Fishtown (and other places...)

Trip Start Sep 29, 2007
Trip End Oct 14, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Michigan
Thursday, October 4, 2007

The fresh air and hiking must be making me sleep REAL good, especially last night. When I woke up, it was the first time it appeared as if we were going to finally have a day of sunshine. As I started out driving on some of the back roads of the Park, I had to stop and move large tree limbs out of the way at least three times in order to even pass along the road. A few other times, I to get out and remove a branch that would get caught up under my little SUV. Later in the day, I overheard there were wind gusts of up to 50 mph in the night, and some local schools were closed due to power outages. I never heard a thing!

Chai tea and a snack to go - I drove up to a place known as Miller Hill Lookout. It has an amazing view of the whole Glen Arbor area and bay, South Manitou Island and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Unfortunately, a large series of electrical towers runs over the hill to the valley below. There's no way to not have the wires in the photos. I'll have to do a bit of work on those images to see if I can remove them at all. Otherwise, they're photos just to say "I was there". The lookout is directly towards the west - I bet there are some fantastic sunset views from up there. It was also incredibly windy there - I had to pull out a winter coat and started even considering my gloves.

I tooled around the back roads that eventually lead me back in to Port Oneida and the old farmsteads again. I stopped only at one farmhouse. I still didn't think the lighting conditions were right yet to take shots of the buildings.

But I found the location I do believe where Port Oneida itself once existed, and went to look at the beach. I couldn't believe the size of the white caps on the waves pummeling the beach. It was wild and windy and loud! Not only did I need my winter coat - but I had to pull out my wool headband for my ears. The wind was just too much. What a beautiful location. Again - I was the only person around for miles, it seemed. I spent almost 45 minutes here - enjoying the crashing waves, the views of both North and South Manitou Islands and the seagulls riding the wind.

After hiking around on that beach, I decided I was hungry and headed back to my apartment for lunch. A few quick emails - and I headed back out - this time towards Leland. It took me quite some time before I actually made it there - I felt compelled to check out a few side roads here and there along the way. I found a nice creek and a beach at Good Harbor Bay. I could see why they named it "Good Harbor" - it was a complete contrast to the wild waves hitting the west coast. It was fairly serene and peaceful, and I was even able to take my jacket off. There was a large freighter of some sort in the Bay - and was wondering if the weather on the other side was keeping the ship from leaving the Bay...

I looked for a Petoskey stone on the beach (no luck yet), and then drove on a two-track back to a nice shallow lake called Shell Lake. Again - not another human anywhere but me. It's like I have this entire park to myself. I saw a few birds and squirrels, but nothing very exciting.

Finally, I made it to beautiful little Leland. Its historical district, known as Fishtown, features rustic shanties and docks reminiscent of life and commercial fishing one hundred years ago. Today, galleries and unique shops fill their walls, and charter fishing trips and the only public ferry to the popular Manitou Islands depart from those same docks. The adjacent full service marina is the perfect place for launching and mooring boats on Lake Michigan.

I discovered it was "Late Night in Leland", which meant all the little shops were open later for business than usual, and were giving away door prizes. I registered for the drawing at every single shop open - the drawing is Thursday morning. I've been feeling very lucky lately - so we'll see if my name is drawn. I hope so - the top prize was a gift basket with something in it from EVERY store worth over $1000!

While photographing the boats and docks, another photographer wandered up. Just one look at him, and I could tell he was a professional - you can just tell when someone is strolling with two large pro-level camera with very expensive lenses, and a lanyard of sorts holding a press pass! I started chatting with him, and it turned out to be Terry Phipps - a highly acclaimed commercial and editorial photographer/author. I knew of his work and have even looked through some of his books recently.

After talking with him for some time, he and his delightful girlfriend Margaret invited me to dine with them at The Cove. "Wow," I thought to myself, "how fortunate can one be to meet such a person out of the blue?". We surprisingly didn't discuss photography at the dinner table - Margaret's sister and a friend also were at the table, and we ended up sharing funny vacation stories for the most part. Very enjoyable company - and if by chance you are reading this - thanks for the fun evening guys!

What an excellent meal at this restaurant! And lovely surroundings. It is outfitted as a tribute to Leland's nautical heritage; vintage canoes hang from rafters, and outboards line the staircase. I dined on "Campfire Whitefish" baked in foil with peppers and onions. It was melt-in-your-mouth good. What I did NOT try, however - is their signature drink. Are you ready for this? It's called a "Chubby Mary". It's a Bloody Mary - with a smoked fish chub stuck into it. Don't believe it? Click here and it see for yourself. UGH!
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