Day 59 of our Journey

After breakfast at The Jampot, we headed back into the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park (affectionately referred to as The Porkies).

Just one of the gorgeous views on the Mirror Lake Loop trail in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, though the mosquitoes made it hard to linger and enjoy it.

We wanted to do one more hike in The Porkies, a trail called the Government Peak/Mirror Lake Trail. The weather was cool, which was good since we were covered from neck to toes in a partially successful bid to thwart the ravenous mosquitoes. Luckily, every time they began approaching unbearable levels of torment (not an exaggeration AT ALL), the trail took us over a breezy walkway which gave us a break from the bugs.

A gorgeous view along the Mirror Lake Loop trail in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Not pictured: the army of mosquitoes following us as we walked. Fast.

Once we get back to the safety of our Silverado we headed to Ironwood, Michigan in search of their proudly advertised 16,000 pound (1,257 kilo), 52 foot (16 meter) high fiberglass carving of Hiawatha.

Our Silverado in front of the 16,000 pound (7,257 kilo), 52 foot (16 meter) high carving of Hiawatha in Ironwood, Michigan.

That’s one giant Indian and you’d think it 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 was time to cross into Wisconsin, briefly, where we were confronted, almost immediately, by the world’s biggest corkscrew. Always a good sign. Just as we began to think about filling up the gas tank we realized 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.

Unfortunately, when we drove by it was too early for a beer in this cool bar in Ironwood, Michigan.

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.

Two states in one day.

We put just over $80 worth of gas in the tank and got $20 in Casino Cash, plus our $5 first-timer bonus. After seven minutes at the slots, we’d turned that $25 in fake cash into $16.50 in cold, hard, real cash and suddenly what had been an $80.34 fill up dropped to a much more palatable $63.84. Plus, Eric and I each sucked down a free ice-cold fountain Pepsi on our way out. Get more money saving tips in our story about how and where to find the best gas prices for National Geographic Adventure.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

A black bear bolted across the road as we headed to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Campground, then it started to rain as we arrived. We took both to be good signs (what else can you do?) and sat 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 blew over, we were rewarded with a lovely sunset and a lovely campsite with a view of the Apostle Islands in the distance, even though we had to enjoy it from inside the tent to avoid the mosquitoes.


Here’s more about travel to US National Parks & Monuments

Here’s more about travel in the USA


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