September 13-14, 2005 - St. Ignace, MI

September 13 was the day we were crossing back into the United States.  We had been enjoying Canada, but we didn't mind heading into our own country.  We needed diesel fuel, it was about $3.40US/gallon after converting from Canadian money and liters to gallons, we knew it was less in Michigan. We planned on stopping at the duty free shop to get our GST tax refund, we did find one campground stay was enough money to qualify.

The low fuel light flickered as we passed through Sault Ste. Marie, ON and came on solid just before the bridge to the U.S.  The duty free shop had two large vehicle parking spots, both occupied, so we headed over the bridge.  At U.S. Customs they asked us questions and really wanted us to have a gun stashed in the rig, "surely you have one in your safe?"  "No, we don't have one and don't have a safe."  "But a big rig like that comes with a safe!".  "No, the next model up comes with one, on this one it is an option."  They let us through.  We had traveled 2,363 miles across Canada with the motorhome and around 1,400 in the car.  The exchange rate we got after fees was between $1C = $0.83-0.85US during the month of travel.  Restaurant food ended up about the same as the U.S.  Food in the grocery stores was more expensive than the U.S. in the west and comparable in the east.  Fuel was expensive.  Campgrounds were comparable in cost.

We pulled off the first exit on I-75 and fueled up, $2.85/gallon for 122 gallons.  We were pushing it on fuel since not all of the 150 gallons of the diesel tank is really usable, the real number is somewhere around 130 to 135 gallons.  It was the first time we had ever let the low fuel light come on. 

We drove down to St. Ignace, MI to stay a couple days, our days drive totaled 66 miles but we moved between two countries.  Here is our campsite facing Lake Michigan:

At least our site was reasonably level, look at this motorhome:

We had chosen the campsite since we knew it had mostly satellite friendly sites.  We got another try to Bill's homemade mast extension and it worked fairly well.  It was more difficult to setup since the extension leans forwards a couple degrees.  But here is a close-up:

Now that we were not roaming on our cell phone and had internet access we called Wild Cherry Resort in Lake Leelanau, MI for an address we could use to send the the official mast extension and to make a reservation.  We learned that Steve and Ed were coming into Wild Cherry that day, the resort was ready for us.  Then we ordered the official mast extension and they thought it would take about four business days to arrive. 

We drove into St. Ignace and bought some groceries, back to milk in 1 gallon plastic jugs.  We also found a pastie place that had chicken ones, so Diane could have a pastie.  They were good, but not the kind of thing we would rave about like so many others in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (The UP).  Having a pastie was one of the many things we did not due on our previous journey through The UP, we had to zoom that time to be in cell phone range.  Now Verizon Wireless had coverage at St. Ignace, these things change in two years.

The campground had a beach on Lake Michigan and we went to check it out, it was very hazey and we could barely see the outline of the Mackinaw Straits Bridge:

We checked the weather online and it was saying thunderstorms later so we hunkered down.  About bedtime we had a wild lightning and thunder show, but no rain, hail or strong winds.  We could tell most of the bad weather was south of us.

The next day we decided to journey to Mackinac Island, something everyone was surprised we hadn't done the last trip.  We were going to take the bikes but it was still windy, so we just took ourselves.  Here is a shot of the ferry boat:

The storms cleared the air, here is what the Mackinaw Straits Bridge looked like from the ferry:

Here are pictures of our approach to the island, shots of the island (no cars, so all transportation is by foot, bicycle or uses horses), and our trip back:

St. Ignace from the water:

I guess we were not in a tourist mood, we enjoyed walking around, we enjoyed lunch, we bought some fudge (a Mackinac Island tradition), but we were not really in the mood for it.  We did share the island with cruise ship passengers from the MV Columbus:

We also learned that the thunderstorms did hit Mackinac Island, they had 70mph winds and large hail.

The weather became quite nice after we got back.  The view of the bridge from the campground beach was much better (compare the first picture with the one above at about the same location):

We watched an old Travco motorhome come in with a classic car on a trailer:

We also looked out and saw everyone was running down for the sunset, it was worth it:

Next time in the area we hope we are in the mood to take our bikes to Mackinac Island.

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