‘Nobody ever visits the Thumb!’ said the manager at the Lighthouse County Park Campground. That’s why we’re here.
When we first started talking about this trip, many people suggested their favorite places in Michigan to visit. We put them all on a map and noticed suggestions for everywhere except the Thumb. (Look at a map and it’ll be obvious. Or ask anyone from MI and they’ll start pointing at the back of their left hand.) Our wish list included most of the suggestions, visits with a few friends and a couple of concerts. To make it all work, we had an open week, and it included the 4th of July.
We opted to head for the Thumb, see what there was to see, and take some time to figure out what to do for the 4th.
The center of the Thumb is super flat and features farms of all kinds – soybean, wheat, corn and wind. We couldn’t resist visiting the Huron County seat – Bad Axe, MI. The Thumb is surrounded by sleepy little beach towns around the perimeter, on the shores of Great Lake Huron. The towns are so sleepy that most museums and visitor centers are open on Sundays, 2-4pm. We missed them all… Port Austin, the town nearest the tip of the thumb, includes a 270-degree view of Lake Huron – breathtaking!
After a stop in Harbor Beach to visit, catch up on planning, and wait out a storm, we moved to the Lighthouse County Park. Squeals of delight (ok, Doug doesn’t squeal, but I do…) as we arrived to our assigned camp site with a 275-degree view of Lake Huron! OMG, how’re we gonna sleep! Sunset? Sunrise?Both!!! We composed ourselves enough to set up chairs for happy hour where our sole task was to watch ‘lakers’ (huge shipping vessels) passing along on the horizon. Best View from Campsite award, so far…
Biking remains a great way to get to know a new area. We spent a gorgeous day touring the very tip of the Thumb. We could feel the wind at our face (and, thankfully, eventually our backs) in the flat, flat interior and the rush of the grain trucks as they passed us. We could smell the exhaust from the soy sauce factory and the local’s favorite, fish fry. We could hear the waves splashing against the mostly rocky shore. A few more sleepy beach towns allowed for more awesome views, including Saginaw Bay. Starting from the tip of the Thumb, heading down the outer edge, across the middle and back up the inner edge, we named our ride – you guessed it – the Thumbnail Tour.
Going where no one else goes turns out to be a good planning strategy. Campgrounds and tourist attractions tend to be over-run around the 4th of July holiday. Our goal was to find a relatively quiet place where we could explore more of MI without crowds. Using the MI State Park website, we checked for any campground, anywhere in the state, that had any free campsite for the weekend – that should be the least crowded… There was one, only one, open campsite in the whole lower peninsula, so we’re heading to Wilson State Park on Budd Lake (near the 3rd knuckle of the middle finger) for the rest of the weekend. Full report to follow. Happy 4th to everyone!
More pix for anyone interested: The Thumb