Thursday, November 2, 2023

Road Trip 2023 - The Cooler Weather Tour - Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Northern Michigan

Continued from Cooler Weather Tour Intro (includes links to all the segments)

Easing Into Things

We’ve been able to ease into this van road trip thing. Spent our 1st night in the van at Cades Cove Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We worked out a couple minor kinks, basically just learning more about the van…such as let the propane heat up a while before taking a shower, otherwise it’s a cold shower! A big thank you to Kris for being our shower test pilot. My shower was nice & warm 😆

On summer Wednesdays, the park closes Cades Cove Loop to vehicles so the bikers & walkers have it all to themselves. We biked the gorgeous route with Moose in the dog bike trailer. And we had some exciting black bear encounters including one digging for grubs at our campsite and then a mama bear with her tiny cub in Cades Cove.

In the next couple days after, we visited friends and were fortunate & grateful to receive their excellent hospitality. First with our dear friends & former NC neighbors who now live in the historic & classic midwestern river town of Madison, IN (home of the famous Madison Regatta hydroplane boat races).

downtown Madison, Indiana along the shore of the Ohio River

We then went on to visit with one of my hometown best friends who lives in the beautiful town of Midland, MI. It was nice to stay in their homes, visit with them, see the pride they take in their respective towns, and get to see the great places where they’re living.

downtown Midland, Michigan


Northern Michigan

downtown Traverse City, Michigan

Kris, her brothers, and their mom rented a house for the 4th of July holiday week on a small lake just outside of Traverse City, MI. Kris & I made this part of our road trip itinerary.

Cedar Hedge Lake

water snake, sunning himself on the dock

It’s been a relaxing setting almost right out of On Golden Pond. Lake life is a real thing in northern Michigan. The Great Lakes along with all the many smaller ones are buzzing with activity both on and off the water. You can tell the locals really value their limited summer around here. Kris & I brought our bikes, the bike dog trailer, & an inflatable paddle board along on the van…and they’ve already come in very handy. 

US Air Force Thunderbirds

Nothing says summer in America quite like taking in the air show over Lake Michigan at the Traverse City Cherry Festival. The US Air Force’s Thunderbirds headlined an amazing aerial flight show performance. 

We also visited Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore & Mackinac Island. Beautiful places that just keep reaffirming how beautiful our country is. “Pure Michigan” seems to be the state slogan. You see that term everywhere. Michigan is definitely pure. We’ve had northern Michigan on our list to visit for a long time. We’re so glad to finally make it here and get to see so many new & cool things.


Sleeping Bear Dunes

Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere 

Mackinac Island

Hop Lot Brewing in Suttons Bay, MI during our e-bike trail ride

e-biking the Leelanua Trail between Traverse City and Suttons Bay

Cedar Hedge Lake

Northern Michigan from WaterTurtle Media on Vimeo.

Next is Michigan UP through Minnesota North Shore Lake Superior

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