What’s a travel-loving girl to do when her snowbird grandparents now live year-round in Ohio? Go on mini-vacations and enjoy lots of long weekends off from work, that’s what.
In the past, I had a tradition of visiting my grandparents in Florida every March. It was an awesome arrangement: I only paid for airfare and extra travel expenses. I’d take other little trips while there, like to St. Augustine or Naples. My last trip there, my grams came with me to Naples and I got to see her fairly toasted after one margarita. Good times.
Now that my Florida trips are no longer, I had to plan some kind of getaway. So I took a couple mini-vacations through Michigan this summer. I actually live pretty close to Michigan and could drive to the stateline in about 15 minutes. But almost all my travels in Michigan have been limited to close trips, like Detroit or the city with THE best university (GO BLUE!).
My mini-vacations took me much farther than the D, way up into the wilderness that really is pure Michigan–the farthest north I’ve ever been! In July, I traveled to the northern-most part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. I stayed with family in Cheboygan, saw the mightiness of the Mackinac Bridge (plus ride under it), and tasted some heavenly fudge while on Mackinac Island.
I was told in advance that there are no cars on Mackinac Island, but it was still a culture shock. Mail and shipments are delivered by horse, the taxis are horse-drawn and if you’re not on a horse, you’re on a bike. The air was definitely less polluted up there… minus the smell of horse droppings.
We took a horse-drawn carriage through the island, which was nice because it got you away from the crowds along the main strip. We went by the Grand Hotel, through the Mackinac Island State Park, an old cemetery, and to Arch Rock. I was amazed at how clear the lake was. Nature has the best palette.
The next day, we drove across the Mackinac Bridge to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to check out Kitch-iti-kipi, a natural spring. Along the way, we stopped at Cut River Bridge and took in a combination of natural and man-made beauty.
Kitch-iti-kipi is a natural spring that’s 40 feet deep with crystal clear water and an array of dazzling green hues from the limestone. At the bottom, you can see actually see the fissures via an opening in the raft over the spring. The raft is attached to a pulley, so it’s self-operated and totally safe (and free!). It felt like you were looking at another world down below.
A month later, I traveled to Michigan again to its west coast, although not as far north. My family has a summer home near Silver Lake, so I drove up there one weekend. I got to enjoy the fun of the sand dunes at Silver Lake State Park. I did away with thrill-seeking years ago (7 years sobriety from Cedar Point), but it was so fun going up the dunes in a truck. We also stopped along the beach and chilled for a while.
The next day, we visited Little Sable Lighthouse. That was my first time checking out the inside of a lighthouse. I read it was 139 steps so I thought, “No biggie. I work out!” Except walking up a curved staircase with no warm-up for 11-12 flights proved to not be that simple. The view and breeze at the top balanced out the exertion, though. I loved the geometry of the spiral staircase.
That concludes my summer of travel! I laughed (a lot), ate (much), and drank (just enough). I’m so glad to have experienced this with my family.
I still miss Florida, but I’ll get my tropical fix down the road as I’ll be going on my first cruise! The first few nights after I booked it, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited. That is both amusing and sad.
Did you do any traveling this summer? Have you traveled to enjoy Michigan’s beautiful nature? Are you ready for fall?