We have an insane calling to be where we aren't

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

North Lower Michigan

 That's what I call bike riding!

Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes have been on our radar for quite sometime. We had to go west. So we headed to North Lower Michigan's little finger for some bike riding and relaxing.
 
The Leelanau Peninsula is dotted with small communities surrounded by farms, vineyards and orchards making it a perfect place for stargazing and considered one of the state's dark sky areas. We haven't been fortunate to see the milky way due to the clouds but they do keep us cool while out and about.

After catching up on our sleep, we pulled out the road bikes and map to plan out our routes for the ten days we were here and got the rubber on the road.

 
The rails to trails paved path from Sutton Bay to Traverse city between lakes was a great 30 mile ride. I have found riding flat or rolling hills sometimes painful on the butt. this ride did not disappoint, delightful with a touch of discomfort. Actualy, it hurt.
The fish tacos were just right.
 


Our ride from Glen Arbor to Sleeping Bear Dunes along Glen Lake on the road was so pleasant returning on the Heritage Trail. 


 
One of the museums in the Dunes.




It took a while to climb in the sand with a few calf cramps.




This part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is very steep. People were crawling back up on their hands and knees. 

 

 Northern Michigan's commercial fishing heritage remains alive today in Leland's Fishtown. We walked along the docks, amongst the weathered fishing shanties, smokehouses, racks of drying fishing nets, and fish tugs on the Leland River, and we could imagine what it would have been like in the early 1900s to live and work in this small fishing village, nestled along the shore of Lake Michigan. Fishtown still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in the state of Michigan. Many of the shanties now house gift and clothing boutiques, art galleries and specialty food shops.

 We took a ride around North Lake Leenanau stopping in Fishtown in Leland which was a favorite of ours. The ferry to the Manitou Islands leaves from these docks daily at 9:30 and returns at 5:30. 



While living in Colorado Springs, we often enjoyed riding with the Colorado Springs Cycle Club on their Saturday morning  Latte Rides. This stop at the end of our ride made us think about those rides and our friends. We think they would have enjoyed this ride on  a perfect day around the lake.
 

 
Since our bike rides often end with a stop for "coffee", we often meet interesting people. There is something about being on a bike that makes people stop and talk. While stopped in Lake Leelanau at the end of one of our rides, we met a young lady that was touring along Lake Michigan on her mountain bike. She was riding 30 miles a day for 10 days and enjoying the lovely sunshine and blue water.
After our  Sutton Bay ride, we met a man that is spending the summer sailing the lakes in and around Michigan's lakes. He  had walked from the marina for coffee and a treat before heading over to the grocery store. He had stories to tell.



 

The Traverse Lighthouse that over looks Lake Michigan is said to be haunted by Captain Nelson.  Danish ship captain Peter Nelson, was the lighthouse keeper at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse from October 12, 1874 to July 11, 1890. He died two years later.
 
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum accepts applications for volunteer lighthouse keepers for the season, April through December. You’ll work hard during the day greeting visitors, spouting historical information and helping with maintenance of the buildings and grounds, but, hey, it can’t be as grueling as the work of the 1880’s keepers, who spent their days
filling lights with sperm oil, trimming wicks, polishing lenses. You can watch panoramic sunsets in the lighthouse tower at day’s end, and tuck up in your own bed in the northern apartment of the lighthouse. Volunteer keepers live at the light for one or two weeks.

 Along the country roads were self serve stands selling produce, pastries and jams along with anything else they want to sell. On our return ride from the lighthouse, we stopped for some great peaches and a piece of apple pie.


We did get a hike in to do some geocaching but the mosquitoes were insane in places. That just made us keep moving while we did the loop. We did find the caches and stopped at the overlook to enjoy the view.
This strange looking creature had just come out of his cocoon while we watched.
 
This part of our Michigan trip was better than we could have hoped. Riding our bikes to visit the small towns along the country roads with temps in the low 70s and very little rain was a perfect way to enjoy our summer or at least a small part of it.  


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Niagara Falls, NY

The Grand Finale of falls


We never stopped at Niagara Falls in our trips across New York in the past. This time we were too close to not stop. Even though we prefer to avoid the tourist areas, it turned out just fine. The crowds weren't too big in the early mornings. The rain would let up enough for us to get out and see the sites for a while every day.

We stayed on Grand Island which is 15 minutes across the bridge from the Falls. It has to be the  flattest island we have ever stayed on making it great for biking riding with its wide bike lanes and paths.
Niagara Falls State Park has many walking and biking trails and continues to have improvements being made to make the area a nice place to walk and enjoy the surroundings.



 Looking over the Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island.








The Park trolley was a great way to explore the area and get a feel of what the park has to offer. After paying our $3, we climbed aboard and got off at different stops.  At one stop, we walked across bridges to the Three Sister Islands in the Canadian part of the Niagara River.
I had to ride the Maid of the Mist. We arrived at 8:30am as the ticket sales opened and boarded the first boat from the US side (we wore blue, Canada had the red). Our boat was only 2/3 full with plenty of room to move about the deck.We could feel the power of the falls as we floated past the US
Falls. As we entered the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the mist turned to a heavy rain. The short 20 minute ride was awesome and powerful, becoming peaceful as we exited the roar of the falls.



Our last evening was without rain. We were sitting out in front of our trailer to avoid the swimming hole in front of our doorway. People started stopping by to visit and pretty soon we had a small party going on with everyone sharing their stories. We met a couple that winter just a mile from where we stay and another that stays in Queen Creek.


Every afternoon the heavy rain came in. So we decided to pass on the fireworks, which I doubt were fired off, and the lighted falls.






The Rainbow Bridge provides a walking path to Canada.
 We got an early start as we left Grand Island since we had two border crossings ahead of us. As we entered Ontario, Canada,the border guard looked tired as if  he was ending his night shift and we sailed through. The east coast has lots of toll roads and there was a toll booth as we entered Canada requesting  a toll road fee of $11.25. The roads were fabulous and smooth as we sailed along at 100 km/hr (62 mph) of smooth roads along Lake Ontario.

Canal to Lake Huron






Returning to the US in Michigan was slower with long lines at the border crossing. Fortunately, we did not get inspected at either stop. The roads in Michigan were not smooth as our heads bounced off the headrest on our seats as we drove down the highway. The gravel road as we drove into the campground was smoother that the interstate.

 Lighthouse overlooking Lake Huron

 Back in the US


This ominous looking cloud was greeting us as we entered our campground in Attica, Michigan. It prompted me to ask about a tornado shelter. It soon broke apart as we settle  in.