Honeymooning in the Upper Peninsula

indiana dunes state park

“I hate Michigan! Hate it!” I thought fiercely. “I don’t even want to see this state again! This stinks!”

It was the second night of my honeymoon and I was a most unhappy bride.

OK, maybe unhappy isn’t the right word here. Infuriated would be more apt of a word. And it was all my new husband’s fault!

Let me back up and provide a scenario:

I am a Type-A personality. I want everything planned out and smoothly run. My husband, on the other hand, is a free spirit, Mr. Spontaneity himself. This is the personality trait with which he conducted our honeymoon.

He had mentioned before we got married that he thought it’d be cool to go camping one night near Lake Michigan since it held some special memories for him. Not one to be thrilled with camping, but game to try anything for my new groom, I agreed to one night.

The second day into our honeymoon we had a nice leisurely drive through the rest of Michigan, heading towards Lake Michigan. I had determined that that night was camping night and I was going to make the best of it. I was still in pretty high spirits at that point.

We hit the dinner hour and kept driving. 6:00 p.m. came and went. At this point, we’re in the middle of nowhere and my new husband was muttering, “I think that looks familiar. Yeah, I think this is the right road.”

Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder, Well, where are we going to stop and have supper, and where are we going to get camping supplies from? There’s nothing out here!

6:30 p.m. and I venture a question, “Um, dear… where are we getting camping supplies from?”

“Oh, there should be a little store nearby where I’m taking you,” was his breezy response. “If I could just remember how to get there,” he mumbled quietly.

We found the store. And it was little. Tiny.

My husband picked up one gallon of water, one 4×5-foot blanket, three snack cracker packs, a couple of citronella coils, and a roll of TP. At this point, I began to get pretty anxious. Surely, this is the store before the store, I thought. There’s another store. We’ll buy a tent there, maybe get some stuff for sandwiches…

Back into the car we went. More driving. Now it was twilight. My husband finally announces, “We’re here!”

A porta-john greets me, and a trail marker.

“We’re here?” I asked.

We’re here! I knew I could find it!” He was so excited. “We better hurry! It’s almost dark.”

I informed him that we had not had supper, we had a blanket that was smaller than I was, and there was no tent.

“I know! This is going to be so much fun!” he told me, as he bounced up and down like a little kid.

We proceeded to hike. And hike. And hike.

I was two months post-surgery on my left knee. If you’ve never seen Lake Michigan sand dunes, type the words into Google. More specifically, type in “Sleeping Bear Dunes”. Look at the images that come up. Mountains, I tell you! Virtual mountains of sand! Ever try walking on a mountain of sand? It’s pretty much impossible, even without a bum knee.

Finally, at dark, we got to where my husband wanted to be: in the middle of nowhere, on a sand dune. Just us, and a roll of toilet paper, a jug of water, and a tiny blanket.

He began snoring almost immediately. I lay there, and listened to unearthly sounds of who knows what.

8:00, 9:00, 10:00… 12:00 a.m. My husband is still snoring. Not only is he snoring, but as the night has progressed we have slowly slid down the sand dune, foot by foot.

1:00 a.m. The temperature falls. The wind begins to whip. Ever been on a sand dune in the wind? Think “sand blasting”.

I’m freezing and trying to protect my head. My husband continues to snore.

2:00 a.m. I have had enough — and I scream it out! My husband wakes with a snort. “What?! What’s wrong?”

“What the heck do you think is wrong? I’m on the second night of my honeymoon, I’m sliding down a sand dune, I’m freezing, you’re snoring, and I’m being sand blasted, and what’s worse, I have to pee — really, really bad! I hate Michigan and I don’t ever want to see this state again!”

I’ll spare you the story of the attempts at going to the bathroom with a bad knee on a mountain of sand, the rest of our night that was frigid in more ways than one, and the hike back the next morning, not to mention our efforts to find a place to eat breakfast and get a shower. Needless to say, it wasn’t any more pleasant than the aforementioned scenario.

I proceeded to inform my husband that he owed me big-time and the rest of the honeymoon better be worth my while.

It was.

We drove along Lake Michigan until we came to Traverse City. Although that wasn’t our main destination, we enjoyed getting out of the car and walking around. I was awed by the resorts I saw, and we noticed a ton of things that we both said we would “have to come back and do someday.” Things like check out the beaches on the total of 180.8 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 149 deep, aqua-colored lakes that are 10 acres or larger. For people like us, who prefer privacy to a tourist atmosphere, there are even plenty of spots of beach where we can be undisturbed by people.

Then, after a solo day, we could go into town, enjoy the shopping venues, choose to visit a museum, or eat at some fabulous restaurants.

After giving Traverse City a one-day, cursory look, we headed north towards Mackinaw City, where we spent the rest of our honeymoon. Mackinaw City is a family-friendly location that provides a range of accommodations, from simple cabins and cottages for an entire family to ritzy hotels for honeymooning couples like we were.

There are days worth of shopping and eating in Mackinaw City, and I think it would take more than a week to hit every activity there was to do there.

As charming and entertaining as Mackinaw City was, it was not our final destination. That would be a place that you can only get to by ferry — Mackinac Island.

To step off the ferry onto Mackinac Island is to step back in time; it was one of the most delightful experiences I had ever had. Other than a few ambulances and fire trucks, there is not one vehicle on Mackinac Island. All business is conducted by horse and buggy and bicycles. The hotel shuttles are horse and buggy, the garbage collection is horse and wagon, and the taxi service is horse and carriage.

There is so much to do on the island. Tours are available on the hour, there are hiking and bicycle trails, one can wander the Grand Hotel gardens (for a fee), go shopping at countless stores, sample some of the best fudge in the U.S., visit one of the two butterfly conservatories, or just quietly wander hand in hand all over the island.

Although it’s is a major tourist attraction that is full of people in the height of summer, there is still a quiet, peaceful feel to the entire place. It’s as if everyone, when experiencing that transport back into time, takes on that laid-back way of life that once accompanied it — no engine exhaust, honking horns, and impatient drivers. Instead, you’re only going to go as fast as a horse, bike, or your legs can take you. And somehow, that forces a person to slow down, stop, and savor the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences that the island has to offer. It’s a place you never want to leave.

I can’t wait to go back!

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.