Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/15/17 10:28 a.m.

Originally, my now wife Mrs. Gunch and I had planned on flying to the west coast, renting a car, and doing the north to south tour along the Ocean. Well, in her wisdom she decided that planning both a wedding AND a vacation would be too much, so we opted for something a little simpler. We decided that we would take a week off of work after our wedding and drive my 1983 Gmc High Sierra around the Midwest seeing whatever we thought interesting.

So, while she was planning our awesome wedding, I was doing what I guess I would call a mechanical restoration of the truck I bought last May. It had some rust and was lowered pretty terribly, so I addressed that stuff in preparation for covering some miles on our honeymoon. The truck thread can be found here. It isn't terribly interesting because, well I just replaced a bunch of sagged out busted parts on a 1/2 ton pickup.


Day One

Our rough itinerary was to drive from our place in the cities to Duluth, MN and stay there for a night while we plan further destinations. Duluth is about a 2 hour drive from our place so it was a nice easy way to start.

Driving up 35W- uneventful. We stopped for gas, I moved my clothes to the cab of the truck and it started pouring. Good timing! We slowed to 45 because the visibility was E36 M3 and the roads were slick with all the standing water. The rain was bad enough that the alternator light illuminated slightly, meaning the belt must have been slipping ever so slightly with all the water. Aside from that the drive was no issue. We were planning to stay at a swanky resort on the lakefront the first night, but in our newlywed bliss we had reserved the room for the wrong date. No matter, looks like we'll staying in Duluth another night.

Luckily Mrs. Gunch found a hotel within walking distance of an Applebee's. Now, normally I wouldn't get excited about Applebee's, but we've had a stack of gift cards for a while now, and I didn't pack any beer. So we got to our hotel, parked, and walked across the highway to the luxurious Applebee's for some drinks and crappetizers.

Look at that spread!

We feasted on greazy crap and had E36 M3ty beer and good conversation. It turned out to be a really fun time and a great kickoff to the trip.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/15/17 11:15 a.m.

Day Two

Knowing we were staying in Duluth another night we decided to drive up to Gooseberry Falls and hike around a bit. The drive up was nice, got to go through some cool tunnels cut into hills which is always neat. Gooseberry had some cool trees and stuff- I'm now realizing that I only put a couple pictures on imgur last night so I'll try and add some more in later. For now here's a picture of us on a rock at Gooseberry.

Here's some bonus Gooseberry photos I grabbed

I don't know anything but I really liked these trees with curvy branches.

Then on the drive back we stopped at a brewery we spotted- Castle Danger. I've seen their beer in stores but never sampled it, so it was fun to get it at the source. Turns out their stuff is really good! She had their cream ale which was really smooth and delicious, and I think I had the IPL, which was also quite tasty.

Mmm beer.

After Castle Danger we went back into Duluth and stayed at our fancy beach Villa. The room was really nice, had a fireplace, Jacuzzi, huge bathroom, and a patio overlooking the lake. They gave us GLASS instead of disposable cups, so I poured a nice banquet in a wine glass and read looking out on the lake. I think this was one of the nicest parts of the trip- enjoying a beer and a good book with a view. Relaxing.

Other notes about this place- it had a fireplace which we of course had to use, but we had trouble getting it started so I was mashing all the heat buttons available. Well eventually the hotel staff came and re-started the fireplace and I forgot what buttons I mashed. Overnight the little AC unit could barely keep the place cool and I slept pretty warm- I was surprised that such a nice place didn't have adequate AC, especially since it wasn't terribly hot out. Well, some investigating revealed that I had put the baseboard heaters on despite the fireplace being off... So my mistake.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/15/17 11:33 a.m.

Day Three

We took off from Duluth and headed over towards Bayfield Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands. Bayfield was a bustling place despite it being a weekday. We stopped into their visitor center and looked at what our options were for camping. We saw that we could ferry over to Madeline island and camp at the Big Bay state park, providing there were any first-come first-serve campsites available.

We decided that even if we couldn't camp we wanted to go check out the island regardless. So we bought our ferry ticket and drove onto the ferry. I've never brought a vehicle over water like that before so it was a neat experience. The island itself was really cool- I think something like 200 people live there year round, with a summer population of near 2,000. It was a small place but again on a nice day in the summer it was very busy. We headed straight to the park to see if we could score a campsite.

And we did! We got a nice little spot and ran back into town for some supplies. I got a couple 'nice truck's from some people downtown which was cool. Then we made it back to camp, unloaded, and got set up.

Once set up we wandered down to the beach and went for a swim in Lake Superior. I was amazed at how fine the sand was on the beach, and how beautiful the water and lakefront were. There were no weeds and very few rocks, and the water was super clear. We had a beer on the beach, swam around, and skipped some rocks. Then we went back to camp and got a fire going. It rained a short while later but no problem, the 8' truck bed had adequate room to hang out in. A game of Jenga ensued- which was pretty fun sitting on an air mattress with suspension beneath the Jenga box.

The rain eventually stopped and we sat back out by the fire again later. We had some trouble getting it started but a camper next to us in a Toyota pickup came over and gave us some of his dried out wood as it was his last night there and he already had a fire going.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/15/17 2:40 p.m.

Day Four

We ferried away from Madeline island and drove over into the upper peninsula of Michigan to the Porcupine Mountains.

The road up to the welcome center was 55 mph, curvy, narrow, and awesome. It was also like 25 miles long. Being my first time on it I was in disbelief that it was 55 mph, it seemed pretty fast for what a narrow road it was. There were also no stop signs and virtually no turn offs. We made it up to the welcome center and asked about camping. It had been rainy all day so we decided that the structure of a cabin would be nice vs. the probably already damp truck tent. There was a cabin available on the other end of the park (back from where we came) for the night so we signed up for that. Before we made our way out of the park we drove in a little further to Lake of the Clouds which is in a valley of the two peaks of the Porcupine Mountains. It was gorgeous, I wish we would have explored more of it- we just went up to the overlook but I would have liked to have gone down and actually seen it up close. Anyhow, here's some pictures that really don't do it justice.

I always hate amateur photos of terrain like this because the scope isn't really captured- this looked so huge and expansive when we were up there, and it was blissfully quiet (aside from the other tourists behind us), but a lot of that doesn't come through in my sloppy photos. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was really beautiful.

After checking that out we loaded up and headed back west towards the cabin we rented for the night. Now, this was billed as a rustic cabin, and so far we'd stayed at an actual camp site in the truck, and in hotels. Rustic was accurate. The cabin and view were gorgeous, but we were wholly unprepared. The cabin was a mile hike from where we could park the truck, and it was a hike- up and down valleys, over streams and downed trees. It was really awesome but being as green as we were we packed way too much stuff- most of which proved to be completely worthless and heavy.

Here's the cabin itself- The hike took us a bit because we were overloaded, and we were overloaded because we didn't feel we had the daylight for two trips, so we felt rushed. When we got to the cabin Mrs. Gunch pointed out that we had somehow forgotten to bring bedding. So here we are, in the woods with limited supplies, no running water or electricity (obviously) and no candles or bedding. We hung out for a bit and as the rain rolled in we decided that we were not prepared and not comfortable attempting to stay the whole night with no lights or bedding. We retreated back to the truck with the little daylight we had and headed for a hotel, feeling a little foolish about our failed cabin experience, but excited to get a room. We found a king suite in Ironwood Michigan that actually was an old conference room that had been remodeled. Pretty funny- but it was huge and very comfortable in comparison to what we were facing previously. We used the pool, hot tub, sauna, and the cable TV and relished the amenities.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/15/17 3:25 p.m.

Day Five

We left Ironwood and headed straight south back into Wisconsin to New Glarus in hopes of checking out the brewery. They make some delicious beers that don't have any distribution outside of Wisconsin so it seemed like a worthy destination. We ended up not making it in time for a tour, but we got a picture at the brewery anyhow.

We went into town and checked out a couple shops and got some dinner, and of course some of the beer brewed in town.

New Glarus itself is kind of a weird town. They have this whole little Switzerland vibe going on that sounds adorable but in my experience felt a bit presumptuous? Maybe it was just the couple shops we checked out or the pizza place we got dinner at, but we weren't terribly impressed. No offense to anyone reading from there, it wasn't a bad town, it just had a weird vibe to us. Maybe it was my long hair and pickup truck.

After New Glarus we made a run for the border... the Wisconsin/Illinois border that is! We dipped our toes into Illinois on the way to Dubuque, Ia for the night. We really only did this so we could claim another state, there wasn't much purpose beyond just "doing it".

We then cruised through Illinois a bit and came up through East Dubuque (which is in Illinois) on our way to Dubuque. On the way through we spotted a little car show on the main drag so we whipped around (in Iowa now, just across the river) and drove back through. The people at the car show were confused to see a Minnesota plate, and it seemed like it was winding down for the night, so we made a lap through and headed for our Hotel.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/15/17 7:08 p.m.

Day Six

Didn't end up taking many pictures this day but we woke up in Dubuque Ia, and checked out a local coffee shop for some sandwiches and coffee. Then we hit the road north to stop at one last brewery- Toppling Goliath. I've had their beers before and I was excited to have them at the source. Even at like 1 on a Friday afternoon the place was pretty busy, so apparently I'm not the only one who's enjoys their beers. I grabbed a couple of bombers for me and some fellow beer enthusiasts and hit the road. We made good time getting home and ended up back at the house around 6 pm on Friday night. This gave us 2 days to relax at home before work again which ended up being really nice.


Afterword

The truck was awesome. Not a single issue or hiccup. I kept track of the mileage and over the 1,219 miles we drove it got an average of 20.645 mpg! I'm very pleased with that considering it's just a carbureted 305. The best mileage was on the second tank which I calculated at 22.45 mpg. Stellar. The calculations were done based on miles driven and gas purchased, so I'm sure they're not 100% accurate, but even if they're off by a bit I'm still pleased with the efficiency of the old, square, heavy truck. It used probably 2/3 of a quart of oil, which again I can't even complain about. We saw some really neat stuff and relaxed. I think my favorite part of the whole week was not being a slave to the clock- I maybe looked at my phone once a day. It felt good to just be present on the road and focusing on the immediate world around us. I also learned that, perhaps, Minnesota does actually have really bad road construction. Like everywhere. Being elsewhere for a week it seemed like a real shock getting home and seeing all of the construction and detours.

Thanks for tuning in!

Indy-Guy
Indy-Guy SuperDork
8/15/17 7:17 p.m.

Wow!!!

Awesome idea for the truckymoon. Thanks for sharing your experience here with us ?

How'd the misses handle it all????

I can only imagine the let down at the cabin forgetting the bedding.... Good work rolling with the flow.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/16/17 7:27 a.m.
Indy-Guy wrote: Wow!!! Awesome idea for the truckymoon. Thanks for sharing your experience here with us ? How'd the misses handle it all???? I can only imagine the let down at the cabin forgetting the bedding.... Good work rolling with the flow.

You're welcome!

It was actually her idea to take the truck in the first place! We've done a couple other truck tenting missions in the past and she's a big fan.

The cabin situation was definitely an experience. I think it was just a few too many things that were outside of our camping abilities and too little time to get settled in. We didn't get to the cabin itself till nearly 7 making the whole thing feel rushed. If we would have gotten there early and had a chance to settle in and get things set up it probably would have been just fine.

759NRNG
759NRNG HalfDork
8/16/17 5:58 p.m.

Congrats on the Ido's awesome trip in a part of the ole USA that I can only view from your photos /google maps...at this time...beautiful countryside. A return trip to the 'cabin' is in order ...say your first anniversary. Last but not least, 'square man' performed admirably if not beyond expectations.....great read bro..go hug Ms.G, she's a keeper!!!

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
8/16/17 6:53 p.m.

She's a keeper!

But THIS is a Honeytruck!

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/17/17 7:59 a.m.

In reply to 759NRNG:

Wisconsin especially has wonderful countryside- rolling hills, beautifully groomed farm plots, plenty of lakes. It's a beautiful place to drive through. I can't get enough. We'll go back and conquer that cabin someday. The truck exceeded my expectations for sure- I had plenty of faith in it but I didn't think it would be as efficient as it was. And she's definitely a keeper!

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/17/17 8:03 a.m.

In reply to SVreX:

Seems more like a E36 M3ty truck to me... But then again I'm sure mine looks like a E36 M3ty truck to many as well.

What's that line? One man's turds are another mans treasure? That doesn't seem quite right...

RossD
RossD MegaDork
8/17/17 8:20 a.m.

Congrats!

Wisconsin is really beautiful the closer you are to the Mississippi River or the UP. The glaciers shmushed the topography out of the Eastern side of the state!

That's a new New Glarus beer to me! Was it pretty good? I thought their beer slid a little over the past year or two. Their mainstay, Spotted Cow, didn't quite taste the same way it used to. Or maybe it should never have been put into cans.

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/17/17 9:51 a.m.

In reply to RossD:

Thanks sir!

As for the beer, yes it was quite tasty, but I'm an IPA loving hipster so take that into account.

I can't speak to the quality over the years of Spotted Cow- I've always thought it was a really tasty, drinkable beer, but despite how much beer I sample my palette isn't very refined. Also I'm not sure I've had it in cans yet.

Though I've heard that some brewers prefer cans as the beer stays in the dark and doesn't have the light contamination possible in a bottle.

Mmmm, Beer.

759NRNG
759NRNG HalfDork
8/17/17 10:47 a.m.

And cars and your sweety.....

Gunchsta
Gunchsta Reader
8/17/17 11:45 a.m.
759NRNG wrote: And cars and your sweety.....

But of course!

JamieConway88
JamieConway88
11/22/17 3:02 a.m.

Your story sounds very sweet, your car and your trip are completely perfect. cheeky

Our Preferred Partners
IrTrh8I6OUUm5cByZi2tKDuUx2LLRYv2