Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, Interlochen, and Traverse City, MI

Neil and I decided to take a small getaway to one of Northern Michigan’s beautiful spots.  I will start out right away that we did not have enough time by any means and there are always things I would have done differently.  It was still a really great trip.

We headed out early on August 12th and were on our way after dropping off the little kitties at my mom’s house.  The poor little guys were not happy with that at all.  After quite a few bathroom breaks, coffee is dangerous, it only took us about 4.5 hours to reach our destination of Interlochen State Park Campground.  Check in was easy and we ended up with a great site that had a beautiful view.

After quickly setting up camp we made our way to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes.  We stopped at the visitor center to purchase our pass and read about some geology before heading to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  They give you a little pamphlet that numbers stops along the way and gives some information on each one.  At one of the stops we were able to hike the dunes and explore some of the beautiful desert-like landscape.  The hike is called Cottonwood Trail is is only 1.5 miles long.  I wasn’t well prepared and had sand in my shoes and no water, but I made it, we both made it.  Standing on top of some of those dunes and staring out over the landscape seeing some of the beauty Michigan has to offer was just amazing, breathtaking and mesmerizing..  It was so peaceful and shows there is much more to Michigan than Detroit.

Glen Lake Overlook

Dune Hike

Overlook on the dune hike

Me wandering the long sandy trail

After wandering the trail we headed over to the Lake Michigan Overlook.  If we would have had more food and water in us and with us we would have completed a very steep and strenuous trail leading from the top of the bluff and down to the lakeshore.  I didn’t want to get stuck anywhere or dragged away because of heat exhaustion.  From what I was hearing its about a 2 hour climb back up to the top.  I wish I would have been prepared.  After admiring the lake, the overlooks, and the dunes, we headed back to the car and unfortunately saw an EMS rescue team.  Definitely did make me glad with the decision to not wander down to the shore.

Sleeping Bear / Lake Michigan

Crazy dune climb!

Me and Neil

We continued the day back at the campground with pizza sandwiches, s’mores, sausages, and games and beer.

Mmmm ooey gooe s’mores

The next day was spent in Traverse City where we wandered the shops and walked along the bay.  First we spent some time at the old Traverse City State Hospital that is currently under renovations and is being turned into shops and condos.  We had the opportunity to wander the ground and take pictures of the outside, not inside 😦 , but we were able to go inside the renovated portion where some of the shops are.  It is absolutely beautiful architecture with wood, cement, and brick.  It’s currently called The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Then we headed downtown. We both feel that the city is a nice city and the shops have some nice and interesting things but it’s a little too touristy for us.  There are only so many times you can look at the same tourist items over and over again before you feel bored or bummed out with the lack of variety.  We did, however, enjoy an amazing brewery.  North Peak Brewery is located on W Front St in Traverse City’s warehouse district.  It was a great restaurant with some fantastic brews to sample.  We tried 6 different ones: Northern Light, Diabolical IPA, Siren Amber Ale, Mission Point Porter, Shirley’s Irish Stout, and their hard cider.  All were very good and descriptions of each can be found here: http://www.northpeak.net/np/beer/our_beer.htm  The only one I can give a real review on is the cider as I am a cider fan.  It’s not extremely sweet and its very light and lightly carbonated.  It reminded me of a wine.  Definitely nothing like Woodchuck, which I find to be way too sweet, or Strongbow.

Neil decided to try the Honey Porter Hanger Steak and I went for the Sunflower Reuben.  Neil’s steak came with gouda mashed redskins and my sandwich was made with stonehouse sunflower rye and apple caraway sauerkraut which tasted wonderful.  I tried Neil’s steak which was also very well cooked.  Neil decided they had an artist in the kitchen cooking his steak haha.  We also both tried a white cheddar ale soup topped with Hanover’s mustard pretzel bites.  I’d go back there just for another bowl of that soup.

Exterior of T.C.S.H

Renovated Exterior T.C.S.H

Renovated Interior T.C.S.H.

Downtown Traverse City

Some awesome North Peak Brews

Honey Porter Hanger Steak

Sunflower Reuben

White Cheddar Ale Soup

Grand Traverse Bay

After all that we spent the night back at the campsite.  My cousin and his boyfriend happened to be traveling northern Michigan as well and decided to stop in and share some marshmallows, stories, wine, and laughs.  I burnt the heck out of some Jiffy Pop I tried to cook over the fire, we had a fire to be reckoned with, and we laid out on the dock on Duck Lake watching shooting stars, listening to the haunting sounds of the loon.  It was a night I wish I could revisit regularly.

On our way back we hit Frankenmuth, Michigan for some Zehnder’s chicken and to grab a snack from the Cheese Haus.

Frankenmuth

Zehnder’s Budget Chicken Dinners!

Cheese Haus mouse!

All in all a great trip but too short.  There were many things I wish we would have had the time and money to do.  But I would do it all again and I recommend the trip to anyone.  Just be careful on the dunes.  That stuff can be a little scary and a little strenuous.

If you are interested in any of the campfire food cooked head here: http://needlethreadsorcery.wordpress.com/

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