Petoskey, MI, Summer 2018

Petoskey is a bigger city on the northwest side of the lower Michigan peninsula. It is on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore. When we drove through the first time it seemed big and busy. When we visited again we came in from a different direction and got a bit lost looking for the Post Office. We ended up driving through the historic downtown area and through some of the older neighborhoods. Lots of nice, older, bigger homes leading down towards the harbor on Little Traverse Bay.

It is a pretty large bay to be called Little.

We found a place to park near the Marina by a ball field where young women were playing fast pitch softball.

We sat and watched for a while, a beautiful sunny day, temps in the mid 70s, low humidity – very nice. One game came to a close, the play seemed pretty good. Another started. It was a different level of play.

As we walked around the outfield fence we met a group of teenagers in uniforms, something Dawgs. I asked if they played next and they said yes. It was a big Northern Michigan softball tournament with teams from all over in age groups from 14 to 25, Thursday to Sunday, games at every ball field in town. They were friendly and chatty. Sometimes we meet some young folks and it seems like talking to old folks is the worst thing they have ever had to do.

We had a picnic lunch along and sat on a bench in the marina park to eat.

A nicely done park with lots of trees and a clock/bell tower which rang on the hour and half hour.

The walkway led to a stairway up to the downtown area.

The marina was protected by a jetty with a small light house. Some people were out there. All the while we were there more and more gathered. It appeared to be some sort of event. People were jumping off the jetty into the water while the rest cheered them on.

Sailboats were coming in and out.

And power boats all set up for fishing too.

A walk into the Marina got us up close to huge fancy powerboats that looked like they belonged on the Mediterranean Riviera.

This one was more appealing to me.

Or this one.

There was a mega power boat at the end of one one of the docks at the fuel pumps. It was longer than the slips on either side of the dock combined plus the dock itself. I chatted with the owner who was filling it up. 2600 gallon capacity, he had added 1600 gallons and figured he could get another 600 gallons in before it was topped off. The pump was 16 gallons per minute, more than 2 hours to fill it up. Diesel fuel at the end of the dock was about $4/gallon. Almost $9,000 for a ( 3 hour?) cruise to somewhere. He told me he started working at a gas station when he was 14, eventually bought it and then many more. He said he was 79 years old and still pumping gas.

We did see another form of transportation, a pair of clever fold up electric bikes.

Petoskey was nice. There was a waterfront municipal campground at the other end of town. Traffic was still busy. And it seemed bigger to us than where we really like to spend time but we enjoyed our visit.

More later with Much Love,

Roger and Susan

East Jordan, MI, Summer 2018.

We crossed the Mighty Mac Bridge fully expecting gale force winds threatening to hurl us off the roadway to the water more than 150 feet below. But no, the entire length was under construction (painting) so we crept across at about 25 miles per hour on the inside lane. At that it took almost 15 minutes to get across. It is a metal grate roadway, lots of noise and side to side wiggling. Pretty weird. We didn’t take any pictures but will turn on the dash cam on the trip north.

I 75 going south was under construction (not painting) so we followed the lake shore around to Petoskey and down to Charlevoix. Petoskey is a pretty big city with lots of big houses, big boats in the big harbor and lots of traffic. There was a bike trail along the highway that started before Petoskey and went almost all the way to Charlevoix.

Charlevoix is a much smaller town right on the shore of Lake Michigan on one side and Lake Charlevoix on the other side. There is a navigation channel from the smaller lake to the big lake. A lift bridge spans the channel and opens on the hour and half hour. There is a moderate boat marina, a busy main street with lots of tourist stuff. It looked pretty nice. When we first went through the traffic was slow but steady.

Just past Charlevoix we turned mostly south along Lake Charlevoix to Ironton where the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix branches off. The South Arm is mostly a big wide section of the Jordan River. Plenty big enough for sailing and lots of power boats. It reminded us of Lake Pepin, a big wide part of the Mississippi River about 60 miles downstream from us.

Ironton is at the narrowest part of the South Arm. There is a ferry that crosses to the central peninsula.

When we crossed one day we didn’t have to wait more then a few minutes. Four cars at a time, maybe 200 ft across. Back and forth. The ferry acquired nationwide fame in 1936, when Ripley’s Believe it or Not! listed it’s captain for traveling 15,000 miles while never being more than 1,000 feet from his home.

This day there was quite a wait.

The Tourist Park is run by the city of East Jordan and has about 80 RV sites with full hookups. Nothing fancy but right on the South Arm, a boat launch, boat slips, a swimming beach, ball fields, basket ball courts, tennis courts. And across the street Marty’s Dairy Grill. Kind of like a Dairy Queen but they had great burgers and KFC like chicken as well. The place is a walk up – eat out place, always busy.

Here we are ready for the day.

There were swans swimming.

And Flamingos floating.

And whirling things to ride on.

There were interesting skies every day.

And a friendly well stocked Farmers Market. We got great local peaches, potatoes, beans, some squash and zucchini and more. All local and fresh.

Our last day at East Jordan coincided with the annual Portside Arts Fair at Elm Pointe Park. This has been an annual event for more than 50 years.

There were several dozen local vendors showing and selling a wide variety of artwork and craft items. We always enjoy these shows just to see what people create. The Elm Pointe Park was the Munroe estate which was donated to the city of East Jordan by the Westgate family in 1972.

The original home is still used for special events. One of the out buildings is now the local history museum.

It must have been quite a grand place on the South Arm with trees and shade and lawns and beach.

Tomorrow we head further south to South Haven where it is time for the Annual Blueberry Festival.

While we were in East Jordan we also visited Petoskey and Charlevoix, two cities on Lake Michigan but otherwise quite different. I will post some on each of those coming up.

Last year I read a book by Pat Conroy which included many of his blog posts. It was very clear that the people in his life that made up the essence of many of his stories were among the key ingredients of who he was and what he believed. He ended each blog post with “Much Love”. It is what I feel sharing these adventures with all of you who are key parts of our lives. So …

More later with Much Love,

Roger and Susan

Straits State Park, St Ignace, MI Summer 2018.

We stayed at Straits State Park in Michigan. One of three Michigan state parks on this trip so we bought an annual Park Passport as they call it here. It helps support the park system and we are glad to do it.

The park is nice, lots of trees and shade and in the middle of the week not full. It is right near the north end of the Mackinac Bridge so we expected that there might be a lot of road noise but not much.

There were trails for hiking, none very long that led to some overlooks.

And past some rocky places with trees growing in surprising places.

Further along on the trail we got to the lower campground which is close to the lake. A small beach provided a swimming spot and another bridge view.

The suspension part of the bridge is more than 1000 ft longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I watched a video about when the bridge was built in the 1950s. They worked right through the winters except for the very worst days. Wind, fog, ice, snow … Brrrr.

We sat in the warm sun for a while and watched kids playing in the water and a set of parents working very hard to deflate inflatable float toys long after the kids had left.

We drove into St Ignace one afternoon and wandered around. It probably has other things going on but in the summer it is 99% tourist stuff. There are a half dozen ferry boat docks for hauling people back and forth to Mackinaw Island and at least that many fudge shops for those who didn’t get enough over on the Island. And several t-shirt shops. We sat in a small park near the marina and watched boats go back and forth. There was a small beach, not sand but gravel more like we would see on Lake Superior’s North Shore. There is a nice Ojibwa cultural museum, worth a visit.

On the way into St Ignace we drove by a place called Suzy’s Pasties. Pasties are a common meat pie sort of thing in northern Michigan and northern Minnesota whose idea was brought here by miners from Cornwall. Not all pasties are the same, certainly not all equally as good. And in this area there are dozens of pastie shops.

We thought if we went to Suzy’s Pasties with Susan name we might get a deal. Well Susan forgot to say she was Susan and pasties are pretty much the same price everywhere. We got two and ate them for dinner. They were pretty big and really OK for store bought pasties. The ones Susan makes from her Mom’s recipe (no carrots, not ground meat but chunks) are always better but these were probably the best we have had up here not home made.

Next up a drive across the bridge into territories unknown.

More later,

Roger and Susan