Back to Big Mac

Marquette had proved a worthy host for our recuperation, but we measured our enjoyment of the stay against the need to head home. With Labor Day weekend, the weather had turned autumnal. The days were partially overcast and chill winds were blowing. It was time to head south.

We planned a slow transit home. We would stop and rest for two days and continue on. Our first stop was at the southern shore of the UP right next to the northern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge.

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The afternoon sun was bright and warm when we arrived at the Lakeshore R.V. Park Campground. Our site looked out over the shores of Lake Michigan and it felt awfully good to bask in the sun.

This warmth was short-lived as thunder storms pelted us through the night. Lying in the Airstream in the rain is a delightful syncopated soundtrack. Each raindrop hits the aluminum roof with a bang in a different timbre. It makes for awfully cozy sleeping.

The next day was again rainy and cloudy, but we enjoyed a drive along a dirt road running right along the shore. The water was incredibly high and the waves were rolling in to shore. We had excellent views of the bridge and the windswept grasses.

 

We enjoyed a brief visit to the shore of Lake Michigan. Jim collected rocks, Dakota ignored the waves.

These were our last days on the UP.  Next stop half way down the mitten.

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The Tunnel of Trees

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Photo by Connor Gray + Rachel Haggerty

From Indian River to Mackinaw City is a pretty straight shot across the top of the mitten. But adventure beckoned and, at Jim’s urging, we decided to detour and experience what some have called “the most beautiful drive in Michigan.”

Beginning at Harbor Springs and running 20 miles to the Wilderness State Park, M-119 is known as “the tunnel of trees.” Hugging the Lake Michigan coast and riding the top of the bluffs, this is a very narrow and twisty-turny highway with jaw-dropping vistas on one side, our left as we were heading north, and wooded domiciles on the right. These spanned various styles with a smattering of log cabins, cottages, a few impressive homes and some that were definitely less impressive. All along the woods to the right were signs marking forest areas belonging to families. They were taking care of their wooded lands.

There are no pictures with this post because both my hands were busy gripping various parts of the truck. Jim drove with great confidence and easily negotiated the hairpin turns, dips and swoops of the road. One particularly tight hairpin turn is known as the Devil’s Elbow. We had to wonder how many of the oncoming cars wondered what possessed those people in the blue truck towing an Airstream to take the drive.

We probably added a good hour and a half to the trip, but it was definitely not something to miss. And, despite bouts of terror, I am so glad we did it.