Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Off to the UP and the winner is…….

Wednesday June 11, 2014
Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Paradise, Michigan




We have really enjoyed our time at Sleeping Bear Dunes. 


It is definitely a place to return to and stay longer.  But now it is time to move on up into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It has turned out that the mosquitoes weren’t too bad here in fact most of what we thought were mosquitoes were midges.  Midges are bigger and more bothersome but the don’t bite.  A definite improvement over a mosquito.  Still when they are swarming around your face you tend to hustle away.

We are taking M 31 up and around the east side of the lake and over to I 75 across the Mackinaw Bridge.  Several people have told us not to miss Mackinac Island.  We were there on previous trips to Michigan and found it to be cute and quaint and too touristy for us so we don’t feel the desire to go back this time.


I must interrupt my narrative here to redress a rather great omission.

Some readers have been asking about the cherry pie. We have had two pieces of cherry pie thus far from two different bakeries. One from Grand Traverse Pie Company where we stopped in Traverse City near the end of our Leelanau circle drive and where we should have eaten dinner rather than at Don’s and one from The Cherry Republic the next day on our bike ride.

Cherry Republic’s pie was quite good but the Grand Traverse Pie was outstanding. So one place we do have a great desire to go back to is the Grand Traverse Pie Company.  But now we are driving Winnona.  We cannot drive through downtown Traverse City to go back for more of what was crowned the best cherry pie either of us have ever eaten other than David’s and my mother’s.  (She taught him).   The Grand Traverse cherry crumb pie is simply exquisite. And I think you can order one on line if you want to find out for yourself.



David really wants another piece of that pie.



As we drive on through the busy traffic of Traverse City, we are fairly bummed about this problem.  And then I get on line and find that Grand Traverse Pie Company has several locations throughout Michigan.  Most of them are in heavily populated areas in the southern part of the state BUT their northern most location is in Petoskey Michigan which just happens to be on our route today.   I begin doing google maps and good earth to see how we could possibly stop there.  It isn’t looking good since it is located in down town on a boulevard with parallel parking and a wide green divider strip even though its location is only 2 blocks off of M 31.   We to the street, look to our right and see that the first block has empty parallel parking spots.  David wheels Winnona in.  He’s amazing.  He REALLY does want another piece of that pie.


Since we are taking up 3 or 4 parking meters, David waits with Winnona and Ruby while I head off down the block to bring home the pie.  He thinks I’m going to get a couple of pieces but I’m actually going to surprise him with the whole pie.  $16 is a great price for a pie that good.   Cut into 8 pieces that’s $2 a slice.  You won’t get a slice of pie anywhere for that.





It’s a tough decision. 


They have  8 different cherry pie combinations.  See the list here. Our first two pieces were their Cherry Crumb which was fantastic.  They also make what they call an Old Mission Cherry pie which is a two crust.  Looks exactly like the one David makes except they make theirs with the standard white flour and he makes his Betty Crocker flaky crust with healthier spelt flour.  

There is only one of each left.   I’m actually tempted to buy them both but that’s just too gluttonous.  Since David isn’t there to ask I buy the crumb since it is the one he loved.  A good excuse to come back to Michigan to try the Old Mission.


That’s the Old Mission on the top and the empty spot where the Cherry Crumb I just bought used to be.  Whew, we got here just in time.





Winnona heads out to cross the five mile Mackinac Bridge.



Back in the rig with the pie safely riding on the fluffy bed comforter David takes Winnona, towing Ruby on a dolly, around the block and through a construction zone and back onto M 31.   He must have been a Greyhound driver in another life.  With everything together we are 58 feet long.

We cross over the beautiful bridge and into the unpopulated UP, or so it looks from the roads.







A town named Paradise, that sounds good.

It’s 213 mile trip in total and we’re glad to see the sign for Paradise, the town closest to the park.  Paradise, sounds like a great place doesn’t it?

We enter the park, stop to take on water and then move on to our pull through site #14.  It’s a nice big site near the steps down to the river. 


We get out to begin the set up.  At this point it’s mid afternoon.  The mosquitoes are here, but not too bad.  We hook up the electric, level the coach, put out the slides.  The camp host is just across from us.  He says “Smart move to come during the best part of the day”.  He explains that the mosquitoes are the worst they have been here in 15 years due to the heavy snow and rain and the late thaw. 

David chats with him. It’s getting later, the mosquitoes are getting thicker.  We shortcut the rest of the set up and run inside to enjoy the pie.   We’ll put out the screen room, the mats, chairs and tables tomorrow.

And enjoy the pie we do .  Just look at it.  









Now the real trouble starts.

The mosquitoes are inside the coach.  We are slapping them.  We are using our hands and fly swatters.  David goes out to ask the camp host.  He says “use deet, they come inside any opening they can”.

I’m allergic to deet and wouldn’t want to breathe it or having it on my skin even if I weren’t.  Obviously these Michiganders don’t have the same qualms.  We try dryer sheets.  No effect.  We go back to swatting.  After a while we decide to do a count for an hour.  We put the bodies that don’t end up on the floor onto the kitchen counter to see how many.   We are completely horrified at the number.    We bring in the slides in case they are coming in some way through the seals.




Given the number we killed in one hour, you can imagine how many we killed over the course of the evening.  There seems to be no end of them.

We keep at it until 10:00 at which time we have killed most of them or  perhaps they’ve given up coming in for the night. We sleep fairly well.  Only one or two are buzzing around.  David wears a hat.  I keep the sheets pulled up to my nose.


  1. Dang - those mosquitoes!! Is there some kind of essential oil you can use?

  2. The mosquitos knew you had that Cherry Pie!! Stand your ground, never surrender the PIE; o))

  3. My gosh. That sounds just like when we tried to stay at Tahquamenon Falls. The skeeters chased us right outta there after one night. Do you read Roadtreking.com? He's got something called skeeter beaters and says they work. I think it's an extra screening layer of some sort.

    1. Skeeter Beaters are magnetic screens to put over windows that have none like Class B's and Vans but in a class C or A or 5th wheel, we already have screens on all the windows. Our skeeters aren't coming in the windows. They are coming in any tiny vent to anywhere they can find apparently.

  4. If you're still there, you must have found some way to beat the bugs.

  5. well good grief. . .the same exact lane of that crazy bridge is still closed. I did not like that bridge. . .at all!

    See you found the mosquitoes. . .I told you they were bad. . .and. . .I agree with you about going back to Mackinac Island. . .it's awful pricey to go. . .and if you've already seen it, then really no need to repeat. We, of course, will repeat, at some point, because I simply must tour The Grand. . .however, I think we'll make it a very special occasion, and spend a couple of nights.

    Can't wait to see what you discover in the Yoopers. . .I know I am going to have envy. . .LOL!

  6. I make attempts to live a somewhat natural life, but when it comes to mosquitoes the DEET wins. Nothing else keeps me from getting the huge welts. I am terribly reactive to mosquito bites. They itch for days and then bleed. I eat organic food but spray DEET. Go figure. I guess I would rather die of whatever DEET will do to me that go crazy and die from mosquito bite insanity. You probably don't want to visit me. I actually spray 'stuff' around my hot tub.

  7. Great looking pie, but I know how delicious David's pies are... cherry and blueberry. Sorry to hear about the skeeters. If you just didn't taste so sweet.

  8. I just cannot stand being swarmed by mosquitoes like that. Makes me a little insane (or a little more). Thank goodness for delicious pie!

  9. Oh that's just awful..the mosquitos, not the pie! We have found that Natrapel works pretty darn well as a Deet replacement.

  10. Too bad about the mosquitoes, but at least you were able to buy a pie! $16 is a good deal. We've been to places that charge $5-$6 for a not so big piece and $25 or more per whole pie.

  11. I whole-heartedly concur with the previous comment about being chased out of Tahquamenon Falls one night it was the worst I have ever seen, and you are pretty close. The sight of all those dead skeeters on the counter is just icky!

    1. Sorry about the mosquitoes in the UP. We were in Michigan in July And August last year and we never saw a mosquito! sure hope you can enjoy Tahquamenon Falls. We thought it was beautiful! Be sure to also visit Whitefish.

  12. Goggle BEST BUY & CEDARCIDE, a natural product that works great on mosquitoes, noseeums,etc.

  13. You guys are my kinda travelers! Taking a detour for a pie! Surely there is a bumper sticker, "I Brake for PIE!" ;-) Looks like it was worth it. YUM!

  14. Oh, no!! We are coming through there at the beginning of August. Ask if they have a season. Maybe they will die down by then...or you will have kilked them all!! Friends of ours had Deet eat holes in their leather sofa in their MH!! We won't use it.

    Yum!! That pie looks so good!

  15. Oh no! There's got to be something to help. I don't like Deet either and use it rarely. I do use a Thermacell and find it's effective but you can't use it inside! I'm currently googling the CedarCide solution mentioned by Contessa. Please try to kill as many as you can before we get there! :)

  16. We have been known to use Listerene (any kind, even generic works). Put it in a spray bottle undiluted. We spray on our legs and around our chairs when outside, and it seems to work. Not sure about those big sleepers in the UP.

  17. I don't remember the mosquitoes being that bad when we were there, but we did manage to be there at the start of the dreaded black fly season. We had never heard of them and had no idea what had happened except we were certain we'd become part of a plague of Biblical proportions. They are suppose to come and go between Mother's Day & Father's Day so hopefully, you've missed that! I wouldn't wish it on anyone! I am so hopeful the critters don't dampen your enthusiasm.

  18. Pie looks luscious, mosquitoes are gross! Hope u haven't forgotten to get a 'pastie'

  19. I suggest admiring the Falls and moving on to a more open area, Whitefish Point is a must see. Traveling the new road through Pictured Rocks is highly suggested, stop often and walk around a bit, it is as wild and breathtaking as anything that I have experienced

  20. We need the Cherry Pie Recipe!

    Katy in NH

  21. I blogged last year about the mosquitos in the UP. I was about 15 or 20 short of the bridge (going the other way) and stayed in a campground that was so bad I had to get into my tent and stay there (from about 4 pm). I never had a worse night.

    The pie does look very good. I'm tempted to make one but I'd eat the whole thing in about 2 days.

  22. I think back how lucky we must have been as we had very few mosquito issues on our Great Lakes Tour last summer!

  23. I know I am not normal...But I carry a 2gal Craftsman shop-vac to take care of those monsters..My problem are just the little no- biters who seem to be able to travel through walls and windows..If I had the skeeters like you I'd be gone the next day for sure...Good Luck! Forgot I also have a little handheld Vacuum....Beats swatting them!

  24. MmmMMmm, I'm not a sweets person, but I do LOVE Cherry Pie! Those skeeters are crazy! We hope to be through that area late Aug, so I hope most of the biting bugs will be gone!

  25. That pie looks wonderful.

    I sure hope you find something natural for the skeeters. Does Skin so Soft work on them?

  26. Amazing pie and amazing Dad to drive that craftily :) Paradise does sound lovely, but that many mosquitoes...no thank you!!!! At least you had a whole pie; I can so imagine it riding safely on the fluffy comforter :)

  27. Alas I guessed the wrong pie but the winner had more stores and online ordering so I'm glad I did! Happy to see you're still there and have hopefully conquered the sqeeters. Seems like double jeopardy that a harsh winter brings out the worst bugs for summer :-(. No bugs here, but it's scary dry.

  28. Boy, I am sure glad you guys let us know which pie was best. I would hate to have to taste them all myself, when we finally get to MI :)

  29. Are those mosquitos not carriers of West Nile Virus? I would be terrified of that possibility.

    Virtual hugs,


  30. I was there in 2009 and know exactly what you're talking about! I still have my head net. And we had black flies too - I pulled in, and by the time I disconnected my trailer, the back of my neck was covered with bites! And they itch FOREVER!

  31. The pie looks divine, the mosquitoes not so much.

  32. Knew the TCPC pie would win! We enjoyed the crumb version too. I'll have to check out their list of locations. You're making the mosquito situation here more tolerable by talking about how bad it was there. At least here we're okay if we stay out of the woods!


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