Onsted to Ignace, MI

W J Hayes SP to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore, MI

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

54º at 8:20 am; Sunny then evening showers falling to low 50s

We got a fairly early start and had breakfast at Harold’s Place in Brooklyn, MI, a few miles west of the park. Very good!

Passing through Ludington, on the shores of Lake Michigan, we noted that the thoroughfare was lined on both sides with lovely red, white and blue petunias. This small town had beautifully kept beaches and a picturesque lighthouse.

Also on the lake was the lovely Victorian town of Manistee. The town has undergone major renovations in the downtown and beach areas during the past several years. There were lots of neat shops. Douglas Park and the beach area were really pretty.

We finally reached Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore around 5:30 pm, camping at Platte River campground in the southern end of the park. Platte River has electrical hookups and nice amenities. The other campground in the park, to the north, is more primitive.

Dinner was another freezer-emptying meal of homemade bean soup and homemade applesauce.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rainy, chilly morning that got nicer but never quite rain-free.

Sleeping Bear preserves a series of huge sand dunes of the sort that characterize much of the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. We set the day aside to explore the dunes areas and environs. That meant hitting most of the hikes, drives and exhibits that the park has to offer.

We began with the 1½ mile Empire Bluff Trail that takes the visitor through mixed hardwood forest with a variety of wildflowers, ending at a wonderful overlook that highlights the other dunes to the north. This particular trail is also sand but has long been stabilized by vegetation.

Abandoned Sickel-Bar Mower Along Trail - Just Like One Bill Used to Use Growing Up
Abandoned Sickel-Bar Mower Along Trail – Just Like One Bill Used to Use Growing Up

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a loop that takes you past several day-hike trailheads. We stopped and hiked them including Cottonwood and Dunes Overlook. The Overlook ends at the top of a dune along the lake that towers 400 ft above the water. Park guidelines caution folks to consider carefully before going down the dune to the water. One kid did so and his friends were in for a 1-2 hour wait for him to climb back up the deep sand slope!

Walking Cottonwood Trail in Sleeping BearDunes NP
Walking Cottonwood Trail in Sleeping BearDunes NP
Big Dune, Big Lake, Small Guy
Big Dune, Big Lake, Small Guy

We finished the day with a visit to Glen Haven Museum. It celebrates the village developed by D. H. Day around a logging business. He attempted to change it into a tourist destination as the logging business waned but never quite made it. Driving to nearby Glen Arbor, we found it to be a lovely little village with attractive restaurants and shops. We picked up some groceries at an A&P there!

Boat House in Glen Haven Museum
Boat House in Glen Haven Museum

Dinner was a veggie stir-fry with chicken sausage. (We’re still finishing some of the food from home!)

Sleeping Bear Dunes to Straits State Park, St. Ignace, MI

Thursday, June 6, 2013

54º am and Overcast to Cool, Pleasant Evening

We stopped for breakfast at The Cottage in Traverse city. It was very good. Driving through the business section it appeared to be vibrant and very nice. Cherries Republic, recommended by folks at breakfast, caught our attention. This area is the cherry capital of the US and Cherries Republic sells EVERYTHING cherries from salsa to cheese.

As we’ll do a few times this trip, we crossed the 45th parallel of latitude, halfway between the equator and the north pole. It seems most road crossings of the parallel have some kind of monument to celebrate the fact.

45th Parallel - One of Several Crossings
45th Parallel – One of Several Crossings

We’ve noted that there are tons of signs for downhill and cross-country skiing in this area. The downhill areas have to be tiny because the hills just aren’t that high. Cross country makes a bit more sense to us since they get pretty much snow and there are lots of trails in the parks.

Following the coast we passed through Bridge Street in Charlevoix, another example of petunia-lined streets. Petoskey has a spectacular bunch of Victorian homes along the main drag to the north of the town.

Mackinac Strait Bridge from Ferry
Mackinac Strait Bridge from Ferry

Crossing the Mackinac Bridge across the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, we entered the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We camped in Straits State Park in St Ignace. Dinner was burgers with onions & mushrooms and steamed asparagus. Our campground neighbors were Margaret & George from Lusby, MD, near one of our favorite Chesapeake Bay destinations of Solomon’s Island.