What do you think of when you hear Michigan? Detroit? That’s about all I knew and I had no desire to go to a bankrupt big city scattered with abandoned buildings. (In fairness, we probably should go to Detroit sometime to see for ourselves.) So Michigan had not been on our radar until someone (from Michigan) told us about Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It sounded great, so that’s where we headed as we made our way North along Lake Michigan.
It must be a popular spot, because we couldn’t get reservations – even a month out. But we made our way in that direction and ended up along Grand Traverse Bay, which is a big notch out of the state on the upper west side. We stayed at a casino in a town I can’t pronounce – Peshawbestown – that cost just $10 for electricity (a must have because of the heat). It was centrally located on the Leelanau peninsula, which allowed us to explore by Jeep. It was not far from the shores of the beautiful bay and very close to the midway point between the equator and the North pole!
In four days we traveled to most all of the small towns between the bay and the great lake, and yes, we went to Sleeping Bear Dunes. A popular activity is to climb up the giant sand dunes. Hmm. While I loved hiking in the sand at White Sands National Monument, (because you don’t sink into silica sand) I have spent too much time in the great sand dunes in Pismo Beach, CA to know it’s not enjoyable to climb up a sand dune (two steps up, slide one down) so we just drove by and waved at the people that made it to the top.
There was a lovely scenic drive loop in the park, with several overlook sights that were really nice. Below is the road through woods and a lake on the inland side.
We hiked a bit (but mostly drove) up to the top of the actual sleeping bear dune, and watched as crazy kids (and at least one older person) happily slid down to the lake, past the warning signs that advised against it. We also watched people making the near vertical climb back up, some stating it had taken 10 minutes to go down and two hours to get back. We enjoyed the view from the top! The lake had amazing colors of blue.
We also went to Fishtown in the charming lakeside town of Leland and poked around.
There happened to be a Polka Festival going on in Cedar, one of the small towns within our radius, so of course we attended that. We watched a local dance troupe and Tom tried an assortment of Polish food. Too bad I didn’t get a pic of the menu to remember the names of the items on his plate.
There was one small town (Northport) we drove through with this crazy shop full of interesting items out in the yard so we stopped there for a look see. Well, we looked, butI had to buy a $3 fairy just to take him on an adventure.
While on our driving adventures in the area, we found a lighthouse with a museum of an early coast-guard type facility, so we got to learn all about how they sent rescuers to reach shipwrecks. Quite interesting.
My favorite town in the area by far was Suttons Bay. A marina town, with a beautiful downtown that beckoned boat watching and window shopping.
We even went into a couple of stores and dropped some dollars (rare for us). There was this really unique gift shop full of glass works and statuary in the front, and at night, they just put a rope across the sidewalk in and left everything out on the sidewalk.
That gives you an idea of the type of towns we were in.
This town also had free popcorn on movie night and they were showing the latest Jurassic Park (World) installment, so we went and enjoyed the nostalgia of the theater.We had just gone to the movies in Frankfort, another small town with an original theater, so that was two movies in two days – but wait, there’s more!
On our way from our last stop to this one (Kampvilla to the casino), we passed a drive in in the town of Berzonia. While driving around the towns near Sleeping Bear, we realized we weren’t far from there, so we had a third-in-a-row movie night!
It was a classic drive-in straight out of the 50’s with a playground in front, miniature golf on the side, a snack bar with all the traditional offerings and window speakers that actually worked – although you could use your radio as well. We arrived early (around 7 pm) and it was a good thing, because the place got packed!
This far north, it doesn’t get dark until after 10 pm, so by the time we sat through the double feature (Incredibles 2 and Oceans 8) we didn’t get home until 3:30 am! Plus that was FOUR movies in three days. I think we’re good on movies for a while.
We really enjoyed this area of the state, along Lake Michigan. Nice forests, quaint towns, bucolic farms, and lots of water everywhere.
We’ll be continuing on along the great lake, with our next stop near the top of the “mitten” (term for the lower A-shaped part of the state).
Peace & Love, Joy