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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Exploring Done

Last Wednesday, our explorations of the state of Michigan led us to "the Cherry Coast" in the northwest corner of the lower peninsula. Traverse City is the center of the region, and we decided to make our home base for this trip at Timber Ridge RV and Recreation Resort. They had cabins and cottages for rent there, and had vacancies for the two nights we were looking for. So, last Wednesday we loaded up the truck with our overnight gear and the dogs and headed north.

A bit more than half-way there we passed right by William Mitchell State Park, which looked like a nice place to stop and stretch our legs with a walk. Its so wonderful that Michigan State parks are pet-friendly, it affords us the opportunity to walk in beautiful settings with our pups! Once again, the park did not disappoint: the nature trail was great, the trail well-groomed and marked, even had descriptive sign posted at the highlighted area. The campground was very nice as well, with many sites right along the canal that runs between Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac. It seemed many campers took full advantage of the recreational fishing, bringing along their boats that were tied up all along the canal.

Heading out on the 2 1/2 mile loop trail to see what we can find!

Benches provided strategic resting spots for wildlife observation. Unfortunately for us, the waterfowl must have had other plans for the day, as there were no signs of anyone home!

Water lilies in bloom

Crossing the marsh on the well-maintained boardwalks

A forested "island" within the marsh

Gee, I wonder what he could be looking for...again?!

Some very photogenic fungi on the side of a tree

Some of the wildflowers in summer bloom, with the busy bee perched atop. These bees were very strange, they sort of hovered in the air like little helicopters.

It was a really beautiful afternoon!

After leaving the park, we headed up towards Timber Ridge, with a pit stop at Culvers, home of the famous butter burgers and frozen custard. I know, I'm around ice cream all day, but I have to tell you, the Culver's fresh frozen custard concrete mixers are worth stopping for :-). Thus fortified, we continued on, even though "Samantha" (the GPS lady) took us on a very strange route to the campground! Once there, we checked in to our cabin:

It was cute, one bedroom/bathroom with a small kitchen and small sitting area, and an outside picnic table and fire pit. The campground was pretty busy, and had tons of stuff for kids to do. It looked like a really neat place if you had a family. We unpacked the truck, and headed out again, determined to drive up the Old Mission Peninsula area of Traverse City. It was only a 25 minute drive to the end from where we were, and it was a beautiful night. I was hoping to see a nice sunset :-).

Traverse City is a summer tourist town for sure. It has been rated in the top ten American beach towns, the only one not on an ocean. As we drove around the bay towards the peninsula, the road was lined with hotels, motels and condos along the beach side, and restaurants, gift shops and related tourist shops on the other side. It was very crowded also! But once we turned off onto the peninsula, it was as if the traffic and crowds melted away behind us. The peninsula was settled in 1839 by two missionaries, hence the name. It became the "Old Mission" when they moved their mission house across the bay to the Leelanau Peninsula. M-37 is the central road down the peninsula, 17.25 miles long, and was named a Scenic Heritage Route in 2007. And it certainly was beautiful! Acres of cherry orchards and vineyards surrounded us on both sides of the route, and there were many farmstands set up, but alas, they were closed for the evening :-(. 
One picture to capture both the cherry trees and the grapevines!

We stopped here for some dinner, at the Old Mission General Store. The General Store has been here since the mid-1800's, and houses not only grocery items, candy, ice-cream and some grilled items, but also a collection of antique goods. It was very interesting to wander around in, but no photographs were allowed inside the building. Al ordered the fish and chips, and I had a hamburger and chips. They were both very good, and we had a nice picnic on the tables along side the building. 
The Mission Point Lighthouse at the park at the end of the peninsula
You can just barely see Al and Chelsea headed out along the sandbars as I was dawdling taking pictures. I had to wait for people to move out of my picture space :-).

The lighthouse from the beach

The beach from the lighthouse...I thought these turned out pretty neat!

The scenery as I hurried to catch up. It was really a most interesting landscape here. The water was very shallow and rocky, with the sandbar stretching out quite far into the bay. 

We had a feeling the sunset was not going to disappoint us tonight, so we settled in for the show. It was so quiet, there were only a few other people around and quite widely scattered around. The only annoying thing was with the night being so still, there was " a cloud of evil spawn of gnats" as Al put it hovering around our heads!

As we watched the sunset on the west, the moon was rising behind us in the east
The stillness of the shallows made for some great reflections of the pinks and oranges of the sunset

The fiery finale as the sun sank below the horizon

As we drove back down the peninsula, the pinks reflected beautifully here in the waters of Bowers Harbor

The final rays over the vineyards

It was now after 10:00pm, and we headed back to our cabin, to get some sleep and get ready for Thursday's adventure at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. I hope you enjoyed this tour, and I'll be back tomorrow for the conclusion of our adventure! 


  1. bee-uu-tiful shots today!..love the ones of the stairs both going up and down!

  2. Hi Guys....Beautiful descriptions and great picture's as always...what a beautiful state Michigan is!! Looks like you are both really enjoying your adventure and it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon, as you move from place to place exploring. Hope to meet up with you someday..somewhere in this country of ours..I think it would be so much fun to fly/drive out there to meet you. ;) Just make sure there is a 4 star hotel with room service not too far away for me!!! Now that's what I call camping....lol
    Love to you both and the pups too....
    Talk soon, easier to fill you in on what's new around here....;)

    Beth & Bill <3

  3. Magnificent...Gorgeous...Beautiful Photos!!!

    Love the Sunsets and the Up and Down the steps pictures:o))

    Be sure and get some fresh cherries. They are my favorite food group;o))

    Can't wait to see the rest of the tour....Nancy

  4. Great pictures and good to know that Michigan parks are pet friendly.

  5. Your pictures are beautiful-the park, the sunsets, all of them. The Leelanau is my favorite part of Michigan. We spent several weeks there when we took our daughter to the National Music Camp years ago. I am so glad to see it is still just as beautiful and that there is solitude even in July. Really enjoyed this blog. Can't wait to see more. The cherries there are justly fabmous.


  6. Wow, Karen, I love your posts. They are so informative not to mention interesting. And your photos are spectacular. Don't you just love the sunsets there not to mention how late it is before it happen.If I'm not mistaken, I don't think it would get dark there much before 10:00 p.m. which made it very difficult to go to bed before then. So glad that you are able to take the time out of your busy schedule to explore the great state of Michigan. Enjoy Sleeping Bear Dunes, we did. Just beautiful country.