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,



Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Two

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day Two

Day two of our summer family adventure began with a sunrise over Little Bay de Noc that looked much like the previous night’s sunset.  The haze in the sky made for a bright red ball of light for a long time before it finally diffused into more natural looking sunlight.

After the sunrise and breakfast, we were on our way across the western UP as we made our way back and forth along the Michigan and Wisconsin border.  This section of the trip began a waterfall focus as we eventually found some twenty to twenty-five named waterfalls to photograph during our entire trip (I guess I’ll figure that number out as I work through the days. 🙂 ).  Our first stop was a Long Slide Falls County Park in Wisconsin where we not only found Long Slide Falls but a bonus of Smalley Falls!

Our next destination was LaSalle Falls near Florence, Wisconsin.  In the process, we ended up exploring (accidentally) Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area — a well named region, by the way. 🙂  We eventually found a map posted that gave better directions to the falls, and also listed another falls nearby.  While they were better directions than what I started with, they were still rather vague and we ended up on some ATV trails that served as roads whether they were supposed to or not.  In the process we ended up at Washburn Falls first and from there was able to easily find LaSalle Falls.

From there it was time to finish our drive to Hurley, Wisconsin where we would stay for four nights as we explored the western UP and northern Wisconsin.  Our lodging was in a restored farmhouse situated on eighty acres of beautiful rolling pasture and woodlands.  We arrived in time to walk the property before calling it a day.

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day One

Summer UP Trip 2018 — Day One

We took a mid-August trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, covering 2,887.3 miles in nine days time!  Over the course of the trip I took about 2700 photos which I discovered are too many to try to deal with all at once. 🙂  So, for starters, I will work on a blog post for each day of our trip to both describe and show some of the incredible beauty of God’s creation that we were able to experience.

Day one began at home with a lot of road time before our first stop at JW Wells State Park near Stephenson, Michigan on the west shore of Lake Michigan.  This was a quick stop to stretch our legs and take a few photos before continuing our journey.

Our next stop for the day was at Portage Point south of Escanaba, Michigan.  This was another chance to stretch our legs as we walked a trail between Portage Bay and Lake Michigan.  Frogs were plentiful as were butterflies and a great view of the lake at the end of the trail.

From there we headed just up the road to the Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba, Michigan.


After a quick stop to drop our luggage off at the hotel we would stay at in Gladstone, we were on our way to Peninsula Point Lighthouse across the bay from Escanaba.  It was a beautiful drive down the peninsula and the lighthouse was open to climb to the top.  All that remains of the original lighthouse buildings is the tower itself, but being a somewhat shorter tower than many of them, we all climbed the stairs to the top.

While at Peninsula Point, we were told about Fayette Historic State Park that was across the bay to the east.  There was still daylight so we made our way back up the peninsula and down the next one to visit the park.  It was a great combination of historic buildings and rock-faced cliffs that were extra beautiful in the evening sun.  As we were leaving, a deer came out to enjoy an evening snack from an apple tree.

From there, we made our way back to the shoreline of Peninsula Point where we found a boat ramp to photograph the sunset from.  Along our drive we drove passed a field of sunflowers so we stopped to take a few photos of them as well.  The sun was a brilliant red ball because of smoke in the atmosphere from wildfires to the north and west.

And thus ended day one of our family adventure as we headed back to the hotel for a night of sleep along the lakefront.