With most of us putting off summer vacations in 2020, we are looking forward to safely returning to our travels in 2021. We would like to share some of our favorite places to visit and a few we are hoping to in the very near future. While not intentional, the three of us did have a couple of the same notable ‘favorites’, not just in destinations but also in the delectable treat known as ice cream. Let’s pull out our maps and go on a journey together. Wait, do we still have paper maps. Maybe we should say, let’s open up our favorite map application on your smartphone. Either way works for us.
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We begin with Ronnie.
Our first trip takes us to ‘da U.P., eh.’ This, of course, is the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, land of ‘da Yoopers.
What can be a lengthy three hour drive for us from Green Bay, Wisconsin, is never too far once you step foot at the cabins, or as my mother-in-law likes to say, Camp. This is our home away from home. Our escape into the woods, specifically the Hiawatha National Forest. We have our own little spot on a private lake that is beautiful and peaceful. With no more than a 30 minutes drive to many great scenic locations. More on those in my section of this weeks blog post as I take you on our trip from Green Bay to camp.
First, we start off by driving along the Green Bay (the body of water) shoreline for two-thirds of the drive. A beautiful drive with tall trees and periodic views of the water crashing against the beaches. We also have the occasional town to drive through too, which is good for important stops like getting two scoops of Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream (aptly named after one of our other favorite destinations) or for a quick break, if you get my drift. We don’t go through small towns anymore after the highway construction several years ago diverted around them. I miss seeing the local shops when traveling, but it is much faster not slowing down to 25 miles per hour in those spots.
The first town(s) we travel through are Marinette, WI and Menominee, MI, or simply Marinette Menominee. Often called by one name, the two towns are separated by the Menominee River and the Wisconsin Michigan border. A fun marketing show I watch called Small Business Revolution just recently selected Marinette Menominee as a candidate for their competition. While they were not the final pick, they had a great campaign called #myMarinetteMenominee. Earlier I mentioned ice cream. We typically stop just short of Marinette at Seguin’s House of Cheese for our favorite flavor. And yes, we also get our cheese fix here too. This marks 1 hour down, two more to go.
The other larger town we go through is Escanaba, Michigan. In this area the Green Bay water turns into the Little Bay de Noc. Not to be confused with the Big Bay de Noc, just on the other side of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse. In case you are not aware, these bodies of water do connect to Lake Michigan. If you ever make it through Escanaba, don’t forget to wave to Ronald on top of McDonalds. Am I the only one that doe this? Another fun fact, I always make Lynn laugh when I sing my favorite song, Escanaba by Morning sung to the tune of George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning”. Escanaba by mornin’, Escanaba’s on my mind.
The last third of our trip takes us away from the water. We still continue to curve around the top part of Lake Michigan at this point but we are a bit more inland. This is especially true once we hit Federal Forest Highway 13, as it is a straight shot north towards Munising, Michigan.
Our trip through the Hiawatha Forest is just that, a thick forest of beautiful trees. Our trip last fall I got some great shots of the leaves turning. Once we reach our destination, and turn onto the cabins road, you can feel the rush of “we are here!”
I did mention earlier that we are close to so much, especially on Lake Superior, so what might those destinations be? Here is a short list:
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Sand Point Beach
- Miners Castle and Miners Beach
- The Log Slide near Grand Marais
- Au Train Beach
- Riptide Ride (not a destination, but by far one our favorite and most fun things to do with wonderful views of Grand Island, Pictured Rocks, and area lighthouses.)
- Plus, too many waterfalls to list.
Our little slice of heaven, with so much to do if we get an itch to scratch. Do you travel to the U.P.? Where are your favorite places to visit?
Hey Jessica, your turn. Where will you take us today?
Well Ronnie, I will fully admit that I have only been to the U.P. one time to tour a college. One of our goals this summer is to go up to Lake Superior and the Upper Peninsula, so I am making notes!
I’m in a nostalgia kick lately, going through childhood photos and reminiscing on fun times. Our extended family was known to camp. We camped a few times, but more often visited family at camp sites. My birthday falls right before Memorial Day which meant I had many birthday celebrations in the campgrounds. Mauthe Lake was a popular destination for our family in Milwaukee and was a very short drive for us to meet them. Many candles were blown out around the picnic table. I came across this gem from my 20th birthday. Grandpa was known for making signs, and reminding me I was halfway to forty was no exception. He later created a frame with a picture (he was thrifty and a carpenter). In true Grandpa form, he had notes and names on the back.
Our family of five decided that we wanted to start traveling the country. We have a goal to visit as many national parks as possible. There is a National Parks checklist canvas hanging in our house to hold us accountable. Road tripping is certainly more fun than flying when you want to see everything. Aside from what we remember from our childhood, our camping knowledge was limited. We researched and purchased everything needed for tenting and a road trip with our then 9, 7, and 3 year old.
I’ve always been a planner, but planning our first road trip made me realize I may be a bit over the top. Preparing for this trip put all my past planning to shame, ha ha. One word…spreadsheets. After months of planning, we set off on #NorwoodRoadTrip2019 for ten days. We started in Minneapolis to celebrate the 4th of July before heading out to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We loved everything about this park and were glad it was the first stamp in the boys Parks Passport.
We clipped the edge of Wyoming to stop at Devils Tower. Despite a steady stream of wasps at our campsite, nothing was cooler than Devils Tower as our backdrop. After one quick night there, we headed to South Dakota to round out our trip. In one day, we visited Devils Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse! It wasn’t our original plan to see all three at once, but the forecast changed our minds. I love a good storm and this one was fun to watch roll in. By the time we hit our last stop, Mount Rushmore, it started to hail. Don’t worry, we took cover in a restaurant with ice cream. We made it out alright.
<div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/OnSightPhotographyDesigns/posts/2154611571331795" data-width="500" data-show-text="true"><blockquote cite="https://www.facebook.com/OnSightPhotographyDesigns/posts/2154611571331795" class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><p>Crazy Horse was the second of three big stops in one day. We all loved visiting. The three year old looked at the clouds...</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/OnSightPhotographyDesigns/">On Sight Photography</a> on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/OnSightPhotographyDesigns/posts/2154611571331795">Saturday, July 27, 2019</a></blockquote></div>
Many said that we needed a good five days in the Black Hills and they were not lying! We spent almost three days and wished we had at least two more. There’s already plans to drive through again on our next road trip west. We were so lucky that this was the only time it rained the entire trip. We booked a one-room cabin at a campground to break up tenting (Translation: We knew we would be sick of setting up and tearing down a tent by this point).
Our last stop was the Badlands. Talking to several people there, we picked the right year to go. The Badlands were green…in July! It’s almost unheard of that time of year, but it was a rainy summer. I have no previous comparison, but it was gorgeous! We didn’t hike much because it was almost 90° and the kids were not into hiking in the heat that day. Instead we took the scenic car route which was still wonderful. We followed the Badlands with a day exploring the art filled city of Sioux Falls before heading home.
It’s a trip we will always remember. We print photo books annually, and printed one just for this vacation. The boys pull the book off the shelf regularly and talk about that summer. Soon the camping gear will come out again! This year our “summer” trips will start in May, celebrating our first birthday out of “quarantine” in over a year (mine!). It also marks the first time my family will be together in 3D form since December 2019. I can’t wait to hug my humans and start another summer of road tripping!
I could go on about trips taken as a child and an adult, but I am equally as excited to talk and plan future trips (spreadsheets and all). Slowly but surely we will start to cross national parks off our checklist poster. It reminds us every day that there is so much to explore!
Hey Molly, I heard you visited a location on the east coast we are hoping to go to next year. Tell us about your memorable trips!
Thanks, Jessica. Wow, some great trips for sure.
Speaking of nostalgia, as I pull out my sunscreen and the rest of our summer gear out of storage, I always start to think of summer vacations from the past. One of the most memorable summer vacations was my road trip out west. My Aunt Gretch, Uncle Brian, and closest cousin, Ali, moved out to Utah for a few years because of my uncle Brian’s job. Between my sophomore and junior year of college my mom, and my Aunt Marge, packed up the van and made the trip from Wisconsin out to Utah. We made several stops along the way, including Mt. Rushmore and Independence Rock. On top of it all, I saw my first bison in the wild, which are now my second favorite animal. The best part was my family in Utah didn’t know that I was coming. They thought it was just my mom and Aunt Marge to meet up with their sister, Gretch, for a sister bonding trip. So when we got lost just a few miles from their house in Logan, Utah, my Aunt Gretch and Ali had to drive around to find us. While they were, I was hiding under a blanket laying on the floor in the back of the van. So, it was a great surprise when my mom and Aunt Marge were unpacking the van, and Ali, Gretch, and Brian were helping un-pack when I popped out from behind the back seat. While we were there we went to Yellowstone and saw Old Faithful erupt. Seeing it in person is even more amazing than the photos I saw in school. We also went to the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, and Utah State University where I was able to enjoy a tour of Ali’s, then college, and enjoy the famous Aggie ice cream. While all of these things were all wonderful and amazing, the reason this trip is such a stand-out to me is that it was the last trip I went on with my mom because she passed away a year later. While that is the sad part, the memories we made made on this that trip are unforgettable. My mom and I shared clothes, bought matching water bottles, took so many pictures, and ended each day relaxing with our family. I will never forget that amazing trip out west. My family moved back to Wisconsin a few years after our visit, so I’m not sure that I will ever make a trip back out, but I will cherish every memory and every bite of Aggie ice cream we were able to share together.
Another amazing summer trip I took was to Maine. My elementary and high school friend, Sam, and I share a very unique bond. Our mom’s passed away on the same day three years apart. So to celebrate our mom’s we started our vacation in Rockland, Maine to go to Lobster Fest, the main reason for our trip, as Sam’s mom always wanted to go. From Rockland, we made our way to Bar Harbor and ended the trip in Portland. We ate A LOT of Lobster, if memory serves me right, I’m pretty sure that I ate lobster every time we went out to eat. I also made my first art purchase at A Little Mad in Bar Harbor, ate wild blueberries while we hiked the trails of Arcadia National Park, and learned all about whoopie pies. We even made friends with a wonderful couple that we meet while enjoying dinner in an old Italian restaurant. While these were all amazing experiences the time I enjoyed the most was riding in the car with Sam singing show tunes and the chats we had on the beach. I was at a critical juncture in my life at that time. I was freshly out of an 8-year relationship, my job didn’t feel like a good fit anymore, and I just needed more out of life. Our heart to hearts over lobster dishes and blueberry pie, our daydreaming on the beach, and a few tearful moments were healing for me and inspiring. That summer vacation to Maine was a life-changing trip. I left with a new outlook on life and a bond with an old friend that will always be cherished. Especially because we had to spend the first night in our rental car because we couldn’t find a hotel for 50 miles that had a room available or when our Airbnb in Portland was in the super sketchy part of town and the cops patrolling the street told us to go home and not walk outside at night. Memories that I’m sure Sam hasn’t forgotten either.
These are only two of my favorite summer trips I have been able to take in my short life and I could talk for hours about the other memorable ones, like the summer I study abroad in Scotland and my family flew over and meet me in Ireland for a week. OR that time I went to the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver Canada, a trip I dreamed about since I was a little girl. I’m excited to see what other adventures I will be going on in the years to come. This summer, my big trip, is a 4-day camping and kayaking adventure near Munising, Michigan for my best friend’s bachelorette party. Ronnie, I think we need to meet up for a coffee soon so you can share all your favorite UP must stops. If you have any upper Michigan suggestions leave them in the comments below. We are always open to new ideas and finding new places to explore. Have fun this summer!
RC: Molly, for sure. While any topic is great with a cup of coffee, I have plenty to share about the Munising, Michigan area. One of my favorite places to travel.
Alright, everyone. We hope you enjoyed our stories and selection of travel destinations. It has been fun to reminisce and share our experiences. We know many of you that read, and listen to, the blog have some wonderful places you travel too. Could you share those with us? Comment on this blog post with your spots, or jump over to our Facebook page and share there. We appreciate each and every one of you, and wish you all safe travels this upcoming summer.
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