Summing Up Summer 2018

In a word: WOW!

I’m sure I don’t have all the right words to express how phenomenal this summer adventure has been. If you’ve been following along since June 17 when I left DFW you’ve got a sense of how awesome this trip has been. But you really can’t know… As they say, ya gotta be there—and I truly wish you could’ve been.

The kickoff week with Julie & Brad, Rachael and Roman at Port of Kimberling on Table Rock Lake was great fun. Meandering around Michigan for a month was superb. Circumnavigating Lake Superior was, well,  pretty superior. Crossing much of southern Ontario and eastern Quebec was a beautiful drive and great hiking.  The Gaspe Peninsula coastal drive . . beautiful! Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island and Bay of Fundy were incredible. Newfoundland—well, there’s something about that land! Fall colors in New England, the somber memorial of Flight 93, and so much more. Great times, great memories!

What an awesome opportunity, honor and blessing to be able to experience  such a wide variety of sights, people, places. God has been very gracious to me, looking out for my safety and encountering me in so many places in  such sweet ways. I could feel the power of your prayers for my safety as I traveled along. Thank you. I’m truly blessed.

A few trip stats might be kinda interesting:

  • Racked up a total of 13,747 miles
  • The trailer hung with me for 11,374 miles
  • Drove a total of 380 hours
  • Traveled through 17 states and 6 Canadian provinces
  • Stayed in 59 different campsites over 119 days
  • Averaged 12 MPG in fuel consumption
  • Spent $3,693 on fuel (yikes!)
  • Spent $1,229 on ferries
  • Used less than 60 pounds of propane for cooking, cooling, heating
  • Bought two new tires

That’s it folks. A wonderful trip is a wrap. And it’s nice to be home! I’m now at the Vineyards Campground on Lake Grapevine (at least until the rising lake floods us all out!)

Love y’all. God’s best,



Thunder Bay to Marathon

Once the border guards decided I was no longer a threat to their fine land, I continued on to my campsite on the east end of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Isn’t that about the coolest name for a town?

Saturday I drove up to Kakabeka Falls, just 30 minutes away. They’re very attractive. Lots of tannins in the water and lots of water, even with the flow from the upstream dam reportedly low. Good side trip.

Back in TB, Sleeping Giant Brewing called. Very cool brewery—the kind I like. Just brewery. No restaurant. Just food truck, board games, folks hanging out. Had fun chatting with a friendly group of millennials. One of ’em had a wicked spin on the ping pong ball that kept bouncing off my shoulder, lol. I could’ve moved but the guy’s opponent just kept playing off the bounce. Pretty funny. Good group. After a couple good taster flights I left and spent the evening under the trailer awning as it rained—until the water started pooling and drove me inside. Where the fireplace was. Chill evening.

Sunday I was gonna check out Sleeping Bear Provincial Park but decided, since diesel is pushing $4 a gallon (US), to hit it on my way to Marathon Monday morning. Save a few miles. So I did some travel planning until 121cc came online for internet church. It’s not like being there but is better than nothing. But I really gotta stop cussing during church when the frisking network dies, as it does a lot in these parts.

Thunder Bay, population 108K, is woefully short on restaurants. Plenty of fast food crap but the best I could come up with for a sandwich was Appleby’s. Help me. After, I checked out Dawson Trail Brewery to wash down the anemic burger. Really small brewery with decent brews. I think the partly sunny day has the locals out on kayaks and canoes because there were just a few people even at Sleeping Giant.

I guess I had higher hopes for Thunder Bay because I booked three nights at the KOA. I’m ready to head out early for Marathon, my base for exploring Pukaskwa National Park the next couple days. Then I’ve got some serious driving ahead of me until I get to Montreal & Quebec. And after that the real extended driving starts 😀. Join me anytime!

Oh, by the way, don’t believe the Fake News media about our country’s reputation. I’ve been very welcome here. People are engaging, they’re glad (and a little impressed) I’m from Texas, they’re happy to share travel ideas, enjoy a campfire cocktail, just plain befriend another traveler. They’re proud of their country, as they should be. Very hospitable, friendly, enjoyable folks. Good times. Everyone, no exception, says I’m really gonna love the Maritime regions of Nova Scotia & (hopefully I get there) New Foundland. Headed that direction in the morning but it’s a couple weeks away . . . it’s a big country!

The Monday morning drive from Thunder Bay to Marathon was gorgeous! One of the most enjoyable roads ever. Tons of yellow, white & purple wildflowers, meadows, forests, lakes, rivers, beautifully colored rocks, vistas of Lake Superior. Really, a truly wonderful road!

Who Knu Duluth?

I enjoyed the three hour drive from Pictured Rocks across the U.P. through Marquette and into the hills of northern Wisconsin. But first, I dropped into Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette for lunch. Oops, they only have popcorn so they referred me to The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery. I had whitefish, which was ok, and a very good blueberry wheat. The beer tender at Ore Dock said they don’t make a blueberry wheat (very popular U.P. here) because Vierling, just down the street, does such a good job. I’ve maybe never given a wheat beer a 4 rating before.

Back at Ore Dock, I had a small Loose Juicy IPA and Reclamation IPA, both good. Then I saddled up again and continued onto Superior & Duluth. A couple beers at Thirsty Pagan Brewing and Earth Rider Brewery, another new favorite for its IPAs and Stouts served in a cool bar, separate from the production facility. I especially liked the Duluth Coffee Pale Ale and North Tower Coffee Stout. The Royal Bohemian Pilsner, which I started with, is a solid German style Pils. Easy Rider/Cedar Lounge is back across the bridge in Superior but probably worth a repeat visit, although there are a few places in Duluth I wanna drop by. Got settled into the city campground just west of town. Campfire and chicken wings, then it rained a good part of the early morning. High dropping from low 60s into the mid 50s. Summer, right? Welp, time to wash a load of musty clothes then get along into town, check out the highlights of Duluth! More later…

Coming to you now from Canal Park Brewing Co (yes, I write some of this stuff on my phone while enjoying a brew): I just finished visiting the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in the historic train depot downtown Duluth. Pretty cool. It’s a 15 minute walk from a couple breweries so that’s where you now find me having a yard bird sandwich and a pint or two. Good brewpub on the lakeshore at the end of the lake with a great patio on a summer day that doesn’t feel like when the gales of November come early!

On down the wave-sprayed lakefront on this 50s day I found the Lake Superior Maritime Museum, an interesting & informative service of the Army Corps of Engineers. Well done—and free!

Naturally, Hoops Brewing caught my eye on the way back to my truck. Lots of styles to choose from here but I settled for 10-ounces of the Keller Pils, the No. 48 IPA and their No. 88 Nitro Stout, each brew a 4-pointer.

No visit to Duluth would be complete without stopping in to Fitgers, an historic inn and the oldest brewery in Duluth. Very cool building! Interesting parking challenge, as I had to reverse my way through the ticket gate when the height of the garage wasn’t enough for me. Yep, I was that guy in traffic! Whatever, Fitgers has a good El Niño IPA.

Then finally, on my way back to camp I ducked outta the persistent drizzle into Bent Paddle Brewing Company for a couple dark ales: the traditional Black and the excellent Cold Press Black. Awesome flavor.

Duluth was an unexpected surprise; I really enjoyed the town and its attractions. Could’ve spent another day here. Thursday morning I finally got to washing the even mustier laundry then headed out to Grand Marais, about 30 minutes this side of our northern border. Spent just one night at the city campground, chilling and watching the Hall of Fame game at Voyageur Brewing. Wish I was staying longer, this is a cool village. But they’re having a huge festival this weekend and all lodging of any kind is spoken for. The lady at the city campground very graciously let me park in their ball field since I messed up on the date (was supposed to be here last night).

On the way up to Thunder Bay in the morning I stopped in quickly at Grand Portage National Monument (don’t come this far just for that, lol!). Followed by a slow, frustrating customs clearance. They wouldn’t allow me to bring a shotgun into the country unless I could prove I was going somewhere to hunt. So after a trailer cavity search they turned me around back to the U.S. to a nearby outpost that would ship the gun for me. The gun and a small knife with a quick release that was apparently quite threatening also is making the early return to Texas (Julie & Brad be on the lookout for a FedEx package in the next few days). And with that, this part of the trip is a wrap. It’ll be all eastern Canada until about the first week of September, now that I’m in-country. That’s the plan, anyway!

The U. P.

Pretty incredible U.P. here! Driving across the high & long Mackinaw Straits suspension bridge, I finally moved out of Michigan’s S.P. (or is it L.P.?) and continued northbound through forests toward Tahquamenon Falls. I impressed the campsite neighbors with my trailer backing maneuvers getting the trailer onto an un-level pretty tight, overall crappy site.

Decided to check out Lower Falls since the mile long trail left right from my site. I see what the fuss is all about. The Lower Falls are quite pretty, despite lotsa people wading and whoknowswhating in them. They say the water is stained by the tannins in the forest…

The less-than-strenuous hike rewarded me with a trip to the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery. More on that in my U.P. Breweries post tomorrow (don’t let the suspension keep you awake!).

Upper Falls the next morning were also worth the visit. Bigger and more impressive, I guess, than the Lower Falls, they’re probably the attraction but I think I liked Lower Falls a little bit more. Also checked out the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It was okay, unfortunately didn’t blow my skirt up. Worth the visit but pretty low-key.

Departed the Falls Friday and headed southwest to Fayette, a small historically restored town at the tip of a peninsula on the Lake Michigan side of Upper Land. Fayette was a key producer of pig iron back in the day. I had another tight space at Fayette Historic State Park and intruded on the neighbor to the back of me with a little bumper overhang into their lower elevation site. I think as long as I had my wheels chocked he was cool with it.

Fayette, being good for a day, I trekked back north to the Superior shore and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Much of the cross-peninsula drive was on Forest Service Highway 13.  I’m sure it makes a very nice snowmobile trail come winter!

Pictured Rocks is an expansive park that highlights the 100′ to 200′ cliffs along the shoreline. They’re pretty from above, but are stunning from a cruise boat as sunset approaches. Touristy cruise trip worth the $40 for sure. Good timing on that cruise too, as I was joining a 24-hour fast at 121CC and wasn’t eating until Sunday morning. So the tour took my mind off grilling wings.

Sunday was a blow-off day; just didn’t do much. Had a mediocre fish sandwich at Duck Pond Eatery & Beer Garden; enjoyed a couple ales there; then found a brewery in town to close out the afternoon. Monday I slept in (worn out from all the relaxing Sunday) then drove a few hours west to Lake Gogebic and my campsite on the water—my last night in the beautiful, fun state  of Michigan. I spent 31 nights in Michigan and could’ve gone another round. It’s a pretty state, summers are awesome!, towns are cool, people are great. Time to move on to eastern Canada!

Michigan Breweries — North Southern Peninsula

Michigan packs a lot of breweries into their mitten. Traverse City, on the beautiful West and East Grand Traverse Bays, is home to about a dozen. After a pleasant three hour drive up from Hoffmaster State Park in Norton Shores through the wooded Manistee National Forest, where the multiple snowmobile trail signs made me wish it was winter, I backed B into a nice site at the state park on East Bay. Then I had to jockey her around to make the power cord reach the common pedestal serving five campsites and ended up with a slideout straddling the campfire ring. I’m ordering a 50′ extension (dang they are pricy!) because the Canadian parcs (their spelling, not mine) warn that their power runs are long too. Anyway… on to the brewery visits! BTW, this is gonna be a lengthy post; as I’ve noted before, Michigan has more than its share of breweries!

First stop: Monkey Fist Brewing Company for a flight of four including an average German Pils, a good pale ale and a couple good IPAs, Peninsula Hopper being my favorite. The still new brewery shares space in a small marketplace and I enjoyed chatting with an old guy (shut it) and watching Croatia and England kick the ball around through indeterminable stoppage & overtime. Soccer is weird. Whatever. Hell, I’m liking saisons & farmhouse ales; might as well add watching soccer to my transformation! 😳

Next I stopped into Mackinaw Brewing Company whose IPA wasn’t anything to write home about. The Walleye sandwich was good. That’s it.

A few blocks away is my latest favorite brewery! Workshop Brewing Company is in the warehouse district and is exactly what we want in a real brewery. No fluff. No BS. Just really good beers and great people. Sitting outside with the breeze off the bay certainly adds to the ambiance. I’ll be back. For this visit’s flight I started with, yeah, the Sickle, a farmhouse. Solid brew. Aaron’s right: I’ve gone over to the dark side. The acclaimed ESB didn’t really blow my skirt up but the IPA was quite fine. Cool place & people.

Thursday for dinner, after an outstanding day at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, I was famished and headed over to The Filling Station Microbrewery for a thin-crust pizza and a couple pints. This popular place is in an old train station where they serve their “ales by the rails“. I had the Walla Walla IPA and the Piper’s Porter, both very good German-style brews in the 7% range.

After hiking in deep sand earlier I was fading kinda fast but headed over to Right Brain Brewing, located on one of the hundred lakes around here. Funky spot where I think we could hang for a day and not run through their beer list. The Looping Owl is an amber ale laid down in Old George Whiskey barrels. The beertender was confused, I guess, because he described it as a porter which when he presented it, it clearly was not. So I tasted it and liked it enough to not have him pour it out. I was in for just one 12 oz. pour anyway and enjoyed it on their patio, then headed back to my home at the park.

On my way from Grand Traverse Bay to Young State Park I passed through Charlevoix which I wanted to visit. Cool looking town but didn’t look like there was any convenient—or inconvenient—place to park my 57′ rig. So I decided to postpone my visit to the brewery there until next week when I can drop down from Petoskey. I continued to the campground and quickly set up (gettin’ pretty damn quick at that!). There’s a brewery in Boyne City, just a couple miles from the park so I headed there.

Michigan Beer Mugs
Michigan Beer Mugs

I knew I’d like Stiggs Brewery & Kitchen when I pulled up and saw the smoker going full on in front. Perfect. My flight of six beers ranged from an amber to a session to a porter to a stout to a strong ale. The beers were good and went down well with the smoked pork nachos. I usually don’t care for the pile style nachos but these were very good. House-pickled jalapeños and house-made BBQ sauce were excellent touches. And their guacamole rivals many. But this post is about breweries…

Stigg’s Avalanche porter went down especially well. Paired well with the smoky, sweet nachos I thought.
Another cool aspect of Stiggs is they host lots of other Michigan beers. So I crafted a second flight of the guest beers, from breweries I knew I wasn’t gonna be able to visit. Melt My Brain, a “gin & tonic beer” from Short’s Brewery was surprisingly refreshing. Tasted like, well, a G&T. I guess not so surprising.

On my way to Burt Lake the next day I stopped into the aptly named Burt Lake Brewery. Their brews are … interesting. The business began as Seasons of the North winery; I liked their wines more than their IPA and cider. Very friendly folks.

Same goes for Cheboygan Brewing Company: great people with some interesting beers. They apparently had a big weekend so during my visit Monday I could only taste their strawberry saison, blueberry cream ale, chocolate cherry stout and bourbon barrel scotch ale. They were actually all darn good. I picked up a 4-pack of IPA to go; they’re in the cooler now.

Beards Brewery
Beards Brewery

After I got settled into the Petoskey KOA which, by the way, is perhaps the nicest KOA I’ve stayed in and knocked out four loads of dirty clothes, I visited Beards Brewery downtown for lunch and to taste through their PAs & IPAs. All are good beers, especially All Paid Up, a hoppy black currant black IPA. It was supposed to be a stout but never developed enough gravity so they ended up with “a lucky mistake” in this good beer. I also like Copperstar Galactica, made exclusively with Michigan Copper hops from nearby. I backed up my taster size with another pint of this one. I’ll revisit Beards to rake in their awesome Lake Michigan views and try out their maltier brews.

Lake Charlevoix Brewery
Lake Charlevoix Brewery

The next day I was wandering around Charlevoix and stopped into Bridge Street Taproom for a quick Rayder Pilsner from North Peak Brewing Co in Traverse City before meeting Shelley & Brett and Fred & Annette for lunch at The Landing on Lake Charlevoix. Lunch done, Brett, Fred & I found our ways to Lake Charlevoix Brewing. A flight of four across the style spectrum was good; I just wasn’t all that thirsty.

Friday’s visit to Mackinac Island included a duck into The Draught House where Bells Brewery had taken over the tap wall. I went big: their Cherry Stout, Black Note Stout and the Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout. It had cooled off and I wasn’t driving so the three big beers worked nicely! I liked them all, pricey though they were!

Petoskey Brewery
Petoskey Brewery

Saturday enjoyed lunch at The Pier on the docks in beautiful Harbor Springs with Shelley & Brett and Shelley’s sister Beth. They were wedding-bound. For me, a rainy Saturday while the last few British Open players finished up called for a visit to nearby Petoskey Brewing. This is a busy brewpub housed in a brewery building from the late 19th century. A very nice patio & beer garden on a different kind of weather day would’ve been great; instead I sat at the inside bar while it dripped outside. The year-round Mind’s EyePA is a runofthemill IPA. But their Hopsessed Double IPA at 119 IBUs and StinkFist Triple IPA at 147 will each tantalize and treat your tongue’s bitter buds. I like them both a lot. My IPA loving roots aren’t gone completely! I finished up with a couple more tasters of Robusta Nut Coconut Chocolate Porter and Morning Fog Mochajava Stout, a couple more four-pointers on Untappd. Petoskey Brewing crafts good stuff. Also cool is they have only a couple staple beers; their other dozen+ brews are limited time pours. I love that in a craft brewery!

Burnt Marshmallow Brewery
Burnt Marshmallow Brewery

A lazy Sunday after Molinari won The Open drew me to a couple outlier breweries cohabiting with wineries. These can be interesting (sometimes at best!) breweries but I was pretty pleased with what I found. Burnt Marshmallow Brewing offered up a fair Pilsner, a very tasty apricot cream ale, a decent session IPA and a hotter-n-hell ghost pepper amber. Pretty place with great views, a curious pig and friendly people.

I followed that up with a visit to nearby Mackinaw Trail Winery/Brewery. Started where I left off at Burnt Marshmallow, with a habanero saison. I liked it (I know, doesn’t make sense to me either). Apparently now I like saisons and pepper beers. Help!

My fiver-flight also included the Red Flannel Saison, a nice follow up to the first beer; a DIPA made with Petoskey hops, also pretty dang good at 99 IBUs; a maple blueberry porter; and finally a coffee stout. I’m glad I swung by this place because their beers were interesting and good. Plus, a pretty lady liked my truck!

My last night in Petoskey I returned to Beards for their recommended Cuban sandwich and to try their maltier brews. The sandwich fell short: nothing special at all. The porter and couple stouts were good beers. I had to laugh though, when the bartender said he was waiting for the temps outside to drop before opening the roll up windows to the patio. It was 74 degrees outside 😝. Knowing I wouldn’t last until their sunset trivia at 9pm, I walked back to my truck several blocks away. A block from my truck I found the Noggin Room, a typical downstairs, low ceiling, dark yet inviting northern pub in the landmark Perry Hotel. Definitely worth stopping in for a Moscow Mule. Gotta love these iconic pubs!

Wednesday as I headed off the Mitten into real northern Michigan I stopped into Biere De Mac Brew Works for lunch. This is a cool, low key place with a wide selection on their tap wall. I liked Jacobs Farmhouse Ale and really like the Blueberry Wheat. I’m hopeless apparently. The cheesesteak sandwich, served on naan bread, was by far the best I’ve ever had. I paired it with a De-Bliss-Cious pale ale and Horse Latitudes IPA, all flight size pours, all quite good. Dessert was a 49 Fathoms stout, named for the depth of the Mackinaw Straits. I almost bypassed this brewery gem and am so glad I didn’t. It’s my latest favorite brewery!

And, with that, my tour of breweries in Michigan’s north southern peninsula wraps up. Over Big Mac bridge spanning the Straits and onto the Upper Peninsula now, where my first stop will likely be the brewpub at Tahquamenon Falls. More on that in the next Michigan breweries post. Cheers, friends!

Still North in the Southern Peninsula

From Cheboygan I went back to the west side of the state for a week. Enjoyed meeting up with Brett & Shelley, Fred & Annette, Cal & Beth Thursday thru Sunday for lunches, dinners and beers while they were visiting the Petoskey area. Friday we took the ferry over to Mackinac Island for a quick walk up to the Grand Hotel and along the quaint streets with very cool homes facing the lake. The next day we also got pretty jealous driving by the grand homes on Lakeshore Drive in Harbor Springs. Beautiful properties.

Monday I took the backroads to Wilderness State Park on the northwest corner of Michigan’s southern peninsula. I’d plotted out a 10 mile hike but about 15 minutes in I’d had enough of the biting flies & sucking skeeters to cave. Turned around and tried a drier looking trail but it, too, was insect infested. Since I didn’t have any DEET (wouldn’t have used it anyway) I bailed again and drove over to Lakeshore Road and turned south to Cross Village.

Michigan state highway M119 runs between Harbor Springs and Cross Village and is known as the Tunnel of Trees. I continued south from tiny Cross Village onto the narrow, twisty lane which calls itself a highway. It’s really cool. About 10 feet wide, very curvy and accommodating two-way traffic, the 20 miles between the two towns takes about 40 minutes to cover. It’s a wonderful road with beautiful homes and a few glimpses of the big lake through the forest. Quite a few homes for sale along the way. Hmmmm…

Once the Tunnel dropped me into Harbor Springs I realized the small town offers more than we saw a couple days before when we had lunch at the cool marina. Very quaint downtown and relaxing-looking neighborhoods. Pricy, no doubt.

Back in Petoskey, got cleaned up and headed to the Side Door Saloon for a meatloaf sandwich and a couple Michigan brews. Didn’t get the exercise I was hoping for today but I did get another NatGeo best drives onto the trip resume. Looking forward to heading into the Upper Peninsula Wednesday. Tuesday (today, as I write this) is gonna be a maintenance and provisioning day since the pantry & reefer are bare. I’ll be staying in less populated areas for the next weekish so I’ll need some food onboard. There’s some cool points of interesting coming up so stay tuned!

North in the Southern Peninsula

Been bouncing around upstate Michigan, below the Upper Peninsula, for the past week. It’s not real clear to me what to refer to this part of the state as. The Michigan State Parks website calls it Central but seems everyone I talk with says it’s north. Shelly, I know you know!?…

Anyway, once I wore out my welcome in southern Michigan (that designation is clear) I headed north a few hours to Traverse City where the wooded state park is right in town. Cozy, tight sites but very nice. Lots to see in & around Grand Traverse Bay (see the post on Sleeping Bear).

Then came Young State Park on Lake Charlevoix near Boyne City. Beautiful beaches and views of the lake and I enjoyed walking around “Boink” City as it held the Boyne Thunder poker run. A few miles away the next day I found Burt Lake and it’s awesome, Caribbean-esque beaches. Unreal, warm, clear, golden water that’s waist deep a few hundred yards from shore. Michiganders probably wouldn’t even consider getting in the sludge of Lake Lewisville. These inland lakes up here are really a treasure. I had no idea.

My next stop, this time for a lazy three days was Aloha State Park on Mullett Lake, just down the road from Cheboygan. More warm, clear water. What’s not to love? Except that the third day the air temps dropped a bunch and it was a little cool to be splashing around in the water.

On a day trip to Ocqueoc (Ah-key-awk) Falls and Lake Huron I found the water, let’s call it, less warm. Nevertheless, the big lake is gorgeous and expansive views (if not the water temps) also mimic the Caribbean! Walking on the very cool shipwreck ruins at Forty Mile Point Lighthouse was an unexpected and fun roadside stop.

Enjoyed a great prime rib at Hack-Ma-Tack Inn on my last night in the Cheboygan area. I’m headed back west a few miles to Petoskey Wednesday to hang for a week, visiting Charlevoix, Harbor Springs, Mackinac Island and, who knows, maybe a couple breweries along the way. Until then! 🍻

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Beautiful. Rough. Expansive. Sandy. Excellent. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is an awe-inspiring piece of land. The dunes are just so massive, creating incredible vistas, sheltering delicate flora, changing over time.  I drove the very pretty Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive with its overlooks of Sleeping Bear, Lake Michigan, and heavy forests and sweeping dunes. Spent about 90 minutes enjoying the 7.4 mile loop road. One of the best roads anywhere.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive


From there I headed up to Glen Haven Village, which the NPS website describes as a “visit to Glen Haven, the small village on the Lake Michigan shoreline, is a step back to a time when small villages and docks supplied fuel to steamers along the Great Lakes. Glen Haven is the best preserved cord wood station on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and perhaps the entire Great Lakes. Glen Haven was a company town and eventually diversified into farming, canning of fruit, and tourism.” Spent some time chatting with Patrick, a college professor during the winter and national park volunteer during the summer. Cool to get a couple background stories on the area.

Next I headed over to Sleeping Bear Point and trekked out on the dunes loop trail, a short but strenuous 2.8 mile trail that traverses several dunes and forested areas. Walking in sand that swallows your ankles is tiring! And since the sand is always moving, at times you follow the trail only by finding the next blue-topped marker post. I was sure to keep at least one post in view all the time. The workout was worth it, as I got to experience great views, ghost forests (part of ongoing environmental changes in the dune landscape), and fields of ferns (and some poison ivy which I was able to avoid). Great hike for an afternoon that was quickly turning late. Enjoy the slideshows!

Sleeping Bear Point

Michigan Breweries — South

I’m a week or so in (to Michigan) and figured I should get my thoughts on the past few breweries I’ve visited down on pixels, before they start blending together. Read what you will into the post’s title. Michigan has lotsa breweries!

I decided to drag the trailer through downtown Jackson to visit Grand River Brewery. The B in the map app tried to lead me under a 10′ clearance bridge a block away from the brewery. (I hated her right then!) but saw through her evil ways and circled the block. This is more a BJs restaurant than a brewery but since they do brew I guess they qualify. Their Reuben appetizer is great; the session IPA & straight-up IPA were 3.5 pointers on my Untappd app. Hauling the trailer, I wrapped up and headed to my camp at Waterloo Rec Area.

Territorial Brewing Company on the skirts of Battle Creek was a nice lunch stop a couple days later on my way from Fort Custer Rec Area to Ionia Rec Area, both located in the then-hot & humid inland woods. At Territorial I went for the flight of the Helles, the German Pils, the Wanted Dead and Alive Vienna lager and the one-off caffeine Pils. I liked the Kenny Helles, an easy drinking beer. The olive burger (reportedly its a Michigan thing) was also very good. Cool brewhouse near the ANG base. Enjoyed the flyby of five yellow vintage planes… Don’t ask me what they were; I’m clueless. But cool to watch.

A couple days later I walked into Steele Street Brewing in the small farming town of Ionia. Many of the breweries in Michigan seem to be large operations with full kitchens, some are parts of larger conglomerates for cryin’ out loud. I just prefer the honest-to-local small breweries, which this is. Time for another flight: the FOCUS cream ale, Mousetrap Quad IPA, Morrison Lake IPA, Michigan Three Hop IPA & Arland’s Sozo Smooth golden ale. All decent beers, nice finds in the middle of nowhere!

The weekend found me in Muskegon on the lakeshore again. Beautiful day! Low 80s, no water in the air, lotsa choices here downtown. Specifically, the weekend has found me at Unruly Brewing Co in downtown Muskegon. Fun, friendly place with decent beers, music, games, touristas. I tasted through their menu, except for a couple outliers, with a flight of six 4 ouncers, Dang it … the farmhouse ale caught my palate. I loved it. What’s happening to me?! Tell me IPAs still rule! 😳

Welp, yep, they tend to rule at Pigeon Hill Brewing Company just down the street. They’ve got a pretty extensive menu so I just asked the beer tender to set me up with a flight of Pales & Indians. Solid brews: Limp Tail,Shifting Sands, Renny & No Diggnity. Renny and his kid brother (Lil’ Renny, a session IPA) were my and the staffs’ favorites. I felt kinda sorry for the old, annoying drunk fool who staggered in and asked for something like a Busch Lite. He settled for their Walter Blondale and bitched about the $4 cost of a pint.

Monday was gonna be a fixit day on the trailer (always something loose or needing adjustment) and I’d had it with the reefer door swinging open while in transit. I was gonna fix it or break it worse. Fixing it won the battle! And every fixit day with at least one success deserves a brewery break so I headed up the road to Fetch Brewing in Whitehall. Just had a couple IPAs here: the Ryptide (a rye IPA in case you miss the nuance) and the Angry Sky. Decent enough beers in a very cool old bank building: a good asset to a pretty town on the water. Fetch has that great local feel everyone loves, and is also friendly to outtatowners. Definitely worth a visit.

The next day I headed a few miles south, starting with lunch at Old Boys Brewhouse. Super cool brew pub on Spring Lake. Nice deck on the water. Good beers—especially the farmhouse ale (I dunno what’s happening to my palate) and the Michigan Heritage IPA. The albacore tuna melt sandwich was also very, very good. If I lived here this would likely be my favorite hangout.

Next I headed over to Odd Side Ales (or Odd Sides All-less as the B in the map app says it). This good brewery has a pub in uber cool Grand Haven, a block from the channel linking Lake Michigan to the inland waters. I tasted through a flight of their unique beers, enjoying (I know … I’m confused myself!) the Wheatermelon wheat and the Tangerine Dank Juice. I could session that wheat beer all day and, while at 7% the Dank Juice ain’t sessionable, it’s a very tasty beer.

I walked around Grand Haven, enjoying the waterfront and village stores. A container ship was heading down channel toward the big lake. When it blew 2 longs and 3 shorts I was pretty proud to have it signal me just standing there on the wharf … until I realized the horn signal was paying respects to the Coast Guard station down the wharf. Dangit!

Next stop: Holland. Under-impressed by New Holland Brewing’s glitzy pub in 8th Avenue, I ducked out quickly and then into Our Brewing Company, another cool (maybe my newest favorite brewery!) joint. Just had a couple tasters there but the Saison (again!) was pretty solid. Cool patio, great karma feel here. Wish it was closer to the campground.

To round out the day I felt compelled to check out Saugatuck Brewing. Their flight included a coffee-infused red ale (sounded different to me and was dang good) and the excellent Paled It! pale ale was a nice wrap to the southern Michigan tour.

Next up: breweries from central Michigan, followed by those I find in the Upper Peninsula toward the end of the month. Cheers my friends!

Dune Ridge & Devils Kitchen

Acting on Sarah’s suggestion, I headed over to Muskegon State Park to hike the Devils Kitchen trail. I added the Dune Ridge trail on as an extended loop by connecting the two trails via the walkway along the ship channel connecting Muskegon Lake & Lake Michigan (why is “lake” sometimes before and sometimes after the name?). Great Hike! The dunes are awesome. Here’s the trail descriptions from the park map:

Dune Ridge
This trail is for the heartiest of hikers and not recommended for those with heart or respiratory problems. The trail leads you through open and wooded dunes with views of Muskegon Lake, Lake Michigan, interdunal ponds, and the Channel with its lighthouses.

Devils Kitchen
This trail connects Snug Harbor with the Channel Campground boat launch, following the Muskegon Lake shoreline. When the earth and air temperatures are just right, and the right amount of humidity mixes in, a cloud of fog that looks just like smoke is created, hence the name Devil’s Kitchen. Wildflowers,  a dune climb, marshlands, and a view of Muskegon Lake from atop the dune ridge are some of the sights you will see.

The ~2¼ mile hike went by quickly, even with the slow slides up many sand dunes. Had a great time and followed it up with a perch sandwich at Bear Lake Tavern. The weather was perfect, the sights were beautiful. Although kinda short, had a great day in the park.