Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grand Traverse Bay Pie Company and More Sleeping Bear Dunes

OK. I’m the first to admit that I’m not a cherry pie connoisseur. But, we are in cherry country! And, Sherry and David told us we HAVE to go to the Grand Traverse Bay Pie Company and try their pie. So…due to rain in the forecast on Friday, we scrapped our kayak paddle and chilled for the day. Until about 3:00 PM when we headed to the Grand Traverse Bay Pie Company for dessert before the night’s dinner :)

Best Cherry Pie Ever!

We each ordered a slice of the Cherry Crumb Pie, warmed and with whipped cream.

It was heaven. I have never had a piece of cherry pie that tasted remotely similar. Apologies to David, who I have heard makes a cherry pie to die for, but, having never experienced his pie, I have to say that the Grand Traverse Pie Company makes the best Cherry Pie I have ever had! Rick agrees :) We contemplated buying a whole pie and taking it home with us, but Rick was afraid he would eat it all before bedtime, so we passed. I’m pretty sure we’ll be back before we leave the area, however :)

Saturday, we decided to check out a little more of Sleeping Bear Dunes. We saw the dunes from afar on our paddle Thursday, but we thought we should get up close and personal :) Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore is west of Traverse City on the shores of Lake Michigan.


Our original plan was to bike the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail which currently runs from Empire to Glen Arbor following the dunes. That plan was scrapped when Rick discovered my rear bike tire was flat. He inflated and 30 minutes later it was flat again. I had just ridden it earlier in the week, bummer!

Instead, we drove to the Dune Climb area, midway on the trail, parked the Jeep there and took off on foot.


These dunes, although not as massive as the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, are still huge.


We watched many climb the dune (approx 30 mins) and then run back down! They were having a great time! Many chose to continue on for another 3+ miles of sand hiking to get to Lake Michigan.  The trail goes over 9 hills through the dunes plateau to the lake. It is listed as a strenuous hike with no shade. It was 85 and sunny, so we opted for the paved, somewhat shaded hiking/bike trail instead :) The only sand I like to hike in is sand right on a beach :)


Apparently, bicycling is more popular than walking. We were the only walkers on the trail!


Dune formation info




When we got to the little village of Glen Haven, we took a break to enjoy the cool lake breezes and beautiful scenery. At this point, we were very warm and a dip in that water would have been refreshing :) It would have made for a very damp hike back to the Jeep though!


By the time we finished, we had clocked 5.7 miles. We were pooped.

We wanted to see the rest of the Leelanau Peninsula while we were there, so we continued on Dunes Hwy until it connected with Hwy 22 which took us to Northport, on the northern end of the peninsula. We stopped for a cold drink and then headed back down to Traverse City and Lucy.

We sure would have enjoyed another slice of that cherry pie when we got home. Maybe we should have bought a whole one after all :) Maybe next time :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Paddling the Lower Platte River at Sleeping Bear Dunes

We set out this morning for Honor, Michigan 30 miles west of Traverse City. We arrived at our destination, Riverside Canoe Trips, checked in, unloaded our Sea Eagle and all our paraphernalia, paid a $10 shuttle fee and while Rick stayed with the boat, I drove the Jeep to our destination spot in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. Because I have a National Parks Senior Pass, parking was free. A shuttle from Riverside Canoe Trips picked me up at the parking lot and shuttled me back to Rick and our put-in spot.


The weather was absolutely perfect for a day on the water. Riverside Canoe will be more than happy to rent you a kayak, a canoe or a tube to go down the river but, if you have your own, for a modest $10 fee will shuttle. For us, it was perfect.

Our route left Riverside and flowed into Loon Lake before continuing on, eventually ending up in Lake Michigan.

Lower Platte River Map

We launched  into the perfectly clear waters of the Platte and floated downstream.


There was less traffic than we had anticipated, having been warned that between 10 and 3 was the busiest time and, naturally, that was the time we were there :)


Nothing but nature and quiet (most of the time). When we entered Loon Lake, we paddled to the far side avoiding most of the other traffic and just enjoying the day.


We saw very little wildlife…with one exception :)


We came across a few people with tubes. They were either families having fun together or people more in a partying mood, but everyone was having a great time and respectful of others. We passed them and continued on.


We knew we were close to the end of our journey when we spotted sand dunes.


The closer we got to Lake Michigan, the more people we saw.


Finally we paddled right into Lake Michigan! Notice Sleeping Bear Dunes in the background?


We enjoyed the day so much, we decided to do it all over again tomorrow…just a different location. Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Moving Into The Mitten

We’ve moved into the “mitten” of Michigan and spent the last few days getting settled. We found that the Northwest Michigan Fairgrounds Campground in Traverse City gave us the best bang for our buck. This place is nothing special but it does give us 50 amp and a water hook-up for a great weekly rate. Because there is so much to see and do in this area, it works great for us. We’re not here much anyhow! :)

We stopped by Mackinaw City one day. This is the city on the south end of the Mackinac Bridge.


After spending an afternoon there, we were glad we had decided to stay on the north end of the bridge, St. Ignace. Our end was much less touristy :)

Another day was spent in Petoskey, a beautiful little community on the shore of Lake Michigan just north of Traverse City.

Petoskey MI

And today, we toured the Old Mission Peninsula.

Old Mission Peninsula

We visited the Old Mission (replica) and arrived at the same time as the Red Hat Ladies! :)


Further north was the Old Mission Lighthouse and the Hesler Log House.


Hesler Loghouse

It was a beautiful drive complete with a stop at the Mission General Store!


We completed our day at Hawthorne Vineyards where we sampled a few of their wines and even took a couple bottles home! Surprise! :)

Hawthorne Vineyards

Tomorrow, we plan to kayak the Platte River. Stay tuned :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is It Mackinac or Mackinaw?

From the Mackinac Island Visitor Center:


I guess that means we are the Gypsy Mackinacs! Winking smile

On Wednesday, we hopped on the Star Line Ferry to Mackinac Island to spend the day. As no motor vehicles are allowed on the island, we struggled with whether or not to take our bikes to explore the island. After vacillating back and forth, we finally chose to leave the bikes home, take a carriage tour and do some exploring on foot.

Of interesting note: Mackinac Island was our nation’s second National Park after Yellowstone. It remained a National Park from 1875-1895 when it was taken over by the state of Michigan and became Michigan’s first state park. Over 80% of the island is state park property and remains in a natural state for all to enjoy.

Once we debarked the ferry, we were both very glad we choose foot power and not pedal power to get around. The downtown area was wall to wall people with even more bikes than people! There are several bike rental places along the main drag and they were doing a brisk business.

Bicycles on Mackinac Island

In fact, the amount of bicycle traffic downtown made even walking difficult!

We found our way to the Carriage Ride ticket booth and purchased our tickets for a 2 hour escorted tour. The next available tour did not leave for 2½ hours so we had some time to kill. At the risk of being run over by a bicycle, we headed out of the “tourist” area toward the park entrance.


We stopped to admire the architecture of the old homes we passed on the way.

Mackinac Architecture

In case we got tired, there was a whole field of white Adirondack chairs placed facing Lake Huron.


They seemed to be there for anyone to use, but we didn’t check it out any further. It almost looked like a scene from “The Great Gatsby”. I expected to see people dressed in white playing croquet :)


Our Carriage Tour took us through more of the congested downtown area and then transferred us to a larger carriage to tour the state park. This was my favorite part of the tour.

The wedding chapel that is used for 300+ weddings on the island each season. If you think you may want to get married on Mackinac Island, it would be wise to reserve your spot now. There is a 4 year waiting list!


The Governor's summer residence off in the distance. A nice little perk of office!


Arch Rock, a natural limestone formation overlooking the Straits of Mackinac.


Fort Mackinac


We only saw a small portion of the park on our tour, but the beauty of the island was there. Next time, if there is a next time, we will bring our bikes…and we will beat a path away from the crowds and into the park, where there were no crowds. The island is 8 miles around following the shoreline. That would be a beautiful ride.


Our final stop for the day was the infamous Grand Hotel, the world’s largest summer hotel boasting the world’s longest front porch at 660 feet.


Unless you are a guest of the hotel, you are not allowed on the grounds or the porches unless you pay a $10 fee (before 5 PM). After 5 PM, appropriate attire is also required; jacket and tie for men, dresses or skirts for women. It was going on 5 PM when we arrived and even if we had coughed up the $20 for a look-see, we were not appropriately dressed. The grounds from the street were still stunning. I think we saw plenty and saved $20 to put towards dinner :)

Grand Hotel Grounds

We walked back to town from the Grand and enjoyed a very nice dinner at the Rebel Yankee Tavern.


We completed our day with a trip to the Mighty Mac, the Mackinac Bridge and official boundary line between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.


Certain ferry crossings throughout the day detour to the Mighty Mac at no additional change. We just happened to hit on one of those going home. Due to rough seas, I was unable to get any close-up photos. I was too busy hanging on! :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

Monday, August 11, 2014

Exploring St Ignace and the Antique Wooden Boat Show

We left Sault Ste Marie last Thursday and made the trek to St Ignace, a quaint little village on the north end of the Mackinac Bridge. This will be our last stop in the UP as we meander into mainland Michigan next week. We settled in to Tiki RV Park, did some laundry and made a grocery run.

On Friday, we hiked into town to do a little exploring. St Ignace is Michigan’s second oldest city. The Anishinabeg, or Native people, were the first inhabitants.


Jesuit missionaries named the community after the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignacious Loyola. The Museum of Ojibwa Culture is a National Historical Landmark filled with hundreds of years of history. It is also the final resting place of explorer and Jesuit missionary, Father Marquette.

Ojibwa Museum

We loved the murals painted on the Fire Station doors.


We eventually ended up on the Huron Boardwalk through town, which is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a trail that covers 7 states and at over 4600 miles, is longer than the Appalachian Trail.


By the time we got back to Lucy, we had logged over 7 miles on our pedometer. We slept well that night :)

Saturday morning we took a drive north and east to the little town of Hessel, Michigan to take in the 37th Annual Antique Wooden Boat Show. As you can tell by the crowds of people, this was a very popular place to be :)

Crowds at boat show

All I can say is “wow”! These boats were unbelievably gorgeous!

Antique Wooden Boat Show

I saw Rick drooling more than once! Even the little dinghy, Squirt, was beautiful.

Antique Wooden Boat Show2

If you were so inclined, Mackinaw Watercraft was on hand to sell you a custom, one of a kind, kayak or canoe. If you just have to have one, click on the link above to go to their website. They are not cheap, but they sure are beautiful. I cannot imagine putting one in the water. Something this beautiful should be on display like any fine piece of art.

Beautiful inlays

We planned to visit Mackinac Island on Sunday, but chose to put that off for a few days.

We have extended our stay in St Ignace for another week. Our original plan was to move on to Petoskey today, but there is a festival going on there this week and we could not find a place to stay. That’s fine with us. We like it here at Tiki RV Park and can find plenty to do to keep us out of trouble :)

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle