Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Lake Michigan in the distance

Leon and I took Friday and Monday off and set off on an adventure with a goal: to circumnavigate Lake Michigan by car. We loaded up and headed south mid-morning on Friday. The goal was to get through Chicago at the beginning rather than the end of the trip and to avoid the worst of weekend rush traffic. The plan worked reasonably well, and our main problems in town involved getting through the small amount of Dan Ryan Expressway construction that we needed to pass in order to get to Lakeshore Drive. Friday was mostly driving, though we stopped for a late lunch in Douglas/Saugatuck just because we have heard so much about it as a gay resort. Lunch was delicious, but we didn’t really see much in the way of the gay part of the resort. We drove on to the south end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where we camped for the night.

Several views of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Saturday morning, we spent a lot of time exploring Sleeping Bear Dunes. The sand dunes are spectacular and huge, and the views are beautiful. Unfortunately, the dune vegetation has suffered from quite a bit of exotic species invasion. Still, the scenery was lovely, and I got a couple of great photos of tiger beetles.

Punctured tiger beetle - Cicindela puncticolis

Big Sand Tiger Beetle - Cicindela formosa

Saturday Afternoon we drove on to Mackinaw City. We had a whitefish dinner and planned to go on to Mackinac Island for some exploration the next day. Mackinaw Island harkens back to a more genteel era with its Grand Hotel and formal settings. We arrived via a brief, pleasant high-speed ferry ride on the day of the trip that had the nicest weather. The sunshine made for some beautiful photography of the Mackinac Bridge and some lighthouses. Oh yes, we also bought fudge. Following the recommendation of notorious Michigander Ur-Spo, we shopped at Murdicks.

Mackinac Bridge

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

Quaint lighthose seen from the ferry (for Ur-Spo)

Following our return to Mackinaw City we hopped back in the car and drove across the bridge to the UP and did some hiking in the Hiawatha National Forest. Leon enjoyed the ruins of an old CCC campground, while I collected some beautiful longhorn beetles on cow parsnip flowers. After the hike, we stopped at another set of sand dunes along the north shore of Lake Michigan (much smaller than the Sleeping Bear Dunes) where I caught some examples of another species of tiger beetle. All told on this trip I saw six species.

This view of Portage Bay was mere steps from our tent

The afternoon saw us poking along the North Shore of the Lake. Late in the day, we turned onto a peninsula that jutted south into the lake and found a really nice campground. It sits seven miles down a dirt road on Portage Bay. The campground felt really remote and beautiful. I did some collecting (yep, more tiger beetles) and set up my black light. There were some super moths. While blacklighting, I heard a hissing sound and though I had a short in the light. Nope- thousands of tiny mayfly-like creatures had landed on my sheet. The sound was all of their wings pulsing. I fell asleep to the twinkling of stars and woke to the chattering of red squirrels. Breakfast the following morning was at the unforgettable Sherry’s.

Labels: ,


At 21:13, Blogger Kevin Z said...

Hi! I came across your blog from the Circus of the Spineless. Nice pics of the Lake, brings back lots of memories. I grew up in the Quad Cities, just 2 hours away from Chi-town.

At 21:17, Blogger Homer said...

We used to go to Sleeping Bear Dunes when I was a kid. I took my friend Mike there in 2005.

At 06:34, Anonymous rcwbiologist said...

Thanks for the pictures of sleeping bear dunes. A guy I work with was there last year and told me about them, but I had never seen any pictures of them. They look as big as he said they were. Your trip reminds me of the ones N and I used to take through central and northern California.

At 09:18, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Keven- Welcome to the Tapestry. Thanks for stopping by. I checked you blog out, and I must say I'm envious of your career. I reviously posted about my favorite ecosystems, one of which was hydrothermal sea vent. I described it as the coolest ecosystem I'll never visit.

Homer- This was my first visit, though I have heard about them for ages. The high dunes were definitely impressive.

RCW- Glad you enjoyed the pictures. Northern Californai is one place I've not spent much time. I've driven through Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and gone an hour or so noth of Marin, but that still leaves a lot of unexplored territory.

At 10:17, Blogger robin andrea said...

Nice road adventure. I've never been to Michigan, so these photographs help put a bit of geography into place for me.

Northern California goes wild and green after the wine country. Amazing redwood forests and an ever-changing coastline for hundreds of miles.

At 19:29, Anonymous Mark H said...

What a great trip........and would be new explorations for me, the westerner. BUT. After reading this, we sat down last night with Brenda & Thomas (Wisconsin refugees)...and they described many trips they've done on this same route you and Leon took. Sherry's looks just like THE place you'd HAVE to go in and have some seafood. Great post.

At 12:49, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you eat there?

Can you imagine if you guys made fudge instead of salsa and cheese? You'd be fat! *L*

As usual you have wonderful pics to go with your story!

At 13:44, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Robin Andrea- Sounds like a trip I will have to make sometime.

Mark - Well, we need to get you and Rodger out this way to do some exploring for yourselves.

Butterfly Girl- It's a struggle. The cheese isn't exactly health food, and I make ice cream. Last week I made rasperry ice cream and even whipped up some hot fudge to go with it. We're both runners, so that helps.

At 03:31, Anonymous pablo said...

I love reading about these kind of road trips. I've been to Michigan but not to the shore or the UP. And I've been to Chicago, but everyone's been to Chicago.

At 20:41, Blogger Ur-spo said...

Those photos brought back childhood memories; especailly the lighthouse.
i am glad you were able to get some real fudge!

At 08:31, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Pablo- Thanks for stopping by. I've been enjoying your postings at Roundrock.

Spo- Welcome home. And your fudge recommendation was a good one. It's delicious.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home