Although we’re not much for planning our itinerary, we did plan to stay at Straits State Park on the shores of the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Straits, and visit Mackinac Island on a weekday. The State Park is a destination in itself – gorgeous views of Mackinac Straights, Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge just a few steps from our campsite. It’s also walking distance from downtown St. Ignace, home to 3 ferries, 2 Native American museums and several nice restaurants.
Recall from a previous post, we put friends’ recommendations for places to visit in MI on a map and tried to visit most of them. Jula, a friend from VT, suggested several, including 3 in NW MI – amazingly varied, totally cool places to visit. Thanks Jula, you nailed it!
Since we left in May, we’ve been following the wind and the music and making up our itinerary as we go along. We’ve stayed at an interesting mix of campgrounds, friends’ and family driveways and alternative ‘boondocking’ sites. That worked just fine until we hit MI in July… Kids are out of school, campgrounds in MI are awesome and popular, and State Parks are sold out until well after Labor Day on weekends. We arrived in NW MI and found zero camping options, yet plenty of places we wanted to visit over the weekend. What are a couple of Destinators to do?
We left Ann Arbor with a round of hugs and no plan. We wanted to make our way to see Great Lake Michigan and eventually see Sleeping Bear Dunes. So, point the rig northwest and drive.
Doug is a member of the Blues Guitar Unleashed (BGU) forum, an on-line guitar community dedicated to learning blues guitar. Periodically, BGU members host (and we attend) live events in different places around the country, which is where we met our friends Tom and Laurel. For the past few days, they’ve been our hosts and fun finders extraordinaire and Tom our lead guitar for an incredible blues binge.
As with any BGU meet-up, warm greetings were quickly followed by instruments coming out and an impromptu jam session, this one in Tom’s music room on Friday evening. Tom and Doug traded off on rhythm and lead guitar and bass, while I got to accompany them on the RV drum kit ’til way past our bedtimes. There’s no better way to start a blues binge!
Hailing from Warren, VT – the Fourth of July Capital of the Universe – we’re thinking of friends back home today. Hoping everybody has a great 4th!
Recall from our last post that selecting a place in MI to spend the 4th of July weekend was a bit like throwing a dart. It (mostly) worked! We’re celebrating in Harrison, Michigan, on Budd Lake, right in the middle of the state (or the knuckle at the base of the middle finger, if you’re from here).
‘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.
No tour of the Great Lakes would be complete without seeing Niagara Falls, especially for someone (say, Doug) who’s never been there before. Neither words nor photos can convey the beauty and power of a waterfall that drops 750,000 gallons of water per second. We’ll try anyway…
Well, it’s not really true… There’re actually 1,864 islands (this year) within a 50-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River between Ontario and New York State. The border zigs and zags among the islands, intentionally keeping each island wholly within either the US or Canada. Although there is a greater number of islands in Canada, several in the US are larger, rendering the total acreage of all the islands about even. The count changes periodically since there are rules to qualify as an island. Each land mass must have at least one square foot of land above water level year-round and support at least two living trees. Some of the smaller islands come and go.