Saturday, October 24, 2015

Part Four-Our Mini Michigan Vacation-Tahquamenon Falls

Our long weekend came to an end, and it was time to go home.  We had breakfast and were on our way.  We headed through some more beautiful scenery and over the Mackinac Bridge.  Then we traveled toward the Lake Superior side of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We had heard of the beautiful colors at Tahquamenon Falls.  We stopped for lunch in the little town of Paradise and made our way to to falls.   The falls are divided into two separate areas.  There are the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls.  We started with the Lower Falls.  It was a beautiful day.  We were very lucky because the park ranger said they had three inches of snow a couple days earlier.  The colors were not as brilliant as they had been before the snow, but it was still nice.

The Lower Falls was pretty, but it was quite small.  We enjoyed the walk along the trail, and being able to stretch our legs and breath fresh crisp air.

After reading some information about the falls, we walked back to the car and drove four miles down the road to the Upper Falls.  It was much more impressive.  After walking about a half mile into the park, we saw there were several vantage points to view the falls.  Two of them required climbing down several steps to get to the lower level.  We started with the flight of 116 steps which turned into 190 steps by the time we walked up and down levels along the lower boardwalk.  Then it was up the steps which proved to be harder than going down.  People were very friendly and we chatted with some people who were also discussing all the steps.  We viewed the falls from all the viewing areas and ended up climbing another set of 94 steps.  By the time we got back to the car, my fitbit said I climbed 31 flights of stairs qualifying me for the Redwood Forest Badge.  Whoopee!  My husband on the other hand only had 11 flights doing the same steps.  Maybe holding on to both railings affected the number of steps recorded.  I can vouch for him.  He walked the same number as I did.

It was late afternoon before we started home.  It was a long drive in the dark, and we considered staying in a motel, but we kept plugging away.  We arrived home about 10:30 pm.  It was nice to be home, and it seemed we had been gone for much more than five days.  A wonderful fall trip for sure, and considering my last four days of blogging, I want to assure people these are our experiences and I'm NOT an employee of the Pure Michigan Department of Tourism.  My home state of Wisconsin has equally beautiful sights which I also hope to visit.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Part Three: Our Mini Michigan Vacation-Sleeping Bear Dunes

On the third day of our journey we took a drive to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Sleeping Bear got its name long ago from an Indian legend.  Apparently long ago in the land that is now Wisconsin, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a forest fire.  They had to swim, but it was a long way across the lake.  The mother bear made it and waited on top of the dune for her cubs.  The cubs didn't make it and the two islands off in the distance named Manitou Islands represent the cubs.

The drive to the Dunes was beautiful.

One portion of the Dunes involves a scenic driving tour called the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  Pierce Stocking was a lumberman in Michigan and conceived the idea of building a road in this terrain so others could enjoy the Dunes. 

A covered bridge starts the drive.

You could bike the drive because it is only 7.4 miles, but there are some very steep uphill and downhill grades.  I wouldn't make it on a bike, that's for sure.  We visited Traverse City during the summer of 2012.  That summer was so hot that the people of Northern Michigan were shocked.  They very rarely get temperatures in the high 90's.  As a result the sandy dunes were too hot to visit let alone walk on.  That is why we wanted to return on this trip.

The second stop of the drive is a view of Glen Lake.

A sand dune is basically a pile of sand deposited by the wind.  The prevailing winds move the sand across the plateau.  The wind was blowing so hard on that day,  it was easy to see how the dunes can change all the time.

This is the eastern edge of the dunes.

While we were there a couple was trying to take some wedding pictures.  The wind was so brutal they couldn't even stand in an upright position.  We nearly got blown off the cliff.  Thank goodness for having good enough balance to keep us from falling over the edge.  Of course, hiding behind a big sign helped us maintain our footing.

All they wanted was a wedding photo at the dunes.

We had sand in our eyes and ears and who knows where else.

We continued along the scenic drive seeing a variety of trees and vegetation.  Along the way we saw the ghost forest.  With the dry sandy conditions, it is hard to believe some of these plants and trees can survive.  They have adapted over the years.

Next we drove to another area.  At this point you could actually climb the dunes or at least try.  My husband and brother in law didn't even want to try.  My sister and I did.  It felt like walking on a stairstepper.  With every step, we slipped back a foot.  It was quite the workout.

After a nice lunch in a local establishment, we headed home.  It was a fun day.  We were even able to catch a virtual geocache.  If you want more information about the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the park service has info.  There is so much to see and learn in this area of Michigan, you could stay a couple weeks and not see it all. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Part Two: Our Mini Michigan Vacation-The Punzel's Cottage

In continuing our mini vacation to Michigan, my sister and her husband showed us around the Traverse City area.  They have many interesting places, but a stand out business is called Punzel's Cottage in the Tidendal Woods.  It is a Scandinavian cottage specializing in everything Scandinavian.  It has gift items from imported food and cheese, books, clothing items and jewelry, trolls and anything else you can imagine.  I even saw sewing patterns for making authentic costumes.  It is actually more than a store.  It is an experience.  They call themselves a Living Scandinavian Folktale.  When you pull into the parking area the first thing you see is the Dala horse.  The owner loves to answer questions and shares her folktales and Nordic lifestyle.  If anyone is in this area, it would be worth the trip.  I think the pictures speak for themselves. 

 You see these signs for Danes, Norwegian, Swedish etc. in the parking lot. 

When you look up you see a bridge surrounded by trolls.

The Punzel Cottage containing a variety of Scandinavian gifts.

This is the Tomte Hus (elf house).

For those reading about this cottage and are interested in some children's books with a Scandinavian theme, please go to this website:

These darling books were written by a high school friend of mine and will be enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Part One-Our Mini Michigan Vacation

A few weeks ago we were noticing all the beautiful pictures appearing on TV and Facebook of all the beautiful fall color.  I wanted to take a little road trip to view the colors.  We made arrangements to meet with my sister and her husband this past weekend.  They have a second home in Traverse City Michigan.  We watched the color map of Wisconsin and Michigan and decided that mid October would be prime viewing time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Northern Wisconsin and the Traverse City area.  We left early Friday morning, October 16th.  We headed north through Green Bay, Escanaba Michigan, and on to the Mackinac Bridge.  At first we saw very little fall color and thought we may have made a big mistake.  In fact, we ran into many bouts of snow showers and rain and the temperature was falling into the mid-30's.

This was a pretty view of Lake Michigan, but not the fall color we were expecting.

Then a few miles from the Mackinac Bridge, we started to see some pretty foliage.  We saw a bunch of cars at a scenic overlook and pulled in.  It was gorgeous, although because of the lighting these photos don't do it justice.  The colors were much more brilliant.

On the way to the Mackinac Bridge, the view along the road was very pretty.

There were very high winds on the bridge.

The winds were very strong and crossing the bridge was a little scary.  The large trucks carrying logs and the semi's are required to travel very slow.  It was beautiful, but I wasn't driving.  My husband didn't see anything but the road.

We took the road along Lake Michigan the rest of the way.  Traverse City is a beautiful city.  It is one of those towns that is very inviting.  There are beautiful views of the bay, a lot of winery's and very unusual shops and restaurants.  It took us a little over nine hours to get there with a few short stops, but it is a very scenic trip.

Parasailing on Traverse Bay in 43 degree temperatures.

If you ever get a chance to visit, you won't be disappointed.  My niece has the pleasure of living and working in this lovely town.  Tomorrow I will start showing you some of the things we did.  Stay tuned for Part two.