I am always up for a good adventure! Adventures are good for the mind, body and soul. However, road trips have been few and far between for me for quite some time, up until this year. A few weeks ago I realized that unless I planned something quick, I would blink and the kids would be back in school before I knew it. Seriously, what happened to summer? It has slipped away so quickly.
Anyways, I decided that we needed to go on a good, old-fashioned road trip. Kind of a finale to summer. One that required quite a few miles to drive, in a relatively short amount of time, but without a doubt would leave us with some great memories to last a lifetime. Michigan was our destination. Evidently, I have fallen madly in love with Michigan, since I have done three road trips there in just the past few months! After experiencing Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes this past spring, I had to check out what else Michigan had to offer. I was not disappointed.
Road trips are so exciting to me, especially when I don’t have them completely planned out. Isn’t that part of the fun? It is kind of nice to hit the open road, and wonder what you will experience by the end of it. So with very little planning—other than a hotel reservation— and plans to go kayaking, we woke early last Friday morning and drove to Ashland, WI, where we made our first stop for coffee at the Black Cat Coffeehouse. It was a cute little place where we all got maple flavored lattes. As much as I love nature, and the outdoors, there is something else you must know about me. I believe part of any adventure is finding the best coffee shops along the way, and interesting restaurants. I call it culinary adventure. I hoped to not make too many stops until we hit Marquette, MI, and we managed to do a pretty good job of keeping on track.
It was about 2 p.m. when we rolled into Marquette. We lost an hour with the time change. It took us about seven hours with our few stops along the way. After a bit of shopping and a caffeine fix at a unique coffee shop called Velodrome (they serve their lattes in canning jars, and the one I got had bee pollen on top as a garnish), we decided it was time for lunch. We made the perfect choice. We had lunch at The Delft Bistro, which is a historic theater in downtown Marquette. It is now an upscale restaurant with an open kitchen and the original movie screen that plays movies as you eat. The menu featured dishes such as poutine, pesto pasta and chicken and waffles. The food was delicious and we had fun watching the big screen on the wall above us.
After lunch we drove through town until we reached Presque Isle Park. We drove along the lake until we found a place I had read about—Black Rocks. Black Rocks is at the tip of Presque Isle Park and is an area of scenic cliffs that drop 15 – 20 feet into Lake Superior. It is the place where all the local kids go to jump into the frigid waters of Lake Superior as a rite of passage. After parking, we hiked along the trail until we reached an area that was flooded with both locals and tourists. I watched in wonder as dozens of people jumped, while others stood and contemplated the risk. Quite a few people that had come prepared to jump, decided that maybe they would rather watch. It did not take long before my youngest child flung herself over the edge and into the air! A fter we had our share of excitement we got back in the car and headed an hour more up the road in the Upper Peninsula to Munising, home of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. After a quick stop at a place called Muldoons for one of the best pasties I have ever had, we headed to our hotel. Muldoons serves apple pasties for dessert. They are yummy!
Saturday we rose bright and early, and headed over to the local coffee shop—Falling Rock Café and Bookstore where we had breakfast and coffee. After fueling up with lots of coffee, we headed down the highway to the place where we were to meet our bus that would take us to a beach on Lake Superior for a guided kayaking trip. We were a little worried because it rained hard during breakfast. The rain stopped as we made our way to the lake, only to return again when we all gathered on the beach to receive some paddling instructions. Thankfully it was pretty warm out, because we began our kayaking trip soaking wet! W e spent the next two hours kayaking along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I knew it would be good, but it was incredible. Pictured Rocks is a stretch of shoreline that contains colorful sandstone cliffs that tower 50 – 200 feet over Lake Superior. We kayaked up close to the colorful rock walls, and were able to kayak into some sea caves. This is something that was on my bucket list (kayaking sea caves on Lake Superior) so I was pretty ecstatic. W hen we returned to shore, we were wet and hungry. After changing at the hotel we decided to eat a late lunch/early dinner. We stopped at a little place just outside of town and sampled some local whitefish, along with some other great dishes. We then headed down the highway to do a little hiking and touring of some of the local waterfalls, which there are many. A fter our waterfall tour we regrouped and decided that we drove too far to head back home without seeing more of Pictured Rocks. So, I got online and booked an evening tour on a boat. So we spent two and a half hours cruising along the 12 mile stretch of Pictured Rock National Lakeshore and we loved every minute of it! We got to see the entire stretch and I was able to get hundreds of photographs. One of the highlights of the tour was when the captain pulled the tour boat into a giant cave! It was so much fun! W e also got to see the East Channel Lighthouse on Grand Island. Once again I was amazed at the incredible things we have in our country and really not that far from home. We were exhausted as the boat pulled back up to the dock about 8:30 p.m. I joked about what we could fit in next. Instead, we ended the night taking advantage of the hot tub in our hotel. (Sometime though I would like to take the shipwreck tour which is on a glass bottom boat). We left the next morning feeling satisfied about one of the best road trips we had ever been on. R oad trips offer so many benefits. They break up our routine and get us out of our comfort zone. They take very little planning or time packing. They allow us to become explorers of new places where we can experience new things. We discover things about ourselves that we never knew before. They help us embrace the unexpected and learn to be spontaneous. Road trips are food for the soul. T o be honest, sometimes I find it a little too easy to just stay home, or to choose not to travel very far by car. And sometimes it seems as though some of these places such as Pictured Rocks are just too far to travel to, but it is not true! That is one reason why I chose this as my destination, and why I chose to do it over a period of two nights and three days. It was to prove to myself that with a little effort, I can see and experience things that are not super expensive and are not super time consuming.
In the end, I came away with some new experiences that turned out to be beyond what I could have ever imagined. What I saw, caused me to be speechless. It caused me to shake my head in wonder. And when it was all said and done, I had a story to tell.
Road trips are the equivalent of human wings. Ask me to go on one, anywhere, anytime. We’ll stop in every small town and learn the history and stories, feel the ground and capture the spirit. Then we’ll turn it into our own story that will live inside us as our history to carry with us always. Because stories are more important than things. – Victoria Erickson
Jody Rae Anderson lives Eveleth, MN, but spends most of her time in the woods.