Monday, May 11, 2015

Back to the Wild-Hartwick Pines, Michigan

Sunrise Glory Lake

It's been a week since we said our sad goodbyes to family and friends in the Detroit area.  It was difficult leaving them, but not leaving the city.  We were ready for the wildness of nature again. We headed to Hartwick Pines State Park since it was close to the Au Sable River where Jim wanted to do some fly fishing.

Ruby in Site 15

The park was fairly empty when we arrived-only about 7 other campers.  It was wonderful-so quiet except for the birds and we could hear them like a little symphony, early in the morning was the best.
This is a well maintained campground,with enough space between the outer loop campsites to offer some privacy. The inner loop sites are in the wide open area so you don't get the same privacy. Showers are hot and clean-my favorite.  And it has really nice hiking trails.  We were regulars on the trails to Bright and Glory Lakes.  And we did the hike down to the Au Sable River which is another nice trail.
Sunrise Glory Lake

Early morning Glory Lake

Another early morning sunrise,Glory Lake

One of my favorite shots, sunrise reflection on Glory Lake-I've been fooling around trying to teach myself HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography and I like how this one turned out !

The view along the Au Sable River trail-it was a perfect day-sunny and 85 !

 Bright Lake before a rain storm -it only lasted a short time

Fishing spot on the Au Sable River
We drove to the Lovell's area, about 18 miles from our campsite so that Jim could access a good fishing area on the Au Sable River.  It was just beautiful, we took a dirt road off the highway about a a mile to the river access. There was a small parking area, but I'll bet you could get away with boondocking for a short period-it wasn't posted as no camping.  We returned a second day for more fishing and while the weather had changed-no sunshine and about a 30 degree drop in temperature, it was still just as beautiful.

A view down the Au Sable

Italian Sausage and bean soup
Since the weather turned, I thought hot soup would be appropriate and it was-so good and filling when we got back to our campsite. Also fairly simple to make. I found this one on
This makes 12 servings, so I have 8 servings frozen now ! But you can cut the recipe in half.
2 pounds Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (14 ounce) cans beef broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes
2 cups sliced carrots
2 (14.5 ounce) cans great Northern beans, undrained
4 small zucchini, cubed
4 cups spinach - packed, rinsed and torn
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Parmesan cheese for topping
1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, brown sausage with garlic. Stir in broth, tomatoes and carrots, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
2. Stir in beans with liquid and zucchini. Cover, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender.
3. Remove from heat, and add spinach. Replace lid allowing the heat from the soup to cook the spinach leaves. Soup is ready to serve after 5 minutes.
4. I sliced of thin pieces of Parmesan and sprinkled them over the soup-oh so good !

The campground started to get a little busy on Friday, but still not very crowded. We stayed here from Tuesday May5th and left on Sunday May 10th. It's definitely a park we would return to-great access to Grayling to, either by car or a paved bike trail.  And Jim loved the access to the Au Sable River. We missed seeing the tail of Hailey's comet due to cloud coverage but the skies were still amazing. That's another benefit of getting out of the city !  

Since we had been in the city for 2 weeks we allowed ourselves enough time to settle in and get acclimated to Ruby and nature again-a very easy process. We discovered we are both so much happier out on the open roads (and not the interstates !).  We plan on spending more time than we originally thought exploring Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. We probably won't head into Canada until about the first week of June or maybe later-who knows.

Happy Trails and Safe Travels, and to all of you who gave us ideas and suggestions on what to see and do here and the Upper Peninsula-thank you so much!


  1. Great pictures! Your stories bring back memories of that area when we traveled there. I think it was Grayling, where there is a strange "left exit" off the interstate northbound, in order to go downtown to the west. We were in a 40-foot motorhome with a tow car behind, and I had signaled in plenty of time, but a black Mercedes thought he was going to pass me anyway...on his own sweet time..until I had to force him to back off. If I hadn't, we would have missed the exit and had to go for many miles before finding a place to turn around! That was the same town I found a federal officer's ID and badge in a wallet in a phone booth, which I immediately turned in the local police department. We also found the best strawberry ice cream in a gallon tub at the supermarket there. It had real and huge strawberries in it! I could relate a lot more stories from our travels, but they need to go in a book. By the way, I notice something with your blog that I will relay on Facebook. Stay well and travel safe.

    1. Thank you John, it really does sound like you should start writing a book ! And for some reason your comment was duplicated so I deleted the travels

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  3. OK...I just came here for the recipe, didn't realize you were in Hartwick Pines! Katie (my sheltie) and I camped there last 30! LOL! Love that place too. OK. Going back to the recipe now. :)