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Road Trip!

You never know what kind of weather Autumn will bring to Michigan. It could be 85 one day and 55 the next.  Some years we barely have time to appreciate the color change before wind and rain bring the leaves down far too soon. Other years, like last year, the color lasts for weeks and every weekend is gorgeous. We Michiganders have learned to live in the moment because we never know what Mother Nature will bring tomorrow.

Last Thursday my husband had the day off, the high temp was around 70 and only partially sunny.  Knowing we couldn’t wait for “perfect” weather, we put the top down on the mustang, grabbed a couple of sweatshirts, cued up my favorite playlist and headed out to explore some of the rural areas we hadn’t had the chance to visit since moving here.  Sunshine was scarce and we had the heat on most of the time, but we had a great time anyway.  We stopped at whatever looked interesting.  I can’t resist a scenic overlook!

 

   

We ended up in Luzerne, just outside Mio, for lunch at Lost Sky Creek Ranch.  When we pulled up I wasn’t sure they were open, despite the sign in the window.  It’s a large, wooden building with a covered porch/walkway and has extensive grounds.  We could see dozens of picnic tables, multiple fire pits, and a stage off to one side of the building.  There was no one else around until the owner’s son came out to great us, enthusiastically telling us there was going to be a band the next night.  You couldn’t help but smile as he repeated himself a few times.  His grandma came out and explained they were just putting away their food truck order and we could sit anywhere we wanted.  We went inside to find a pool table, large bar, tvs, a small stage and a couple dozen tables.  We chatted a bit and discovered that they had just bought this property in January and were just getting things up and going when Covid hit and they had to shut down.  They reopened in June and all summer had bands on their outdoor stage.  They have plans to build a bigger outdoor space with an elevated stage, heated bar to be used year round and inside events as well.  It’s the kind of place that would be fun to go with your friends on a Saturday night. They even have some hotel rooms.  I wasn’t able to find a website, but you can look them up on Facebook.  The food wasn’t fancy but it’s a cool space and I would go back again.

After lunch we took a different route back towards Oscoda. We passed a lot of beautiful farmland and parts of Huron National Forest. We drove through the decommissioned air force base in Oscoda. The city is utilizing much of the space for the community. There is a library, community theater, dance studio, condos and senior housing, veterans memorials, parks, etc. Kalitta Air is also based there and is a leading employer in the area.

For dinner we went to Edelweiss in downtown Oscoda. The owners here just had their first anniversary of buying the business. Unfortunately because of Covid restrictions they are only doing outside service at this time. They have invested money in a nice patio area with 4 or 5 tables umbrellas for shade, and a large gathering table in the middle with a fire feature. A fun place for a dozen of so people to get to know each other. I love what the new owners are doing as far as promoting their new menu and updates online. I hope they are able to open up again soon inside, I’m looking forward to going with friends for dinner and live music. After dinner we took a walk around town. There are some cute businesses spread out over a few blocks and it’s only a block off Lake Huron and a big park/beach where in a normal year they have live band and movie nights.

It was a great day for a road trip. I’m hoping for at least one more before the leaves completely fall, but if that doesn’t happen I will be glad I at least had this day! If you have any questions about any of the places I mentioned or have a suggestion of a place I should check out, please comment below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Our 2020 Summer Vacation

When we planned our 6 family group vacation a year ago none of us had any idea what 2020 would have in store for us. We happily planned our trip and spent months making plans and talking about how excited we were. When this Covid-19 craziness started back in March none of us thought we would even still be talking about it by August! But that’s not the way it happened. One of our families had to drop out due to loss of income/vacation time. The other 5 decided to try to make the best of it. 5 families SOUNDS like a lot more people than it actually was. We fluctuated between 13-18 people depending on what half of the week it was. Our kids are mostly grown now and only some of them are able to come on these annual trips anymore.

We spent very little time in each other’s cabins. The resort had a great layout for a group trip so we spent most of our time outside by/in the lake. Sometimes we did things together, sometimes we did things on our own. We tried to come together in the evenings as much as possible by the bonfire to catch up with each other. That’s the great thing about these trips, everyone does their own thing yet we are still “together”.

These are the highlights of our vacation along with links to places you may want to check out.

Heart Lake Cottages

This small waterfront resort has 7 cabins (our group had 5 of them during our stay). They are very close together and on a pretty level piece of property so there isn’t too much walking involved to get around the common spaces. This made it ideal for a group trip and people. It’s on a small inland lake, Heart Lake, which is about 10 minutes south of Gaylord. It’s only an hour from Petoskey and Mackinaw City and just a little farther to Traverse City. The resort supplies kayaks, canoes, rowboats and stand up paddleboards. These things were in “fair” condition and could use a little more maintenance. Each cabin has a picnic table and as with the water toys, they needed a little more upkeep. There is a group bonfire pit with plenty of supplied wood. There are 2 docks and a swim raft a little bit out from the shore. Our group had a great time playing in the water. Those that didn’t want to swim were able to sit on the dock and still feel included. I think we were in the water everyday!

The cabins themselves were about what you would expect in that price point. They are just basic cabins but had all the necessary items. The owners are onsite and quick to provide extra soap, garbage bags, and other things you may need. One thing to note, the cabins do NOT have air conditioning and while that may not seem like a big deal in Northern Michigan, the first 3 days of our week there was extremely humid and made for uncomfortable sleeping. By the 3rd night we were so tired we actually went to a hotel! Luckily the weather broke and the rest of the week was much more pleasant!

If you are looking for a place to stay that is central to what Northern Michigan has to offer, I would definitely check this place out. Heart Lake Cottages

Petoskey, Tunnel of Trees

One of our day trips included an afternoon in Petoskey. This was the only trip our whole group went on. We wanted to hunt for Petoskey stones and went to Petoskey State Park. It is a big beach with plenty of sand and a concession/bathroom building. I will caution you to wear water shoes because walking along the beach is VERY rocky! You will also need patience when entering/exiting the park as there is a lot of traffic! I did end up with 2 small stones, now I just need to polish them.

After the park we drove through Bay Harbor (gorgeous town!) and then took M-119 (Tunnel of Trees) up to Cross Village. I’ve done this drive before but for those that haven’t here are some things you need to know.

1- It is gorgeous! Tons of trees, glimpses of Lake Michigan, beautiful homes and meadows.

2- There is nowhere to stop along the way. Make sure you use the bathroom and have gas before you go. Even when you reach Cross Village there isn’t much there.

3- It is not a fast drive. It’s only 27 miles but takes almost an hour each way. There are a lot of curves and the road is narrow in a lot of places. This could be a problem for someone with motion sickness so take precautions. It can also be hard to stop and take pictures if there is a car right behind you so be careful.

Once we got the Cross Village we had to eat at Leg’s Inn. Most in our group had not been there and it is the kind of place you have to visit at least once. The food is good and we’ve always been treated well by the staff. But the restaurant itself is the draw. It is one of the most interesting ones I’ve ever been in! It is on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and there are tables and chairs scattered around the lawn for you to use while waiting for your table or have an after dinner drink. They have indoor and outdoor dining. They had to split us up into groups as they can’t accommodate large groups because of Covid guidelines. They also don’t take reservations. It is always first come, first serve. I suggest making sure when you visit the area you aren’t in a hurry and can just enjoy it. It will be worth it!

Mackinac Island

We’ve been there many times and it’s one of my favorite places in the whole state! This time was a little different. Masks are required on the ferry, carriages and in the shops/restaurants. Luckily the weather was nice because that wouldn’t be so fun on a hot day! Just our daughter and her family came with us for this day trip. We all did a carriage tour together and then split up in the afternoon.

My husband and I chose to leave the hustle and bustle of downtown behind and walked down to Mission Point. The flowers were beautiful and the breeze was just enough to keep us comfortable while we held hands and enjoyed our walk. We had a leisurely lunch, a couple of drinks and were feeling very content. There is just something about the island that does that to me! My husband surprised me by getting a cab (horse powered of course) and we headed to the Grand Hotel. While I prefer the comfort/style of Mission Point, I had always wanted to check out the Grand Hotel porch and it did not disappoint!! We paid our $10 to explore the lobby, porch and gardens. It was well worth it. So THIS is how the other half lives! We reluctantly walked back into town to meet the kids at the ferry and head back to the resort. {*Bonus tip- don’t try to eat ice cream while walking down the street next to horse carriages. The smell will effect the ice cream, trust me!}

I have found this site to be the most helpful when looking for information about the island Mackinac Island Tourism

Overall our trip was quieter and more secluded than in the past. We only left the resort a few times. When we did we followed social distancing guidelines and tried to balance fun with being cautious. Michigan has so much to offer. We’ve enjoyed sticking closer to home this year and supporting our local economy.

I’m glad we were able to spend this much needed time with our friends. When life gets crazy or overwhelming being surrounded by your loved ones can bring desperately needed relief.

If you have any questions I’d be happy to try to answer them. As always, thank you for reading. =)