Snowy Range Pass

Snowy Range Pass

Friday, August 31, 2018

Point Betsie Light House and Sleeping Bear Dunes

4 Aug 2018

Our first stop on our tour of the western shore of Michigan was Point Betsie Light, which went into service in 1859 with a lifesaving station added to the site in 1875.  The station is open for tours which includes the buildings remaining on the property.  It is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country.

The site also has a grave stone but no grave, which is explained by a nearby marker.
You can see a number of buildings in the same style just off the site. These were part of the lighthouse property during its operational period and have since been sold to private interests as homes and commercial properties. 

Next stop was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore established by an act of Congress in 1970 to preserve its natural features including the dunes and glacial formations.  There are also many other things to do within the boundaries of the lakeshore site.   A national pass covers the entrance fee. The sand dunes are amazingly steep in places along the shore.  Our visit was on a very windy day with some great views.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Crossing into Michigan’s lower half

3 Aug 2018

It was time to head further south in Michigan. Our rough plan was to explore the western shore along Lake Michigan.  First, we had to cross the Mackinaw Bridge.  We have done this before during our full time period and know that at times the bridge can be closed due to high winds. This time that did not happen, it just was a bit slow due to maintenance on the bridge.  The bridge is the 20th longest bridge span in the world and the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere.  It is roughly five miles long and once a year in Sept you can walk across it.

Our first stop was at Big Rock Point for lunch with a water view and some history.  The big rock was used by Native Americans of the Ottawa tribe as a meeting place each spring.  For us, it was a nice place to enjoy lunch.

As we continued south, we crossed a draw bridge in Charlevoix.  We decided to stop and find a place to park to see some of the waterfront. We found a spot across from some rather unusual homes.  We found out that they were a bit of a tourist attraction themselves with tours going by as we were walking around. You can rent them for a vacation, if you are in the area.

A short walk found us at the harbor entrance light where we spent some time watching boats coming and going on a nice summer day. Then it was time to move on.

In order to spend a few days exploring the area, we needed a campground near enough to Lake Michigan to explore the shore line. Most campgrounds were fully booked, but Anneke worked her magic and found the Turtle Lake Campground, which mostly catered to seasonal campers, but could give us a spot for two nights. Part of its online reputation is that it is very hard to find and that proved to be very true but find it we did and enjoyed two nights in this hidden gem. One surprising feature was the huge size of the sites.  If you need a paved spot, this is not for you, but if you have a horse with you, they even have a section just for you.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island

2 Aug 2018

The Grand Hotel has been a cornerstone of the life of Mackinac Island since it was conceived by two railroad lines and a steamship company in 1886.  The hotel opened in 1887 and has been the place to visit on the island ever since.  It is known for the many famous people who have visited the hotel including five US Presidents.

We enjoyed the famous Grand Buffet lunch in the main dining room. In addition to a wonderful lunch, the price includes access to the interior of the hotel.  Without lunch, you can tour the interior for $10 each. 

The most well-known feature of the hotel is the porch, which is a tremendous place to sit and enjoy the view of the waterway and the grounds. The first public demonstration of Edison’s phonograph was done on the porch.  The hotel claims it is the longest porch in the world.  In other words, a must see stop on any island tour.