Where We've Been, Wisconsin

The Apostle Islands

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The Apostle Islands

The Great Lakes are home to some of the largest fresh water lakes in the world. Their features are also unique setting them apart from each other. 

When we were visiting Niagara Falls, we learned about the first two lakes, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which the Niagara River flows between. The substantial amount of water that flows in between the lakes is so great that without diverting the water for hydropower generation, it would erode 5 feet of land each year. We visited Lake Michigan when we were in Holland, Michigan. To my surprise, the waves on the shore were strong enough that you could body board on them. Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are separated by the Mackinac Bridge, the only link to the U.P. of Michigan from lower Michigan. We sailed across the beautiful blue green Lake Huron to visit Mackinac Island.

Lake Superior is the largest of the lakes and we actually visited along its shores twice on this trip. Once was when we visited Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the other is on this trip to see the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin.

The islands are broken apart like crumbled cheese across the western peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior. The only way to reach these islands is by boat, so we again booked a trip, Dramamine in hand, to visit them on the Grand Tour.

What did they look like? Well, each island looks pretty much the same. Red rocks on the bottom with green trees on top that reflect into the blueish green water below. There was an occasional bald eagle to spot or quarried rocks to catch a glimpse of as we sailed by. At this point, I’m thinking we may have made a mistake taking this tour if they were all like this.

Fortunately, the last island was a delightful surprise and lived up to the hype of why these islands are known as an area to see the sea caves.

Devil’s Island is the island that is furthest north of the Apostle Islands. It was like looking at swiss cheese as the water had carved out portions of the rock face to create these intricate sea caves. 

Pillars and platforms jutted out into the water like the Lion King’s Pride Rock. The shallow water below turned the normally blue water into a blueish green. 

The sea caves along the main peninsula’s shore are a popular place for kayakers to enjoy as they can maneuver around and in between them. But because of its great distance from the harbor, it makes reaching Devil’s Island too difficult for kayakers alone. That makes these sea caves less explored than the ones close to shore. 

The boat we were on was quite crowded, especially as everyone scrambled to a window, side railing, or top deck overlook to get a glimpse of the sea caves. Add to that the rocking we experienced as we got out to Devil’s Island and no longer had the land’s protection from the rolling waves. Over all the shoulders, cell phones, and pointing fingers, I finally had a clear shot of this neat cliff edge as we rounded the top of the island… that is if the rocking and rolling of the boat didn’t make me lose my balance and my lunch. 

Someone stood up and moved to another spot and quickly I anchored my knee onto the seat to steady myself, turned up my shutter speed to avoid blurring of the picture and was fortunate enough to get this shot. 

The tour around Devil’s Island was short, but worth the trip. There wasn’t a lot to see on the way back, so I joined the family back in our seats to find my son keeled over with his head between his hands trying to sleep off the woozy feeling, my husband looking rather pale, and my daughter enjoying a video game on dad’s phone to overcome the “boredom” after the sea caves were passed.

Just as we got off the boat, the sun was setting and the boats in the harbor looked idyllic in the calm waters.

Earlier in the week we had taken a hike to see the sea caves that are along the main peninsula from the shore. There’s a 4 mile round trip trail that leads you out to certain view points where you can see the caves, albeit at an elevated angle. 

This part of the trail was very unique so I thought I’d capture it. The trail goes from behind the wooden fence on the right, to a bridge near the center of the picture and continues to the left where the other fence can be seen. Here in the center is a sea cave arch that the tree on the right is somehow growing out of. 

There were many overlooks on this trail and some you could wander out on. Jaden took full advantage of the opportunity to scare the daylights out of his mom. He wanted to see over the edge of one of the cliffs and pointed even further to the edge that he wanted to walk out on, but I had to call him back as I saw just how precarious this situation was getting. I’m not sure how well the roots of that leaning tree would have help up had he lost his footing.

Ironically, they had a life preserving ring float just a few hundred feet behind me for occasions just like this. Apparently others had tried it and fallen in and the ring was there to throw to them in those circumstances. Not wanting to go for a swim that day, he made his way back and we traveled on.

It was too early in the season when we were in Maine, so we missed the blueberry picking by about a week. We were able to pick some up in Holland, Michigan at about the middle of the season and this time we found another farm and hit the end of the season. 

The blueberries were so ripe it was hard to pick them without some of the juice pouring out and making our hands sticky. They were delicious and we nearly ate half of the 2lb carton by the time we finished sightseeing for the day. But because they were so ripe, they didn’t last long in the fridge either. The juices kept seeping out so we had to eat the rest quickly before they went bad.

Fishing in Lake Superior is a sport many enjoy, but to keep the population of fish abundant, the lake needs to be repopulated frequently. They do that by harvesting the fish eggs here at the Fish Hatchery and releasing them into the lake once they reach a youthful stage. It’s mostly different species of trout and salmon raised here. 

They keep the hatchery dark to mimic the shaded areas where fish would normally lay their eggs.



Thompson’s West End Campground

Thompson’s West End is a city run campground that is first come, first served. We were a bit nervous not knowing if we’d find a spot here at the end of summer, but there were 2-3 spots open when we arrived. We came in early on a Sunday afternoon though and by the late afternoon the rest of the spots were taken.

They have electric at each of the main campsites, water spigots throughout the campground and a dump station. It is a self-registration campground, so you would pick a spot, then go up to the kiosk to make out a check and put it in an envelope to place in a drop spot. 

The sites are long enough for our 40′ fifth wheel with out truck turned sideways when parked. 

They do have an overflow area if all the spots are taken. There aren’t any hookups, but there were plenty of spots open on the grassy area to the east and those sites overlook the lake.

The campground is next to Lake Superior and even has a playground and small beach for swimming. The best part that we enjoyed was the artisanal spring water when you first come in. Best water I’ve ever tasted. People would drive up in their cars to fill water bottles. It just free flows out of an above ground pipe.

There’s a bathhouse with toilets and two shower stalls. There’s a rack for firewood and a wagon to pull it to your site.

We got 26 down/10 up on Starlink. 3 bars on the Verizon phones and 5 bars with the cell antenna (37/14). AT&T was 3 bars (11/3) with the cell antenna.