Morning of St. Ignace brought cloudy but ample sunshine on our second day of travel to upper peninsula Michigan. Well rested which was the pre-requisite given the fact that we have crunched less “in-the-car” and more outdoor plan for second day. As evident here in our planner, though Mackinac island was easily accessible from St. Ignace, we have excluded the visit to Mackinac island. I believe that, like all living being, all your travel plans have spirit as well. Travel trip to upper peninsula Michigan was not birthed with spirit of relaxing Mackinac island visit. It was sweet balance of wandering and experiencing new place. Complete relaxation was not part of it and Mackinac island was all about spending a day or two doing nothing but enjoying the sole location. Hence visit to Mackinac island is delayed to some other future day. For now, spots around St. Ignace with other must visit places of upper Michigan had been suffice to quench our thirst of second day of our trip.
Travelling mind suggests: There are many options available to travel to Mackinac Island from St. Ignace. Motel where we stayed even offered discount on ferry options. Hotel rates are also less as compared to Mackinaw city.
Mystery Spot, Deer Ranch and Castle rock
We decided to cover all famous spots nearby St. Ignace first. Situated at 10 min drive on US-2 W, Mystery spot could be surprising package to visit. I don’t want to spoil the fun of “solving” the mystery and hence won’t say anything more other then the fact that it has something to do with the force that drives this whole universe. “Anything goes up, comes down because of ……… ” – fill in the blanks. Due credit should be given for ingenious structures and play created “revolving” that force of nature.
Economical mind says: Mystery spot will cost $9.00 per person without tax. There are some minor zipline adventures and all for kids that will cost more.
Just 2-3 minutes drive back towards St. Ignace on US-2 W will bring you to our next spot called Deer ranch. Spending 40-50 minutes to an hour would be sufficient enough to get attacked by too much cuteness enclosed in the fawn barn and surrounding area where you get up-close with white tailed deer. You can feed the adults a well. White tailed deer are very common in Michigan and be prepared to encounter them while driving all the time. We had many encounter in upcoming few days while driving amongst many national forests. One encounter was still etched to the memory as one of the two deer crossing the road had stopped in between and with complete coolness had observed our almost slowed down to the stop car with not surprise but kind of amazement and curiosity as if it was us who were out of place (and may be rightly so considering the population density of the upper Michigan. You will find more wild life then humans.). Back to the deer ranch, Albino fawn birthed from albino stag were highlights of the deer ranch before we moved from white tailed to white fish.
Economical mind says: Deer ranch will cost $6.00 per person without tax. Additional cost of $1.00 per small basket of carrot or greens for feeding.
Before we visit the castle rock, we had stopped at the St. Igance truck stop restaurant for fulfilling brunch and much needed coffee break. Though 24/7 available breakfast options, I had to indulge my taste buds with famous white fish. After sumptuous fried white fish served along with fries and coleslaw (triple egg omelette along with toast and hashbrown on my wife’s part) and couple of coffee cups later, we were ready for the day’s other exertions along with stairs required to be climbed for great 360 degree view on offer by Castle rock. Castle rock is nothing but early glimpse of what you are going to get with upper Michigan. Expanse of greenness (in summer) interrupted by small brooks or streams that is accompanied by expanse of water on the other side that is called lake Huron and view of Mackinac island as well.
Hungry mind says: St. igance offers lots of good options to satisfy the itch of tasting local food. White fish is one popular option available throughout Michigan for sea-food lovers. Also best to fill up the "belly" of your car if you are heading out.
Economical mind says: There is entry ticket for castle rock that will make a mere dent of $1:00 per person (Yes, $1:00). Compelling reason to carry cash in lower denomination.
Whitefish point Lighthouse and Shipwreck museum
Fresnel lens are type of composite lens that were extensively used in lighthouses. Named after French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, these lenses were lifesaver in the time before the radar to provide navigation to ships via lighthouses. It seems that lake superior was more difficult to handle than small child in raging tantrum over a spilled ice-cream over hot tarmac. History of whitefish point lighthouse bay is riddled with continuous happenstance of shipping accidents. Lighthouse situated at whitefish might not get passing marks considering the ships it failed to guide. Most of them are goods transporting barges and occasional passenger ships. Shipwreck museum, though, get full marks in present time to witness the various unique items and possessions it harbored through all those shipwrecks. Visit to whitefish point lighthouse provides glance into gloomy lives of lighthouse crew and their family during those old days. Most priced view is to get the first glimpse of second order Fresnel lens towering above all with exquisite beauty of glass and refraction of light along with working demo of sixth order Fresnel lens.
Knowledgeable mind rambles: Depending on the focal length and sizes, Fresnel lens have six orders. First and second order lens are 2 to 2.5 meters in height. Fresnel lens are catadioptric i.e. uses complete internal reflection and refraction. Lighthouses are not as simple as it sounds and had their own unique science and hence the allure.
Economical mind says: Shipwreck museum will cost $14.00 per adult. There is also option available for B&B where one can enjoy the stay in crew quarters. In such case, museum entry is included without additional charge.
By the time we finished with shipwreck museum, clouds had won the battle over clear sky and brought the temperature drop along with drizzle. Despite of unsavory weather we stole some time to appreciate nearby beach. Silky white sand decorated with colorful diorama of pebbles along the pristine blue water could have been picture perfect if not the cold wind had doused the summer spirit.
Tiredness was not yet creeped in while we managed to stuff in one more spot for the day due to beautiful serene drive under lush canopy of woods towards Tahquamenon falls state park. Light was fading by the time we reached there but visitors were not fading, holding the summer travel spirits alive. We had relaxing view of upper Tahquamenon falls from the viewing platform. Rain might have had slight donation to otherwise foamy rushing water in considerable volume. Boardwalks were convenient enough to get good look of the upper falls from different angles. Lower Tahquamenon falls had little in terms of scenic view but hands down the opportunity to visitors for boat ride and get to the center island. We opted out boat ride after long days run. With further fading light, we also decided to call off and retire to our next overnight stay; Munising, MI.
Day of visit: 6-Jul-2021