Today will only be an eight hour drive from start to finish. I leave my home in Wisconsin and begin heading east to explore a few more Rustic Roads located in the Northeastern part of the state as well as mark another state off of states I visited; Michigan. The day starts out early but not as early as I usually begin which is a nice change of pace. It is also cloudy and cool which has me grabbing my jacket before leaving since I'll be up North by Lake Superior when the day is over.
I head out and East towards the first Rustic Road which is also the very first road that was marked as a Rustic Road. The drive and traffic are going well and I make a stop in Ladysmith for a stretch and a fill-up before hitting the roads that will, no doubt, lead to seclusion and a few detours along the way. Boy, do I know how my Rustic Road road trips are or what. I'm following the directions I printed out which lead me to beginning of the Rustic Road, everything is clicking and I'm feeling good about the time when all of a sudden there is an orange and white sign that I see before me. "Bridge Out 2 miles ahead." I glance down I have to drive 4 miles to my next turn, so I turn around and go back to the next major road I can turn on and hope that I can somehow detour myself back to this road on the other side of the bridge. Well I was wrong, there was no easy way back to it and I ended up driving an additional 10 miles before I was able to get a GPS signal on my phone and guide me back to, you guessed it, the bridge that was out.
Coming from this direction, I had 4.6 miles before the bridge was out. according to my GPS the turn I had to take was 4.6 miles ahead of me. I cautiously continue forward and the closer I get to the turn off the more I'm glancing at my phone and asking; are you sure? A zoom in shows that I'm going to be running parallel with the river that the bridge is out runs over but I still have my doubts. I had my doubts all the way up to the bridge when I finally saw the road mere inches from the bridge. A quick sigh of relief. But the worry doesn't stop there because I realize I'm now heading back in the direction I just drove the extra ten miles in.
Now I'm going from nervous, momentary relief, to utter frustration. I slow down enough to pull up the directions and do a quick review. Because if I end up where I left I'm scratching this Rustic Road. A quick look reveals that I'm going no where near where I was and that I really should just sit back and trust the damn thing. Which eventually I do, but not until I see the Rustic Road sign that points to the beginning of the route. Success!
We had a lot of rain pass over the state in the last few days and this area is no acception so anytime I see gravel along the way I often worry about wash out or water-filled pot holes. By the time this road trip is done it looks like my car was part of dirby BUT I digress and continue driving. It's early October and the leaves have been changing for the last couple of weeks. It is hit and miss on the colors and their brightness and up here is no acception. However, I'm happy to report that the first two Rustic Roads I visited, which were a short distance apart, had some AMAZING colors.
It made the stress and anxiety of the last few miles all worth it plus it makes the drive more memorable and enjoyable to see the beauty these maples can take on. Twist, turn and climb through the first two Rustic Roads before sitting back for close to an hour to hook up with the third one. Now the colors fade into nothing making a long drive, feel even longer. I am happy to say that my phone's GPS worked a lot on this Rustic Roads road trip which made it a lot less stressful, when I trusted it, and easy to navigate through these small towns.
Colors continued to come and go on the next two Rustic Roads with the final one taking me to the border of Michigan. I have to say, Michigan is not a state I run to when I think of places to visit. But seeing as how they are neighbors I might as well stop in and say 'hello' which is about all I did. Rustic Road 100 located North of Mercer, WI ended on the Michigan/Wisconsin border. There are only two ways to get back to a major highway. Head North to Wakefield, MI or turn around and head back. I chose door number one.
Not only was I not overly impressed with the state it was pretty much what I expected. I was hoping to get on a few back roads that would take me to Lake Superior and then follow the coast line done. But thanks to construction, rough roads and impatient drivers I wasn't able to find it and had to continue West on Highway 2. Back in Wisconsin I did find a County Road that took me away from the Highway and through some countryside but again, colors were hit and miss and didn't offer much for photo opportunities. A few more turns and I was back on the Highway heading to Ashland.
It's a cute coastal town and upon entering there is a small park called Bayview Park. If your in the area I highly recommend visiting it. The paths are paved, the park is clean, plenty of stting areas and takes you right down to the Superior coast. Aria and I used this area to stretch our legs. As soon as she heard the car turn off she jumped up on the back seat and let out a few excited whimpers. I opened the back door, grabbed her leash and out she jumped. A few barks later she is running around enjoying the break from the car on her extended leash.
Being close to the Lake did over a bit of a bite to the air but she stood into it and let it run through her hair and lifted her nose taking in the smells that accompanied it. Happy, happy puppy. My phone, of course, was giving me attitude and refused to pull up the camera so I could take pictures of her. Finally it chilled out and we were able to walk, relax, and grab a few photos for social media. A few minutes later we continue on with a few more stops for photos and one last walk before continuing on to Drummond.
My parents were camping here this weekend and instead of finding a room or driving all the way back I decided to stay in their camper. It would be there last night of camping for the season before winterizing it and even though it was overcast skies it was still a beautiful night. My dad started a campfire, we roasted marshmallows, made smores and enjoyed the cool night in front of a toasty fire. A great way to end a great road trip.
Too bad it was a short night because at 445a their cat decided to start clawing at the door and meowing to go outside. This continued every 10 minutes for the next 30 minutes until she finally gave up only to return 30 minutes later and start all over again. I gave up the sleep and began my day, much earlier, than I wanted. Needless to say, both Aria and I enjoyed some nap time after we returned to the house.
Life would be boring without these little adventures.
These scenic drives are broken down by county as most of them are not connected.
Videos are also available on YouTube.