lake michigan circle tour, day 4, the last day


woke on day 4 in Luddington. This is the city where you can ferry across the lake if you want. It takes you over to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Since we had not seen any dunes yet we set out for Silver Lake. It is a state park so it was open. Pretty, windswept, deserted.

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About the time we were leaving Silver Lake it started to cloud up so we decided to drive on to Chicago.


We stopped at several roadside stands on the way and managed to squeeze some gourds and apples in the car. After dinner in Chicago with the kids and grand kids we drove on home. We had intended to take several more days to do this trip but it is a trip that needs some pretty Fall weather not rain. That gave us the weekend to regroup and John to get ready for his new job!

We have never done this kind of wandering type of trip before. And we enjoyed it a lot. If the weather had been better I would have enjoyed taking the two additional days so we could see more little towns and do a little shopping and eat in some interesting places. As it was we had two long days of driving. This does make me want to drive around Lake Superior next. And I do think Fall is a great time. After school starts so it is less crowded, but not so late that places are closed for the season.

lake michigan circle tour, day 3, wine and pie


today was to be the day we went to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I've been told these are the best dunes on this tour. Unfortunately due to the government shut down and this being a National Park that didn't happen. I was going to post some info here on the dunes but even the official government website is down.

So we decided to head up a small 10 mile peninsula to see some wineries.

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This short ride was filled with wineries and orchards. We were now in grape, apple and cherry growing country. It was a very pretty, sunny, top down, kind of day. We stopped at a winery and I did a little tasting and headed back down to Traverse City for some lunch.


Lunch was at the Grand Traverse Pie Company. We split a turkey cherry sandwich and each had our own piece of cherry pie. And this was really good cherry pie. I could have easily skipped the sandwich and been very happy with just the pie. A very interesting factoid is that this area of Michigan grows one third of the world's cherries. Yes you read that right, one third of the WORLD'S cherries, I find that completely amazing.


If this was a shopping trip I would have spend the afternoon enjoying the stores in the charming downtown and warehouse districts. But our trunk was full. I did manage to squeeze in a jar of cherry butter and then we decided to continue on our journey. Rain was being forecasted so we decided to drive on to Luddington for the night.

You can download the free Traverse Traveler mobile app for your phone at If we would have been there longer I am sure I would have used this, it looked like it would have been helpful.

lake michigan circle tour, day 2, the grand hotel

grandhotel as I said we came over on the 9AM ferry. There are no cars on the island. You rent a bike or take a horse drawn taxi or walk. We strolled the shopping area and then caught a taxi and went up to the Grand Hotel.







You half expect to bump into Zelda and F. Scott martini in had in one of the hotel bars.

This hotel truly is grand they have 385 rooms and none are the same. Go here for more hotel history. Here are photos of the rooms and rates.

If you are not staying in the hotel you are charged $10 to hang out there. Apparently this is to keep the amount of  tourists in check. I had always wanted to see this hotel and am glad I did.


We did not stay overnight on the island and that was about the right amount of time for us. If you are interested in nature or more historical things I would suggest staying longer and renting bikes. It is not a large island, just 8.2 miles to ride around it. You can stop along the way and see other things that you cannot see unless you hire a private taxi.

We did get to leave the Grand Hotel in style in this original 125 year old Grand Hotel horse drawn carriage. We were delivered back to the harbor and caught the 3PM ferry back to St. Ignace. From there we crossed the 5 mile bridge and headed on to Traverse City. On the way we went through the charming towns of Petoskey and Charlevoix. If we had more time we would have done some exploring. In Petosky the beach/harbor is just 100 steps from 100 shops and galleries of their Gaslight District. Charlevoix boutiques also are long the waterfront. But we were watching the weather and decided to go a little further than planned as the end of the week looked like rain.

If you want the vintage looking postcard at the top check out Minds Eye Design.

lake michigan circle tour, day 2, G12 and the ferry


Up and out to catch the 9AM ferry to Mackinac Island. It was suggested that we take the Shepler Ferry Line. Apparently they are the fastest and the 9AM ferry takes you under the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge that will later in the day take us from St. Ignace to  lower Michigan.

Two years ago I got my Canon G12 camera that I like a lot. Apparently it is the point and shoot that the pros use. I think I am a better than average photographer because I have a fairly good eye. I do shoot almost all my shots with my iPhone because I always have it with me. But I know I could take some really good photos if I would just take the time to learn my camera. And my buddy Phil had just showed me the Color Mode feature on this camera. You choose one color on the LCD and all the other colors in the image are converted to black-and-white.

I knew the harbor would be a great place to try out this new trick.



IMG_1615 As you can see I first selected and shot to get red and then switched to blue. I am happy to have learned this new technique. Now if I would just read my whole camera book....

photo copy

And here is a shot John took as we went under the Mackinac Bridge. We could only drive 20 mph over the bridge. Below is more info about the bridge from the Mackinac Bridge Authority.

The Mackinac Bridge is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. 

The width of the roadway is 54 feet. The outside lanes are 12 feet wide (2), the inside lanes are 11 feet wide (2), the center mall is 2 feet wide, and the catwalk, curb and rail width is 3 feet on each side - totaling 54 feet. The stiffening truss width in the suspended span is 68 feet wide making it wider than the roadway it supports.

The height of the roadway at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above water level. The vertical clearance at normal temperature is 155 feet at the center of the main suspension span and 135 feet at the boundaries of the 3,000 ft. navigation channel.

All suspension bridges are designed to move to accommodate wind, change in temperature, and weight. 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. After the wind subsides, the weight of the vehicles crossing would slowly move it back into center position.

I don't like heights and thought this would be a miserable five mile ride but it wasn't. I think it was because I could not look down.

Tomorrow Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel!

If you want the great postcard at the top of the post check out You can get this and other 'provisions for the urban pioneer'.

And if you want more info on my camera here is a link. I know I put this link up regularly but I really like this camera.