Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thanks Great Lakes State

After a week of traveling through Michigan, we are heading back into Canada to see Niagara Falls, Montreal, Quebec City and possibly even further north, depending on time and weather (we are planning to be in Salem, MA by Halloween). Although we always planned for Michigan to be sort of a “pass through state” we have really fallen in love with the state. We visited four different parks and loved the cleanliness and beauty of all the different areas. Our first stop was Wells State Park on the Upper Peninsula, the park was almost empty but we had a lovely spot right on Lake Michigan, it was a bit windy but we enjoyed the sound of the waves crashing into the bank outside our back door, the girls loved the giant playground, I loved getting to run in the wooded trails and we all enjoyed playing frisbee, football and tetherball in the open field near the beach. We stayed at Wells SP for two nights, which was really relaxing after a number of days on the road. After Wells SP we headed inland and ended up at a super isolated park called Aloha SP, we literally felt like the only people in the park. Andrew registered us with the yellow phone (no attendant at the booth), the only other people we saw felt like they were miles away, but again the campground was clean and well laid out and we liked the quiet evening we spent there. And it was on Mullett Lake – we loved the name, and felt it went nicely with the butt rock/classic rock we had been listening to on the local radio stations. It was probably for the best that the campground was almost empty, this was Monday night, the night the Seahawks played (and barely beat) the Detroit Lions, we didn’t put the flag up because we didn’t want to start any fights, but it was fun to listen to the game on the local station. 

Snack break on the beach after our walk on the Lake Michigan beach.
After Aloha, we headed a little further south and took some recommendations from our good friends from Michigan, we stopped in Petosky and had a great lunch at a fun brewery and then headed towards Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (thank you Jen & Chris – we loved exploring your home!). We stayed at Platte River Campground, which was a campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There were a lot more people around but it was a nice, wooded and secluded campground. We stayed three nights here and had a great time exploring the Lake Michigan beachfront, seeing all the leaves changing on the trees and hiking, jumping and playing in the giant Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. The day we did  most of our exploring the sun was shining and we had blue skies the whole day. We were so grateful for the lovely weather and tried to imagine the craziness of this area during the height of the summer. NOPE! We are definetly happy to be traveling in the off season. The second night at this campground we did most of our activities in the rain, but I am happy to report we had another successful cast iron Dutch Oven meal - chicken rice casserole, it was a perfect rainy night meal. This is pretty close to the recipe, I used chicken broth instead of water - but it was delicious and we all enjoyed it, even the girls!
The color of the leaves have been changing in all the areas we have been traveling through. My photos do not even come close to showing how beautiful this transition is.

Photo-op at Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes
After a few days staying put, it was time to move again, we spent a longer visit at Platte River with the idea we would only stay one night on our way to Niagara Falls. We found a nice campground at Lakeport State Park near the border of Ontario on Lake Huron. We pulled in Friday night and who knew the campground is a popular spot for Halloween activities. The park was almost full, but we luckily found a spot among all the other giant RVs, busses and fifth wheels, all completely decked out for Halloween. And when I say decked out – I mean more decorations than we see on houses at home. There were blow up pumpkins, giant corn mazes (seriously), carefully created grave yards and tons of lights, cobwebs and pretty much anything you can imagine. We are sad now that we are leaving early because on Saturday night they have trick or treating. We loved our one night here and our evening stroll through the crazy campground and we have decided Michigan is a special kind of special we have really come to love and enjoy. After talking to our neighbors at the campsite, we know there is so much more of Michigan that we would love to explore, but even with 9 months on the road, we have come to realize we can’t see everything and we will just have to make the time to come back again.
Just one of the awesome Halloween displays at Lakeport State Park

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