In this edition, we start our trip down Lake Michigan. We visit a few towns on the Michigan side of the Lake, then cross to Wisconsin. We visit Sturgeon Bay, Green Bay, and Kewaunee, WI. Our days in port are determined more by the weather on the Lake rather than things to do so that I can catch up on the blog! Again, this is a long blog, but it catches us up to September 30th, almost real-time!

Today, October 9th, we are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Watch for the next edition soon!

Day 107 – Sat, 09/09 – From Mackinac Island, MI to Petoskey, MI – 59 miles, Travel Time: 3hrs 50min

Mackinac Island to Traverse City

As we were leaving Mackinac Island, a large cruise ship pulled in and docked right behind us. We gave them a few minutes to get settled, then pulled out and headed past the Mackinac Island Lighthouse and the Grand Hotel, then under the Mackinac Bridge. Aside from a lot of open water, lighthouses are the only thing to see on the trip. First the White Shoal Lighthouse, then Waugoshance Lighthouse, then Grays Reef, and finally, Skillagalee Island Lighthouse. The weather was great and we made good time.

We were in a bit of a hurry to get to Petoskey as we had a mail delivery at the local UPS store and were picking up our replacement refrigerator at West Marine! When we arrived at Petoskey, we stopped at the fuel dock, got a pump-out, and tied up the boat.

We got settled, grabbed a dock cart and our folding wagon, and walked the mile up a large hill to West Marine and the UPS Store. The refrigerator barely fit into the dock cart, and we filled the wagon with our mail (our first delivery since we went into Canada) and many Amazon packages.

When we got back, we unwrapped the refrigerator, cleaned out our temp fridge, and installed the replacement. Everything went well! We put the temp fridge on the back deck, took some photos then posted it on Facebook Marketplace. Within an hour, it was sold for about half what we paid for it! We figured we would have to either give it away or throw it out!

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Petoskey is a great little town. There are lots of small shops and restaurants. Petoskey is famous as a summer hangout of Ernest Hemingway, and for the Petoskey Stone. Petoskey Stone is ancient coral from when the area was covered by an inland sea that has fossilized. The stone washes up on the shore and after polishing, has beautiful patterns.

Raw Petoskey Stone (Hexagonaria percarinata)
Petoskey Stone after cutting and polishing

Day 108 – Sun, 9/10 – In Petoskey, MI

Three weeks ago when we were in Midland, Ontario, a bug bit me on the back of the knee. It has been red and had a hard spot inside since, but it has not really been bothering me. Yesterday, the sore popped while I was bending and squatting to install the refrigerator. I’ll spare you the gory details. I called the closest urgent care, about a mile away, and they could see me on Sunday morning. It was not bothering me, so I walked up to the doctor’s office. The nurse did the normal check-in things, and a few minutes later, the Doctor came in. He looked at it, poked it, and said, “Ewwww. We’re going to have to open that up! I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later, he returned and said, “Giving you a local will take too long. You look like a hardy guy, so I’ll just spray it with freeze spray.” Two cuts and a bunch of squeezing later, he popped on a bandaid. We had chatted while he was doing his thing, and I found out that his parents had done the Loop last year, and his boat was on the next dock over from us at the marina. He asked if I was walking back to the boat and said it might start to bother me, given the walk, but that it would be good to help it drain. He left and returned with a little white pill and a glass of water and said, this will take the edge off. I walked across the street to Walgreens to fill a prescription for an antibiotic and pick up some gauze pads, then walked back to the boat. The nurse mentioned that the bakery next door to the office was the best in town, so I stopped there on the way back to the boat.

By the time I got back to the boat, my pant leg was soaked with blood, but the little pill the Doctor gave me had kicked in, and I didn’t feel much of anything.

Brenda cleaned my leg and put on a new bandage, and I went in to take a nap. At 2:30, the guy that was buying the refrigerator came to pick it up and we helped to load it into his Jeep.

Brenda tells me that that evening, we walked into town and had dinner at a pub frequented by Ernest Hemmingway. Whatever the Doc gave me for pain worked well because I have no recollection of anything after the guy picked up the refrigerator! I’ll have to see if I can get more of whatever that was!

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 109 – Mon, 9/11 – In Petoskey, MI

Some Looper friends that we met on our first Loop in 2019 have a summer home near Petoskey. Katie and Tim saw that we were in the neighborhood and offered to come and visit with us to catch up on our Loop adventure.

They picked us up around 11:00, and we drove from Petoskey to Harbor Springs on the other side of the Bay (where we stayed on our last loop visit). We visited a famous Loop stop, “Tom’s Mom’s Cookies.” Some of the best cookies on the entire loop. (Available for delivery! ).

After loading up on cookies (the Chocolate and dried cherry are the best), they drove us down a famous scenic highway called the “Tunnel of Trees,” State Route M119. This is a twisty, turney, hilly road. Many parts of it are completely covered over with trees, and there are many cute log cabin cottages along the route. It was still a little early for fall colors, but the road is amazing!

Our destination was a restaurant called the “Legs Inn,” a Polish restaurant that is a famous local landmark started in 1912. The founder, Stanley Smolak, was a folk artist making interesting objects from carved wood and other found objects. His descendants still run the restaurant. The top of the Inn is decorated with stove legs obtained from a local foundry. The back garden is beautifully landscaped and has a great view of Lake Michigan. Inside, the walls are covered with Stanley Smolak’s creations, and many of the pieces of furniture are also creations of his. Fascinating! If you can get there, it is definitely worth a visit both for the food and the decor!

The food was excellent and very similar to the food I grew up with! Sauerkraut, Potato Pancakes, Sausages, Red Cabbage, and Hunters Stew. Yummmm!!! The portions were huge, and we ended up with another full meal in a doggie bag!

It started raining while we were at lunch, so we took the main road back to Petoskey and said goodbye to them. Thanks for a great time, Katie and Tim!

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 110 – Tue, 9/12 – In Petoskey, MI

We had been watching the weather and Tuesday was forecast to be cloudy with high winds. The forecast was right! It was a good day to be in port and not out on the lake. We took out the bikes and rode down the bike path along the shore of Traverse Bay, then to Walgreens to pick up some prescriptions. After picking them up, we rode into town on a path that runs along the river that runs through Petoskey.

The shore is covered with small rocks washed up from the lake. This is where Petoskey Stones are found. We did stop and look but we didn’t find any. In places, there were people with buckets scouring the shore who looked like professional rock hunters.

We stopped at an old Indian Mission built in 1884. In Canada, most of the signs are in French and English. Here they are in Odawa, a first nation language, and English! Coming from New England, where there has been European settlement since 1620. It is interesting to see that this area was still primarily Native American until the mid-1800s.

Petoskey has a history back to the 1850s, and like many older port cities, it was a service point for the ships that traded on the lakes. There are many old signs on buildings showing the history, and also old painted signs on walls, indicating the prior uses. One of the most interesting was a building that housed the “Normal Business College.” I wonder if there was an “Abnormal Business College?”

We stopped at a couple of shops and then went back to the marina. In the marina parking lot is the Little Traverse History Museum. We went in for a visit and learned a lot about the area’s history.

The wind had really picked up, and we went down to the break wall to watch the waves come in.

That evening we went to Duffy’s Garage and Grill for dinner. Many of the local breweries also make a traditional Root Beer (pronounced “root beer”, by the locals.)

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 111 – Wed, 09/13 – From Petoskey, MI to Traverse City, MI – 62 miles, Travel Time: 4hrs 5min

The route from Petoskey to Traverse City, our next stop, goes out of Little Traverse Bay, around a point past Charlevoix, and then 35 miles down Traverse Bay. The wind was not quite as strong as yesterday, but there was a definite chop on the water. The prevailing wind was from the North, so we hoped that once we got around the Charlevoix point, we would have the waves on the back of the boat, and it would be an easier ride.

We left at 7:30 a.m., as the winds were predicted to pick up some later in the day, and headed out of Little Traverse Bay. The waves were on the “beam,” meaning they were hitting the side of the boat. When the waves are on the side, the boat rolls side-to-side, which can be a bit unsettling. We were seeing side-to-side pitches of 15° to 20° at times! As we had hoped, once we turned “south” down Traverse Bay, the waves were behind us and the ride smoothed out quite a bit, more up and down, which is much easier to handle.

We’ve been amazed at how deep portions of Lake Michigan are. In Traverse Bay, we saw over 370 feet in places! Once we got around the corner, we were able to pick up speed, which helped to smooth out the ride, and by 12:30, we had arrived in Traverse City.

Traverse City is another re-born city with a vibrant downtown full of shops, restaurants, and microbreweries. Once we were settled in, we went into town to check it out. While walking around, we came across a neat little plant shop. Our daughter works for a large commercial grower that produces small plants in pots, and we thought this sort of store would be a great retirement goal for her!

There were a number of other Looper boats in Traverse City, and in the evening, we got together to go to dinner. Katie B, Lovin Life, Dawn Watch, Changing Latitudes, and Kissed Some Frogs made for a good group!

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 112 – Thu, 09/14 – In Traverse City, MI

Thursday, we walked around Traverse City. There are several districts in Traverse City. We explored the Warehouse District, then walked along a nature trail that follows the Boardman River that runs through downtown.

We walked to the far end of the downtown area where the Boardman River exits into Grand Traverse Bay and got a great view of the Coast Guard Buoy Tender at anchor in the harbor.

We stopped for lunch and a drink at the Middle Coast Brewery, and Brenda found another local Root Beer.

This area of Michigan is famous for its cherries. We went to a store called “Cherry Republic” that specializes in all things “Michigan Cherry” and picked up some cherry-based treats. Then we went to the Grand Traverse Pie Company for a freshly baked cherry pie!

In the evening, we got the boat ready for our trip back up Grand Traverse Bay and watched the sunset over the marina.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 113 – Fri, 09/15 – From Traverse City, MI to Leland, MI – 51 miles, Travel Time: 4hrs 40min

Traverse City to Leland

The winds had not dropped quite as much as we had hoped, but the waves didn’t look too bad, so we left for Lealand just after 8:00. Most of the way up the bay was fine, as the winds were somewhat shielded in the bay. There were several other boats on the bay with us. As we got closer to when we rounded Lelanau Point, the waves started picking up, and we were seeing solid 2-footers with the occasional 3. The waves were from the north, so we only had them on the beam for a short time while we rounded the point, and then they were behind us, which made it tolerable.

A couple of the slower boats behind us opted to stop at North Point at the top of Traverse Bay rather than ride out the waves.

We pulled into Leland just before 1:00. This size of waves is right at our tolerance level, and we were ready to get off the boat.

Leland is an old fishing village. Aside from one old boat, all of the old fishermen are gone. However, they have converted the fishing shacks and net houses into little shops, making the town a big tourist attraction. The other big attraction in town is the river and waterfall just above the old fishing village that drains into the harbor. The river and falls are a favorite of salmon, and they can be seen jumping up the falls.

After walking around town to let our equilibrium adjust, we stopped at The Cove, a restaurant that sits right on the waterfall for lunch. We got an excellent table and were able to watch the fish jumping while we ate.

After lunch we walked to the top of the dam and watched the fish for a while, then went back to the boat and called it an early evening.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 114 – Sat, 09/16 – In Leland, MI

We had initially only planned one day in Leland. We saw that the waves on Saturday would be about the same as when we arrived. We also heard that there would be an Antique Boat Show on Saturday, so it was an easy decision to stay an extra day.

In the morning, we walked up to the Leland Historical Museum and visited the museum and wooden boat show. There were some great old wooden boats on display! After visiting the boat show, we walked back toward the marina and spent an hour trying to catch a picture of a fish jumping up the falls. I took over 100 photos, and only got one with a fish in it! Next time I’ll try taking a video!

After visiting a few more shops and picking up our “Pin” for Leland, we went back to the boat. I changed into my “work clothes” and changed the oil on the generator, which was overdue by 10 hours. (Sorry, Michael! I’ll do better next time!)

At this time of year, there are only two dinner restaurants open in Leland: The Cove, where we had lunch yesterday, and “The Riverside Inn,” which is a Fine Dining establishment. We’ve been eating burgers, sandwiches, and BBQ so much lately that we decided to go for a good meal. It was wonderful! Brenda had the Crispy Salmon, and I had the Pork Chop. Again, our table was at a window overlooking the river with a spectacular view.

After dinner, we walked back to the marina. The wind had died down and the lake looked nice and calm. We were just settling into the boat when I saw a flash of color across the windshield. We ran outside and there was a para-glider buzzing over the marina. He was cruising back and forth for almost half an hour before flying off into the distance.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 115 – Sun, 09/17 – From Leland, MI to Frankfort, MI – 41 miles, Travel Time: 2hrs 25min

Leland to Frankfort, Michigan

Sunday the wind and waves were not great, but again, tolerable. Given that some days there are 4-5 foot waves on the lake, we will take 2-3’s as long as they are not coming sideways. The waves were coming from the North, so we also had the advantage of having two larger islands and a point blocking the waves on much of the trip.

Frankfort was another of the ports that we had visited on our first Loop Trip. It is probably my favorite micro-brewery of the trip, Storm Cloud Brewing. When we tied up, we chatted with the dockmaster, and he let us know that we’d just missed the end of the swimming portion for the Iron Man competition that was going on in town that day. There were 1500 competitors. It started with a 1.2-mile swim in 65° water in Lake Betsie. Then, a 56-mile bike loop up to the top of the dunes we had been following on the way in. Finally, a 13.1 mile run, around Lake Betsie and back, twice! When we docked, the running portion was still going on and runners were going past the end of our dock.

After we tied up, we walked up to the main street, which was closed off for the event, and walked to the Storm Cloud Brewery for lunch. After lunch, we wandered toward the other marina in town, where we saw a couple of other Looper boats were docked. A couple of them were sitting on the front of their boats, watching the racers go past, and we stopped and chatted with them for a while.

In the evening, we went to the Old Town Grill & Tap on the main street for dinner, then walked to the end of the street where the beach on the lake is to watch the sunset. We get to see a lot of sunsets, but this one was extra special, with the harbor entrance and the lighthouse as a backdrop.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 116 – Mon, 09/18 – In Frankfort, MI

We planned to cross to the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan from Frankfort. Frankfort, Michigan, to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is the shortest crossing point across the lake at 55 miles of open water. We had been watching the long-range forecasts for a good weather window. We learned the hard way on our first Loop that Lake Michigan is nothing to mess with, so we were willing to wait for a VERY good weather day before crossing.

The forecasts showed that Thursday would be our best option, so we entertained ourselves in Frankfort for a few days. Being stuck a 2-minute walk from my favorite brewery was a lot to ask, but I was willing to take one for the team!

On Monday, we got out our bikes and decided to go for a ride around the lake. There is a nice Rails-to-Trails path in Frankfort that we had walked part of on our last trip. We also noticed that there was an overlook on the top of one of the bluffs on the other side of the lake, so we made that our goal.

We rode around the end of Lake Betsie following the running route from the Ironman the day before. This put us at the old Life Boat Station which was right across the lake from the marina. We then climbed up a pretty steep hill to the top of the bluff. The E-Bikes did a great job of making it enjoyable! The view from the overlook was excellent! We got a great view of the town and the harbor entrance. This would also be a great place to come to watch the sunset.

There was a very steep road that went down the side of the bluff to the beach below. Google Maps showed that it went for about two miles along the beach, so we went down the hill. It drops 140 feet in less than 1/4 of a mile! Very steep! When we got to the bottom, we found that the “road” on Google Maps was just a trail in the soft sand of the beach. Maybe there was a road there at some point, but the sand has reclaimed it! We didn’t want to ride the bikes in the sand, so we turned around and went back up the hill. The hill let us learn the limits of our electric bikes. I made it up all the way but had to “pedal assist” in first gear, and the motor was really screaming! Brenda made it about halfway up and then had to get off and push to the top.

We then rode back down the other side and continued on the rails-to-trails route for a few miles. We went past a side road that led to the local airport and then back into town in a loop, so we took that route. As we approached town, there was a great “Welcome to Frankfort” sign with a model of the lighthouse and a “Laker Freighter.” The road was pretty hilly, and Brenda was reaching her “Bike Riding Limit.” Right after we passed under the Welcome arch, the road went down a long hill and into town, and right at the bottom of the hill was an old-fashioned A&W Drive-In! We stopped for lunch, and Brenda got her favorite Root Beer!

After we got back to the boat, we relaxed until 6:00, when we went to dinner with some of the Loopers from Ottessey and Squier About.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 117 – Tue, 09/19 – In Frankfort, MI

Tuesday was cold and blustery, with occasional rain. We spent most of the day hanging around on the boat. We walked into town to stretch our legs but didn’t do anything noteworthy.

Next to the marina was a marine engineering company that was closing. They are selling their building and auctioning off all the equipment, including a lighthouse and an old tugboat. The marina staff said that the owner was retiring and there was not enough of that type of work anymore for the company to continue. Sad.

On another sad note, we noticed a “Free Newspaper” type box on a side street near the marina. We had not paid much attention, thinking it was just the local free advertising paper. As we walked past, I took a closer look; it was a Narcan dispenser! Just open the door and help yourself to a 3-dose spray. (Narcan is the nasal spray that is used to treat opioid overdoses.) It is a sad testament to the state of our nation when they have to put dispensers on street corners.

For the rest of the day, Brenda worked on her cross stitch, and I worked on the Blog and took a nap.

In the evening we walked into town to a local dive bar for dinner. We’d pretty much exhausted all of the other choices, and many of the restaurants were not open on Monday & Tuesday.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)

Day 118 – Wed, 09/20 – In Frankfort, MI

Wednesday morning, we checked the weather, and it was still too rough out on the lake for us to cross. We walked into town for breakfast, then down to the lighthouse. The forecast was visually confirmed by the waves crashing over the sea wall!

There is an Art Center in Frankfort, so we went there to see what it was all about. It was very interesting, lots of art by local artists. Sculpture, paintings, photography, and crafts. There are some talented people in the area!

On the way back to the boat, we did a couple of Geocaches and pulled out our wagon to go to the grocery store for a re-supply. The store is about half a mile away at the end of the main street. It’s not far enough for a taxi or Uber (neither of which is available in Frankfort anyway) but too far to carry heavy items, like cases of water and soda, so we used the wagon.

That evening, we paid one more visit to the Storm Cloud Brewery for dinner.

(Click gallery images to enlarge. Touch/Mouse over for captions.)