Thursday, August 6, 2020

Dune Ride and Grandparents

On the last real day of our vacation, we went to Silver Lake Sand Dunes in west central lower Michigan, and took a dune ride.

I had been to these dunes many years ago as a friend of mine let me drive an ATV onto the dunes with his family, but this was a first experience of this kind for my wife and Kai.

There are big stretches of sandy dunes and also places where you could see Silver Lake below.

At the place with the best view, the driver stopped the vehicle and we were able to get out and take pictures.

We all enjoyed the experience, especially since we didn't have to climb up any dunes. :)

Later in the day we visited with Kai's grandparents. Due to Covid, this has been the longest stretch of time where we had not seen them so it was great to get together and have a socially-distanced dinner on their back patio.

After dinner we took a walk to a nearby beach.

Kai doesn't talk too much to others, but he enjoys getting together with Bubbe and Papa and he expressed that afterward on this evening.

Tomorrow we will be driving home.

Kai said that the vacation went by fast. It's good that he thinks so. That indicates that he had enjoyed it.

We did quite a bit in the past 12 days and it was fun. But it will be nice to be home as well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Sleeping Bear Dunes and Other Scenic Sights of the Lower Peninsula

We headed south out of Mackinaw City and took the scenic route. We drove the 20-mile stretch of M-119 known as the Tunnel of Trees. The 1.5 lane road twists and turns along a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan.

The scenic part of the drive concludes in the charming town of Harbor Springs.

I had intended to hsve lunch in Traverse City where we enjoyed the Cherry Festival four years ago. But as we drove through downtown and saw the traffic and the crowds of tourists, I called an audible and we drove on.

We ended up having lunch at a take-out joint in the small town of Empire. My wife and Kai had great Cuban sandwiches - who would have guessed we'd find great Cubanos there! I had a sub sandwich.

Our main destination for the day was Sleeping Bear Dunes.

The climb up to the top was a bit arduous, but the temperature was only in the upper 60s and we took frequent breaks on the way up. Kai grumbled a bit but persisted and we made it to the top where we had a nice view of Glen Lake below. You can get a sense of how high we climbed by looking at the parking lot just to the left of Kai in the next photo.

In the other direction, we could see Lake Michigan in the distance.

Coming down from the dunes was easy and fun. Afterward we drove to where we could wade into Lake Michigan. This was our third Great Lake on this trip after Superior and Huron earlier.

But Kai didn't go swimming there as we were staying at a motel on the shores of a smaller lake in the area - Crystal Lake.

The water was a bit warmer than Lake Michigan and Kai enjoyed swimming there. I joined him in the water but spent much of my time on a floating tube that was anchored off shore.

We got takeout pizza for dinner and took it to Inspiration Point near the small town of Arcadia. The pizza was so-so but the view was spectacular.

After we finished our dinner, we climbed up a set of stairs to an observation area where we could see for miles down south.

It was also a perfect viewing spot to see the best sunset of the trip.

Our trip is rapidly winding down. We continue the drive south tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Mackinac Island

We took the ferry to Mackinac Island. It traveled beneath the Bridge on the way.

A short walk off the ferry is Main Street.

We took a horse-drawn carriage ride to see more of the island. No motor vehicles are allowed on the island.

One of the sights is Arch Rock.

At the iconic Grand Hotel, we got off the carriage to spend more time and look around.

Here's the view from inside.

Here we are on the world's largest front porch.

From the front porch, you can see the Mackinac Bridge in the distance,

The hotel grounds are very well kept.

Here's a view of the hotel from the garden.

The hotel had a topiary of a horse-drawn carriage.

We walked along Main Street and went into several shops. Of course, we had to get more of this island's famous fudge.

It was fun to see this famous island, but it was by far the most crowded place we had been to on our trip.

And then it was back on the ferry to return to the mainland.

This evening we sat out by the campfire briefly but as it was a chilly evening, we didn't stay out long.

Tomorrow we drive south to head down the Michigan side of Lake Michigan.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Soo Locks, the Mighty Mac, and a Lumberjack Show

We finished our tour through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a boat tour of the Soo Locks in Sault St. Marie.

We went though the American locks and watched as the water level started out at Lake Huron levels.

The closed the gates on both ends.

Then they filled the lock at a rate of a million gallons a minute and rose the water 21 feet to Lake Superior levels.

On the way back, they went through the locks on the Canadian side. We took a photo to commemorate Kai entering a new country.

After we got back, we drove down to the Mackinac Bridge. Before crossing, we stopped to take a picture on the Upper Peninsula side.

And then after crossing took another photo on the Lower Peninsula side.

After we checked in to our motel, Kai took a short swim in Lake Huron. (Correction: I originally had that this was Lake Michigan). You can see the Mackinac Bridge in the background.

For dinner, we drove into Mackinaw City and had fish & chips again.

After dinner we went to the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show.

Two lumberjacks competed in a variety of events.

The log rolling competition was a crowd favorite.

Both lumberjacks were very talented to be able to do all of the different events.

After the show, we went back into town for dessert. Mackinac Island is known for their fudge so we had to try some.

Kai and I loved it but my wife thought it was too sweet and rich for her taste.

Back at the motel, we sat outside by a fire pit and enjoyed the aftermath of the sunset.

When we crossed the Mighty Mac, the Upper Peninsula portion of our trip had ended.

We had traveled from nearly the western end of Lake Superior to the eastern tip and enjoyed it immensely.

Now we have entered the final phase of our vacation.

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