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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten

More Time With Yoopers

We stayed at our first Boondockers Welcome spot and it was awesome. Boondockers Welcome is an app that connects RVers who need a place to stay with property owners with spots for them. We spent time in the evening for all three nights sitting around a campfire with the hosts, Johnathon and Kathy, and the other RVers staying there. It was beautiful and peaceful, and under five miles away from two different towns, which allowed us to do some exploring with our bikes.

On Wednesday, we finally had the chance to rig up my bike so it could carry our paddle boards. Before we left Idaho, we bought a tiny cart to put under the back end of the paddle boards, with the intention of putting the front end on our wagon used for hauling things with my bike. Abe got it all set up and gave it a test ride. After waiting around for a few minutes, I decided to check on him. He was stopped at the bottom of the driveway. The boards hadn't been secured front to back on the cart, so they had slid right off, leaving the cart behind. He took a few minutes to get everything put together again before riding back. The next half hour was spent fidgeting with the bike, cart, wagon, paddle boards, and straps. Finally, Abe got everything rigged up. He went on another test drive, and one of the wheels from the cart popped up in the air, but after hitting a few bumps on the driveway, everything jiggled into place and leveled out. We were good to go.

We rode a few miles to a boat ramp, put the boards in the water, and slowly paddled out a ways. I was tired and there's nothing as relaxing as the warm sun, a cool breeze, and the gentle rocking of the water so I decided to lie down on my board. Pretty soon, we were both lying down, completely relaxed and on the edge of sleep. I have no idea how long we had our eyes closed, but eventually, it was time to go back. It must have been quite a while, because the breeze had blown us and the trip back to shore was about four times as far as the trip out.

The bike ride back didn't go as good as the ride there. We started out on pavement, so there were no bumps to jiggle everything into place. I had one wheel in the air on the back cart the whole trip, and the bike was pulling and the balance was off so I had to go slow. When I turned into the driveway, everything got misaligned and I couldn't make the corner so I gave up and decided it would be easier to push my bike up the driveway.

We bought pasties (pronounced with a short "a" like cat, not stripper nipple covers), a kind of handheld meat pie that was originally created for miners to take with them for lunch, and cinnamon rolls from Kathy. And on Friday night during the campfire, she brought out a cinnamon roll with a lit candle in it, and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me. It was a really nice and delicious surprise. During the three days we were there, we ate way too many carbs and relished every delicious bite.

Our next destination was the Kewadin Casino in St. Ignace, MI. $15 a night, and the night we arrived was free because the RV spots were closed due to a Goo Goo Dolls and Cheap Trick concert. We just parked in a grassy area they sent us to and moved to our spot later that night like they told us to. $30 for three nights hooked up to power and water, plus a free dump station. As we get further east, cheap or free sites are getting harder to come by, so we were thrilled. Plus, they had a free shuttle service to and from town which we took advantage of a few times.

On the drive to the Kewadin Casino, we stopped at a pullout area next to Lake Michigan where we walked down to a sandy beach. After the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior, I was surprised to see waves of dark brown mud washing onto the sand. I haven't seen any other spots of Lake Michigan, so I'm hoping it was just that beach and not the entire lake that looks like that.

On Friday, we called for a shuttle to pick up us and the dogs for a ferry ride to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron where, once again, we found ourselves staring into crystal clear water. Part of me wished we'd brought our bikes, but it would have cost nearly $100 for us and the bikes on the ferry. The front street was absolutely packed with bicycles, pedestrians, and draft horses pulling wagons full of tourists. Marley has only seen horses once before and Abe could barely keep hold of her then. Not only did she completely freak out when she saw them, but she continued to be hard to control for the next hour. This trip was good for her. By the time we, she'd finally gotten used to seeing the large animals and was interested, but didn't spaz out. There were also dogs everywhere, which she finally calmed down around. Abe had his hands full while we were there, but Marley got a good bit of exposure and training.

Because we had dogs instead of bikes, we weren't able to go far enough to get out of the crowds. The part of the island we did see was lined with beautiful old houses, mansions, and hotels, all with yards filled with beautiful flower gardens, and one large park on a beach where we took the dogs so we could splash them with water to cool them off. We stopped at a coffee shop for lunch - grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato bisque.

After lunch, we walked around the docks and looked at boats. We got to chat with the owners of a couple beautiful ones that looked like they would be perfect for us someday. When we passed a butterfly garden, Abe held the dogs while I went in. I like bugs and creepy crawlies more than him so he let me go look at the butterflies and terrariums with lizards, tarantulas, leaf insects, roaches, and more.

It's normal for Marley to attract attention, but this was insane. Abe felt like he was part of a circus act. I don't think we ever went more than a minute without hearing, "Look at that dog. It's huge!", or "Can I pet your dog?" (that's always a yes), or stories of other Great Danes that people own or know. While we waited for the ferry to return to shore, a very sociable young boy who lived on the island pet Marley and Truffle while he regaled us with stories of his own dogs. Truffle is showing his age more and more, and by the time we got back he was completely exhausted. The next day, he barely moved. Those long walks are getting to be too much for him pretty quickly.

Saturday, we walked to the casino's beach to look at Lake Huron. We followed a trail for a ways, but ended up in some back yards so we turned around. The casino yard was set up with chairs for a wedding later in the day. I never would have thought of a casino for a wedding, but it was a gorgeous backdrop. Here's hoping the bride and groom have decades of happiness ahead of them!

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