Five day upper Michigan trip was started with as promising shining day in the first week of July as mandated for such travels, not knowing mother nature has in store all kinds of surprises by the day end. As per travel plan, Indianapolis to St. Ignace, our first overnight stop, was 7-7.5 to 8 hours drive away. To utilize the long days of summer, we decided to have little detour to Silverlake, MI before heading back to St. Ignace. Previous night independence day fireworks set the mood for early start and long driving prospects. Upper Michigan was known for its wilderness and natural beauty. And we were in for the spectacle of nature that could have been true identity of upper peninsula Michigan.
Macwoods dune ride at Silverlake, MI
Almost four hours of drive culminating in opening vista of sand and water with only road to reach there covered with green canopies of trees on both side had elicited us like child getting its first taste of chocolate. We were heading for Mac wood’s dune ride. It was chock full with visitors and waiting time was around 45 minutes. By the time we have our name announced for ride, famous “turtle rock” sundae of nearby eatery with its lip smacking combination of freezing vanilla ice cream on top of hot chocolate fudge brownie and caramel, topped with liberal crumbs of pecans had us satiated like anything.
Information: Mac wood's ride had leased a good portion of dunes where only Mac wood's ride are allowed. So this part along with nice stretching beach can only be seen while having the ride. It will take around 40 minutes to complete ride along with all other activities on offer.
Expense: Macwoods ride will cost 20$ per adult.
Dune ride was fun and exhilarating. Expanse of sand dotting with green shrubs and trees that is holding the further inland incursion of sand dunes with equally competing expanse of water of lake Michigan could not be justified in photos. Once done, it was advisable to drive one more mile to enjoy the lighthouse nearby. If not actual sea beach, gentle lapping of waves mixed with cawing of seagulls along with expanse of lake Michigan won’t let you think otherwise. Silverlake town itself was full of ATVs and four-wheeled drives flagging their wild driving excursion on the sand dunes.
Information: You can rent or use your own vehicle by taking permit to drive on sand dunes. Good way to imitate desert driving of mid-eastern countries. Only prerequisite is to have 4 X 4 drives.
On the road
When St. Ignace was 2 hours away, nature was keen to show us another form of water body that was hung to long as water droplets in dark clouds ominously arrived while driving. If it was raining “cats and dogs”, then it had to be cats as if tomcats and dogs as if great Dane. Visibility was severely compromised and we had to take a compulsory break at rest area that was luckily made itself available at perfectly ripe moment. Once storm has drained out all its “anger”, sun started poking out from occasional cover of cotton clouds like a scared ferret.
Light was faded and reduced to simmer of foggy blue by the time we reached to Mackinac bridge. Mackinac Island was smudge of black rock at the distance with fog embracing the cool expanse of water all around. Suspension bridge itself looked like a retro frame out of old movie that must have murder mystery at it’s central plot.
Expense: Unavoidable toll of Mackinac bridge is $4.00 per car.
Tips: It's always wise to carry some cash in UP Michigan. Few of state parks as well as locations might save you trouble in searching for it at last moment.
By the time we checked-in for overnight stay at St. Ignace, it was late and town itself was devoid of traffic and visitors; some of them had decided to spend night at Mackinac and rest, like us passerby, had finished their dinner and called the day off. Next day had lots of spots and stops planned during the day and we had feeling that most exciting part of our journey had just begun.