Opinions on taking I-43 thru Milwaukee, enroute to Green Bay and Door County.

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CharlesinGA

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Oct 6, 2017
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50 miles south of Atlanta, GA
Tonight I am at Bigfoot Beach State Park, leVing in the morning. This is in SE Wisconsin. The quickest route is I-43 but I am hesitant to go thru Milwaukee. What do you think? Who has done this?

Charles
 
I guess it depends on where you want to end up after MKE. I probably wouldn't want to slog through downtown during rush hours but unless there's construction (how long did the zoo interchange take, like 4 or 5 years?) I-43 would be better than most any other route. Right at I-43 and Hampton is Sprecher Brewery, then a butter burger at Solly's.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 
As long as you get there before the afternoon Rush it should OK, but I don't recall there being any easy route around Milwaukee.
 
I agree with stated previous comments..just did Milwaukee to Luxemburg last year..of course, we went through right at supper rush hour.. downtown MKE is no different that any other big city, and better than some.. as long your not in rush hour traffic you should be fine..highway road conditions?..another story, Milwaukee is known for treacherous roads..it had its interesting parts that I last recall..time your travel right and you'll be outta downtown and on I-43 to door county before you know it..safe travels
 
We left in the morning and when we reached the 3 way of I-43 and I-41 on the south side of Milwaukee the traffic was at a standstill above us headed east on I-41/43 and we tiurned north on I-41 and while it was somewhat heavy, by the time we passed the zoo, it had thinned out. We took I-41 to Fon du lac, Oshkosh and Appleton, and it was smooth sailing.

If you are headed up the peninsula in Door County above Sturgeon Bay, there is a major detour as the preferred route highway 42 is ripped up for replacement for many miles. The detour is 57 up the east side of the Peninsula.

Three days at Peninsula SP, nice park, the campground is overgrown and has not been mowed, its like you are in a jungle, and the restrooms have not been cleaned since we got here..

If you spot mistakes, sorry, I am sitting on a bench on the side of the water about ten minutes from the trailer as that is the only way to get any internet at all.. Its pitch black and I am typing by flashlight, listening to the frogs and getting cold.

Tomorrow we are headed to Duluth and Pattison SP due south of Superior. then to Grand Portage SP at the border, on the lake, and will return from there.

Highlight of the day was visiting Cana Lighthouse and walking up it and around the catwalk on the outside of it. Spiral staircase, 97 steps. Wind blowing hard. You walk out a causway that sometimes is under water (dry today)

Will try to post pics in a bit.

Charles
 

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Growing up in WI, 41 was the only major highway from MKE to green bay. Have relatives in green bay and my family made that trek regularly. I got to take 43 on my motorcycle from MKE to door co. the year it was finished. Man, that was money from home compared to 41, which didn't become I-41 until about 10 years ago. Before then it was just a WI highway crossing past barns, corn fields and towns. The EAA museum in Oshkosh is worth a stop. Coming up 43 the maritime museum in Manitowoc would be on the list. Been to door co. probably half a dozen times but never camped, it's always nutso to find a spot there and frankly I don't see a lot there worth lingering for more than a couple days. The shipwreck history there is interesting though. Have been to washington island a couple times, there was a ham there (W9EVT, SK) that had a B&B and stayed at his place. Not much to see there either really, but quiet and scenic. Pondering the idea of meandering through the NW side of WI for leaf peeping, it's closer than new england from here and probably less traffic.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 
Well, we arrived at Pattison SP on highway 35 about 20 miles south of Superior and it had just rained. The campsites had standing water. Very short, tight, half round pull thrus, I had to try twice to get positioned where I was stepping out in a high spot that was not standing in water.

Pattison is the location of the highest waterfall in Wisconsin (165 ft) and so we hustled across the road to the water fall to get a look at it before it got too late.

We relocated to Duluth today, a boat marina. In the winter the boats sit on the hardstand and in the summer, those spots are RV spaces. All have power and most have water and a few have sewer. It isn't a campground but we are tourists and not campers for a couple of days. Walked a couple of blocks down and over the lift bridge and toured the USACE museum. Got lucky as we watched the bridge lift part way for a tour boat, and later a 1000 ft lakes ore boat, the first thousand footer, came in for it first trip of the season, to take on a load of fuel and then ore. It was freshly painted too. Stewart J. Cort.

The two trucks and trailers farthest away in the pic is mine and my travel buddy and his wife.

Charles
 

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Watched the M/V Honorable James L. Oberstar an 806 ft bulk ore ship come thru the Duluth canal this morning. Weather was horrible. Front blew thru, air show was able to happen at the Duluth airport and we did some riding around seeing things. Went to Two Harbors to see the light house, but it was closed.

Wind really picked up. Windy was showing 11 kts of wind, but I'm guessing that is wrong. Lots of car horns going off from alarms detecting shaking, my trailer is shaking around and its hard to walk outside.

Off tomorrow to Grand Portage.

Charles
 
My apologies for allowing this thread about routing to morph into a trip report....................

Well, we hitched up this morning and left the marina campground and headed north up MN highway 61.

First stop was Gooseberry Falls State Park, where we walked a good bit of the trail to see the middle and lower falls. Super busy today. Wished I could post video, it was loud, so you will have to take my word for it. After taking lots of pics (will post in a bit), we went up the road about 8 miles to Split Rock Lighthouse State Historical Site. It too was very busy, but we poked around and I climbed the lighthouse stairs and got to see the Fresnel lens motor and gearing that makes it all work. The building is unique in that the brick is ceramic glazed on the inside and outside.

As we headed north, it was decided to stop at the Dairy Queen in Grand Marais for a late lunch and after discussing the situation, we topped off with diesel at the Marathon for $3.89 gal which proved to be a huge mistake, as both of us had lots of fuel to reach Grand Portage and the tribal gas station at the Grand Portage Casino was $3.47 gal.

A suggestion here, don't bother camping at the Casino RV park at Grand Portage. It a rather poor excuse for a campground and overly priced. Instead, camp further south, such as the city owned campground and rec area at Grand Marais and make Grand Portage a day trip. There are water falls at the state park (highest in MN) and also a National Monument, both of which we will visit tomorrow.

The issue with the campground is no maintenance, the power plugs are worn loose in the pedestals, and while the campground was open, the grass had not been mowed, and the sites are difficult to distinguish from the grass. The pedestals, spigots and sewer are ill positioned requiring a long sewer hose if you plan to use the sewer connections. But my biggest beefs was one that really could not be prevented, goose poop everywhere. Steve got a bag and a glove and picked up all he could find around his site and then I did the same. However the biggest of all was the restrooms. Someone took a paint sprayer and painted EVERYTHING (well, not quite but close to it) and the floor was partially painted, and lots of paint spilled. Huge mess, plus no shower curtains. I hope they finish it, but I'm not hopeful.

There are numerous other parks, water falls, and interesting attractions along this route, including a scenic drive (the old highway 61 before they rerouted it) and its all worth seeing, so plan carefully.

Charles
 

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You're in my stomping grounds. Glad to see you're making the best of your trip. I'm a Duluth native and I'm in sales, I have customers all the way up the north shore to Grand Portage including the reservation. I'll have to talk with them about their campground next time I'm up there.
 
Well, my Buddy Steve decided to go "riding" and we ended up crossing the border and going all the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario (about an hour north of the border checkpoint on Ontario highway 61. Typical lakes port town but we ended up at the Fort William Historical Park, which is HUGE, and is a recreated Ft William trading location for the North West Company (eventually merged with the Hudson Bay Company), They have people there as re-enactors during the summer and you get guided tours and also can wander around and see the various buildings. There is also an RV Campground on site and I highly recommend skipping Grand Portage as a stay over, and simply visiting the Grand Portage National Monument Heritage Center, which also has a much smaller recreated fort/trading post which was not yet open when we were there. (the nat monument visitor center is excellent and worth the visit), and also the Grand Portage State Park and visitor center (we were late and it was closed, but still walked to the falls)

The gist of the story is that Grand Portage was the center of activity where fur traders brought in their goods and traded them for necessities and money. After the establishment of the US/Canada border, the North West Company had to relocate to Thunder Bay and Ft William.

We did walk to the falls on the Pigeon River (which is the US/Canada boundary). The trail is about a half mile and is paved with elevated walks in places.

Tuesday morning we left the RV park at the Casino and headed south. After many miles we stopped at Black River Falls rest stop on I-94 where we spent the night. Traveling about 370 miles that day. If you have noticed the news, Tuesday was a terrible day weather wise in the midwest. We passed through the tip of some bad weather, seeing some lightning and heavy rain, and then in the clear to the rest stop. When the weather did arrive, the weakest part of the line passed over us, so we were spared the worst weather.

Wednesday we set out from the rest stop and covered what Google says is 552 miles to Crab Orchard Campground which is operated by the Fish and Wildlife Service (part of the USDept of Ag) and it located in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge on Crab Orchard Lake, just off Highway 13 between Carbondale and Marion Illinois. We managed to snag two lake view sites for the night.

Tomorrow is the final race home.

Charles
 

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To wrap things up, after leaving the Crab Orchard campground, we headed south on I-57 and then south/east on I-24. The Eastbound decent off of Monteagle is rather long and the exhaust brake came in very handy to control the speed. Before reaching Chattanooga Suki saw the traffic on Google maps was red both ways on I-24 though Chattanooga so we got off at Kimball and ate at the Cracker Barrel while pondering possible alternative routes. We ended up continuing down I-24 and exited onto I-59 which begins in Dade County Georgia and continues to Birmingham. We got off at Ft Payne (home of the country music group ALABAMA), and got fuel, then headed off east out of town. Alabama highway 35 is rather un-nerving at first as the climb up the ridge is on a shelf graded into the side of the ridge. Steep and only as wide as the pavement with a guard rail on the edge of the pavement and a looong drop off the side. We were going up so I did not see the % grade signs, but I'm betting it was 10% in places. I went up it in 3rd gear (six speed) at about 25 mph. Looking at street view, the signs only say "trucks use lower gears" with no hint of what is to come...........

When we reached I-20 we split up and I headed south and Steve headed east. I arrived home about 9:20 pm. Needless to say the cats dashed out the door when I opened it.

Too much traveling for 15 days, I like a much slower pace. Steve gets "get home itis" and races home. I tried to get them to stay another night at Crab Orchard but they would not.

A few stats. I drove 3309 miles, Steve much more as we used his truck to ride around (mine is a single cab), refueled 19 times including after I got home. Cheapest diesel was $3.25 in Tennessee and the highest was $3.99 in Minnesota. I averaged 13.684 mpg for the trip, consuming 245 gallons and spending $891 for the fuel, with an average cost per mile of about 27.4 cents per mile.

Charles
 
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I live in the area and I prefer 41 north through Appleton, then 57 to Green Bay then North on 57 to Door County. You can also go around the east side of Lake Winnebago at FonDulac. A nice drive and not a lot of traffic. Traffic on 43 can really backup, especially with the construction on the North side of Milwaukee on 43. Sorry, just saw your post and I know this is a little late.
 
I live in the area and I prefer 41 north through Appleton, then 57 to Green Bay then North on 57 to Door County. You can also go around the east side of Lake Winnebago at FonDulac. A nice drive and not a lot of traffic. Traffic on 43 can really backup, especially with the construction on the North side of Milwaukee on 43. Sorry, just saw your post and I know this is a little late.
Very helpful none the less, for next time or for someone else.

Charles
 
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