Summer’s Last Hurrah

A sailboat in the distance on Lake Superior

This is Labor Day weekend here in the United States which usually marks the end of the summer camping season for many. Fortunately for us, we get to continue RVing and head south for the winter. I’m extremely grateful that I’m able to follow my feathered friends and migrate with the seasons, but I’m not ready to move on … just yet.

Prior to this summer, it had been years since I’d spent any time in northern Wisconsin let alone stay this far north into September. And this past week has served as a reminder as to why the camping season comes to an end after Labor Day Weekend in the north woods. It has been downright cold at night. I’m talking in the 45 degree Fahrenheit range with daytime temps struggling to hit 70 degrees F. Plus, the leaves are already showing signs that fall is just around the corner as they tease us with hints of gold and red. And it’s only the first few days in September! That said, there is a raw beauty to the landscape and a clean crispness to the air that I’m absolutely loving. Bring on the sweatshirts!

Kreher Park Campground in Ashland Wisconsin
Kreher Park Campground, Ashland, WI

We really enjoyed this town!

So, with summer weather clearly in the rearview mirror, my thoughts drift back to some great finds that Al and I discovered this season … one of which was Ashland, Wisconsin.

Located in northern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay lies an interesting little town called Ashland. It was once a center for lumbering, mining, and Great Lakes shipping but today Ashland is a popular destination for tourists and anglers and is known as “The Historic Mural Capital in Wisconsin”.

This community of around 8,000 has eloquently preserved its history by painting murals on many of the downtown buildings creating a fascinating walkable history book. In fact, it may have more murals per capita than any other place in the Midwest.  There may be large cities with more murals over a wider area, but Ashland packs a concentrated punch of murals in the town’s center.

The murals in this south shore town are special to locals because they portray folks who once lived in this small community.  Some of these people had an influential role in the town while others were merely everyday people who contributed to everyday life. You could easily take in most of the murals on foot in about an hour depending on how long you spend at each mural and how quickly you walk.

Images of Ashland … to enlarge photos, click on any image

10 Things to do around Ashland

  • Go on a Mural walk downtown
  • Bike or hike the trails
  • Fish
  • Visit a waterfall
  • Cruise the Apostle Islands
  • Kayak
  • Shop the historic town
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Birding
  • Visit an orchard and pick your own

Wonderful Bike Trail

We really enjoyed walking around the downtown area and admiring the murals, but we also discovered the town’s amazing bike trail. We don’t have bikes anymore so we stuck to hiking portions of the trail system. Sigh … this was one time I truly missed my bicycle. This bike trail is perfect for my kind of biking; paved and gentle hills.

The bike trail even passed right by our awesome Lake Superior lakefront campsite.

Campgrounds

Al and I have been spending the summer on private property at his sister’s lakefront home near Hayward, Wisconsin. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, our plan all along was to do some out and back trips over the course of our three-month summer stay. We enjoyed a great trip down memory lane when we visited the north shore in Minnesota in July and we were hoping for an equally fun trip.

I had spent hours mapping out our journey into Michigan’s Upper Pennisula. Blog posts and campground reviews were read. Stops, sites, things to see and do were clearly noted in my notebook. We bid farewell to sister and brother-in-law with the intent of returning in 7-10 days.

Our first stop was in Ashland; only an hour and a half drive away from the family. This would be merely an overnight …. or so we thought. The drive to Ashland was scenic, well as scenic as the same lush forest on a two-lane road gets. Once we arrived in town, we quickly found and drove through the county park campground where I had planned on staying. Kreher Park Campground is a first-come, first-serve kind of place and we missed snagging the last site by mere minutes.

The other option was the small county park at the opposite end of town also first-come, first-serve. After talking to the camp host at Kreher Park, we didn’t have high hopes for finding an open spot in town that night but we decided to drive through Prentice Park Campground just to make sure there weren’t any openings.

Great campsite at Prentice Park Campground

Luck was on our side and we snagged the one and only open site which was also one of the best. Prentice Park only has a total of seven sites. One for the camp host and a couple of others were taken by monthly RVer’s leaving only four sites that rotate. So yeah, we sure got lucky.

The next morning, we returned to Kreher Park CG just as an RV was pulling out of a lakefront site. Score! Someone was doing a happy dance. Can you guess who? 😁 The previous folks also left behind a stake of firewood … more happy dancing.💃

That evening as the sunset over Lake Superior, Al and I enjoyed drinks while a lovely campfire kept us warm. Ah, life is good! That’s when Al asked, “Where are we going tomorrow?” “What do you mean?”, I quizzically responded. “Well, don’t you have a whole trip planned out for us to explore the U.P.?” “Oh yeah, that. How about we just stay here? And on that note, the plans were quickly changed!

The view from my campsite at Kreher Park

So all those hours of trip planning were canceled in mere minutes. Ah, no regrets on my part. Camping along the shores of Lake Superior was a goal of mine since we pulled out of Phoenix at the end of May. All the notes are saved and archived for next summers excursion. Yeah, I have a feeling we’ll be back next year.

A note about Kreher Park Campground: it is a first-come, first-serve CG with E/W only and an onsite sloped dump station. Most sites are unlevel, mixed sizes, and gravel/grassy. There are local construction workers renting sites on a monthly basis which makes this small campground even more difficult to find an open site. Have a backup plan and Walmart is not it (no overnighting at the Walmart). There is boondocking at a boat landing near the power plant for $20 a night but the air smells from the plant. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of camping options around here for RVs of a larger size. Small travel trailers and tents rule in the north woods.

The Best Drinking Water

One of the many reasons I wanted to camp near Lake Superior was for the drinking water. I grew up near Chicago and most municipalities in Chicagoland get their drinking water from Lake Michigan. Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are cold and deep and the water is clear and delicious.

These days, we find ourselves spending most of our time in Arizona and the local drinking water for most municipalities comes from the Colorado River … rich in minerals; minerals that cause calcification in our RV plumbing AND in our bodies. Intense filtering is necessary.

The moment we were set up at the Prentice Park Campground, Al opened our freshwater holding tank to let it drain (it was only a quarter full anyway). We then filled up with the excellent water at our campsite. Later, we were told the water came from an Artesian Well. This was the clearest and tastiest water that we’ve seen come out of a spiggot in years. It’s hysterical how Al and I are treating that fresh water in our tank as a precious commodity. “NO, you can’t use it to flush the toilet”, we both scream! 🤣

Artesian Water – We filled every empty container we had.

Turns out, there’s actually an Artesian Water fill-up station (not for RVs – you’ll need a campsite) at Prentice Park as well as at the Maslowski Beach along Highway 61. We filled up any empty or half-empty water containers we had in the RV. Seriously, this is the best water I’ve tasted in years and I’m so glad our freshwater tank is filled with this stuff.

A Cruise on Lake Superior

Our five days in the area were not only very relaxing but provided some fabulous sightseeing. High on my bucket list was a visit to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. My previous visits to Bayfield (gateway to the Apostle Islands) were either filled with other adventures or the weather was somewhat inclement. Once again, we lucked out and enjoyed a perfect day for a cruise around the Apostle Islands. But I’ll share that in another post!

Bad weather was rolling in – time to lift the jacks

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60 thoughts on “Summer’s Last Hurrah

    1. We hadn’t been back to this part of the country since the early nineties and it was such a pleasure revisiting that we’ll probably return next summer. I’m behind on posting and need to share more on the area and its beauty.

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  1. Love all the Ashland photos! The quaintness and beauty of the area really come through. I’m glad you listened to your intuition and stayed rather than go into the U.P.: you obviously loved your time there, and the U.P. will always be there next year!

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    1. Yep, when we snagged that awesome campsite all that trip planning went out the window. I did, however, save all my notes for next summer considering there’s a 99% chance that we’ll return. We had a great summer and I finally got to visit the Apostle Islands… well, kind of … did a boat tour.

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    1. We did have a great time in the north woods. We hit the road a couple of days ago which has lead to me getting even further behind on the blog. Ah, the best-laid plans to stay on top of my travels hasn’t exactly gone as planned 😏 Once we’re settled back in Phoenix I’m sure I’ll have that extra time to write.

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  2. Hi Ingrid, You are right how it becomes increasingly cold quickly especially in September. For us it is in the Northwest. Out come the layers:) I also love the “clean crispness.” Very interesting on the murals since I just finished summarizing our experience with murals. I get it on how fun and interesting exploring can be. Regarding your camping, you know you are having a wonderful time when you plan to continue staying in a place. Stunning photos!

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    1. Thank you Erica. Yes, we did have a great time although too short. I enjoyed your post on the murals (couldn’t comment due to weak internet booting me off). It is getting a wee too chilly here in northern Wisconsin for my desert blood but we’ll be rolling Saturday and soon I’ll be complaining about the heat 🤣 but I’m loving the hints of fall colors.

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  3. Wow…what a beautiful place. I especially liked your picture of the Apostle Islands and the artisan well water…and the murals. I love street murals.

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  4. I’m sure half the fun of any trip is the planning, so even though the trip was cancelled at a moments notice, you still had half the fun in the planning. Sounds like us. – we were supposed to be heading to South Australia about now, instead we’re on our way back from a trip to the Northern Territory ( only about 5000kms in the other direction).

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    1. Sounds like you can relate to our last-minute changes. That’s the beauty of our home on wheels, isn’t it? I did have fun planning the trip and will save the notes for next summer.

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  5. Summer is alive and well, here, Ingrid, but we may see some high 80s by the end of the week! Your stay in Wisconsin looked wonderful with all your beautiful pics! I know exactly what you mean about yummy drinking water! How nice to find an Artesian well to load up the RV and enjoy! Growing up in San Diego, the water is and was horrible! When we went to Yosemite as kids, my dad would load up several 5-gallon jugs from the high country water campground spigots and bring them home to enjoy!

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  6. Wow, Ingrid, what a great wind down to summer. I relish each of your posts and files them away for future reference in our rving adventures.
    We, too, are starting to look south. We wlll leave the TT here in NH this winter and focus on sailing this season and also hanging out in our little cottage in FL. Watching Dorian carefully, but he seems to be missing us. Phew.

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    1. Sailing? Sounds like a great way to spend the winter. I’d love a season on the water but my motion sickness keeps me on freshwater and far from those ocean waves 😀 I look forward to hearing your sailing tales!

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  7. Sounds like the stars aligned to provide you with an incredible vista! Wow, what a view! Fall is definitely in the air but I don’t mind, it’s my favourite season!

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    1. We did get lucky! I’m excited to see the fall leaves. Right now the colors are just here and there, but I’m sure they’ll turn even more over the next 10 days before we start our journey to Phoenix. Photo-op!!!

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  8. One of our homes in NY had the best water ever, we tapped into an aquifer. So cold and clean tasting, if only I’d known bottled water would become a thing…we could have made a mint. Looking forward to some fall weather, we’ll probably get some soon after we leave here on the 18th, Glad you had such a wonderful time.

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    1. We’re heading south on the 14th and looking forward to warmer weather. It has been a cold summer for us yet the locals thought it was hot 😏 Interesting how I used to take the fantastic Midwestern drinking water for granted. Glad we have our tank filled with some good stuff!

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  9. Water – sometimes it seems like it is everywhere until it comes time to find drinking water!
    It feels like fall here in Western Canada too. Sadly, it has been a cool, wet summer, so, like you, we are looking forward to our migration back to Arizona.

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    1. You are so right about good drinking water. Fall is definitely in the air here in northern Wisconsin and I’m looking forward to the warmer weather in AZ. Although I’ll probably complain about the heat during those first few weeks back in Phoenix 😆

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  10. You guys are having way too much fun! Come back and you can move fill dirt around our front door … yeah right! 🙂

    We look forward to seeing you guys soon,

    Dick and Steph

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    1. We are having fun but we’d also have fun moving dirt with a bobcat 😆 If you guys need help, all ya gotta do is ask! We do have some catching up to do. Let us know when you plan on getting to Phoenix.

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  11. Looks very inviting on the Great Lakes! Glad you had a good summer. We are back home. Had a nice lakeside campsite on the Holcombe Flowage and enjoyed a fire too one evening. Got down to 49° one night and low 50s the rest. Used the fireplace in the a.m! But it was delightful. Then 2 nights at North Sterling Reservoir SP on the way home. Very dark skies with the amazing Milky Way plus meteors steaking by. We had the campground ALL to ourselves one night. Like boondocking with electricity! Check it out! Hundreds of water birds migrating including dozens of pelicans and cormorants.

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    1. I’m so glad you had a good trip. We’ve stayed at Sterling SP in the past and enjoyed. It doesn’t seem like a busy park. Will you be heading to Tucson this winter?

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  12. It’s so great to fine the perfect spot and cancel everything else…one of the awesome things about RVing. Gorgeous phots Ingrid, especially the last one! Can’t wait to see the pictures and read about the cruise….gay

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    1. Thank you Gay. Yes, just one of many reasons RVing is the best way to travel. We’ve been so busy the past couple of weeks that I’m getting behind on posts and hope to work on that cruise post soon.

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  13. Looks like a fine place to hang out and those temps are the ones I’m dreaming about as we’re still hanging around 90 (94 n Wed) but the humidity is lower so starting to feel fall like. Did you experince many bug issues?

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    1. The bugs were pretty bad in June and the first week or two in July and then they rapidly tapered off. August was a delight. Although the cool air is refreshing, it’s just a tad too cool for my taste. I guess all that time we spend in AZ has thinned my blood 😏

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  14. You sure did get lucky, what a beautiful place to stay! We feel that way about the water in the park when we get home in the summer, so much better than what we get (even filtered to the nth degree) than we get in Arizona.

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    1. The water out of the Colorado is horrible no matter how much it’s filtered. We knew we’d be filling with freshwater at Lake Superior so we gave our tank a couple of good clorox rinses during our travels up here before filling with the good stuff. Now to conserve it 😊

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    1. I know, this weather is right up your alley. It’s a bit too cold for my blood but guess this is better than 110 in Phoenix. My daughter from Phx is visiting and she’s in heaven with these temps.

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  15. I love the cool nights, too! We are in southern Michigan and plan to stay another week or so. I would love to stay and see the beauty of the changing leaves, though–and that just might be what we do. I know most RVers chase 70 degrees–but I’m all for the 50s and 60s! Save travels to you!

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    1. 50’s is a little colder than this desert dweller prefers. I happiest when it stays above 60. I too am hoping for some color change before heading back to the southwest. Fingers crossed!

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  16. Hi, Ingrid,
    I went into total relaxation mode reading this post. The area looks very tranquil. We’re in South Carolina and on hurricane watch which makes a Lake Superior sunset look even better. Safe travels back to AZ.

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    1. Hope Dorian stays far off the Carolina shore. You guys would enjoy Ashland with it’s resale and trinket shops. Lots of history around here. Stay safe!

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      1. Thank you Ingrid. We’ve been watching Dorian closely this week. It’s still too early for us to make a decision about whether to stay or go. No evacuations have been called for and the Labor Day activities are still going on.

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