I have always heard it said that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the UP) is one of the most beautiful places in the contiguous United States. Eager to experience any place held in such high regard, it was thus on my must-see list of destinations for this trip. This is why my last post found us trekking north through Michigan instead of the more direct route through Chicago.
From Manistee, Boots and I continued to make our way up the Lake Michigan shoreline, on to Mackinaw City where we planned to launch our UP adventure. Before crossing the bridge, though, I wanted to check out the Dark Sky park just outside town. The Headlands Dark Sky Park is one of only a handful of places remaining in the US that is considered free of light pollution, particularly in the eastern part of the country. Therefore it’s a mecca for night photographers and amateur astronomers. I shelled out the cash for a KOA campground nearby in order to have a place to leave Boots and the trailer. The weather forecast suggested there was a good chance for clear skies, at least during the earlier parts of the evening; so I was hoping to shoot some star trails before the clouds rolled in. So much for hoping… Unfortunately the clouds started trickling in much
sooner than expected. But more consequentially, the mosquitoes descended with a vengeance! I got a few sunset shots but decided the bug attack was too high a price to pay for the possibility of a break in the clouds. I packed it in and headed back to the campground, but not before stopping by the Mackinac Bridge (also pronounced ma-ki-naw, by the way) to catch a couple of nighttime shots of it.
If I thought the mosquitoes were bad there, I was in for a most rude awakening. Evidently this time of year is like a horror movie in the UP. Insects descend like an invading army, especially biting flies, midges and mosquitoes. My first realization of this fact was when I saw a plume of smoke on the horizon while driving west out of St. Ignace. It was only when I got closer that I realized it wasn’t smoke at all. It was an enormous swarm of midges. Moses himself couldn’t have called up a creepier plague. Then when we stopped at our first campsite at Hovey Lake I
was viciously attacked by a swarm of the most evil mosquitoes I had ever come across. Now, I’m lucky in that I don’t have the typical reaction to a mosquito bite… No itching, no red bumps. But by the same token, I’m fond of my blood supply. I’m certainly not interested in sharing it through the proboscises of a thousand of those vile little buggers.
Honestly, we barely left the trailer that day on account of the bugs. The next morning we headed on to Wisconsin via a slight detour north to Grand Island and several little towns along the Lake Superior shoreline. After a pleasant night in Glidden, Wisconsin, where the town invites overnight visitors to free camping in their city park, we drove on to Minnesota and our current location at Six Mile Lake in the Reservation of the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe Indians. It’s beautiful here, so we might stay for a couple of days before heading further north. While we still haven’t quite cleared the
land of the mosquitoes, they aren’t quite as bad here. I think I’ll take a quick walk down to the lake before posting this, but not without a little bug spray… just for good measure.
Viva la vida Bohemia!