Circle Around Lake Michigan

With everything that’s going on, and with approaching my 600th escape room, I very nearly missed out on reporting about a neat trip I took recently- a big loop around Lake Michigan, including a trip to Mackinac Island!

The trip had an interesting start, too. We hit the road Thursday night to our place in northern Wisconsin. We stopped and played Cold Case: Bedroom at What the Lock? in Manitowoc, WI on the way. As usual, the game was excellent- What the Lock? is one of the handful of escape rooms in the midwest to have earned multiple nominations in the Top Escape Rooms Project and I always look forward to their games. This was the last game at their location I haven’t played, but fortunately they have a new game coming out soon!

Friday through Monday, we invited family members to join us at our cabin and relax for the long Labor Day weekend. I recently posted about my journey on Saturday to participate in the Milwaukee Great US Treasure Hunt. Other than that, we relaxed- I grilled quite a bit!

Early Tuesday morning, we hit the road for the next leg of our journey, planning to drive clockwise around Lake Michigan. We headed north toward Escanaba, MI to start the day. Arriving in Escanaba, we had our choice of a few unique coffee shops and settled on Up North Coffee Roasters, a location with quite a few varieties of coffee roasting in the back. We sipped our coffee and grabbed a few really cool blends to take home before continuing our journey.

Northern Michigan was beautiful. The whole ride gave us nice views of Lake Michigan and Hiawatha National Forest. It only takes just over two hours to drive from Escanaba to Mackinac, so we were able to take our time and enjoy the morning.

We arrived at St. Ignace, MI to take the ferry to Mackinac Island. I had never been to Mackinac Island, but I knew it is famous for its fudge and banning motorized vehicles. It was quick and convenient to park at the ferry, buy tickets, and jump on a vessel.

The ferry ride is short, only about fifteen minutes, and we were quickly off the boat and exploring the island.

The main street of Mackinac Island is packed with fudge and souvenir shops. We skipped most of these at first, opting to find a place for lunch (Smokey Jose’s – a neat Mexican / BBQ concept), followed by exploring the hills of the island searching for Geocaches.

We saw a wooden staircase leading inward on the island from one of the parks, and we walked up the stairs for what felt like ten minutes.

At the top of the stairs, we found a trail continuing upward and followed it, nabbing a few more geocaches hiding in the brush along the way. There’s a cache every 500 feet on Mackinac Island!

At the top of the island, we bumped into a stranger who asked us for a pen. I asked him if it was for a Geocache, and he said it was! He wasn’t a geocacher but his girlfriend and he found a cache while taking some photos and they wanted to sign the log! I came with them to the cache- it didn’t map to a location in the app, so it must have been the final location for a mystery cache or a multicache, but I signed the log anyhow. As we were signing, a cannon went off in the fort right next to us, making everyone jump.

We circled around the fort and came back down on the other side of the island, close to the governor’s mansion. We walked back through the downtown area and visited a few fudge shops before settling on one with a nice variety of flavors we wanted. After getting the fudge, we headed back to the ferry to get back to the mainland.

The next milestone on our adventure was Mackinac Bridge, separating upper and lower Michigan, as well as dividing Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The bridge was one of the larger ones I’ve been on, and Christina was a little nervous about its stability!

Our next stop was Gaylord, MI, the home of a friend of ours who also happens to be the priest who married us on our wedding day. We met him at Escape the Cabin and played their jailbreak room. Our team fired on all cylinders and got out with plenty of time to spare. The room was fun, with a few novel twists and surprises thrown in, including having rap sheets written up for each player.

We grabbed a quick snack after the game and headed to our hotel. Gaylord, MI has a unique attribute- every building in town needs to be designed with Swiss Chalet-style architecture, so the main street is a treat to explore. Definitely a little bit unexpected!

The next morning we headed home. We stopped at Rove Vineyards near Traverse City, MI to snag some of their cider we loved the last time we were in the area. Unfortunately they didn’t have the blend we were looking for, but we got two bottles of another to try.

The rest of our trip was uneventful. We stopped at Hungry Howie’s in Holland, MI, for our favorite pizza we can’t get near us. Between Las Vegas and Michigan, we’ve been able to have it twice this month! We got home in the late afternoon and prepped to get back into the swing of things.

Our recent adventures have been delightful, and we’re not slowing down. Tomorrow, we’re going to Lambeau Field to watch the Packers vs. the Bears. We’ll be heading to Connecticut in the next few weeks, and we might be going to Florida a few weeks after that, maybe even on a cruise. And of course I’ve got my hands full with other projects around home, both related to work and to the puzzle projects I’m working on. Not enough hours in the day!

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