Eastward Ho the Wagon – Michigan UP & Rockin’ Cleveland

July 10 to 30, 2017

It’s been a while I know. Spent 6 wild and action-packed weeks in Colorado. Took care of business, tuned up the chassis as well as the GMC and Big Mo. Thanks again to Annie, the Safety Club, me boys and countless friends for hospitality and laughs.

A certain amount of planning was also taking place for a major road swing back East – all the way to the Atlantic. After all, I had a bit of apprehension as to what I’d find in the way of Big Rig-friendly campsites, roads, underpasses and services. But hell, it’s been well over 50 years since I’ve seen an eastern fall and several since my last Montauk beach BBQ.

But before pointing the show east I had to spend 2 weeks at Elk Meadow RV Resort in Estes Park!  With a breakfast table view of the north slope of Longs Peak I entertained guests for hiking, drinking, 4th of July fireworks, Rooftop rodeo action and drives into the National Park. Got a new hummingbird feeder and went through a quart of special formulated Tubac, AZ nectar juice. Powerful stuff! After a cool pool party (at my old Pawnee stompin’ ground) and B’Day celebration for my friend Bill (welcome to the Medicare Club) I was ready to go!

One thing all serious RVers know is that you can overnight in any Walmart parking lot in America (and probably Canada, Mexico, and faraway places they are yet to be built). My first two nights on the road (I-80) were in a nice well-lit corner in the Omaha WM and an equally secluded uneven spot in a WM in Michigan City. Ran my generator for air-conditioning, raised my dish for some HBO, poured a cocktail and it was like heaven.

Pulled into Markin Glen County Park in Kalamazoo, hooked up with my buddy Ludwig and after a nice visit with his family, we turned north to the most upper reaches of Michigan’s legendary Upper Peninsula. But on the way we had to swing by the arrivals lane of the Traverse City airport to pick-up our always smiling, charged-up friend Dick. Two plus one equals trouble. The next five days were devoted to sampling local beers, searching for the Northern Lights, swatting mosquitoes, hiking lakeside trails and eating planked-cooked whitefish whenever possible. We did all this and more.

Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge brings you into another world. Lake Michigan to the left, Lake Huron to the right and ahead, the biggest of them all – Lake Superior. Ludwig had to anoint the waters (leaving a small slick) before we drove, and drove, and drove north into the Keweenaw to our destination; Copper Harbor, now small, quaint and pristine but once a stinky mining and lumbering center (till all the resources were tapped out).

Cool things to do in Copper Harbor?

  1. Stay at Lake Fanny Hooe Campground, RV Park & Resort
  2. Go hiking in the Old Growth white pine forest of Estivant Pines
  3. Take the Brockway Mountain Drive – a scenic road that takes you 735 feet above Copper Harbor for a breathtaking view.
  4. Eat 2 or 3 times at the Harbor Haus for their whitefish and more…
  5. Relax

I decided I have to return one day. If I had done better planning we could have taken the ferry over to Isle Royale National Park (4 hrs, 1-way) but to do it right you should overnight for 1 or 2 before coming back. One national park I will still need to check off on my list. But I did add one I hadn’t even thought of a few days later….

The i-phone is great but I think it is possessed at times. Check out this photo of Dick and Tom coming out of Red Jacket Brewery in Houghton after sampling the local beers. Strange indeed….

2heaed3legged tom

Two-Headed, Three Legged Ludepig

Good-bye Michigan, hello Ohio and my birthplace, Cleveland!  Part of the reason I’m on this never-ending road odyssey is to reconnect with family and friends. So I couldn’t wait to see my cousins Barb and Don and their kids Steve, Debby and Holly. Hadn’t seen them in decades! Holly and hubby Jeff own and operate Blue Ridge Farm, a top-notch riding center and stables.  They were kind to let me park my rig there. Just wish I could have ridden but English really isn’t my style… Barb and Don were like private tour guides, whisking me around town and country with highlights being a visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park (who knew? But a new NP check on my list), the historic Erie-Ohio Canal (that provided the last link in a trade connection from NYC to New Orleans) and my old boyhood home on Essex Road in Cleveland Heights. It looks better now than when we lived in it! Another highlight was a surprise 25th anniversary dinner party for Steve and Barjesh and watching Holly nail all the top honors at a local horse show. Go girl!

A trip to Cleveland would not be complete without a visit to the center of the hip universe… the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” reads the t-shirt of the girl in front of me as I filed in. I spent a day there and could easily have come back for another. Cool exhibits like hand written original lyrics of songs like Voodoo Child (Hendrix), American Girl (Petty), Blue Sky (Allman), I Can’t Tell You Why (Eagles) and more. Several theaters too, where in one you can watch a recent Jonathan Demme film with shaking seats, wild lights and smoke (like in a real rock concert). Prince’s solo on While my Guitar Gently Weeps will give you goose bumps.

All I can say is Cleveland is a happening place – on some sort of a rebirth and renaissance. New stadiums, lakefront parks, downtown energy and that now clear and blue lake. They even reintroduced salmon to the Cuyahoga River (famous for having been so polluted that it caught fire in 1969) and they make annual runs again! So put it into your plans. Cleveland Rocks!

Off now to Harrisburg, PA where I park Big Mo at my buddy Goodyear’s farm and nursery while I enjoy August in Montauk with brother Jim and family. Clams and lobster here I come!

6 thoughts on “Eastward Ho the Wagon – Michigan UP & Rockin’ Cleveland

  1. What a beautiful part of the country! You are inspiring traveling east. Wishing you months of great adventure and fun. We love sharing it all vicariously.

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  2. Another fantastic blog full of great information. I am so glad that you are heading east, saw your hometown and are now heading up to see the NYC gang. Enjoy and keep on blogging mate!!! Peace out

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  3. Can’t wait to hear all the stories while at the beach, in the Tiki lounge and around the MTK fire pit ! See you soon Dave-o

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