Sunday, July 8, 2012

  People often spend time and money planning trips to new and exciting places. We have spent three years traveling Southeast Asia. We felt upon our return to Michigan we should take time and explore all the natural beauty it has to offer.

First stop: Hartwick Pines in Grayling.
 The nature walk gives you information on the different types of trees and how they grow.   They have reconstructed logging camp and explain how lumberjacks lived and worked.

The lady at the visitor center gave us the tip to visit the Elk reserve before heading out of town.
A large fenced in farm is home to rescued elk.

Second:    The U.P (Upper Peninsula)

Before we crossed the bridge the kids dipped their toes in the frigid waters of Lake Huron.

How can you remember the names of the Great Lakes? Think of HOMES
Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

The Mackinac Bridge ( pronounced Mackinaw) is the third largest suspension bridge in the world it connects the lower peninsula of Michigan to the upper.

Third Stop:
We stayed over at St. Ignace. The Mystery Spot has been around since the 1950's.
Generations of families have traveled to the Mystery Spot to experience phenomena of nature. Such things as water running up. The tour is quick and you aren't allowed any free time to explore the place on your own, maybe if you did you could figure it out.

This is how the story goes:
        In the early 1950’s, 3 surveyors named Clarence, Fred and McCray came from California to explore the Upper Peninsula.  They stumbled across an area of land where their surveying equipment didn’t seem to work properly.  For instance, no matter how many times they tried to level their tripod, through the use of a plum-bob or level, the plum-bob would always be drawn far to the east, even as the level was reading level.  As they continued their research of this land, they noticed a constant feeling of being light-headed.  Later, realizing their queasiness and problems with the surveying equipment only occurred in an area about 300 feet in diameter, they felt they had discovered a “Mystery Spot”.

The next day we were ready for the Fourth place: 
Mackinac Island.
Our trip to the Island can be summed up with four Fs.
Ferry, Fort, Family and Fudge

 We took the Star Ferry of course.

Not this Star Ferry...

The ride on the Star Line Ferry takes about 25 minutes. It was cooler that day and we did not stay up top for too long.

Mackinac Island does not allow automobiles. Therefore lots of bikes and horses, watch your step!

 The View from the top of Fort Mackinac. A statue below is of Pere Marquette the founder of the first European settlement in Michigan. He was a Jesuit missionary to the Indians.
The cannon demonstration was a hit with Elliot.

The living room of an officer who lived at the Fort.
There were a lot of interactive displays and the people who performed the demonstrations were interesting and helpful.

We were walking down from the fort when we hear Nathan's name being called out.  We turn and see Aunt Dee and Uncle David sitting on a bench.  I remembered they were planning a marriage retreat at the Grand Hotel, but I hadn't recalled when.  It was great  to meet up with them.

 Growing up in Traverse City, another tourist destination in Michigan, I learned the term "Fudgies." This refers to people from out of town. Originates from people coming to sample the delicious homemade fudge.  We took the opportunity to be fudgies on the island.

Father Marquette's first European Settlement was Sault Ste Marie.
Our Fifth stop.
The Soo Locks were built to help ships navigate the St. Mary's rapids.  A difference of 21 feet between Huron and Superior made the crossing a little precarious.  
When we arrived we were able to see a ship being raised for heading out and one being lowered for coming in. 
It was my first time watching the ships and found it fascinating. 
The kids were bored and not happy that we were going to stay until the ship made its way out, but at least they can say they have been there. 

Canada is on the other side of the bridge
We would have considered a drive across, but we did not have our passports. The last time I went to Canada, you didn't need one. 

Number six: 
Tahquamenon Falls

 One of the photographs I remember looking at the most as a kid, was a faded yellowish tinted photo of my mom in a bikini top and shorts standing near the falls.
 I believe the U.P was my parents honeymoon location and that photo was taken then.

How did we round out the trip? The seventh and final destination.  Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City. Indoor water park and hotel.

 Elliot jumped on the lilly pads over and over until he could do it without falling.

 The big bucket being poured out and ready to drench the people underneath.

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