Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

Part 2 – N’West Michigan Road Trip – Mushrooms, Tunnels, Bears, and Indians – Oh My!

We left Charlevoix the next morning after a comfortable stay at the Maple Leaf Inn and continued north on M-31 toward Petoskey.  We had an opportunity to go along Lake Charlevoix on our way to Urgent Care (that’s another story altogether) when we happened along some of the famous “Mushroom Houses” we had heard about.  You can read more about these famous homes and the self-taught architect that designed and built these beautiful homes by clicking here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Heading out of Charlevoix on M-31 along the south edge of Little Traverse Bay, we arrived in Petoskey (famous for Petoskey Stones) and we happened across their Farmer’s Market.  Since we don’t have a lot of room for storage, nor do we have a large refrigerator, the only thing Kathy bought was a bar of hand made soap. Here’s a few pictures from the market, everything was so colorful and attractive!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Moving on up the road out of Petoskey, some friends of ours here at the park told us about State Route 119 and the “Tunnel of Trees“.  It sounded fascinating and we wanted to stay along the lake shore, so off we went due north on SR 119.  Video below.

The Tunnel of Trees starts at about Harbor Springs and ends at a small hamlet called Cross Village where we found the famous (and out of the way) “Legs Inn” restaurant.  Unfortunately for us, the restaurant doesn’t open until noon and we got there just a little too early, but we did take the opportunity to walk the grounds and check out some of the history of the place.  There are beautiful gardens out back with patio seating and the original designer, Stanley Smolak had an eclectic flair and utilized the local Odawa Indians to help him build the Legs Inn.  See more about the Legs Inn at this link.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Beyond Cross Village (on M-119) we worked our way east and north on up to The Headlands International Dark Sky Park, McGulpin Point Lighthouse, stopped for ice cream in Mackinaw City and then on over the bridge.  Although the day was clear and sunny in the city, the fog was heavy at the bridge and visibility was poor if not non-existent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We ended up the day heading on down I-75, then over to Kalkaska where my folks had lived in their retirement years and are buried at the Garfield Twp Cemetery.  Kathy and I drove around the area reminiscing how we used to come up here to see them when the kids were toddlers (they’re now 39 & 40).

All in all it was a great trip.  Seeing new sites along with revisiting some places we used to frequent and bringing back pleasant memories.  A great way to spend a few days in northern Michigan.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Workampers Northwest Michigan Road Trip

One of the nice advantages of the workamping lifestyle is that we work (at the RV park) part time in exchange for our site and utilities.  “Part Time” is key for two reasons.  First, we’ve worked full-time for forty years or so and don’t want to do that any longer … after all, we are “retired” in that we quit working full time, started collecting our Social Security and pensions earlier than most (at a reduced rate) so that we could change our lifestyle and explore this great country of ours.

Secondly, working part time allows us a few days a week to hit the road and explore what’s around us.  If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve seen; the beach and state park at Ludington, the Pere Marquette River, the Village of Idlewild, Bitely, and more.

This week we headed out Thursday morning for a three day trip along the “baby finger” of Michigan bordering Lake Michigan where we enjoyed towns and villages like Manistee, Glen Arbor, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Cross Village, Mackinac City and finally back down through Kalkaska and Cadillac.  The map of our three day trip is below.

If you’d like an interactive link to the map so you can zoom and pan on any specific area, here’s the link.

Day 1 – Manistee to Charlevoix

Our first stop was at Manistee.  We didn’t walk the town, but we did head to the beach and on the way back through town, we stopped to admire the Ramsdell Theatre.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get inside to see, but got a couple of outside pix.  I wouldn’t have stopped there, but was curious about the large brick windowless tower poking up out the back of the building.  Once we stopped and found that it was a theater, the tower to the rear made sense.

Pigs really DO Fly (at the Ramsdell Theatre sidewalk in front of the box office)
Coming attractions at the Ramsdell Theatre
Ramsdell Theater, Manistee, MI – On the National Register of Historic Places
The Ramsdell streetside .. Note the high tower at the rear where they pull up the curtains and backdrops
The public beach along Lake Michigan at Manistee, MI
Our selfie at Manistee Public Beach Park
This is a decommissioned rail car ferry. It’s hard to see, but it has train tracks inside for the cars to ride on
The stern of the ferry opens wide to allow the train cars to be rolled on to the deck
Relaxing along the Lake Michigan shoreline at Orchard Beach State Park just north of Manistee
Historical marker at Onekema on the east side of Portage Lake
The park at Onekema overlooking Portage Lake

We continued north along M-22, often catching glimpses of the mighty Lake Michigan

Selfie at Inspiration Point (Arcadia Dunes Beach at Arcadia)
The Kindness Rocks Project at Arcadia Beach

It was a beautiful drive up M-22 along the lake.  Since it was a weekday, very little traffic and almost nobody else on the beaches we stopped to check out.

We continued up M-22 out of Arcadia, through Watervale and Alberta and on into Frankfort where we were able to pull in to the public park at the marina, break out our cooler and have a light lunch of tuna salad on crackers along with some cottage cheese and washed it all down with a few gulps of ice cold lemonade while watching the boats bobbing in the water and the sea gulls dive for their lunch (in the harbor, not at our picnic table!).

Leaving Frankfort, we headed on up through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore across Glen Lake into and out of Glen Arbor and into Leland where we knew from previous visits we would find the historic “Fishtown“.  It’s mostly just a tourist trap now with lots of shops filled with collectibles and souvenirs, along with a few cafes but also is an active harbor for pleasure vessels and charter fishing operations as well.  You can easily spend a lot of money in Leland.

Years ago we had continued north on M-22 all the way to the Grand Traverse Light adjacent to the Lelanau State Park at the tip of the baby finger.  It’s a nice trip up with a wonderful little museum in the lighthouse and I’d recommend this to anyone visiting the area.

Now, I KNEW that Leland was a tourist spot, but we thought maybe we’d get a room there for the night and be able to walk the sidewalks and rub elbows with those further up the economic ladder from us.  NOT!  We found a motel online and our smartphone said that they had only one room left, so we darted up the street to get there and check in.  The nice young lady behind the desk told us the rate was $391 (per night!) and NO, that did NOT include a few rounds of golf!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Soooooo, we headed out of Leland, through Sutton’s Bay and on to Charlevoix where we hoped to find a room for the night.

We found the Maple Leaf Motel (only 10 rooms) on the south end of town where our host Cindy welcomed us to the last room available, and as promised we found the room to be clean.  I asked Cindy where we should have dinner tonight and she recommended the new “Cantina” restaurant located in an alley off the beaten track.  She also told us about the 80th annual Venetian Festival going on in downtown this week.  We decided that all sounded like a great night so off we went …

The harbor at Charlevoix, getting ready for the band at the Venetian Festival
The Venetian Festival at Charlevoix
Dinner menu from the Cantina restaurant where we had dinner
Cantina “Street Corn” grilled, rolled in Chipotle Mayo, then rolled in cheese – Yummy!
Kathy’s Chicken and Shrimp Tacos
My beef and bean burrito
Mural on Rexall Drugs downtown Charlevoix
A man and his dog on the paddle board in the harbor
A 2 hour cruise out into Lake Michigan on a catamaran

Some shots of folks enjoying the festival food at the harbor and listening to the live band in the amphitheater

This ferry coming in from Beaver Island (watch the video below)

 

Kathy wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel.  But she also wanted ME to GO ALONG!

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m “skeered of heights”.  I can’t even climb up on top of the motor home.  I can handle a six foot ladder, but that’s about all.

It might not look it, but I’m shakin’ in my shoes
A shot from atop the wheel (Skeered)
A street performer downtown Charlevoix during the Venetian Festival

The video below shows a group of kids having a ball on the hill.  It would be a really tough climb with a sled in the snow.

We got the last room in town, $85 / nite. Not a lot of fluff, but a clean room
Resting back in the room after dinner and the festival downtown

That’s it for now, the next post will be from Charlevoix through Petoskey, Cross Village and the Tunnel of Trees and then up across the bridge (and back) and then down to Kalkaska.

 

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

RC Jets – So COOL!

Each year, on the first Friday and Saturday in June, the Lake County Modelers and Flyers Association holds their annual RC Jet Rally at the Baldwin Municipal Airport.

This event is free and open to the public for all to come and see what it’s all about.  Kathy and I took a drive over on Friday to see what this was all about.  So COOL!

Although I never owned one, when I was younger some of my buddies had RC airplanes or RC boats, but JETS?  Really?  JETS?

These guys and gals have a club and, like most clubs, I’m sure they meet periodically and share ideas and talk about the art of building these beautiful birds and of course, learning to fly these things at fantastic speeds without crashing.

Although we didn’t talk to any of the participants, no questions asked, still we enjoyed see how beautiful (and fast) these guys are.  Some of them are up to about 6 feet long!

I hope you enjoy seeing these pix in the slide show below and check out the video I shot too that shows just how fast these guys shoot across the sky.

Although I’d like to play with these (like to have one of my own), I’m sure the average RC Jet hobbyist has thousands invested (too rich for my blood) and further, we’d have a hard time transporting one of these guys in the motor home.

Enjoy …

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s a video I put together with some samples of the wild flying these guys are doing, I’d love to be in their shoes!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Idlewild & The End of Segregation

Idlewild & The End of Segregation

We’re working at Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park just south of Baldwin, MI.  Just a few short miles east of Baldwin is the little Village of Idlewild.

From 1912 through the mid-60’s Idlewild was known as “The Black Eden” where scores of famous black entertainers from around the mid-west (and further) would come to entertain their fellow African-Americans in a classy resort community.  This became a very popular spot for the well-to-do where they could unwind and enjoy their idle time.  Folklore says the name may have originated from “Idle men and wild women”.

The Idlewild development was started in 1912 by four white land developers (2 from this area and 2 from Chicago) who marketed excursion trips from the African-American neighborhoods of Detroit, Chicago and other mid-west cities to this area.  They sold home sites to visitors looking for the peace and serenity that they didn’t have in the big city.

In it’s heyday, Idlewild’s summer population would grow to over 25,000 as folks came from far and wide to enjoy camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, roller skating, and night-time entertainment.

Over the years, the area grew by leaps and bounds because of all the top-end entertainment that was featured at the Dance House and other watering holes that had opened.  This was a resort where black folks could come to where they felt welcome.

However, the end of an era came when the Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964 and thereafter the folks who had traveled to Idlewild, could now enjoy leisure entertainment wherever they wished, often closer to home, due to the end of segregation.

Now Idlewild is a sleepy little village that still offers a lake, a post office, a bar/tavern but little else.  Many of the old cottages built in the 30’s and 40’s are now in disrepair although many folks still live here and thankfully there is an effort underway to revive Idlewild to attract new residents.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was only a boy of 10 when the Civil Rights Act was passed.  Growing up in Detroit, I really hadn’t a clue about segregation, integration had already begun.  Although I believe in equal rights for every human being, still, it’s a shame to see that the end of segregation, so good and right for everyone, put an end to what was once a thriving economy for those that had the opportunity to travel here.

I hope that their efforts to revitalize the area are successful.  To see a short video about the history of Idlewild and the efforts to bring it back to life, see the Detroit Free Press story (written in 2014) by following this link.

To learn more about Idlewild, follow this link to the Wikipedia page

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Down to The Little Bitely Tavern

Our first night out of the park, we decided to run down the road a few miles to The Bitely Tavern where, on Thursdays, they offer their $2.00 hamburger.

THIS is where you’ll find Bitely

Bitely is a small village that currently boasts a gas station/convenience store, township hall, the “Bitely Boys” Motorcycle Club, a post office, and it’s most popular inhabitant …. The Bitely Tavern.  It used to be a station on the Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad in 1889.

The place was PACKED with folks that obviously knew each other … those that live nearby and those that come “up north” on the weekends.

Even though it was packed, we were served quickly and enjoyed our burgers AND liquid refreshment as well.  One of the fellas at the bar put money in the juke box and it blared country tunes of Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves.  The little 94 year old lady at the table next to us (right under the juke box) was there with her daughter and son-in-law.  Although she was sitting right UNDER the speakers, the bar maid had to keep turning UP THE VOLUME so she could hear!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The service was great, the food was good enough to come back again and try something else on the menu (what the hell does that mean?) and everyone there was having a good time.  We’ll go back and try the pizza next time.

In our next post, we’ll share with you the “suburb” of Baldwin that was famous for top black entertainers from back in the 20’s to the mid-60’s.  Stay tuned …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our First “official” Week On The Job

It’s been a few days since I’ve written … we’ve been keeping busy here at the park.  Our new workamper partners, Russ & Mary arrived on Sunday the 14th and our first official day of work was the 15th.  The first few days of that week we all worked together to get the place “open” for the season.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pere Marquette Oaks RV Park is a beautiful park.  There are about 115 RV sites here.  All the lots are individually owned and each property owner is responsible for all the upkeep of their lot with the exception of the grass mowing and trimming which is paid for by the association from the annual association fees.  They hire the crew from the golf course across the street to take care of the turf and those guys come over every Tuesday morning to mow and trim and blow off all the edges.

This first full week the guys pressure washed all the concrete surfaces around the pool deck, the sidewalks, and the picnic pavilion.  We used a pretty slick tool that I wasn’t familiar with called a “PowerFit Surface Cleaner“.  This attaches to the gas powered pressure washer and helps to easily clean the concrete surfaces.

The ladies did the initial “deep cleaning” of the bathrooms to make them spic ‘n span for the season.  We brought out all the tables, chairs, and umbrellas to arrange around the pool … washing everything down as we set them up.  We installed the sand volleyball and badminton nets.  We worked to stabilize the pool and hot tub chemicals so that the water would be clean, balanced, and safe for everyone to use this Memorial Day weekend.

Our site here at the park is close to the main entrance so Kathy and I get to see everyone as they come and go.  Part of our responsibilities include “cruising” the park 3 or 4 times daily in the golf cart and just being aware of anything looking out of the ordinary on residents sites.

Although there are 15-20 folks that are here all summer, many of the sites are unoccupied during the week while their owners are downstate working and then they come “up north” on the weekend, so our weekends are often going to be “full house”, especially on holiday weekends like this Memorial Day weekend.

Kathy and I will be taking some day trips around northern Michigan and we’ll share some of that with you as time goes on.  Thanks for stopping by and we’d love it if you’d leave a note with your thoughts …

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Our day trip to Ludington State Park

We took a drive over to Ludington (about 45 miles west) yesterday so we could check out the beach at Lake Michigan and we wanted to see the lake and stream inside Lugington State Park.

The beach was empty, still a little cold here in Michigan, but I’m sure there will be some diehards out there on the beach come Memorial Day weekend.

Looks like a great spot to camp, fish, kayak, and canoe – we’ll be sure to come on back here in the summer when it’s warmer.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
NOTE: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.