A Weekend Trip With a Friend
You learn a lot about yourself when you take a weekend road trip with a close friend. A few weeks ago, my closest friend and I went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to have a few days of fun. My wonderful husband took her two boys for us. He deserves a medal for having five kids by himself. We took off and had the time of our lives.
We left town and had not gone two miles out of town when we had our first incident. I hit the brakes as a deer was slowly crossing the road. I mean slowly. It did not have a care in the world. After we had come to a complete stop, it looked over at us in surprise. The look said, “What are you doing here? This is my road!” After he/she (too early in the year to tell) ambled across, we continued on our way.
Emily happened to bring her GPS gadget to help us poor women on our trip. Really freaked me out when these words would interrupt our conversation, “Right turn in 2.5 miles.” We did discover though that the gadget was useless as we were looking for waterfalls. Must have been too far out of “civilization” for it.
Our trip continued into the dark night as we had left town late in the day. As the darkness descended, all the deer decided to come out. Husband, if you want a deer next hunting season go to the UP. There were hundreds (only a slight exaggeration). We saw so many eyes on the side of the road. I went under the speed limit just in case we decided to get too close to one.
As we were coming close to Marquette, we began to look for the hotel. Thought it would be easy to find. We were on the right road. Before we knew it we were driving pretty far out of town. We called the hotel and from the directions realized that we had gone too far the wrong way. Finding a place to turn around, we went back. Before we knew it we were back in Ishpeming again. The hotel was in Marquette. What happened? Two sets of eyes and we missed it?
Unlike men, we stop and ask for directions. Pulling into the gas station, I asked where the hotel was. They were shocked that we were so lost. Found out that where we turned around the first time would have taken us right to the hotel. It was slightly out of town and very close to Lake Superior. Laughing that we had just wasted about an hour based on faulty directions, we headed back through Marquette. Needless to say we knew that area of town really good by then.
As were driving through, you would have thought of us as hicks. We got so excited to see a Kohl’s, Yonkers, Red Lobster, and so many other places. You have to understand. We live in a town of 1500 and we have to drive thirty minutes or more to find a Wal-Mart. This was really something for us.
Back to our trip. We get to the hotel and get signed in. As we are parking and looking for our room, we realize that we are getting lost in the hotel! Yes, we could not find the room and that was with a map of the facility. We walked by our hallway two or three times before realized that it was not a dead end. All we had to do was go around a corner and there it was.
We were settling it with both us rushing to get to the bathroom first. Then our stomachs began to make hunger noises. New to town, we called the front desk. It was at this time that we found out that they are an hour ahead of us and only McDonald’s is open at that late of an hour. We were in civilization! Surely there was something open late! Nope. Only McD’s.
At this point you have to understand that Emily works at McD’s back home. The last place either one of wanted on our vacation was what we got all the time back home. Stomachs won the argument and we ventured out to McDonald’s and almost get ourselves killed.
We pull out of the motel’s parking lot and the fast food restaurant was across the road. From the angle we were at, you just drove right across and into the parking lot. Not until we were right at the edge at 11:30 that night did we realize that there was a “ravine” on the other side of the road between us and the food. After screaming I turned the wheel and proceeded to try to find the way into the parking lot. Whoever planned it did not use logic.
We got out food and quickly went looking for the Sandman. The next morning we get up and planned to venture out to the local waterfalls. Specific directions we did not have. We thought the little map from the hotel would be enough. We found out differently.
The Infamous Dirt Road
Which falls did we want to find? We picked an area with about three or four falls nearby and decided to go that route. We head up the coast and meet a detour sign. Where do we detour to? Guess the transportation department ran out of money. We never did find the sign. We knew we wanted to go north east and follow the coast. Driving south looking for a non-existent detour sign we decided to turn north east and see if we could find something that would direct us. We couldn’t even find a gas station anywhere to ask for directions. Guess they built them all on the other side of town.
As we are driving through a small residential area, we are trying to read signs. In front of me a very large squirrel shoots across the road. Instead of yelling, “Squirrel” as any normal person would, I decided that he was going to die and yelled, “Dead squirrel!”. After we finished laughing with tears in our eyes, we realized that he lived. This has become a running joke with us now every time we see a squirrel especially a dead one.
We’re wondering where we were going to end up when all of a sudden a sign says that we are approaching Big Bay. Oh, my! We were on the right road all along and had no idea. God was the navigator because there is no way we should have found the right road.
As were driving along, both us let out a yell as a deer that was standing beside the road (almost on the road itself) turned to run back into the woods. We did not see him. He blended in perfectly with the terrain. Scared the bajeebers out of us.
By reaching Big Bay we had gone too far. You would have thought that there would be signs directing us to the falls that were in all the travel guides. Nope! They do not believe in signs up there. We pull into a gas station. It was the first one we had seen that entire day. After getting gas, I asked the clerk where Alder falls was. She had no idea. Thankfully, a local was waiting in line and acknowledged knowing where it was. The directions: go back the way you came about three miles. You will see a green garage and a dirt road. Turn on the dirt road. What? Ok.
Opening up the travel guide again, the directions for the falls said, “Go 22.5 miles out of Marquette on highway 155 and turn left on a dirt road. It immediately forks. Take the left branch. Go down the road/trail to a small parking area with a sign saying ‘Park Here’. Go down path to falls.” Dirt road? Do you know how many dirt roads are in the UP? Do you know how many there are in that one area? They did not mention the green garage once. The road was a trail and the parking area was only visible because a few cars were already parked there. The sign was small and WAY up on a tree. No way we would have seen it.
We had fun climbing down the steep, very steep, hill to see one of the most beautiful and restful sites. It was the coming up that about killed us. Should have paid closer attention to the young twenty year old that was coming up as we were going down. Too busy admiring how good looking and not noticing how much he was puffing.
Dead River Falls and Reany Falls
We continued looking for other falls, but the lack of signs
did not help. We saw a small parking lot
where many people were getting out and venturing into the woods. The Dead River Falls was supposed to be
nearby, but you had to walk a good distance.
Our legs were killing us and the thought of a long walk was not
appealing at the moment. As we drove
past the parking lot and over Dead River, it looked like the dam and the falls
were closer than we thought, but nothing looked like the pictures. We pulled over and Emily climbed down to get
some pictures. I was reading a sign
which said “Dead River Dam/Falls.”
According to it we were right there.
I yelled that this was supposed to be the falls. We began arguing back and forth over the
sound of the water if this was really the falls. Her final reply was, “This is not the damn
falls.” I looked her square in the eye
as she walked up and said, “Yes, it literally is. It says right here ‘Dam/Falls’. After a moment of surprised silence we both
doubled over laughing.We never did find the actual falls.
As we were driving down one road, we found where the maps indicated falls off of Wright road. We decided that we turned right on that road since turning left took us into Lake Superior. A little common sense helps once in a while. The travel guide said to turn left on Forestville road. What it did not bother to tell you is from which direction it was starting from. We should have turned right.
Once we got our bearings together, we continued down Forestville road and the travel guide’s directions. “You will cross a bridge where you will see the falls on your right.” It did not tell us that there was more than one bridge that you cross. It also did not tell you that the first bridge was one lane and looked like the rope bridges built across deep rivers in the Amazon. We held our breath as we crossed the first bridge. Emily looked for the falls while I tried to keep us out of the water.
No waterfall to see, so we continued down the dirt road. What is it with dirt roads? Then we find the correct bridge and the beautiful Reany Falls. As we parked near the water power station, right in front of us is a sign saying “Beware of Witch.” Okay! Do we get out? Or do turn around saying a few prayers on the way out? We decided to be brave and let God watch over us. He had done a bang up job so far for us. We climbed the falls and were amazed at the beauty of it all.
Presque Isle and Homeward Bound
As we wound our way back into Marquette, we decided to visit a site called Presque Isle. It was wonderful. We walked out to the lighthouse and learned why the sign warned people not to walk out during a storm. On this clear day, the wind was harsh and could have pushed us into the water. We picked through rocks and got our rear-ends wet from the surf. What we go through for souvenirs for our children!
We did not see the entire place, but we really want to go back. It was amazing. A great place to have a picnic. There was even a nature center to explore. Walking out on the large rock formations was breathtaking.
We decided to conclude this day’s adventure by going out to Red Lobster and then soak in the hot tub. Our muscles were screaming from all the walking and climbing we had done. Not as young as we used to be.
The next day was Sunday and we were to head back home. We took a side trip to Pictured Rocks. The details of this trip is located in the Miners Falls article. What was really fun was finding other waterfalls literally on the side of the road and exploring them. If you are up that way, you have to visit Munising. A great little town.
We turned to go home and had to make a decision. Do we go back the main roads or do we go a more direct route via the back roads. We are adventurous so we took the back roads. I mean the back back roads. Most of them were dirt. What did we discover on all this? Emily cannot read a map and never drove on a dirt road. Also, it is hard to drive down these dirt roads while crying and laughing at the same time. You tend to not see the sharp curve up ahead when you do that. Once you get the giggles, you just cannot stop.
We did learn that Emily can be taught to read a map. We also learned that I can react to sudden ravines quicker that we had thought. We learned that just going along with the flow can be fun. We learned not to trust smiling fisherman (see Miners Falls). We learned that you can cram too much into a day and a half. Squirrels are suicidal. Witches live near some waterfalls. Need to look closer at young men’s breathing habits. Let God navigate more often.