Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sunrise Coast

Wednesday and Thursday this week was our "weekend", and we took advantage of the days off and the beautiful forecast to explore the sunrise coast of Michigan. It's a scenic drive described in the Reader's Digest book, "200 of the US's Most Scenic Drives". We had done one of these a couple of years ago, along the coast of Maine, and enjoyed it very much, so this book was a "keeper" for the travel bookshelf.

The tour starts in Bay City MI, about an hour and a half drive from here. Here's a map of Michigan:
If you think of the lower part of Michigan as a mitten, Bay City is at the base of the thumb. The tour itself goes from Bay City up to Cheboygan, hugging the coast of Lake Huron on Route 23. However, with the stops and side trips we wanted to do, we would only be able to do approximately half of the drive in our two days, making the village of Oscoda our base for the trip.

We left Waldenwoods just before 10AM, and the weather was great...sunny, warm and clear, no rain in the forecast at all! It was a bit later than anticipated, but we were chatting with our neighbors a few spots away, members Polly and Don. Don is a retired fire fighter who also currently works for Ford, and they had given us information on visiting the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village, not too far from here. We plan on doing that one day as well! So we finished putting our stuff in the truck, and headed north. Our first stop was the Bay City Recreation Area. There are 3 different trails here, 2 of which we were allowed to take the dogs on. It sits on the shore of Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron.
First stop was the Visitor's Center, and pick up a map of the area. We decided to do the Chickadee Trail, the interpretive side first, then cross over and do the marsh loop, about 3 miles altogether.

Ready to go!
Michigan used to have vast plains of grassy areas, like much of the mid-West, and efforts are underway to restore these grasslands, an important habitat for birds and animals.

Wildflowers in bloom.

The lagoon that the trail looped around, as seen from the fishing pier. We met a volunteer on the pier, who told us there were school field trips coming down today...we did see the buses in the parking lot! The kids came in, sat through an exhibition in the visitor's center on the wildlife and ecology of the wetlands, and then learned how to fish! A local sporting goods company donated all the fishing equipment for the day, and the kids were able to keep it after the lessons. They seemed to be having a great time, and I thought that was a really neat field trip for them.

Chelsea took advantage of our chat to take a rest :-).

This little guy stopped flying long enough for me to snap his picture. He's perched on a cattail :-), and it doesn't even bend over he's so light!I'm pretty sure it's a swallow of some type, but I have a difficult time trying to pinpoint the exact variety. I'm really new at this birding thing!

The backside view!

Spring, and cygnets are out and about.

There's a wood duck nesting box in this tree by the marsh. I did not realize that wood ducks nest about 10 feet off the ground, up in the trees. The population of wood ducks was in serious decline due to loss of habitat and hunting (for their glorious plumage), but through conservation efforts they are no longer in any danger. Unfortunately, we did not see any on our trek.

The beachfront on Saginaw Bay. Due to nesting birds, particularly plovers, the dogs were not allowed on the beach here.

And of course, Casey with his head in a hole, scouting for those pesky ground squirrels.

By now, it was lunch time. Right outside the entrance of the park was this little eatery, the Mussel Beach Restaurant. They had picnic tables outside, so we figured we could get some lunch and sit outside with the dogs. The food was very good, and of course, we went back in for some ice cream, and the owner gave us a refill of water for the dogs :-). Nice folks!

We got back on Route 13, and then onto Route 23, hugging the shore. We passed through tiny towns, Pinconning (known for cheeses), Au Gres, which has a beautiful riverfront campground run by the city, and connected to the main village by a pedestrian bridge over the Au Gres river. There is also a large city-run marina, with charters for perch and walleye available. Our second stop of the day came at East Tawas, the Tawas Point State Park. Tawas Point is known as the "Cape Cod of the mid-west". It has a distinctive hook shape that is readily seen from the air. There is a wonderful 1 1/2 mile walk along the shoreline here, but the dogs are not allowed as it is a bird sanctuary area, and we didn't really want to attempt it anyway as the wind was howling that afternoon, blowing a steady 25-30. Sand was blowing everywhere! We were able to walk to the lighthouse:
which is the sole example of a true Victorian-era style station built along the Great Lakes shores. There's also a walkway from the lighthouse to the campground, which we meandered down. We saw this oriole at the feeders:

(see, Gin, they really do come to orange slices!)

The view from the lighthouse across the bay

It was such a nice day! I love the blue sky, green leaves and white tree trunks.

The campground is really nice! Right on the protected side of the hook, those huge fire pits that we've sen in other state parks. Electric at the sites (50amp), water spigots all around. The sites are decently spaced apart. And they have a few cabins available for rent as well. I checked out the bath houses, and they are clean, tiled, and large shower stalls. I wouldn't mind staying here for awhile at all!

Another oriole flew in for a picture.

These are black squirrels. I've seen them around, but never when I had the camera. This time I did!

 Close-up of the birch tree, I really liked the sunlight on it.
I "think" this is a kingbird, if anyone could verify??

Our last stop of the day was a self-guided drive through Tuttle Marsh Wildlife Area. This is where we saw this guy:

Heading for home:

It was really cool seeing our first beaver and beaver lodge :-).

They build these ospry nesting platforms, and this one had a tenant.

Several geese families were wandering around the top of the impoundments.

We took a short walk from one of the parking areas. The dogs were ready to get out again. There wasn't a well-groomed path,here, however, and I couldn't readily spot any unwanted reptiles that may be in my path, so we didn't go very far.

It was almost 7PM by now, so we headed towards the cabin we had rented for 2 nights in Oscoda. It stays light out up here until almost 10PM, so you don't realize how late it is getting! We found our cabin, Cabin 3 at the Surfside Resort ( resort being used very loosely here :-)), and it was very cute!
The view from our deck.
Firepit areas on the beach of Lake Huron.

There was no-one in sight along the beach in either direction, so it was great for some play time on the beach :-).

My first attempt at inserting a video, so let's see how it works!

Does life get any better than this??

I will continue with our second day of the trip in another posting. I hope you've enjoyed taking this short trip along the sunrise coast of Lake Huron with us. Thanks for reading, and until tomorrow, enjoy your day!


  1. Very interesting, Karen and a great video to boot. I am very impressed with all your efforts at blogging, to say the least.
    Glad to see that the weather is getting better up north.
    We loved our 6 week visit to Michigan that we took a few years ago. Just touched on part of it, however. We also went to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Great places to see. Just make sure to give it at least a full day but to see it all you could use two days. Bill and our friend Gerry made glass flowers at the glass blowing building while we were at Greenfield Village. Boy was it "Hot" while making these glass flowers.They had a really great time doing this and it was a wonderful souvenir to bring back home.

  2. I think I want to come back as a dog in my next life.

    Macinaw Island is pretty cool too. It's at the tip of the mitt.

    A Arizona Holiday

  3. great job on the post today!..love seeing the dogs swimming in Lake Huron!..enjoy the rest of your 'weekend'!!

  4. I think this is another of those places to put on our list. It looks beautiful!

  5. Great weekend out. Looks like fun was had by all.

  6. Mackinac Island is absolutely beautiful. A DEFINITE MUST SEE!!! It's like an island lost in the 1800's. No cars allowed. If you go, be sure to visit the Grand Hotel. That is where they filmed the movie "Somewhere in time" with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymore. All the stores in the town have some sort of memorabilia depicting the movie. Really cool. If you haven't seen the movie yet and do decide to go to the island, I would recommend you see the movie first.

  7. Great post! Wish I could take a look at that Reader's Digest book. Sounds like it would be great for seeing any area.

    You sure did see the wildlife. Nice pictures.

    Cabin looks great too. Looks like you are having a great time on your "week-end".