(Photos posted about this trip were taken both by Boyfriend Extraordinaire and me. Many links will lead to more photo albums of similar pictures at my Tabblo pages.)
Friday, October 3 started as close to being on time as Boyfriend Extraordinaire and I can usually manage. Our 10 AM ETD was only off by about a half-hour, delayed further by a trip to the bank for cash, so we were literally on the way at about 11 AM. B.E. did a fabulous job of helping load the car, sleepy though he was. The trunk was full to the max, covered in a thick layer of coats and sweatshirts for B.E.'s warmth. The backseat was packed with coolers, our bags of groceries, and things we needed access to while driving. Even the glove box was crammed with things. You'd have thought we were staying for a month instead of a week.
Fall felt like a long way off in Illinois, with the temperature around 60º and the sun blazing. Predictions everywhere said the fall colors were about to peak in the Upper Peninsula, and it seemed like a world away where we were coming from.
On the way to the expressway, we actually saw a falcon and a few blue jays. These are not common sights in my neck of the woods and perhaps it was some kind of indication that our trip would be full of wildlife.
The drive north on 43 is long and tiresome, so we usually stop at the rest area just south of the Sturgeon Bay exit. You'd have thought it was still summer with all the blooming flowers and buzzing bees. Here we see B.E. teasing one bee who was too busy stuffing himself silly to care.
Construction wasn't all that bad until we arrived in Oconto County, but Oconto had another distraction to offer drivers. TOILET PAPER.
It wasn't until we stopped for our usual lunch at the Hardee's by the Sea (the Oconto River) that we received an explanation for the fact that the ENTIRE TOWN had been recently T.P.'d. Turns out, this was part of the local high school's homecoming shenanigans. B.E. asked if the town was now having to wipe with newspaper because all the T.P. was in the trees. Evidently not. Yet it still seemed as if the entire county had been wiped clean (no pun intended) of toilet paper for the purpose of hanging it from every tree in town.
Even the library got hit! OH THE HUMANITY!
A quick stop at Seguin's in Marinette, WI gave us some string cheese to fuel our dairy and protein cravings, and then a quick refuel at a gas station gave us hope that gas prices were going to be cheaper the farther we headed north. Menominee, MI offered gas at $3.49, whereas it was $3.69 at home when I fueled up on the way. It's never cheaper up north, but I wasn't going to remind anyone of this, lest they raise the prices.
I don't think I've ever felt so little stress and anxiety making the drive up to Munising before. There always feels like a crazed rush to reach town before nightfall, and this makes for a long, long drive. Not so on this trip. I let go of the anxiety and it seemed like the travel time flew by. What a nice change! Even though the drivers in Wisconsin were so infuriatingly bad, I managed to keep a cool head while B.E. sang songs to their lack of driving skills. Crossing into Menominee was a relief to be on the road with normal drivers again, but I still felt quite relaxed either way.
We did stop briefly at Rapid River Falls, which is always pretty, but the color wasn't very impressive yet, so we pushed onward to Munising.
Around Trenary, MI, things really started looking like autumn. Maybe it was the farms in the fading sunlight, because only some of the trees seemed to be showing their flare.
The closer we got to Munising, the more color there seemed to be. Hiawatha National Forest was gearing up for some major shades of orange and red, and we would likely get to watch it ripen. I was totally stoked!
And then we made it! OUR FAVORITE PLACE TO STAY: The Sunset Motel on the Bay! We got our favorite room, Room 221, and despite my exhaustion, I was beside myself with glee. We were there! The Sunset Motel! In Munising! In the fall! It was absolutely perfect!
Despite the fact that we were on a strict budget and brought our own food to eat, I had to splurge on the first night and get salads from the local pizza place. They make a MEAN salad, complete with hard-boiled eggs, which B.E. and I look very forward to, so we sat in our wonderful room eating our delish salads, watching Food Network shows into the late night, periodically stepping out onto the deck out of our second floor room to check for Northern Lights, stray moose, or just to enjoy the fabulous sound of soft, lapping waves of Lake Superior, just feet from our door. We could not have asked for more.