Our Schedule

Thursday, September 24, 2015

More Michigan

Mancelona, MI

We left Mackinaw yesterday morning.  Others did too.  Because of that we had this great lake front view for one hour.

The day before leaving the Mackinaw area we drove to the town of Indian River to see The Cross in the Woods.

This cross sits in a Catholic Church complex.   The church, notice the reflection in the window

The cross was installed here in the mid 50's.  The cross is made from one California Redwood.  It is 55 feet tall, 22 feet wide and weighs 14 tons.  Christ weighs 7 tons.

Also on the grounds are picnic areas, a gift shop, various education and office buildings.  This is St. Francis of Assisi

The Mother of the Highways

An outside beautifully wood carved Stations of the Cross

Where I grew up we had abundant grey squirrels.   Here you see both  grey and black.

When we left Mackinaw City we only drove 81 miles to this small town and this campground

The campground is wonderfully maintained.  Large grass sites with fire pits and large table.  It gives a 10% Good Sam discount.  A nice store, pool.  The campground closes October 15. Of course the pool is closed and the store is short on goods.  There are only 4 rigs on the property.  I've only seen people around one of them.  I had planned to do laundry tonight.  We walked up to the laundry this morning to check it out.  Too late!  The manager was coming out of it and had just winterized it.

My friend Karol Armstrong recommended we check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes.  This morning we packed our lunch, took Route 131 west to 72 taking us through Traverse City on to the shores of Lake Michigan.   On the way we passed two interesting sights.

A shoe tree.  Or actually several shoe trees.

And this.....

They grow lots of apples in my part of Southern New Jersey.  But they grow on wide trees with long limbs.   This picture does not show it clearly but these are short, thin apple trees intertwined to each other.  We see signs advertising  Honeycrsip apples for sale.  Never heard of that variety. I "googled" it. They become ripe in September and October and keep well until January.  A cross between MacIntosh and Delicious.  Good for eating raw, applesauce, pies, jelly.  They freeze well.  Sounds like a fine apple to me.

On to Sleeping Bear Dunes and this drive.  A $10.00 entrance fee.  Another time our $10.00 National Park lifetime pass paid off mightily.

First the covered bridge

Big Glen Lake and Little Glen Lake separated by that distance bridge

Dune overlook where we found a picnic table and had our packed lunch

An indication of the changing environment and sweeping winds.  A basswood tree with roots exposed.

At Lake Michigan overlook

The sign warns people who want to attempt the walk down to the lake.  Possible injury, incur costs associated with a rescue crew and a strenuous two hour walk back up.  We saw this man starting a walk back up.

His wife was waiting at the top.  She said he has been doing this once a year for the last 15 years.  She looked to be in the late 60's.  Good for him, I say.   We hung around for over 1/2 hour.  He was a bit closer.

It is so steep only by leaning over and almost crawling up is the ascent possible.

Once back to the campground Len grilled squash and pork chops.  Tomorrow it's off to Kalamazoo where we will be attending our NOMADS annual meeting next week.  Stay tuned.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mackinac Island

Mackinaw City,  MI

Today was a fine day to head over to Mackinac Island.   We purchased tickets here at the campground at a discounted rate of $23.00 each on Star Line Ferry.  They provide shuttle service to several locations in the area.  Just make a phone call.  The shuttle depot in the campground is just one very short block from where we are parked.

Pick up was at 8:30 with the Ferry leaving dock at 9:00.  The Ferry leaves on the hour with the 9:00 and 11:00 trips a little longer as they take a side trip under the bridge and back.  Total time about 25 minutes.

First we passed by the Coast Guard Ice Breaker.

The lakes actually freeze over during winter.   Amazing.

Our trip under the 5 mile long bridge.  Water depth about 350 at the center.  This bridge is the line between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

As we approached the Island the famous Grand Hotel stood out from all surrounding buildings.

Beautiful views of the village.   The Island is 8 1/2 miles around.  A large percentage of the Island is a State Park.   At one time is was a National Park, the 2nd in the country being declared a National Park just two years after Yellowstone.

Two light houses sit at the entrance to the Island

When we first got on the Island we walked for about 1/2 hour.  Each house and property was either quaint and beautiful or stately and beautiful.  We were told that properties on Mackinac Island are 99 year leases.  Whatever amount of the lease when first signed, that fee must remain for 99 years. It can not be raised.  However, a stipulation is that every building on property must be repainted every year. If not, it becomes the property of the State.  We saw lots of houses being painted.

Walking along a wooden sidewalk near the water we saw these plants.  Can any one tell me what they are?  Curious.

After walking a while we moseyed back into town and decided to take a tour on the horse drawn wagons.  $28.00 each.   Well worth it.  I wish I had taken a picture of the team on the first phase of the trip.  This is looking out from where we sat.

 This part of the ride took us through downtown where we saw more homes and beautiful gardens.

We were then driven to the Surrey Hills Carriage Museum.   At that point we could visit the museum, get a bite  to eat and then board a 3 horse team carriage to continue our excursion.

This part of the tour took us pass the Governors Mansion.

This mansion is available to the Governor when he so chooses.  Earlier in the week there was a gathering of Republican Presidential contenders there for a day including Rand Paul, Carly Fiorinia, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush.

We passed this road cleaner cleaning up the manure.   No, the two had nothing to do with each other.

Close up of the Grand Hotel.  In talking to two ladies on the tour with us, we found room rates start at around $400. a  night.  There is a lunch buffet ... cost $40.00.  But if you give them the tour ticket stub you get $10.00 discount.   Still,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $30.00 for lunch?  Plus tip?

After 6 at night all gentlemen guests of the hotel must be in jacket and tie.  Woman guests must wear dresses, no slacks permitted.

We were in the first seat "behind" the driver on the 3 team carriage.  
Riding through the State Park.

In the State Park is a cemetery.  It once was near the area where boats would dock.  Many years ago all graves were moved.  It seems it spooked some people to see a cemetery upon arrival.

A stone mason was contracted to build this arch.  He took careful measurements to assure the hearse pulled by horses could enter.  However, he neglected the height of the driver sitting on the hearse.  Therefore, the actual road into the cemetery goes around the arch.

Now this is a tall arch.  Over 4,000 years ago water would pass under it leaving this formation.  The island is actually a limestone rock of which this arch is made.  Dirt on the island is only from 6 inches to a few feet deep.

This is the fort built in 1780.  We did not tour the fort.  Maybe another time.  Len is getting knee replacement surgery a month from today.  The extensive walking we did was starting to take its toll.

This is the stables for the Grand Hotel.
There are about 550 horses on the Island during the summer season.  At this time about 300 are left but will be located the end of October to a farm off the Island.  Behind these stables we disembarked from the 3 horse team carriage and got on another 2 horse team carriage for our ride back to either town or the Grand Hotel.  The town for us.  Even to walk inside the Hotel would cost $10.00 each.  The place is too ritzy for us anyhow.

About 400 people live on the Island year around.  The Ferry does not run in winter months as the lake freezes over.  These residents use snow mobiles to get around.  As no motorized vehicle is permitted on the Island they get by with a technically.  The snow mobiles do not touch the street, they are on the snow.  Most businesses close in November.   There is one small grocery that remains open. When they need what this store can not supply they ride across the lake to Mackinaw City.
There is a school.  In good weather the children ride their bikes to school, bad weather they bundle up and walk.  It can get to -40 degrees.  And Windy.

In front of the Grand Hotel looking toward downtown on our ride back to town.

When we got back to town we found a comfy spot to eat the lunch we packed.  Tasted just as good as the $17.50 burgers with $2.50 fries we saw advertised.  But we did splurge.  Mackinac Island is known for its 18 fudge stores.   Okay, we succumbed.  Got vanilla pecan fudge, dark chocolate with walnuts fudge, salted caramel chocolate fudge, peanut brittle and salt water taffy. Oh my.

If you have not been to Mackinac Island and have the opportunity.....grab it.  It's worth the trip.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tunnel of Trees and Trucks

Mackinaw City, MI

We woke to lots of wind and rain.   At first it appeared this day would be a Hole-Up-In-The-Rig type of day.   But the rains stopped early morning, can't say the same for the winds.   So off we took......

We headed south west of Mackinaw to the village of Cross Village and picked up scenic Route M119.  The 20 miles between Cross Village and Harbor Springs is known as the Tunnel of Trees.

The road is narrow and in most parts heavily treed on both sides.  The majority of the road hugs high up near the Lake.

A few areas leave the lake but the views are as interesting.   A sheep farm

 A pumpkin patch

Many stately homes along this road.  Some more modest but every one well maintained with neatly trimmed lawns and an abundance of flowers.  Lots of sale signs too.  There was a bicycle run taking place and we stopped to talk to a gentleman at one of the check stations.  I asked him why so much property was for sale.  He said most had been on the market for years just in case someone came along and offered enough millions.   We are not that someone.

Harbor Springs is a quaint little town with lots of touristy stuff.

There was a closed off street with a Farmers Market.  We parked and walked around. Veggies, flowers, wine, oils, honey all of which were much too pricey for us.  Few things had the prices posted but those that did......Salmon $15 a pound;  Trout $14 a pound; a small head of Kale $5. I have a problem paying those prices but read on and see what I did buy.

We drove by the Harbor and then found a wayside picnic table where we ate our packed lunches.  Or we tried to eat at the table.  Winds still cold, truck was more comfy.

We picked up I-75 back to Mackinaw City and to the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

We made the mistake of going into the visitors center.  I NEVER buy any over-priced items from a visitor center.  But a tea set caught my eye.  I fell in love.  I walked away.  I walked back.  I showed Len.  He said buy it, I said no.  I walked away.  I walked back.  He said That's it, we are getting it. I did not put up a fight.  

I wish I had taken a picture before it was mostly wrapped.  It includes two tea cups, two saucers, the tea pot, a sugar bowl with lid, a creamer and a tray on which it all sits.  I love it. I got it.  I live in an RV.  I have no place to put it.  And LEN DOES NOT DRINK NOT TEA.  Me, who would not spend $5.00 on kale, spent $149.00 on a tea set that I have no place to show it and no real use for it.  I love it.

As is our usual custom we find a local United Methodist Church and attend services on Sunday. According to our GPS the closest UMC is over the Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace.  So why not, let's go over the bridge and check it out.   Toll is $4.00 each way.

We found the church and noted the time for tomorrow.   Then drove around town.  Love this lighthouse.

Many of the towns roads were blocked. Traffic was everywhere.  Both people and vehicle traffic. We could look down at the town and see something was going on.  Finally a detour actually put us downtown to where to action was.

Well this is something we had never seen before. A car show.   Well, actually not a car show but a TRUCK SHOW.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.