Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Labor Day Adventure: US 23 Heritage Trail II

BAY CITY TO ALPENA

Oh, the weather was glorious! Warm sun in a bright blue sky with a hint of a breeze even when we were away from the water. For a trip that was underplanned, we came across so many amazing things! Don't get me wrong... the geocaches were fun. They were a great variety, hidden at train depots, historical museums, boardwalks, trout farms, guard rails. But it was the stops along the way that are most memorable.

Again, a fantastic crew. TaGeez, ShelleyJean, afishoutawater, and I laughed for a hundred miles on day two. I seemed to have photographed the entire trip so it was hard picking a few pictures out of.... not kidding... over a thousand.

Our morning view of the links

We started off strong this morning.... Krispy Kremes. Oh, well, geocaching. Within minutes on the road we grabbed 2 Spirit Quests (SQs), 1 Earth Cache, and a cache shaped like a wasp nest. OMG! Amazing! Then it was finally time to turn up and head towards US 23 and Standish.
But first. A giant cow. 

How could we NOT stop? This fellah was hanging outside a cheese shop near Pinconning. It's almost a cliche! So we stopped for pictures. Imagine our shock when we heard it moo! (Sound box embedded in the stool - a hoot!). Many dollars later and our cooler filled with cheese, we were back on the road (stopping at every giant mouse and lumberjack on the way).

This cow looks confused

Our first stop on the US 23 Discovery Tour was the Train Depot Historical Museum in Standish (GC63B70). The displays were in an old Hogwarts train! This was a great first cache on this tour. Kudos to the SAGeocachers for the varied collection of locales along the lake drive. Heading towards Tawas, we also visited a historic courthouse (hosting a rummage sale on the lawn), a boardwalk leading to wetlands, and another historical museum.



After a not-so-brief visit to a Tawas quilt shop, we detoured to Just Relax (GC6Q8GE). This cache was published weeks ago and sat unfound until a crew from back home stopped by for the FTF. After seeing June17, Rootee2t and Y2Compiant's photos, we added it to our itinerary. STF, thanks to TaGeez!


TaGeez and I weren't the only ones relaxing. Afishoutawater and ShelleyJean found these beauties near Oscoda!

S2S Oscoda GCW060
By far one of the most interesting sites we've geocached: a trout farm. These cool owners allowed us to enter the property so we could see the pools up close. Afishoutawater was in her element!


And ShelleyJean fed the fishies. Pretty wild! And such a lovely spot.


video

Next stop was the lighthouse at Sturgeon. I've been here before and enjoyed my first real frolic this trip on the beach while the others finished the requirements for a Virtual. 


I love this picture, taken at The Old Stone Church. TaGeez isn't something you'd expect to burst from the undergrowth.


Okay, time for grub at The Mountain (Inn) established 1936. The place was packed! Why? Because it's Labor Day weekend which involves a bridge crossing. Not the Mighty Mac. This crowd "crossed the Black River Bridge" on foot. It's 12 feet long. They were tired and required an abundance of beer.


It wasn't long afterwards that we were distracted again with our 3rd (of 4) Paul Bunyon statues. Not sure what ShelleyJean is doing to Babe....


Paul Bunyon and Babe

WE MADE IT! We crossed the 45th Parallel! ShelleyJean took some amazing photos here. The rest of us were too busy horsing around!

afishoutawater, TaGeez, scrapcat, and ShelleyJean

Heading into Alpena, and the stops are still pretty spectacular.

Dock at Thunder Bay
Isn't this fountain stunning? It's in this very cute plaza in downtown Alpena.

The Fountain GC63M67)
The fountain is at the site of the Alpena Magnetic Sulphur Springs Bath House, popular in the 1800's.  It kinda explained the smell. And look at the cache! It was in the shape of a bathhouse!


Heading to the hotel (The Sanctuary - very utilitarian but comfy beds), we thought we had seen all our attractions for the day. But then we passed this! The Besser Art History Science Museum!

No surprise! This Stainless Steel Eagle head is listed on Roadside America



A couple that fishes together...

Paul Bunyon made from auto parts

We dumped our Pinconning cheese at the hotel, ran into an old friend in the bar, and then headed out to explore downtown Alpena. The tour took about 4 minutes. Luckily afishoutawater knew of some Cyclops Earth Caches along the waterway.


And we're starting to look a little rough but happy

Sunset over Thunder Bay

Don't ask. But next time we're packing a tape measure.
We wrapped the evening with dinner at the John A Lau Saloon, one of Michigan's most haunted spots.


We excitedly explored the ground floor, taking photos and waiting for an visitation. Unfortunately, the only spirits were in fish's glass and the only apparition was ShelleyJean peaking in through the big front window.

Is that a ghost over yon shoulder?
You can well imagine that we returned to the hotel and crashed. Adventuring is exhausting!

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