Making Our Way Back to the US – Pictured Rocks National Seashore and Mackinac Island, MI

Giant sand dunes at Pictured Rocks

Giant sand dunes at Pictured Rocks

We said good-bye to our friends in Toronto and headed for the border. We spend a night at Chutes Provincial Park and were off early the next morning to get back into the good ol’ US of A. We’d been reading about the northern part of Michigan, around the Great Lakes, they refer to it as “the Riviera of the Midwest” so we wanted to check it out.

Tahquamenon (rhymes with "phenomenon") Falls

Tahquamenon (rhymes with “phenomenon”) Falls

We started at Tahquamenon Falls State Park (rhymes with “phenomenon”). The falls there are supposedly the second biggest by volume only to Niagara. We hiked down to the falls and they were pretty impressive, though nowhere near as big or loud as Niagara. We drove about two hours to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, on Lake Superior. Wow. What a sight! The waters of the lake against the cliffs were so lovely – a light turquoise green. We hiked to a waterfall (Miners Falls) and the path down to the falls felt like a Wizard of Oz set. There were blue flowers blooming everywhere (forget-me-nots, we learned later) as the path wound through a forest of birch and cedar trees down to the falls. We drove a little further down to the giant sand dunes on the edge of the lake. Zeph was asleep in his carseat at this point, so Chris and I took turns walking down the short path to see the dunes where they used to throw giant logs down to the lake to transport them. All in all it was a lovely day trip.

On the beautiful trail to Miner Falls in Pictured Rocks

On the beautiful trail to Miner Falls in Pictured Rocks

From Tahquamenon we headed south to the Mackinac Bridge, posted the Moho at a KOA campground in St Ignace, and took a ferry to Mackinac Island. This was a larger, cooler, more victorian version of Catalina Island off the west coast back home. There are no cars (save for a fire truck and ambulance) allowed on Mackinac Island, so everyone rides bikes. There’s an eight mile trail that goes along the coast of the entire island, which we rode (we took our bikes on the ferry). We had an exceptionally fun day exploring the island, eating some of the best burgers on pretzel buns at “Chuckwagon,” and going on a horse-drawn carriage ride with our very cool escort/carriage driver, Courtney. We explored the fort on the island, found a fun store called “Caddywampus” where we got Zeph a giant gummybear nightlight, and took the ferry home that night. We loved Mackinac Island, and thought it would be fun to go back and rent a cabin or stay in a B&B for a few days in the future sometime.

On the bike trail at Mackinac Island

On the bike trail at Mackinac Island

We were ready to head west, and that called for a journey on the SS Badger out of Luddington, Michigan – a four hour ferry ride across Lake Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. We took the night ferry, which left Ludington at 9pm and arrived in Manitowoc a few hours later (we crossed a time zone somewhere on the lake). That was a fun adventure and saved us some driving time. You can’t hang out in your car on the ferry, so we got a little stateroom so we could sleep. The ferry is the last steam-powered ferry in the US and it’s HUGE. I don’t know how many cars it can hold, but it’s basically the size of a cruiseship. They even had cruiseship-type amenities onboard – a museum, an arcade, a kids’ playroom, a movie lounge, a dining area – it was a fun and unique adventure.
We got in late and spent that night at the Village on the Lake campground in Manitowoc. Early the next morning Chris took Zeph swimming in their really nice indoor pool, and then we drove. And drove. And drove. Our longest day yet! We went from Wisconsin to South Dakota, stopping in Winona, Minnesota to take a quick peek at the Mississippi River. We would have stayed longer possibly, but the state “bird” (the mosquito) was everywhere so we kept driving west. Luckily those pesky little creatures didn’t follow us into Mitchell, South Dakota, where we spent one night at the nice KOA in town before heading to Badlands National Park.

On the ferry back to the mainland

On the ferry back to the mainland

Mackinac Island Bike Trail

Mackinac Island Bike Trail

Horse carriages and bikes and feet are the travel options on Mackinac Island

Horse carriages and bikes and feet are the travel options on Mackinac Island



  • Laura

    Good post – except – Jim and I are going to be staying at a B & B next Monday in Winona. So sorry to hear about the state bird. We should have known. We’ll have to bring our repellent. We’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for forging the trail!

    • zephyrsunrise

      Winona seems cool. It’s really pretty. Maybe the state bird will be gone by now… Have fun, post pics! 🙂

  • Laura Glynn

    We’re here now and nary a sign of a skeeter bug – but I know they can be bad! It’s lovely here and the sunset over the Mississippi was spectacular! Off to Galena, IL tomorrow. A favorite stop for us on our coastal tour…that is, if you consider the Mississippi River one of the coasts 😉

    • zephyrsunrise

      Laura so glad the state bird decided to hibernate for awhile. You guys have a pretty cool trip goin on… Have fun!!