Good things eventually come to an end and it was time to say goodbye to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Next time we will take the sunset cruise so we can see the beautiful Sandstone Cliffs. We drove back into Grand Marais and stopped at the Breakwall Bakery & Café. I had the Loggers breakfast, eggs and pancakes and Susan had their Blueberry muffin and a bowl of oatmeal. Next to the restaurant was a building resembling a “Pickle Barrel”. It is on the National Historic Register of Places. It was built as a summer home for a cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune and then moved to Grand Marais, from its original location on Grand Sable Lake.
We had time to kill as the drive to Tahquamenon SP was only and hour and a half. We decided to drive up to Whitefish Point to see the Whitefish Point Lighthouse and Coast Guard Station (Est. 1849) and visit the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. We took a tour of the lighthouse, visited the museum, lifeboat station (boathouse), and the Keepers Quarters. There is a replica of the Edmund Fitzgerald made from over 15,000 lego blocks. It was a high school project that took over 9 years to build. The EM sank some 17 miles from White Fish Point on November 10, 1975, with a loss of the entire 29 person crew. The ship lies twisted and broken at a depth of 535 feet. In the summer of 1995, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society together with families of the Fitzgerald’s crew, Canadian Navy and the National Geographic Society raised the bell to honor the 29 men lost. Today the ship’s bell can be seen in the Museum Gallery. A new bell with the names of the 29 men was placed back on the ship as a memorial to those lost. There is also the Whitefish Point Unit of Seney National Wildlife Refuge for migrating birds. We didn’t have time to stroll through the refuge.
Edmund Fitzgerald - 15,000 lego blocks
We headed to Tahquamenon Falls SP to check in and view the upper falls. We stopped at the Tahquamenon Brewery inside the park for a couple of whitefish sandwiches. I had their Pale Ale and Susan had root beer. We sat out on the deck with Sarah laying at our feet having lunch and listening to live music. When took the trail to the Upper falls. This may have been the prettiest of the falls that we saw. We opted not to visit the lower falls as our campground was located on the Tahquamenon River and was a bit of a drive. I also had a fishing license for the day and wanted to get some fishing in. Storms moved through the area with thunder and lightning so my fishing was delayed until 7pm and then for only an hour or so. Again I didn’t get a nibble. We moved the table under the awning and dinner consisted of appetizers as it was getting late.
Tahquamenon River & Upper Falls
Tahquamenon River from our campsite
Up early and on the road to Muskegon, MI for our last night before home. We saw a sign for the scenic bye way along Whitefish Bay. This was a good choice as we drove along the coast. Up in a dead tree was a bald eagle. I turned around to get a photo and the eagle had left its perch. That would have been a great photo. Oh well, at least we got to see our second bald eagle on this trip.
We stopped at the Point Iroquois Lighthouse. It was pretty but very overcast. Our drive took us through the Hiawatha National Forest and Bay Mills Indian Reservation and we stopped the Dancing Crane Coffee House for coffee and a pastie as they call pastries.
The fog would follow us the rest of the way to Mackinac. We stopped at the point before crossing, but the fog was so thick you couldn’t see the bridge. We saw three pairs of geese with their goslings.
We crossed the Mackinac Bridge around 10:30 a.m. and the fog was lifting on the West side of the bridge and plenty of blue sky, but the bridge was covered in fog as we drove across. We stopped at Colonial Michilmackinac and Mackinaw City and visited the lighthouse and grounds, just as the fog unveiled the bridge. This was a great photo.
We then head for Michigan Highway M119, “Scenic Heritage Route” to drive along the coast of Lake Michigan through the famous “Tunnel of Trees”. Twenty miles of twisting and narrow road leading through the beautiful landscape.
I had planned on taking a combination of US 31 and M22 along the Eastern Shore of Lake Michigan down to Muskegon, but when I set the GPS it gave us an arrival time of 4:30 p.m. and the planned route would have added 2+ hours. We needed to stop for lunch and took Highway 131 South. We had driven half of the planned route last summer when we left Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We passed Boyne Mountain Ski Resort (rode the chairlift up to the top and walked down the slope through the beautiful flowers), a place I visited with my family 56 years ago during a summer vacation, a trip that took us across the Mackinac bridge up to the locks at Sault Ste Marie. These were very distant memories, but fun to think back to a time spent with one’s family driving along in the wood paneled family station wagon (with rear facing seat) . Along Highway 131 we pasted a sign that said halfway between the Equator and North Pole, 45th Parallel.
We arrived at Muskegon SP around 5 p.m. and checked in. The campground was packed. Our site had trees on two sides which made it a little quieter than the rest of the park and we didn’t have anyone on the other side. We took several walks down to Lake Michigan and again were treated with a beautiful sunset.
Sunset over Lake Michigan
Muskegon Lighthouse on left and harbor entrance beacon on right
We were up early and on the road for home. We stopped at a pancake house for breakfast on our way out of Muskegon. We arrived home around 1 p.m. Our trip covered 10 days, 9 nights, 2,144 miles, 4 state parks, 1 National Lakeshore, and some of the most beautiful parts of our country.