Our RV spot in Roscommon, Michigan, is centrally located and offers wonderful day-trip adventures. Mike had two bucket list items he wanted to achieve while in Michigan. One was to see Lake Huron (accomplished the previous weekend) and Lake Superior, which would complete all of the Great Lakes for him. He also wanted to cross the Mighty Mac, which is the Mackinac Bridge that joins lower Michigan to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You can see our video of this trip at RandomBitsRV on YouTube.
We’ve visited the bridge and the Upper Peninsula a couple of times now, and each time we’ve had the burning question: Why were there differences in pronunciation between Mackinac and Mackinaw? Some say Mackinac with the ‘k’ sound while others use the ‘w’ sound ending. I found the answer to that trivia question by accident. The entire area was named by Native Americans as Mishi-Mikinaak, with Mishi-Mikinaak Island their sacred place where they believed the Great Spirit resided. When the French came around 1715, the name was changed to Michilimackinac (the French ‘ac’ having an ‘aw’ sound). The British then changed the spelling to Michilimackinaw, which eventually shortened to what we know it today, Mackinaw. The Mackinac bridge, Mackinac Island, and the Mackinac Straits use the French spelling and Mackinaw City uses the British. Either way, it’s all pronounced Mackinaw (‘aw’ sound). Now we know, but we didn’t then. So sorry for the mispronunciation, Michigan.
Proper pronunciation notwithstanding, we headed out on I-75 North and the excitement began to build as we approached the bridge. As we left land and began our ascent over the water where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet, the deep and light blues of the water dazzled in the sun and sparkled. As we got farther onto the bridge, azure water surrounded us, reminiscent of the Florida Keys. When traffic stopped about one mile before the toll bridge, looking over the side was intimidating. I have to admit, while my husband was looking around in barely contained pure joy and excitement, I was feeling a little bit queasy–more from the height than the lake swirling below.
With the Mighty Mac behind us, we approached the toll bridge and were getting ready to enter the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The $4.00 was totally worth it.
Lake Superior–anywhere–was our destination. Mike found a state park on line with beachfront views, so we punched it into the GPS and started driving. The journey took us around the shore of Lake Michigan, and we found a sweet lookout spot where we could get see the five-mile bridge we just crossed.
There were crystal clear views of the lake while we drove. The GPS took us on a long deserted road with trees, abandoned shacks, and no other vehicles or people for miles and miles, and eventually brought us to our turn off for Muskallonge Lake State Park. We saw warning signs for bears, moose, and other wildlife. I would have been as excited to see a moose or bear as Mike was to see the bridge, but no such luck this trip.
We pulled into the state park and, surprisingly, the ranger let us park without paying so we could have our first glimpse of Lake Superior. It was a short stroll to the walkway and down a few stairs. The walk was quite pretty, as it was set in a deeply wooded area.
Seeing the vast expanse of Lake Superior with no other land in sight was a humbling experience. It’s so big. I’ve lived on the east coast of Florida for the last 30 years. I’ve seen the ocean and felt the magic of being so small among natural force so massive. For some reason, Lake Superior was the same but felt so different. The sand wasn’t light bits of gritty dust, but more like ground pebbles among large, fist-sized rocks making up the shoreline. There was no fine layer of salt mist on my skin, tangy taste on my lips, or its sharp scent filling my nose. The air and water were clear. The lake was calm and went on for miles. We stood silently in awe for several minutes taking it all in.
The shoreline of colorful rocks was beautiful. There was a small expanse of beach, but nothing compared to Florida’s miles of wide beaches. The trees opposite the shoreline proudly displayed colors of the changing leaves with signs of an early Fall.
It was sad to say goodbye to the Superior shoreline, but we headed back up the stairs to the truck where we would begin the three- to four-hour return trek over the bridge and back to the campground.
On the road out of the state park, we found this cute little gem. I got to see a moose after all:
Goodbye Lake Superior, for now. What a day of wonderful adventures, sights, and feelings. We can’t wait to visit again.
Safe travels, Dawn
The blogs are still out of order. Someday, I’ll catch up.
Where We Are Now: Roscommon – Alpena, MI.
Where We Plan to Go: Chicago area.
Location of Blog Entry: Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Lake Superior.