This lake is mighty! If you ask google, you’ll learn that it is second largest of the five Great Lakes of North America and the only one located entirely within the US. If you venture out by boat as we’ve done this week, you’ll find that it’s vast, dazzling and mesmerizing; it can also be fierce, fearsome and downright formidable! We’ve been lucky so far as we’ve traveled south on the Michigan side from Mackinaw to Ludington where we are now – so far we’ve only had one really bouncy day on Friday when we came here. If you ask Danny he’ll tell you it was “perfect out there, just a little chop”. In fact the other two captains, Greg and Kevin on TxAu and The Laurie Jean will tell you the same; well maybe not Kevin, their boat is the smallest and was taking the waves pretty hard. In truth the waves were 2 to 3 feet with an occasional 4 tossed in just to make sure you’re paying attention. The thing about the lake that’s different from the ocean is how close together the waves are; we had a 6 hour journey to get here on Friday, it was a long time to be pounding, rocking and rolling! So I learned why some boaters refer to the large as “Lake Bitchigan”! But we were never in danger and I wasn’t nearly as whiny and anxious as I would have been when we started this trip almost 11 months ago.
Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island were the last stop before we crossed into Lake Michigan, it’s in between the upper and lower peninsulas. There are no cars on the island, people travel either by horseback, horse and carriage or bicycle. It’s like being in a different century and I’ve always wanted to go there. We rode our bikes all around the perimeter of the island, played pitch and putt golf and had a cocktail on the porch at The Grand Hotel. I would have loved to had dinner there but after 6 pm men are required to wear a jacket and tie and women a dress or skirt (yes, really,) and since we traveled by ferry from the city to the island and rode bicycles all day, it just didn’t work. My favorite part of the day was the ride around the island, it’s really hard to describe how beautiful the water is there. Mackinaw gets added to my list of favorite stops and I’ve imagined bringing my kids and Lilah back for a summer vacation sometime. Ryan and Amanda, Shannon, Evan – this is a test to see if any of you ready my blog, if you do please comment and let me know your thoughts on this idea! 😚
Many people told us that The Georgian Bay and the North Channel in Ontario would be the most stunning part of the trip, and we definitely loved it there, but I have to admit that I’ve been truly surprised and delighted by Lake Michigan. It feels like you’re out on the ocean, it’s just so dam BIG! All along the shore there are sand dunes and lush green hills, and each port we’ve stopped in has been quaint and totally alive with summertime! The weather has been ideal for boating and sightseeing and we did a lot of biking this week to go see beaches and lighthouses and view of the lake from the “other side”.
So this week we left Mackinaw and traveled to Charlevoix as a first stop. The biggest “attraction” here are the Mushroom Houses; these are really unique homes built by a self taught builder named Earl Young. They really do resemble mushrooms! Danny remarked that it must have been difficult to cut the rafters for those houses. I have no idea what that means, but I assume he’s right. They’re cute and are apparently available as rental properties – I bet they’re expensive especially given the proximity to the lake and the downtown area.
Our next stop was Leland which includes the little village of Fishtown. This is another quaint town but instead of all t-shirt stores and pubs, there are upscale shops on the Main Street and Fishtown is a cool little area with shops in shacks all along a small inlet that leads to a waterfall. When we arrived in the harbor the water was a stunning aquamarine color, I couldn’t capture it by camera. It’s like the Caribbean only no palm trees – or salt – and the water is COLD…….never mind it’s not like the Caribbean after all but it sure was pretty!
After Leland we traveled about 35 miles to Frankfort. That day the water was flat as glass, like a pond! I obviously far prefer it like that though I’m told that’s more unusual than the rougher days. We’ve been leaving port really early – approximately “O Dark Thirty” because the waves attend to pick up later in the afternoon. So if we leave at 6:30 we can be in town by noon or 1:00 ish and have the afternoon to check out the town and prepare for the next day. There’s usually docktails at 5 or 5:30 before dinner – it’s not exactly a rule on The Great Loop, really more of a suggestion – we take it seriously! Docktails are a fun part of buddy boating but there are other advantages too. It’s just better and smarter to be out on the water with someone who cares about whether or not you make it to port. We communicate boat to boat via vhf radio about important and silly stuff and the other day when it was rough it was particularly reassuring to hear those voices, if for no other reason to than to distract you from the next wave! I like boating better with my buddies.
So we’ve spent the weekend in Ludington, another vacation community with a lighthouse, a maritime museum and lovely beaches. There’s a state park about 8 miles from the marina; Danny and our friends all rode out there yesterday, I had made an appointment for a much needed mani/pedi before those plans we made so I skipped it. Priorities people. Danny’s nephew Shannon and his wife Diane drove about 2 hours from their home in Grand Rapids to cone visit us this morning, it was really great to see them. I meant to get a photo but forgot.
We will get moving again tomorrow and should be in Chicago by next week, then we’ll be flying home for about a week for a short visit. I can’t wait to see everyone, I’m getting at that homesick phase again, seems to happen about every 6 to 8 weeks. This is the trip of a lifetime, but there’s no place like home.
Thanks as always for following along our adventure,
Captain Dan and Cruise Director Jodi