Friday, August 05, 2011

Playing Tourist

Yesterday after arriving in Traverse City, Michigan, we drove up the east arm of the Grand Traverse Bay and parked in the RV park at the Leelanau Casino. The RV park is really just a parking lot, but we do have 50 Amp and it is only $7 a night. Hard to beat that. However, it was hard to win at the casino, so we didn't linger there.

After setting up, we drove down to the town of Suttons Bay and walked along the main street through some of the shops. Most of the shops have the same tourist stuff in them and we are very limited to what we can add, so we just mostly look.

When we left there, we drove across the point to the western side to the town of Leland and did a lot of looking at scenery. We did find an old fishing village which was an actual village where the fisherman would return with the day's catch. They built smokehouses and ice houses and prepared the fish for the market. One of the smokehouses remains and the buildings have been rebuilt or restored and now house shops with various trinkets and souvenirs. There were two old boats which were built to fish with gill nets and have recently been brought in to add a little history to the village.

We continued our trek to the northern point and to the lighthouse there at the tip of the peninsula. It is no longer in service, but has been maintained as a museum. It was closed while we were there, but we were able to walk around and get a picture or two.

From there we made our way back down the point on the east side and back to our camp. It was a busy day and we covered a lot of ground, but we saw a lot of beautiful lake views. The water here is beautiful shades of blue and extremely clear. I would love to take a swim.

This morning we drove back across the point again only this time when we got to the western side, we drove south. We arrived at a little fishing community of Glen Haven which is being restored. There is another of the ships which used gill nets here. This boat is out of the water and is an outdoor exhibit. The village consists of several buildings and will eventually give a picture of what life was life during that time. Just a short distance away is a Coast Guard Station which was in service years ago. It has a boathouse similar to one we saw last year which has doors opening to the lake and rails running out the front on which rescue boats would be pushed into the lake allowing the rescuers to get their equipment launched quickly and race to the area where sailors needed assistance.

From there we continued on down south to Sleeping Bear Dunes. This area of dunes is different from the Silver Lake area. These dunes are mostly covered in vegetation and driving or other recreation on them is not allowed. There are a few access areas, but the activity is greatly controlled. Legend has it that a momma bear was swimming in the lake followed by her two cubs but they perished in the waters. She lay down facing the lake where her cubs drowned. The Great Spirit caused two islands to rise from the water where the cubs drowned (North and South Manitou Islands) and a solitary dune formed to represent the sleeping mother bear, thus the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The area is quite lovely and still in an unspoiled state. There is a drive you can state through the area with several pull offs where you can see the dunes and the islands. There is also the "cliff dune" which you can take down to the water, but be advised, that is not recommended. The cliff dune is 450 feet tall and probably rises from the water at a 60 degree angle. We saw people going down to the water. The problem is that you must then come up. It has to be very difficult for anyone even in top physical condition. We saw one man who was literally crawling back up. He has a red shirt on in this picture.
He stopped about half way up and never did go any further while we were there. There are warnings that you will be required to pay for emergency rescue if you choose to go down. I'm sure the only rescue you will get is by water and that would be expensive. Look closely and you can see people standing up on the left side of the picture.

We finished our tour of the dunes and then headed back to Traverse City. We decided to take the road out on the peninsula that divides Grand Traverse Bay into the east and west bays. The peninsula runs 18 miles out into the bay and offers vistas off the top of the ridge in both directions. It is quite beautiful and there are a lot of wineries out there. We stopped at a few, but didn't care for anything we sampled, so we didn't buy any wine. We did make it out to the tip of the point to the Old Mission Light which is another lighthouse signaling sailors to the rocky shore beneath it. We were here years ago with the kids and it was much the same as I remembered it.

Upon our return to the city, there was a sidewalk sale going on so we found a place to park and walked down the city streets in search of bargains. We had a good time, but it had been a long day and we finally made our way back to our car and headed home. We will be leaving here tomorrow and heading on up toward the U.P. We have decided we will try and go to the shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point. We were in the area last year, but had our little Scottie Neal with us. He was having a lot of problems and we couldn't leave him long enough to go to this site. So we are back to try again.

Check back again as I will be posting pictures. It was a long day today and I am tired!

Till next time. . .


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