Pure Michigan—Post Three of Three: Fun!

Friday

TallulahTart
Tallulah* at the trail head

On Friday morning Cookie and I rode the Leelanau TART trail for 20 miles. Easiest 20 miles imaginable. Where we began, near Suttons Bay, there’s a slight uphill, but for the most part, the Leelanau TART trail is flat, well-maintained, and splendid. It’s part of US Bike Route 35.

CookieSerenity
Cookie & Serenity** on US Bike 35

Did you know there were US Bike Routes? I did not. Part of 35 is on roads Cookie and I wouldn’t brave, but this section is entirely dedicated to non-motorized traffic. Sometimes along the trail, people would put things out for you, like apples and water.

AppleStop
Apple break on the TART trail

We cleaned up, collected Sis, got some lunch.

LelandDock
Dock in Leland, where we broke for lunch

After lunch, we drove to Charlevoix to see the hobbit houses. They are not actually hobbit houses. I hate to break this to you but hobbits are fictional characters; real people live in these houses. They were built in the 1930s and 40s by architect Earl Young, and there’s a slew of them in Charlevoix. They’re also called mushroom houses. We had to check them out.

Hobbit1   Hobbit4

Hobbit2    Hobbit3

Hobbit5

After imagining ourselves in Middle Earth for a while and trying to decide whether to rent one of these for our next trip to Michigan, we headed a few miles up the road to Big Rock Point.

BigRockNatural
The Big Rock Area, au naturel

I especially wanted to visit Big Rock Point because BK worked on a big decommissioning project there. It was once the site of a nuclear power plant, but now it’s been returned to its natural state. They did a great job; the area is beautiful. We stopped in two spots—a park where you can see—you know—Michigan’s natural beauty, and a commemorative area where the old plant entrance used to be. At the latter spot there’s some information about the plant and its decommissioning, including a plaque and a list of people who worked on the project.

BR_Plaque   CBpoints
The plaque; I point out BK’s name among those who helped

We only caught one sunset this trip.

CharlevoixBeach   CharlevoixSunset

We barely made it back to Charlevoix to enjoy said sunset before heading to Traverse City for dinner and thence to The Snowbird Inn to ogle the Milky Way (sorry, no pictures of that) and fall into bed.

Saturday

You’d think we’d be exhausted after all we did Friday. Hah! Ye of little faith. On Saturday, we went to a winery and out for a swell, fancy dinner (See previous post) but that was at night. We had to work up a thirst and an appetite somehow, so we spent the day seeing sights—most notably Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Bridge   CookieDuneGrove   CookieCBshoulders
Covered Bridge; Cookie being pretty; and Cookie pretending to stand on my shoulders
Dunes-Farm   2Lakes
A farm you can see from the big dune; a view of Little Glen Lake with Big Glen Lake just beyond

DuneShore   LakeMichOverlookDunes
If you descend to the water it may take you 2 hours to get back up; Lake Michigan view

ECLBCB_Dunes   CookieDryad
Cookie, Sis and me; Can you spot Cookie doing her dryad impression in the Beech/Maple forest?
Schoolhouse    MissionPeninsula
LIttle red school house seen on the drive; a couple of vineyard area homes we wouldn’t mind owning

Sunday

Before breakfast, Cookie and I walked down to the beach.

 InnRoad   WalkToBeach
The road in front of the Snowbird; trail down to the beach

We met a nice couple and their dog.

KayakDog   DogWades
Couple kayaking as their water-shy dog follows; dog trying the water out for herself
CookieToes   ArmyGuyRocks
Cookie putting her toes in crystal clear, icy Lake Michigan; Army man and rocks on a stump

After a sumptuous Eggs Benedict breakfast, we sadly left the Snowbird Inn. As we headed home, we stopped in Traverse City for pie and a look at one of several native American trail marker trees you can find in the area.

TrailMarker
The Nishnabe reshaped trees to serve as trail markers

In both Traverse City and Charlevoix we saw black squirrels, which of course put me in mind of Mordor. Maybe I just thought of Mordor because of the hobbit houses. You know how it is.

BlackSquirrel
Black squirrel—shy, speedy little suckers!

We saw a bit of early fall color on the way home, too, and here’s some of it:

DriveColorReturn    DriveColor

So, is Michigan fun as well as relaxing and delicious? Hellzyeah. We packed a lot into a short weekend. We could have picked a focus—sightseeing, biking, winery and/or brewery exploration, shopping—easily filled up our 2.5 days, and yearned for more. We chose to sample bits of the area in different ways and ended up with the same result: yearning for more.

So…we came on account of the Pure Michigan ad campaign (okay, not totally) but we’d return just on account of Michigan!

*Tallulah is what I named my bike.   **Serenity is what Cookie named her bike.
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