All told we spent five nights in Michigan, but the first was just a night in Escanaba on our way to the Mitten. After that, we spent three nights in Traverse City, Michigan, at the home of the late grandfather of a good friend. Our friend also gave us some great tips on things to do and see which were wonderful. We took a day trip up to Mackinac Island, and spent some time driving around the shoreline of Lake Michigan, hiking up some of the large sand dunes in Sleeping Bear. First and foremost, though, we ate our way through Michigan. There was pie in Traverse City, fudge and afternoon tea on Mackinac Island, chicken dinners in Frankenmuth, more pie in Traverse City as well as apple fritters and pumpkin donuts. We were able to cook quite a few meals for ourselves, but I was still reaching for the maalox more than once. We did manage to run while we were in Traverse City, along the TART trail, which goes both along the lake and a creek that runs through town. It’s a beautiful place to run, walk, or ride your bike.
We hiked the dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes, drove down to Leland through Leelanau County, and went to The Music House, a just outside of Traverse City. They have a large collection of player pianos and dance hall organs (and even a player violin) which were entertaining to learn about and listen to. One of the jewels of their collection is a player piano that George Gershwin recorded “Rhapsody in Blue” on. So when you hear it playing, it’s actually Gershwin’s inflections and personality that you hear in the song. Pretty cool. If you ever decide to go, allow yourself a couple of hours—the tour takes at least an hour and a half, and then there are some self-guided portions as well. We didn’t realize how long it would take, and ended up not getting to lunch until 3pm or so because of that. Although, as we have said, we ate too much while we were there anyway.
Five days in Michigan seems like a lot, given our current schedule, but we had so many good suggestions from friends (and were lucky enough to have free accommodations) that we feel like we barely scratched the surface. We would still like to go back and see Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit. Thanks Michigan for a great time—we’ll be back.
P.S. This is a longish video I took of the Gershwin player piano: