Friday, June 27, 2014

California to Chicago and Michigan by Rail - Traverse City

We awoke this morning to the same cloudy skies we had yesterday, but it’s supposed to clear up later so we’ll hope for the best.  Today we would be exploring the area around Traverse City so after a quick breakfast we hit the road.  The first thing we did was to drive out the Old Mission Peninsula which splits Grand Traverse Bay in two.  It was a nice drive through some beautiful countryside.  At the end of the peninsula is Old Mission Point where there is a park and Old Mission Lighthouse.   

The Old Mission Lighthouse

Old Mission Lighthouse from the beach.

A small marina on west side of the Old Mission Peninsula.

We wandered around there for a while and then drove back on the western side of the peninsula and made our way to the Leelanau Peninsula, which forms the western side of Grand Traverse Bay.  We stopped about half way out in the town of Suttons Bay for lunch and then continued on to the end where we visited the Grand Traverse Lighthouse, which was a much larger facility than the Old Mission Lighthouse. The good news was that the weather predictions were correct and we did start to see the sun and some warmer temperatures.

The Grand Traverse Lighthouse
Judy taking a break in a nice spot.
Our next stop was the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which started about half way down the west side of the Leelanau Peninsula on Lake Michigan.  We had trouble finding access as we didn’t have a map or any information, but we found a scenic drive which wound through forest and dune views.  The dunes were very impressive with steep slopes all the way down to the lakeshore.   


The steep side of a dune
It's a lot easier going down than up.  If you look closely in the
center of the picture, there is a guy trying to climb his way up. 

After the drive, Val, Judy and I decided to go back to our hotel and my brother and his family decided to find access so they could climb the dunes.  As we drove back the weather continued to clear and it turned into a beautiful afternoon.

We had decided to have a pizza delivered for dinner that night so after everyone had returned we had a pizza feast.  This was our last evening in Traverse City and with our first sunshine in a few days we went down to enjoy the beach at our hotel.  The beach is private and they provide lounges, barbecues and a dock.  There is also a fire pit, which they light every evening and provide the makings for s’mores so we spent some time roasting marshmallows over the fire and making s’mores.  The sun sets much later here than in Southern California so we spent quite a bit of time down on the beach enjoying ourselves; the perfect end to the day.

Val looking out from our third floor balcony.
The Tamarack Lodge from the beach.

The Tamarack Lodge from the pier.

Judy enjoying the balmy evening.
Everyone gathers around the firepit.

Doug preparing his marshmallows for s'mores.
Val enjoying her first ever s'more with Judy looking on.

Mandy feeding the mama duck and her
ducklings who decided to join our beach party

Sunset on Lake Michigan

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