It’s been three years since my husband, David Lansaw, and I took a vacation away from home. That last time might best be described as escape as we fled Cleveland during the 2016 Republican Convention. As in 2016, our destination this year was Michigan where we rented a delightful cottage in Harbor Springs.
The drive up was beautiful, a hot and sunny day with huge majestic clouds. After settling in — and resolving a small issue where our cottage hadn’t been cleaned! — we enjoyed dinner at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant and a stroll looking at the boats, yachts and sailboats. All this was capped off by the Moon and Jupiter as seen from our deck. Beautiful!
…was our first full day. I slept in until near 9:00. It was heaven. We drank coffee, enjoyed the view from our deck and read the news, me on iPad and David on Kindle. I meditated about a half hour with Headspace and then we headed out for the day.
Lunch was at Pierson’s Grille & Spirits. We wandered through a few shops before and after lunch, and hung out quite a while as two old men on a park bench watching traffic sail in and out of the marina. It was very tranquil and satisfying. Of course then we needed ice cream after all that exertion. We stopped in at Kilwin’s, one of the many shops that offer such things.
Before returning to the cottage we drove west a while on State Route M-119 to enjoy the Tunnel of Trees. Very nice!
David is a skilled and dedicated gardener at home, and is always drawn to other people’s work as well. He focused much of his photography on the abundant flower gardens in the park at the marina and the adjacent private yards.
Here is a selection of his pictures.
My brother John joined us Monday morning to spend two days with us. He lives about 90 minutes away In Presque Isle, Michigan. We chatted a while and then headed out for lunch, ending up again at Pierson’s. If you find a good spot…!
After lunch we perused the shops a bit, checked out the Marina and headed back to the cottage. There John showed us a book by the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society that featured post cards of the Roaring Brook Inn which my grandparents ran in the 30s and 40s. The Historical Society also has material online (1, 2). My grandparents summered up here and in winter ran the Brevard Hotel in Cocoa, Florida. Once I retire I’ll cover this story when I expand the Brevard Hotel section on my website.
Big day. We woke to cloudy skies and a mild threat of thunder in the forecast that transitioned within two hours to ideal conditions.
With that, our plans were a ‘GO.’ We left the cottage at 10:30 to spend the day at Mackinac Island (pronounced Mac-eh-naw). There are no cars allowed on the island so we took a ferry and then a horse-drawn carriage tour.
Along the way, the tour stopped at the enchanting ‘Wings of Mackinac: A Butterfly Garden.’
In addition to the butterfly exhibit, another interesting stop-off was Arch Rock, described as…
“…the most dazzling example of Mackinac Island’s breccia formations. It once stood as a solid mass 100 feet above lake08 level. About 4,000 years ago the lake waters slowly dissolved the softer material that extended into the center of the formation. As lake erosion cut away its base, the middle of the stack slowly crumbled into the water leaving the firm breccia limestone arch.”
We were a bit surprised at how busy and crowded the island was. Having heard it was car-free I somehow expected a more quiet and serene experience — and it is, once you’re off Main Street. But in the heart of downtown it’s clear that Mackinac Island is one of Michigan’s leading tourist attractions.
We ended our stay as we started, with a ferry ride back to the mainland.
…was a slower, quieter day. John left around 10:30. Later David and I drove into town to our new favorite spot, Pierson’s, for lunch. We sat a while and enjoyed one of the parks, then drove up M-119 to the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve.
This nature preserve includes a mile-long trail and also narrow strip of beach frontage we found people enjoying. An interesting sign posted at one spot along the trail explained the important role that standing dead trees play in the ecosystem, something I hadn’t known or considered.
“Dead standing trees are called snags and they serve many purposes. These trees are home to birds, squirrels, raccoons, etc. They are a food source for insects and a roost for birds of prey to keep a lookout for prey. Their decaying matter returns nutrients to the soil.”
The day turned to evening and once again it was time to forage for dinner. We decided to check out the Vintage Chophouse and Wine Bar located inside the quite impressive (and expensive) Inn at Bay Harbor hotel resort. Dinner was quite good and afterward we enjoyed the grounds and sunset.
Wednesday evening my brother John posted on Facebook from back home about our visit with a nice collection of photographs. Check it out.
The rain that had threatened all week finally arrived — and ended almost as soon. It started pouring as we went to have lunch at Colin’s Corner Cafe and was over by the time we finished our meal.
We spent the afternoon in Petoskey about a half hour away, looking through area shops and the downtown business district.
Back on Wednesday we noticed a huge yacht docked in the marina, the Bella Vita. I knew nothing of this craft at the time but was inspired to post this on Facebook:
We subsequently heard in town that it’s owned by a Ford granddaughter. Shortly after my Facebook post a friend posted this video (similar to the one on the website linked above):
Not too shabby! In any event, the Bella Vita ended its stay Friday morning and we watched from the cottage as it passed by.
After watching the Bella Vita set sail, we started our last full day at Pierson’s again for lunch. Checked out the bay and marina, then headed out to the Petoskey State Park where they have a large beach. We hung out a while enjoying the sights, then went antiquing, and returned home again.
We ate our last dinner of the week where we enjoyed our first, Stafford’s Pier Restaurant. It was our third visit and an excellent meal. Afterward we strolled the docks again enjoying the boats and the harbor. Such a calm and beautiful place!
To top it all off, we were treated to a great surprise: three otters checking out the dock just like we were.
We left our cottage and its many stairs about 11:00, had a final lunch at Pierson’s, bought some fudge and then headed home. It was a full and busy week! As nice as vacations are, getting back home is always wonderful — except for one aspect: bringing Kitty home from the kennel. The excitement and pent-up anxiety was too much and she greeted us with gifts from both ends. I’ll spare you pictures and video, and be thankful I’m not sharing her residual fragrance via scratch-and-sniff.
We liked our cottage very much, set in the woods above the lake. It was quiet, peaceful and restful. And the stairs were actually good exercise. My only complaint was the Wi-Fi. The cottage website included “Internet” as one of the amenities along with the familiar Wi-Fi emblem. When we couldn’t find a network we contacted the owners. The Wi-Fi access, they explained, is at the coffeehouse and pizza restaurant in town. Somehow I don’t think that’s how the promise of ‘Internet Access” is supposed to work!
And lastly, an outtake…
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