One of the things I’m most enamored and in awe of in Michigan are the Great Lakes. When I was younger I just couldn’t wrap my head around the enormity of Lake Erie. How could it not be part of the ocean? It appeared to stretch on forever, making me feel small, insignificant and anxious.
Today, the lakes still baffle my senses, but I found them calming on our recent trip to Michigan last September. The waves were soothing, the endless expanse of freshwater inspiring.
We were fortunate to have spectacular weather during our Michigan vacation. We missed the historic storm which slammed Glen Arbor in August, though the effects were still visible in mid-September. Reading about the storm after our trip makes me thankful that we weren’t in town at the time. Despite living in Ohio my entire life, I’ve never witnessed a tornado — and would like to keep it that way.
Glen Arbor was hit with winds of 100 miles per hour, leaving all roads into the town impassable the night after the storm. If you search for “Glen Arbor Storm 2015” or “Glen Arbor Tornado 2015” you’ll find some terrifying, yet gorgeous, photos of the storm clouds, as well as the damage.
Everyone we spoke to in Glen Arbor and the surrounding area commented on the wonderful weather we had that week. Several locals mentioned that it was the first nice week of the summer, even though it was mid-September.
Glen Arbor is an awesome town! It sits on the shore of Lake Michigan, just north of Glen Lake. It has the small town charm that I love, and because we visited after the summer rush, we were able to really take it all in. I’d love to go back and stay longer just to take advantage of the restaurants and shops being within walking distance of the cabin we rented. Plus, Glen Arbor is surrounded by Sleeping Bear Dunes, named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on Good Morning America.
After enjoying dinner at Cherry Republic (check out my review of the most cherry-licious restaurant you’ll ever eat at here! ), we took a short walk down to the shore of Lake Michigan to watch the sun set. I loved listening to the waves – so grounding and centering.
From where we stood on the beach, we could see, far in the distance, the Manitou Islands. The North and South Manitou Islands are part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We did not visit the islands on this trip, but we did hear the story of how the islands came to be; a legend told by the Chippewa Native Americans.
The story goes that a mother bear, Mishe Mokwa, and her two cubs tried to cross Lake Michigan from Wisconsin to escape a forest fire. The mother bear made it across the lake, but her cubs were too exhausted from the swim and didn’t make it. The mother bear waited for her cups on a steep bluff until she too passed away. The Great Spirit Manitou marked the mother bear’s resting place with the Sleeping Bear Dunes and covered her cubs with sand to form the two Manitou Islands. This beautiful, sad story is told in a book we read while exploring another small town, Northport. The book is The Legend of Sleeping Bear written by Kathy-Jo Wargin and illustrated by Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen.
Later that evening we had a bonfire at the cabin, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. We talked to my sister, Brittney, on the phone, telling her how awesome Michigan was and how if she lived in Ohio instead of Seattle, she maybe could have come with us.
In the morning we had a home cooked breakfast (Dennings make egg-cellent breakfasts ), which we shared with our black squirrel neighbor. Black squirrels are actually Eastern Gray Squirrels or Fox Squirrels. They have a mutation in their genes that causes their fur to be black. So while our little friend had black fur, she was probably an Eastern Gray Squirrel, just like the ones that we have here in Ohio.
My dad and I put some almonds out for the squirrel, which she quickly devoured. I named her Emma, because any animal with black fur makes me think of our Emma.
We don’t see very many black squirrels in our area, but they’re really common in certain parts of the country, including Michigan. Their black fur helps them hold on to heat and hide well in the dense northern forests. Gray squirrels do better in warmer areas with more people. Their gray fur works better for hiding in residential and city areas.
On our last day in Michigan I returned to the beach we visited on our first night. I wanted to gather some stones, in the hopes of someday making more of my love rocks.
We had a really great trip to Michigan and I have many more blog posts coming your way. We tasted delicious hard ciders, climbed the sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes, visited an old fish town and ate lots of delicious local Michigan foods (so many cherries!).
I know Ohioans and Michiganders are supposed to be in a constant battle, just because of two certain football teams, but I don’t subscribe to that ideology. I have nothing but love, respect and admiration for our neighbor to the north! I’ll always be an Ohio lady, but I love to hang out in Michigan too.