July 2 – 10 Wisconsin…Michigan…Chi-Town!

We stopped over at Schwittay Farm; they are a dairy farm that makes cheese for Belgioioso which I’ve purchased and seen in Oregon.  It’s a pretty popular brand.  We were given those cute little cheese samples, and also purchased some brats, beef steaks, more cheese and eggs.  It was great to get it directly from the source. 

As we were dry camping on a dairy farm we found ourselves parked not far from the manure pit that posed many problems; the odor was too intense, it was difficult to breathe and there were flies.  We were by the barn that housed around one hundred head of dairy cows so we moved to the other side to get some relief.  It did help.

Outside of that experience we walked along the backroads of rural Wisconsin and returned to see a newborn calf and observe how the milking process was done. As usual it was Latino workers managing the cows and the process – always some of the hardest working people I know.  

There was one cow who was pregnant and overdue and they were having a fair amount of issues with her.  She looked so uncomfortable. She would complain into the night and we wound up not getting much sleep until, we believe, they moved her out of the pen.  I hope she gives birth soon and recovers.  

There were lovely Jersey cows, originally imported from England that would gave us big-eyed stares.   

Newborn calf and lovely Jersey

We now have a new appreciation of the work that goes into making the fantastic cheese we consume!

We left Wisconsin the next day and drove into Michigan, on our way to Marquette on the Upper Peninsula (UP). 

We were supposed to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law for the 4th of July but my brother came down with Covid😥  He’s fine but we sure miss meeting up with them.  We camped out at Rippling River Resort outside of Marquette.  The spot we got was closer to an actual campsite than an RV resort, we only had electrical, but that was fine as it was rustic and there was no need to use a generator which was perfect.  We were backed up to a meadow with daisies, the weather was beautiful and the perfect conditions for a barbecue and campfire.  

Relaxing at Rippling River

Rain was expected for the 4th of July and as predicted it arrived so we had a pretty lazy day in the rig and decided to take a cab into town and catch an early showing of Elvis – it appears half the town decided to do so as well😂

We got back to the campsite and went out for a walk but then it started pouring rain and we snuggled inside BigB and watched the Bridges of Madison County and then an episode of Obi-Wan.  Due to the weather it turned out to be the quietest 4th of July we ever had!  

The rain let up the next morning and we were able to go out for a nice long hike that skirted the campsite.  We read and then barbecued a steak dinner (the meat we had bought at Schwittay Farms).  This is probably the most we’ve stayed stationary in one place for a while.  

We headed for Sleeping Bear Dunes and overnighted at the Indigo Bluffs RV Park.  It’s a large RV park but the spaces are large, off the road and shaded.  We spent the evening by the fire and headed to the dunes the following day. 

We hiked up a couple of sets of large dunes and then realized it was several miles to actually get to the beach so we decided to do the scenic drive.  The mythology behind the Sleeping Bear is rather heartbreaking:

We stopped by some of the overlooks and watched people trying to hike up the side of the overlook – we decided to pass on that one!

Sleeping Bear Overlook

We headed out to visit our friends from Washington who had moved to the countryside outside of Traverse City. 

Their stunning log and pine lodge rests on several acres next to a small river.  This is the kind of place we dream of retiring to and hope we will find a similar setting in France.  We spent hours catching up on our adventures and got our first home cooked meal in a long time (we’re not counting the RV barbecues!).

This also gave us a chance to fix the step on the rig; it’s been impossible to find an RV repair place that will help us as they are overbooked, so Bob is doing it himself with the help of our friends.  And it worked – our step is now trouble free!

We had a great time catching up, eating and drinking as friends do, then bid farewell with the promise they will catch up with us in France.  

We set out early as we had a 350 mile journey the next day to a KOA outside of Chicago.  

We arrived to beautiful weather, not really humid and in the 70’s.  We were told it was the best weather so far this year!  The next day we parked up at the Crystal Lake train station not too far outside the KOA and went into Chicago.  We wound up in walking distance of everything and took in the sites at the Millenium Park including the “Bean.”  We had a nice lunch outside and then walked around Magnificent Mile.  As it was Sunday, and a spectacular day, it was understandably packed.  We certainly got our steps in🚶‍. 

The Bean

We went on a late afternoon architectural tour; given the Chicago is one of the great architectural cities it was a pleasant 1.5 boat tour along the canals. 

The river walk has been completely reconstructed and was beautiful with wrought iron fences and eateries.  

We met up with one of Bob’s collageagues from his Adidas days and ate and lovely Italian meal in a quite neighborhood in a relaxing outdoor setting.  It was a wonderful top off to a busy and fulfilling day, having emersed ourselves in one of America’s great cities 🏙