Road Trip in Michigan, July-August 2012...........Page 2
|A window in Tom's universe.
This is more than a website of photos, it is a place to
share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and
information. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.
2012.... Road Trip in Michigan! At this time, this is a work in progress, but should be completed soon. Between July
23 and August 07, my photo buddy and I toured the state of Michigan. Now back, I am sharing the adventure
through stories and photos from the road. The trip progressed too fast for me to write all the stories, edit all the
images, then share it all from the road. But, now, I am getting the reports together and sharing them here.
If you have been to Michigan, my road reports my serve as a reminder of your adventure. If you have not been
there, you might be encouraged to go. I only got to see and experience a small part of the state, so what you will
see here is but a small sample.. Hope you enjoy the reports!
2012-07-28, Day 6 of the Road Trip in Michigan
Written August 11, 2012
I am back with another report from the road trip in Michigan.. The original trip plan was nothing more than the
basics, go north, drive the dune buggies, then go see what we could see, within a two week span of time, or
thereabouts... Today will be one of the rewards of having such freedom built into our travel plan.
This morning, early, before I got out of bed, the phone rang. It was Gloria. She informed me, or reminded me, that
she would be able to come visit Ralph and me, if that would be okay with us.. Yes, of course!! That would be great.
We chatted a bit about what we might do this day, gave her the instructions on finding our hotel, then Ralph and I
were off to the dining area for a fast breakfast. Around 0900, and right on time, Gloria arrived. After the basic
chit-chat, we chose to go find a lighthouse that Ralph had found on his lighthouse map.. To do this, we had to travel
to Saginaw Bay.. So, we jumped in Ralph's near new Caddy, and off we went!
GPS is great, but cannot help you if you do not know where you are going.. Poor GPS, we entered the info we had
and off we went, and we arrived at the spot that we had entered into the GPS.. Problem was, there was no
lighthouse, not even a suggestion as to one having been there. Needless to say, we had a male driver who was
going to find the lighthouse, come rain-hail-or-high-water!! After that did not work, we drove to the entry point of
what I assume was a state park. We asked the young man where the "Visitor Center" for the park was.. Actually,
the visitor center was what we had been looking for all the time. It was from there that we were supposed to be
able to access the lighthouse. The man said that yes, the visitor center, was "over that way", at the end of the
parking lot.. So, off we went.. Problem is, there was no parking lot in the direction we went! So, we finally turned
around and returned to the booth where the information man was located.. He was there and smiling when we
returned. We explained the issue of not finding the lot. Now he points in a different direction and gives more
instruction. I think it was this time that Gloria took over and pointed the way to the parking lot. We found it this time,
but it was not an easy find. Whoever designed the park and the maps we had, needed to go back to school and try
taking their first grade classes over again!
Ok, so, we find the parking lot and the visitor center. We go in, we ask the information lady for help finding the
lighthouse!! It ain't gonna happen!!! We cannot get there using our little walkers known as feet!!! It would seem we
had misunderstood the lighthouse map. The lighthouse map we had must have also been produced by the same
people who did the other maps that were of poor quality. As it turns out, the lighthouses were color coded on the
map, and two of the colors were so much alike that it was hard to tell one from the other. And, as luck would have it,
this got us in trouble. One shade of red meant that the lighthouse was accessible, the other shade of red meant that
it was not accessible by the public using common means of travel, which we were.. To get to lighthouses, we had to
walk or drive.. Boats, swamp buggies, helicopters, horses, etc, were not on our list of usable means of travel. We
learned of our lighthouse mistake from a really neat lady who worked the information desk in the center. Given that
our quest to see the lighthouse was dead, we turned to this lady for suggestions of what we could do in the area to
fill our day.. Several ideas were tossed out, then came the biggest and the best of them. We had shared with her
the fact that we were interested in things that might be of high interest to a person wishing to take photos. So what
would this be!! Thinking she was stretching it a bit, she suggested a small German town south of our location. It was
about 30 miles away. It was a tourist town. It had old type buildings, it had a brewery, a covered bridge, etc, and it
had the best fried chicken in this part of the world!!! Best fried chicken!! Now this rings a bell with me!! My friend
who lives in the Detroit area has mentioned just such a town and just such a place, earlier.. I think this is it.. Great,
we have a new thing to do this day! So, with all of us in agreement, we load in the car and head for our new
playground, Frankenmuth, Michigan!
Just driving into town was enough to tell us we had come to the right place. Everything we were seeing looked like it
was built just for us.. And, as we drove though town, we quickly located the home of the famous fried chicken we
had heard about!!! ZEHNDER'S. Not only did we find it, but we saw that it had a large parking area, which was just
what we needed!! So, off we went.. The parking lot was huge!!And yet, we barely found a spot at the back of it,
nearly one quarter mile back, or so it would seem. Today is Saturday, and if ever there was to be a day when this
place should be full, it would be today, and it was!!!
We are parked, we have our cameras and we are ready to explore.. When we arrived at the front of Zehnder's, we
quickly got into our photography mode and started taking photos of the front of the building, the big sign out front,
etc.. We took all the photos that any good tourist should take.. Once the clicking frenzy is over, we sneak inside.
There we find a long line of people waiting to eat!!! WOW. These people are serious about getting some of this
famous chicken.. Now let me tell you, this is not your little gas station in the country that serves fried chicken next to
the men's bathroom in the back of the store, this place is first class, all the way, to include the uniforms of the
people working there. We check our watches, it is 12 noon, and there is a long waiting line.. After doing some
serious math, we calculate it will be between 12:30 and 1:00 PM before we can eat here, assuming we get in line
now, and so we do..
True to our calculations, some 30 minutes after we get in line, we are escorted to our table in the Heritage dining
room. Almost as soon as we were seated, we were warmly greeted by a beautiful lady named Patti, who is dressed
in traditional German clothing. She will be our waitress for this dining experience. We inform her that we have never
been in this part of the world but have learned that Zehnder's is world famous for their fried chicken dinner, and that
we would like her help in us having that world class famous experience!! She assured us she would do it, and she
did.. She was the perfect waitress.. And, for her to help, her first task was to get us straight on the menu issue.. I
lost track of how many menus we had to chose from, but Patti made it simple by directing me to the one that had
the famous chicken dinners on it.. After all the menu shopping, I ordered the three piece, all white, dinner. On the
menu, it showed the two piece dinner to be 12.50, and 13.50 for the three piece. Please remember these prices,
and they will be mentioned again in the next road report.
Our dinners arrived, along with the extras, which took some time to figure out, but we finally managed. As it turns
out, several shared items are set on the table. These include slaw, bread, butter, jam, gravy, pickles, etc. You
almost think they are served to one person, as if they were included with one person's meal, but in fact they are to
be shared! And, share them we did, mostly just enough of each to sample them, as we are not sure how large the
entree items will be. We will soon find out that the entrees are quite large! You will see what I mean when you see
the photos. Needless to say, we bugged the poor waitress to death as we kept asking her to do memory photos for
us! At one point, a nice couple who had seen us doing a lot of memory photos came over on their way out and
offered to help. The female in this duo did the shooting for us.. And, she did a great job! Once finished, we were
full!!! We had to pass on the dessert option, assuming we could find something later after we walked off what we
had just eaten.. Please note, we are in a place that serves the best fried chicken in the world, and Ralph orders
fish!!!!! Go figure! He reported that is was good, but~!!! But really, when you are in a famous chicken place, you eat
chicken!!! He is still in the learning mode I guess. We have eaten, gone to the restroom and are on our way out when
I run onto a waitress that was taking a short break. Given that we had to wait nearly 30 minutes to get in, and that
this place is big, I had to ask how many people could be served at once here. The waitress had to think a minute,
then said she would guess the place could seat about 2000 people at a time!! Stop and think about that... How many
chickens will it take each day to supply just this one place for one day!!!!!!!! Now, I have been on a lot of cruise ships
and I am aware that they feed over 3000 people per meal, but that is a cruise ship, not a local restaurant! Actually, I
believe there was a fact board in the hallway that gave some of the info on how much chicken was served each day.
We are done here, time to get out on the street and see the town!
On the street, we found pretty much what you would expect in a tourist town. But, being above the 45th parallel on
the earth's surface, I think, we are feeling some really nice cool breezes that our friends down closer to the equator
would die for.. So as to really enjoy the nice day, and to settle our food, we started walking. We crossed over a
covered wooden bridge, entered a small tourist shop area, and found just what we needed for an after lunch treat,
ice cream. Actually we saw some kids eating ice cream, got them to share the secret as to where they got it, and
off we went. We found the place, we bought the product, we went outside, we sat, we relaxed, and we enjoyed our
new found treat! Perfect!
Having finished our ice cream treat, we strolled on though the tourist areas, stopping to grab some memory shots.
After finishing this area, we moved across the street to a craft show that was in town for the weekend. Gloria did
the girl thing, shopped all the booths, while Ralph and I headed for a photo booth and got into a long conversation
with the husband and wife team, David and Michelle Jones, from the Detroit, who were there to sell the husband's
photos, which were VERY GOOD. If you have time, check out David's website, www.djphotoandframing.com. When
you get there, find his back cat photo and his night photo of Mackinac Bridge. If you really want to get your head
messed up, try figuring out the difference between Mackinac and Mackinaw. We will talk more about this later.
We strolled the town, took our photos, then as evening arrived and the streets became less filled with people, we
headed for the local brewery for a beverage and some rest for our feet. We found the brewery, waited again to be
seated, was seated, ordered our beverages and a snack. Nice place to relax, and we did.. I think we had a couple
beverages each, paid our bill and headed back in the general direction of the car. We found it, we loaded up and
headed out for another adventure! Just when I thought the day was over, and we were headed home, we took a
wrong turn! While recovering from that action, we spied the Christmas place that had been mentioned earlier by
someone. Gloria suggested we check it out, as it was supposed to be a very unique place to see.. That was an
understatement!!! The Christmas place, properly known as Bonner's Christmas Wonderland, was incredible! I
haven't words for describing it. I just hope you will get a sense of the size of it all when you view my memory photos.
While touring the property, we met up with one of the ladies who worked there. Her name was Erin, a local girl who
had been a professional dancer, but acquired so many injuries while dancing that she had to retire. In retirement, she
came to work for Bonner's. During our conversation, she gave me a trivia sheet with some interesting facts about the
place. The most interesting fact I can remember from the trivia sheet she gave me is that Bonner's electricity bill per
day is over 1250 dollars. That is just for one day! Think about that!!! Amazing facts to be sure. If, after seeing the
images, you are interested in more info on this amazing place, check out their website at www.bronners.com.
Here is the link to their trivia information:
It was getting really late when we got out of Bonner's, so we headed back to the hotel, with smiles on our faces.
Back at the hotel, we have to say goodbye to Gloria, as she wants to be back home before dark.
All in all, we had a GREAT day, but I would never have guessed all that we would be doing this day, when we woke
up this morning! We had great fun visiting with Gloria, being a tourist in Frankenmuth, eating famous fried chicken,
and gathering memory photos of our day. We ended the day with big smiles and great memories.
I know this report is long, but assuming you are still awake, I hope you will check out my memory photos shared in
the link below, and if ever you are near this area of the world, please check out Frankenmuth, Zehnder's, and of
course, Bonner's, but, check tomorrows report for important information about Zehnder's.
2012-07-29, Day 7 of Road Trip in Michigan
Written: August 13, 2012
Wonderful things can happen in a person's life, if a person is open to such things! I think I am, most of the time!!!
And, as it relates to this day, another wonderful thing happened. If you will remember the report for yesterday, Day
6, a friend from the past caught up with Ralph and me, then joined us for a tour of Frankenmuth!! Was a great day..
Little did I know at the time that I was going to follow that with another great day in the same place. How lucky can I
After Gloria was gone on Day 6, a Saturday, and I got back on my computer, I learned that two more of my friends
who lived not far away would also like to catch up to me and do some visiting. I called Judy, the one I talk to all the
time. She tells me that she and friend Bev will have Sunday free and would love to catch up to Ralph and me, get a
bite to eat, and just visit the day away.. Turns out, Judy and Bev live about an hours drive south of Frankenmuth.
Judy was going to suggest we meet there, do the chicken dinner thing, and then visit the day away.. Then, she
learned that I had just spent Saturday there!! Now she thinks we need a new place to meet and visit.. I convince her
this is not the case, Ralph and I would love to return to Frankenmuth, which is a 30 minute drive for us, and do lunch
again, then revisit the area.. I always find new things to interest me, wherever I go. So, we do a deal. The girls will
drive about an hour north to Frankenmuth, while Ralph and I drive about 30 minutes south.. Will meet at noon in front
of Zehnder's.. We have a plan.
Now it is Sunday, Ralph and I are up, we've eaten, got our stuff together and we are gone! Driving into
Frankenmuth, I call the girls, they too are just a short distance away! Ralph and I park, make our way to the meeting
place and at around 11:30 AM, here come my friends! Time to start taking memory photos, after the hugs, and
introductions, etc... Following some basic chit-chat, we chose to go into Zehnder's and do lunch, then walk. On this
day, there is no line to speak of, we are seated in short order, and this time we get a booth, as if that matters, but
yesterday we had a table..
We are seated, we are given menus and offered beverages. All the normal stuff.. Now, thinking I have the
advantage from yesterday, I will go straight to the lunch menu, reorder what I had yesterday, then get back to
visiting! Not gonna happen!!!!!!!! There are a new set of menus for this day, and they are different from yesterday..
If you remember in my writings yesterday, when I gave the prices of the meals, and said to remember them, now is
the time to explain why. Along with the menu change comes big price changes. What could possibly necessitate a
lunch menu change from yesterday. I really do not know, and forgot to ask, but the meal that was 13.50 yesterday,
is now 19.50 today.. The religious chickens are 6 dollars higher than the Saturday party chickens. I expected there
would be some magical difference, but no. The religious chickens tasted pretty much like the party chickens. And all
the shared goodies were pretty much the same.. There is still one mystery about the food that was never explained..
Served in the shared area was a stack of little round bread things, just a tad bigger and thicker than silver dollars.
We assumed they were for eating, and that is what we tried to do.. Problem was, they were so hard that we could
not bite them into pieces! We gnawed on then, beat on them, soaked them, sawed at them, but to no happy ending.
At one point, we even ask the waitress what these things were, and why so hard.. She called them a type of bread
or cracker, if you wish, and they were for eating.. She explained that they were for eating, and that if we worked it
long enough, we could eat them.. Forget it,we are tired of these things, and they were still on the table with we left!
Over all, the high priced religious chicken dinner was good.. But if Jesus would have tried to use this bread to break
bread and feed the thousands of hunger people mentioned in the bible, those people would have starved to death!
You can bet on that!
We finish up table visiting and chose to take our fun to the streets! And that we did. Was not long until we found a
place across the street to get a few beverages. Bev said I had to try a particular German beer that was sold here.
Sorry I cannot remember the name of it, but it was a dark beer.. In this place that we went, I was able to try it..
Actually, we had to go to about three places, or more, before we could find a place that was serving it!!!! Of course,
as you will see in the photos, I got the big glass, to be sure I had the full experience!!
As far as the things we saw on this day, they were similar, but not exactly like yesterday, so when you go through
the memory photos, you will see a few things from yesterday, but at a different angle!
Over all we had a great day of eating, visiting, drinking, and doing memory photos.. I will assume anyway that we
had fun based on the old saying that "time fly's when you are having fun"! Because, it seemed the day was gone
way too soon! As the day drew near its end, we strolled up to the brewery, had a final beverage, walked back to
our cars, said goodbye, and off we went.. Later, the girls reported arriving home safely. Ralph and I returned to the
hotel and prepared for the next day or Road Trip in Michigan.. Given that the weekend is over, we will now cross
back over to the west side of the state and continue our exploring up the western coastline.
Once back on the west side of the state, we will once again need a room, in this hard to find rooms place.. And,
again, I call on my concierge people to help out, and they do.. The person I talked to, listened to my story, my plan,
my needs, my desires, my budget, etc, and said they would love to help. I think they took my number and called me
back. In short, they found a small hotel 14 miles south of Traverse City in Kingsley, that should meet our criteria.
However, the person on the phone said there were only "two" units, and no reviews that he could find. It might be a
little iffy to stay here!! OH, and no internet!!!!!!!! This is spooky, but the internet in the other places was poor, so who
knows. I put the man on hold, discussed the deal with Ralph. After some intelligent discussion on the deal, we
accepted the finding, and we even splurged and went for a two day reservation!! We were doing some pretty hard
gambling here. The part I did not mention is that the people who run the place would only take cash!!!!!! Now we are
talking scary!! But, no matter, we are going to give it a try. However, I don't think either of us lost any sleep over it!
If all else fails, we could sleep in Ralph's car!!!!! The price of the room we will be staying in will be 50 dollars per
If you would like to see some new images taken in Frankenmuth, click on the link below.
Note: All these road reports are for sharing, so if you want to forward them to someone, go for it.. If you have
questions about the trip, I will tell you what I know or think.. I am too lazy to do any research!!
2012-07-30, Day 8 of the Road Trip in Michigan
Written: August 14, 2012.. At least if was started on this day. It is near midnight, so I expect it will in the wee hours
of the 15th when this is finished. The images are uploading as I type!
We have survived one of Michigan's most serious, major storms. These storms are not for the faint of heart, nor
those who are lacking a will to getter done or die trying! The storms that one would first think of might be the harsh
winters that surely come to these areas in the winter, or one might think of a storm like in the gulf hurricane season,
but the storm I speak of here is much more challenging to survive than either of the two storm types I have
mentioned. The storm I speak of at this time is better known to the locals as the Weekend Invasion of Northern
Michigan! Like a hurricane in the tropics, be prepared, or leave until it is over! I think this invasion was written about
in the bible, or maybe it was an invasion of locus that was mentioned in the bible.. But, no matter, a serious invasion
is a serious invasion, no matter the type of critters are doing the invading! In northern Michigan, the critters are
traveling on two legs and they are looking for a home, or something.. Do you remember the old song about the boil
weevil that is looking for a home! He would fit right in here.. And, from what I experienced, these invaders will pay
any price to have a place in the invasion area.. If you do not believe this to be the truth, test it. Try to rent a room
anywhere within 150 miles of Traverse City and you will get the message. This appears to be the playground of the
rich, and maybe the famous. Famous and rich don't always go together, though the words have a nice ring to them,
kinda like baseball and apple pie.. Never seen anyone eat apple pie at a baseball game, but, you get the idea.
OK, here is the short of it, we survived the weekend invasion of Northern Michigan by leaving the area.. We drove to
the opposite side of the state to do it, and we gotter done. Now it is Monday morning, the storm is over, temporally,
and we are going to sneak back into the battle ground area, snoop around, then get out before the next invasion.
That is the plan, but, we have to move fast. There are a lot of miles to cover, before the invaders return. If we are
caught here, it could be the end of us, and the end of life as we know it. We have to use all of our driving skills and
time management skills to get in, do the deed, and escape, hopefully unnoticed. Who knows, maybe they catch
outsiders like us, hang us, skin us, smoke us, and feed us the crowds!! Who knows what type of madness takes
It is Monday morning, we are fed, we have loaded the car, paid the hotel bill, and we are gone. We have set our
GPS for the town of Frankfort, Michigan. From the map, it would appear that if we rushed to this locale, then
wasted no time messing around, we could travel from this invasion point to the lighthouse that is shown on the map
in the Leelanau State Park, which is just about as far as you can drive a car going north up the western coastline.
We are going to do our best to do this whole coastline, then zip back to the safety of our "mystery' room in Kingsley,
Michigan. I am not saying we are worried, but we do have to keep in mind that we might need a way out of this
deal!!!!!! Will tell you more later.
On the way to Frankfort, we happened onto a town called Cadillac. What luck! We are driving a Cadillac, so we
need a photo of the car in the town.. Yep, you guessed, when we arrived, we found the big welcome sign and used
it as part of our memory photo log. And, I will add this, I bet there is not more than three people who ever come
near this sign in a year.. But, on this day, some engineers showed up and wanted to stick flags in the ground almost
all around us! Dodging engineers became almost as much a challenge as dealing with WIs, that is Weekend
Invaders! We did get our photos and then we got ourselves out of there, could be that we are being followed, and
the engineer thing is just a cover! We will be more careful as we move forward. This could get serious.
I am not sure what we put into the GPS, but it took us right to the waters edge after we arrived in Frankfort.. Not
much I can think of to share about this little place on our earth. It seems comfy, clean, relaxing, and inviting. I got all
that from just driving into town. Now that I am alert for problems, I am much more sensitive about my surroundings! I
am on the lookout.
At the furthermost point that we could get with the car, we stopped, which was a smart thing considering the
options, and the rock wall in front of us. We have actually arrived at a really neat beach, and it comes with a
lighthouse! How lucky can we get. This calls for some photo work! And, out the car doors we went.. There were not
very many people around at this time, but from the looks of it, the beach area had been designed to accommodate a
rather large crowd. Given the benches that you will see in the photos, I am guessing this area fills up with people in
the evening went the sun is setting. If conditions are just right, I can only guess there are some killer sunsets here.
With the lighthouse positioned the way it is, all the ingredients are there for some winning calendar photos, and at
the very least, some awesome memories! When you see the photos, I think you will see what I mean.
Time is now our enemy, so we have to move fast, and after some shooting, we are back in the car and gone.
Actually we are not even sure what we will see next, we just have a destination marked on our map. But, as it turns
out, we soon stumble onto another lighthouse, only this one is not open to the public at this time, for some reason.
Maybe if I had read the signs more closely I would know, but no matter, I have to see, to shoot, to run... Lots to do
today! But, the name of this lighthouse is officially listed as "Point Betsie Light Station".!!! Now from here, we are
headed to the famous Sleeping Bear Dunes!!
I guess we are there, cause there is one hell of a big sign on the side of the road that says Sleeping Bear Dunes
National Lakeshore! We gotta stop here and get some memory shots, and we do.. We got them. Now I got to tell
you, Ralph and I have distinctly different styles. He is a point A to Point B type of person. Start at Point A, go like a
bat out of hell to Point B, slide to a stop, get out, get a camera, look around for something to take a photo of.. Not
my style at all, I am story teller, with a camera.. Poor Ralph nearly wore his breaks out stopping at all of the places
I wanted to stop and get a memory shot!
Actually he would try to fly by, or sneak by these places, but, being the demanding passenger that I am, I most
often got what I wanted, even if.. For what it worth, he also takes photos at these same stops, but it is me who
seeks them out, gives notice that we are stopping, then directs us to the object of interest. I can smell these things!!
Well, at least I can see them. Problem is, a lot of times there is no place to pull over and do a photo, and Ralph
hates to use the brakes on the car, so a lot of my shots are through the windshield at speeds well above the posted
speed limit! I think that if we keep doing these "Explore America" series, I am going to have a brake installed on my
side of the car... We got the shot of the sign, now it is time to go in and see the park. Not quite sure how this all
happened, my memory is a little thin here, but we are looking for the visitor center so that we can get info, etc.. But,
as I recall, we are doing a lot of driving, seeing nothing, and beginning to worry about our plan. Then, we pass a
parking lot that has a park ranger truck in it.. Takes Ralph about one mile of highway to get our ride slowed down
enough that we can do a Ueeeee, and go back to chat with the ranger and get some orientation happening here.
Ralph likes to do that shop talk thing, so he is tasked with talking with the ranger. And, off he goes. He returns
smiling and in possession of a park map. That's a good sign. The report is that we are doing good, headed in the
right direction, etc.. So, off we go again..
Somewhere in all this, we find the visitor center, we watch the customary park movie, chat with a park info person,
then we are back on the road. We gotta hurry! First exercise will be to drive the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. I read
the story on this man and how he got this drive put into the park. Now, I do not remember the details, so we will
have to skip that little bit of trivia and get on with the actual drive.. But, there is not much to tell, this is one of those
times when the photos will have to tell the story. That said, there is one point on the drive that is worth mentioning.
The Big Hill Climb. That is a name I gave it, in case you were thinking about doing the google thing, it ain't on google,
well it wasn't. but..... Anyway, we have learned to stop at places where there are large numbers of cars gathered
together in an organized fashion. Now, on the other hand, we have learned that if there are a lot of cars, and they
are not parked in an organized fashion, GET THE HELL OUT, something is wrong.. But this is not the case this time.
Everything looks safe, except, we are still on watch, someone could be watching us! Never can be too careful.
We get lucky! Thought we would have to park a mile from the action, then hike all the way back, etc, but, luck was
on our side, we got the best parking spot in town. Right in front of the trail head and the bathrooms. Now, we can
grab the cameras and see what is causing all the excitement.. Does not take long to find out!!!!!! What we see next
is the biggest sand hill I have ever seen in my life!!!!!!!! And it slopes steeply down into the lake below. Apparently
the fun and the challenge here is to run, walk, slide, tumble, etc, your way to the bottom, then pray that you have
enough time, energy, food, etc to make your way back to the top.. I forgot to ask anyone how long it would take an
average person to do a round trip, but I should have. Actually I wanted to try it, but, in the interest of time, there was
not enough time in this day for it. Will have to go on my bucket list.. We did however take a lot of photos of the area
and the action. I can share the experience with you via the images, later. Once we finished playing here, we did the
bathroom thing and were on the trail again.
It is not long until we stumble onto another tourist thing, this time it is a Maritime Museum. Had no idea what I was
gonna find here, but it was neat. Honestly, I do not even know what all I saw, it was just fun to see. I know little to
nothing about maritime stuff. However, I enjoyed the visit and I think you will enjoy the images. In short, I think I
understood that this was a forerunner to the present day Coast Guard. This location, like others were built and
tasked to help wreaked ships. It would seem there was a time when a lot of ships were wreaked, and many lives
were lost! Check the images, you will get to seem the gear that was used to help sailors in trouble.
Not far from the Maritime Museum was a place called the Cannery Boathouse Museum.
This place was packed with things I could relate to. Again, I will have to let the photos tell the story, but a lot of
boats and motors are stored here for safe keeping. I think this place is officially called New Haven, Michigan. No
matter what name it goes by, we gotta get our of here. We still got a lot of miles to cover. We are still heading north
and our goal is the Grand Traverse Lighthouse that is supposed to be at the tip of this landmass we have been
Somewhere around 6 PM, we zing by a sign that says Leelanau State Park. Hey, I think that is the place where the
lighthouse is. And, our GPS suggests we are very close, but at the speed we were traveling, and the fact that I did
not have a brake pedal, my attempt at a memory photo of the sign was something close to a big blur. Guess I will
get it on the way back! But for now, we are on a mission, gotta get to the lighthouse. Sure enough, we round the
bend in the road and straight ahead is a building and some signs that suggest we have arrived in our area of
interest. We did not read the signs, just proceeded forward, and as we approached the building, a man came out
and stopped us. He wanted to know our business, we stated that we had come to see the lighthouse that was
supposed to be here. Then without hesitation, he said that will be 8 dollars to go in the park. Eight dollars, at the end
of the day!! I asked how long the park would be open. He said it was open til dark. I gave him the eight dollars, got
our window sticker and off to the parking area we went.. Grabbed our cameras and headed to the lighthouse. It did
not take long to realize something was wrong here. The first building we came to, in the complex, was locked and
had a closed sign on it. The main building was also locked and a closed sign was on the exterior of the building. Hell,
this whole operation is shut down for the day. Truth is, I should have known people close these places at 5 PM, but
then, I had told the man that took my money that we came to see the lighthouse. He could have been a nice person
and reminded us that the place would be closed. He could have not taken our money, assuming all we came to do
was see the lighthouse and museum. We could have entered knowing that all we could see was the exterior of some
buildings, etc.. Then, a few photos later, we could have gotten back on the road. As is my nature, I became pissed
at the person at the gate for pulling a fast one on us.. I was ready for some confrontation. We are involved in
something dishonest here. Maybe they are out to get us after all and this is just one more step in that direction. I will
be talking to the man.
Ralph and I grab a few memory shots of the outside of the lighthouse complex, then back to the car we head,
except, I pass up the car and head cross country to find the man with my money. Was not hard to do. When I
approached the building again, he came out to greet me. I guess I did not look happy, cause he asked if he could
help. I said he could, and that we needed to negotiate a better deal on the park fee, given that we came to see the
lighthouse complex, indicated as much when we came in, was not warned that the complex was closed, etc. He
really hated to give me my money back, but after a chat, he chose to take that path. He said that if I would bring the
window sticker from our car back to him, he would refund my money. He had tried about four different ways to hang
on to my money, suggesting that I had gotten my money's worth by seeing the buildings, and he suggested that I
had taken some good photos, and he suggested that he could extend my card such that is would be valid again the
next day for my return.. I said I just wanted my money back and that if I returned the next day, we could exchange it
for a second chance to see the insides of the lighthouse, climb to the top, etc.. As we were leaving, we drove by the
man again, turned in the ticket, got my 8 dollars back, and we headed south! We did stop this time at the state park
sign for a memory shot, then we were gone!
As we drive south towards Traverse City, and eventually our new hometown of Kingsley, I am still bothered by what
it is that is drawing so many people to this part of the world. Aside from the cooler weather, I do not see the
attraction. And, as we travel south, and come close enough to the shoreline of the big lake to see the water, we see
boats sitting high and dry on racks, with dirt underneath them, much like you would see in Alaska when the tide goes
out.. What is going on here? Houseboats, jetski's, power boats of different sizes, all sitting high and dry.. And, the
beaches are not beaches, but rather junk yards of trashy looking stuff. I have to be missing something here. There
are no people, there is no water, there is not a nice beach, there is nothing! And so the mystery continues. But,
hunger and a need to find out about our new home, pushes us on. We need food and we need to see if we are
going to be sleeping in the car this evening! We passed through Traverse City, and almost stopped for dinner there,
but I told Ralph we best keep pushing and get to our new home. We needed to see it in the daylight, and if
everything went to hell on us, we might be able to find a better place before the day was gone. So, on we went.
And, into the little farm town we drove. There is a difference between being afraid, and worrying, but I think they are
pretty close together, stress wise. And, our heart if beating faster as we drive closer to the point where the GPS is
taking us.. Then, like a lighthouse in the fog, we see the sign for our new home! But, the sign is all we can identify.
There is no hotel here, just a few little white buildings on the side of the street. Has the GPS taken us to the wrong
place? There is nothing particularly wrong with this place, but it is not a hotel, by any normal description of such a
thing. This confusion caused us to pass the little buildings and drive on down the street, looking for a solution. We
turn around and head back, knowing something must be wrong, but, we will stop at this area, ask around and see if
we can figure out what the issue is. Ralph pulls into a parking area next to one of the buildings near the street. I get
out and start to go find someone to talk to. About this time a man steps out of the building and asks if my name is
Ballard. I say it is, and that I am Tom. He laughs and tells me we are to park behind the building where we are
standing. There will be a parking area behind where we are talking, but Ralph has to move the car to the back of the
building, via a fancy move out onto the street, then down a narrow path to the back of the building. What the heck
have we gotten into.. Ralph takes off to move the car, and the man I am with continues to chat with me. I forget
what about, but I think I am telling him how we found the place, via our service.
I have to take two steps back now and tell you what I missed earlier. After leaving Traverse City, and telling Ralph
that we should go see our new home before we eat, I also told him that since we were required to pay cash I
wanted to see the place before handing over the money. If by chance the place was usable, we could stay both
nights. If it was barely usable, we would just stay one night, rather than sleep in the car. If it was a rat hole, we
were out of here. I would sleep in the car if necessary. And that was the plan, see the place, then decide to run if
needed. Now the time of decision is so close I can smell it. I go around the sidewalk, and head for the "thing" in the
back. The man up front has told me his wife is waiting for me/us in the back. Can you imagine! No hotel, nothing that
looks like a hotel, going behind something that is not a house to find something that is called a hotel. They do not
even write stuff into any kind of movies except the ones Clint Eastwood played in when he was young!!!!!! Should I
have brought a cape, a cigar, and one of those six shooters like Clint carried?? Too late to go get the stuff now, we
I rounded the corner and found Ralph already parked, the trunk open, and coming my way with a smile on his face.
When I got close enough to hear him, he said We're Home!
Home!!! What experience has this man just had? But, if you know that feeling you get when you, or anyone gets,
when they find they are the object of a surprise birthday party, then you know the feeling that is starting to affect us.
That is the feeling I am starting to get. The building is just a little white building, which looks as if it were built for
Cinderella! Everything is clean and neat, to include the parking area, the grass, everything. This is soooo far from
what I could have imagined! Ralph could not move fast enough to show me the inside, and introduce me to Diane,
the owner of these "two" rooms in this one little building, called a hotel. It was just too cute! Once inside I quickly
looked around, checked the bathroom, etc, etc. Everything was perfect. We had asked for four towels and four
wash clothes for the rooms when we ordered it. They were there. Three is the standard these days. And, they were
not the thin cheap towels. These were premo! I am sooo excited that we are going to get to stay here. It is small,
but it is cute, clean, and fully meets our needs, short of the internet, as there is none here. I could hardly give Diane
the money fast enough. I wanted to hurry and secure the place before she backed out on the deal. It was awesome.
Turns out, this lady and her hubby had built four units, two cabins and this two room thing. The two cabins had
become full time rentals for someone to live in, and these two units were rented to people like us. We were soooo
lucky! Diane was just an awesome young lady, this was her baby, and she had everything just perfect. I could
recommend this place to anyone who travels this way in the future.. Tell them Tom and Ralph recommended it..
After all that worry, to find this, what a thrill. But, now we still have eat. Luck is with us again. We learn there is a
Subway just down the street and that if we hurry, we can eat before they close! We are Subway fans, this is perfect!
You know, as we drove towards Kingsley, and as I reflected back a few days earlier, when we were hurting for a
place to spend the weekend, another one of those religious stories came to mind. This time, it was the story about
that baby Jesus which I had heard the Christmas stories about. Now I am thinking he must have actually been born
in Northern Michigan. I am thinking history has it all wrong, he was not born across the ocean as we think. NO, he
was born right here in Michigan, and I can now tell you that all the evidence points to the fact that he was born on a
weekend.. That is correct. And, yes, maybe he was born in a barn, and his mother, Mary, might have had to wrap
him in some ragged clothes, etc, and I am here to tell you, that there for awhile, when we were having a hard time
finding a room, I felt just like baby Jesus, before he was born. I had started looking the local barns over and sizing
them up as a place sleep. But, given all the cars parked outside the barns, I'm guessing they too were full.. It is
something to see when this place is invaded. I did have one last card that I had not played. I have two stents in my
heart, and if all else failed, I was going to hospital, tell them about the terrible pain in my chest. By my calculations, it
would be Monday before I was released from ICU. It would take until then for them to complete the testing, and give
me a clean bill of health. I am not sure what Ralph's plan B was, we never discussed it. Guess I will have to ask him
sometime. Maybe he too would have been having some heart issues as well.
We go eat, we go get some cold beverages at the local gas station, we come home, we consume the beverages,
shower, and we are ready to call it a night. We have had quiet the day!!!!!! Tomorrow, we have another long hard
day of driving, but, at the end of that day we will be coming back to our little home in Kingsley, Michigan. Hope you
enjoy the memory photos from this day.. There were so many of them, I had to break them up into two sets.. Check
them out when you have time! At the end of the photo set, you will see Ralph doing his impression of baby Jesus
sleeping in the manger.. Don't miss it. You will be emotionally touched by the experience.
2012-08-31, Day 9 of the Road Trip in Michigan.
This is being written: August 16, 2012
You may be in for some relief from reading this time, but you will be long on photos, if you have time for them. This
day was very busy, but busy is a relative word. We were busy, but we were not involved in the drama that we had
experienced earlier in our trip. Today, we just drive, take photos, and drive..
The day started with two good things. One we like Subway, and two, there is a Subway in Kingsley that serves
breakfast! So, we get breakfast at our favorite eating place, and then we are on the road, headed north. Our first
goal is to find the lighthouse called Old Mission Lighthouse. It is shown to be at the north most tip of a peninsula
which starts near Traverse City and points almost straight north. Of course we are always on the hunt for something
to take a photo of and sure enough, we are not gone long when we find it, or should I say them.. We find a lot of
stuff growing along side of the road that we do not know what is!! Well, most we do not know. We did find some
apples, but the other stuff, we have no idea and never found out. Some of the things grew on large trees planted in
rows, some things grew on short vines, and other items grew on short trees!!! The only item that we could identify
was the apples. We even made a photo stop to record the discovery of the apples.. Actually, we took photos of
most of the stuff, but all I can do is show you the photos.. Don't know what the items were.. And, speaking of not
knowing. A couple of days back I said I drank a dark German beer that I did not know the name of.. Well, the lady
that recommended it contacted yesterday and told me it was called "Gunken"... Maybe some of you will recognize it
by that name!
After a bit of driving and looking at the stuff growing on the side of the road, we arrived at the famous Old Mission
Lighthouse!!! Pretty cool little place.. We spent a fair amount of time there. And it was here that we were right face
to face with the fact that the great lakes are going dry. I spoke to the lady in the lighthouse and she said the lack of
rain and snow and ice, for the last four years had taken its toll on the lakes. When you see the photos, you will see
what I mean. The lakes are really drying up! In the photos, you will see how far out the water line has moved. At
normal level, it would come close to the bottom of the hill where the lighthouse sits.. Not anymore! Gone! Everyone
hopes it will come back, but times are changing.. So, who knows. You will see in the images, that people who have
visited here were creative, as they did rock art out of the rocks that have been exposed by the dropping water level.
Some of them are really neat.. You will see them soon!
The inside of this lighthouse is rather simple, with little in the way of museum items to look at, but it is a neat place.
If one wants to go up into the light box itself, the fee is 5 dollars. Actually, I think it is a donation, which gets you a
free climb to the top. There are no tickets, etc. You are on the honor system!!! Both Ralph and I paid our 5 dollars
and did the climb. Was neat, but not as exciting as the near 100 foot one we had been in earlier!!! That was the best!
Once we were out of the lighthouse and finished with our memory photos, we got back on the road. This time we
have set our goal to be "just wherever we get to". We did not go far when we discovered the Old Mission General
Store!! It was certainly a throwback to the past. But, it was put together for show. When we went inside, we started
taking photos. The man that owned it, I guess, approached us and asked if we were selling these images. We said
no, they were for family and friends to enjoy later. He said OK, he was selling photos, actually he said he was selling
the ambiance!!! Then he went on to tell us that movie people and advertising people come here to do commercials,
etc.. Guess he charges them a users fee!!!! We got our photos and got some chat time with the fellow. He
proceeded to talk about the store and life in this area and why people came here initially. As I recall, it was a priest
or someone looking for a place to grow cherries that sort of lucked onto the place. The cherry business soon
expanded to something really big, dried apples!! Dried apples, why!! It would seem that back in time, there were a
bunch of land grabbers crossing the Mississippi River at a place called St. Louis, and back then these people joined
wagon trains and headed west, but they needed dried fruit for the trip, to keep from getting that nasty scurvy, of
whatever it is called.. Dried apples would keep pretty well and became the favorite of people going west.. They
wanted tons of the stuff.. Turns out the people in Old Mission could supply the product. The apples were grown
here, dried, loaded on boats, shipped to the Chicago area, then moved down the Mississippi to St. Louis! I think that
is how the story goes! And to pay the man back for his stories, I chose to buy a beer, sit out on the front porch and
drink it down, just like in the old west days.. Wrong, not today! I did find something unusual, took it to the counter,
ask the man for his opinion. He declared it to be the finest and most popular beer sold in this area. How could I
resist. It had to be good, cause when I went to pay for it, I learned it was near 6 dollars per bottle, and that I could
not drink it here! Some fancy law prevented that action. So, what am I to do?? He sold me the beer, but I cannot
drink it here! I ask about where I could go to drink it. The man tells me I have to go to the beach!!!!! Beach, where is
the beach?? It is down the road a ways! He gives me instructions, and off we go to find the beach.
We did not have to go far to find the beach. It was about one mile, or less away. We parked, I got my beer and my
trusty Boy Scout beer opener, opened my beer and I was all set for a treat! Not quiet! Maybe some people would
like this stuff, but it did not rate very high with me. Ice tea would have been better! I did drink it, quickly, tossed the
bottle in the trash and we were gone!
We head towards Traverse City, and if memory serves me correctly, we did something really different for us, we
ate lunch at at a Wendy's!! Was pretty good, actually.. Once finished with this little treat, we go back on the road
and headed north towards places with names like Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and the like! We have not a clue what
we will see this day, we are just exploring, but, I have gotten an email earlier from my friend Judy, from the day in
Frankenmuth. She tells me to be sure to see the mushroom houses in Petoskey. OK, so I make a note of that! Now
we are headed north. We find a few little coastal places along the way, but nothing grabs our attention. After miles
of driving, we find a harbor and take a few boat photos, got to do something, we are getting bored! Later we arrive
in Petoskey. Once there I call my friend Judy to ask where the houses are located.. No answer. I leave a message.
So, we stop at a Walgreens and Ralph goes in and ask about the mushroom houses. None in this town, but, the lady
thinks they are back down the road aways in a town called Charlevoix. We have passed them!!!! OH well, maybe we
will find them later, so we keep going north.
We judged that staying next to the shoreline would provide us with the best views of the lake, but there are no roads
next to the big lake!!!!!! We did however find a road that was quite the experience. Everyone should drive it at least
once.. I am guessing it is about 20 miles long. We never could tell just how long the road was because the GPS did
not want to go on it. It kept routing us around it as we worked our way north. But trust me. You have to do it. It is a
narrow, one lane road with no lane markers. It is a hard surface road and there are even a few houses along it..
There are no pit stops, so be prepared!
We got through it and all went well.. To get there, we have put in the name of a place called Cross Village.. Which is
just a spot on the map, not a town. And it is there that we arrive after our drive, which is called Highway 119, aka,
Lake Shore Drive.
To be honest, when we arrived in Cross Village, we saw nothing of interest, but we did remember that we should
stop at all places that have lots of parked cars, if the cars are neatly parked.. We found a lot of cars and they were
neatly parked, so we decided to get in on the action, whatever that is. Turns out, all these cars belong to people
who are inside a place called Legs Inn. We were not prepared for what we found inside. I cannot even describe it..
You will have to see it in the photos! In short, it was a bar and restaurant type place, it was super dark inside, and it
had lots of weird wood products decorating the interior!!! I started taking photos. Ralph went to the car, got his
camera and started taking photos. It was pretty wild! But then, I walked outside again, and around towards the back
where I found a large outdoor dining area, with a great view of the big lake!!!! Now I know why people are here!!
Maybe we too could eat here, but there was a line and after looking at the menu, it would not meet our fast food
requirements. Most of the stuff on the menu was fishy stuff, which I do not eat.. We chose to pass on the eating and
get back on the road headed home. We are just a few miles from Sault Ste Marie right now, and had we known we
would be this far north today, we could have just gotten a room here, but that was not the case, we had to get back
to the big town of Kingsley!! And, we had to find the mushroom houses.
We are on the road and rolling. At some point earlier, Judy returned my call. I told her the mushroom houses were
not in Petoskey as she had said.. I tell her where they are. She says oh yes, you are correct, she was not driving
and did not remember. She was sure, however, that they were in the United States, but not much more! So now we
are speeding towards the town where the mushrooms are, and we are headed for the hospital. We were told
earlier, at Walgreens, that they were near the hospital. So, the GPS took us to the hospital. No houses. Ralph goes
into the hospital to ask about the houses. Nobody has heard of them. So, Ralph catches up with a patient that is
leaving and ask them about the houses. The patient says we are are almost on top of them, they are behind the
hospital. We get in the car, take take the road behind the hospital. NO houses. I call Judy for more info. She then
calls the person who took her there. I am told the houses are on the street where we are.. So, we look again. NO
houses!!!!!!!! Finally, I say to heck with the houses, we are going home, and we do.. At least we head that way..
About two little towns down the road, we are stopped at a stoplight, and as we start to pull out, some flashing blue
lights come on behind us, and Ralph pulls into lot on the the side of the road, the lights follow us. It is a patrol car!!!!
What is the issue??? The patrolman tells Ralph that he just came into a 45 mph zone, doing 61 mph!!! Ralph says he
may have, being that he was somewhat tired from driving all day and trying to get back to his hotel. The patrolman
did the usual paperwork, and then handed Ralph a little piece of paper, and said he had only charged him for 5 mph
over the limit!!! And he said Ralph could pay online within the next 10 days!!! Easy!!! Now, we can get back on the
road and on our way!
When we come through Traverse City, we mention dinner to each other, but keep on driving. I finally ask Ralph
where he plans to eat. He thinks we are going to Subway in Kingsley.. OPPS, too late for that , Subway is closed. It
is after 9 PM.. We do a Ueeee and head back into town. We end up back at the same Wendys that we had eaten
before!!!!!!! Was even good the second time.. And once finished there, we were out the door and gone.. In short
order, we were home.. But, the day is not over.
We need a room in the Sault Ste Marie area. I call my concierge, get the same fellow who found this place for me,
tell him he did a great job and we want to do something similar for the next two nights but, in Sault Ste Marie. He
finally finds something, and from the description, it sounded okay, so we took it.. Now we are done for the day. We
can shower, and get some rest, tomorrow is going to be a long one. We are going to leave early, drive from
Kingsley to Sualt Ste Maire, then catch the ferry to Machinac Island!!!!!!!! We will be rushed! For the memory
images of this day, use the link below!
Tom Ballard Photography