that lie along the Black River in the northwest corner of the U.P. next to the shores of Lake Superior.

The five waterfalls — Rainbow, Gorge, Sandstone, Potawatomi and Conglomerate — are all within a few miles of each other and there is a rustic dry camping campground nearby.

The hike to each waterfall is a very short jaunt through the woods, and we headed to Gorge Falls first.

Hike to Gorge Falls at Black River Michigan-min

Buddy waits for the picture taking slow pokes that are hiking behind him on the way to Gorge Falls.

GORGE FALLS

After a brief hike through the woods, we heard the roar of Gorge Falls as we descended the long staircase down to its base. Then we saw a beautiful rush of water falling down the rocks in front of us.

Hike to Gorge Falls Black River Michigan-min

Gorgeous Gorge Falls

Gorge Falls Black River Michigan-min

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SANDSTONE FALLS

Gorge Falls is right next door to Potawatomi Falls, but it was Sandstone Falls just a short ways away that we liked most of this group of waterfalls on the Black River.

Sandstone Falls is special because rather than a vertical hike to the top or bottom of a steep waterfall you can climb all over the wonderful flat and wide rocks to view the multiple smaller cascades from many angles. A hiker we met on the trail told us his kids love to swim at Sandstone Falls.

As soon as we got there and began clambering around on the rocks I was entranced by the millions of white bubbles that were floating downstream.

The bubbles had come from the froth and foam of bigger waterfall upstream, and they floated at varying speeds down the river. A slow shutter speed showed the magic of this bubbly dance.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

Cool bubble patterns at Sandstone Falls.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

In one part of the falls the bubbles were swirling in a circle like a pin wheel.

A little further downstream a series of cascades flowed between the rocks.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

Sandstone Falls.

Sandstone Falls Black River Michigan-min

We loved climbing on the flat rocks along these cascades at Sandstone Falls.

Black River Michigan Sandstone Falls-min

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After an exhilarating waterfall hike (or two) there’s nothing like a nice cold frosty brew. It didn’t take us long to discover the many flavorful craft beers made in the Upper Peninsula by Upper Hand Brewery. One of our favorites was a pale ale called Yooper which is the local term for people who live in the U.P.

Yooper Beer by Upper Hand Brewery-min

Yooper is a yummy pale ale named for the people who live in the U.P. !



RAINBOW FALLS

At the mouth of the Black River where it dumps its inky brown tannin-filled water into the blue water of Lake Superior there’s a small marina at Black River Harbor and a cool suspension bridge that crosses the river.

Suspension bridge Black River Harbor Michigan-min

There’s a fun suspension foot bridge over the Black River near the harbor.

The best views of Rainbow Falls are reached by hiking through the woods from the suspension bridge at Black River Harbor. We headed into the woods one morning as mist still hung heavy in the air.

Woods hiking trail Black River Harbor Michigan-min

Our trail through the woods on the way to Rainbow Falls.

This trail from Black River Harbor to Rainbow Falls is part of the 4,600 mile long North Country Trail that stretches through seven northern states from North Dakota to New York. Like the more famous Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, this is a trail that can be hiked in tiny sections — like going from Black River Harbor to Rainbow Falls as we were doing — or can be through-hiked from one end to the other over the course of many weeks.

We passed a trail box that contained maps and info and a sign-in book for hikers doing big adventurous hikes on this trail. We got a thrill looking into the box and imagining what it takes to do such a hike.

A few years back when we were doing a waterfall hike that crossed the Appalachian Trail, we met a fellow at the intersection of the two trails who was doing a through-hike on the Appalachian Trail. We’d been intrigued to see him carrying a very small pack for his four month adventure and to discover that his hiking boots were still holding up after hiking a third of the Appalachian Trail (700 miles) so far (blog post here).

Trail box North Country Trail Black River Harbor Michigan-min

The Black River Harbor to Rainbow Falls hiking trail is part of the 4,600 mile North Country Trail.
This weather-proof metal trail box held goodies for through-hikers.

Hiking the North Country Trail sounds very exciting, but we were content with a brief mile and a half hike out to Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Waterfall Black River Michigan-min

Rainbow Falls

As we stood taking photos of the falls a woman appeared across from us on the other side of the cascade at the top of the falls, phone in hand. She took a selfie and then she suddenly jumped from one rock to another over a part of the waterfall.

Holy smokes!

She seemed to think nothing of it, but this is a remote spot and the bottom of the falls was a long way down. We were the only ones in the area, and I doubt she knew we were there because the woods were very thick and we weren’t standing near the edge.

Brave jumper Rainbow Falls Black River Michigan-min

This could have been the last photo of this woman.

Closer to the ground, and much more rooted to it, Mark found a cluster of mushrooms standing between some red leaves that had fallen.

Toadstools and fall leaves Black River Harbor Michigan-min

Mark discovered a cluster of mushrooms on the ground.

Lying on the ground and shooting up at the undersides of the mushroom caps gave a wonderful effect.

Mushrooms in the forest near Black River Michigan-min

Shooting up at the bottoms of the mushroom caps seemed to capture their mushroom essence better than shooting down on them from above.

Even though all these cool woodsy things like waterfalls and mushrooms were just steps from Lake Superior, we hadn’t felt the lake’s presence at all during our stay.

However, a leisurely walk around nearby Black River Harbor took us to a nice sandy beach that was a delightful contrast to the thick woods that had dominated our lives for a few days.

Lake Superior Black River Harbor Recreation Area-min

Once you get clear of the woods, Lake Superior is right there.

The water in Lake Superior was surprisingly warm, and we tossed a stick out a little ways to see if Buddy would swim out to retrieve it. Sure enough, he did a few dog paddle strokes, but rather than swim back to shore he swam over to a nearby log and climbed out of the water as quickly as he could and walked on the log back on it to the sand!

Puppy climbs out of Lake Superior with stick x

Smart pup took a shortcut and climbed up on a log to walk back rather than swim to shore!

BOND FALLS

The Black River waterfalls are not well known, but Bond Falls, about 75 miles away, is one of the most popular destinations in Michigan’s entire Upper Peninsula. And rightfully so.

Bond Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Bond Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.


A walking path and boardwalk takes visitors from the base of the falls up along one side to several smaller cascades. It is these cozier spots that attract photographers, and many a Michigan travel brochure or waterfall field guide sports a cover or centerfold photo from here.

Michigan Upper Peninsula Waterfalls Bond Falls_-min

A smaller cascade above the main waterfall is a beautiful little spot.

Even though Mark and I often take photos standing shoulder to shoulder, our results are usually very different. This time we each instinctively gravitated to different shutter speeds…

Bond Falls Waterfall Michigan Upper Peninsula cascade-min

I kept the shutter open for 2.5 seconds for a super silky and fluffy look.

Bond Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Mark used a shutter speed of 1/6 second for a more crisp impression of the scene.

We loved Bond Falls and visited several times at different hours of the day. Families with kids and old folks made their way up and down the path alongside the falls all the time, and most had been there before.

One older gal stopped to talk with me and told me she had grown up in the area 65 years ago and that she and her siblings had swum in the calmer parts of Bond Falls as kids. That wouldn’t be allowed today, but her eyes twinkled as she reminisced about being a little girl and calling this place home.

Peace in Bond Falls in Autumn Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

We met a woman who grew up swimming here above the waterfall at Bond Falls. How wonderful!

TAQUAMENON FALLS

One of the most dramatic waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is Taquamenon Falls over in the northeast corner of the peninsula. When we walked out on the path to the falls and got our first glimpse through the autumn leaves, my jaw dropped and I set up to take a shot immediately.

A young couple coming back from the hike down to the falls saw my tripod and camera gear and asked me if this was the best place to photograph the falls.

I laughed and said I had no idea. This was the first I’d seen of them! But it was very beautiful…

Taquamenon Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Our first glimpse of Taquamenon Falls

A little further on there was another view of the waterfall wrapped in fall colors.

Taquamenon Falls waterfall Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Taquamenon Falls

We followed the path towards the falls and came across a sign that explained what to expect as we descended a long ways down to get a close-up view of Taquamenon Falls. We had to laugh when we read it!

94 Steps to the Brink of Taquamenon Falls-min

If only we always got such a simple warning when we’re about to face disaster!

At The Brink we got a lovely sidelong view of Taquamenon Falls.

Taquamenon Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula-min

Taquamenon Falls at The Brink

We climbed back up the 94 steps from The Brink and headed out on the path to The Gorge. This gave us a wonderful view of the falls from another vantage point.

Taquamenon Falls Michigan Upper Peninsula Waterfall-min

Taquamenon Falls as seen from The Gorge.

If you are a fan of waterfalls, as we are, the U.P. is a fantastic place to go waterfall hunting. These were just a few of dozens of waterfalls we could have seen, and I know we missed some beauties that we’ll have to check out another time. But we were delighted by the variety of the falls we saw and the fun hikes and walks we took to get to them.

Fifth wheel RV Black River Harbor Campground Michigan-min

Black River Campground.

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Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Shoreline – Cute Towns & Great Sunsets!

September 2018 – After our delightful stop in Walker, Minnesota, we continued our RV travels towards Lake Superior, and we made landfall (waterfall?) just east of Duluth on the lakeshores of Wisconsin.

Lake Superior Scenic Drive Wisconsin RV trip

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Our first glimpse of mighty Lake Superior was very humble. We parked the rig and ran down a short path between thigh high bushes to a spot where endless small waves landed on a thin ribbon of driftwood strewn beach. The water was very red and muddy. We thought the red tint would look cool at sunset, but we were too excited to stick around to wait for sunset, so we kept going.

Lake Superior First Glimpse in Wisconsin-min

Our first glimpse of Lake Superior — It’s red!

The road hugged the shoreline but offered few views of the water until we rounded a slight bend and saw the most charming harbor. Big sailboats were lined up by docks along the shore.

Sailboats in Cornucopia Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

When we spotted sailboats in a small harbor we had to stop.

Docks and Sailboats Cornucopia WIsconsin Lake Superior-min

Beautiful!

The juxtaposition of the tall pine trees of Wisconsin and the towering masts of ocean worthy sailing vessels was fantastic.

Sailboats in Cornucopia WIsconsin Lake Superior-min

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We were in Cornucopia, a little beachside hamlet that has a few charming tourist boutique gift shops.

Boutique gift shop Cornucopia Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Pretty tourist boutiques were lined up by the docks. So cute!

Summer flowers Cornucopia WIsconsin Lake Superior-min

Summer flowers on the sides of the buildings.

Across the street there was a small cluster of buildings that make up the town. Cornucopia is nicknamed “Corny,” and the Corny Coffee Shop was very inviting.

Corny Coffee Cornucopia Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Across the street we found the Corny Coffee Shop.

But the area that kept drawing us back was the little harbor.

Kayaks in harbor at Cornucopia Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Last summer days.

Sunset Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

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Just a little further east on Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shoreline we found Meyers Beach. The National Park Service has a tiny outpost here for the Mainland Sea Caves around the corner, and lots of people launch their kayaks from the beach to get to them.

Kayak on Lake Superior in Wisconsin-min

A kayak returns to Meyers Beach from the nearby Sea Caves.

Kayaks on the beach on Lake Superior in Wisconsin-min

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Every so often in the latter part of wintertime this part of Lake Superior freezes and you can walk the mile or so out to the sea caves. This happened a few years ago, and when the phenomenon made the national news, the cars lined up for miles as people came to Meyers Beach to explore the frozen caves.

Kayaking to Apostle Island Caves in Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Kayaks head out towards the Sea Caves.

From Meyers Beach we traveled to Little Sand Bay on the northern tip of this peninsula on Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shoreline. There is a campground up there with lots of boating activities in the summertime. It was pretty quiet by this time in September, but we did catch a cute pic of our fifth wheel next to a sailboat on a trailer in the parking lot!

Sailboat and fifth wheel RV Little Sand Bay Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Up in Little Sand Bay we got a kick out of seeing our buggy next to a sailboat on a trailer.

Fall was progressing and apples were ripening on trees all over the place. One day when we parked I noticed that the ground was strewn with apples. I looked up and the tree branches above me were filled with ripe apples. I picked a few, and those were the juiciest and most sweet/tart apples we’ve had in a long time.

The apples were tastiest when eaten with thin slices of extra sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese to go with. When we first got to Wisconsin I started hunting around for a good sharp cheddar and discovered that unlike cheddar cheese from other places (like Vermont), all Wisconsin cheddar cheeses are yellow, no matter how mild or sharp!

Fresh apple from the tree in Lake Superior WIsconsin-min

Juicy, sweet and tart, and especially delicious with Wisconsin extra sharp cheddar cheese!

Our shore-side route along Wisconsin’s piece of Lake Superior took us to Red Cliff where we found a wonderful restaurant, campground and marina right on the edge of the lake at the casino.

A little further down the coast we found the pretty town town of Bayfield.

Bayfield Marina Lake Superior in Wisconsin-min

Bayfield, Wisconsin, is a picturesque waterfront town on Lake Superior.

We made our way down to the boat docks. A big flock of resident seagulls took off as we approached.

Seagulls flying Bayfield Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

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As we talked to boat owners about what it’s like to sail on Lake Superior, I noticed that many boaters had planted flowers, tomatoes and peppers in between the rocks in the breakwater that protected their boats from the wild waves of the lake. What a clever idea! Almost every slip resident had created a boatside garden in the rocks.

Flowers in the rocks at_-min

At Bayfield Marina boaters planted gardens between the rocks in the breakwater. So clever!

Bayfield is a charming waterfront town that has a very salty air, even though it is on a lake and not the ocean.

Old Salts Bayfield Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Old Salts and a pirate’s parrot on freshwater Lake Superior.

Pretty building Bayfield Wisconsin on Lake Superior-min

What a great deck for lunch overlooking the bay during summertime…

One morning we got down to the waterfront at dawn to take some photos. The sun was playing games with the clouds, and as we walked around Memorial Park taking pics, I captured a photo of the sun peeking out from behind the clouds and backlighting a flag on a lamp post.

Later that day when I was going through my photos I realized the date was 9/11. The photo seemed very fitting.

Dawn in Bayfield Wisconsin on Lake Superior-min

Dawn in Bayfield, Wisconsin, on 9/11.

Up in town there were several coffee shops, and once the sun was up we picked a place for a morning cuppa joe. Buddy saw me go into the coffee shop and sat transfixed by the slightly open door until I emerged again, latte in hand.

Puppy waits for coffee Bayfield Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

Buddy waited expectantly outside while I got coffee and muffins.

A lot of rain had fallen overnight and there were big puddles in the parking areas near the marina. As we walked back down through the parking lot Buddy wandered through a puddle and then suddenly sat down in a dry spot. He was on his own little island.

Puppy in a puddle Bayfield Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

In a mellow mood, Buddy suddenly began to model for us on a dry spot in the middle of a puddle.

We both noticed that the puddle was creating fantastic reflections of him as he sat there, and for some reason he seemed very content to stay on his little island for quite a while.

Puppy reflections Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

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I crept around him to try to line him up with Lake Superior in the background.

Puppy puddle reflection Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

We couldn’t believe he stayed so still for so long.

Looking at the pics afterwards, I turned my laptop on its side to show the above photo to Mark. As I flipped the laptop back, I caught a glimpse of the image upside down.

Wow!! It was as if Buddy was sitting in the heavens!

Buddy Angel Puppy puddle reflection Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

Buddy Angel.

Our friend Bob who has created many marvelous magazine covers of Buddy for “Dog Life Magazine” (pretend ones, of course) had suggested a while ago that Buddy’s song is “Buddy Angel,” sung to the tune of the 1960s hit “Johnny Angel” (listen here).

Although Buddy is definitely a little angel sent to us straight from heaven, he is still very much a dog. A little further south when we did a brief walk through the woods to get down to the beach, Buddy suddenly stopped at the foot of a tree and stared into the branches.

High overhead a little squirrel scolded him.

Puppy looks at squirrel in tree Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

With his angel wings folded Buddy is still all puppy as he looks up at a squirrel in the tree.

Squirrel in tree Lake Superior WIsconsin-min

“Hey Puppy — Catch me if you can!!”

But it was lying in the warm sand that was most satisfying. We had arrived on Lake Superior just in time for a fantastic week of Indian Summer and the temps were in the 80s. I was astonished that the water was fairly warm too and we saw quite a few people swimming.

Puppy on the red sand Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

The hot sand feels so good…

But the warm temps didn’t stop the wind from blowing and whipping up the waves. When we stopped in the town of Washburn the waves kicked up against the town jetty and sloshed all over the place.

Wild waves Washburn WIsconsin Lake Superior-min

Wild chop at the jetty in Washburn.

This didn’t seem like a great time to jump in the water, but over at a small beach we watched two guys set up their kiteboards for a bit of fun.

Kiteboard Washburn WIsconsin Lake Superior-min

Kite boarders were thrilled that the wind was up.

In just a few minutes they were airborne!

Kiteboard flying Washburn Wisconsin Lake Superior-min

In no time the kite boarders were soaring over the water.

Kiteboarding Washburn WIsconsin Lake Superior-min

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This little trip along the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin had been full of delights, including a bright blue canoe that had been transformed into a planter full of flowers.

Canoe flower box Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

Flowers in a canoe.

And what a blessing it was to arrive on the shores of Lake Superior in the middle of such ideal summer weather.

Sunset Lake Superior Wisconsin-min

Sunset on Lake Superior in Wisconsin.

If your travels take you to Wisconsin, be sure to sample some of the shoreline route, even if you have a big RV like ours.

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Walker, Minnesota – A Hidden Jewel in the 10,000 Lakes

September 2018 – Our travels this past spring and summer were focused in the western states with many fabulous adventures in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota, but in early September we drove our RV out of the west in a hurry to catch the fall colors on Lake Superior in northern Michigan.

When I-94 took a turn to the southeast at Fargo, we got off onto secondary roads to make a beeline towards Lake Superior. Suddenly, we found ourselves immersed in Minnesota’s Land of 10,000 lakes. There were lakes of all sizes everywhere.

Walker City Park Minnesota-min

Walker City Park overlooks Leech Lake in Minnesota.

We hadn’t planned it this way, but we discovered we were driving on one of Minnesota’s designated scenic drives, the Lake Country Scenic Drive. How cool is that?

The views out our windows were certainly very pretty!

We saw a sign for the Paul Bunyan State Trail and just had to check it out. This is a fantastic rails-to-trails paved path that goes for miles and miles between the 10,000 lakes.

Bicycling on the Heartland State Trail near Walker Minnesota-min

We biked a bit of the Paul Bunyan and Heartland State Trails in Minnesota’s lake country.

As we were riding we came to an intersection with another rails-to-trails system, the Heartland State Trail. We were floored to see destinations listed on a wooden sign for as far as 66 miles away. What an amazing place to ride a bike or stretch your legs (especially if you have four of them!).

The Heartland State Trail near Walker Minnesota-min

Buddy loved the rails-to-trails routes too.

The lakes have all kinds of names, but the name Leech Lake really caught our attention. “I wouldn’t want to go there,” Mark said dryly. “I’ve swum in lakes with leeches and had to pull them off me.” Yuck!

But it turns out that Leech Lake is a great spot for all kinds of recreation, and we were soon caught in its spell.

Walker on Leach Lake map-min

Leech Lake is full of fun, and we never saw any leeches!

The small town of Walker overlooks the lake, and we strolled along the shore taking in the views and relaxing ambiance. What a pretty spot!

Park bench overlooking Leech Lake in Walker Minnesota-min

Leech Lake.

Leech Lake at Walker City Park Minnesota-min

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One of the most popular pastimes on this lake is fishing, and apparently it is the Muskie capital of the world. From kids to old folks we saw lots of fishermen patiently waiting for the big catch.

Fishing in Leech Lake in Walker Minnesota-min

The fishing is good here.

Even the dearly departed who left good fishing memories behind in this life took their rods with them to their next destination.

Park bench at Leech Lake in Walker Minnesota-min

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As we wandered towards town we realized that Leech Lake truly is the lifeblood and soul of this small community, and it had a real beach town vibe. Colorful kayaks were lined up against the wall of a building, ready to take people for a ride, and a huge pelican perched on the rooftop of a shop on the main street.

Kayaks in Walker Minnesota-min

Kayaks of every color.

Pelican on a store roof in Walker Minnesota-min

Walker is a waterfront town.

As we poked our heads in various nooks and crannies around the town of Walker, we discovered that the very next day there would be a special celebration: the Ethnic Festival. Well, we certainly had to stick around to see that!

Main street in Walker Minnesota before the Ethnic Day Parade-min

We arrived a day before the Ethnic Festival, so we had to stay and see it!

We got into town the next morning just as the vendors were setting up their booths, and a lady suddenly called out to us. “Would your puppy be willing to be my mascot for the day?”

She went on to explain that she was selling hand sewn goodies, and one of her products was bandanas for dogs that slipped onto their collars.

Buddy loves attention, so he jumped at the chance to be a bandana mascot for the day, and he quickly set about choosing which one to wear.

Selling dog bandanas-min

Buddy got hired as a doggie bandana salesman.

Mark held out a few, and he sniffed each one.

Picking out a puppy bandana-min

“Which one would you like?”

He finally chose a patriotic bandana with American flags all over it. He looked very dapper in it.

Puppy shows off American flag bandana-min

A dapper dog!

As he was showing it off he noticed a stuffed dog at the lady’s booth that was wearing a bright red bandana. He had to check it out!

Puppy checks out stuffed dog-min

“I like your bandana but you’re a bit stuffy.”

We found out later that Buddy did an excellent job as the puppy bandana mascot for the day. The lady sold dozens of bandanas during the festival!

Puppy in American flag bandana watches parade in Walker Minnesota-min

Buddy kept an eye on how the sales were doing over at the doggie bandana booth.

The Ethnic Festival parade was about to begin and we found a place to watch along the curb.

Waiting for the Ethnic Festival parade to begin in Walker Minnesota-min

Patiently waiting for the parade to begin.

The parade began with a flourish as the town’s dignitaries passed. Then came a line of bright and shiny Corvettes that were headed to the Corvette car show that would take place in the Walker City Park after the parade ended. Beautiful!

Ethnic Festival in Walker Minnesota-min

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Corvette Car Show in Walker Minnesota-min

Pretty Corvettes roll by on their way to the Walker City Park.

A group of motorcycles went by and we noticed that the backs of their jackets said “Descendants of Leech Lake,” “Descendants of Navajo” and descendants of other groups in the area.

Motorcycle organization Descendents of Leech Lake Walker Minnesota-min

These motorcyclists have deep roots around Walker, Minnesota.

Then a group of flags from many nations appeared.

Flags in Walker Minnesota Ethnic Festival parade-min

Flags from many places including the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.

Minnesota has a strong Scandinavian heritage but lots of other folks have made their mark too. From bagpipes to accordions to alphorns we heard music of all kinds and saw some fabulous floats and outfits.

Bagpipe band in Ethnic Festival parade in Walker Minnesota-min

A bagpipe band marched by.

Musicians of all kinds drifted by on floats, and dancers showed off their moves.

Musicians from First National Bank in the Walker Ethnic Festival parade-min

Musicians from the First National Bank floated by.

After Smoky the Bear wrapped up the parade atop a US Forest Service truck we made our way over to the vendor booths to look around.

A fantastic duo playing alphorns had appeared on a float in the parade, and we found them again playing in the streets among the vendors. These beautiful horns make a deep and mellow sound, and the prettily dressed women stood in the middle of the throng playing all kinds of sweet melodies.

Alphorn players at Ethnic Festival in Walker Minnesota-min

Two gals played these fantastic alphorns.

In addition to a wide variety of ethnic foods being sold from carts all around the park, there were lots of arts and crafts for sale too. We knew we had hit the eastern side of the country when we saw baskets and miniature canoes made of birch bark!

Birch bark baskets at Ethnic Festival in Walker Minnesota-min

There were lots of arts and crafts including goodies made from birch bark.

As we admired the birch bark baskets, Mark and I chatted with each other about how we’d started seeing the white barked birch trees of the east rather than the white barked aspen trees of the west.

“Wait, did we cross the Mississippi?” Mark suddenly asked. I wasn’t sure, and we didn’t have a map handy. Ironically, within a few minutes we started talking to a local fellow, and when we asked him for suggestions of what to see and do in the area he said:

“You’ve gotta go see the headwaters of the Mississippi. It’s just 35 miles northwest of here at Itasca State Park. It’s just a tiny trickle of water, though!”

We ended up saving that adventure for another time, but it was very cool to have our question anwered like that.

Down at Walker City Park on the lake the Corvettes were gleaming in the sun.

Corvette Car Show Walker Minnesota during Ethnic Festival day-min

The Corvette Car Show was lots of fun.

Corvette Car Show on Leech Lake Walker Minnesota Ethnic Festival-min

Sports car in front and yacht behind. Nice!

Corvette license plate I Begged-min

The begging worked!

One fellow brought his handcrafted woody car to show off as well. What a beauty! Built on a Chevy S-10 frame, he spent 18 years creating it. What a smile he had as he drove up!

Custom Woody car built on a Chevy S-10 frame-min

For all that Corvette beauty, the star of the show was a hand crafted woody built on a Chevy S-10 frame.

Custom woody car built on Chevy S-10 frame-min

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Dashboard of Woody car built on Chevy S10 frame-min

It took 18 years to make this beauty.

Wooden spare tire cover on a custom woody car built on a Chevy S10 frame-min

The spare tires on each side sported covers decorated with an eagle made of inlaid wood.

The Ethnic Festival and Corvette Car Show in Walker made for a really fun day, and Buddy basked in the attention that he got all day long.

One family stopped to pet him early in the day and then sought him out a little later to get a second round of pats. “We needed another Buddy fix,” the mom told to me as her kids settled down in the grass to rub their hands on Buddy’s soft fur.

Puppy gets attention at the Ethics Festival in Walker Minnesota-min

Buddy made lots of new friends.

Aw heck, I love getting my Buddy fixes too!

Happy camper and puppy at Walker City Park Minnesota-min

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We were totally tickled that we had thrown a dart at the map of Minnesota and randomly chosen the Walker area as a stopover on our way to Lake Superior. What luck that we not only found a cool small town but that they had a festival going on while we were there.

Then again, it seems that almost any weekend you arrive in Walker, Minnesota, there is something exciting going on. The calendar of events for Walker reveals something special happening every single weekend all year long.

This is a place we’ll return to for sure. What a great introduction it gave us to the state of Minnesota!!

Go Vikings good luck rock in a US mailbox-min

I noticed this painted rock sitting on a mailbox.
Right after I snapped this photo, a Minnesota Vikings fan came by and snatched it up!

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North Dakota at a Glance – Roosevelt NP and Surprises in the Prairie

September 2018 – We became residents of South Dakota over eleven years ago, but it was our travels through South Dakota last year and this year that gave the state a special place in our hearts.

Little church on the prairie in North Dakota-min

Little church on the prairie.

Between the beauty of the Black Hills, the tame wildlife in Custer State Park, the remote pretty scenery and cozy friendliness of tiny Buffalo, there was a wholesomeness everywhere that was deeply appealing.

Little church on the prairie in North Dakota-min

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We continued our travels on South Dakota’s back roads as we headed north from Buffalo. The wide open prairie stretched out on either side of us, dotted here and there with farmhouses and rows of silos.

North Dakota back roads scenery-min

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There were hay bales everywhere. Modern farm equipment rolls the hay into enormous round bales — the old small rectangular hay bales are long gone! — and these big rolls were scattered about across the plains.

Haying in North Dakota-min

Haying was in full swing and hay bales were everywhere!

Wheat silos in North Dakota-min

Not exactly the old family farm any more!

Hay bales in North Dakota-min

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Once in a while we passed a small creek or stream, but for the most part the landscape stretched out to the horizon in amber waves of grain.

North Dakota back roads scenery-min

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Scenic drive on North Dakota back roads-min

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Hay fields in North Dakota-min

Amber waves of grain.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park lies in southwestern North Dakota, just over the border of northwestern South Dakota. This Park is filled with badlands, eroded sedimentary rock that has been carved by the Little Missouri River and its tributaries.

We were looking forward to photographing the teepee shaped rock formations and hadn’t thought much about the kinds of wildlife we’d see.

So, it was a huge surprise when the official Roosevelt National Park Greeter welcomed us with a sway of his huge head and grass hanging out of his mouth, right at the Painted Canyon Visitor’s Center parking lot!

A buffalo grazes at Roosevelt National Park Visitors Center-min

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has a unique Greeter at the Visitors Center!

Fortunately, he was paying more attention to the grass than he was to his job as a Greeter, so cars and trucks were slowly pulling alongside him to get photos. A few of us got out of our cars to snap a shot or two.

Buffalo grazing at Roosevelt National Park visitors center-min

Never mind the impressive badlands scenery. Get a pic of that buffalo!

I loved it when he wandered over towards a sign with an image of a buffalo on it that said, “Do Not Approach Wildlife.” Yes, siree! We stayed well away and were grateful for our long lenses!

Buffalo and sign Do Not Approach Wildlife-min

The sign says: “Do not Approach Wildlife!”

Teddy Roosevelt National Park has two units, North and South, and the Painted Canyon is in the South Unit.

The park was established and named for President Roosevelt (1901-1909) in 1947. As a younger man Roosevelt had purchased a cattle ranch in North Dakota a bit south of Medora, the town that anchors the South Unit of the National Park.

Roosevelt’s ranch was located 10 miles from his nearest northern ranching neighbor and 12 miles from his nearest southern ranching neighbor, just enough space for a man to breathe freely away from the crowds.

Painted Canyon Scenic overlook Teddy Roosevelt National Park North Dakota-min

Painted Canyon.

Painted Canyon Scenic overlook Teddy Roosevelt National Park North Dakota-min

Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Both Roosevelt’s wife and his mother died on Valentine’s Day of 1884. What an unimaginable blow! The following summer he started a second ranch nearby which he called the Elkhorn. This became his home ranch where he spent most of his time.

In 1918 Roosevelt commented, “I have always said I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.” It certainly cemented his love for wild places and the outdoors.

Teddy Roosevelt is the president who pioneered the concept of preserving natural areas. Not only did he established the US Forest Service and sign into law the 1906 Antiquities Act under which National Monuments are created, but he established five National Parks and 150 National Forests.

Painted Canyon Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Dakota-min

There’s a lovely hike right from the visitors center.

Early fall color Painted Canyon Scenic overlook Teddy Roosevelt National Park North Dakota-min

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As we wandered along the trails at the Painted Canyon Visitors Center, we noticed to our complete surprise that the leaves were already beginning to change color. Even though Labor Day was barely behind us, Fall was starting.

Fall color Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Dakota-min

Fall?! Already??!!!

Ever since last January we have been telling each other and anyone who asked us, “We are headed to the U.P. of Michigan.”

All summer long as we enjoyed the very cool mountain weather in Montana and Wyoming, we stared in disbelief at the baking hot crimson temperature maps of America and saw the rest of the country was sweltering.

Even though the Upper Peninsula remained relatively cool because of the cold waters of Lake Superior, the hundreds of miles between “here” and “there” would take us through lots of miserable summer heat.

So, we waited.

However, when we saw the fall leaves in Roosevelt National Park beginning to turn, we panicked. I instantly hopped on the internet to find out exactly when the leaves peaked in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and one site said it was September 17th. Holy Smokes!!

We dropped all plans of exploring Teddy Roosevelt National Park’s North and South units and the intriguing sounding petrified forest nearby, and we jumped on I-94 East in an all-fired rush to get to Lake Superior.

Round hay bales in North Dakota-min

Even up on I-94 we kept seeing round hay bales in the wide open prairie.

Rural scenery in North Dakota-min

A rare single silo farm.

Despite traveling on the interstate, we still had wonderful views of the Northern Plains. Hay bales were still scattered everywhere and grain silos stood like battalions of soldiers stationed every few miles.

Wheat and grain silos North Dakota-min

Wheat!

Once in a while we’d catch a glimpse of the farming style of old, perhaps from the days not too long after Teddy Roosevelt did his cattle ranching in the area.

Old farmhouse North Dakota-min

The way it used to be, perhaps not long after Roosevelt’s day.

We had been planning to spend a few weeks in North Dakota, and I had highlighted quite a few spots on the map that would be fun to see. One is the Enchanted Highway, a stretch of road that runs north-south through the prairie off of I-94.

The Enchanted Highway is special because of seven enormous metal sculptures that have been erected amid all those amber waves of grain. The first one — Geese in Flight — was visible for a split second from I-94, and we got a glimpse of it at 65 mph as we flew past.

Flying Geese Enchanted Highway North Dakota-min

“Geese in Flight” at the northern end of the Enchanted Highway

The Enchanted Highway, along with the rest of Roosevelt National Park and half a dozen scenic drives, will all have to wait for another visit. In the meantime, North Dakota sailed past our windows. Although we didn’t see the the other six Enchanting Sculptures on the Enchanted Highway, we did see an enormous cow on a hill in the distance.

Giant cow in North Dakota-min

A mammoth cow offered a bit of enchantment on I-94.

When we do massive, long distance travel with our trailer in tow (250 miles in a day is “massive” for us in our trailer these days), we like to start before breakfast and then make pit stops for breakfast, a morning walk, lunch, an afternoon walk, and so on. That’s probably what makes these not-so-very-long mileage days seem “massive.” We stop at least once every hour!

I was busy staring out the window when Mark suddenly exited the highway. Since he had a smirk on his face I pretended I knew exactly what he was up to. But I was quite alarmed when he drove down a long country lane without saying anything. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to ask him where the heck we were going.

“I saw the sign for Fort Sauerkraut and I just had to go see what it is!” he said.

It turned out that the remains of Fort Sauerkraut was a small wooden building built into a hillside. The fort was built to give the people in the area a place to hide from an anticipated Indian raid. Fortunately, the raid never happened, so the fort never had to be used. However, the story goes that a bunch of pigs discovered the hoard of sausages that had been buried in anticipation of the raid, and they ate them all!

Buddy might have been hunting for yummy food scraps too as he scampered across the roof.

Fort Sauerkraut Roof with puppy-min

Buddy checks out the roof of Fort Sauerkraut.

Inside the fort was rather barren. The plan was just to give the families in the area a safe place to hide out for a short time.

Inside Fort Sauerkraut in Hebron North Dakota-min

Luckily the fort never had to be used.

On a plaque outside the fort there is a long and detailed description of the months and years surrounding the fort’s creation in 1890.

The history was written in 1933 and it brought to life the intense fear and mistrust between the Indians and the settlers in the late 1800s. There was good reason on both sides to be petrified of the opposition, yet at the same time the legends of the American West were already being canonized by its star players abroad.

Indian Chief Sitting Bull had toured the big cities of the eastern states and Europe alongside Buffalo Bill Cody, bringing the exotic American Wild West to distant urbanites. When he returned he brought his own observations of those far-flung lands home to his people.

Interestingly, it was the widespread fear that Sitting Bull was planning to lead a raid into this part of North Dakota, despite (or because of) his retirement from shows and touring, that made the local farmers and ranchers erect the fort.

Nowadays the view from the hill where the fort stands takes in nearby grain silos in the direction the Indians were expected to come. Our trailer was parked at the bottom of the hill on the opposite side.

Grain silos and wind farm in North Dakota-min

The view from Fort Sauerkraut today.

RV parked in rural North Dakota-min

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Fort Sauerkraut is on the edge of the town of Hebron which is known as the Brick City. As we walked through this very quiet town I noticed a gourmet coffee shop. Yay!!

Dark Side of the Brew Coffee Shop Hebron North Dakota-min

We got lucky and found yummy espresso and baked goodies at Dark Side of the Brew Coffee in Hebron.
“Low Batt…Need Caffeine!”

When we stopped in for a large hazlenut latte (for me — Mark doesn’t drink coffee!) I joked with the owner that I was so excited to see an espresso shop out “in the middle of nowhere.”

She laughed and nodded. “You never know in these small towns. A lot of them don’t have espresso shops!”

I asked her what the grain was that we had been seeing for the last few hours and she said it was wheat. She further explained that the big employers in town were the wheat mill and the brick company, but that nowadays most folks commute to Bismarck or Dickinson.

What would those settlers and Indians of 150 years ago think? For them it was a long long horseback ride to get to Bismarck, and in the days of Fort Sauerkraut there weren’t many roads to Hebron. Most folks took their horses and buggies right across the prairie, even in the dead of night when an Indian raid was expected!

RV fifth wheel camping at dusk-min

We never really know where our travels will take us, but it’s always good!

Another few long days at 65 mph on the road would get us to Lake Superior. Luckily, once we arrived and started asking around, we discovered that the fall colors in northern Michigan extend all the way from late September to late October. We probably didn’t need to rush so fast across country to get to this big lake. On the other hand, we were thrilled to see something new and completely different, and the Indian Summer temps on our arrival were absolutely ideal.

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Soap Box Derby & Barrel Races – A Labor Day to Remember!

September 2018 – When we were in the town of Buffalo, South Dakota, buying groceries, we noticed a flyer on the window that gave a detailed listing of all the many things that were going to be happening over Labor Day Weekend. For a town of 380 people, it seemed like this community was going to be celebrating in style.

All kinds of events were planned, from calf roping to arm wrestling to rodeo kids events to a parade to golf tournaments to movies in the evening to street games and singing and dancing. But it was the Soap Box Derby we wanted to see!

Soap box race trophes Buffalo SD Labor Day weekend-min

1st, 2nd and 3rd prize trophies for the Soap Box Derby.

The Soap Box Derby is held on Tabernacle Hill on the edge of town where the road goes down at a gentle angle that is just right for the younger set. The “soap boxes” were a little more sophisticated than the wooden crates we imagined. Sporting steering wheels and sized about like a little red wagon (perhaps a few wagons had been converted for the race!), they looked like a lot of fun to ride.

The Soap Box carts are cute wagons-min

The little buggies weren’t quite soap boxes but sure looked like fun to ride!

In the traditional of all great sporting events, before the Soap Box Derby began we all sang the National Anthem.

Singing the National Anthem before the soap box races in Buffalo SD-min

Before the races started we sang the National Anthem.

Then the kids climbed into their carts on a starting ramp. To avoid congestion and pileups, the kides raced each other in pairs. The winner of each race advanced to the next round in quarter-final, semi-final and final events.

The soap box races begin in Buffalo SD-min

A starting ramp was set up for pairs of kids to race side by side down the hill.

And then they were off down the ramp and onto the road.

And they are off on the soap box races-min

And they’re off!

The race is on at the soap box derby-min

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The kids were pretty competitive and kept a close eye on each other as they urged their buggies to fly down the hill.

Who is winning the soap box race-min

The competition was serious!

Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

The white car takes the lead!!

Even if they didn’t win, they were having a blast with these little soap box cars.

Buffalo SD Labor Day weekend Soap box races_-min

All smiles…this is so much fun!

When they got to the bottom of the hill they got a tow back up from friendly helpers in golf carts.

Getting a tow Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

After each run the kids got a tow back to the top of the hill.

Happy soap box racer gets a tow up the hill-min

It was almost as much fun going up the hill as it was going down!

The whole town came out to watch the races. Some of us sat on the curb and some brought out lawn chairs. Two kids watched from perches in an old tree stump.

Watching the soap box races-min

Two girls got the best seats in the house.

We got a kick out of catching the action as the kids rolled down the hill. There were no pedals or motors. You just rolled off the ramp and hung on and tried to keep the buggy going straight (a few went off the road onto the grass!).

Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

Riding to victory!

Soap box races Buffalo SD Labor Day weekend-min

All the kids had to wear helmets. We really liked this one!

Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

The design of each “soap box” was unique.

Getting a tow Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

I don’t know who was having more fun, the kids or the parents and grandparents!

At the bottom of the hill members of the high school football team caught the riders as they crossed the finish line.

Finish line Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

The finish line was at the bottom of the hill.

The winner is... Soap box races Labor Day Weekend Buffalo SD-min

Members of the football team caught the kids at the bottom.

Up at the top of the hill the Gospel Tabernacle gave out free snow cones. The blue raspberry ones were yummy!

Blue raspberry snow cones at the soap box races in Buffalo SD-min

The free blue raspberry snow cones were going fast.

When the races were over and the trophies had been given out, we wandered over to the rodeo grounds to see what was happening there. Three little kids were practicing their barrel racing skills, and boy were they good!

Young barrel racers in Buffalo SD-min

Over at the rodeo stadium some little kids were barrel racing.

Hair flying on horseback-min

Riding a horse is easy! (If you’re four).

The kids weren’t super fast on their horses, but these little tykes could make their horses do whatever they wanted.

When they first filed into the rodeo grounds all three of them headed in the wrong gate. A helpful mom called to them to go back out and then go in a different gate. I thought there would be a pile-up of hooves and bridles and flicking tales and flaring nostrils. But instead these three kids very neatly backed their horses up out the gate and headed them down to the correct gate, as if it were nothing!

Barrel racer heads to the first barrel on the course-min

A little cowgirl heads towards the first barrel.

Young barrel racer rounds the barrel on her horse-min

…and heads around the first barrel.

Barrel racer takes her horse around the barrel-min

She makes the turn nice and close to the barrel.

Rounding the barrel in a horseback barrel race_-min

And the she picks up speed on the way out of the turn.

On to the next barrel in a horse barrel race-min

On to the next barrel!

We saw the kids afterwards walking three abreast across the field. Mark congratulated them on their riding skills and asked them which one of them was the best rider. All three hands shot up in the air. “Me,” “Me,” Me!”

Then we came across the mom who had been working with them and complimented her on their skills. She grinned and told us they were four, five and six years old. Holy smokes!!

Expert young horseback rider uses one hand on the reins-min

The little kids had a lot of skill — and a little sass too!

What a fun and heartwarming Labor Day celebration this was.

Sunrise in Buffalo South Dakota-min

Sunset in Buffalo, South Dakota, after a great Labor Day weekend!

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A Smoky Moon, Badlands & Hummingbirds on the South Dakota Prairie

August 2018 — During the dog days of summer we hung out in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming and in western South Dakota. We took it easy and enjoyed lots of naps.

Puppy sleeping on a mat-min

Buddy catches a snooze during the dog days of summer.

We hung our hummingbird feeder on our trailer window and lots of Rufous hummingbirds stopped by for a drink.

Hummingbirds at a window feeder on an RV-min

We put a hummingbird feeder on our RV window and promptly had customers!

Rufous hummingbird South Dakota-min

A Rufous hummingbird says “Hi!”

Hummingbird South Dakota-min

Woa… A hummer puts on the brakes as he zooms to the feeder.

They got so familiar with us and our rig that they hovered around us as we moved around our campsite. At times they’d hover right in front of our faces, as if to say, “Thanks for opening the bar!”

It was a blast trying to catch these guys in action as they flew all around us. Usually, just as we’d get the camera focused, they’d zip away. But every so often we got a great shot before they zoomed off!

Blurred wings rufous hummingbird South Dakota-min

Those little wings sure go fast!

Female Rufous hummingbird South Dakota-min

A female Rufous flies by.

As the weeks passed the smoke from the many western wildfires clouded the air. It was eerie to be living in a world that had quietly gone gray! As we drove into northern South Dakota the world seemed to be hiding behind a veil.

Roads less traveled in northern South Dakota-min

The smoke in northern Wyoming and South Dakota from wildfires far west of here was intense.

The air was thick. For the first time in our lives we heard local weather forecasts that called for “patchy smoke.” We’ve been in plenty of places that were smoky from wildfires, but smokiness was never predicted in the upcoming weather forecast!

Mist and smoke South Dakota-min

Smoke and mist grays out the view.

However, smoky air has its beautiful side. When the full moon rose it took on a fabulous shade of bright pink and orange as it climbed over the horizon.

Smoky pink full moon Reva Canyon South Dakota-min

The full moon rises bright orange/pink because of the smoke.

Red full moon from wildfire smoke South Dakota-min

It wasn’t the “Blood Moon” but sure could have been!

Fortunately, a storm front blew in and rain fell for two days. It was odd to be back in sweatshirts with our heater running at midday, but the air outside was wonderfully cleansed by the pouring rain.

RV camping in South Dakota-min

Dark skies brought lots of rained that thankfully cleared the air.

The next day the sun was able to shine once again. We came across a little outcropping of unusual rock formations and badlands tucked into a fold in the vast prairie landscape, and the sky glowed lavender in the early morning.

Lavender sky

Lavender sunrise.

Sunrise Reva Canyon South Dakota-min

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Even Buddy was excited to see the sun!

Dog and sunrise South Dakota-min

Buddy sings “Here Comes the Sun!”

We wandered around among the rock formations, marveling at the exotic shapes Mother Nature had created.

Reva Canyon South Dakota RV trip-min

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Reva Canyon Badlands South Dakota RV trip-min

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Small mesas in South Dakota RV trip-min

We had a ball wandering through these rock formations.

At sunset we saw another beautiful display of pink in the sky.

Sunset in a badland oasis in South Dakota-min

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Sunset photography with puppy-min

Buddy waited patiently while Mark snapped a pic.

Mini badlands in South Dakota-min

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We drove a little further and found the town of Buffalo which boasts a population of 380. On the edge of town we found a directory listing all the businesses and services that can be found in Buffalo. There was something very charming about these signs.

Town Directory Buffalo South Dakota RV trip-min

Town services directory for Buffalo, South Dakota.

Buffalo South Dakota RV trip-min

The main drag in Buffalo.

A pretty white church in town caught our eye. And the wood paneling inside the post office harkened back to a bygone era.

Buffalo South Dakota Congregational Church-min

The cute Congregational church.

Post office Buffalo South Dakota-min

Walking into the post office was a walk back in time.

There are a few places to stop for a bite to eat in Buffalo.

Blossoms and Brew Cafe Buffalo South Dakota-min

Blossoms and Brew Cafe.

One cafe was offering free beer! Well…almost.

Free beer sign in Buffalo South Dakota-min

Free Beer!!! Oh wait… not quite.

We’d seen lots of cattle out on the ranches as we had driven through the area, and of course all the cows had tags in their ears. I’d never thought much about where these tags come from, but inside the hardware store we found a whole display of cow ear tags!

Cow tags for sale in Buffalo South Dakota-min

Z Tags – The cow ear tags that stay in!

In another store there was a pair of swinging doors that led to a dark space lit with a neon sign that said, “Casino.” Why not slip inside and pull the handle?!

Old west casino Buffalo South Dakota-min

“Must be 21 to enter…!”

From friendly hummingbirds to smoky orange full moons to crazy badlands to a tiny town on the prairie, we’ve loved our off the beaten path travels in South Dakota!

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Summer Fun in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains

August 2018 – We have been loving the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming this summer as we’ve roamed around the snow capped mountains and glassy lakes with our RV. Rising with the chickens in the early mornings, we’ve seen some fabulous sunrises.

Sunrise in northeern Wyoming on an RV trip-min

Sunrise in Wyoming

Sunrise Big Horn Mountains Wyoming RV trip-min

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Buddy loves to play in the early morning light and take long walks before the world wakes up.

Puppy on rocks in northeastern Wyoming at sunrise-min

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Puppy trotting down dirt road in northeastern Wyoming at sunrise-min

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Puppy on a dirt road at sunrise northeastern Wyoming RV trip-min

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Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains have given us some incredible skies.

Dramatic skies Northeastern Wyoming RV trip-min

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And while we haven’t done any signature hikes, we’ve enjoyed simply wandering through the woods and across the open meadows, watching the play of light and shadow through the trees and climbing on rock outcroppings here and there.

Morning in the woods in teh Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming-min

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Family portrait Big Horn Mountains Wyoming RV trip-min

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Loving life Big Horn Mountains Wyoming RV trip-min

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Sometimes there’s true beauty hiding in a rock crevice.

Spider's Web

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Sometimes we just find a place to sit in the woods and commune with the trees.

Puppy in the woods Wyoming Big Horn Mountains-min

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The Big Horn Mountains offer many expansive views.

Puppy looks at the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming-min

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In the last few weeks the views have been obscured by the smoke from wildfires burning as far away as California. This has made the air quite hazy, but the effects in our photos has been intriguing.

Big Horn Mountains Wyoming smoke from California wildfires-min

The Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina come to the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming

Smoky Mountains in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming-min

Mark cast an image in black and white with a cool result.

Wyoming’s roots are in cattle ranching and cowboy life, and on quite a few of our walks we’ve bumped into folks on horseback.

One day while Buddy and I were trudging up a long and winding dirt road with the meadows spreading wide on either side of us, a cowboy on horseback appeared on the crest of the hill coming towards us. Behind him the snow capped Big Horn Mountains reached across the horizon in all their glory. As he descended the rocky road we noticed he was leading a second horse behind him. It was a classic and memorable image.

But where was my camera? Arghh! I’d left it at home since I was “just going for a walk.”

On another day I came across a trio of women out enjoying a ride. This time I had my camera with me, and when a fourth woman appeared she proudly showed me her chaps which had been hand made for her years ago!

Horseback riders Big Horn Mountains Wyoming RV trip-min

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Cowgirl horseback rider Big Horn Mountains Wyoming-min

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In Sheridan, Wyoming, we visited a big store full of cowboy gear called King’s Saddlery (locally known as “King Ropes”). This unusual store sells custom made saddles, a huge variety of ropes for roping cattle, and is home to a museum of western memorabilia as well.

Our friends Bill and Jonette who live in the area urged us to visit because it is such a unique place. What a great travel tip that was!

King's Saddlery Sheridan Wyoming RV trip-min

King’s Saddlery in Sheridan Wyoming

When we walked in, after passing by row after row of horse saddles, we came across two cowboys trying out some of the ropes. There were two dummy cows for testing the ropes. One featured a pair of horns to simulate a cow’s head. The other featured a pair of legs, for checking out how well the rope would do for snaring a cow by the legs.

I was amazed watching these two cowboys lassoing the dummies over and over as they tried different ropes.

Cowboy tests ropes at King's Saddlery Sheridan Wyoming-min-min

A pair of cowboys were testing different ropes to see which felt best.

These two men tested rope after rope throughout our entire visit — for at least an hour — and as we left the store they were headed out too, new ropes in hand.

Cowboy Ropes for sale at King's Saddlery Sheridan Wyoming RV trip-min-min

There are dozens and dozens of different kinds of ropes for cowboys here!

As we made our way to the museum area, we passed the area where the custom leather work is done. A huge chest filled with lots of little drawers contained all the small metal fittings that go into a saddle, bridal and all the other gear necessary to ride a horse.

Making custom horse saddles at King's Saddlery Sheridan Wyoming-min-min

All the saddles are custom made.

Then we came across a woman getting her cowboy hat custom sized to fit her head. The hat was steamed to make it pliable.

Custom sizing cowboy hat with steam Sheridan Wyoming King's Saddlery-min

A cowboy hat gets steamed to the right size and shape for a customer.

In the museum there were rooms of antique saddles that had been used and loved for many years. Each saddle was different, many of them very ornate, and each one was accompanied by detailed information about who owned it, who made it, where it was used and when.

There were also lots of antique posters announcing various rodeo events. I liked the one for the Sheridan Rodeo of 1932!

Poster for Sheridan Wyoming Rodeo from 1932-min

A poster for the Sheridan Rodeo in 1932!

But the museum piece that was most evocative was a pair of envelopes sent from the Great Falls, Montana, artist, CM Russell, to the man who owned the first dude ranch in Wyoming, Howard Eaton.

Each envelope was hand painted and dated by CM Russell, and the address was simply given as Howard Eaton’s name, the town of Wolf where he lived, and the state of Wyoming. No street or zip code necessary.

Envelope from artist CM Russell to Howard Eaton dude ranch owner in Wolf Wyoming-min

This hand painted envelope from 1907 held a letter from artist CM Russell to ranch owner Howard Eaton.

Those envelopes spoke volumes about the pace of life in the early 1900s, the importance and value people placed on sending and receiving a letter in the mail, and the size of the town of Wolf in Wyoming.

Envelope from artist CM Russell to Howard Eaton dude ranch owner in Wolf Wyoming-min

What a different time it was when an envelope could be so carefully filled out.

Our friends took us to another special event at the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Buffalo, Wyoming, where kids and their sheep celebrated an important aspect of the history, culture and economy of the area: sheep farming and wool production.

A week prior, Mountain Meadow Wool, a local Buffalo Wyoming wool mill, had sent a special American flag made of wool to the Made In America Product Showcase in Washington, DC, to represent Wyoming’s homegrown products. The flag had returned from D.C. and was hanging proudly at one end of the field.

Wool flag from Wyoming that was seen behind President Trump in Washington-min

Buffalo residents were excited that this American flag made from skeins of local wool was clearly visible behind President Trump during the televised broadcast of the Made in America Product Showcase event in July 2018.

Last year we had been treated to a unique celebration of the Basque sheep herders who had settled this part of Wyoming in the early 1900s and had brought their shepherding skills with them from the Basque region of Spain.

The event we watched at the fairgrounds this summer was a presentation of lovingly raised sheep and their young caretakers who modeled all kinds of woolen clothing and dressed up their sheep to coordinate with their own outfits!

From a toddler in an elaborate wool vest to masked Zorro with his sword to a sheep wearing sunglasses, the costumes were adorable, and so were the kids and their sheep!

Sheep and kids in costume Johnson County Fairground Wyoming-min

A very charismatic toddler wore an elaborate wool vest and waved to the crowd while dad led the sheep.

Zorro sheep dress-up Johnson County Fair 4H-min

Zorro in his mask and cape accompanied his sheep who was also wearing a mask and cape!

Johnson County Fair Wyoming sheep and kids festival-min

The little kids were very cute and all but the very youngest led their own sheep.

Johnson County Fair Wyoming sheep and kids festival-min

This young boy sported a cool woolen vest while his sheep wore cool sunglasses.

One little girl wore a lovely wedding dress made entirely of wool. Her sheep was her groom and he wore tails.

Wool wedding dress at Johnson County Wyoming fair 4h Sheep show-min

This girl’s entire wedding dress was made of wool.

The older kids had made all their own clothes. Each outfit was really impressive and many were quite complex. One girl made a wonderful matching ensemble for her sheep and herself!

Johnson County Fair Wyoming sheep and kids festival-min

The older kids made their own clothes from scratch. So impressive!

Northern Wyoming and the Big Horn Mountain region have been full of very fun surprises this summer.

Boat on a lake in northeastern Wyoming-min

Summer days are here again!

This part of Wyoming is a long ways from the more famous western region that is home to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. But the history and traditions are rich and heartwarming.

Stormy sunset RV camping in Wyoming-min

The Big Horns in Wyoming were full of surprises, including this wild storm that rolled in at sunset!

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Bighorn Canyon – A River Runs Through It in Montana!

July 2018 – The Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming have given us many special moments recently. We traversed the beautiful Bighorn Scenic Byway this past spring and spent part of last summer nestled alongside the Bighorn Mountains in the charming town of Buffalo, Wyoming.

In Buffalo we not only enjoyed a festival for the Longmire TV show but also took part in an unusual celebration of the Basque sheep herders who settled the area over a century ago.

During our time in this area the word “Bighorns,” in our minds, had become synonymous with “Mountains in Wyoming.” So, it was a huge surprise when I opened a Montana travel magazine a few weeks ago and saw a stunning photo of sheer canyon walls plunging down to a winding river with the caption: Bighorn Canyon. This we had to see!

Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Bighorn Canyon Montana and Wyoming

Bighorn Canyon.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is managed by the National Park Service, and there are two districts, the South District which is accessed from Lovell, Wyoming, and the North District which is accessed near St. Xavier, Montana.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

The drive into Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area from Lovell, Wyoming, is very scenic.

The two districts are connected by the wonderfully twisting Bighorn River that snakes its way between the canyon walls for miles and miles in both Montana and Wyoming.

However, the Bighorn National Recreation Area is not contiguous for visitors unless you travel on the Bighorn River by boat. The dirt road connecting the South and North Districts crosses through the Crow Indian Reservation which is private property.

So, we decided we would check out the South District of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area since it is not too far from Cody, Wyoming, and then loop around to the North District and see the canyon from that angle.

Bighorn Canyon National Rec Area Scenic Drive Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

Bighorn Canyon Scenic Drive.

The shock to our senses after spending several weeks in the high elevations of the Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Highway just outside Yellowstone National Park was incredible. Not only did we descend from cool summertime mountain temps in the low 70s to the baking heat of the desert in the mid-90s, but we went from lush greenery with wildflowers to a dusty crusty land full of red rocks.

Bighorn Canyon scenic drive Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Scenic drive by RV-min

Red rocks!

The most famous view on the southwest end of Bighorn Canyon is Devil’s Canyon Overlook just over the border on the Montana side. As we turned onto the road that heads out to this overlook we noticed a female bighorn sheep standing by the side of the road.

Bighorn sheep ewe Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

A bighorn sheep stops grazing to look at us.

BIghorn sheep ewe Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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After taking a few pics we noticed that there were several more bighorn sheep munching the grass by the side of the road. A mama and her sweet little lamb caught our eye.

Bighorn sheep at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip Montana and Wyoming

Mama Bighorn (shedding her winter coat) and her baby.

We got out of the truck to have a closer look.

Bighorn sheep lamb Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Montana and Wyoming

So cute!

We noticed two other little lambs close by. They were adorable!

Bighorn sheep lambs Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

Twice as cute!

Bighorn sheep lambs Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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What a treat it was to see all these bighorn lambs right by the road!

Bighorn sheep lamb Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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Just a little ways further on the view suddenly opened up and we were looking at the fabulous sheer walls of the Devil’s Canyon Overlook. Wow!

Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

The view at Devil’s Canyon Overlook is very dramatic.

Devil's Overlook Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Horseshoe Bend RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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The towering canyon walls and the thin ribbon of water snaking between them reminded us a little of both Goosenecks State Park in Utah and Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.

We had the place to ourselves and we ran around taking pics like mad.

Photographer Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Overlook Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

What a spot to take some pics!

Buddy trotted along the fence line, and he seemed to be enjoying the views too, although maybe he was just keeping an eye on the mice and other varmints that were scampering near the edge!

Puppy checks out view Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Overlook Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip-min

Puppy Chow checks out the view and the varmints!

The Devil’s Canyon Overlook is a big area and we walked along the edge peering into the canyon for a ways.

Horseshe Bend Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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Backtracking a little into the Wyoming side of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, we found the Horseshoe Bend Marina and Campground. We loved seeing the boats tied up to the docks with the rich colors of the red rocks behind them.

Horseshoe Bend Marina Bighorn Canyon Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

Horseshoe Bend Marina.

At dawn we ran down to the beach to catch the sunrise.

Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

Sunrise on the Bighorn River.

Wild yellow daisies swayed to and fro by the water’s edge.

Daisies at sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

Daisies dancing at dawn.

The water in the Bighorn River reflected the sunrise beautifully.

Sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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Sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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Red rocks at sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

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The red rocks on the far shore took on a rich shade of burnt orange.

Sunrise Red rocks Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming-min

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The beach and shoreline were deserted except for the three of us, and we had a wonderful time together playing by the edge of the water and watching the day wake up.

Photographer and puppy Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

Happily busy on the beach at sunrise!

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is most popular during the spring and fall when the temperatures are cool. But for visitors who stop by mid-summer, there are electric hookups at the marina campground at Horseshoe Bend, and the air conditioners of a handful of campers were happily purring away 24/7!

Horseshoe Bend Campground Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

Camping at Horseshoe Bend Marina and campground.

We will be back again at a more comfortable time of year, and we plan to visit the North District of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area when it’s cool too. Our visit this time was a brief but wonderful detour that took us out of the snow capped mountains and into red rock country, and it whetted our appetites for a return trip!

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