It’s Not the Destination…

…but the journey that takes you there.

I’m not sure who said that (and I’m sure it’s a poor paraphrase), but that certainly proved true last weekend.

I had to go to Target to return something that was nearing its 90-day deadline, and I thought I’d take the scenic route.  The nearest store is in Marquette, Michigan, a destination that had two advantages, in addition to the convenience of Target: 1) it is in Michigan, which has the exotic appeal of being a different state (!) and 2) I had never been there.  Marquette is normally about an hour and a half from my house, on the highway.  It somehow took me almost five hours, which included a stop at a delicious brew pub in Ishpeming and driving a good ten miles on what I think was an ATV trail, sure that it would pop me out on a road again somewhere, until I concluded that my Toyota Camry was not an all-terrain vehicle, and I would do well to turn around.  I slowed down at every little wetland that looked “moose-y,” but never got to see one on this trip.  I spent five months in Alaska and only saw moose twice, so I can’t realistically expect to see one every time I cross the river into the Upper Peninsula.

Roadtrip! I like taking the scenic route, and I was pretty sure this road would get me where I wanted to go…

…It was around this point that I finally concluded that I was not on an actual road. I went another half mile or so, to make it an even 5 miles in, then turned around and headed back out to the forest road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back out on the road I intended to be on, heading north between Crystal Falls and Ishpeming, through the Escanaba River State Forest.

 

 

 

 

 

Poor road conditions make for beautiful roadsides!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not a moose to be seen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stretch of road north of the State Forest, in an industrially-owned forest, shows a marked difference in timber types – much more old growth here, mostly maples, hemlock, and yellow birch.

 

 

No moose, but I saw this Kingfisher catch a snack and then go to perch on a dead spruce branch.

I got to Marquette in the late evening, only to find that it was all-of-a sudden actually nighttime, because somewhere in the middle of the State Forest I had crossed into the Eastern time zone and lost an hour.   I followed the “main drag” all the way into downtown, then spent another half hour trying to find my way back out, heading west along the Lake Superior shoreline to where I hoped to camp that night.  Marquette was full of things that I haven’t seen much of in a month or two, such as stoplights and more than eight cross-streets in a row, and I found it thoroughly confusing.  With a little effort, though, I navigated my way out and onto the county highway I’d been seeking.  After driving back and forth for a few minutes, I found a small parking lot, grabbed my backpack, and hiked in towards the beach a little ways.  To camp in Michigan State Forests, unless it is in a prohibited area, all you need is a permit, which you can print from the internet at home (or a friendly library), fill out, and hang at your campsite.  Now that I know that, I’m going to keep a few blank permits in my car at all times for the last-minute get-aways!  I found a flat, soft spot, and pitched my tent under the pines but within earshot of the big lake, and spent the night listening to Superior’s waves crashing against Michigan’s rocky shoreline, reflecting on all the twists and turns I’d taken to get to that peaceful spot!

Sunset reflecting off of the water and sky behind Little Presque-Isle, just a few hundred yards from my campsite.

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