Northern Michigan Trip Day 1: Tahquamenon Falls

As you may have read already, last weekend I traveled up north for the Mackinac Island Great Turtle Race. Well that’s not all we did…


On Friday morning we got up at the early hour of 6am to get ready for our trip. Our plan was to drive straight up I75, take in the fall colors, make a pit stop at Castle Rock, and end up at Tehquamenon Falls way up in the U.P. The weather was cold, low 50s and cloudy when we set off. The first few hours of driving just flew by… we always have the most interesting conversations on our road trips. Anywhere from: “prison rape statistics” to “rest stop glory holes”. Todays topic happened to be the shape of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and whether or not it is “rabbit shaped”. The GF, being from northern Michigan, said I was crazy and that it no way resembles a rabbit she had never heard such a thing. A quick Google search confirmed my description as valid so I win this battle! At this point in the season, the fall colors are pretty low in the state and it wasn’t long before we saw areas with snow on the ground. Snow in October? Blech!

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To break up the trip I wanted to stop at the “scenic view” rest stop just before Mackinaw City. I had been there with my kids when they were very young and I figured why not pop in and take a look around again. With the invention of smartphones, Betsy discovers there’s some type of object buried in the woods here called a “letter box”. Apparently they are hidden in places …well all over… and you have to find them with clues. Inside the box there is a special rubber stamp and a book. The whole point is to use the stamp to mark your own personal book and then stamp the included book with your own special letter boxing stamp… or something like that. So we followed the clues and believe it or not it was actually there. We, of course, had no stamp or anything so we tore a wet page from the book and used it to pull some old ink off the stamp and get the image. Inside the box was another set of clues to another box but we had no luck finding that one.

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Back on the road, we decided to get lunch in Mackinaw City. We stopped at Audie’s Restaurant (the place where locals eat not “Fudgies”). The food there was very good, I had a bison burger and she had a chicken salad. After the meal we were about to head out when the GF’s car wouldn’t start. We knew this might be a problem and it normally starts after you let it sit so we walked down to get a view of the Mackinaw Bridge and the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. I snapped a few pics and we headed back… still no start… ok no problem we can walk to “Fudgie town” from here. (Fudgie is the derogatory word the locals call tourists around Mackinaw due to the booming fudge business in the area) Most of the shops had closed for the season but the few that were left open had great end of season sales. We got a couple cant-pass-up deals and headed back to the car. Still no start, it wasn’t the battery because I had a jump box and the battery tested good. Some little stupid electrical glitch somewhere was acting up… after trying a few things we got the car started and continued on. (I believe the gear shift didn’t register in park and therefore the car wouldn’t start because it thought it was in gear… if you were wondering)

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After crossing the bridge we exited for Castle Rock but it was already closed for the season as well. No big deal we expected this so on to the falls. Once we arrived we were almost the only ones there. Maybe 5 other cars were in the parking lot at the upper falls. We stopped in the gift shop first as I can’t resist a good souvenir. I collect an ornament from every place we go to use on a “travel tree” I plan to put up at Christmas. We headed out down the trails towards the main falls and saw a handful of people. On our way to and from the other viewing areas we didn’t see another living soul. It was nice, we did all that cute couple stuff you do when no one else is looking. Once we got to the lower falls we only saw 5 people total in the entire area. We goofed around, held hands, took pictures… we agreed we needed trips like this in order to keep from killing each other in our every day lives lol.

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Cold and tired, we headed back towards Mackinaw City where our motel was located. We had dinner at a pizza joint, it was good… just pizza though nothing special about it. Then on to the motel. The GF works in the hotel industry and when we travel we usually stay somewhere pretty nice. We had originally booked a nice place on the water in St Ignace but opted to go budget for once because we have other expenses right now. The place was called the Thunderbird Inn… it was your typical motel but to us it was horrible! In all fairness it cost half of what the original hotel cost so what do you expect really… but we immediately realized we should have just spent the money. Maybe sometime I’ll blog about it but not today. We spent the evening in bed watching movies on TV till we fell asleep… big race day in the morning… but then you already read about that.