From Mackinac to Christmas

Posted December 20, 2021 – Narrated by Carmen
To listen to the podcast, click the play button

“In da beginning dere was nuttin.

On da first day
God created da Upper Peninsula.

On da second day
He created da partridge, da deer, da bear, da fish, & da ducks.

On da third day
He said, “Let dere be Yoopers to roam da U.P.”

On da fourth day
He created da udder world below.

On da fifth day
He said, “Let dere be trolls to live in da world down below.”

On da sixth day
He created da bridge so da trolls would have a way to get to heaven.

God said it was good and…
On da seventh day He went huntin.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is commonly called The U.P., or The Yoop, and those who live there, Yoopers. Any Michigander who lives below The Mackinac Bridge is a Troll or a Flatlander. All other tourists are Fudgies. Try not to be offended. Yooperland is a unique culture with its own deities, a place where terms of enchantment if not endearment are toll for the Big Mac.

Lake Superior
On the shore of Lake Superior – These Fudgies prefer cherry pie.

Last December, at Gulf Shores State Park, Jim gave me The Yoop for Christmas. He presented it in a mapped route – our 2021 adventure – from Alabama to Christmas, a small town on Lake Superior.

Christmas, Michigan

Since childhood, Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha has captured my imagination. For decades, I have longed to see The Shores of Gitchee Gumee, and I would remain patient. Like all of Jim’s gifts, the Upper Peninsula would take a while to unpack.

mackinaw city
Our campsite in Mackinaw City on the shore of Lake Huron

Every gift – the strand of pearls; the certificate for a new paint job for my ’66 Ford Fairlane; and the keys to Beauty, our Airstream – came in a succession of beautifully wrapped cardboard boxes.

1981, 12 nested boxes to reach a strand of pearls

A master of the slow reveal, Jim understands that anticipation is a gift – the best part of the ride – because there’s no place to go but U. P.

2021 was a 4-3-2 travel-turducken of surprises – Jekyll Island, Charleston and Cape Fear, Ocracoke, Assateague, South Jersey, Shenandoah National Park, Ohiopyle and Bay City – all led to the penultimate prize: The U.P.

upper peninsula

The friendly camper’s ice-breaker, “Where ya heading?” was no slam dunk in 2021. Until we reached Bay City, our answer, “The Yoop,” or, “Christmas,” left the neighbors stumped. Only when we crossed the Michigan border did the response change from, “Say what?” to, “Lucky you!”

Pictured Rocks National Seashore
Pictured Rocks National Seashore

No one stumbles upon or passes through The Upper Peninsula. There’s no cheering squad stationed on the north end of the bridge. Tourism there is a complicated necessity. The locals – who need the business – would rather keep Yooperland under the radar. It’s a brilliant conundrum. It’s what keeps the “Pure” in “Pure Michigan.”

With few amenities for tourism and travel services, the RV is the best tool to experience the natural wonders of The Northland. Other than a spirit of adventure and plenty of time, all you need is thoughtful outfitting, plenty of provisions and dry-camping capabilities. In other words, you need Beauty & The Beast.

Tahquamenon Falls
Our campsite at Tahquamenon Falls

Pulling out of Bay City we drove past barn …

after barn …

until we reached …

Mackinaw City

The Grand Hotel
Carmen kayaking toward Mackinac Island from our campsite in Mackinaw City

Like good Fudgies we settled down on the south side of the Mackinac Bridge on Lake Huron for two weeks of discovery before crossing into The U.P.

tee pee campground
A bridge view from our lovely family-owned and operated site at Tee Pee Campground

Other than The Grand Hotel, we knew little about the famed Lake Huron resort.

maniac island
Mackinac Island

The link between The Hotel Del Coronado and The Grand Hotel is the stuff of Hollywood legend and a quirky Beaubeaux family secret.

Jim – renaissance man, magician and Star Trek enthusiast extraordinare – is also a time-travel enthusiast. Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson is his favorite book.

The story begins with a traveler, a guest of the Hotel del Coronado, in our old hometown.

hotel del coronado
Stock photo of the Hotel del Coronado

There, the traveler becomes captivated with a framed image in the lobby – a photograph of a beautiful actress from a previous era – and the romantic time-travel adventure begins.

somewhere in time
Stock photo from the motion picture

Long story short: The film Somewhere in Time (based on the book) was released in 1980 and Jim was first in line. The Hotel Del Coronado was not available, so the production was filmed on Mackinac Island at The Grand Hotel.

the grand hotel

When Jim saw the film, he suffered some kind of inter-dimensional episode and has been in love with Jane Seymour ever since. He only snaps out of it when I remind him that back in the mid-80’s Christopher Reeves and I had a nice chat in our front yard. I was watering the geraniums. He was jogging by.

View of the Friday Night fireworks from Tee-Pee Campground

Aware of what I would be up against that day, we joined our fellow Fudgies …

and ferried under bridge …

mackinac bridge
See the four guys working way up on the cables? Yeah, big bridge.

to Mackinac Island, where we indulged in mansion envy …

garden envy …

cottage envy …

mackinac island

cabin envy …

mackinac island

and, Seymour envy.

mackinac island
Will this event wrinkle the subatomic vortices to cauterize the time warp? I hope not. I love him just the way he is. And Jane’s just part of the family now.

After visiting the hotel, Mackinac Island is a delightful place to hang out …

and break the law.

mackinac island

The no-motorized vehicle law allows electric bikes with doctor’s permission, but the details are kind of sketchy.

mackinac island
Cycling is the preferred mode of transportation on the island

Fortunately, our quiet, low-profile Dolphin eBikes attracted no attention as we thoroughly toured the heights of the island without suffering the expense and embarrassment of a fine.

mackinac island

Or, maybe we’re so old they just assumed we had a permit.

mackinac island

In any case, there were no awkward moments with the law or the horses.

mackinac island

This island is gorgeous, no denying that, but it was just as fun to ride the North Central State Rail Trail to the friendly and picturesque town of Cheboygan for coffee, or something stronger.

For a tourism centered town, Mackinaw City has much more to offer than ferry, fudge, fried whitefish and t-shirts.

mackinaw city
The beach at our campground

Kayaking under the bridge and through the straights, hiking and cycling the headlands kept us busy for most of two weeks.

Worth more than the price of entrance was the thoroughly entertaining Jack Pine Lumberjack Show

and charming Heritage Village.

After two weeks of intoxicating summer weather, we finally crossed the bridge …

mackinac bridge

and followed a troll to …

Tahquamenon Falls

Paradise, about seventy-miles north of the bridge, greeted us with promises of waterfalls, blueberries and shipwrecks.

paradise, Michigan

We pulled into Rivermouth Campground, our home for seven nights.

Tahquamenon Falls

We were in it deep now.

“Stained with blood the tuft of feathers
On the little head of Mama;
Even to this day he wears it,
Wears the tuft of crimson feathers,
As a symbol of his service.” – The Song of Hiawatha, Longfellow 1855

Not much to say about Tahquamenon except this is where the gitchee-gumee gets real.

Tahquamenon Falls
At Tahquamenon Falls State Park, also known as The Root Beer Falls draws its nickname from the distinctive color of the water which is created by the leaching of tannins from the cedar swamps which feed the river.

Paddling from our campsite to Lake Michigan was better than church.

To leave that gorgeous river, it had to be good … so we headed to The Shipwreck Museum

On “Christmas eve,” 😉 we pulled out of Paradise. The town of Christmas would be our final Michigan destination. We needed a place for the night and fortunately, a Harvest Host, right off the highway, accepted us.

Bee Wise Farms

Bee Wise Farms

We spent the remainder of the day and night at charming Bee Wise Farms where we stocked up on honey and superb Michigander hospitality …

Pictured Rocks National Seashore

It is true that Christmas only comes once a year, but it’s really cool that you can go to Christmas any time at all.

christmas, michigan

Christmas has everything.

A great place to stay, Bay Furnace Campground.

A lake …

a casino …

christmas, michigan
Kewadin Casino – Christmas, Michigan


Pictured Rocks National Seashore
Spray Falls – Picture Rocks National Seashore

and many fabulous pink-sand beaches.

Pictured Rocks National Seashore

Munising is only a couple of miles away.

munising, michigan

There, we dabbled in pasty culture, the pride of Michigander cuisine.

Some neighborly Airstreamers in Mackinaw recommended a pontoon to view the lake …

Great suggestion! What a splash!

As the light changed, we began to see the colors in the rock formations…

which explained why the pebbles looked like jewels. Some even glow in the dark.

Most days the lake was a bit too rough to risk paddling close to the rocks, but we watched and prayed.

Then, on our last full day, conditions were perfect. We inflated a kayak and took it out to Miners Beach.

Pictured Rocks National Seashore

While one of us sunbathed with Pico …

Pictured Rocks National Seashore
Who loves the sand? Who loves the warrrrrm sand? Who loves the warm, warm sand?

the other took a turn paddling out for close-up views of the lake shore.

Paddling through the Sistine Chapel couldn’t feel more glorious. Never have I seen anything – natural or man-made – like Pictured Rocks.

Did the ancient mystics arrive to this place and mistake it for Heaven?

Imagine how it looked before the white man’s foothold.

Pictured Rocks National Seashore

And to think that we almost missed these views.

We’re not purists. We travel fast when it can’t be helped, but the long, slow journey is the gold standard.

It takes time to get comfortable in a new place …

Pictured Rocks National Seashore miner's beach

feel the pulse …

pictured rocks national seashore

meet the locals …

sign up for Medicare …

and carve out time for interruptions …

because you never know when Heaven might drop in …

Pictured Rocks National Seashore

to say, Hello.

Pictured Rocks National Seashore

And, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

87 thoughts on “From Mackinac to Christmas

    1. Hey Mike!

      If you think we’re in your area (and you will have a better idea if you listen to the podcast) then email us and we’ll make plans for a meet-up!

      Best to you this holiday season!


  1. We fell in love with Michigan’s upper peninsula and a lot of the rest of the coast of Michigan!! We wanted to stay, but we’re not up to those winters!

    1. Hey Susan! I agree that Michigan is a summer-time mecca. We were warned about the bugs, but didn’t experience any problems at all last August. Munising and Christmas was an absolute paradise. Best summer EVER!

      Happy Holidays!


      1. We didn’t have any problems with bugs either. We loved it so much that we are detouring through Michigan on our way to Maine this summer! Hope you are somewhere warm to enjoy your holidays!

  2. Thanks for sharing..the UP is definitely on our to do list..we live in NE Wisconsin and it pretty cool that you guys were so close. Gave us some great ideas to start exploring the UP..and a lot of them are already on our list! Maybe our paths will cross someday..thanks for the inspiration..Chris & Wendy

    1. Thanks Chris & Wendy! We’re looking forward to seeing you up The Road!

      Safe and Happy Travels!


    1. How wonderful to reconnect with you, Amy! Isn’t friendship grand!? We’re looking forward to our next meet-up.


      Carmen & Jim

    1. Hey Sheri! How was the color? I hear the Autumn color is usually spectacular in October. In August it was already just beginning to turn but the locals said it was early.

      Happy Holidays!


      1. Some areas were nice and some hadn’t turned quite as much. We came home through Wisconsin and there wasn’t much color there.

    1. Joe!!! We were there in August. This blog covers more than a month of travel. We’re bunching up trips so we can catch the blog up to almost real time. I’m weary of being six-months behind. How are you and Ronnie? We miss you two and the pups!


      Happy Holidays!


      1. Back at ya. All is well. On-the-backroads of Florida till mid-January; then rendezvous with friends down by Key West. Thinking of UP or up Northeast for the summer. Across the ocean in spring and fall.😎

        1. Carmen & Jim: We are in the Finger Lakes and 1000 islands for this summer (2022) but just came across your UP blog again as you reposted the link to answer someone’s question. Guess we start planning our UP visit for next July-August and add parts of Canada as well. See you down the road. [Heading back to 🇫🇷 in mid-Sept; Covid and Politics permitting.]

          1. Joe, great to hear from you! We are trying to figure out how to fit the Finger lakes into our schedule either next year or the following year. We have heard so much about this area and want to spend some time there. Hopefully our paths will cross again sometime! Stay safe out there!! Jim

    1. Yes! A life-changing experience for us. I wouldn’t mind trying to live up there for a year but I’d probably die from the cold. IF the lake freezes I hear there are amazing snow-shoe walks to the caves. That, I would love to see but with poor circulation my feet may never forgive me for a winter Yoop experience.

      Thanks for being with us Ralph.

      Happy Holidays,


      1. Wonderful. We enjoyed the adventure and meeting you. It was great seeing all the UP highlights and shoreline destinations. We are in Naples Florida now. Much warmer. Merry Christmas. 😎🌲

        1. Hey Ralph!

          I hope Florida is warmer than San Diego! We’ve been sporting our Canada-wear ever since we drove in from Arizona.

          Great to hear from you and that all is well.

          Merry Christmas!


  3. We love our Michigan. The UP is extra special to us, we have been camping and Airstream’n up there for 44 soon to be 45 summers. You will have to come back there is more to see!!

    1. Hey Patti! We hear you. We just got our toes wet. Next time ….

      How fortunate you are to be a true Michigander. Now that we’re back in San Diego it all feels like a dream …

      There is nothing we would love more than spend an entire Spring, Summer and Autumn in Michigan.

      Happy Holidays to you and your family, Patty! And safe and Happy Travels!


      1. Carmen, glad you enjoyed the UP. We live in New Jersey but have a vacation house on Bois Blanc Island which is the island right next to Mackinaw Island. We’ve been going there for 30 years now and love it. Plan on exploring more once we get delivery of our 1st Airstream in March! Can’t wait and hope to run into you two someday. I’ve been following you for awhile to get ideas of where to travel and you’ve given me plenty to add to my list! Thank you!

        1. Hey Dolores!

          Thank you for following LIB. Wonderful to hear that you have a lil’ silver bun in the oven. Congratulations! And how fortunate you are to live in two of my favorite places. We hope to meet you on the road and find out all the great places YOU have been!

          Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!


  4. We also love the UP. Spent some time there this summer and your photos brought back some fun memories of Pictured Rocks, Mackinac Island etc. Love to read your blog posts.
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Betty!

      Thank you and a Merry Christmas to you too! We had a great summer up there didn’t we? No bugs either! Same for you? The only criticisms I have ever heard about summer in the U.P. is regarding the mosquitoes, flies and no-seeums. What a magical place Glad to have shared it with you, Betty.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

  5. I am a native Michigander who lived in the UP on Lake Superior – love the area but definitely couldn’t live in the winters again 😄 – your pictures reminded me how beautiful it is there!

    1. Hey Bridy. I totally understand why so many Michiganders spend winters in Florida. I had a great conversation with a retired forestry-service ranger who grew up in Munising. He said this winter would be his last and was looking at Florida properties. I have nothing but respect for those who can handle the brutal U.P. winter conditions – even if only for a few years. Wow. Tough people.

      Thanks so much for being with us Bridy!

      Safe and Happy Travels!


    1. Hey Axel!

      So glad you liked the pics – thank you for the encouragement. Yes, go up there! You don’t have to die to go to the U.P. and you’ll have something to compare heaven to when you get there.

      Happy Holidays!


  6. Just yesterday, husband mentioned watching a video of Airstreamers who had spent time at Pictured Rocks State Park. We didn’t spend enough time in the UP when the International Rally of the WBCCI was held in Escanaba back in 2017. I think we need to go back again. Your pictures are enticing.

    1. Hey Becky!

      I’d love to see that YouTube video, if you don’t mind sending the link.

      Yes, the park is much larger than we are able to describe – a destination for seasonal travelers to spend long summer lake shore vacations. I love fresh water swimming and kayaking – something we hardly ever can enjoy in California with the water table so low. The Great Lakes are a treasure and Pictured Rocks is surreal – especially when the water is calm and glassy. We were so lucky to have those conditions.

      Thank you for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!


    1. Hey Gwendolyn,

      How exciting! And when you go please send us a photo or two!

      Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!


  7. So glad you enjoyed my home state. I’m a flat lander who escaped the brutal winter weather many years ago, but go back to see family when I can.
    Mackinaw Island is a gem most in the country know nothing about. Thank you for letting people know about it. Everyone should spend one summer vacation banging around Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, Traverse City, Mackinaw Island, and the Yoop. Beautiful country.
    Say hi to Jim for me!

    1. Jon!

      Jim and I are sending happy holiday wishes your way. So great to hear from you!

      So, as former flat lander, how are you handling this cold San Diego winter?! Six years ago before we ever experienced the northern climate, I would probably have described this winter as “brutal.” Seems like Great Lakes winters are warmer and Baja winters are colder these days.

      Yes! We’re hoping to catch more of the mitten, including Traverse City on our way east in two years – probably in late Spring. Can’t wait!!!

      Safe and Happy Travels, Jon!


      1. I left San Diego in December of 2015. My dad lived in Phoenix (Sun City) and his health was declining so I came over and helped him until he passed away in Dec of 2018. I decided to stay in the Phoenix area rather than go back to the madhouse. My son still lives in SD but he comes here to visit and not the other way around. I like Phx and intend to stay here.
        Travel safe!

  8. I use to spend my summers in the UP…beautiful country. Would love to do some camping up there next summer.

    1. Hey Susan!

      Wow! Lucky you!!! Being from San Diego, we’re stoked to just be there for a few weeks of our lives. Yes, we would love to go again, but it’s a long way up there. This was truly like a National Geographic experience for us. We’d be just as thrilled to see Africa or Cambodia. Many Americans have no idea of the treasures right here in The States – the U.P., Acadia, Big Bend, The Keys – all of these places on the edges still have a touch of wilderness left in them, feel as exotic as foreign travel and are not crowded at all.

      Only Michiganders were complaining of “the crowds” which we – being from SoCal found to be hilarious. Even a guy we met at a brewery who runs one of the tour boat business was complaining about too much tourism! And he lives in Florida in the winters!! I love it. That insular attitude will keep the U.P. beautiful for generations to come. Like I said in the blog, don’t expect a red-carpet welcome, go prepared and dive into the green!!!

      Thanks for being with us, Susan!

      Happy Holidays!


    1. Hey Tom! That’s the way to do it – waterfall hopping is a great way to see the U.P. – and the entire U.S.!

      The views of rivers and waterfalls are the most fulfilling moments in our travels. That’s why Jim makes the little waterfall videos, so when the mood is upon us we can go to them again for a moment of peace. Someday I hope we have enough waterfall vids to make an hour or more of video to loop.

      Thanks so much for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!


    1. Hey Jim!

      Jim actually has multi-discipline bachelor’s which includes telecommunications. He once had an ambition to be a TV guy. Sometimes we wish there was a camera following us because some really amazing things happen on the road that would translate better to television than to the blog. But the episodic business of television would ultimately spoil the spontaneity and excitement of our lifestyle, but thank you so much for the encouragement. How wonderful to have you on board!

      Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!


    1. Yes! Surprise is the word! It amazes me that Americans with limited vacation time will flock shoulder-to-shoulder to see a handful of the most impacted national parks and will never experience the best, uncrowded, most historic and surprisingly scenic spots on the planet – right here in the U.S. Our little blog is doing our best to get the word out.

      Thanks so much for being with us, Shirley.

      Happy Holidays!


  9. Oh man, some of our absolute favorite stops – Mackinac Island and the UP. Your photos are wonderful and perfectly capture the feel of these special places. I will never get over the color and clarity of Lake Huron, nor the one-of-a-kindness of Tahquamenon Falls, nor the stunning and unique architecture of Mackinac Island. There’s simply nowhere else like it and I totally understand why Michiganders return summer after summer. So glad you guys enjoyed it!

    1. Hey Laura!

      Yes – it’s one of a kind. I hope we get to go there again and see more of the peninsula and the mitten. But if we don’t, at least we had a memorable summer. You two were so smart to start early in your lives. When you retire permanently you will know exactly where to go. Hey! Maybe there will be flying RV’s by then!

      Happy Holidays!


    1. Hey April!

      Wow, we just missed you! I’ll bet you have some beautiful photos. The colors were already starting in mid-August. The locals were excited about it because fall color is a sign that the tourists will be leaving soon ;-D

      Thanks for being with us, April!

      Happy Holidays!


  10. Just. Wow. I oohed, aahed, gasped, laughed out loud at the Grand Hotel (did Jim see more of Seymour?), vowed to read “Bid Time Return,” got an eye-popping education about places I never knew existed….could go on and on. Am I your only trekkie who has not been across, up and down this beautiful country?:) Waiting for my coffee table book. Get cracking on this, I am not getting any younger. Merry Christmas Jim and Carmen.

  11. Mickieeeee!!!

    If you like I will send you more pics. I couldn’t put the camera down. I think I told you that because of my lousy vision I can’t really see a place until I’m home and inside with no glare on my computer screen. When I saw these my jaw dropped! I was there … I was really, really there! If I had known it was that beautiful, the authorities would have had to dispatch the law to get me to go home. I wanna go back!!!

    Merry Christmas Beautiful Lady! I love you SO much!

    xoxo, Carmen

    1. Yes, more pictures. These were Beyond incredible. Oh my gosh, the colors! Those rocks! I have never seen anything like that. Nature is miraculous. The entire color wheel on steroids. The kayaking must’ve been crazy.❤️❤️love you.

  12. Carmen- you and Jim were made for this. Your lovely descriptions and discovers takes us with you on your adventures. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    1. Jan!!!

      So wonderful to hear from you! Joyful Christmas blessings to you, Rick, Andrew and Candace!


      Carmen & Jim

    1. If you can, plan for the entire summer – there’s too much to see and do for a short trip. Oh, forget it, just go and have a great time!

      Happy Holidays, Cyndi!


  13. Hi! i listened to the podcast version today during my drive. i always forget what a beautiful voice you have. Well, I’m sad that you didn’t know to contact me for a stay at The Little Ranchette near Fenton, MI. I have hookups and 48 acres of privacy. so next time, if i still own it.
    And, you missed stopping at Hell, MI before going to Paradise!!
    Next, the way you described heading up north was perfect. It reminded me of when I grew up.
    The Rivermouth Campground is my favorite and paddling to Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior is the best there.
    Thanks for taking me on your journey.

    1. Oh my, what wonderful recommendations! Next time we will contact you before we head up. WOW! Thank you so much for the offer!!!

      And, I had no idea that Hell is in Michigan! What a quirky place! Gotta see that place!

      Honestly, we could have called it a great vacation if we’d just stayed in Rivermouth for a month. That’s what’s so great about Michigan – We could easily stay in just three places for a month at a time and have a perfect, relaxing summer.

      Thank you for listening, Lindy. We always look forward to hearing from you.

      Happy Holidays!


      1. Yes. My friend John used to own Hell. The unofficial official mayor. Hell has quite the story and the campgrounds and chain of lakes to paddle on are beautiful!!

  14. Love this place used to live there years ago. The winters can be very long with abundant snowfall!!! But it is a peaceful area maybe because it is not densely populated! 😊 We lived on the Keewenaw peninsula stuck out in Lake Superior.

    1. Wow Elsie, you are fortunate to have such fond memories of peaceful winters on Lake Superior. Maybe someday we will go there in the dead of winter just to experience the isolation and starry winter sky. No, I won’t! I’d probably get frost bite and lose my toes. But I have so much respect for true Michiganders. It takes some kind of tough to winter in Keewenaw!

      Thank you so much for being with us and sharing your experience, Elsie.

      Happy Holidays!


  15. Thanks for letting us tag along on your journey! We’ve done many U.P. trips since we live in Wisconsin. One of the most memorable was a winter hike on the ice to the sea caves. There was a guy in one of the caves playing a didgeridoo. The music was haunting as it echoed off the cave walls. Still gives me goosebumps when I think about it even after all these years! We don’t go in the winter anymore though, now we go to Florida.

    1. That’s interesting. Most of the travel literature I’ve read about Michigan is about winter travel – cross country skiing and snowshoe expeditions and snow-mobile trails. I’d love to hike to Pictured Rocks in the winter, but I hear the lakes are not freezing like they once did so it’s hard to get there.

      Wow … the musician in the cave. Magical! Gives me goosebumps too! Thanks for sharing, Vicki!

      Thank you for being a part of the journey!

      Happy Holidays!!!


  16. Next time go further inland to Marquette and all the way to the Copper country where there is a National Park in Calumet and the Kewaunaw to Copper Harbor the end ofMI.

  17. So cool you visited the UP and we lived there and you were in Ohio and we now live in Cleveland Ohio thanks for all the good words about our state parks and Lake Erie. We always travel west love the mountains and National Parks but don’t really appreciate our state until we see it from someone else’s perspective. Thanks!

    1. Isn’t that the truth, Elsie! Before COVID it was unusual to meet a Californian in any of our California parks – whether national, state or county. Visitors were mostly from Europe or Japan, Australia, India or other states. For decades we had no idea our favorite park, Agua Caliente (the one in our logo), was only a two hour drive from or house. Most San Diegans have no idea its there. Departments of tourism have poured millions of dollars into trying to educate local populations about their own parks, but nowadays that probably isn’t necessary. People are finding the ideal get-away close to home. I hope this golden era of camping brings back the car-camp – safe and guarded metro places to park overnight, usually free to travelers who are passing through – they were popular back in the 30’s and 40’s. We are seeing more of them lately.

      We love the delicate beauty of Ohio, the thunderstorms, wildflowers and bird migrations – what Ohio lacks in spectacular natural wonders it makes up for in tranquility.

      So great to hear from you, Elsie!

      Happy Holidays!


  18. What beauty you have seen! I don’t think my parents ever made it to Michigan but they did get to see the beauty of Alaska. Thanks so much for sharing your travels with all of us! Looking forward to meeting up with you again in Colorado. Next time you’re here we’ll most likely be living on the outskirts of the city out on the windy Colorado plains. We’ll have plenty of room to host Beauty and the Beast on our 40 acres. Love you two!

    1. Karen!!!

      Merry Christmas! Sounds like you’ve broke ground on your new house. Congratulations. We so look forward to seeing you, if not this year then the next. We recently had dinner with Amy Walsh from the old youth group – and, Steven Brundege still cuts my hair.

      Best wishes for a good house-raising experience!

      Happy New Year!

      Carmen & Jim

  19. Thank you for this fascinating and entertaining glimpse into the UP! Pictured Rocks seem to be the biggest highlight. Unfortunately, we have never visited this part of the country. I hope to do so, one summer.

    We actually briefly considered a detour from Chicago to Pictured Rocks this past October, but the added distance to head southwest was too big and the weather was turning. But, this past October was the first time I ever saw photos of this natural beauty,when our friends in Chicago showed us vistas from their recent trip there. Definitely on the mental list!! Thanks for sharing your amazing stories,discoveries, humor, and photos!

    1. Liesbet!

      Most of the photos I had seen of Pictured Rocks were from winter expeditions across the lake when they are draped in phenomenal icicles. It would require some hardcore camping but I would love to see Pictured Rocks in their Fall and Winter glory. I think that is a peak time to rent a cabin.

      The near absence of the notorious flying pests which plague the U.P. made the trip so much more pleasant. We prepared our arsenal, ready for attack – and even brought DEET which we never use – but didn’t need any of it. After Shenandoah we thought that certainly the bugs would be thick in up north – especially in State and National Parks which usually shun spraying. We were lucky.

      So, it appears we had a near miss in Arizona. We could have met you! I am making a point to keep up more closely with your wonderful blog.

      So great to hear from you, Liesbet. Wishing you safe travels and wonderful experiences as you journey south.


      Carmen and Jim

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