Michigan, USA

Petoskey, Mackinac Island & The Upper Peninsula

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore- this rock took a natural form of an elephants body.

Grand Haven, Michigan

I had such a wonderful drive!! I woke up early enough to watch the sunrise yet I decided against it. I knew it would be chilly up on the roof, and I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. Therefore, I knew it would be best to catch more sleep, and let the sun rise without me. I’ll have plenty of sunrises and sunsets to come. Anywho, the drive to Michigan was great! I stopped in Grand Haven, thinking I’d have lunch but I wasn’t hungry. Wes made me breakfast and the girls brought in a dozen donuts from Stans Donuts [Chicago]. I tried a blueberry one with some sort of Bavarian creme. It was pretty good but I only had a small bite because I was worried about a sugar crash. I still stopped for about 2 hours in Grand Haven so I could walk to the lighthouse and the end of the pier. I sat at the very end for awhile, I got lost in thought and appreciation, until the wakes of a passing boat almost soaked me! I walked back slowly taking it all in and befriending a chocolate lab. Back on the road, I jammed out to some songs on my ipod.

portrait photo of half my face with the famous red Grand Haven lighthouse behind me.
Grand Haven Lighthouse

Petoskey, Michigan

The speed limit was 75 and no traffic, and the views were spectacular. I’m starting to see the leaves changing, something I’ve been looking forward to for my route.I ended up making it all the way from Chicago to Petoskey [peTOSSkey] without filling my tank- but definitely was running on E. As soon as I got here I stopped for gas and then checked into my hotel. Another upgraded room! I then wandered out to an outdoor store to pick up some bright colored gear to stand out to hunters for my hike, no luck though. I did, however, stumble on some amazing views of Little Traverse Bay. Of course I only had my cellphone for pictures but I had a lot of alone time on a pebble rock beach, not sure how I got so lucky, yet again. After awhile I made my way to Palette Bistro- highly recommend. I practiacally stole my 3 course meal! The main dish was duck, it was delicious. Tanner, my bartender gave my some ideas and a recommendation for my pasty stop. So, I’m going to try and make time for the garden peninsula while I’m in the UP. Anyway, I have Mackinac Island tomorrow and  need to leave my hotel by 0930 (free breakfast!) to make the scenic route. I plan to ride the entire outer loop of the island, no one drives there, there’s only bikes and horse drawn carriages. This will help offset the dessert Tanner also recommended after my dinner. I’ve done my best to prepare to go off grid tomorrow, camping in the Upper Peninsula after I get back from the island. 

Up close picture of a cleat where a red boat has tied up on the pier at Little Traverse Bay
pier at Little Traverse Bay

Mackinac Island, Michigan

Michigan is only getting better. I made it right in time for the last ‘scenic and slow’ ferry ride. I sat in the back with a few other unsuspecting passengers. I was getting some amazing shots of the bridge while freezing in a light sweater with heavy winds and a pretty FAST ferry. Wait, I spoke too soon, I was in the unmarked splash zone… what I mean by that is fully soaked!! I wasn’t looking in the direction of the route and didn’t see the wave coming but it covered a 2-story ferry.

A view of the Mackinac suspension bridge from the water- on the ferry going to Mackinac Island.

Needless to say, I was now, absolutely freezing. As soon as we arrived to the island and I ducked into the restrrom and tried to make myself presentable- ha! My sunglasses were stuck in my hair and let’s not even talk about my hair… Oh well! So I browsed a few stores in hopes for a warm, dry shirt but I didn’t want to be so touristy so I ended up just drying out. Once I was mostly dry and the sun was shining I got my rental bike.
I biked the entire 8.2 outer loop as I stubbornly set my mind to do. Although, let’s face it, once I was on the other side of the island, I didn’t have much choice- either stay on the rim or ride the hills through the island. Honestly though, such a great decision. I also met Bre and her boyfriend with their dog Ruger at the arch rock. We exchanged cameras to take pictures. Usually I think the person I take a picture of is lucky, but this time it was the other way around. I snagged a photographer- score!! She was on the island to photograph a wedding. We exchanged social contacts and went on our way.
I then completed the loop to then rewrap and film the pretty shoreline and grab a bite to eat. I met a jamaican man there, he worked at the cafe, he asked if he could take my picture as I ate, ofcourse! He was super nice and chatty but I never caught his name because his colleague kept telling him to get back to the counter. After I finished lunch I went back to the ferry. I caught the 3 o’clock ferry… and didn’t learn my lesson. I sat on the one top level again. I met 2 men up there; 1 from New Braunfels, TX. a place I’d been to before and the other was from Nome, AK. They were both old enough to be my father and the one from TX made a few dad jokes. I didn’t catch their names either because as we began talking we were splashed with water… dare I say, unexpectedly.

Chicken salad on a croissant and a side of kettle cooked potato chips- lunch from Boxwood Cafe.
Boxwood Coffeeshop & Cafe

Upper Penninsula, Michigan

Once I got back to the mainland I grabbed some snacks and set out for the UP. I made great timing and stopped at the restaurant Tanner suggested; they were freshly out of Pasty’s but my waitress was sweet so I had tea and mozzarella sticks. These mozzarella sticks were good, the outside was more like a spring roll in texture, unique and delicious. I’m happy I had them because I went another 15 mins and got my pasty. Honestly, it was a little much.. but I had it to go, and I ate it at Sand Point at the national lakeshore. Then I stayed awhile to catch the sunset.

up close, sun bleached wood from a fallen tree on the shores of the National  Lakeshore

The best thing about my day, was laying under the milky way and catching a few shooting stars. I’m sleeping in my car now, its 52 degrees and I’m getting pretty cold. I’m gonna try to sleep, I’m excited for tomorrow and more stars. I figured out how to take pictures of the stars with my Sony, but I don’t have a tripod. This will be my next Amazon purchase, I am quickly becoming a fan of the stars.

photo of the Milky Way and a shooting star to the right of the frame.
milky way & a shooting star

written 9/11/18 about 9/10/18
Yesterday was exhausting, mainly due to my lack of sleep my first night car camping. So, that didnt go very well. I thought my onesie would be enough considering I’m usually way too hot in it… Not the case, I woke up every 3 hours freezing- the first time I was practically numb. I moved to the front seat to run my car for 20 mins with heat and the seat warmer and then would turn it off and bundle up for another 3 hour nap. I would do this until it was too bright and I couldn’t fall back asleep. In hindsight, maybe my legs were numb from the bike ride?! Anyway, the whole situation was less than comfortable. So, on with my day, had made it through the first night. I was ready to see the pictures rocks and to hike.

A picture deep in the woods- lost on the North Country Trail

I started by driving to Miners castle. A rock point standing tall out of lake superior. This wasn’t much of a hike but more of a stroll with quite a few lookout points- kinda busy too. After this, I thought I would like to do a 6 mile hike (3 miles each way) because by then it would be getting dark, so I couldn’t go any further than that. I meant to bring my headlight just in case, forgot it though. I drove down a long 5 mile dirt road, it seemed so much longer, considering I had to drive 10mph. I don’t think my car could have gone any faster. On to Chapel falls, beach and rock! Ha… ha… ha. I made it to the falls. The falls are about 1.7 mi. in to the hike, on route to the beach. The beach is where I’d then get to see the rock, too. Welp I really had to pee, I went a little off the trail to squat against a tree, not too many people were on the trails, guaranteed no one saw me. Then I continued on the only path I could find.
I walked about a mile and felt like I was getting more and more in backcountry territory. The voice in my head was getting louder and louder, I was scared and I didn’t feel right. I saw a pretty large bear print and then a sign; it read ‘national park services 1 mile’. Although that should’ve been comforting, I don’t recall there being an office on my trail. Definitely was lost at this point so I turned around to head back to the sound of waterfalls. At least I can back track! I caught up to an older couple and could tell they weren’t comfortable with me walking behind them. The wife kept looking back, and even waved. I tried a smile- not sure how it looked, I was pretty out of breath and scared walking quickly back.
They sat down so I’d pass. They said hi and we chatted for a second, they only came to see the falls. Then I went on ahead of them. I noticed a small path labeled Chapel Lake, with no desire to see it ahead of time, I figured at this point I should take a look. Womp, womp, there was absolutely no water to be found. Upon returning I found myself behind the older couple. Again, it seemed like they felt uneasy, so they slowed and I reached them and we actually ended up walking out together.

A picture of Miners Castle in the distance- a rock formation from Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. Taken from a lookout point from a hike.

Once I got out of the forest I looked at the map again. I had wandered onto the North Country trail. This trail goes for as long as 42 miles. Good thing I turned around, it was also in the complete opposite direction. *Note to self: take a picture of the map at the start, not enough markers on trails.* So, I got back to munising around 5 and figured I’d grab my spot at the campgrounds again and catch the sunset boat tour. I’m glad I did, I had some great views and too many pictures.
Oh yeah, the older, uneasy couple, told me the weather services announced we would be able to see the northern lights! I was super excited for the milky way, and now northern lights?! Well I had no issues with whether or not I’d get sleep with a night show. I came back to a full camp, but my spot was still there and open. I was heading to the bathroom when I decided to find the common grass area before it got too dark. I thought I’d found it, a bonfire was going and there was a large picnic table right on the lake, whoops, this was Dan and his wife’s campsite.
Lucky for me they welcomed me to their fire for conversation. I enjoyed meeting them, they were from from Holland, MI. and Dan invented and patented aluminum edging for landscapes. Pretty impressive, but what was even more impressive was how well he knew the constellations. His wife was even shocked, this is where I learned of his name. They were such a lovely couple and I was happy to meet them. They decided to call it a night early but invited me to stay at their picnic table for views and pictures of the sky. I was a bit cold and stil hadnt made it to the bathroom, so I went back to my car.

One of the oldest lighthouses in  America- built in 1868. Picture taken from the water
East Channel Lighthouse, built in 1868

Honestly, I started feeling the lack of sleep again and less excited for the northern lights. I don’t know if they were visible or not from the picnic table but I did not see them from my car. I did however master car camping on the second go around. Double layers all the way down to my socks, seat practiacally laid down straight, and I slept like a baby. It was a much needed sleep for my drive.

Sun setting over Lake Superior. Picture taken from the water.

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