My last couple of posts were written and posted while I was on a trip back to Michigan. I got home a week ago, but things have been pretty busy. This is an account of a drive I did on Monday, June 13….
|From the Internet|
It was a wet dreary morning as I leave Grand Rapids. It’s six thirty and my sights are set north as I rush up US 131. At this time of the morning, the traffic is all coming into the city, so I make good time. This is all familiar country. I cross over the Rouge River and recall a fall paddle down this river. At Big Rapids, I cross over the Muskegon River, the longest river in the state. Another fall, I’d done a solo trip on this river, with just my dog. A little before eight, I’m in Cadillac. I stop for gas and breakfast: coffee and a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. It begins to rain harder as I head further north, but the air feels good as the forest has now changed. Birch intermingle with the hardwood forest. I’m in the north woods! Up here, summer is slower in arriving and the black locust are in full bloom, with many trees covered what appears to be popcorn balls. I make my way, through the rain to Traverse City, where just blocks from the bay, I turn left on M-22. I follow this beloved road up along the west side of Traverse Bay, to the town of Sutton’s Bay. I stop at the Inland SeasEducational Association (ISEA), park my rental car, and go inside.
My last piece of business from my years in Michigan is to get rid of a sailboat. I thought I had it sold twice, but it never worked out so I began to look for a place to donate it. A friend suggested this place and they agreed to accept the boat as a donation. He had a boat that was being worked in Sutton Bay, so he hauled my boat up when he picked his up. Outside of the ISEA’s building, with a handful of other boats, sits mine. I get to see it one last time. They will sell these boats which helps them fund their work of teaching about the Great Lakes. They maintain a classroom schooner, “The Inland Sea” which is used to give students a unique experience on the lakes. I sign over the boat’s title and receive a tour of the facility. They have science lavatories and wood working shop where they teach boat building. Tied up in their docks is someone’s restored steam tug. Although I prefer boats propelled by paddles or sails, if I was to go into a powerboat, this boat would be a joy to own. The small upright boiler looked as if it could have come off the African Queen.
|The Schooner "Inland Seas"|
|"Steam powered tug"|
Leaving Sutton Bay, I drive across the Lelanaeu Peninsula to “Fish Town” in Leland. The place has become a tourist hub. I was first here back in the summer of 2003, where I took a ferry out to the Manitou Islands where I spent the fourth of July weekend camping. The center of “Fish Town” is Carlson’s, a fish market that’s been in business since 1904. I purchase a couple of smoked whitefish fillets as a gift for Jack, whom I am staying with in Grand Rapids. Leaving Leland, I head south on scenic M-22, as it hugs the lakeshore. After having rushed up to Sutton’s Bay, I plan to take my time traveling back to Grand Rapids. Mostly I will take M-22, but I plan a detour that will cause me to miss the beautiful town of Glen Arbor on the shores of Lake Glen, but will take me through Maple City where I plan to stop at Gabes, to pick up some sausage for Jack. The drive through these familiar woods is relaxing. After Maple City, I get a bit lost (my only map is my iPad) and head too far south, but this allows me a chance to drive through the village Benzonia, which is where Bruce Catton’s memoir, Waiting for the Morning Train, is set. Catton, who is mostly known for his Civil War studies, grew up in Northern Michigan early in the 20th Century and is a freshman at the University of Michigan when World War I began.
|North from Inspiration Point|
I pick M-22 back up at Frankfort, another beautiful little lakeside town. I stop at a diner on the edge of town for lunch, but they’ve closed their kitchen early for cleaning so I keep traveling. The road snakes around and up and down large sand dunes that line the lakeshore. I stop at Inspiration Point, where stairs lead to the top of a sand dune where I feast on beautiful views north and south along the lakeshore. I continue on driving south, enjoying the view of the City of Milwaukee, an old steam ferry that could haul passengers and a train across the lakes. This ship was built in the early 30s and was operated by the Grand Trunk Railroad and later the Ann Arbor Railroad. The ship was retired in 1982. Today, on the weekend, the ship sits just north of Manistee and serves as a museum and bed and breakfast, allowing the guest to stay in the old staterooms. Sadly, it was only open on weekends so I’m not able to tour it.
|South from Inspiration Point|
|The City of Milwaukee|
I’m hungry and it is way after lunchtime, so I head into downtown Manistee to find a restaurant. I pick out “The Boathouse,” which is located right on the Manistee River. When I lived in Michigan, I did a three day canoe trip on the upper Manistee. Of all the great rivers I’ve paddled in this state (Pere Marquette, Au Sable, Two-Hearted, Fox, etc), the Manistee was my favorite. I had considered doing a longer trip that would end at the river’s mouth into Lake Michigan, but I was never able to come up with the ten days to make the paddle. Alyssa is my waitress and seats me by the window where I watch the boats while enjoying a tasty blacken chicken salad.
|Town of Manistee|
|The Spartan (it should be painted green and white)|
M-22 officially ends at Manistee. This is a beautiful drive and on this trip, I missed two of the highways more beautiful parts (the section through Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, both which I have travelled before). I continue driving south and stop and walk around in Ludington, before driving back to Grand Rapids. I had been here a number of times when living in Michigan, staying in B&Bs and camping at the state park. In Ludington, one can still take a ferry, The Badger, across Lake Michigan. The ship is out on the lake, but mothballed at the harbor is another old ferry, the Spartan. Back in the fifties, there were ferries that ran all over the lakes, hauling people, cars and trains. But with faster highways and airplanes, most of those ships have become scrap metal.
I’m back in Grand Rapids by 9 PM.