Michigan, Northwest Coast

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my husband and i are off season vacationers. less crowds and easier to take time off work. plus, traveling north during the summer, holiday weekends especially, can be a nightmare.  everyone seems to head north.

so our first vacation of the year, mid May, we packed up the suv and headed north. i was a little skeptical, it being mid May.  temps up north can be all over the place, cool or warm and humid.

our first stop was Manistee, Michigan for our first kayak trip of the season, and third year kayaking the Pine River. then we headed north to Traverse City for a little shopping and relaxation.

the weather could not have been more perfect to be on the river.

thanks to the livery, Pine River Paddlesports, they cleared a portion of the river just in time for us to start our kayaking season. and it was a four hour trip with no “tippers.”  i like that.

the weather was warm and the sun peaked through the clouds.  enough sun i doused myself with sunscreen every so often to avoid the awkward tan lines.

and we were the only ones on the river. the only sound was a scream from me, when i almost hugged a rock despite my husband’s warning.  in my defense, all he did was point to something in the water and yell something i could not hear.

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so if you decide to visit this area, i included some tips.

as for kayaking the Pine River, there are a few tricky curves, so pay attention.

tip one:  take pics when you are on a slower portion of the river. not when there is a curve up ahead or when you are about to head through some rapids. eek.  drop the phone or camera into that waterproof bag and grab that paddle. 

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Leelanlau and Benzie counties have been designated as the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  the livery driver, on our way to the drop off point, gave us a few suggestions on where to hike in the area for a scenic lookout of Lake Michigan and the dunes.

so we decided to hit the dunes and a few hiking trails the next day.

we drove up M-22 and stopped at this along the way.

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Point Betsie Lighthouse – Frankfort, Michigan
tip two: lighthouses are a plenty in Michigan, if you are interested.  they are worth a stop.  some are open to the public and some are privately owned, but there is always a photo op available.

the dunes we hit were near Empire, Michigan and involved a short hike.

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which was totally worth it.

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wonder if there is a petosky stone somewhere down there.
tip three: there are several access points to the dunes.  you can walk or climb the dunes. but if you are unable to walk or climb them, there are points you can view them.  the internet is loaded with suggestions. i would definately to try to climb them, if you are able to, however. cross training!

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tip four:  for exploring the dunes i love these Keens. water shoes you can hike in and get wet. they dry super fast and make it easy to shake that sand out. recommend these type of shoes over flip flops or tennis shoes.

we also learned there is a portion of the NCT (North Country Trail) that runs through Manistee County. yeah, no clue here.

somewhere during my search for where to hit the NCT near us, i found an article on a wooden suspension bridge near the Hopendyl Dam. so of course we totally had to check it out.

the bridge was a little tricky to find.

tip five:  if you end up at the dam, you went to far.  turn around and turn left at the first dirt road you come to heading back.  it isn’t marked “suspension bridge this way.”

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the bridge was pretty sturdy.  it felt a little wobbly while walking across, but these guys helped hold it into place.

super safe.

and over the bridge the NCT trail continued on.

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i started to walk down that path.

and i wondered how far i would have walked until i decided to turn back…

idea for future (cross training) post:  backpacking the NCT in Michigan.

stay tuned.

-f.


Manistee, Michigan

  • Hotel:  Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndhum – Inexpensive, clean. There is a microwave and refrigerator in the room. Plus, outside there is an outdoor faucet to rinse those water shoes off before entering the hotel.
  • Livery:  Pine River Paddlesports
  • Restaurants:  Ramsdell Inn and BlueFish
  • Shops: Snyder’s Shoes, Ideal Kitchen, Northern Vintage Decor
  • Movie Theatre: Vogue
  • Petosky Stones:  A rock containing fossilized coral. Sold everywhere in that part of the state, unless you are lucky enough to find one while wading near the lakeshores of Lake Michigan.

Petosky Stone 2007

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my husband found one near Grand Traverse Lighthouse in 2007.

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