Dates: June 24-26, 2021
People: Mark, Sarah, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Anya
6-24 (Travel Day)
6-25 (Whitefish Point, Tahquamenon Falls)
6-26 (Two Hearted 50K, Travel Day)
THURSDAY JUNE 24
We struggled all week looking at the weather forecasts and waiting to decide whether this trip was going to happen. At one point we were seeing a forecast that said up to 2 inches of rain on Friday. As the week progressed we decided we would begin to pack things Wednesday night and still give ourselves an option come Thursday morning. When we woke Thursday the forecast said likely showers, 50% chance Thursday evening, with a very likely overnight shower. But the Friday forecast improved through the day with only a 30% chance into Friday evening. It was a 50/50 coin flip to the last moment but we decided to give it all a go. Our plan B had been to head up to Brighton Bishop Lake to camp Thursday night. I would have then hit Tahqua Falls and braved the possible rain Friday night to still run my Saturday race. The forecast for Brighton looked pretty safe.
We packed and readied for our U.P. itinerary and left home 10:40am. We were in no rush figuring if the weather was sketchy we didn't want to get up there too early. We did lunch at Salsarita's and had Luke drive a couple hours on the way. Sarah was our driver when we hit the Mackinac Bridge at 4:15p and paid the $4 toll. As we drove we saw that the Tahqua Falls area was actually staying rain free and potentially looked good for Thursday evening. Much to our surprise Southern Michigan including Brighton was in the path of a coming storm. We were amazed at how it appeared our decision-making was spot on. At the least we were just fortunate.
We made it to the campground at 5:45p and set things up. We were using the big Kingdom 8 tent and the screen tent. We were going to hit the Falls Brewery one night and cook pizza sandwiches the other night. Thinking the brewery might be crowded Friday night we decided to hit that on Thursday night. When we drove over we found it was still fairly busy. We got a table right away but service was a bit slow as a group of 10 had just preceded us. The food was just as good as last time. I tried their buffalo chicken sandwich on special and it was very good. I drank the Black Bear stout which was super smooth and tasty.
After supper we picked up some firewood and enjoyed a fire at camp. Drizzle threatened a little but mostly held off. We were able to do some smores over the fire and had it running til close to 11p. Overnight we did pickup a fair amount of rain and could hear it hitting the tent off and on through the night. We were thankful it was coming when we were going to be confined to the tent anyways.
FRIDAY JUNE 25
We woke up to a very wet campground after it had rained off and on most of the night. Thankfully the inside of the tent remained dry. Our big casualty was that it rained well into the sides of the screen tent and Sarah said one pole had partly collapsed allowing even more water in. I'm guessing water had pooled in the top middle of the screen tent roof and the weight finally gave way. We had a number of items that got wet inside the screen tent.
Sarah and I were both up around 8 after trying to sleep in as well as we could. I took a morning walk from the campground and went over to the Lower Falls. I took the boardwalk all the way to the near viewing of the lower falls and then back to camp. Luke and Jonah were up around 9 and Seth and Anya slept in til almost 10am. The weather was holding just very cloudy. For today's main plan we were debating between driving down to the Garlyn Zoo Wildlife Park along US2 and Lake Michigan or heading up to Whitefish Point and the Shipwreck Museum. We chose Whitefish Point and the shorter drive.
We headed up there and explored on the beach upon arrival. Clouds were thick and almost foggy giving no more than a half mile of visibility. We still had fun on the beach playing with rocks and sand for quite a while. We did a picnic lunch in the yard just outside the Light Station. After lunch we paid the family entrance for the Shipwreck Museum which was $45/family (otherwise $14/adult). The main museum room was full of wreck stories and artifacts and we took a good 40 minutes in there reading about everything. There were two other buildings that you could tour with your museum entrance. One was the house and it was in amazing condition with so many little rooms to see. The other was the boathouse. We enjoyed the touring to see it all once.
We then made the drive back to Tahqua Falls. We were going to head to camp but a couple of kids were sleeping and the line to get in was out to the road (it was a summer Friday after all). We made the decision to have all of us do the drive down to Newberry for my race packet pickup. We made that drive and back and then decided to hit the Upper Falls area. We did ice cream at Camp 33 first and that was a hit. We then walked all the trails at the upper falls hitting both overlooks. Then it was time to head back to camp.
We got the fire going just after 6p and around 7 cooked our pizza sandwiches over the fire. The whole day the weather held and never rained. It remained cloudy the whole day but that worked out. We were also amazed how few bugs we saw in these first two evenings of camping with the mosquitos never really being an issue. I was hoping to get a slightly early bedtime and so we had the fire simmering down by 10p. I got my race stuff ready for morning and hit the tent.
SATURDAY JUNE 26
I was up 4:50am today to get ready for the race. Sarah followed shortly after at 5am. We left the campground just before 5:20a to drive over to the Upper Falls Parking where the buses would drive runners to the race start. The buses were there waiting for us and so Sarah dropped me off and wished me good luck.
Sarah was able to go back to camp and sleep a bit more. She says the kids all mostly slept till 9 and some almost 10am. They spent the morning tearing down the tent and getting camp packed up. It sounds like they got to the upper falls area around 11:45am. They had lunch at the snack bar and food trucks at Camp 33 while they waited for me to finish. I came in just after 12:30pm. They saw me at the finish and it was nice to have their support their. They walked me over to Camp 33 where I was able to grab lunch from a food truck and then a beer from the brewery. I had the Porcupine Pale Ale.
From there we drove back to the Lower Portage campground where I showered and then we hit the road. Sarah did the first bit of driving and got us all the way to the Bridge and then almost another hour into the LP. I got a 30-40 minute cat nap in while she drove and that helped refresh my system. It started raining sometime before we hit the bridge and it would continue raining til we got south of Ann Arbor.
I picked up driving somewhere up by Grayling. We made a McDonald's stop for drinks and I also picked up a 2nd lunch to grab some more calories. Somewhere north of Flint we drove through a tornado warning and then another one as we were in the area of Whitmore Lake. We hit a Culver's for supper around there. It was not raining when we went in but about 2 minutes before we were ready to leave the floodgates opened. I pulled the van up close to the door to help everyone get in. The rest of the drive home went smoothly. We were home around 9pm to a bit of blue sky and a setting sun.