Remember the opening lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha”:
On the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the resplendent water of the great sea,
Nokomis wigwam rose …
We wondered if we could travel by RV to Gitche Gumee, translated means Big-Sea-Water, later identified as Lake Superior. Our investigation pointed out that the poem scene could be about 11 miles east of Marquette, MI, 33 miles west of Munising, MI on Highway 28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So we loaded up the motorhome and headed out over the Mackinac Bridge, aka “Big Mac.” Once we crossed the bridge we headed west and sure enough our research turned out to be correct when we discovered Gitche Gumee RV Park.
The entrance to the RV Park is across the street from what is 1.5 to 2 miles from the beautiful Lake Superior beach. Lake Superior is the second largest freshwater lake in the world. We were able to witness many magnificent sunsets looking west from the beach.
The RV Park is on a 52 acre parcel, nestled in a deeply wooded strip of pine trees. Jeff Glass, better known as Ranger Jeff, created the park to reflect the Native American heritage of the area. Along with the park’s name, the roads, buildings, and other features reflect themes from Longfellow’s poem. The log cabin is called Pau-Puk-Keewis, the “handsome fool of the storm”, who left with a white woman who liked the Indian way.
Ranger Jeff was educated as an engineer and the park reflects his great talent for creating what we could call a little piece of Hiawathaland. It is amazing to see him operate his Crane from 1946, yes, 1946 and it still works, lifting pillars and logs in place on his many projects. He will show you many tools that he has modified with his ideas, making them easier to use and more productive.
There is another side to Ranger Jeff’s talents that truly amazes RVers and campers. Inside the park you will find unique hand-carved stones. Both “Miskodeed, the Spring Beauty, and Pau-Puk-Kee-wis, the handsome Yenadize are carved in stone. Some of the other cravings are The Shipwreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the cravings of presidents, Indian chiefs, and a mini Mount Rushmore. Out of all the cravings, our favorite is the 10-ton marble rock from “The Last of the Mohicans.”
Whether you’re a Rver or a camper, be sure to leave time in your itinerary to talk to Ranger Jeff and learn about his accomplishments and travels. You will be amazed and captivated by some of their adventures.
We don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression that Rving or camping at Giche Gumee RV Park is having a hard time. It really isn’t, as Ranger Jeff has provided cable, WiFi, and many other amenities for his guests. One of Ranger Jeff’s favorite sayings is that RVing and camping is “Roughing it Smoothly” at Gitche Gumee RV Park.