So we’re a few weeks behind. It’s hard to get motivated to write every day when we’re constantly on the move and enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever seen. The next few blog posts will come in short bursts to get us caught up. Here we go!
Where did we leave off? The Jeep was running fine again (temporarily) and we were headed up to the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula to test out the “fix” the last dealership had done. Right on queue, just a handful of yards into the bumpy trail, the ‘check engine’ light came on and the Jeep went back into limp mode. This trail didn’t require us to go more than 40 mph, so we finished the drive out to the end of High Rock Bay, parked as close to the water as we could and had a much needed, stress relieving beer.
Brian did some spacephone research and found out that there is a Jeep dealership in Houghton/Hanckock - less than 40 miles from were we were standing – where we had camped the night before. This was good news, as we didn’t want to have to drive all the way back to Marquette, which was many more miles away. We hopped back in the Jeep and headed back to Houghton/Hancock.
It’s Friday at nearly 4:30pm. The service dept. closes at 5pm…for the weekend. The Jeep won’t go faster than 40mph. We called ahead to ask if there was any way we could just get a code reading. The service manager told us to come on in and he’d wait around for us. We must have hit a wormhole because we managed to pull onto the lot at 4:55pm. The mechanic comes out and jumps right under the hood.
Brian tells him not to bother checking fuses - he had already done that several times a day earlier. The mechanic hooks up a wireless diagnostic scanner and he and Brian head in to the garage to read what codes the scanner is sending. The mechanic says that the combination of codes don’t really jive with what the other dealers had told us, and we’re back at square one. Brian hops under the hood and, after a few minutes, finds what may have been causing all of our problems.
A small wire looks like it may have a tiny bare spot that could be shorting out against the transmission dipstick tube. After a bit of computer searching, the mechanic says that the wire is one that supplies power to the transmission control module, and that it is very likely to have been the cause of all of our transmission troubles over the past week. A little bit of electric tape, and piece of rubber hose, and problem solved!
Now, we find camp! But...it’s 6:30pm on a Friday with nothing but sunshine and warmth - all campgrounds are full. We called all of them. We figured we’d head back up the peninsula, stop in Calumet and figure it out from there over a beer. There’s a bar there called Schute’s Saloon that has been preserved and restored and it’s absolutely beautiful. The bartender informed us that all the hotels were booked (some mountain bike race in town) so we asked him if he knew of any decent wilderness camping or just safe place to park for the night. He came back with an offer from a regular to let us park and pop the tent in his yard. We could even use his bathroom and have a fire in the back yard. “We’ll take it!” Then he mentioned the price. $20. TO PARK IN YOUR DRIVEWAY?! Whatever. We already said yes and human contact was something we could both use.
So the bartender introduced us to the regular and his ladyfriend. They seemed nice enough. We finished our beers and headed to the guy’s house, parked and started making dinner. They arrived about 30 min after us. They were smashed. She had been drinking all day. He was not far behind her. He talked a lot and listened very little. She was a stern faced woman who smiled only two times: once when Carley remembered her name and again when she spoke of her dogs - an overweight chihuahua and an old black pug.
We stayed up too late. Drank too many beers. Left early the next morning with a slight headache.
From Calumet, High Rock point is roughly an hour drive. So we took our time and stopped in Copper Harbor for breakfast. We found an excellent camp spot right on the shoreline of Lake Superior and set up camp early so as to enjoy the beautiful day. The water was freezing, but we got in anyway.
The next night, we camped a little further out on the rocky shoreline. As we were setting up camp, we ran into a couple of campers (two men) who were just about to head out. The older of the two, Rick, offered us their leftover firewood. Score! We struck up a conversation and he talked about everything from a massive bike wreck he’d had a year earlier that almost left him dead (or worse), to the several countries he’s traveled to. First impression: excellent storyteller and all around good human. He gave us blueberries, eggs and a very large amount of firewood and invited us to shower and do laundry at his house the next day. So we took his number, shook hands and parted ways.
This was, by far, the best night yet. Waves crashing onto the rocky shore behind us, a breeze coming in off the lake, the Super Moon lighting up the night, the wine flowing and a little Ryan Adams on the radio. It couldn’t have possibly been any better.
Turtles helped across the road: 30 and counting (and not a single turtle in the U.P.)