In all, we traveled about 3000 miles roundtrip on our jaunt from Cleveland to Michigan. The focus of our travels was on Leelanlau County, which is the “little finger” peninsula of the Michigan mitten. It sticks out into Lake Michigan.
Our base was in Maple City at a comfortable apartment, and from there, it was about 20 miles to Glen Arbor, to Leland, and to Traverse City. We traveled the peninsula enjoying the scenic views as we looked for art galleries.fThe countryside in this part of Michigan is beautiful! As we toured we experienced rolling hills, lots of forests with very large trees, miles of cherry orchards, picturesque farms with wheat and corn fields, lots of vineyards, and, of course, the beaches of Lake Michigan as well as those of inland lakes.
Lake Michigan’s water is crystal clear and beaches are sandy above the stoney edge.
This is my favorite beach in the area. Here is where I spent eight summers many years ago sunny myself, swimming and walking the shoreline looking for Petsokey stones (petrified freshwater coral.)
Vineyards are increasing in the region where award winning wines are produced.
This region is the cherry capital of the US and cherry products of all sorts are sold – candies, pies and pastries, dried cherries, vinegars, jams, jellies, and preserves.
Along the shore of Lake Michigan near Glen Arbor is Sleeping Bear National Park consisting of 450 ft. high bluffs of beach sand along a shoreline of 65 miles.
From the park website: Although the Lakeshore is long and narrow, it still has the depth for excellent representations of several northern hardwood and conifer forest types, abandoned farm site meadows, wetlands, lakes, streams, and bogs and splendid examples of glacially caused landforms.
A popular site is Sleeping Bear Dune, a huge dune named from a Native American legend that told of a mama bear and two cubs swimming across Lake Michigan. Due to a storm, the cubs didn’t make it and they formed two islands off the coast, North and South Manitou Islands. The mama bear made it to shore and rests there for her cubs to return. The exhausting, but fun sport at Sleeping Bear Dune is to scramble up the dune, slipping back in the sand with every step, and once at the top, running and tumbling down! Great fun!! I did it many years ago, but not this time.
The National Park also includes the two off-shore islands. Charlotte and I took a ferry and spent a day exploring South Manitou. The uninhabited island measures 3 miles by 3 miles and consists of trails, abandoned farms, a lighthouse, and campsites. The island was settled in the 1830’s and eventually gained a population of 170 permanent residents. They practiced subsistence farming and provided cord wood to steamers passing by on the lake. When steamers began using coal, the population on the island diminished.
We encountered several abandoned farmhouses that the Park Service has kept by. I took this photo from inside the foundation of an old barn. The lower part of the foundation was made of stone, but the upper part was made with wood and mortar.
There is a wrecked ship on the other side of the island. We did not have time to see it.
We did learn about shipwrecks on the Lake Michigan at the Leelanau Historical Museum. Since the early 1800’s there have been 1500 ships wrecked by ferocious storms, fires, and groundings. As the water level in the lake recedes, more of these wrecks are visible.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Michigan