Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dipping Our Toes into the Sand: Traverse City to Mackinaw City

Ah, last weekend found a break in the weather, and TaGeez and I headed up to Traverse City to join other Free Range Lobsters for the Red Wings Training Camp. Gorgeous weather for camping, geocaching and a little sightseeing. 

Our early morning view

scrapcat and TaGeez, taking the beach by storm!

First morning found out geocaching up Old Mission Peninsula with PopLob. Even though we garnered this Virtual smiley years ago we find ourselves at the foot of this lighthouse every year. 

This year we brought along a hitchhiker. Hockeyman40 left Octie behind in the hotel so we kidnapped him and posed him all around the peninsula. We sent teasing texts to Johnny all through the morning.

Old Mission Peninsula has a lovely virtual, family- and kayak-friendly geocaches, Earth Caches, a fabulous Travel Bug hotel, and the Zombie cache at the Bohemian Cemetery. It also has quite a bit of history with Babe Ruth batting balls into the bay and the old General Store.

As we headed off the peninsula (and onto several other Virtual and Earth Caches), we had to stop for this Old Mission Peninsula Earth Cache GC6686J. It is the best view with rolling hills filled with grapevines framed both the loveliest, blue water. 

TaGeez and I had a few hours alone so we headed inland for some Virtuals. Ghost of Prince Froggers GCA060, down some old sandy Seasonal Access roads, was a disappointment. But the Leaning Tree Trails GC792F was a lovely walk along the Keystone Rapids.

Heading to Mancino's Pizza, we made one final detour to the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Earth Cache GC14EWP. The horizon was a lovely palette of pinks and purples. The water was very still with no boats coming or going. 

We packed Sunday morning. We had decided to head home via the Tunnel of Trees and Mackinaw City. Yes, my fellow Michiganders... we decided to head home from Traverse City via Mackinaw City. If you've read this blog are you really surprised? 

Helping us begin our journey was an enjoyable Got Benchmark? Wherigo GC1WPD5 up US 23. Eight benchmarks set in these cute locations ending in a nature preserve. Tall grasses and low mushrooms. That was the last of our bushwhacking for the rest of this trip.

Time to head north towards Charlevoix and Petoskey and eventually the Tunnel of Trees.

From Harbor Springs on, M-119 is the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route, one of the Pure Michigan Byways in the state (Wikipedia). This 20-mile drive snaking through quaint towns, historic cemeteries, camps and nature preserves....
It’s called a “tunnel,” but unlike a mountain tunnel, the Tunnel of Trees gives the road tripper a different view and experience at each twist and turn as it hugs Lake Michigan, with rich hardwoods on each side creating a tree canopy over much of the narrow road. (

The tunnel ends in Cross Village, home of the famous Legs Inn. Oh, the history! Oh, the view! And, oh, the Polish Food! My true regret is that the sauerkraut was so damn good! Nothing worse than craving something for dinner the width of a state away!

Built in the early 20's, Legs Inn is named for the inverted cast iron stove legs the original founder used to decorate the roof of the building.

TaGeez passing the time with a new friend

As you head to the back of the property the restaurant complex overlooks Lake Michigan. Stick a quarter in the viewer to see four lighthouses in the lake. And if you find yourself weary and in need of company, set yourself down at one of the picnic tables filled with visitors drinking wine and sharing tall tales.

The view from the balcony was stunning!
It's getting late so we moseyed into Mackinaw City and the Old Mackinac Point Light.

From here you can take pictures in front of the Mighty Mackinac Bridge or mosey over to Fort Michilimackinac. 

You may remember this bridge from my posts earlier in the month when we toured the US 23 Heritage Route along Lake Huron. We started in Bay City and headed North, past the Mighty Mack and onto McGulpin Lighthouse. This time we started in Traverse City and headed North, past the Mighty Mack and onto Old Mackinac Point Light. Pretty cool visiting two Great Lakes just one bridge width apart!

Another remnant from the US 23 tour were the Tom Moran steel sculptures. Heading south we found ourselves tackling a series of Virtuals starting in Onaway. Much to our joy we passed Moran's headquarters and his famous George Washington!

A lady at a nearby gas station pointed out the new Awakon Park Sculpture and Historic Landmark Trail. We tottled over there to find all of Tom's more famous pieces mixed in with the remains of the American Wood Rim Company. Great way to top a fabulous day exploring Pure Michigan.

I've shared several of his most well-known pieces here, but I truly recommend if you are in the area to stop in. It appears to be still under development so I'd like to come back one day.

At this point we turned south and, after garnering the information for three more Virtuals, headed back to Detroit. 

Geocaching takes you to the most amazing places. And when I think of amazing places I think of Pure Michigan.

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