Sleeping Bear Dunes… majestic natural beauty from Michigan…
Last month we took a trip to Michigan to visit family, friends, and spend a few days in a honeymoon frame of mind at Mackinac Island. Michigan is a place very dear to Phil’s heart, as he was born and raised there, surrounded by incredible amounts of snow during winter. Such ordeal gets compensated by plenty of fun stuff to do in the 24 days or so of reasonably warm weather (ok, that was my Brazilian mean streak showing). We visited family in a town called Stanwood, we visited friends in Kalkaska, friends we had not seen in way too long. Alex was a young teenager last time we stopped by with him for a fun summer vacation. Their home was built in 1896, with a huge barn in the backyard which is still standing proud. I was quite fascinated by the gorgeous barn quilts. They were all designed and made by our friend Pat. Barn quilts are very common in that part of Michigan, adding beauty and charm to homes. I could definitely envision one over our garage door… why not?
Isn’t it amazing to have an old photograph of the first owners (and builders) of your home sitting at the very front porch you pass by every single day? A fascinating look into the past…
Michigan at this time of the year is blooming, flowers everywhere, beautiful gardens for the most part with a natural aura I find refreshing. Gardens that are too manicured do not impress me the same way.
And the farmer’s markets! We were lost in the middle of so much great produce, the blueberries and cherries have amazing flavor… we made sure to enjoy them on a daily basis during our vacation.
Our friends have a summer cottage by Blue Lake, one of the thousands of lakes in Michigan… it’s mind blowing, actually, walk two steps and you find yourself at yet another lake… We spent a couple of hours on a pontoon boat going up and down the lake, in almost complete solitude. Absolutely wonderful, although the water was so cold I thought I was going to die when I went for a swim. “Someone” had the nerve to say I was not brave enough to get into the water. HA! Fearless is my middle name.
If only the pups could see… Their Dad cheating on all of them with… another dog!
(She was super cute, though)
We left Kalkaska relaxed and happy, ready for a few days just the two of us, in a place I had never been to. In fact, I made a point of not even looking for images in the internet. To quote Seinfeld, I wanted to “go in fresh.” Never in a million years I could imagine what Mackinac Island was all about.
On the island, no cars are allowed. Only horses, carriages, and bikes. To get there, you take a ferry-boat ride that lasts about 20 minutes from Mackinaw City. Yes, two different ways to spell the same place. It turns out that the way the natives called the place was written in French as Mackinac (you do not pronounce the final C in French), and Mackinaw by Englishmen. So now we see two different spellings referring to the same spot. Mackinaw City, and Mackinac Island. Clear as mud?
Once you get to the island, you’ll feel as if you traveled back in time 100 years. All you hear is the soothing noise of carriages passing by.
We ended up not taking carriage tours. Instead we walked a lot on the first day, and took bike rides. On the first bike ride we did the more or less mandatory path around the perimeter of the island, about 8 miles. Next day we got real nice 24-speed mountain bikes and rode for a couple of hours through alternative paths all around the island, visiting all the touristic spots. Like the famous arch, which involves going up 207 steps. You park the bike, take a deep breath and up you go!
The view is breathtaking, and worth the workout!
The best thing about bike rides is that you can stop anytime you want to indulge in unexpected beauty along the way… like one of the hundreds of stone sculptures on the lake shore…
Or the beautiful stained glass window in a small church…
Another spot not to be missed is the wonderful Butterfly Sanctuary… They get butterflies from all over the world shipped to them as chrysalis.
As they hatch, they stay for half an hour or so inside that window so that their wings dry and they get ready to fly. At that point, they are released into an enclosed garden with perfect temperature and moisture, lots and lots of flowers to provide them with nutrition. Before entering the actual butterfly garden, you go through a short lecture about their habits and how to behave around them. Then, the fluttering beauty takes over…
For a nice, relaxing video taken by Phil, click here.
One thing they make very clear: no matter what, do not touch the butterflies. So, I was not amused when Phil told me that one had landed on my shoulder. I had no idea how big it was, and was very afraid to find out. Of course, the man I married thought it was oh so very funny (sigh).
(might have to re-consider that fearless thing)
Since this is a food blog after all, let me assure you that we enjoyed some great meals during the trip… Notice the dessert at the bottom right? It was called Chocolate Three Ways, and it was hard to choose the best of the three samplings. The great thing about Mackinac is that when you had to walk 50 minutes to get to the restaurant, then 50 minutes back to the hotel, the caloric excesses don’t even make you feel guilty… Of course, you can catch a carriage-taxi anytime you feel like it.
I highly recommend a trip to Mackinac. Perfect spot for a honeymoon, or even a trip with kids, since there’s a lot to do, from kayaking to horseback riding, visits to forts and rock formations like the Sugar Loaf and The Arch. In case you did not know, the movie Somewhere in Time was shot there, so there is a store in town with the movie memorabilia for those interested.
We loved our stay, and hope to come back within a few years, the only thing we would try to do next time would be staying in a hotel with a pool, so we could lay in the sun after those intense bike rides…
Somewhere in time… Somewhere in Mackinac…
I hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour of Michigan…
We’ll get back into food blogging shortly!
ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, August 2016
TWO YEARS AGO: Ka’kat, a Middle Eastern Snack Bread
THREE YEARS AGO: Spinach and Chickpea Curry
FOUR YEARS AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil
FIVE YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish
SIX YEARS AGO: Headed to Brazil!
SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote
EIGHT YEARS AGO: Love me tender…