Day 225 – Lake Michigan Tour – Part 2

Day 225 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Before leaving Traverse City, we took a short driving tour around the historic district, but unfortunately missed the seven wineries this early in the morning!  I didn’t time that very well.  Too bad I didn’t arrive earlier yesterday!  That’s ok, we continued along our Lake Michigan Tour and spent a lovely morning on Old Mission Peninsula.

Old Mission Lighthouse

We poked along the 18 mile drive past harbors, countless orchards, wineries, farmland, and roadside cherry stands on the way to Old Mission Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is located at Mission Point which is just a few hundred feet south of 45th Parallel of Latitude, half way distance between the Equator and the North Pole.  The beach here was so interesting.  Beachgoers had set up cairns on the boulders that poked up in the shallow water offshore.  It was very serene looking.


Day 224 – Lake Michigan Tour

Day 224 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Petey and I began our Lake Michigan Tour in Ludington where a cross, memorializing Pere Merquette, stands over the harbor.  It is thought, the French missionary and explorer died nearby in 1675, though the exact location remains a controversy.

mama duck and ducklings in bay city state park on Michigan's sunrise shores in

Day 223 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore – Part 2

Day 223 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Petey and I left Harrisville State Park this morning and spent most the day driving. Along the way, we got in a few stops as we continued south down Michigan’s Sunrise Shore.  When we arrived in Oscoda, we took a 40 mile roundtrip scenic drive through the Huron National Forest along Au Sable River.  In route, we pulled out at an overlook, took the stairs to the river’s edge to test the waters, and picked a few wild raspberries on our way back to VANilla.


Day 222 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore

Day 222 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

This morning Petey and I began our tour along Michigan’s Sunrise Shore. Our day started in Mackinaw City where we boarded the 8:30 ferry to Mackinac (Mak-in-aw) Island.  The double-decker catamaran whisked us across Lake Huron in 18 minutes or less on a calm, clear day. 

Mackinac Island

We disembarked into a land of pedestrians, cyclists, and horse drawn carriages…no cars are allowed.  Even the island’s garbage truck is a giant wood cart pulled by horses.  For a brief moment I thought what a nice way to live…no noise, no exhaust fumes, and naturally exercising to get around.  Then I thought of the snow, the rain, and running late. I wander what the islanders do, especially in the winter.  Perhaps snow mobiles are allowed.

storm in Mackinaw City

Day 221 – Upper Peninsula Drive – Part 3

Day 221 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Well, I thought I did a lot today, but looking back at my pictures I don’t have much to show for my activities, at least in quantity.  We started the morning visiting the Upper Falls in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The Upper Falls are in a different area of the park from the campgrounds and may be reached by hiking a long trail or by taking a lift from VANilla. 

The roundtrip walk was a bit long for my old mutt, Petey, so I steered VANilla to the Upper Falls parking lot where we took a more reasonable stroll to the falls along a paved pathway and down 94 grated, metal stairs that Petey hated!  He had his choice, wait in VANilla or maneuver the stairs. He hates being left alone more.

The Upper Falls is often called the little Niagara as 50,000 gallons of water per second rush over a sandstone ledge in a copper-hued arc.  The volume of water that tumbles over the falls is second to Niagara Falls in the eastern United States.  While the falls were beautiful, I couldn’t help but think how magnificent they’d look in the autumn with the changing leaves. In fact, I’ve entertained that thought quite a bit while being on the north shore of Minnesota and in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula over the last week. I may have to revisit this area in the future!

Soo Locks

After visiting the falls, we turned north to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan’s oldest city, to see the Soo Locks where freighters squeeze through one of the longest, busiest canal locks in the world.  I watched a Canadian ship go through, but my view was poor at best.  Given I had an excellent view of this procedure in New York last September, I didn’t snap any photos as it would have just looked like a freighter in the water.

The Gangplank in St. Ignace

Instead of driving one more mile north to Canada, I remained in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, turned south, and headed toward St. Ignace. Intermittent showers gave VANilla a few washes while I took the afternoon to rest and blog.  I’m not sure why I was so wiped out.  Perhaps it was due to a week’s worth of sleepless eighty degree nights. 

In St. Ignace, I went to dinner at The Gangplank, where  I ordered fried cheese curds and whitefish tacos at the counter window before plopping down at the picnic table with a view of Lake Huron.  Nick and Nikki, the couple I met in Wisconsin, suggested I try fried cheese curds, and they didn’t steer me wrong. They were great!  As were the fish tacos topped with vinegar coleslaw and pico de gallo.

Mackinaw Bridge

After dinner I stopped at the viewing area on the north side of Mackinaw Bridge just as the sky behind me was filling with dark, storm clouds.  Some almost looked like roll clouds.  I snapped a handful of photos from the north side of the bridge, paid the $3.50 toll, and raced across the metal grated, middle lane to Mackinaw City in order to capture the bridge with the clouds to its west side.

By the time I parked and walked to Lake Huron’s shore on the east side of the bridge, the clouds had almost reached the shore of Lake Michigan on the west side of the bridge. The storm was coming in fast as the sun set and the waves churned in the two Great Lakes.

While I wondered if I should prepare for a tornado, many pedestrians seemed oblivious to the approaching weather and went about exploring the
lighthouse and Lake Huron’s shores in the city park.  Once a few big rain drops landed on target, I hopped in VANilla and headed for the Walmart in Cheboygan for the night.  I loved to say that word…Cheboygan.  Perhaps I should have stuck around a bit longer…the view from my side-view mirror of the peppermint colored clouds was fantastic!  ETB

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tahquanmenon lower falls

Day 220 – Upper Peninsula Drive – Part 2

Day 220 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

This morning I investigated another portion of Pictured Rocks National Seashore.  Since Petey wasn’t allowed on the trails, I did a quick hike through the hardwoods to Chapel Lake and Chapel Falls.  The Chapel Lake Overlook is a bit of a misnomer. My only view was a splash of water through the trees. 

The falls was relatively protected by trees as well, but with a little work I was able to snap a photo of the water streaming down the cliff. Overall, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about this hike as my book led me to believe I would be.  Perhaps I needed to make the six mile roundtrip to Chapel Rock.

miners castle from afar

Day 219 – Upper Peninsula Drive

Day 219 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

With a little bit of a late morning start (lost an hour in Michigan), VANilla, Petey, and I motored up Highway 2, through Hiawatha National Forest, and toward Fayette Historic State Park.  To get to the park, we turned south at Garden Corners, followed a road along Big Bay De Noc, and passed by an old house, covered in peeling white paint with “FREE STUFF ->” spray painted in large, black freehand. 

Next to it, a smaller phrase in black spray paint demanded, “Don’t put anything here without my permission”.  I’ve passed a handful of quirky signs over my last 48,000 miles of travel, but many times I forget to mention them.  Glad I remembered this one on our Upper Peninsula Drive.