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Friday, September 3, 2010

VACATION – Thursday Thunderstorms


Oh gosh, 5 am we woke up to a strange vibration.  Might have had something to do with a big shivvering shuddering shaking collie sitting on our heads?   There were thunder rumbles outside, so she was clinging to us.  If the sheltie could have been able to jump up (it’s too high) he would have been right there alongside of her!

I pried her off and tried to pull up my covers because it was COLD!   Down to 55 in the rig, so I got up, slid on my comfy wool slippers and started up the catalytic heater.  I set it just on low so it wouldn’t cook us out, but just enough to take off the chill.  Of course I hopped back into bed where it was warm, after kicking Dumb Ducky off my pillow!

The rain came down gently, once the thunder boomers ceased.  I dosed back off till 6:30 and then got up to start the coffee pot.  Got dad’s old glass pyrex coffee pot and it looks so cool with the blue/orange propane flames licking up around it’s edges.  It is a sight that I remember as a child, of the perking coffee on the propane stove.

Steveio made his famous thin sliced american fried potatoes for breakfast and then took the doggers for a little walk once the rain stopped.  I geared up the computers and GPS maps and such stuff to find our way along the roads once we get past Superior and Duluth.  Steve played with his little Netbook while I did up the dishes.  He likes it so far, but the screen is small. Soon we were ready to head west.  The rains stopped and as we drove west on US 2 there was blue sky!   How nice----  it went will with the RED roads… yes red!  From the heavy abundance of iron ore, much of the ground in Northern WI, the U.P of Michigan and across northern Minnesota is very red as it gets mixes with the paving materials.  See the blue sky?

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (17)

In no time at all, we were entering Superior WI and saw the dreaded construction and detour signs saying we HAD to go into Duluth on the higher bridge instead of just crossing over south on the other bridge and scooting out into western Minnesota.

Not only that, we lost our blue sky!  Things got very cloudy AND windy!

Sooooo we entered the road construction…. take note how the road keeps getting NARROWER in each shot!

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (6)Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (9)


Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (11)Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (10)

When you are in a motorhome that is 8 and a half feet wide, those concrete barriers are AWFULLY close on each side!  ACK!!!  That is TOO NARROW!

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (12)




As we passed over the bridges and construction, I was able to snap a few shots of an ore boat.  It’s not too often you can see one from above---  see how the hatches open to be filled with ore or other items to be hauled in the hull?

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (2)Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (4)Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (3)Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (5)


I was able to snap a  very blurry long away shot of Enger Tower… as kids, when we would visit relatives in Duluth, we would stop at this park.  It’s a cold wet moldy stone tower with steps inside, located way high up on The Bluff, overlooking the harbor.  We would climb up inside, counting the steps. 105 of them to be exact.  I remember even getting Grandma Kafehl to go to the top with us one time too. 

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (8) Here is some more information about the tower:



We drove on westward and we were looking for a quiet place to camp for the night.  Amazingly I still had an aircard signal long after we were past the Duluth construction fiasco.  Found a website for a small county park on the Snake River, and started to head to that place, but we made a WRONG TURN!

Well.. we had to do our first “OOPS UNHOOK TURNAROUND REHOOK” drill!   Instead of the campground turn, I sent him down the road to the Solana State Forest instead.   Heck, they are both little pine trees on my GPS, right?   Well, there weren’t any places to turn around, even a block, or a large country block, to get back the other direction.  You must NEVER back up with a tow bar like ours.  Sooooo  we had to pull off to the side of the road, unhook the toad, turn the rig around, hook the toad back up and we were on our way-----  my fault!

We WERE headed for Snake River county park campground…



It was very remote and only had a one way gravel road into the campground, 3 miles long a big loop.  We always seem to push the limits in our motorhome, don’t we?  We have been on narrower and rougher roads than this.  But it was pretty….

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (13)

Once we got to the campground, the campsites consisted of sideways pull off spots along a gravel road, with the river along one side.  Of the 12 campsites available, 11 were reserved with big handwritten signs for the weekend.  Nobody was there yet camping in any of them, but by judging the amount of ATV action on the nearby trail, and the evidence of the tire tracks and trailers having been unloaded, we are thinking this is gonna be one NOISY place for the holiday weekend!   No thanks. 

Don't get me wrong, we loved our ATV’s when we had them on big group outings.  But they are very noisy and seem to attract the rowdy young folks if left to their own devices in a remote campground with no evidence of rangers, staff or upkeep.  LOL

We can only imagine the amount of dust and dirt and gravel coming in our windows of the rig from having parades of ATVs whipping by just inches from our rig due to the parking configuration of the campsites.

So, after all of that to get IN to that campground, we now finished the 3 mile gravel loop to get back out.  At about 10 mph.

thursday map


Now we set our sights on a huge lake to the west… Mille Lac Lake.  On the internet, I found a state park and called up, sure nuff, they have 30% of their sites designated as first come first served and would be available for the whole 4 days of the holiday weekend!  SCORE!   Nice to have that option.  Of course they were the rustic sites, not electric, but we didn’t care.   We headed on over.


What a lovely park!  The main gate is miles away from the campgrounds, and they are in two separate areas, not all crammed together.  We talked to a ranger just after a momma deer and two babies skittered and skipped down our road in front of the camper.  I managed to snap one shot that was clear of the mom, the babies were already hiding.

Mille Lac SP  sept 2010 (16)

He said there are bears along the back river behind us, to be sure to keep all food put away so as not to teach them they can get easy food.  Otherwise they have to be *relocated* to other areas once they find out campers are easy pickins.   A fellow camper came by and showed us some pics he took of the momma deer and babies before they came down our road.  He also had some great shots of a momma and baby porcupine up a tree on a nearby hiking trail.  This is gonna be a good place….

We are tucked away on an outside loop back-in site.  And each site is surrounded by trees and shrubs so you don’t see the neighbors.  It’s a bit pricier than most places we stay, $20 a night.  But for a holiday weekend, we don’t much mind.  If you buy the yearly auto pass, they give you a complimentary sign for your toad to hang in the windshield so you don’t have to buy two.  And our pass is good till next September.

We got set up in our site, and it started to rain again…. so we cooked indoors.  Whipped up a pot of spaghetti and some garlic bread.  After the rains ceased, we took the Tracker out and explored the park,  it’s a very big park with a lot of hiking trails, ponds, lakes and a dam.  We might tackle the observation tower later, 100 steps.  The lake itself is HUGE…. 17 miles long and 13 miles wide. 

So that was it for our Thursday Thunderstorms…  three of them, morning noon and almost night.  But the weekend looks to be promisingly better on the weather forecast~!


  1. Looks like a good choice for the weekend,we are staying home since the Lake is always crowded and noisy on the Labor Day weekend, next week there will be no one again. Have a great time, be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  2. What a beautiful area to be in - please post pictures of your campsite!

    I hate those narrow construction lanes with a 5th wheel as well.

  3. Gorgeous camping area!! Boy ya'll are good at finding great places!!

    Cindy and Walker

  4. Last time I camped at Mille Lacs SP was about 12 years ago, when I had a pop up camper. :) You are in the land of the Ojibwa. Back then a section of the campground had been closed since it was determined that it was a sacred Ojibwa site. Some mighty fine walleye and perch fishing on that lake. :)

  5. That bit about the iron-red roads was interesting. I didn't know about any of that previously.

    That's some scary construction! I've been in stretches like that in my SUV, complete with twisty turns and close concrete barricades, all the while folks are barreling down behind me, impatient and tailgating. NOT FUN! Anyway, glad you made it to the campground in one piece! Enjoy your holiday weekend!

  6. We were near Duluth many years ago and were going to drive through it to get to International Falls and Fort Frances. The kids were very young and just before getting to Duluth we came upon a detour, a BIG detour. Apparently a train had derailed and one of the cars had something toxic in it and part of Duluth was evacuated and everyone had to detour around Duluth. I think we ended up with about a 4 hour detour (not fun with little children) and never got to see Duluth!

    Love the campground. I like it when you can't see your neighbour. $20 is pricey but a the campground here people are paying about $57 + taxes a night for the long weekend for services and you are parked on top of each other. Good thing we are workamping, because I would never pay that price to stay here, we like the rustic much better!


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