6 min read

Northern Michigan on the edge of fall

I mentioned in my previous post about travel knitting that our little family, along with my father- and sister-in-law, recently took a trip to Michigan, specifically, the Traverse City area.

We rented a cabin for four nights, made the somewhat smoother than expected drive up on a Sunday (Finn is not fond of the carseat), met up with my father- and sister-in-law at a local park to stretch our legs, and arrived to the cabin in time to settle in, run to a local grocery store for a few things, and make chicken fajitas at the house. The cabin was adjacent to a lake (not on, but right up the road) and the setting was beautiful.

We made breakfasts at the cabin, always the same, which happened to be everyone's favorite: fried eggs, sausage, sourdough toast, and coffee.

On Monday, we drove north a bit to hike in the Clay Cliffs area. I wore Finn, and Cooper did so well hiking! He looked at trees, rocks, mushrooms on downed trees, and he stopped several times to draw in the sand on the trail with sticks.

From there, we drive to Good Harbor beach, not far away, since the weather was beautiful: breezy, sunny, low-seventies. We ate our packed lunches, and then enjoyed the beach some. Finn fell asleep, and the rest of us enjoyed the sound of the waves and Cooper played in the water and sand and had the best time, the way that toddlers manage to get the most enjoyment out of simple things.

After showers and changing at the cabin, we went out to dinner, then walked along the water downtown.

Tuesday morning brought heavy rain, so we stayed at the cabin in the morning and played games, then ventured out the in afternoon for a bike ride, coffee, and I walked to a nearby yarn shop, just me a Finn, as a treat, and picked out a couple of skeins of yarn to buy.

That evening, we built a fire in the fire pit at the cabin, roasted hot dogs and brats, and then made s'mores (Cooper's first taste ever, he loved it), and we all enjoyed just sitting by the fire.

On Wednesday, our last day, we drove northwest to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We began the day at the Dune Climb, which was beautiful. It is difficult to describe the scale of these dunes. Cooper hiked for a bit, but soon grew tired, so Nicholas carried him most of the way. We enjoyed the hike, but all of us were tired by the time we got back down to the parking lot.

After some lunch in the picnic area, we drove to nearby Alligator hill for one more hike. Cooper and Nicholas headed back after hiking part of the trail, since Cooper was so tired, and Katelyn, Bob, Finn (in the carrier), and I hiked the rest of the way. Back at the parking lot, Cooper spent a long time doing elaborate imaginative play with some old gears he found.

Dinner was fun! We visited a collection of food trucks downtown. And then headed back to the cabin for one more fire.

Between the hikes and time spent out and about, we played some euchre, ate snacks, sipped on coffee, watched some episodes of Alone, talked and chased after Cooper and held Finn, Nicholas biked with Katelyn on her morning runs, we all walked down to look at the water, and just spent time together. And I knit a fair amount on car rides. Hints of fall were all around: gold leaves, a crispness in the air, the need to throw on a sweatshirt.

For a bit more of a breakdown/review, we enjoyed all of these things:

Hiking/biking trails/beaches:

  • Clay Cliffs – The hike was great. Not too long, some terrain, and a beautiful overlook of the Lake and a view of the rolling hills. Kid-friendly, but enjoyable for all of us
  • Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – This trail ascends a 450' dune, and then makes its way over and down more large dunes towards the lake. We didn't do the whole thing, but went up and over maybe three dunes, got a view of Lake Michigan, and then decided to head back. That much hiking in the sand (most of us barefoot) wore us out, but it was a fun experience.
  • Alligator Hill trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes – We wanted to do one more trail in the park before leaving, and I misread the length of this one, but opted to try the shortest loop (2.5 miles) anyway. It was a beautiful trail (we did the "easy" route), but it is very hilly and hard work. We all remarked that we were relieved that we took the easiest trail, because even though we aren't out of shape, it was quite arduous.
  • TART trail – In shifts (because someone was always with Finn, who is still a bit too small to ride in the bike trailer), we rode around Boardman Lake, a very nice 4 mile loop.
  • Good Harbor beach – a lovely beach. Wasn't crowded at all (on a weekday, anyway), soft sand, and a very short walk to the sand from parking.


  • Taproot Cider House: We chose this one for farm-to-table food. I got their burger and a mocktail and loved it! We sat outside on the patio.
  • The Little Fleet: Actually a collection of food trucks in a permanent installation. From BBQ, burgers, Vietnamese, tacos, and pizza, there were lots of options. Fun environment, and very good BBQ.
  • Mundos: We went to their central location. A minimal, beautiful coffee shop with great coffee.
  • Edson Farms Natural Market and Deli: A store we found on a whim on a quest for smoothies. They had a great selection of clean snacks and locally sourced foods, as well as a big menu of made-to-order foods. We only tried smoothies, and we really enjoyed them, stopped by twice to order again.

It was a great trip. We planned it back in July, when we anticipated that some time away, as a family, would be a good respite after the last several months of grieving and remembering my mother-in-law. It was sweet to just have time together, and to share stories about Karen, and laugh over fond memories of her, as well.

Oh, how we miss her. We see tiny glimpses of heaven here on earth, on the edge between summer and fall, but what joy that she is experiencing heaven in its fullness and glory.


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