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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Escanaba Escapades

When I fled the bugs on Lake Superior I headed to the Lake Michigan side of the Upper Peninsula and the town of Escanaba.  I stayed at the Pioneer Trail Campground just outside city limits between Escanaba and the town of Gladstone.  It has a lot of RV spaces, and the lady working there was really nice and gave me a great hiking suggestion.  The downside is it is apparently where people go to have "events" and they have three very large pavillions located between the RV and tent areas.  When I returned to my site that evening all three were full of groups that weren't just picnicking but had DJs, lights, the whole shebang.  It finally quieted down about 11:00 but then my tent neighbors decided it was a good time to start letting off firecrackers which got their dog to barking.  Never again, I like my sleep too much.

Since I knew there really wasn't much to see in the area I checked the events calendar online and was delightfully surprised to see that the replicas of the Nina and Pinta were in harbor in Escanaba for the weekend!  I just stopped by to snap a photo, they will be moving on to Green Bay this weekend and then on to Racine after that so Wayne and I will try to tour them there.

Gladstone City Hall

The city of Gladstone is small but prosperous and had a beautiful park along the lake.  Van Cleve Park has a playground, a skateboarding park, baseball field, basketball court, fitness trail, boardwalk, a harbor with boat ramps and fish cleaning station, and a beach with water slide out in the lake.  Their City Hall had interesting panels I would love to know more about but I couldn't find any information about it online and of course they were closed when I drove by.

Escanaba is the third largest city in the U.P. at around 13,000 people.  It was originally Ojibwe territory and then became a port town like all the larger cities along the Great Lakes.  Iron ore ships still makes stops at the docks here but the paper mill is the largest employer according to Wikipedia.

Being a harbor of course there are lights, including the Sand Point Lighthouse completed in 1868.  It was deactivated by the U.S. Coast Guard but is restored and open for tours.  It's a bit of a bargain at $3 but they were getting ready to close up for the day so I settled for taking a picture of the exterior.

The hike that I took was on the Days River Pathway system just a short drive away outside of Gladstone.  The 9 mile trail system has 3 loops so you can make your hike as short or long as you want and winds along the Days River through pine, spruce and cedar ridges of the Escanaba River State Forest.  A recreation passport is posted as being needed to park there but I took a chance and didn't get ticketed.

There were a handful of mosquitoes in the forest but it was open and sunny enough that as long as I kept walking it was okay.  Not much is going on as far as new plants here except for the occasional patch of Pinesap.  Also known as Dutchman's Pipe and False Beech Drops it is mycotropic like Indian Pipe.  It was my first time seeing it growing and I had fun taking pictures.

Like Indian Pipe it does not contain chlorophyll and gets its food through parisitism of nearby trees and fungi rather than through photosynthesis.

Monotropa hypopitys

It was rather warm for walking with no breeze and temps around 80F but I was happy to be out of the car and not being bit so kept my pace slow for 3.6 miles on the sandy path through the forest.  A group of men were finishing up a 5 mile run when I got there, and other men were playing golf on the adjoining golf course within the first half mile.  Other than that I had it all to myself.

I was tempted to have a snack on the blueberries that were starting to ripen but was afraid I might be wrong and eat something I shouldn't!

The next day I considered going to Door County and headed that way only to change my mind and set my GPS for Sheboygan's Kohler-Andrae State Park.  I didn't get that far before deciding I might as well just head home a few days earlier than planned and settle in to deal with the Midwest heat.  It's not that bad here so far this year statistically speaking, but I just don't like anything over 75F to be honest.  I know I complain about our weather here a lot, but my "sweet spot" is between 45 and 75.  My co-worker asked me yesterday where would I live instead which is a question I ask myself a lot, actually.  If I had to settle somewhere else I'd like it to be somewhere I could be active outside for at least 4 or 5 months IN A ROW instead of split up like I have to deal with in Wisconsin.  Oregon sounds like it would fit that bill when I read other blogs, and I know Tennessee and Utah have miserable summers but from September to April their weather is lovely from what I can tell.  What do my fellow travelers recommend?


  1. I may be biased but I love the weather here in Oregon. Yes, it is cloudy and rainy from Nov - May, but it never gets too cold, and you don't have to shovel rain! And the summers are usually wonderful (with the exception of this summer....I think we've traded places with the midwest). With the right gear, you can recreate year-round.

  2. We saw on the news that Lyme disease is big in your area, but I know you're careful. I keep telling Ron that if we stop traveling, I'd like to move to Prescott area. Not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer. Of course for really consistent weather, the coast is great.

  3. Pam, I think summer everywhere is just something to endure, but on the west coast we have very little humidity, which makes the heat a tad more tolerable. Like you, my heat tolerance level is low ... over 75 and I begin wilting. Oregon has some wonderful areas, but anywhere east of the Cascades gets HOT.