SUNLIT, WARM DAYS in September are meant to be fully used up. No idling around a box that shows moving pictures of oversized men slamming each other into a near senseless state on a field marked with white lines. No taking lazy naps when nature is calling. No raking leaves or such other menial tasks that are always best left for another day.

Being a certified outdoors fanatic, I did not waste the perfect September day we had last Sunday here in the north country. Nor did I let my lovely wife or two dogs waste it either.

As Sunday morning began to turn into Sunday afternoon, I decreed that we would all take a road trip. With the three of them voting aye, the only thing left to decide was the destination.

Having the ultimate vote, a power bestowed upon me by the lady of the house, I voted for a trip to Lake Superior.

In my humble estimation, Lake Superior is one of the finest and greatest geological features on this entire planet. I have said thank you many times over for having this wondrous piece of nature within a drive of less than two hours.

The only question that remained, once I decided on Gitche Gumee, was to settle on a particular piece of shoreline on which we would spend such a splendid afternoon.

I thought about a drive north through Hurley to reach Saxon Harbor for a starting point of our expedition. We were there in very early spring, when snow still covered the north slopes of hills and heavily wooded areas. We go there at least a couple times each year to sit on the rocky shoreline watching waves rolling in and to throw sticks for Gordie the wonder lab to retrieve while bouncing through those waves.

On our spring visit, leaving Saxon Harbor, we headed farther east and north for a visit to Superior Falls on the Montreal River. The steep climb back to the car after viewing the falls roaring more than a 30-foot drop has always been worth the effort.

From there that trip takes us to Little Girls Point where a fine beach and county park await Gitche Gumee afficionados like us. The trip is always worth a few hours of our time, a time often spent simply in watching the seemingly endless expanse of water, while thinking of the history that surrounds this inland sea.

A second possibility Sunday was the Black River Harbor area where there are some exceptional waterfalls to visit; waterfalls that I have visited and enjoyed more times than I can count. We had made a beach and waterfall visit to the harbor earlier this year as well.

Making a decision as to what point along the lake would be our destination this time, was a further possibility of heading for the west end of the Porcupine Mountains. From the mouth of the Presque Isle River there are waterfalls to be seen and perhaps a trout or two to catch.

The fourth possibility, which is the one I settled on, was a trip up through Presque Isle, Marenisco, Mich., Bergland, Mich., and Silver City, Mich., to the east end of the Porkies.

 A long beach, which is worth every mile of driving to reach it, stretches for more than a mile before the turnoff to Union Bay Campground in Ontonagon, Mich., at the park’s east entrance.

It wouldn’t be a trip to this particular stretch of Lake Superior shoreline and the park without a quick tour of the campground and a goodly amount of time spent lazing on the sandy beach west of Silver City.

Other people had the same idea we had Sunday, and people were swimming and sunbathing all along the beach, though there was room for us to find a place all to ourselves.

As usual, Molly and Gordie hit the water immediately, not paying any attention to the fairly gentle waves washing over them. Molly is 131⁄2 years old now and though she would have us believe she can barely see or hear anymore, just whisper the word ride and she’s at the car door waiting to get in.

Other times, she gives a great impression of being blind and deaf. Sunday afternoon, for instance, she obviously never heard me yelling “come back” when she decided a couple enjoying their spot on the beach was more interesting than we were. I’m thinking the reason was the goodies they had spread out on a blanket. We had no such repast to tempt her.

It is always hard to leave the big lake, especially when you have such a perfect day to be there. But leave we did, fully enjoying the immense array of color lining the roads on the way back through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

That is maple country to a large degree and already, the color was probably at peak along many stretches. The strange thing we noticed, as I have noticed around here, is that the normally brilliant red of the maples this year is more of a pastel, even faded pinkish color. Still, along the way home, which included a stop along Lake Gogebic and a short detour to one of our old favorite campgrounds at Bobcat Lake outside of Marenisco, the color was constant and beautiful.

Just another reason to visit Gitche Gumee again.