I am headed back home from a wonderful tour with my great friend and fellow RT owner, Laura, a Michigan native whom I met at the Branson Corporate Rally in May. We kept in touch on the Roadtreking: The Group Facebook page and I managed to wrangle an invitation for a personal tour of her gorgeous state. This was Laura’s first time solo in her rig as her hubby, Cammo Ken (he wears it well), was out fishin' wid ‘da boys.
The three of us first went over to a lovely campground, north of Detroit for a small rendezvous with 17 other RT owners and a great weekend. Then we dumped hubby back home and hit the road!
I fell in love with Michigan, there is so much to see and do- it was surprisingly hard to leave for 3 good reasons.
1. Water– It’s everywhere. 5 big lakes line the shores: Michigan, Superior, St. Clair, Huron and Erie make it seem as if Michigan is an island in the ocean. Then there are all the inland lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, springs and waterfalls.
Because of these shipping lakes, towns sprouted all over to support the lumber, fishing, farming, trapping and mining industries, bringing along with them big money and eventually tourists seeking outdoor recreational activities. Everyone knows of the famous Mackinac Island with the Grand Hotel!
Sight seeing, shopping, canoeing, dune climbing, fishing, boating, swimming, fly swatting, mosquito slapping and sunset watching are practically mandatory. One can bird watch, hunt or hike, ride an ATV or a horse. There are parks galore. Golf ‘til you drop.
Of course, the inland forests, parks, cities, farms and the rest are also incredible. And Michigan has done a great job with bike lanes for cyclists; even if the roads aren’t always in great shape, some intelligent entity planted wonderful tree buffers along most of the highways, making for lovely driving/cycling and less ugly highway view for homeowners.
2. Food– After the rendezvous, we went north and over the famous Mackinac Bridge onto the Upper Penninsula to camp in the Hiawatha National Forest right along the lakeshore. Stunning! Then over to Whitefish Point and worked up an appetite. We stopped for some grub before starting our trek down the west shore on the blue ribbon M22 highway.
Man oh man is there some good eating! Fresh Walleye for my first dinner. And the smoked fish is killer- delicate whitefish, trout or the heartier salmon are not to be missed.
Seriously good cherries! The state boasts hundreds of orchards with cute fruit stands everywhere. Many run on the honor system with a cash box so bring plenty of singles! Along with fresh apples, delicious and juicy apricots, you can feast on home made pies, chocolate popcorn, cookies or beautiful greens and veggies.
You must go to Pronto Pups in Grand Haven – a tiny stand on the shore with a line down the block! They’re like corn dogs, but battered instead. I had 2- I think it is a law. Go down the street to the bakery and try freshly baked Michigan Mittens, sugar cookies cut in the shape of the state, for dessert.
I had to sample Pasties (pronounced with a short “a” not to be confused with those twirly things in strip joints) to see if they were as good as my step-mother’s, and sorry Gillian, they were! They’re small, half moon pastries stuffed with cooked beef, seasonings and potatoes. They were miners’ lunches, easy to take down into the mines and hearty. We also enjoyed a trendy version stuffed with spinach and feta.
Breakfast on local cherry pecan sausages and Michigan maple syrup with oat pancakes. There are dozens of Michigan cheeses, jerky and all manner of foods. For the sophisticated set, there are a host of very good wineries to whet your whistle, most offering taste tours. Michigan has excellent fine dining restaurants, too, making dieting tough.
3. Everything else– There’re about a ga-zillion campgrounds, B & B’s, hotels, motels and cottages for rent. The historic lakeshore cottages, especially in Petosky are simply gorgeous. Speaking of Petosky (I love that name), we spent a day hunting for the famous Petosky stones, which are coral fossils washed ashore and when polished, quite pretty. Laura’s superior vision scored us some keepers.
More! Michigan is loaded with festivals and friendly people. Farms are out of picture books. Went to a fabulous Frank Lloyd Wright home. There are a few hundred lighthouses and many can be toured. Museums galore. The arts and crafts industry is excellent, with high quality works. Michigan is also known for its furniture makers, claiming the famous mid-century Herman Miller factory. The U.P. has the incredible Porcupine Wilderness with great backpacking. Keep sharp and you may get to see a black bear or gray wolf when you visit Michigan by RV!
I’ve not mentioned winter, as I haven’t experienced it, but saw spectacular photos and it looks like I'll need to schedule another trip with my camera gear.
So if you get an invite from Laura P., take it! Not only is she a great tour guide, she is proud of her state and it shows. You may even get to meet Cammo Ken, if he isn’t busy making his custom fishing bait or out on one of those pretty lakes!