Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nothing But Blue Skies

I generally put up a blog post about my garden at the end of every month. And while I have many gorgeous September blooms to show off, I decided instead to post about our recent vacation to the Sunset Coast of Michigan. I'll catch up soon with some flowers, I promise. Besides, I have to admit that I love my home state of Michigan even more than flowers. Yes, I said that out loud. 

St. Joseph Michigan lighthouse

Beach sunflowers in St. Joseph

North Lake Stevensville 

North Lake Stevensville

We started off our trip in Petoskey, a charming Victorian town on a bay of Lake Michigan. We arrived just in time to catch a sunset in Bayfront Park. After growing up in Michigan, and exploring there often, I was surprised to realize that I had never been in this particular corner of the state. 

Victorian home in Petoskey

Bayfront Park Petoskey

Bayfront Park Petoskey

Petoskey lighthouse

The next day we drove up to see the Mackinac Bridge, as it had been a number of years since being there. Mighty Mac still does impress! 

Mackinac bridge and lighthouse

Mighty Mac-Mackinac Bridge

We decided not to drive over the bridge to the Upper Peninsula on this visit, since we had a lot of other exploring planned. We headed over to the western shore for a trip through Michigan's famous Tunnel of Trees, but first, lunch at Legs Inn in Cross Village. This historic place is quite popular, and often has a long line waiting to get in. I found this shocking, since it's really in a pretty remote location. But since my hubby is Polish, and this place serves authentic Polish food, it was a mandatory stop for us. The place is old and decorated like a lodge in the woods, but it was the back garden view that was my favorite. 

Legs Inn-Cross Village

Legs Inn Cross Village

Next was our drive through the lovely Tunnel of Trees, but I only have one photo. Even though I enjoyed the tunnel, I was disappointed at the lack of scenic turnouts. You could see the gorgeous blues of the lake through the trees, but there was absolutely nowhere to pull off and take pictures. Finally found one little peek at the end. We also drove through the charming town of Harbor Springs, then Petoskey State Park, a lavender farm in Boyne City, and a brief stop in Charlevoix. 

Tunnel of Trees view of Lake Michigan

Lavender Hill Farm Boyne City

Mushroom house Charlevoix

Charlevoix lighthouse

The Traverse City area requires a bit more time, so we stayed there several days to cover it all. Much of its appeal is the nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which Good Morning America declared the Most Beautiful Place in America. Needless to say I highly agree. 

Glen Lake

Glen Arbor

Empire lighthouse

Esch Road beach Sleeping Bear Dunes

Platte River Point Sleeping Bear Dunes

Traverse City is also famous for wineries, and scenic views all around. It's probably the only place where I first judge a winery by its views, and then on its wine. 

Two Lads Winery Traverse City

Winery views Old Mission Peninsula

Bayside Gallery Suttons Bay

Grand Traverse lighthouse

Grand Traverse view of Lake Michigan

Traverse City east bay

Old Mission lighthouse

Of all the beauty in Sleeping Bear, my favorite part is two fold. First is the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. I consider this drive mandatory if you are anywhere in this northwest corner of Michigan. 

Glen Lake view

Glen Lake and Lake Michigan overlook in Sleeping Bear

Sleeping Bear overlook

Sleeping Bear overlook

Sleeping Bear overlook

The second part of my favorites is a new spot to me, the Empire Bluff Trail. It's only a mile and a half round trip, and it does have a fair amount of stairs to climb. But it is more than worth it for the views at the end. I now consider this one of the most beautiful spots I've ever seen. As if the view wasn't beautiful enough a bald eagle flew close by, and it was on 9-11. That made it extra special. 

Empire Bluff Trail

Empire Bluff Trail

Empire Bluff Trail

9-11 eagle

We headed south after Traverse City, with stops at Pt. Betsie lighthouse, and the Arcadia Dunes Overlook. We also stopped in to our alma mater, Grand Valley State University. Our little college has sure grown over the years, but we did occasionally recognize some locations. The dorms where we met in the laundry room are still standing! We definitely had fun shopping in the bookstore, and came home with some new gear. That night, we caught a sunset at Muskegon State Park. 

Pt. Betsie lighthouse

Pt. Betsie beach

Arcadia overlook

Arcadia overlook

Muskegon lighthouse

The next day we took in Silver Lake Sand Dunes from a dune buggy ride. What a blast! I've driven past the signs for this place many times over the years, but finally decided we were going to stop and participate. So glad I did! Nearby was the Little Sable Lighthouse, and we ended the day in Holland State Park at their lighthouse. Yes, I do have a thing for lighthouses. 

Silver Lake dune buggy ride

Silver Lake sand dunes

Little Sable lighthouse

Holland State Park

Holland Harbor lighthouse

Holland sunset

Thursday we took in the Mt. Baldhead stairs in Saugatuck, 302 steps high. Whew! There was an 80 year old man doing the stairs at the same time, he went up, then back down, and right back up. Talk about impressed! After Saugatuck, we walked the pier in South Haven, where I saw countless monarch puddling in the sand. Finally we hit St. Joseph, my hometown. Ahhhhh. 

Mt. Baldhead Saugatuck

Kalamazoo River Saugatuck

South Haven lighthouse

Puddling monarch South Haven

St. Joseph lighthouse

St. Joseph lighthouse

Because it's home to me, we stayed several days in the St. Joseph area, but mostly took things a little slower after all the sightseeing we had already done. That meant allowing ourselves time to visit family and friends, and sit quietly at the beach. 

Lions Park Beach St. Joseph

Beach sunflowers St. Joseph

Lions Park Beach St. Joseph

St. Joseph

St. Joseph

We did do some winery hopping, and took a small hike through the dunes of Grand Mere. 

Gravity winery Baroda

Red Top winery Baroda

Grand Mere State Park Stevensville

Grand Mere State Park Stevensville

As you can see, we had absolutely ideal weather for the entire trip. Nothing but blue skies, as the title says. I'm not sure my hubby would agree, but after all the great trips we've taken, Michigan is still my favorite vacation. It's just so beautiful, and I'm sure that you can guess how much I love to take pictures of it. As we headed for home, we made one quick side trip to a park called Galien River County Park, where they had a canopy walk that finished with these views. I'd love to see this in autumn colors! 

Galien River County Park

Galien River County Park

Thanks for coming along on my travelogue. I'll return to my garden again soon, I promise. 

Lincoln Twp. beach Stevensville

Lincoln Twp. beach Stevensville

Lincoln Twp beach Stevensville

Empire sunset