Pure Michigan

Pure Michigan

It’s hard to believe that we live so close to Michigan and yet, we have barely spent any time there. So, when we decided to go to Michigan for vacation this year, we figured we should see it all! We drove up the western side of the state and back down on the eastern side. We stayed in Mackinaw City and visited several communities in the northernmost part of the state.

If you want to read more about our vacation and see lots of photos of the gorgeous scenery there, you can read about our daily adventures starting here.

These are a few of the things I loved about our vacation:

A friend told us about the campground where we stayed in Mackinaw City. It turned out to be perfect for us. We could “camp” in a cabin with our own bathroom. The kids loved having the freedom to ride their bikes around the campground for games of “bike hide n seek” or to go to the pool, playgrounds, basketball court and beach.

We loved being able to ride our bikes along a paved path into Mackinaw City. Most of the time, we barely needed to use our car.

Mackinac Island was a gorgeous place for a special bike ride, exploring the beauty of this unique car-free island.

Exploring the beaches of Michigan was always an adventure. The beaches were never crowded. Most seemed almost deserted. We never knew if we would find sand or rocks or a mix of both. Sometimes the water was perfectly clear and cold. Other times, it was warm and shallow and we could wade forever or even ride our bikes in the water.

The sunsets in Michigan are spectacular, and there’s a new, unique show every evening.

If you enjoy photography, you couldn’t ask for better photo ops. It seems there’s something to shoot around every corner, whether it’s a beautiful beach, a waterfall, a lighthouse or a sunset.

Check out all of the blog posts from our Michigan adventure:

End of camp, beginning of vacation

Our Michigan adventure: Part 1

Our Michigan adventure: Part 2

Our Michigan adventure: A trip to the island

Our Michigan adventure: Dune jumping

Our Michigan adventure: Tahquamenon Falls

Our Michigan adventure: Last day

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Our Michigan adventure: Last day

Our Michigan adventure: Last day

Today is our last day in Michigan.

It was supposed to rain all day, so we thought we might spend a good chunk of time cleaning up and getting packed to head home. We made a quick trip into Mackinaw City in the morning to explore the beach downtown. It was breezy and a little cool, but the kids and I had a nice time digging in the sand while Kent went for a bike ride.

When we got back to the campground, we figured we should build our last campfire before it started to rain. We had hot dogs and s’mores for lunch.

 

As the day progressed, we were blessed that instead of getting cold and rainy, the weather actually cleared off. We went for a drive to visit some light houses and then ended the afternoon at the sandy beach at the campground.

We wrapped up our last evening with a few family photos along the beach. This time, as the sun set, it was like a big yellow spotlight shining on the beach. It created some great lighting for a few photos in front of our cabin.

This little one decided to be photogenic and kept running around posing for the camera.

Click on the thumbnails to view all of our photos from the day:

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Our Michigan adventure: Tahquamenon Falls

Our Michigan adventure: Tahquamenon Falls

Our next adventure was to drive north to Tahquamenon State Park to see one of the largest waterfalls in North America. Tahquamenon Falls was totally worth the drive.

It was a short hike to the lower falls, which is a series of five rushing water falls. The upper falls is the third largest waterfall in North America.

After visiting the falls, we drove about 15 minutes more to the northernmost tip of Michigan. We had planned to play on the beach once we got there, but this only showed our ignorance of all things Michigan.

Lake Superior separates Michigan from Canada at this point. It’s also the site of hundreds of shipwrecks due to the harsh weather. The wind was fierce and cold. We could barely stand on the beach for a few minutes before we turned back to get in our van and head for warmer shores!

By the time we got back to the campground, it was dinner time, so we ended the evening with bike rides around camp, a fire and s’mores. We also were treated to the most glorious sunset show we had seen since we arrived in Michigan. As you can see from the photos, the colors of this evening’s show were spectacular!

Click on the thumbnails to view the rest of the photos from the day:

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Our Michigan adventure: Dune jumping

Our Michigan adventure: Dune jumping

After resting up from our trip to the island and having dinner, we decided to go explore some new beaches. We drove to Wilderness State Park, which was about 20 miles away, but had the added benefit that it was on the western side of the state. That meant the sun would set directly across the lake.

The beaches along this shoreline are very sandy and featured nice sand dunes. As with most of the places we explored in Michigan, we were surprised to get to the beach and find we were the only ones there! We had the whole beach to ourselves.

We settled in a spot on the beach with a nice sand dune that felt like a giant sandbox. The bay was full of warm water and, once again, the kids could wade out a long way into the water before it even reached their knees.

We entertained ourselves by running and leaping off the edge of a sand dune into the deep sand pit below. It was a beautiful evening that concluded with a gorgeous sunset. As the sky turned to red, it cast a red light across the lake, lighting up the trees and rocks on the other side.

To view all of our photos, click on the thumbnails below:

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Our Michigan adventure: A trip to the island

Our Michigan adventure: A trip to the island

On Tuesday, we decided to explore the main tourist attraction in this area: Mackinac Island.

We rode our bikes back into town and basically rode them right onto the ferry. We had heard of all of the famous tourist attractions on the island, but we were mainly interested in the 8.3 mile bike ride around the edge of the island.

Mackinac Island is truly a biker’s paradise. It took us a few minutes to figure out the hierarchy in this car-less society. Horse-drawn carriages and bikes shared the lined roadway. Pedestrians were supposed to walk on the sidewalks.

As hundreds of people got off of the ferries all at once and crowded into the busy downtown, it was confusing at first to figure out how to get around without running over the people in the middle of the street or getting run over by the horse-drawn carriages.

We pedaled north and although the streets were still lined with bikers, at least we had more room to ride. Riding our bikes around the island was definitely the highlight of our trip.

We made frequent stops to take photos of beautiful buildings, gorgeous beaches and the crystal clear water of Lake Huron. At the northern tip of the island, the water was as clear as tap water. The beach was covered in smooth pale stones. It was a hot day, but the crisp breeze felt like a burst of air conditioning.

Life on Mackinac Island was fascinating. We learning that about 500 people live there year round. They have a public school that serves children in grades K-8. We imagined what it would be like to travel around the island by horse or bike to go grocery shopping or take the kids to school.

We were especially impressed by the hotel workers who could balance a pile of suitcases on their handlebars to transport luggage to and from the ferries. We learned that residents use the ferries to travel to and from the island through Jan. 2. From then on, they depend on an airplane to get take them to the mainland.

Usually in February, residents find their freedom when the lake freezes and forms an ice bridge, allowing them to ride snow mobiles back and forth. They use their old Christmas trees to mark the path of the “ice bridge” across the lake.

Click the thumbnails to view all of our photos from Mackinac Island:

 

 

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