Friday, August 4, 2017

Michigan Trip

The start of our Michigan journey...The ferry trip from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan.

The S.S. Badger is something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time. For those who are not familiar with the S.S. Badger, it is a National Historic Landmark car ferry. The ship is the only coal-fired steamship in the US. It travels from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan. The trip takes about four hours to complete the traverse across Lake Michigan. The Badger has plenty of space for all the passengers to relax and get comfortable. They even have staterooms to rent if so inclined to do.
They had TV areas with comfy reclining chairs, a movie room, a museum, a dark room for anyone if they are feeling sea sick, food for purchase, a couple of bars, and Badger Bingo. I was nervous going on the Badger, because I am not one who has great sea legs, not to mention, I am not a huge fan of being on large bodies of water. However, I really liked the trip across Lake Michigan via the S.S. Badger. It was relaxing, fun, and definitely an experience not to miss. My favorite part on the ship was the front deck with the lounge chairs.
 We got really lucky, the weather was perfect. Beautiful blue skies, slightly windy, as it would be out in the middle of the lake. We only say one other ship on our travels across the lake as we were getting closer to Michigan. My images below are in order from when we left Wisconsin to when we arrived in Michigan. Sense the adventure!

One of the upper deck dining areas.

The view from the back of the Badger. How perfect?!

I thought this cloud above look like an angel. It made me feel better about my nervousness crossing the lake. (Hi Mom!)

Land ho!!!! Also, there is a large ship!

Great state of Michigan!

Port of Ludington, Michigan.

First stop was S.S. City of Milwaukee for the night.

Our first night in Michigan was really freaking awesome. We drove from Ludington to Manistee so we could stay the night on the S.S. City of Milwaukee. Talk about a ship filled day!

I found this beautiful piece of history on AirBnb. I am so glad we decided to stay here. Linda was our host and she was so warm, and welcoming. She gave us a short tour and history of the ship. While we were there we only saw one other couple. We pretty much had the run of the ship. The interior was beautiful oak. We had a double room. One side had two bunk beds, and the other side had a single bed. Each came with a window, fan, mirror, and light. Even though there was no A/C on the ship, it was not hot in there at all. The linens and pillows were so soft!

The S.S. City of Milwaukee is an old railroad car ferry, and is the only pre-1940s ship of this type to survive. Like the Badger, the Milwaukee is also a National Historic Landmark. We were able to look into the other rooms, the dinning areas, the kitchen, the upper decks, the wheelhouse, and the captains quarters. There were chairs to lounging on the decks, board games to play one of the lounge areas, and they even served a continental breakfast in the morning.
This was one side of our double room.

The city of Manitsee was an adorable scenic town. It has a beautiful old school movie theater with a great neon sign. We ate at this 50's diner that had really good ice cream. I wish we had more time here, on the ship and to check out the town more. But, we were on a tight road trip schedule. I will definitely be going back next year.

This is the view from the bow of the ship.

Captain's quarters


The other half of our room.


The morning view from the bow. Fog!

Foggy morning. It was so peaceful!

This is where we ate our breakfast.

Breakfast goodies.

View from the bedroom window

Second stop was Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Traverse City was so much better than what I was imagining. I read a lot about it, and heard a lot about it, but I was still surprised at how great that city is.

We arrived into town a little later than what we were hoping for, but that was due to my kayaking accident. We were driving downtown looking for a pizza place when we came upon The Little Fleet.

The Little Fleet was a spot I was dying to check out. It is a semi-permanent food truck space. They have a permanent bar and stage, and the food trucks rotate throughout the year. It was so awesome. I love food, and food carts are a smorgasbord's dream come true. They had a folk band playing, the weather was perfect, and the food was a flowing.

We ate at this little pizza spot. It was pretty good. We sat outside on their back deck which was nice.

Took this while driving through downtown. Love the old time-y theaters!

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

These couple of images of the covered bridge are from the beginning of the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Talk about scenic!

I was incredibly excited for this drive and to see the dunes, and do the dune climb. I read so much about the beauty of this place. The park does not disappoint at all.

Peirce Stocking Scenic Drive takes you through forests, dunes, over looks, and gives you a history of the park and land. It is a simple one lane road at a leisurely pace.

These images are from the first overlook on the drive. It has a quiet beauty about it. The view is of Big and Little Glen Lake. We saw a lot of boats out on the calm lake.

This is one of my favorite views of Sleeping Bear Dunes. I loved the colors, the sandy trails, the view of a lake that I grew up on. In the distance you can see North and South Manitou Islands. I wanted to walk along all the sandy trails to get lost in the world of dunes.

Now, this is one of my absolute favorite spots in Michigan. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I never thought Lake Michigan could look so dynamic. The colors were spectacular. The sand was so soft and clean. Now, I am from Racine where we have one of the best beaches in the country, and I am no stranger to Lake Michigan or the sand of Lake Michigan. However, this was different...

This spot on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive starts as a parking lot, with a cement path that then turns into a sandy path with a slight incline. Then once you reach the top of the incline you are hit with this breathtaking view and a near vertical drop in the sand. I was in awe. It was such a visually interesting scene. There is no way to see where the lake and the land meet.

These couple  of images are what the edge looked like. It was this near perfect edge of sand, and then the soft ripples of a lake far beyond.

There are also trails and dunes going up behind where you would be standing to look out at the lake. We did not travel up the dunes, but that is something for next time.

Still can't see where land and water meet.

These views are some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen of Lake Michigan. I can understand why was named one of the most beautiful spots in America. I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay forever.

Those are not ants down there... Those are people.

Finally! Land meets water.

The image to the left is a good example at how steep the drop down to the lake is. And, to be honest that wasn't even the steepest part. I love this image because you can also see more dunes in the background. The shore is just huge sand dunes. I wanted to climb down, but I knew it would take me too damn long to get back up. There is a warning sign saying that it can take two or more hours to climb back up. My calves would not be happy with me. 

Overlook that gives you a chance to actually see the bottom of the dune.

I took this picture for my dad.


The Dune Climb was next!!

I totally forgot to take a picture of the Dune from the Dune Climb. This was the only picture I got of the mammoth.

Halfway up the dune.

The top of the dune climb with views of Glen Lake.
The dune climb was fun... and a workout. It didn't look that bad, but once I was halfway up it got hard. I enjoyed the views, and workout. Again, the sand was so soft. One thing I was super happy about was that it wasn't sunny, so the sand wasn't hot. I hate hot sand.

So, once we got to the "top" of the dune climb there was another mile before we would reach Lake Michigan.


Random photo - I have never seen this before, and I found out that this is how hops for beer is grown. It was so cool looking!

Back to Traverse City, then on to Tunnel of Trees Road, and a quick stop in Harbor Springs. 

Large ATM.

These are just some more images from downtown Traverse City. We stopped there for lunch and then to check out some stores. One thing I noticed and loved about every town and city we stopped in, was that, each one had beautiful flowers and plants along the streets. It was so cheerful.

Had to stop at Cherry Republic and get some cherry goodies!

TOM'S MOM'S COOKIES!!! I read about this place and all the delicious cookies they are famous for, so we had to make a pit stop. It was so worth it! The cookies we amazing. I might have to get some for my family for Christmas. They ship! On top of the cookies being amazing, the store is so freaking adorable. I didn't want to leave. Tom's Mom's Cookies is located in Harbor Springs, which is another adorable lake town. The downtown was so quaint and comfortable feeling. Loved it.

On our way from Traverse City to Harbor Springs we took the Tunnel of Trees also known as M-119. Talk about a beautiful road! It would be 10 times better in fall with a blaze of color, but summer was still magical. It starts as a two lane road and then turns into a one lane road covered in dense woods. The road also runs along Lake Michigan. It was a perfect mix of woods, and lake views. We also drove it during sunset, which was so lovely. I highly recommend this drive for anyone who is in the area or will be. Even if it is a little out of the way.

Along the road is also many beautiful homes. I was way jealous and would love to find a cabin on that road to rent for a week. I was the one driving so Cole was the one taking pictures. It was such a fun windy road to drive down. The speed limit is 45, but I don't see how people can even do 45 on that twisted beauty.

Next on the trip, Mackinaw City, Mackinac Bridge, and the Tiny Cabin.

Part of the beautiful property our Love Shack was on.

Our trip through Michigan lead us to Mackinaw City and then to St. Ignace were we stayed in a tiny cabin. While in Mackinaw City, on the day we were planning on going to Mackinac Island we got some thunderstorms. We pushed our trip to the island back by a day. That worked out for the best. We took the day to go swimming at our hotel, check out the shops in Mackinaw City and the museum about the Mackinac Bridge.
The tiny cabin we staying in is located on Jim's huge and beautiful lake front property. He has quite a few different lodging options. One being a Teepee as you can see from the picture above. There are plenty of places to find a bench, gazebo or rock to sit on and take in the views. Here is the AirBnb link - Love Shack - Tiny Cabin

Even from the pier we had a great view of the Mighty Mac.

Tiny Cabin

The Mackinac Bridge, also know as Mighty Mac.

I understand why it is nicknamed the Mighty Mac. That thing is scary! It was a scary but fun drive over it. I am not going to lie, driving on the lane closest to the edge was making my stomach turn.


The bridge is a total length of 5 miles, and is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. It opened on November 1st, 1957. It is possible that the deck at center span could move as much as 35 feet (east or west) due to high winds. This would only happen under severe wind conditions. The deck would not swing or “sway” but rather move slowly in one direction based on the force and direction of the wind. Which is a scary thing to think about! The day we crossed the bridge, it was incredibly windy and thunderstorms. We made our trip across during a break in the weather. 😁

The are many parks in Mackinaw City to stop and take tons of pictures of the bridge at different vantage points. All the parks also have nice beaches to lay around on if the weather is nice enough for it.

St. Ignace has a very nice park with a couple of picnic shelters, grills, and bathrooms. Inside the enclosed pavilion, a display and three video monitors convey the scale and excitement of the Mackinac Bridge project. This park is also wheelchair accessible, and has plenty of parking. It is worth a stop if ever in St. Ignace and you want a good view of the bridge.

Giant hotdog.

Just a few pictures of shops and our motel in Mackinaw City.


Mackinac Island Day!!! 

Mackinac Island day is what I was the most excited about. It was absolutely perfect. We started the day out by getting breakfast from Java Joe's Cafe in St. Ignace.

Java Joe, himself was a quirky, kind man. Who had tons of energy and spoke to everyone that came in. The food was good, but the outside and inside of the building was definitely my favorite part.  

Getting onto the ferry for Mackinac Island.

We bought our ferry ticket before we even got to Michigan. It saved us a few dollars and the hassle of waiting in line for ticket. We brought our bikes to take to the island, which that process was also easy. The ferry line gives you like a wrist band to wrap around the handlebars of the bike. Then they load and unload your bike for you, so you don't have to worry about that. Scheplers ferry line does special ferry trips where they go under the Mackinac Bridge. They have them on their schedules and it is for no extra charge.

Going under the bridge was great. The perspective from being under it and on the water verse driving over it. Such a pretty piece of architecture and engineering. 

First view of the island! Yes, that is a cruise ship!

They are delivering freaking sugar and Silk via horse and cart!

Movers, using carts so that they can just hook some horses up to them and pull them to dock.

This is a dream come true for me. It was spectacular!

Here is Mackinac Island. This place is absolutely beautiful. I am not lying when I say that this was like a movie set. It was my version of Disney Land. I did not want to leave. It was colorful, bright, energetic, fun, fancy, slow, clean, and perfect. It was perfect!

Mackinac Island is only 3.8 square miles, and the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark. I can understand why! There are no motorized vehicles on the island. So, no pollution, and no car noise. It was great! Travel on the island is either via foot, bike, or horse drawn carriage. They even have horse drawn carriage taxis! Mackinac Island has the only US Highway that does not allow cars. We biked the highway which is eight miles, and hugs the shoreline. Biked it, loved it!

We were on the island as the Bell's Beer Bayview Mackinac Yacht race was finishing up. The yacht and the flags were such a pretty sight.

This grandma was cruising on her scooter!

YES! Those are freaking mattresses being delivered via horse and cart!!!

The only market on the island and it reminded me of Gilmore Girls!

One of the most surprising things to me about Mackinac Island was the water color. It look like tropical waters. The shades of blue were jaw droppingly beautiful. These pictures are not Photoshopped in any way. Those are true to life colors! 

Arch Rock

The highway.

This dad and his daughter. They made me think of my dad and I.

British Landing is a good stop when riding bikes around the island.

Got some ice cream from Cannonball.

Look at this beautiful coastline!!

Yes, even Amazon and Walmart packages get delivered via horse and cart.

Pearl Seas Cruise ship

We rode up to the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel was beautiful, at least from what I saw on the outside. We didn't have enough time to pay the ten dollar fee to check out the inside, but I would like to do that next time around. The grounds were beautiful. They have quite a few rules, like dress codes for dinner, and I guess a bike rule? I got scolded for taking my bike to close to the building.

The Grand Hotel is known for having the worlds largest porch, as well as being a very expensive, and their notable visitors. Each of the rooms in the hotel are individually designed and decorated.  The Grand Hotel served as a backdrop and one of the settings for the 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Which I haven't seen yet, but I plan on it.

My last look at Mackinac Island as we left. :(

The Grand Hotel from the lake.

That wraps up my trip through pure Michigan.... Enjoy

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