I know…it’s been a few days. But we are on vacation after all! We are now driving through a heavy thunderstorm in Ohio along the coast of Lake Erie and since we really can’t see anything, I thought I’d start typing an update for the last few days. Okay, we’ve now decided to pull into the parking lot of Happy Hooker Bait and Tackle Shop (along with a number of other vehicles) to wait out this storm. We are on our way to a vineyard in Sandusky (on the scenic route, supposedly) and then off to Cleveland. But I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I? I have a couple of days to catch you all up on first.
Day 11 (July 30) Lake Michigan eastern coast and northwestern Wine Country
We left Mackinaw City in the morning after a wonderfully relaxing day on Mackinac Island. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention something cool about Mackinac Island: no automobiles are allowed on the island. Everyone gets around via walking, biking (or rollerblading, etc.) or horse and buggy. Even supplies are off-loaded at the docks and onto horse drawn buggies for delivery all over the island. Trucks with supplies are ferried over to the island and then off-loaded onto the buggies. Instead of car engine noise, all we heard were hooves of horses hitting the pavement as they transported supplies and people. And there were a lot of horse and buggy operators up and down Main Street because there were a ton of tourists! Of course this also means that instead of oil leaks all over the roads there was…well…other kinds of leakage (and we’ll leave it at that). The problem is that the street cleaners (you guessed it, people walking behind the horses dragging a container attached at their waist), well they just couldn’t keep up. It was funny to see all the bikers (and there were a ton of those) trying to avoid the…you know. Anyway, Mackinac was a highlight.
So, back to day 11
We decided to head out to the Old Mission Peninsula and Leelanau Peninsula in the Traverse City area. This is part of Michigan’s extensive and state-wide “wine country”; and it was beautiful! I’ve never been to Sonoma, California, but I can’t imagine it being any more beautiful than this. I suppose it is, but this was awesome. The photos (again) don’t do this area justice. The scenery up and down Old Mission Peninsula was absolutely gorgeous and the vineyards of both peninsulas were incredible to see—and the wine tasting was delicious! The entire Traverse City area and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was great viewing. The whole trip down the east side of Lake Michigan took us through quaint little towns that seems the epitome of the ideal small-town, harbor living. We wanted to stop at these towns all along the way, but if we did we may have just now made it to Traverse City! Oh well, sometimes you have to make some sacrifices…right?
We couldn’t find a room at a hotel/motel at all in or around the dunes or even as far away as Muskegon (I was considering the unfortunate circumstances of Mary and Joseph at this point) until we finally happened upon a room at Lakeside Inn in Ludington. The name sounds so good! And after finally finding a place to stay at 7:30 in the evening we should have been very happy—and we were—until we saw the place. What a dump! O, it was right across the street from Lake Michigan (and the very nice beach and park). And the town was another pretty, quaint town; but the motel? Forget about it! Cindy says it was better than Hilltop Motel in Newcastle, WY. I don’t agree. But we remembered how truly blessed we are and how so many people (here in the US and abroad) that have no place to stay or food to eat; and so we checked our ungratefulness at the door and were appreciative that we actually found a room to stay the night. After a fairly fitful night sleep (but sleep, nonetheless), we packed up and headed across the state to “Little Bavaria” Frankenmuth, MI.
Day 12 (July 31) Little Bavaria and Largest Christmas store in the world!
Yes, that’s right! Frankenmuth, MI is home to the largest Christmas store in the world (Bonners CHRISTmas Store—and that’s how they spell it). And the property also includes a to-scale replica of the original Silent Night Memorial Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria (the site where Silent Night was first sung). The store really was Humungous! It had a map of the store including the different entrances so you wouldn’t get lost. I took lots of pictures (which they encouraged…much to Cindy’s chagrin), so you can get the idea. It definitely felt like Christmas. And they totally emphasize the Christness of Christmas. I get the idea that the Bonner’s were devout Christians who were definitely not ashamed of Christ! Scripture references abounded throughout the store and every mention of Christmas on a sign was spelled CHRISTmas. But to me the spirit of Christmas was felt even more so at the chapel. Personally, I enjoyed the chapel very much. They memorialized “Silent Night” in numerous ways and the song was played continuously in various languages. They also had placards throughout the property with the lyrics in various languages. They also had the story of Silent Night and the history of the original church and chapel displayed within the building. This was a very nice dedication.
Frankenmuth is also known as Little Bavaria and that was evident up and down Main Street. We enjoyed this little town very much, though it was much smaller than we expected. There were all kinds of gift shops (of course) and fudge and candy shops (of course) and cheese shops (of course); and pubs! We ate at the Famous Zehnders Restaurant and it was great! They are known for their all-you-can-eat Chicken plate, but after all the preliminary courses you are served, you really don’t have enough of an appetite to eat more than the chicken they serve you. In fact, we took a couple of pieces back to the hotel! Little Bavaria was a nice place.
Day 13 Ohio
Well, here we are now in Ohio (by way of Detroit—yawn. Nothing special there.). The rain has stopped and we pulled out of the Bait and Tackle shop to continue on our way along the coast of Lake Erie. Oh yeah, before the rain got real heavy we spotted 5 doe standing off the street in the woods. We tried to take some photos, but they didn’t come out very well. When we got back on the road we stopped at Fireland Winery outside of Sandusky to enjoy some wine and scenery. We are staying outside of Cleveland to spend a couple of days in the region before heading to Pittsburgh. We don’t know yet what we are going to do here, but we want to go to Falling Water (Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous house that he designed and built) outside of Pittsburgh and since they are closed on Wednesday we are forced to wait an extra day. Well, if this is God’s providence then we will find things to do around here! I suppose a day in Cleveland is just what the doctor ordered for us!
Lots of pictures coming soon!
Hopefully I’ll talk to you again at this same googly time and same googly channel.
Jj & cj