Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cirlce Tour - Part 1

Greetings from Michigan! We have completed the first leg of the Circle Tour and we've been having a great time!

Day 1 - Friday, July 12, 2013
Minneapolis to Grand Marais, MN - 270 miles
We left Minneapolis around 10:30 and went North towards Duluth. This was our longest travel day. Our first stop was in Two Harbors, MN for some playing on the rocks, swimming for the dogs, and a little relaxing on the beach for me! 

Eleanor in Two Harbors, MN

Eleanor in Two Harbors, MN
Relaxing on the rock beach
Eleanor playing on the rocks in Two Harbors, MN
Two Harbors Lighthouse
We left Two Harbors and headed to Grand Marais, MN in hopes of making it by dinner time. I'm no pro at backing up The Looney!! Lucky for me there is always some nice old man around willing to come to my rescue. After we got situated we walked into town and ordered pizza from our favorite place, Sven & Ole's. Our intent was to have a pizza party by the lake, but by the time we got the pizza and got a picnic table it was pretty chilly. We had one piece, closed up the box and headed back to the camp site to enjoy the rest. I wish we would have made it to town earlier in the day. The Grand Marais Art festival was going on and it looked like lots of neat artists and crafts, but they were closing up when we got there. It rained like crazy overnight and we woke up to some very thick fog. 

Eleanor on the beach in Grand Marais, MN

Yarn bomb. Grand Marais Art Festival

Day 2 - Saturday, July 13, 2013
Grand Marais, MN to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park - 129 Miles
Driving from Grand Marais, MN to the Canadian border in fog, thick fog. Unfortunately we couldn't see much, but what we could see of Grand Portage, MN was really pretty. We crossed the border without any problem. Passport for me, birth certificate for Eleanor and health certificates for the dogs is all it took. As we got across the border I got a nice message from Verizon Wireless letting me know I was in Canada and would not have service, but if I wanted service I could call and set up roaming for $1.00 per minute. I decided to pass and unplug for the three days we were in Canada. 

Crossing the border into Thunder Bay was beautiful, until we hit Thunder Bay... lots of stop lights and pretty run down looking city. I was glad to get through town and back to the beautiful scenery. The weather started to improve, the sun came out and it warmed up to the low 70's. When we arrived in the Pass Lake area we decided to check out the Panorama Amethyst Mine. It was a steep, winding dirt road up to the mine. I was a little nervous to pull The Looney up the hill but I we made it without any problem. 

The mine was interesting, we learned how the amethyst crystals form between the rocks. After the tour we got to dig for our own amethyst. They had a nice digging area and then a spot to clean off the rocks, bag them up and take them home (for a small fee of course). 

Panorama Amethyst Mine

Eleanor next to an enormous amethyst
Eleanor digging for amethyst
Eleanor cleaning her amethyst

Our next night was at Sleeping Giant State Park. This is a really beautiful park located on Lake Louise. The park is on a peninsula of Lake Superior. Our camp site was located right on the lake. It was the most perfect spot, only one problem.... mosquito's!! the Mosquito's were as thick as the fog in Grand Marais! I was able to sit in The Looney and look out at the lake while the dog swam and Eleanor watched a movie.  We met some nice deer at this park, they posed nicely for a photo.

Camp site at Sleeping Giant
Sunset at camp site
Our friendly deer friend

Two things I wish I would have known about this park 1) The hiking trails are 1-2 hour hikes or half days hikes. 2) The electrical posts are shared between two sites and located in the woods quite a distance away. I have an extension cord but it wasn't long enough. I ended up using mine plus one I rented from the camp ground. We really wanted to hike over to see the sleeping giant but it was two hour round trip. We didn't have time that evening and it was raining when we got up the next morning. This is a park I would visit again and plan on staying for a couple days. 

Day 3 - Sunday, July 14, 2013
Sleeping Giant to Rainbow Falls Provincial Park - 112 Miles
Today we were traveling from Sleeping Giant Provincial Park to Rainbow Falls Provincial Park in Rossport, Ontario. It was raining pretty hard and continued to rain the entire drive. When we got to the site I had to set up in the rain, not fun. This park was also on Lake Superior just steps away from our camp site. The rain did stop in the evening long enough for us to get out and play on the rocks for a while. The soil in Ontario is red and the rocks on the beach are pebbles, red in color. On the Minnesota shore line we have dark grey rocks and they are bigger and flat. 

Eleanor and the dogs at Rainbow Falls
Eleanor on the beach at Rainbow Falls

My beautiful girl!
Red pebble beach
I wasn't overly impressed with this park. The campground was fair, the only thing it had going for it was that it's right on Lake Superior. 

Day 4 -  Monday, July 15, 2013
Rainbow Falls to Lake Superior Provincial Park - 177 Miles
The next morning it was still raining and foggy again. The fog was so hick you could barely see your hand in front of your face. We were planning to hike to Rainbow Falls but the weather spoiled our plans. Our next pit stop was at Ouimet Canyon. I was hoping the rain would stop so we could see the canyon. The Canyon is about 8k off the main highway. When we got on the back roads there was a sign for the canyon at a fork in the road, but the sign didn't tell you which way to go. Naturally I chose the wrong way, but in the end it turned out to be the right way because we saw some of the most beautiful scenery of the whole trip!! We turned around and got on the right road as it stared to sprinkle.  The drive up the canon road is long and steep so you are required to park trailers and RV's at the bottom and walk the 3k up the hill. It was only drizzling so we decided to grab the rain ponchos and start walking.  We got about 3/4 of the way up and it started pouring. Eleanor was already getting a little tired and the rain put her over the edge. Needless to say we turned around and walked back down without seeing the canyon. On the drive back to the main highway I saw two big things blocking the road, as we got closer we realized they were black bears. They were not as friendly as the deer we saw, and they were camera shy. 

Scenery from the 'wrong' road
Shy Mr. Bear

More driving in the rain and fog to Lake Superior Provincial Park which was our last overnight destination in Canada. About halfway there we stopped in White River for lunch and a visit to the Winnie the Pooh landmark. White River is the birthplace of Pooh. When we got to White River it stopped raining and got really warm. 

Eleanor and Pooh
Lake Superior Provincial Park was gorgeous! The drive through the park is about 80k and the scenery is spectacular! The views over lake Superior are the best I've ever seen. There are many camp grounds and rec areas within the park. We stayed at the Agawa Bay camp ground. I was so please with this park, they have a huge swimming beach. Who knew that there were sand beaches on Lake Superior? The other great thing about this park is that our site was right on the lake, and it was a pull through site... so no backing in!! Whoo hooo. We got settled and put on our suits. We all went swimming; Eleanor, me and the dogs. The water was warm which surprised me considering the water along the shore line in MN is freezing. 

Eleanor swimming at Agawa Bay

View of Lake Superior from our camp site

I was able to sit outside and eat dinner while looking at the lake, no mosquito's! This was my favorite park so far. I wish that we would have had more time to spend here. We watched the sunset over the lake and I couldn't wait to get up in the morning and walk the beach. 

Day 5 - July 16, 2013
Lake Superior Provincial Park to Tahquemenon Falls, MI - 200 Miles 
Unfortunately, I woke up to clouds. I took a few steps on the beach and could see the rain coming down over the bay. We decided to pack up and hit the road since it was raining, again. 

We were anxious to get back to the U.S. We both were ready to plug back in and see what was going on at home. 

Here are a few tips for traveling in Canada:
1) Get gas when you see it. There are very few gas stations and no signs telling you where the next station is. We almost ran out of gas twice. The second time we needed to get emergency gas at the park. 
2) Know where you are going. They are lacking in signage along the highway. There are no signs telling you that the park is xx number of KM's away or the next town is xx KM's away. 
3) Bring food and water. There are not a lot of places to stop for food along the highway. I would estimate that eight out of ten places along the highway are boarded up.
4) If you plan to camp at an electric site make sure you have an extra long extension cord, or remember to rent one from the camp office. The electrical posts are between two sites, not at each site like they are in the U.S.

We crossed back in to the U.S. with no problem. We were happy to be 'home'! I like the speed limit signs in MPH instead of KM and signs telling me where to go before I get there. They also have Circle Tour signs so I know I'm on the right route. 

We are in Paradise, MI at Tahquemenon Falls Park. It was beautiful and hot today, until we pulled into our site. It's raining now. 

So far we have traveled 888 miles!! I'll post about the second leg of our trip when we get home. Wish us luck and pray for nice weather. 




  1. Oh, i have so much to comment!!first, finally glad to see your faces, miss you! I bet E was in her glory at the amethyst mine. I know you came home with stuff from there!! Bummer its been raining.. glad you had such a wonderful beautiful day at the sandy beach. Love all the pictures and hearing about the trip so far! Trip you two will always remember. Love you two!!
    PS- I cant believe you saw 2 bears!!

  2. Wow, a fun post. Great pictures too. How could you choose which to put on here? You're a better woman then I am. No phone for 3 days? Ummm you know that both Patrick and yours truly so would have paid that $1 per minute. Well, maybe not but we would have seriously thought about it. Looks beautiful. Still can't believe you have a few days left too! Enjoy- Jayne