Early in the week, my family (minus my sister who was at work) took the 40ish minute drive from where we were staying in Leland, to the town of Northport and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is located inside Leelanau State Park, which has lots of walking trails and beautiful forestry. This lighthouse marks the end of the Leelanau Peninsula and guided ships in the Manitou Passage of Lake Michigan for nearly 150 years, making it one of the oldest in the area. It is attached to the keeper's home which is preserved as if a family was still living there - like they did in the 1930s. This felt like history class come to life! The exhibits as a whole aren't all that exciting, but the drive was nice, and we liked seeing another town and learning about the background information of the lighthouse, and of the area.
I especially like the hand painted board that shows what body of water/landmark you are looking at, depending on the direction you're facing. I thought that was a neat touch.
First off, I didn't actually paddle with my hands like that, and my Dad didn't kayak with his legs sticking out- these photos were taken after our two hour rental period was over. We were done and no longer kayaking with proper form, just posing for the camera! (Although, I'm not sure I was ever kayaking with proper form.) This was my first time and I expected to get a "how-to" lesson, but they just gave us the kayaks and paddles, and let us free on the water. For example, I now know that the stronger kayaker should be in the back. In other words, next time I'll sit in front of my brother.
In any case, we had a grand time out on the lake, trying a new activity. It was warm that day, and the water was so shallow and clear, but Richard and I had a doozy of a time getting the kayak to go where we wanted it to. We didn't make it very far out on to the water, but we laughed a lot at our inability to move. Our parents must have had a newer model kayak, because they were zooming around us. I think we all decided that next time, we would rent a little motorboat and chill in the water, like the locals were doing.
Of course we picked some cherries while we were there! Michigan is famous for their cherries, and it just so happened we were there right before their harvest season. Gallagher's U Pick Cherries was closer to Traverse City, where we spent our last nights in Michigan, and was the perfect spot to stop, and pick our own fruit. How cute is my Dad? Also, please notice Richard climbing the tree for his cherries!
On one of our last days in Michigan, Melissa was able to get some time off and joined us in climbing the Sleeping Bear Dunes! We saved this activity for a time that Melissa was available, because she's kind of an expert in the dunes. She takes campers there, and leads them in an educational hike. It was nice to learn about the dunes from her, but we were really just glad she was there, because we all missed her!
The dunes are in the town of Empire, and the hike consisted of a lot of sand. Practically the entire time, we were in sand. The climb wasn't unbearable but certainly not an easy stroll over the dune, down to the water. When we got to the beach we looked for Petoskey stones (obviously) and dipped our feet in the cold water. The weather was nice, so even though we worked up a sweat, it didn't feel like we were hiking in the desert. In one photo, you can see Melissa and Richard attempting to jump off a part of the dune! On another side of the dunes, there is an area known for being a great jumping spot. Check out a video of Melissa and her friends dune jumping there last summer, made by her awesome boyfriend Henry.
I can't believe we took this trip almost a month ago! I'm happy to have all the pictures and these blog posts to recall the fun stuff we did, in beautiful Northern Michigan. The best part of the trip was when we were all together, the original five of us. Thank goodness Richard has such long arms, perfect for getting us all in for family selfies. :)