Besides the dunes and all, the other main attraction for lazy people like us is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Our first drive by was a very cold and windy day so like most light weights we basically drove around. The famous Dune Climb did not appeal to us on this day at all. Arriving at the scenic drive only to discover it was closed for construction.
Later, on line, we found out that the drive would be open only for the upcoming weekend and close again for an undetermined time. Even with not really nice weather we had to go back. We are not real sure about other shores of the great lakes, but the eastern side of lake Michigan on the western side of Michigan, has a lot of very large sand dunes.
The scenic drive had some nice overlooks of the dunes and Glen Lake.
There was also a nice dune area next to Lake Michigan. It had a pretty steep drop off, although we did not get close enough to see how steep, but based on this sign it must be pretty bad…
And then back to the dune climb. I really thought Randy was kidding when he said he was going for it… But he did. Only to the top of the first ridge, apparently there are more ridges past this one. Good job Randy…
Pics Peace Love and cheers to having sand in your shoes.
On the eastern shore of Grand Traverse Bay is a little town called Elk Rapids. It was a cute small town as many up here are, but the thing we enjoyed most was a sculpture garden with lots of walking trails, a picnic area and the beach. Although dogs were not allowed on the beach, we all enjoyed the sculptures, lunch and a nice after lunch walk.
As we continue our slow trip south, we are following the Lake Michigan shore of Michigan south. I am not sure how lake front property is zoned, but it appears to me that private docks are only allowed on bays and natural coves. The property that is located on the main lake (parts that look very much like an ocean) does not seem to have private docks. This makes since because there is not protection from the elements. It would be like putting a dock out into the ocean. Another thing is that there are not fishing piers into the lake like there are in the ocean.
Most docks and private beaches seem to be on harbors, lakes and bays. Most that we have seen are removable. I found this pretty interesting, guess that during the winter when edges of the lake begin to freeze and presumably smaller harbors or bays may freeze completely, the wear and tear is too much for a permanent dock.
We stayed in Traverse City near the Grand Traverse Bay and of course traveled up the two peninsulas that create the bay. Some of the residence must have already closed up for the winter, because we say several dock pieces stacked on the shore, put away for winter. This picture is of one of the docks that is removable. You can also notice that some of the trees have begun to change as fall and winter approaches.
The peninsulas were covered with orchards, vineyards and very expensive looking homes. Of course, each had a lighthouse at their point. The western and larger of the two peninsulas lighthouse was in a state park, so we were not able to see it, but drove by. Each state park requires at least a $9 per day entry fee, if/when we return for a longer season an annual pass would be a must, but just passing thru this trip we didn’t purchase it??? But the shorter peninsula that divides Grand Traverse Bay into east bay and west bay Mission Point Lighthouse was open to the public and had some very nice shaded walking trails.
Mission Point Lighthouse was built in 1870, is only 36 ft tall and is attached to the keeper’s house.
We also ventured south and saw Point Betsie Lighthouse just outside of Frankfort, MI. It was not open for visits, but we saw it from the beach and parking area. This is a very pretty lighthouse, construction began in 1854, but it was not put into service until 1859’s shipping season. Due to ice in the great lakes they usually close from January until late March.
As mentioned above we are starting to see some fall foliage, not a lot, but enough to be pretty.
A few other things we saw in and around the upper lower peninsula from Wolverine. One of the main things that really stood out to us was the clarity and beauty of the water in the Great Lakes, all three we have seen this last couple of weeks. Here are a couple of examples.
The Mackinac Bridge from the southern side.
We also did stop by a waterfall, the Ocqueoc Falls and bicentennial trail. The area we visited was definitely manipulated, the rocks have been moved to create wading pools and other still water.
This just popped up on the side of the road, not sure why or who it is, but just thought it to be interesting.
As mentioned, there are lots of ship wrecks in the area, this is a part of a wreck off of 40 Mile Light Station. They take dive and glass bottom boat tours of the wrecks in the area. Bet there is some pretty cool diving, have I mentioned that the water is so clear.
Also, some of the lighthouses we saw had out buildings with very tall chimneys. At least two that I can in this area, the 40 Mile and Old Mackinac. Don’t know why they have this feature, but if you know let us know.
Lastly, there was a lovely road along Lake Michigan that should have been one lane. But it was not overly busy so it was OK. The Tunnel of Trees in about a 20 mile stretch of road on the shore that is covered with trees, nature preserves and very high-end real estate. This is supposed to be at its best during the fall foliage color change. We are beginning to see some color change, but nothing like it will be.
Peace love and protection for our natural resources, trees, clean water, clean air, just to name a few!!!
Once again, we let a holiday weekend sneak up on us. This not planning ahead is usually not a problem, but on occasion it becomes an issue. We called all over the eastern upper peninsula and everyone was full. So, we began searching the upper lower peninsula. Finally, one of the campgrounds told us about the Wolverine park that was first come first serve in a city park.
It was still a holiday so we decided to call and inquire about the park and possibility of getting a spot. The phone was answered by Mayor Ralph who was very welcoming and said that coming in on Wednesday before Labor Day would not be an issue, and that we could stay until spring if we could handle the snow!!! Hard pass on that offer, but we accepted the camp site. It is 30 amp water and electric only and they provide firewood. Lovely spot on the Sturgeon river for Labor Day.
Our tour of the upper lower peninsula of Michigan basically became a lighthouse tour, and why not, you know how much Nellie loves lighthouses!!!
First was the Charlevoix South Pier light station. Not the most beautiful light. It is located on the Lake Michigan side at the entrance to Lake Charlevoix. There was a nice little beach park around the light station, but we did not get out because it was raining quite a bit.
Surprisingly there is yet another Presque Isle, there must be more, but this is the second we have visited in Michigan and the third that our travels have brought us to, the third was in Erie, PA. This Presque Isle has two lighthouses, the old one and a new one. The old light was built in 1840 with a two story detached keepers house.
On the site there is also this very large bell. It was taken from the Lansing MI City Hall when it was torn down in 1959, I mention it because when we were there, I pulled the lever and rang it, boy what a loud and sustained ring it had. Randy and Nellie were deaf for a little while since I didn’t warn them.
The new Presque Isle light was built in 1870. Originally the old keepers house was in disrepair and they were planning to rebuild it. But later decided to replace the entire light to enhance safe navigation in the area. Interestingly, Patrick Garrity the last keeper of the old light and the first keeper of the new light raised a family of four children in the lighthouses and all four of his children grew up to become lighthouse keepers in the area. This lighthouse is still functioning, but is now automated.
Next is the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse build in 1896. The main thing I found interesting about this lighthouse is that the attached keepers house is a duplex. Side by side identical units, one for the lighthouse keeper and the other for his assistant.
The Cheboygan Crib Light was lit in 1884, and marks the mouth of the Cheboygan River as it enters lake Huron. We did not learn much about this one and did not walk out to it, it had been a very long day and we were ready to head home. So that is all I know about that.
The Old Mackinac Light station was constructed in 1889 and was in operation until 1957. This light marks the intersection of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and is just east of the bridge. It is now a museum which was open, but we did not visit. This is a very pretty lighthouse and is currently available to rental for weddings or other occasions.
And finally, the McGulpin Point Lighthouse. It was first lit in 1869 and extinguished in 1906. In 2009 the light was relit and is currently still operational today. It is a very nice exhibit with a self guided tour and a short path to the water below. The funniest thing at this exhibit is the cutout displays on the interpretive trail to the water. They were very informative, and cutouts were very well done, I just thought they were funny.
We also ventured south from Sault Ste Marie to get our first look at Lake Huron. There was not a lot to report from this venture. There is not a road that follows the St. Mary’s River so we travelled inland thru the farm land. I am sure that there are many very quaint and cool villages/camp areas along the river, but without multiple in and out trips we couldn’t find them.
We made it down to the furthest east we could go without a ferry crossing De Tour Village. From there we headed back west on the southern edge of the UP skirting Lake Huron!!! This was a lovely drive with many road side parks and views of the lake, also a lot of road construction going on. But as they say there are two seasons up north winter and road construction.
We ended up at the Mackinac Bridge, the UP’s connection to mainland Michigan. We have to admit we always thought that it was the Mackinaw Bridge, not Mackinac… we learn something new almost every day, sometimes multiple new things. Oh well, here is the Mackinac Bridge, it is almost 5 miles long. We will be crossing tomorrow, just site seeing today.
Not that we would be interested, but I read that there are elevators in the towers and if lucky you can go to the top for a lookout. They said that the bridge authority gives 25 tickets to local not for profit organizations to either raffle or auction off to the public. Each ticket allows two visitors to go up to the top of the over 550 foot high towers…
Sault Ste Marie is where the eastern part of the UP meets Canada. The Saint Mary’s river drains lake Superior into Lake Huron, it is about 75 miles long and drops over 20 feet as it borders Michigan, USA and Ontario, Canada. Sault Ste Marie (pronounced Sue Saint Marie) is home to the Soo Locks which assist the shipping industry in navigating between Superior and Huron.
This area had less sophisticated locks dating back to the late 1700. But today they are the busiest locks in the world. Camping on the river at a city campground, we were able to watch the river traffic including ships up to 1,000 feet long. Here is a couple of the thousand footers.
We visited the Locks park and even saw a ship passing thru, but the museum and observation deck were closed due to the virus, and with only a 21-foot change in elevation in the locks, pictures were less than dramatic.
Exploring north from Sault Ste Marie we traveled a scenic highway (if you can call it a highway) up to Whitefish point. Whitefish point is known as the graveyard of the great lakes due to so many ship wrecks (kind of like the graveyard of the Atlantic we are more familiar with off the coast of NC). Collisions were the largest reason for the ship wrecks, mostly in earlier times as traffic was much greater. In 1880 there were approximately 3100 ships on the Great Lakes as compared to around 200 today. One of the more famous wrecks is commemorated here with a memorial for the Edmond Fitzgerald which sank in 1975.
Of course, there is a lighthouse there to help with the dangerous navigation. Although it is not the most beautiful lighthouse, it is certainly an interesting looking light house.
They also have a shipwreck museum which was open, but we did not pay the admission fee to visit. But they had this rudder on display outside. It is from the M M Drake which sank 6 miles west of White Fish point in 1901. The Drake was 201 feet long, and this rudder is huge!!! Imagine the size of one from a thousand-footer… The wreck was not located until 1978.
The Point Iroquois Lighthouse is a beautiful lighthouse. It marks the beginning of St Mary’s River and the end of Whitefish Bay and opened in 1870. This was a very nice stop with a short boardwalk and access to the lake shore.
Peace and love for the souls lost in these wonderful Great Lakes.
They have lake effect rain and snow. Talking to a gentleman who lives there they get an average of 250 inches of snow a year and we have had more rain in the last couple of weeks than we have had in the last year or so.
There are waterfalls and ski resorts on the western half of the Peninsula, and farms and creeks on the eastern half.
They have snowmobile / ORV trails with street signs, like for curves, stop and speed limits.
It is bordered by three of the five great lakes, Superior to the north, Michigan to the southwest and Huron to the southeast.
This is where we stayed on the western side of the upper peninsula of Michigan. It is just west of Marquette and a quaint little old mining village. Mining for copper and iron ore was and still is big business up here. That is one of the biggest exports from the area and why they have all the very large ships to export iron ore, copper, lumber and grain. The docks we first saw in Two Harbors, Minnesota looked different than what we are used to, but then again we didn’t spend much time at the ports in Wilmington, so not really sure.
These lake docks are very tall and appear to have side platforms that fold up and down?? They are also hollow down the middle much like a concrete bridge…
The western part of the upper peninsula is also full of waterfalls!!! Much like Wisconsin was if you remember our waterfall tour there. Michigan has a nice little habit of making road side parks, with bathrooms, picnic tables and many times a nice historical or natural feature to explore. We stopped at a couple but most memorable was the Canyon Falls stop with a trail (not quite a mile) back to a canyon and pretty waterfall.
This fall shows more than most the color of the river water. Most of the rivers have this color from tannins in the forest; trees, bark and other vegetative decaying material provide the color. The almost black tea color is normal in this area and is completely natural and safe. Interesting enough the great lakes all seem to be very clear although many tea colored rivers feed the lakes. Just like rivers entering the ocean you can see the stain and many times a stark line between river water and lake water.
We also visited Power House Falls, very pretty with a little picnic area and trail down stream, all unmarked and down a dirt road.
Marquette in the upper peninsula has a Presque Isle similar to Erie’s except much smaller and jutting out into Lake Superior instead of Lake Erie. Presque Isle translates into almost an island, but it’s pretty much a small peninsula. Kind of nice they have several hours of each day closed to traffic and only bikes and pedestrians can use the loop. Unfortunately, we did not know the schedule and dogs were definitely not allowed, there were many signs… Anyway, here is the Presque Isle lighthouse.
Also, the Marquette Lighthouse, you know Nellie loves a lighthouse.
We were heading up towards Copper Harbor, and passed thru Houghton. A really cute college town home of Michigan Tech. Here is a picture of the bridge.
Further up the peninsula was the Keweenaw National Historical Park, basically an old mining town from the very early 1900s that appears frozen in time. Looked very interesting, but as is the case these days, the visitor center was closed so we were unable to get much information, and the weather was terrible. Would love to spend some more time there another day, just proves you just can’t do it all!!!
After stopping by Lakenenland, the drive continued to Pictured Rocks National Sea (Lake) Shore. Again, this is a place best viewed from the water. The main feature are the colored sandstone cliffs. From the land you may catch a quick glimpse of the cliffs down the shore, but you can not see the ones directly below you. This is the closest we got of the cliffs.
Exploring from the land was mostly hiking trails, a beach and some lakes and a couple of water falls. The main road was about 7 miles from the shore so to explore any area you had to drive numerous miles on the main road and then the +/- 7 miles to the shore and back again. After the hour and a half drive up there we were not really into a lot more driving?!?! Doesn’t make a lot of since why drive that far if you don’t want to drive more… Either way, we went to the closed visitor center (they recommended a virtual passport stamp) and took short walk to a waterfall at the center.
Our first and only side road we ventured down was to see the Miners Castle. This interesting rock formation. You can see people at the base of the formation, not sure if they came off a boat or swam around from the beach, but either way, we were not getting in the ~60 degree water to get the closer look.
And another view of the castle from the top.
On the way out we did stop at Miners Falls. The hike out was mostly flat, dog friendly and just a little over a mile. Pretty easy and a beautiful fall. You can see some of the younger people climbed down from the viewing platform and frolicked in and around the falls.
We did not stay very long as the platform was pretty small and groups of people came and went making it difficult to social distance. We found our opportunity and left.
Just FYI, you can rent a boat or kayak to get the water views of the cliffs, or ride on a tour boat. But it is not free and we continue to try to entertain each other with free activities… Peace, Love and Justice for all!!!