To Michigan via The Windy City

After saying goodbye to my dear friends at the “Berg Farm” (as they affectionately and appropriately call their home) I headed south through Illinois to Indiana Dunes State Park at the south end of Lake Michigan. It was mostly city driving, and somewhat unremarkable other than racking up nearly $30 in toll charges getting through the greater Chicago area.

I was very impressed with the campgrounds at this state park… it was quiet, well maintained and spacious. After a grueling day of interstate and city driving it was a treat to take the girls for a walk through the dunes to the beach just in time for sunset.

Clever bit of art along the shores of Indiana Dunes

Sunset at Indiana Dunes State Park

Indiana Dunes

The following morning I drove two miles from my campsite and hopped on a train back to Chicago. I had no desire to try to make that stop in my RV and the train was even easier than messing with driving and parking my car. It took me within blocks of where I wanted to go.

Other than trips through the airport I’ve only been in Chicago once for a convention, and had little time to see the sites. When I asked a few friends “in the know” what I should see here they all agreed… The Architecture Tour along the river and “The Bean”. That and a lot of walking is exactly what I did. The tour cruise along the river was particularly impressive!

“The Bean”, or more accurately Cloud Gate, is an intriguing piece of art that was inspired by liquid mercury. I can see that. Actually, in The Bean, you can see a lot of things.

“The Bean” in downtown Chicago

Underside of The Bean. Does anyone else see the creepy face I see?

Buckingham Fountain

I hoped to take in the art museum as well, but I had to consider the train schedule and the fact that my dogs had been alone in the motorhome since I left early that morning. The girls were extremely happy to see me and didn’t turn down another walk on the beach upon my return! I think running along the sandy shores is high on the list of favorite things they’ve discovered on this journey. It’s something they never got to do in Texas, and their joy is obvious every time we set foot in the sand.

Our next stop was Grand Ledge Michigan where my good friends and fellow photographers, Ron and Carol Nichols live. As luck would have it, another friend (and fellow photographer), Dennis Craft lives right on my route in Marshall so we dropped in on him for a quick visit along the way. I have a number of friends in Michigan actually, and most of them are photographers. I’m hoping to see a few more of them while here!

I spent a few days camped in Ron and Carol’s driveway in Grand Ledge… working, running errands and getting caught up with friends I don’t get to see often enough. While there I planned my next stop in Petoskey, which sits just a little south the Mackinac Bridge, my gateway to the Upper Peninsula.

I scored a great campsite in Magnus Park, right on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, and was able to get my kayak on the water first thing the following morning. The water here is incredibly clean and clear, and comfortable enough to wade through while walking the dogs. I’m still trying to shake the feeling that I’m playing along an ocean shore, but the lack of sticky salt is a constant reminder.

Petoskey Harbor

Common Cormorant in Petoskey Harbor

While in Petoskey I met several people who filled me in on places I absolutely had to see along the Lake Michigan shore as well as in the Upper Peninsula. I’m constantly making notes from conversations I have with folks along the way. Those who have been there are my best resource when planning my route.

A big heartfelt thanks to ALL of you who have shared your favorite places with me as I’ve journeyed throughout the country. There are too many of you to list by name, but you know who you are, and I remember you now with a smile.

That evening Carol joined me at the campground in time for chicken and zucchini on the barbeque, and we set out the following morning for a “Zippy trip” down the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Zippy, for you newcomers, is the car I tow behind The Beast (my motorhome). It gets far better gas mileage, and is much easier to pull off the road at a moments notice for a shot I can’t pass by.

We drove south, making stops at Lake Charlevoix, the sleepy little town of Elk Rapids, up the Old Mission Peninsula, through Traverse City, into the “Fishtown” of Leland, down to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and just a bit beyond to some overlooks and one last stop to take in sunset. I’m sure there’s much more we should have seen along this shoreline, but we filled the day with a lot of great places!

One of the first “sightings” as we drove south was worth a quick u-turn. (Seldom an option in my RV) This tiny little church brought to mind the “smallest church in America”, which I wrote about in Georgia on My Mind. I don’t know the dimensions, but this little Wayside Chapel has to be a contender.

Wayside Chapel

Elk Rapids- note the Great Blue Heron at far left

Great Blue Heron

Carol and the girls enjoying the river view in Elk Rapids

In the town of Elk Rapids

Mission Point Lighthouse

Quilt Barn on Old Mission Peninsula

Draped vineyards at Black Star Farms

This Goat, at Black Star Farms, came running when he saw the others getting attention.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sunset along Lake Michigan

Interesting little find along the shoreline. Anyone want to guess what it is?

The direct drive back to Petoskey in the dark seemed to take much longer than the delightful day we spent heading south, but we filled our time in deep conversation. I knew Ron long before I met Carol, and this was our first opportunity to really get to know each other. [Carol, my friend, if I had such a thing as a ya-ya  sisterhood, you’d be part of the ‘hood for sure!]

Next up… a place I’ve always wanted to see… the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Stay tuned for some amazing beauty!!

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Journey in Focus 2013 Wall Calendars are now available for pre-ordering! This calendar is filled with some stunning images from my year long journey through this amazingly beautiful country! I’m offering it to my readers at a discounted price before going to print. One copy is $16 (that price includes tax and shipping), and multiple copies will be discounted further. Once they go to print the price will be at $18 (plus tax and shipping). To order or inquire about quantity discounts please email me at fran@franreisner.com. These beautiful, high quality calendars will make wonderful gifts for friends, family, customers and employees! 

 

 

 

 

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  • Carol Reilly

    Beautiful photos of our beloved Mission Point Lighthouse and surrounding area, Fran!!

    • fran

      I’m glad you enjoyed seeing your little home away from home here Carol! 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Michigan. One of those places I’ll come back to for a more extended time for sure!

  • Dick DeLaere

    Talked to you today at Echo Bay. Your pictures are incredible. Thanks for sharing.

    • fran

      Thanks Dick. It was a pleasure meeting you two. I hope you find your way out to the open road soon! You’ll love the freedom and constantly changing vistas!