In the summer of 2008, my family and I spent ten fabulous days and 900 miles touring the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan, dipping our toes in three of the five North American Great Lakes, and taking in majestic scenery.
On July 19th, we flew from KCIAirport to Flint, Michigan. In our rented car, we drove North on I-75 towards Gladwin. Our first three days, we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle who live at SecordLake in the Au Sable State Forest. We passed time enjoying boat trips onto the lake, driving their new Ford Mustang, dinners at the Lost Arrow Resort, and savoring smores around flickering bonfires.
One of my favorite excursions was on July 20th at Tawas Point Lighthouse, situated at the east end of Highway 55 at TawasCity, near Lake Huron. A magnificent structure, it has a proud history in marine navigation.Ascending the spiral staircase, we marveled at how rigorous daily life must have been for the light-keepers.The Fresnel lens sparkled with the clarity and sharpness of cut diamonds. From atop, we observed people walking on the sand bars quite some distance from the shore.Having come to Michigan to see the Great Lakes, we decided to venture out onto the sand bars ourselves and the experience was awesome. The warm water was ankle-high and every hundred feet or so there were small islands of pure, clean sand. We explored several hundred feet from shore and picked up treasures of drift wood, smoothly polished rocks, and delicate seashells.
On July 22nd, we thanked our hosts and drove north on I-75 for 150 miles to MackinawCity.There, we booked passage on the Arnold Line Catamaran’s, east across the Straits of Mackinac, and into the harbor of Mackinac Island.At least fifty colorful sailboats, some with names such as “Lands End”, “Water Works”, and “Flying Tiger Gung Ho’, filled the harbor after having competed in the annual, freshwater 300-mile “Chicago-to-Mackinac Race” through Lake Michigan.On the island, we were charmed by horse-drawn buggies and the absence of automobiles. With rented bicycles, we pedaled the eight-mile loop around the island and afterwards discovered FortMackinac on foot.It was thrilling to know that my great-great-grandfather, Captain Greenleaf A. Goodale, was the commanding officer at the Fort from 1884 to 1890.
The next day, we crossed the five-mile-span MackinacBridge and entered into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We toured the Soo Locs at Sault Ste. Marie, near the Canadian border, and then traveled west along the WhiteFishBay coastline, stopping briefly to tour Point Iroquois Lighthouse. Heading south on Route 123, we spent the rest of the day exploring TahquamenonFallsState Park and hiking the four-mile trail from the UpperFalls to the LowerFalls.
In five remaining days, we visited Grand Marais on Route 77, and PicturedRocksNationalLakeShore at Lake Superior. Sea wall exploration near Munising was exhilarating, with jagged rocks and crashing waves. South on Highway 94, we boarded the hand-operated observation raft at Kitch-Iti-Kipi, a crystal-clear underground spring, located at PalmsBookState Park near Manistique. The scenic coast line of Lake Michigan, along Highway 2, was breathtaking and splashing in the water was invigorating. Crossing Mackinaw Bridge to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, we followed Route 119 to Good Hart, through the “Tunnel of Trees,” and then South on Highway 31 to Petoskey Beach where we collected Petoskey Stones. We sampled fresh cherries at Traverse City, and continued north on Highway 22 to SleepingBearDunesNational Park for a dune climb. I highly recommend this terrific vacation.
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