Lake Superior Roadtrip

Began the one-week road trip with a stop at the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. Kayaked out to Sand Island and explored some of the sea caves. No pictures on the water as the lake was too rough to get my phone out.

Lunch on Sand Island

Explored the town of Ashland, Wisconsin.

One of several murals in Ashland, Wisconsin
Camped at the marina in Ashland, Wisconsin
View of the marina from inside Vanna

Vanna heads to Madeline Island

Madeline Island: Took Vanna out to Madeline Island (the largest of the Apostle Islands) to explore. Grabbed a pizza at a local establishment where they were serving outside. When you placed your order they gave you a big playing card – got the Jack of Spades. There’s nothing like yelling out in a crowd “I’ve got the Jack!” when your food is ready.

Visited Big Bay State Park. The lake shore is quite diverse – cliffs, rocks, and sandy beaches.

Vanna coming back from Madeline Island

Camped on the shore of Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Camped at the Pincushion Mountain trailhead which sits above Grand Marais.

View of Grand Marais from Pincushion Mountain

Drove to Grand Portage and visited the Grand Portage National Monument. Saw a few roadside oddities along the way.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Biked a 25-mile paved and gravel loop in Grand Portage. The loop takes you to the border with Canada.

That’s Canada on the other side of the river

Hiked a portion of the Superior Trail.

Superior Trail

Video of Lake Superior and surrounding rivers and streams.

Spent the last night in Two Harbors, Minnesota.

Day 40 (July 4, 2020): Mitchell Corn Palace & Lake Okoboji, Iowa

Started the morning with a stop at the Mitchell, South Dakota, Corn Palace. The Corn Palace is worth seeing annually as the corn murals change.

Decided to head to Lake Okoboji in Iowa since it is relatively on the way back to Rochester, rounding out this van-tastic-adventure of 40 days and 40 nights! Camped at Gull Point State Park. Got a little more biking in.

Lake Okoboji
Campground at Gull Point State Park

Day 39 (July 3, 2020): Hot Springs, South Dakota

Started the day before sunrise at Custer State Park with a drive on the Needles Highway. There was absolutely no one else on the road, which made for a rather nice experience.

Drove the Wildlife Loop and saw quite the variety of animals: deer, rabbits, wild turkeys, prairie dogs, buffaloes, long horn sheep, and squirrels.

Visited MOCCASIN SPRINGS in Hot Springs, South Dakota and had a long soak in the very nice pools.

Spent the night in the Cabela’s parking lot in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Day 38 (July 2, 2020): Mickelson Trail

Began the day in Spearfish, South Dakota and drove to Hill City, South Dakota. Made a stop at the Pactola Reservoir. Drove through Deadwood, SD.

Pactola Reservoir
Deadwood, South Dakota

Rode a portion of the Mickelson Trail (17 of 104 miles) from Hill City, past Mystic to Tunnel C and back – 34-miles.

Mickelson Trail

Had a big thunderstorm while out on the trail. Took shelter along the trail before the rain and marble-sized hail started.

Taking shelter from the storm
Hail Storm

Found a disbursed camping site off Spring Creek Road, near Hill City. While the site is close to the dirt road, it does sit next to the creek which is rather pleasant.

Vanna down for the night on Spring Creek Road
Spring Creek Road

Day 37 (July 1, 2020): Devils Tower

Stayed at a KOA last night and woke up to a beautiful view of Devil’s Tower. I was also happy to have a flushing toilet and a place to shower. It’s the little things in life!

Biked into Devil’s Tower National Monument as the last information I heard (and heard from the ranger at the gate) that you can bike to the base of the tower. Apparently, things had changed that morning. No one was being allowed to bike or hike the road, because the parking lot was being paved. So, went back to the campground, packed up the bike and drove into the park.

There were quite a few people here at the park crammed into a relatively small space. There was little social distancing going on here, so mask wearing seemed like the thing to do.

Devils Tower – from KOA campground
Fox sighting inside park

Had a nice surprise of five military jets flying in formation by the Tower. Quite a site to be seen and heard!

Stopped at the Crow Peak Brewing in Spearfish, SD to sample the local brew. Had some pizza at Dough Trader Pizza.

Camping at the KOA in Spearfish

Day 36 (June 30, 2020): Wind River

Visited Hot Springs State Park.

Hot Springs State Park
Hot Springs State Park
Hot Springs State Park – hot water springs draining into the river
Hot Springs State Park – Wind River
Hot Springs State Park – hot water stream
Hot Springs State Park – hot water stream

Did some laundry at the Wishy Washy Washateriain in Thermopolis. After getting abundantly clean, drove down the scenic Wind River Canyon from Thermopolis to Shoshoni, Wyoming. The poverty I saw in Shoshoni was unexpected. There is one gas station, three closed motels and a smattering of trailers and houses along the towns mostly gravel roads. Surprisingly, there was a large new modern school.

Wind River Canyon
Wind River Canyon
Wind River Canyon
Wind River Canyon – Boysen Lake Adam
Wind River Canyon – Boysen Lake

Drove through to Devils Tower National Monument, arriving around sunset. Stayed at the KOA right next to the park. The KOA has a nightly screening of Close Encounters is the Third Kind, which apparently was partially filmed in the park.

Camping at the KOA – view of Devils Tower
Movie Night – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Original movie poster
Spaceship over Devils Tower

Day 35 (June 29, 2020): Thermopolis, Wyoming

Woke up in a Walmart parking lot again. This is becoming a bit of a habit. It rained all night and is still raining this morning. Tried to stop at the local coffee shop – Tippy Cow Coffee – but apparently the grill was down so they were closed.

Made a stop in Cody, Wyoming to hang out with my buddy Buffalo Bill.

Buffalo Bill” Cody

Thermopolis, Wyoming

Everyone wearing masks here!
Hot spring at Fountain of Youth Campground
Hot spring at night
Rainbow over hot spring pool
Hot spring pool at Fountain of Youth campground

Day 34 (June 28, 2020): Helena, Montana and Beyond

Spent the morning wondering around the historic district. Helena was founded as a gold camp during the Montana gold rush, and established in 1864. Over $3.6 billion of gold was extracted in the city limits over two decades, making it one of the wealthiest cities in the United States by the late 19th century.

Reeder’s Alley – oldest part of town

Local bike shop
Closed on Sunday: OUT RIDING . . . You Should Too!
I have no idea what this means
Cathedral of Saint Helena

No idea what they actually do in there
Ernie & Bert

On the way to Billings, Montana

The Gates of the Mountains Wilderness were named by Lewis and Clark. Captain Lewis wrote on July 19, 1805,

this evening we entered much the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. these clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the height of 1200 feet. … the river appears to have forced its way through this immense body of solid rock for the distance of 5-3/4 Miles … I called it the gates of the rocky mountains.

Road to the Gates of the Mountains
Gate marked with red arrow

Remnants from the past

THE GHOST TOWN OF CASTLE is one of many towns created and ruined by the silver rush in the late 1800s. The first mine registered on the site was the (oddly named) North Carolina mine in 1884, but within the next 7 years, 991 claims had been made.

The main street of Castle, incorporated in 1891 with a population of about 1,500 people, the result of the influx of miners, and the barkeeps and prostitutes which provided them with services should they have a good day in the mine.

The county road getting to Castle Town was near impassable in Vanna due to the rain and mud

Electric locomotive from the past
Engineer Santa
Talk about multitasking. . . you can wash your clothes and your car!
Last showing: Wizard of Oz

Spent last night camped in a Walmart parking lot in Billings, Montana