On the excellent advice of our uncle, we headed north towards the upper peninsula and Mackinac Island. Michigan is a beautiful state and we were excited to see the great lakes for the first time. We decided to stay at a resort camp ground because they had a laundry facility on site. The people working these were nice and helped get us parked, but we were not really impressed with resort camping. When we were pulling into the campsite we passed the waste treatment plant and we later found out that the resort was built on top of the old landfill! All the sites were right next to each other in a row and the Wi-Fi was always weak if it even worked. The pool was a small little thing, but the kids enjoyed it immensely. Everyone enjoyed the bean bag toss, ladder ball, playground and tetherball while we stayed at the resort. We took a walk down the hiking trail and I was attacked by mosquitoes. We decided to keep going but at a jogging pace which helped with the bugs and allowed us to get some exercise after a day in the car traveling. (As a side note I learned that bug spray will help, but not totally make the mosquitoes stay away)
When we took the ferry to Mackinac Island, we opted for the slowest possible ferry. Most people were in a rush to get there, but we have learned that the getting there is half the fun. Well we picked the right ferry and everyone had a blast on the ship. On the island we decided to walk because I want to rent a surrey bike at some point on our adventure and they didn’t have them on the island. The horse carriage rides were extremely pricey and I am glad we passed on them. The guides were young guys who just worked there and the parts of the tours we over heard did not impress us. At the arch the people on the carriages were forced to get off and take pictures, use the rest rooms nd look around in under five minutes! Since we walked we were able to take our time and pick our own routes around the island. We visited the less touristy fort on the highest point on the island and were some of the only people there. On the paths through the forests we were also on our own with few tourists around. In fact it wasn’t until we made our way back to the shops that we came upon the crowds. The difficult hike had drained us though, so we stopped for ice cream which was delicious. The island was beautiful and we liked it, though it was all set up to maximize profits from the tourists (probably due to the short season the island operates).
In the town of Mackinac we found a cool old park built where the school used to be called the Old School Park. We also were able to go to the beach to skip stones. We ate some fresh white fish, fries and hush puppies before strolling around the shops. There was some amazing shops including a fantasy shop with weapons and a geek game shop, both our kind of store. The kids found another play ground to play at while I had a phone meeting with our insurance agent. Then we went off the tourist path to the fishery to buy some fresh fish. The kids were surprised because the fishery was a no frills commercial/industrial fishing operation that supplies restaurants and grocery stores all over the world. It was a great choice though because we got a pound and a half of fresh caught trout for only $5!
The bridge is a definite must if you are in the area. There is a toll to pay, but the Mackinac bridge was the longest suspension bridge when it was built. We visited the bridge museum before we went across it, so the kids knew the history and construction techniques. They were truly impressed when we drove across it and so were the adults!
Michigan. This is not a state I had ever imagined traveling to (before our decision to travel that is), and definitely not one I thought I would have much interest in. However; this proved to be a state that I found to be very beautiful.
We were lucky in locating, a campsite in between Ann Arbor and Lansing which was great because we got to spend a day in each of these cities. Our campsite was on a lake that was quite busy, as it was the weekend, but it was near a really awesome park that was like nothing we had been to before. The kids loved it.
Our first day we went to Lansing, because it was a Saturday and we wanted to tour the capital building which is not open for tours on Sunday. It worked out really well because we ended up getting to park for free. Being from a smaller area, paying for parking is not something we think about, and I honestly get annoyed about it.
The capital building is beautiful, and it was very interesting to learn about some of the history of not only the capital itself, but the state as well. They gave out coloring books to the kids that were also full of interesting facts, they have been relating these to us as they color in the pages. It is great. The other stop we made, after a delicious lunch at the soup spoon café, was at the children’s garden. It was done so well, and the kids loved all the different gardens they had planted. I will highlight a few of our favorites, there was a pizza garden where they had all plants needed to make a pizza, a peanut butter and jelly garden which contained a peanut plant as well as strawberry plants, and a crayon garden that had flowers of all sorts of colors with crayons of the same colors in the background. There were so many neat things about it that it would probably take an entire post to list everything. It was an interesting and educational day for all of us, and we hope to make it back someday.
Ann Arbor was our next day trip. We had some errands to run when we first got to town, this included a stop at Target where we bought the kids each a new (small) toy that had been promised to them, because they had been such good sports and so helpful in getting rid of all our stuff (including most of their old toys). The destination here was the Hands on Museum. We are so glad we found this place, with the ASTC membership we purchased it was totally free for all of us. There was so much to do here that once again it would take an entire post to describe it all. Honestly it was so much that we didn’t even get to it all. Some of the highlights were the water play room which had so many levers, tubes, balls, and spouts that we could have spent the entire time in there alone, there was also an ambulance that the kids could sit in, as well as, get in the back where they had a video playing of real EMT’s and what they do, the other thing the kids really had fun with was the floor game where there were images of beach balls that they would step on and send flying into objects on the other teams side. It was a great place for the kids (and adults) to spend a day, and we were all sad when it was time to go.
All in all Southern Michigan surprised me. It was such a pretty place and so green compared to what we are used to. There was so much to do that we wished we caould stay longer. Even the campsite surprised us, because at first weren’t even going to stay due to the fact that the site was not at all level and the neighbors were loud and running through all the sites without care, but we are glad we decided to stay after all. The kids gaot to swim in the lake, play at the park, and our neighbor that showed up the last night even gave us free firwood and turned out to be a life saver with our disaster on moving day. Really hope we make it back to Michigan.