Friday, August 14, 2015

South Manitou Anniversary Trip

Our  15 year Anniversary was celebrated in June on a small island in Northern Michigan. South Manitou Island is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The Ferry,
 Mishe-Mokwa takes about an hour to reach the island.

We shared the boat ride with about 20 boy scouts. We were hoping their campsite wasn't right next to ours.
Later we were very thankful for the boyscouts. 
Their motto "always be prepared" helped me to know who to ask once we realized we had left our rope.  Pesky chipmunks meant food items would not be safe if they were left on the ground. 
It was rustic camping. This meant no showers and vault toilets. 

Instead of each site having its own fire pit, a larger one is placed between campsites for sharing. It was around the shared fire pit we met up with some hikers.  Two of them had hiked the Appalachian trail.  The trail is a path of about 2,000 miles on the eastern side of the US. 
 Nathan and I had been discussing earlier that day if it would be all that great to hike the trail. I thought if the scenery doesn't change much and you aren't getting great views, it might be a lot of work without reward.  Talking to the seasoned hikers we met, you get the impression it has some great pay offs and it is indeed worth the venture. 
Apparently when you hike the trail you are given a special name, Nathan knew this and asked them what they were called. 
New Hampshire Mary- she had lived in New Hampshire at the time but currently resides in Whitehall and Billy Pilgrim a reference to Slaughter House Five - I have not read that book- his real name Steve.
 They also had a friend with them Larry. Larry  smoked a pipe and the day before he had put his pipe in his sweatshirt by mistake and a burned a whole in it. His friend gave him the name Pyro Larry. 

On our second day we had a few hours before the return boat ride. About 15 minutes in I realized we hadn't reapplied our bug spray. We decided it wasn't worth hiking back and continued on. At first we didn't notice it too much, but once our path headed into the woods I lamented not returning back for the spray.  Nathan captured a photo of my remedy. My cardigan is almost a mesh material which allowed me to see and protected the remaining bits of flesh from the merciless mosquitoes. I could still hear them buzzing in my ear which I felt was equally atrocious to my senses. 

South Manitou once supported a village and remnants of that community remain there today.  I was a little disturbed by the number of snakes that we would scare off the path as we walked. In Michigan encountering a poisonous snake is rare, having a fear of them on the island wasn't rational, but it still made my trekking through the woods a little less enjoyable. 

Our campsite didn't have access to potable water.  We actually were led to believe it would. Sleeping Bear is a National park and it seems logical that tidbit of information wouldn't take much effort to put on the website.  I  actually had called a couple of days beforehand to figure it out and I was told the website should be updated.  We found out later that the boy scout leaders also believed that there would be water. I felt empathy for them since they had to walk out to get enough water for twenty-two people.  The nearest location to get water from our site  was the ranger station. The station is where the boat drops you off when you first arrive.  It was a two mile hike- one way- just to get water.   A highlight of our trip occurred on one of our treks to retrieve water.  We both were tired and it wasn't as if the two mile walk back to our site was going to offer any new scenery to rally our spirits after a long day.  As we were filling up our water bottles we spotted the ranger hanging out near his ATV.  Reading our minds would have not been difficult, how nice it would be to get a ride back.  Nathan said he almost talked himself into asking, but we didn't.   It was at that moment the ranger approached us and offered us a ride back since he would be heading out near our site. 
  In my head I could compare it to a   1980's sitcom, the classic scene  would show a person illuminated and playing the hallelujah chorus in the background.   He joked that if anyone saw us we had to act injured or sick.  Ranger Micah was our hero for the moment. 
View from the lighthouse.  117 steps to the top. 

The remains of a shipwreck. 
Michigan has many lighthouses, I think more than other State.  Many are restored and maintained for tourism. They give us a window into the Great Lakes maritime history.  This visit to Manitou was only my second time touring the inside of one. I hope to get the opportunity to visit more. 

A great way to celebrate 15 years.  It helps to have the best travel partner along for the ride. Love my husband. 

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