There are just some places that you arrive in and you instantly know your not going to like. You try to find the wow, the quirky and the interesting things within that place with the hope you will change your mind, but some times, its just that. I don’t like this place.
Then you have places that you arrive in and for no reason at all you smile. Your turn a corner, there isn’t really anything to look at around the corner, but you feel like your being hugged and welcomed home.
Traverse City in Michigan, is one of these places. For no reason at all, and in a very quick time as we drove into town and along the beautiful waterfront, this place felt like being home and the people we met certainly reinforced this feeling.
Three days before we arrived in Traverse City in Michigan I didnt even know it existed (actually that isn’t that unusual for this trip). When planning our trip back up to Canada I found it on the map and it was the right distance for our travel day limits, so I booked us here.
As with a number of places we have found ourselves in while on this trip, it was a wonderful surprise to find another gem.
Michigan (apart from the horrendous state of the roads at the border) is a beautiful apple filled state. And once over the bad roads, we enjoyed our drive through the country side with all the fall colours starting to pop. Through miles of green trees to see the yellows, reds and gorgeous pinks starting to peek out, reminded us that we were definitely heading north. It fascinated us that not only how quickly the colour change was happening, but how the trees changed colour. The whole tree didn’t change at once, it would be a branch here and there, or half a tree red and half still green.
Our introduction to Michigan really began with a overnight stop at the Apple Country Soapwork just out of Sparta and our wonderful hosts; Jayne, John, Curtis and Otter (the Lab) who made us feel so welcome to their lovely part of the World.
Arriving the next day in Traverse City, only enhanced our good thoughts of Michigan. As I said, there are some places that you just feel at home in. I am not sure if it was the Waterfront that made me feel like I was at home, or the wonderfully friendly staff at the Campsite and the Visitors Centre. This is such a great holiday destination with the lake for the summer and the ski fields for the winter. How can one place have so much and I had never heard of it.
Traverse city is close to Empire where the worlds largest inland sand dunes are, the Sleeping Bear Dunes. So a trip out to view them was a must. These sand dunes rise 450 feet in the air, straight out of startling blue waters of Lake Michigan and are stunning. In 2011 this National Park was voted “The Most Beautiful Place in America”.
We took a trip up the peninsular from Traverse City to the Mission Point Lighthouse. The peninsular is vineyard after vineyard and we both commented that it was very like Waiheke Island (except it snows here). The lighthouse was built in 1870 and was incorporated as part of a house, so not quite what I was expecting.
But to our surprise we found that it sat at the Northern 45th Parallel, so we felt it had a connection to home. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1933 but had been preserved for visitors to have a look a what life was like during its working life. They estimate at least 6,000 ships have been wrecked on the Great Lakes, with Lake Michigan taking its fair share of the wrecks which reinforced to me the need for Lighthouses on the Lakes.
While we had a few hours to spare, we wandered up the coast a little further north to the quaint town of Elk Rapids where we found a wonderful little distillery, Ethanology. Ethanology is a small Distillery, privately owned by Nick and Geri. I did enjoy chatting with Geri (who happens to be the first female to be a certified Head distiller in the USA) about their philosophy of only using organic and locally sourced ingredients in their spirits. Oh and not to forget the smiling Troy who made the wonderful gin cocktail, I was just sorry we were a year or 2 too early to try their Brandy.
We had been told by so many that we would love Michigan and all those people weren’t wrong.