Although driving across the UP to pick up Jenny from the airport and the three hour drive north to the campground made it feel like we had already explored much of the UP, we had seen pretty much everything at 65 mph from the RV. Sunday was our big day of exploration.
After lunch on the way to Copper Harbor, we set out to find a waterfall. Ever since Will stuck his head in the cool mountain water falling from a waterfall in Smokey National Park on a 97 degree day last summer, he has been enamored of waterfalls and cool mountain stream water. He routinely dunks his head in the stream that bisects our yard.
At first we headed to Manganese Falls. The trip to the falls ended up being a bit of a wild goose chase, which ultimately lead to side trips to an old pine forest, Manganese Lake, and Will’s first outhouse experience. Will, with his “sensitive nose,” is definitely not a fan of the outhouse concept.
At Manganese Lake, a nice couple helped us solve the mystery of why we couldn’t find Manganese Falls. Apparently, the only marking for the falls is a wood sign post with an orange ribbon tied to it, which reminded me of a great scene from Funny Farm that I used to play in my urban sociology classes to illustrate how small, insular societies keep outsiders out.
The Manganese Falls trails was too steep and precarious for a five year old and Jenny’s distinctly non-adventurous sandals so we drove around looking for a more accessible falls for the boys. On the way back to the campground, we found a wonderful little falls where they could explore, play, splash around, and slide down the rapids. Perfect for us.
A wonderful Sunday exploring the UP was offset by another twist in the roller coaster that is mom’s dementia. I called her Saturday evening to see how she was doing, and the first thing out of her mouth was that she wasn’t coming to NJ anytime soon and that she had decided she wanted to stay in Youngstown longer. The long journey of trying to get her some adequate medical care, assistance with the daily tasks she needs, and to spend time with her close family while she still has some ability to remember, enjoy, and participate in it has been one of the more challenging struggles of my (otherwise very blessed) life. There is a part of me that just wants to give up on that seemingly futile pursuit, but another part of me that won’t let go because she is largely responsible for me having such a privileged life.