Lower Michigan – National Parks Road Trip – Day 1

After much discussion we had decided to make the most ambitious road trip we ever had, a tour of more than 5,000 miles of the USA. This trip will take us north through Michigan, then west as far as Montana, south through Wyoming, Idaho and Utah, then back east through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi before heading back north through Tennessee and Kentucky.

The first leg of this trip took place on a Friday afternoon, heading across northwest Ohio and into Southern Michigan. While the National Parks were at the top of our agenda, we included numerous intermediate stops at various Roadside America sights. The first of these roadside attractions was in front of a Cabelas Store in Dundee, Michigan where they have the worlds largest bronze wildlife sculpture, two massive bears in a fighting pose.

Given that we were travelling on the Friday before Labor Day weekend I was expecting some traffic but nothing like we ran into once we got closer to the Detroit suburbs. We would catch stop and go traffic that would eventually clear, only to run into more a few miles down the road. Eventually I decided to take a break and we got off the freeway to go to Frankenmuth, the faux German town in the middle of Michigan.

Unfortunately many people must like faux German towns, as there was no where to park, and really nothing that was worth stopping for (we had spent a day there a few years earlier) so we headed back onto the freeway and battled the traffic all the way to the northern part of the lower penninsula.

2015 09 04 16 Grayling MI.JPG

We stopped at Grayling for dinner at Dawson and Steven’s, a fifty’s themed diner that had a fantastic display case of Coke a Cola memorabilia through the decades. The restaurant is also known as the Bottle Cap Museum, and is comprised of more than 12,000 Cola-Cola items, from trays, signs, and toys to specially-made bicycles and a full-size 1950s Coca-Cola delivery truck. There are syrup jugs, dart boards, antique dolls, clocks, coins, and a vending machine that once turned out cold Cokes for 10 cents a pop. About 4,000 glass bottles dating from the 1890s to the present line the shelves, carefully arranged to reflect the changes in design and shape over the last the century.

After dinner we continued north on I-75, stopping at a rest area on a bluff with an excellent view of Lake Huron at dusk.

2015 09 04 24 Northern MI.JPG

A bit further up the road (just beyond the 45th parallel) and we arrived at Mackinaw City, where we went down to the beach to view the very impressive Mackinac Bridge. This small town also had a classic Roadside America attraction, a small building with a giant hot dog on the roof.

2015 09 04 37 Mackinac Bridge MI.JPG

We were spending the night  across the bridge in St Ignace, so we headed across the 8 mile bridge across the Straights of Mackinac where we arrived at our hotel. Happy to have the traffic behind us we found the resort had a bonfire going with toasted marshmellows.