Wisconsin-Mackinac Island Canada and Niagara Falls

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Wisconsin, U.P. Michigan, Mackinac Island, Canada, and Niagara Falls

9 Days – 5 Great Lakes – 1 Historical Football Team

1 College Roommate – 1 Historical Old Island

2 Big Waterfalls – 1,700 Miles

July 2018

Niagara Falls

We left West Virginia early on Monday morning for the 600+ mile drive to Beth’s home in Wisconsin.  Her family has a big July 4th picnic most years, and it’s a good chance to see everyone in a short amount of time.  Our trip this year coincided with a bad heat wave sweeping over most of the midwest and northeast.  Temps were in the high 90s and humidity was high. Glad we have good A/C in the old KIA Soul.  Our trusty little car was going to turn 80 (as in 80,000 miles) on this trip, but it’s running like new and we had no worries.

Our plan was to visit family in Wisconsin Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then head north on Thursday.  Our loop would take us through Green Bay and Door County, Wisconsin, then north to Mackinac Island and east into Ontario, Canada, finishing up in Niagara Falls before heading home. 

We had a wonderful time in Wisconsin visiting lots of folks.  Unfortunately, on Wednesday afternoon, the heat got the better of Mike and he did not feel like driving. 

Thursday was a rest day, and by afternoon all was well again.  We were ready to start our loop north on Friday!


Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday

The barn where all the milking on the Lauber Farm is done.
Sign at entrance to the farm. Hillpine Holsteins.

Two of the many calves by the barn.
Calves staying cool in the shade, inside their huts.
New calf.  Every cow has a name and is registered.
No two cows are alike.  Even with over a hundred cows and calves, Beth’s brother Mark knows their names by sight. 
Another new calf. 
Feeding all the cows takes lots of hay, and this old John Deere is ready to start raking so it can
be gathered in large round bales that weigh over 1,000 pounds.


Green Bay and Door County, Wisconsin


On Friday, we headed north. Our plan is to drive around Door County, Wisconsin.  Located just east of the town of Green Bay, it is a small peninsula that juts out into, duhh – Green Bay and Lake Michigan.  It is a tourist destination, with miles of scenic shorelines, scenic farmland, and several small towns with touristy type stuff – shops, cafes, more shops, etc.  Then, we are going to meet up with one of Beth’s college roommates (whom she has not seen for over 30 years) for supper at the Green Bay Packer’s Lambeau Field.  

First thing to get done is Milwaukee.  As in – morning traffic!  The first 20 miles took over an hour.  It made the traffic in our hometown look mild.  After that, it was smooth sailing.  We made a right turn at Manitowoc and we were soon in Door County.  Lots of very nice dairy farms up here!

Oops – I think I was reading the wrong map!  (We lived in the state of Alaska from 1989-1996, and Spencer was born there)
Alaska, Wisconsin – located about 30 miles east of Green Bay.

One of our first stops was the lakeshore town of Kewaunee.
These two gulls were resting on the top of the boat.  I bet they would jump if the horns blew!
Walking out through the harbor in Kewaunee.  This sailboat was for sale. Or would that be “For Sail”?
You could live on the boat and move if you want a change of view.  Hmmm…….

Just north of Kewaunee, there are plenty of scenic farms like this one next to Lake Michigan.
(If you look closely, you can see Lake Michigan in the middle of the photo)

Our next stop was the scenic town of Algoma, just south of Sturgeon Bay.
After passing the 45th Latitude (halfway from the equator to the North Pole!), our next stop was Bailey’s Harbor. 
The water from Lake Michigan is crystal clear.  And cold!

Resting and enjoying the view at Bailey’s Harbor.

On the way back to the car, Beth pointed out this nice view. She has a good eye for photos!
From Bailey’s Harbor, we drove northwest to the opposite side of the peninsula, facing Green Bay. (The water, not the town)
It was more of a main highway, and not as scenic.  There were several small tourist towns to shop and eat, but the best scenery is on the south shore.
Next stop was Green Bay (this time, the town) to check into our hotel and then head to Lambeau Field
to meet Beth’s college roommate and her husband for supper.
Approaching Lambeau Field. 
We’re here!!! Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.
At the Vince Lombardi statue in front of the field.
Close-Up. Vince Lombardi.

Plaque on statue.
And next to him was the namesake of Lambeau Field.
Hard to see because the sun was behind the statue.
Earl Lambeau

Before going inside, I had to do the “Lambeau Leap”.  (see photo below for description)
Beth got in on the action, too.
The Lambeau Leap history.
Before supper, we visited the Green Bay Packers’ gift shop. 
After visiting Rome, I told Beth this was like the Vatican of Wisconsin.
They love their team!
Beautiful 1958 Chevy Pickup.  (And 1958 was not just a great year for trucks!!)
Sign for the pickup in previous photo.
Supper Time!!  We met Beth’s college roommate, Mary, and her husband Jim for dinner
at the 1919 Restaurant in the stadium.  Very classy place!
Together again after 35+ years.  Beth and her college room-mate, Mary.
Time to eat and listen to stories about how wild Beth was in college!!  LOL
It was a beautiful evening for eating outside and talking with Mary and Jim.  (Wish I had taken a photo of all 4 of us, though. Sorry.)
Then it was time to head back to the room and rest for tomorrow’s ride to Mackinac Island. 

U.P. Michigan and Mackinac Island


After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we were on the road again!  It’s just over 200 miles to Mackinac Island.  Since we started a day late due to my not feeling well from the heat, we decided that we could get to Mackinac Island by early afternoon and still have enough time to see quite a bit.  The weather had cooled off, I was feeling great again, and the roads were good.  Mackinac, here we come.

After crossing into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (locally known as the “U.P.”), we followed Rt 35 along the shore of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Nice drive with the bay and lake to the right peeking through the trees. Not many places to pull over for a view.

We did come to one rest area and walked over to the beach.

The shoreline was nice, but I had to take a photo of this “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”. Poor thing has stood up to some terrible winters.
After a quick walk, we were back in the car so we could catch a 1:00 ferry to Mackinac Island. 
We parked and got our tickets for the next ferry over to the island.  It’s about a 20 minute ride.  The waters were relatively smooth today.
Approaching Mackinac Island, the Grand Hotel came into view.  Very appropriately named.
Only 80% of the island is the state park.  There are dozens of private homes – probably worth at least $1 Million.

Approaching the harbor at Mackinac Island.  One of the local hotels flies large kites with tails, visible on the left.
Of all the fancy houses we saw along the shoreline, I think the one in the background of this harbor photo would be my choice.
Ahhhh, peace and quiet
Pulling into the harbor at Mackinac Island.
We’re here! 
No cars allowed, so horses have the right of way, followed by pedestrians and bicycles.
Downtown view.
One of many horse carriage/trolley/wagon outfits taking tourists around the island. 

Another downtown street view.
Lots of bicycle rental places, as well as at least a half dozen fudge shops.

Many private homes are turned into hotels and B&B.  The next photo has info for this one – the Island House.

For the previous photo.

Walking past the harbor towards Mission Point.

As in Alaska, where there are long brutal winters, flowers are very popular during the summer.

Beth loved all the flowers.

Another private home.

And another.

It was time for our horse carriage/wagon tour.  Slow and relaxed, we saw a lot of the island on the 2-hour ride.
They also stop for a few of the main attractions.

We got lucky and had front row seats on the wagon. 
Here, we are heading up the hill through the residential area toward the Grand Hotel.

Approaching the Grand Hotel.
Some of you may remember this from the movie “Somewhere In Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.  (1980)
Fewer will remember it from “This Time For Keeps” with Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams.  (1947)

Getting passed by another carriage.  Uphill. Our 2 horses were pulling 25 people up the hill, though.

The tour stops at the Carriage House and Stables for the Grand Hotel.

Inside, there is quite a collection of old carriages, including those from earlier millionaires.

Next stop on the tour was Arch Rock. 

Another view of Arch Rock.

View from Arch Rock overlook onto Lake Huron. 

Back to town – this time on a 3-horse carriage/wagon. 
Over the hills and through the woods………..

One of the private carriages ahead of us.

Not quite as romantic as the private carriages, but the tour guide was interesting. 

We got off the ride on the hill above town to walk down and enjoy the sights.  This shows the town and harbor from the hillside.

Trinity Church – see next photo for details.

Notes on church in previous photo.

Inside of Trinity Church.

Last stop before getting back on the ferry was the fudge shop.

Beth decided on the Maple Walnut fudge, shown in the lower left of this photo.
We snacked on it that night and driving the next day.  It was great!

More fudge for the tourists!

For the return ride, we chose the nice view up top.  Very windy, but we enjoyed the fresh air.
Twenty minutes later, we were back on the mainland at St Ignace. 
We checked into our hotel, the Quality Inn Lakefront, facing Lake Huron.
The clerk told us about a casino with a buffet up the road.  We’ve had several great buffets at casinos before, so that’s where we headed.
The casino had a promotion where new members got cards pre-loaded with $15 to play the slots.
Beth and I combined won $20, which paid for half of the buffet bill.  Whoo-Hoo! 
On the way back to the room, we stopped at Castle Rock, where they have a long staircase up the side of the rock to the overlook.
It was closing in just a few minutes, and so I ran up to the top as quickly as I could, took a few photos, and ran back down so I wouldn’t get locked in.

Too tempting to pass up.  Besides, I got a sticker for climbing it!!
Three more sets of stairs after this one.

The overlook is near, and the sun is getting low in the sky.
View from the top.  Mackinac Island is visible to the right in the distance.

Beth waving at me from down below.  “It’s almost closing time. You’re going to get locked in!”
SPOILER ALERT: I made it down in time. LOL
We stopped at the harbor near the hotel and saw this seagull begging to be photographed.

We relaxed on a park bench at the harbor and enjoyed this view for awhile.

We got back to our room in time to go out on the patio for sunset.
Nice view of Lake Huron.

View of Mackinac Island from our hotel patio.

Zoomed in on the cliffside homes on Mackinac Island. 

Sunset and the end of a great day.

Sault St. Marie and Ontario


We awoke to another beautiful day and beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron. Nice way to start the day!
Before reaching Sault St. Marie and crossing into Canada, we made a slight detour west to the Point Iroquois Lighthouse at Brimley State Park. 
Many signs in people’s front yards along the road let us know we were in Native American land. 
OK, I think we’ve reached Lake Superior. 

At the Point Iroquois Lighthouse.
From Wikipedia:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Iroquois_Light
In 1870, after the first lighthouse and keepers’ quarters building were torn down. the second and current Point Iroquois Light was constructed, this time at an estimated cost of $18,000. The present Cape Cod Style white brick lighthouse was built and ran continuously for 93 years, guiding ships in and out of the Soo Locks. It has a 65-foot (20 m) tower height. The station was deactivated in 1962, replaced by the Canadian operated Gros Cap Reefs Light, an unmanned buoy-type beacon in the St. Mary’s River channel.
Nice flowers planted around the lighthouse. We also walked around the
nice boardwalk they have set up along the shore and wetlands.

Nice place to sit and look out over Whitefish Bay and Lake Superior.

Better view of the lighthouse from the lake side.

The water was crystal clear, but cold.

All of the pine trees had this lichen/moss (?) growing on it.

We saw this statue and stopped to check it out.
(see plaque photo below)

Plaque from statue in previous photo.

Close-Up of statue.
Across the road is this Indian Burial Ground.  We did not go in out of respect.

The sign tells about the tree being planted by a child in 1841.
Spirit Houses were built of birch or elm bark and placed over the graves.
Besides protecting the grave, they held tools and resources the dead would need to sustain them on their trip to the land of the spirits.

On a nearby pond, someone had built a nice ship out of metal and put it in with the lilies.
Next stop – Sault St. Marie and the Canada border. Just 20 miles to go.
This is just part of the loooonnnng bridge spanning the canal between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
Hard to tell from this photo, but it is very high up. 
The Canadian border agent was not happy to be working on a Sunday morning.
I handed him my passport and driver’s license, and he handed me back the license with a gruff, “I don’t need this.”  OK.
Where you going? How long you staying? Any guns or alcohol?  OK, go on.
We wanted to stop and walk around the Canal Park downtown. 
“Cannonshot”, one of the readers/riders on the ADV motorcycle forum had told me about several interesting spots to see in Ontario.
This was one of them.

View of the canal and the park.

One of nine emergency swing dams ever built, and the only one ever used.
What’s an emergency swing dam?  Read on. 
There are a series of locks along the canal where ships are lowered from Lake Superior level to Lake Michigan, or raised in the opposite direction.
On June 9, 1909, a ship rammed into one of the locks, creating a torrent of water through the canal.
All of the water from Lake Superior was draining into Lake Michigan, which sits lower. 

You are standing beside the world’s last emergency swing dam. Only nine of these structures were ever built.
Only this one was put to the ultimate test under emergency conditions.
In a 1909 emergency, this dam was swung across the canal. One at a time, 23 wickets (frames) and shutters (panels) were lowered into place. Each shutter slid into its wicket, similar to a window sliding in a window frame. The barrier (or dam) formed by the wickets and shutters slowed the raging torrent to a trickle.
The emergency swinging dam is built entirely of steel and is 113 meters (372 feet) long.
That’s as long as 10 school buses parked bumper to bumper.

We’re in Canada now.  It’s official.

The Norgoma is docked at Sault St. Marie and is open to the public as a museum. The statue is of a local astronaut and heroine.
(See plaque below)
More information:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Norgoma 
Plaque honoring Astronaut Dr Roberta Bondar.

Since it was getting to be late morning and we still had over 200 miles to go,

we decided to head out of Sault St. Marie and go east towards Sudbury.

About an hour east of Sault St. Marie is the island of St. Joseph.  

My ADV forum friend “Cannonshot” had mentioned a diner there, so we had to check it out. Glad we did!

Mom’s Diner, located on St. Joseph Island on Rt 548. 
We love exploring for diners, and enjoy them much more than chain restaurants.

Nice and clean inside.  There was a crowd that left just as we arrived, and another group arrived just afterward.

Beth got the Western Sandwich special – ham, eggs, cheese along with turkey noodle soup.
Definitely home-made.  And delicious.

I ordered the Swiss and Mushroom burger.  Real French Fries!  Very good.
Then it was back on the road to Sudbury and on to Parry Sound. 
With the slow speed limits (80km/hr = 48 MPH) it would be about 7pm until we get to tonight’s hotel.
Keep ‘er movin’.
We did not stop around Sudbury, but it is an interesting region.  Lots of mining. Apparently, a very large meteor struck here a gazillion years ago,
so there are certain minerals that are not commonly found elsewhere.  They found pieces of the meteor 500 miles away in Minnesota!!
Interesting reading on the region:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudbury_Basin 
Parry Sound is about 150 miles south of Sudbury.

There are not many hotels in the Parry Sound area, so I made reservations at the Bayside Inn.
It’s an old house that has been completely renovated with 6 big rooms, each with private bath. 
It was also within walking distance to the harbor and restaurants.

Top floor was nice and quiet.  The A/C felt good! 
Time to go eat.  We walked down to the harbor.

Bistro By The Bay.  Much fancier than we normally do, but there were only a couple of restaurants.
Plus, it’s vacation. We’ll splurge on one nice meal.

Fancy meals, but you can subtract 25% for the exchange rate.

I decided to try the pickerel, a fish offered at many restaurants up here in Canada.

Beth got the seafood platter.  Looks like something Chef Ramsey would cook up.

It was a cool evening, so we ate on the screened-in porch. 
The end of a long, but interesting day. 

Parry Sound to Hamilton, Ontario


Today we are going to travel south through lake country and farm country.  Our destination is Hamilton, a large town just south of Toronto.

Looking on the maps, we saw the Royal Botanical Gardens was near our hotel.  

But first, my ADV friend had mentioned a cranberry bog and wintery nearby.

Let’s go!

Entering the town of Bala, near Muskoka Lakes.
Cranberry Capital of Ontario.

Welcome to Muskoka Lakes Winery.  Cranberries are the specialty here.

Old Dodge truck by the cranberry bogs.

When trucks were made entirely out of metal.

One more photo of the old truck.

If you want, you can sit and watch the cranberries grow!
This sign was along the walkway at the winery.
Beth and I are doomed from both directions on this one. LOL

Time to head into the gift shop.  It was tempting to buy a lot, but it would be sitting in a hot car for two days.
The limit on bringing back wine to the USA is 2 bottles.

Quite a selection of cranberry wine and cranberry/blueberry wine.

Wish we could take a case back with us. Oh well.

Lots of cranberry preserves and jams, too.
Soon, we were on the road south so we could get to the Royal Botanical Gardens by mid-afternoon.
As we were leaving town, though, we came upon the local farmers’ market.  We had to stop.

Local farmer’s market.

Fresh strawberries.

Cherries and blueberries.

More fresh veggies!
Now, it’s time to head south. 
All we bought was a bag of kettle corn. (Which took an hour to vacuum up when we got home)
When we got to Barrie, Ontario, we turned west into farm country.  It reminded both of us of Wisconsin.
Except for the ridiculous 48 MPH speed limit.

Around mid-afternoon, we arrived at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton.
That is, after a half hour of driving in circles. Their access roads have access roads. With no signs.
We found out the day before we left that our old GPS does not include Canada.
Oh well, we found it, and the weather is beautiful!

Walking over to the Rose Garden at the Royal Botanical Garden (RBG).

The Rose Garden.  I never knew there were this many varieties.
From a sign along the Rose Garden walkway.

Nice reflecting pool with lilies. 

Another nice display at the RBG.
Rejoicing Family sculpture.
(See sign below)

Note for sculpture in previous photo.
Next, we drove down the street to the Rock Garden annex – still part of the RBG.

Overlook at the Royal Botanical Garden’s Rock Garden.  Beautiful! 
Designed with oriental theme.

Walking along the pathway that circles the inner Rock Garden.

Water lilies and foot bridge.

Walking along the Rock Garden path.

Short history of the Rock Garden. 
For more information:  https://www.rbg.ca/   
From here, it was time to go to the hotel and check in.  We were tired, so we got an stone-oven pizza at the hotel and ate in the room.
Tomorrow, we head south an hour to Niagara Falls, then home.

Niagara Falls – Back To Morgantown


Our final day on this trip.  It’s an hour south to Niagara Falls, then another 250 miles south to home. 

We stopped at Niagara Falls a couple of years ago, so we decided we did not need to do the Maid of the Mist or other tours.

Today, we were just going to walk around the falls, drop a few nickels in the slots, and enjoy the fabulous buffet at Seneca Casino.

Shortly after leaving the hotel, we were treated with a view of Lake Ontario to our left.

We also passed signs for over a dozen wineries between Hamilton, Ontario and Niagara Falls. Lots of grape orchards.

We arrived at the Rainbow Bridge customs at around 8am, so the line was short. We were through in just a few minutes.

We parked (free!) at the Seneca Casino, which has a great buffet and is a short 10-minute walk to the falls.

On the Rainbow Bridge that crosses the Niagara River into Canada just below the falls. 

American Falls (left) and Canadian Falls (center background). There is a constant rainbow on sunny days from the mist.
You can see a couple of the tour boats like Maid of the Mist taking passengers up close to the falls. 

Maid of the Mist returning with wet passengers after going by the base of the falls.
Beth and I went on our last trip, so we passed this time. 
If you want to see photos of us touring the falls from that trip – http://michaelelyard.com/NewEngland2015
Maid of the Mist nearing the base of the Canadian Falls (Horseshoe Falls)
The noise at that point is incredibly loud!!!

Another view of the falls.
Time for lunch at the casino, then 250 miles home to West Virginia.
Seneca Casino.  This is just one of several large rooms filled with slots and games. 
Sad to see many people addicted to this lifestyle.  We played the change in our pockets and headed to the buffet.

Buffet time.  We had a great meal then headed home.

After leaving the Niagara Falls area, we followed I-90 west to Erie. Along the way, we had glimpses of Lake Erie.  We saw all 5 Great Lakes!!!

We arrived home about 7pm.  Tired but happy we had the chance to take this trip.

Hope you enjoyed riding along with us.