Sunday, September 1, 2013

Duluth, Minn and on to Wisconsin!

Friday evening we called several campgrounds along Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and every place we called was sold out for the weekend, but one place we called that looked good on the web had an answering machine message that the office was closed until the next morning.  So we decided we would call them Saturday morning, and even if they were also sold out we would just take our chances on finding someplace that would let us park the RV.

We had been so tired by the end of Friday, but we were determined to get a good bike ride in before leaving Duluth.  Boy did we had a great ride!  The trail turns out to be the Willard Munger Trail, a state maintained trail, and it's 145 miles long!  It runs along the St. Louis River where we were, along an abandoned railroad line, and is just a fabulous trail.  It's paved for the most part and in the spots where it's not paved, it's a good surface and then you're back to pavement.  It's shaded for much of the part we rode on, with wonderful views of the river from time to time and then some open places where we could see lots of countryside.  We did 16 miles and would have gone longer, but we knew we had to be back by the 11:00 checkout time.  Trisha was really riding strong, and we had just a fabulous ride.  Some parts of this trail were obviously just recently paved and they were putting up wonderful and very attractive wood and wire fencing along some of the bridge areas, obviously a lot of money is being spent on this trail.  It's so nice to see this much resource allocation to this wonderful recreational facility.   We saw signs about inline skaters using this trail, as well as snowmobiles in the winter.  And we took a break long enough to call the campground at Apostle Islands, and they had a place!!  We were so excited and, once again, our luck continues to be falling on the right hand side of the ledger!

Ater getting back to the campsite with just enough time to get cleaned up, unhooked and out, since they really needed our site, we headed across the river and into Wisconsin, now the 20th state for the No Worries No Hurries Tour!   As we drove over the bridge we saw these incredibly huge grain storage operations right on the water, and we realized that this is where grain is stored and then loaded onto cargo ships for shipping across Lake Superior.  Quite impressive!  We stopped in at the Wisconsin visitor center as we entered the state and loaded up with brochures and information about Apostle Islands.  We were just blown away by what we saw, and knew we were going to change our plans from staying just a couple of days to enough time to see all there is to see here.  And just as we were pulling out of the visitor center parking lot we noticed a sign for a farmers market down by the water.  So we stopped on by and found some of the most beautiful and delicious tomatoes we've found on the trip!  Boy was lunch divine!!  The drive from the state line to Bayfield, where we are tonight, was really, really pretty.  We saw lots of beautiful farms and the route we chose also took us along the shores of Lake Superior.  Learned that it's the largest body of fresh water in the world!  Did not know that before.

We drove through several small towns along the shore, and some of them were quite small.  One, Finnsville, takes the cake with its sign, showing a population of 2!!  In some of the literature we had picked up at the Wisconsin visitor center, we had read about a fish boil tonight in Port Wing, and thought we might give it a whirl.  We ended up driving through Port Wing on the way, but decided to head on to Bayfield, which is the biggest town along the Lakeshore, and where the campground is located.  We stopped into the National Lakeshore visitor center when we got into town and they had about the best orientation video we've seen.  In every national park we've visited we always stop first at the visitor center to see whatever video they have, to learn about the park and decide what we want to do and see at that park.  So we've seen a lot of these videos along the way, and this one is truly the best we've seen.  There is so much beautiful scenery around here, and so different from what we've seen elsewhere.  The ranger gave us a brochure about all the cruises through the islands--turns out there are 22 islands, and they came to be called Apostle Islands apparently because some early Jesuit missionaries saw 12 of the islands and decided to call them the Apostles as a group, even though none of the individual islands have the names of the original apostles!  The ranger also told us that tomorrow is the last day of one of the cruises which goes to Raspberry Island where you can get off the boat and see the old lighthouse, so we knew we would have to do that, as well as what they call the Grand Tour, which goes around a number of the islands.

So we drove through town to the campground to get our site and then headed back into downtown, so we could get tickets for tomorrow's cruise.  Bayfield is a lovely little town, and so much of it reminds us of seaside towns in New England--lovely old buildings, interesting architecture, and great views of the lake.  We got our boat tickets and then stopped at the information booth for the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, which is a tent performing arts center run by a nonprofit organization.  At the state visitor center we had seen a flier for this place and saw that guitarist Leo Kottke is performing tomorrow night!  For those of you who may not be familiar with this artist, he is a really wonderful guitarist; for those of you who do know his work, you know how excited we were to learn he would be here so we can go hear him perform.  Can't wait for that!  The information booth was staffed by this delightful lady who invited us to come sit and chat for a spell on the porch of this little building.  She was so entertaining, and kept telling us many things to do and see in the area, and we had such a good time with her.  Then we went down to the waterfront to this little restaurant/bar where we could sit outside and watch sailboats on the lake, ferries to Madeline Island departing and arriving, and cruise boats leaving, and the stream of happy folks coming off the boats!  We walked through part of the town and stopped at this lovely little Scandanavian shop that had beautiful things, and the nicest lady running the shop.  Then back to the campground for a delicious supper of some of these wonderful fresh veggies!  What a great first day in Wisconsin!

Along the Munger trail, here in a cut through the rocks when this was a railroad line
Isn't this just a fabulous trail??

The bridge over the river from Duluth to Wisconsin
Some of the massive grain storage silos, for loading onto the cargo ships

The Meteor, one of the last of the fleet of ships called whalebacks, used to ferry cargo on Lake Superior

Along the road in Wisconsin, en route to the Apostle Islands
Love these farms with the silos and the rounded barn roofs!
Beginning to see Lake Superior

Gorgeous little place where we stopped for lunch--rather than call these "rest areas" like we're used to seeing in the east, here they are called "waysides."
Luscious tomato we got at the farmers market--boy was it yummy!!

Coming into Bayfield

Bayfield Presbyterian Church, really quaint little church, and rather unusual to see a Presbyterian church, as we've been seeing mostly Lutheran churches in Minnesota and Wisconsin so far

Downtown Bayfield
Beautiful old house that's now an inn--lots of these houses reminded us of what we've seen in Maine and other New England states
Neat how they designed this gas station to fit in with the area architecture
Little outbuilding of the house in the second photo below--this may be a playhouse, not sure; it was just too cute not to photograph!

Driftwood sculpture along the harbor

Driftwood hanging sculpture outside a gift shop--saw a lot of these around town
Love these flowers!

Sitting outside this bar, watching the beautiful scenery out on the lake--this is so unusual for us, as it seems so much like an oceanside community, and our minds think of lakes as much smaller than this

Walking back to the RV, saw this interesting scrollwork on this balcony

Just love this street name!!


  1. Ah, so envious! I've yet to find a single place along Lake Superior that was anything less than spectacular! Bayfield was ranked as the #1 small town in the Midwest a few years ago, and looks like you're discovering why!

    If you're driving across the U.P. next, and can spare a couple extra days, I highly recommend exploring the waterfalls and hikes at Porcupine State Park and falls along the Black River. I also really enjoyed the loop drive of M26 & Rt41 on the Keweenaw Peninsula (Houghton & Hancock both have good city CGs).

    But my favorite of all UP towns is Munising. The gateway to Pictured Rocks Natl Lakeshore. Awesome city CG w/sandy beach (Munising Tourist Park), great Vegetarian Pasties at Muldoon's (a UP version of an empanada), and great sunset tour boat ride to see the pictured rocks!

    Have a great time!

    1. I just thought of another BIG reason you need to visit Munising! The little town of Christmas, MI is it's neighboring town. Bet you'd draw quite a crowd visiting there :-)

  2. What can I say as I travel along reading your wonderful post and pictures.

    I enjoy daily going back to read old post (pictures).


    1. Rod, so glad you're enjoying the blog; I'm having so much fun doing it and happy to share this incredible adventure!