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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX > "We're looking for your giant Indian..."

White Pine, MI to Apostle Island National Lakeshore Campground, WI 06/23/06 (Day 59)

“We’re looking for your giant Indian…”

 

After breakfast we head back into Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park(affectionately referred to as The Porkies) for one more hike: the Government Peak/Mirror Lake Trail. The weather is cool, which is good since we are covered from neck to toes in a partially successful bid to thwart the ravenous mosquitoes. Luckily, every time they begin approaching unbearable levels of tormentation (not an exaggeration AT ALL), the trail takes us over a breezy walkway which gives us a break from the bugs.

Once we get back to the safety of our Silverado we head to Ironwood, Michigan in search of their proudly advertised 16,000 lb., 52’ high fiberglass carving of Hiawatha. You’d think something that big (and gaudy) would be impossible to miss, but the thing eluded us until a local sent us down the right road. Like many of the “world’s biggest/tallest/fastest/heaviest/lightest” attractions we’ve seen, the reality is often not quite as exciting as the anticipation. Then it’s time to cross into Wisconsin, briefly, where we are confronted, almost immediately, by the world’s biggest corkscrew. Always a good sign.

Just as we begin to think about filling up the gas tank we realize we are in Native American country. American Indian reservations used to consistently offer the lowest gas prices around because reservations are exempt from many of the state and federal fuel taxes that gas stations not located on a reservation are required to pay. But, for reasons we're still trying to figure out, gas stations on Indian reservation are no longer a guaranteed bargain.

However, American Indian reservations do still consistently offer casinos—and the Moccasin Trail Center gas station on a Chippewah reservation in Odanah, Wisconsin, has figured out a potentially money-saving way to combine the two. For every $20 customers spend on fuel, they get $5 in Casino Cash, which is good for play at a select corner of slot machines at the Bad River Lodge & Casino right across the parking lot from the pumps. If it's your first time at the casino, they'll also throw in an additional $5 in Casino Cash.

We put just over $80 worth of gas in the tank and get $20 in Casino Cash, plus our $5 first-timer bonus. After seven minutes at the slots, we turn that $25 in token into $16.50 in cold, hard cash and suddenly what had been an $80.34 fill up drops to a much more palatable $63.84. Plus, Eric and I each suck down a free ice-cold fountain Pepsi on our way out (click here to get more tips on how and where to find the best gas prices in our Drive Time Road Trip Tips on National Geographic Adventure magazine’s web site).

A black bear bolts across the road as we’re headed to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Campground, then it starts to rain as we arrive. We take both to be good signs (what else can you do?) and sit out the storm all snug in our Silverado nibbling on the last of the outrageously delicious and cheap smoked salmon we bought in the UP. Once the rain blows over, we are rewarded with a lovely sunset and a lovely campsite with a view of the Apostle Islands in the distance, even though we have to enjoy it from inside the tent since the mosquitoes here are clearly related to the ones we left back in Michigan.

 
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