The Great Lakes are the largest body of freshwater in the world with a surface area bigger than Texas and with shorelines that pass through Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This Great Lakes road trip is inspired by the Great Lakes Circle Tour. Our tour consisted of three legs: Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and lastly Lake Superior. This is the first leg of our Great Lakes adventure.
The problem with taking your time travelling is that you sometimes take too much time. When I left home to start this trip, the plan had been to drive the south shore of Lake Huron, around Lake Michigan, then circle Lake Superior, and return along the north shore of Lake Huron. I thought that ten days would be plenty of time and it would have been, if I had been a bit more strict with early mornings and made fewer stops. Yet when I looked at the map, I had serious doubts that I would be able to make the drive around Lake Superior. Well not whether I would be able to do it, but that it would be a huge rush and we wouldn’t have a chance to enjoy the trip. Then I looked at the weather forecasts: rain and snow along the north shore of Lake Superior. That puts a bit of a damper on any walk and swim breaks. The final straw was watching Piper when we went for our morning walk: she was stiff in her back legs and it looked like her arthritis was acting up. That settled it. We were going to head home and save Lake Superior for another time.
Even though there was a diner next door to the motel, I wanted to see more of the town so we drove into downtown Escanaba where I stopped at Stone Cup Coffee House & Stones Deli for an americano and peanut butter scone. It was a really good scone and the dogs enjoyed the little pieces that I shared with them.
The weather did not improve as we drove north and then east along the north shore of Lake Michigan on Highway 2. It was damp and drizzling, which I’m sure didn’t help Piper’s arthritis. We did have a brief break in the rain and when I saw the Manistique Boardwalk, I took the opportunity to let them stretch their legs. I will admit that another reason I stopped was to get a photo of the Big Boy across the street since we don’t have them in Canada and it was just so kitschy I couldn’t resist. We also saw a painted moose like the ones that are all over Toronto. I wonder who had them first…
As nice as the boardwalk was, I could not pass up stopping at a rest stop on the water and letting the dogs have a proper swim and roll. The spot that we parked had a plaque marking the northernmost point of Lake Michigan. I tried to encourage Piper to come out of the car and walk around but she was quite insistent that she wanted to stay where she was comfortable.
As we continued on along Highway 2 when I saw a sign for Wildwood Pasties. Not pastries; pasties. I needed to see what this was so I stopped inside and asked about the pasties. First things first: they are pronounced “pah-stees” not “pay-stees”. Whoops. Then I found out that they are made of a baked dough with different meat or vegetable fillings. For a road trip warrior like myself, this is ideal road food. You could (in theory of course) drive with one hand while the other hand held your lunch. I wouldn’t recommend it though because that filling was hot and if you’re not paying attention to how the food gets to your face-hole, you’ll end up wearing some of it. Heck I was parked and still had bits of potato and carrot down the front of my shirt. Maybe I need a road trip bib.
Glad that we had solved the mystery of the pasties, we drove on toward Sault Ste. Marie and the border. I’ll admit that the closer we got to the bridge to cross back into Canada, the more excuses I found to stop. The coffee that I bought at Superior Coffee Roasting Company Cafe was needed to keep us going but as much as I wanted to be home, I also didn’t and was looking for any diversion. I found plenty of diversions at the cafe since it is located inside Bird’s Eye Outfitters, a store for outdoor equipment. Imagine it: you could buy your gear while sipping a latte. I was in heaven.
I was waiting for my americano when it occurred to me that ending the trip sooner than I had wanted was a bit disappointing but I hardly regretted all the stops we had made. I rolled through the trip in my head as I walked back to the car. It seemed as though we had done so much in such a short period of time. At least I knew the snoring dogs in the backseat were happy no matter when the trip ended.
Finally I could not waste any more time and we drove onto the bridge to return to Canada. I found myself in the slowest line at the border and not only cursed my luck but cursed those few drivers who thought that they were too important to wait and cut off everyone else to get one car-length closer to the booth. So rude. I was happy that we had stopped for that pasty snack because, well, the hanger is real.
We practically cruised though the border and were soon back in Canada. We rarely cross the border at Sault Ste. Marie so it gave us the chance to see places that we normally miss. By this time, the rain had started to fall again so we admired the buildings as we drove past. From Sault Ste Marie, it’s roughly eight hours to get home and other than gas and washroom breaks, we did not stop until we pulled into the driveway. It was late. It was very late and we practically staggered inside and fell right into bed. It was good to be home.
We did eventually make it to Lake Superior in August, after we circled Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Jump to the beginning of the second leg of our Great Lakes adventure here. Or skip directly to the start of our trip around Lake Superior.