Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

Posts from the ‘Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore’ category

North to Traverse City

Sunday, September 30, 2018

We went up to the Visitor’s Center in Sleeping Bear Dunes. There were nice displays and a movie telling the history of the area. Sleeping Bear is a great park. We left a lot undone, but we had a great visit. There are many pleasant streams to float, a great bike trail, lots of hiking trails and miles of beaches. A through-hike in this park would be great.

Hooking up, we headed north on Rt. 22 to Traverse City.  After some trouble leveling the trailer in soft sand at Traverse City State Park Campground, we went downtown to cruise the shops and get Martha some warmer clothes. She found some gloves, hats, sweat pants, but couldn’t find the shirt she wanted. We found the world’s best Mommers hand-made ice cream at Peppercorn, a kitchen shop.

Next up was the Peninsula Drive to the light house, stopping at one of the many roadside fruit stands and bought Honey Crisp apples and plums. Beautiful farms growing grapes, fruit trees and vegetables are on both sides of the road. I have never seen apple trees trimmed to grow like grape vines. The road follows a ridge, so you see Lake Michigan on both sides. Heading back down on the west coastal side, we passed a little restaurant, the Boathouse, right on the water. After some discussion, we turned around and went back for dinner. The prices and cuisine are suited for yacht and wealthy homeowners, but it was excellent.  Driving back down the coast as the sun set, it was fun looking at the beautiful houses. With side roads going everywhere, there is much to explore here. When Ed and Diego and I were here last summer, Diego ran a marathon out this road for a beautiful run. 

Back in camp, Martha was happy to have TV reception. She watched her “Buff Boys” (NCIS LA) as I fell asleep.

Scouting Betsie and Platte Rivers

Thursday, September 27, 2018

It was a chilly, blustery morning with dark, fast-moving clouds. The Platte River is a perfect river for us to kayak, so we went to check it out. It is a beautiful, free-flowing, clear stream that travels 26 miles into Lake Michigan in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. The trouble is the salmon are running and the river is lined with fishermen. We met a nice young couple locking their bicycles to a tree so they could ride back to their truck after kayaking. He said he grew up here and the fishermen are used to kayakers, and you just try to stay out of their way. We talked with two fishermen who had been roommates in college. Now in their late 50’s maybe, they had been here three days and were heading home. Seeing my camera, they suggested going to the weir where we would see Coho salmon jumping up the rapids and weir. 

I love to watch the salmon run, so we drove to Benzonia, took a left at the McDonalds and followed signs for the Betsie River Dam. Above and below the dam, fishermen lined the stream. Somehow hundreds of salmon ran the gauntlet, rested holes and then jumped the steps up the dam. Not always successful, they would just miss the top and get washed back down. Some jumped sideways and some backwards.

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At check-in, the ranger said it might be better to float the Betsie River, so we drove some crazy roads to check it out. It is a much longer river, and also beautiful. Put-ins and take-outs are a little more remote. Since we don’t have two cars, we were hesitant to float it. I’m sure there are people who will take you and pick you up, or even guide you. This is a beautiful river winding through varied terrains flowing with a pretty good pace (3-4mph).