Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Nine

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Nine

Since this summer family adventure was only a week’s vacation with the weekend attached to each end, day nine of our journey was the “heading home” day. 😦  But we weren’t about to let the vacation slip by quietly, so we left Bay City, Michigan and headed for the Lake Huron shoreline to photograph a few lighthouses before finishing out the day driving home.  As we were driving some back roads to the first lighthouse stop, something on top of a telephone pole caught my eye and I said, “Hey, there’s a snowy!”  After turning the truck around when it was safe to do so, we went back and sure enough there was a snowy owl sitting on top of the pole keeping watch on us and on the field.

After enjoying the beauty of the owl, we made our way past a lot of sugar beet fields en route to our first lighthouse stop of the day, Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse.

From there we continued our way down the shoreline with stops at three lighthouses that were quite different from each other.  The first, Harbor Beach Lighthouse, was at the end of a pier and our only view was across the water from the end of a different pier.  The second wasn’t on our list so we weren’t expecting it.  In fact, we drove past it and I had to turn around to see if it really was a lighthouse I had seen.  It turns out that the White Rock Light is a house/lighthouse that an individual built to commemorate the lighthouse history of the area.  The third, Port Sanilac Lighthouse, is now a private dwelling but we were able to manage some decent photos from the areas surrounding the property.

We finished our photo stops for the trip a the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse.  While it was the last photo stop of our adventure, it wasn’t the last stop as we took a slight detour on our way home to stop in Goshen, Indiana for ice cream at The Chief.  All in all, it was a great family adventure and I hope these blog posts have helped you to see at least a glimpse of the incredible beauty God surrounded us with throughout this nine day journey . . . and throughout life!

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Eight

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Eight

Day eight of our summer family adventure was the beginning of the end as we made a quick drive back through the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and a quick stop at the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse before making our way to the Mackinac Bridge to leave the Upper Peninsula for the mainland of Michigan.  The wildlife were still very good at hiding in the refuge but the clouds reflecting on the water was beautiful and the swarms of bugs at the lighthouse kept us moving along rather quickly. 🙂

The next stop on our journey was just across the Mackinac Bridge at the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse where we were able to photograph both the bridge and the lighthouse.  Before we left Mackinaw City to continue our travels, we stopped at an interesting restaurant near the bridge and since their lunch special was a homemade pasty (pronounced with a short a sound), we tried them and had a delicious lunch . . . not sure why they can’t just call it a meat pie, but it was very good!

The rest of the day we worked our way down the shoreline of Lake Huron on our way to  Bay City for the night.  On our way we stopped at the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, and the Tawas Point Lighthouse.  We were able to go up the lighthouse tower at Forty Mile Point and photographed the other two lighthouses from the ground.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Seven

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Seven

Day seven of our summer family adventure took place in the greater Grand Marais, Michigan area.  Our morning began with a trip to the Crisp Point Lighthouse.  There is not an easy way to get to this lighthouse, so the journey there is a great part of the adventure . . . though I am disappointed I somehow missed Rabbit Patch Road this time.

After miles of gravel, dirt, and two-track roads, with an occasional section of pavement, we arrived at Crisp Point Lighthouse where we spent time photographing the beauty of Lake Superior, the lighthouse, and the surroundings.

We eventually left Crisp Point and made our way to Paradise, Michigan hoping to have lunch at the Brown Fisheries Fish House.  When we arrived, any available parking was taken, so we found a place where we could get the truck off the road to see how long of a wait it would be for lunch.  As it turned out, we were seated right away and soon had baskets of wonderful, fresh fried fish setting before us.  🙂  It was all gone before there was any thought to take photos, so our next photo stop was at the Seney National Wildlife Refuge near Seney, Michigan.  On our way there we drove past the entrances to Tahquamenon Falls State Park, but traffic was backed up all the way to the highway waiting to get in so we kept driving. 🙂  It was a beautiful day at the wildlife refuge even though much of the wildlife seemed to be hiding.

From there, we headed to Munising, Michigan for a stop at Munising Falls before heading back into Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore for the evening.

After a quick stop at the falls we spent some time at the Miners Castle Overlook and Beach for some good views of the rock cliffs that help make Pictured Rocks famous.

As the sun began to set through the wildfire smoke haze, we made our way to the mouth of the Hurricane River to watch the sunset from the place where the river flows into Lake Superior.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Six

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Six

Day six of our summer family adventure found us traveling from our farmhouse lodging in Hurley, Wisconsin to a small motel on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Michigan.  This 260+ mile drive covered maybe two-thirds of the width of the Upper Peninsula as we moved from west to east.  When we arrived at the farmhouse to start the week, I took photos of the property and the outside of the house but saved the interior photos until we were ready to leave.  It truly was a beautiful place to stay both inside and out.

From there, the day was filled with sightseeing opportunities as we continued our adventure.  The primary road we would have taken as we left the town we were staying in was closed, so we had to start with a detour.  As it turned out, this detour took us right past Bond Falls!  This turned out to be one of our favorite falls to photograph during this trip.  I had actually looked at it online before our trip, but thought we had somehow missed it during our drive up the Keweenaw Peninsula as I was looking for it near the city of  Ontonagon.  As it turned out it was on the Ontonagon River, but not really anywhere near the town of the same name . . . though the river does flow into Lake Superior where the town is located.

After leaving the falls, our route took us to Marquette, Michigan then the road followed the shoreline of Lake Superior to Munising, Michigan where the rest of the journey  was through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore property and into the town of Grand Marais, Michigan.

After getting our things unloaded at the motel, we headed back into the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to see a few sights until Susan had another seizure which brought us back to town.  We did manage to get some photos at Sable Falls, the Log Slide Overlook, and at Grand Sable Lake while we were out.

We made it back to town for dinner at a wonderful little diner and Susan was feeling enough better that we caught some photographs at the Grand Marais Bay during the “golden hour of light” then headed to the beach for the sunset over Lake Superior.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Five

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Five

Day five of our family summer adventure was filled with variety as we made our way through the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and through the length of the Keweenaw Peninsula with a return stop at the Lake of the Clouds on our way back through the “Porkies”.  Our first stop was at the Summit Peak Scenic area where we took a 1/2 mile walk (each way) to an observation tower overlooking the Porcupine Mountains.

Our next stop was at the Lake of the Clouds overlook also in the “Porkies”.  It was a beautiful place and I was able to observe several bald eagles from a distance and heard others of them calling across the forest below our position.

From there we drove up through the Keweenaw Peninsula with stops at a variety of lighthouses and waterfalls.  The lighthouses were Sand Hills Lighthouse, Eagle Harbor Lighthouse, Copper Harbor Lighthouse, and the Mendota (Bete Grise) Lighthouse.

The waterfalls included Eagle River Falls, Jacob’s Falls, and Silver River Falls.  We went by a few other falls that weren’t running enough water to make it worth photographing. 🙂

Finally, we made an evening stop back at the Lake of the Clouds overlook as the sun began to set behind us over Lake Superior.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Four

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Four

Day four of our family adventure across the Upper Peninsula was another day filled with waterfalls and stairs.  Our first stop for the day was just a few miles from where we were staying and included two waterfalls, I think.  Some say it is the same waterfall with two different names, but we definitely found two unique falls areas so I’m going with having found both Peterson Falls and Interstate Falls.

From there, we drove north of Bessemer, Michigan where we photographed and enjoyed five different waterfalls along the National Black River Scenic Byway.  These were the Great Conglomerate Falls, Potawatomi Falls, Gorge Falls, Sandstone Falls, and Rainbow Falls.  At the end of the road Black River flowed into Lake Superior through Black River Harbor.

Our final stop of the day was at the Presque Isle Scenic Area of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  This stop included the climbing up and down of many stairs that was rewarded by three named waterfalls and an unnamed rapids area near the end of the river that was even more beautiful than many marked falls.  The waterfalls were the Manabezho Falls, Manido Falls, and Nawadaha Falls.  Susan had a seizure somewhere between the last two falls, so we pushed her back to the truck in her wheelchair and then drove to a parking area closer to the falls so we could see it before heading back to the farmhouse for the night.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Three

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Three

Day three of our family adventure continued a water theme as we began the day with a short drive to Potato River Falls near Gurney, Wisconsin.  This was another bonus stop as we discovered there were two falls — an Upper Potato River Falls and a Lower Potato River Falls!  As the trail neared the top of the upper falls, there were a great number of stairs leading to the base so Susan and I stayed at the top while MJ went down to photograph and then I went down when she was done.

From there we drove a short distance to Copper Falls State Park near Mellen, Wisconsin.  This was an incredible park with about half of the loop trail handicap accessible . . . though we managed the entire loop with Susan’s wheelchair even though the trail was indeed rugged with many stone and wooden stairs.  The loop contained The Cascades, Brownstone Falls, Copper Falls and what I called “The Chute” — a steep, narrow gorge with water cascading down its entire length.

For our next stop we headed north to Houghton Falls State Natural Area, where my information indicated a waterfall flowing into Lake Superior.  Well, I suppose in wet or rainy seasons there may well be, but for us it was a beautiful walk along a mostly dry creek bed with a nice view of the lake at the end.

Our final stop for day three, before heading back to the farmhouse for the night was in Bayfield, Wisconsin where we boarded a boat for an evening “Grand Tour” of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  This was an incredible time for all of us as there was much to see during our “3 hour cruise”.  🙂


Nope, not quite the boat we were on but I really liked it.  😀  Now for eagles, lighthouses, “sea caves”, water, and sunset that were a part of the real cruise. 🙂  This last section probably could have been “Day Three, Part Two” but it isn’t, so enjoy the blast of photos. 🙂

We Are Family!

We Are Family!

As an interlude to the daily “travelogue” posts I am working on to cover a recent family vacation, I am writing this post to share some observations from the trip.  Our family travels include my wife and I and our beautiful daughter who mostly lives at a six to eight year-old level even through chronologically she is very much an adult.  Our daughter’s disabilities include mobility issues along with other things, so the nature of our trips can often be challenging.

For the longest times, we could carry her in a front carrier and then a backpack carrier for our long family hikes.  Eventually she outgrew the backpack carrier and we had to get more creative in the hikes that were somewhat rugged.  A few years ago we came across a wheelchair designed to handle terrain that a normal chair could not.  With mountain bike tires on the rear wheels and six inch wide casters on the front, it has been down many trails that led to some incredible beauty of God’s creation.


On one particular adventure on this last trip, we were going down a particularly rugged path that included crossing a (currently) dry riverbed.  The riverbed was various levels of shale and sandstone which made for a beautiful and rugged path.  As we worked our way across, we could see an observation platform filled with people on the other side of the river where they could get a partial view of the falls . . . and a good view of this crazy family heading across the riverbed with a wheelchair.  It caused my wife to wonder out loud, “how many photos will we be in with some sort of caption regarding ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way'”.


Pushing a wheelchair in some desolate areas, or pulling it up or down lengthy wooden staircases, or running it up the soft sands of towering dunes can create some great memories . . . and some great conversations.  Usually the conversations lead to some form of amazement that we are out wherever we are . . . as well as an amazement at how old our daughter actually is.  Our response varies to some degree as we’ve not really given thought to it.  In fact, the response usually includes some way of conveying that we’ve not really thought of doing life any other way!  You see, we are family!  We don’t do it perfectly, but we continue to learn how to care for one another and accommodate the needs of each other to their benefit.  Some of our daughter’s special needs are rather obvious, but the truth is we all have needs that are special and need to be treated as such because we are all unique creations of God.  I hear the Marines have a saying, “No man left behind!”.  That is the way of life we try to do family as . . . we do it together with God’s help to the best of our ability.  We help those who are weak and pay attention to the weaknesses of those who appear strong.  And so the memories I am able to share through photographs are memories we have been able to share in as a family.


If you’ve gotten this far in the story, I hope you can see lessons to apply throughout life.  While it obviously applies to the family, I believe this way of life is the way God wants the church to operate as His family.  If the family doesn’t travel together, some people may get to where they are going but many, including those who have rushed ahead, will miss out on the full beauty God has prepared for His family to enjoy.

You see, we are indeed family.  And while we are each unique and have our own interests, desires, ways of doing things, and paths that we travel; we are also a family that grows best when we find ways to include everyone within the family in this journey of life.  While I do enjoy times of solitude and silence with God alone, being able to enjoy life as a family, no matter what, is a great blessing that both comes from God and honors God.

So, yes, we are family!  Now let’s keep living as family. 🙂

In prayer,