It seems that driving to Michigan and back has become an annual tradition. Every year we intend to sell the van, and we don’t, and the next year we’re glad we didn’t. 2022 was no exception to that rule.

We were looking forward to this trip, as we hadn’t seen friends from Denver, or stayed in Door County, Wisconsin since 2020. This year the exact location would be different, but hanging out on a farm in Wisconsin with friends is always good.

On the way to Michigan, we stopped at Beaver Creek Park, as usual. On the way out of town we were passed by our neighbors, also on the way to Michigan. Several hours later, we ran into them at the Sugar Shack diner in Rudyard, Montana. Every time we pass the Sugar Shack, we think we should stop. This time we did, and there were our neighbors. The Sugar Shack is awesome, and if you are driving Route 2 through eastern Montana, you should stop there.

We made it to the Bear’s Paw Mountains, and the campground at Beaver Creek just in time for bed, and had a beautiful sunset on the way.

The next morning, after coffee and breakfast, we headed straight to The Urban Stampede in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It took us slightly out of the way, but it’s definitely worth it. The neighborhood is cool, and the coffee and pastries are fantastic.

From there, we headed to Turtle River State Park, in eastern North Dakota. We’d stayed there before, and though it was a little noisy last time, it was a known quantity with nice showers. Considering there are not a whole lot of camping options in North Dakota, the Turtle River State Park is pretty nice. We picked a spot a little further from the showers, so it was a little quieter at night.

The next day goal was to reach our friend’s in Wisconsin. The only stops we made were for gasoline and rest areas. Otherwise, it was non-stop to Door County.

After three days in Wisconsin, it was time to head to Michigan. We had reserved a campsite at the Rivermouth Campground at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Shelby and I had both been to the falls in the past, but Alexander had not. The infrastructure and facilities at the falls had changed considerably since I was there 30 some years ago. More and nicer would be the description. More parking, bathrooms, boardwalks, and bridges. I guess it’s good. It was also much busier. That’s not so good. It was enjoyable nonetheless, and Alexander liked it, though he didn’t want to stop to see it. He wanted to head straight to family down south.

The next morning we made one stop at Whitefish Point, near the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Whitefish Bay is memorialized in the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, by Gordon Lightfoot, a song I heard often as a kid. My parents also took my sister and I too Whitefish Point when we were kids, and offered us money to go for a swim in Lake Superior’s 65 degree water. I know I made it all the way under. It was cold. I decided, seeing were were nearby, I should go for a swim at Whitefish point, as an adult, 40+ years later. Of course, it was windy, raining, and in the 50s. I went for a swim. Alexander refused, and stood on the beach in his hoodie looking like an angst ridden teenager, while dad was awesome.

After our brief stop at Whitefish Point, we finished up the first half our trip by driving down metro Detroit for our annual visit with our Michigan based family.

Distance: 2,197 miles

Time: 40 hours, or so

Vanlife reality: Grasshopper plague of 2022. Similar to the one in 2021. Having to stop to clean the windshield, and radiator of grasshoppers is a pain, and disgusting.

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