Northern & Upper Michigan
I started out not being exactly sure where I was (listen - my brother gave me his cabin address and I just went where the GPS took me, OK?), but I trusted him that it would be beautiful. I also trusted him when he said most of the roads to private homes were dirt roads -and knowing that made it a lot easier to navigate. Alone. On a dirt road. In the dark. At night.
But we got there and I woke up the next morning to this fantastic view and I was sold. Northern Michigan was a jewel I had never seen before and I had to investigate it!
But our first day had a Michigan wind of 14mph. Not good for kayaking at my brothers lake, but great for touring. And maybe it was windy, but what a gorgeous sunny 70 degree day we had before us!
The Better Half and I started out at Big Rock Point on Lake Michigan. The water was a beautiful turquoise and clear which surprised me because this was the same lake as Chicago, right? And I don’t recall Chicago’s water looking like this amazing!
We then headed for Petoskey but this sign for Lavender Hill Farm drew me in (and I was driving at this point). Better Half was starving but I told him I’d buy him some lavender cookies. ;-) Sidebar note - Lavender blooms in July and it was the end of August. We missed the blooms, but it was still a very cute farm and store filled with all things lavender. Worth a stop no matter what time of year! And Better Half had lavender sconces instead of cookies to fend off his hunger pains. Not exactly thrilled but it helped the hangries…..
I did promise him food right away and when he saw Beards Brewery in Petoskey, he was a happy camper. Excellent lunch of fresh fish and chips and a beer. He was so happy, he actually WANTED to shop in Petoskey. I don’t think it was just the food, the town was so quaint it drew us both in to its charm. Pretty much easy to say we both enjoyed ourselves tremendously. I didn’t even embarrass the Better Half when I suggested to the sales clerk that maybe the sale price for the next day could be honored today? She agreed. Score.
Our next day had temps of 70’s again and only 3 mph winds. Perfect day to stay at my brothers. We kayaked, fished and had just a grand day by the water. Ended up with a beautiful sunset too!
Our next grand adventure found us on Mackinac Island - No cars. No chain hotels. A top 10 island in the USA full of family owned businesses. Home to the famous Grand Hotel, the Governor of Michigan’s summer residence and fantastic views as you boat over of the beautiful Mackinac Bridge all overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. We biked, ate and wine-tasted our way through the island and had one of the. Best. Times. Ever.
The family-owned Grand Hotel is historically decorated by Dorothy Draper Co. (same people that did the Greenbrier in WV in case you didn't noticve from the pics on Instagram). Afternoon Tea in the Parlor and nightly dancing remain a part of the guest experience. It's the Best Hotel in Michigan as noted by Travel and Leisure.
Another day found my my sister-in-law being quite quite insistent we try her favorite restaurant in Boyne. It was a French restaurant that had some interesting unique dishes. And she was right - it’s fantastic. Try it when you go there - great atmosphere and very good food. It’s Cafe Sante.
Our last adventure we found ourselves in Charlevoix - absolutely full of character and the largest boats I had seen so far in Northern Michigan. Obviously, this was where the cool people lived. So, it was officially decided by my brother and sister-in-law, that we are to buy a place in Charlevoix for us all to use as our “city” getaway to complement their “rural” getaway. Maybe. But only if I get one of the mushroom houses. Then we’ll discuss. 😉 It IS an incredibly quaint, beautiful town with LOTS of character! (And they have tours of those mushroom houses - wonder how that type of house started?? I’ll research and add a post on this blog soon...... )
☀️to the Grand Hotel, of course. Try the afternoon Buffett if you’re only there for the day.
☀️to the Good Fellows Wine Cellar who had a fantastic charcuterie plate and excellent selection of wine
☀️to Mackinac Bike Barn for their excellent bikes.
☀️to the Cafe Sante for the fantastic food
☀️And a special shout out to my sister-in-law who not only remembered how to bike but also her advanced skills such as:
* Balance. ...
* Pedal Stroke. ...
* Front wheel lift. ...
* Technical climbs. ...
* Riding drops. ...
* Steep descending. ...
* Bunny hops.
The Draco Viewer is a one-of-a-kind telescope built for the sole purpose of viewing the Draco constellation……..Over time the Draco viewer has fallen into disrepair….Families of ravens have taken over the viewer. Due to constant exposure to the still operating lens AF tracking device, these birds have developed genetic abnormalities including glowing red eyes in fledglings and gold colored feet in adults. In this way the Viewer continues to make a contribution to scientific history by spawning generations of a unique species found nowhere else on earth, the Draco Raven.
Truth or Fiction????
Update 9/11/19; KSL Capital Partners, LLC (KSL) and the Musser family announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which an affiliate of KSL will acquire the Grand Hotel from the Musser family, whose legacy with the hotel dates back over 85 years.
Dan Musser III will remain chairman. Terms of the transaction will not be disclosed.
And yet another update; Michigan is the nation's best state, according to Thrillist's list of the best states.
Michigan was listed as the #1 state with this explanation:
Far too much of the Michigan narrative centers on Detroit and its many issues. The Motor City’s become a scrappily rising underdog you can’t help but root for, but Michigan’s greatest strengths lie in the state as a whole. Did you know Michigan has more coastline than any state other than Alaska? Did you know it has such an embarrassment of beer riches that you can easily hit Bell’s and Founders in the same afternoon? Did you know the UP is so remote and uniquely beautiful that it almost feels like a secret 51st state where they inexplicably love British meat pies? Did you know most residents are more than happy to apologize for Kid Rock? If you answered yes to at least three of these than you already understand Michigan’s charms. If you answered no to these questions, you should listen to the dulcet tones of Michigan tourism pitchman Tim Allen and get yourself there immediately."
The top five rounded out with Maine, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Louisiana.