September 11, 2018 Great night sleep with millions of stars; woke before 7 am to awesome sunrise. So glad I threw the tarp over tent! It and the picnic table cover were soaked from air moisture, not actual rain.

Draped tent and tarp across big rocks and bushes to dry; picnic cover on clothes line (fyi no nails required at any time). Made coffee and soaked in the view; perfect timing to see several swans.

I was sitting on the tailgate, putting on my shoes, when an older gentleman on a bicycle stopped and said hello. He introduced himself as Tom, said he wasn’t much of a people person, but I intrigued him. Couldn’t help but laugh at that! We talked for quite a while and swapped stories.

He was from Midland, MI, 72-years-old, and camping by himself a couple sites from mine, where there were two cool kayaks and an older camper. He was on a getaway, which he did for several days at a time, every few weeks. His philosophy for a good life was simple, for kids to live off parents, then parents live off kids. After retirement and a few years of living the ‘camp and smoke shit-loads of pot life’, he moved in with his son to take care of the home maintenance. He said it’s the perfect arrangement for both of them and he’s been there ever since.

Shared a chunk of Kilwin’s fudge with him (breakfast of champions) and he gave me a bottle of soda and route suggestions. Like Jason, he told me to avoid Detroit. Ha! Took a drive around the campground, so beautiful, quiet and clean. Will definitely return!

A couple minutes down the road and I was in the parking area of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse (restroom by the lot was very clean). Interesting history and incredible grounds. They had the flag lowered in memory of 9-11. Beautiful place.

Back on 22 South (good reason it’s marked scenic on the Atlas) and made several stops to check out wood trails around Maple City and Glen Arbor.

Used my NP pass to cover $25 fee ($45 saved) at Sleeping Bear Dunes, parked, filled water bottle, sat at a picnic table by the awesome recycle bins to pull off shoes and socks and excitedly hit the Dune Climb.306FD3C2-E27D-4401-9201-F5130EA543CC

Holy shit! It sure as hell didn’t look that steep from the parking lot. I had to push my ass to keep going. It was hot as hell, but absolutely gorgeous day with occasional, heaven-sent small breezes. Stopped couple times to take in the views at different heights … hahahaha, right. I was catching breath and resting leg muscles.

B7ADD293-D7F6-43CC-B14D-A55991F721B8My tootsies felt amazing in the sand; supreme exfoliation!

Fantastic view and fun on the way down, but had to take it slow or I’d easily be head over heels.9727DF5B-7C70-4341-9C3F-C0973274E15A

Loved the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive! Fantastic woods, overlooks and historical markers.

The walk toward Dune Overlook got more sandy and the vegetation was gorgeous; several shades of green.

At the top, there was a wood trail, like a mini boardwalk across the sand, with water peaking in the background. Breathtaking views … stood in awe for quite a while.

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Legend detail is on a marker on the pier. I look forward to camping on the Manitou Islands in the future.

On the road again. Learned the bike path that runs parallel to shoreline was built from re-purposed rail beds of trains decommissioned years ago. Will definitely take a bike next time.

Swung off to check out an RV/Campground; $34/nite rate. Campers were crammed together like sardines, tent area was concrete with a view of RV butts (WTF?!) and the sound of 100 dogs barking (slight exaggeration). Needless to say, back on the road I went. Switched from 22 to 31, with a stop in Beulah at E-Z Mart for coffee and potty, then got gas at $.50 off a gallon ($2.35/gal) at BP in the tiny village of Bear Lake.

7238DAAD-228A-44B3-B3C5-F40FB57BE50ANext stop was Orchard Beach State Park, listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, at almost 6 pm. Met Becky, very friendly, at office counter (happy no phone to register), picked site 53 and returned for check-in; paid $30 (she waved passport fee!!) and set up camp. I loved the site, even with its wonky ground. It was a tight fit with the cot turned, pressing against tent sides; inserted sunshades as moisture barrier.

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I tried the pastie again, with added jalapeños, but still tasted like shit. Probably better deep fried or baked; saved the jalapeños and tossed the pastie.

The restroom was very clean, even the property around it was manicured with gorgeous trees. The park’s position on the bluff provided an outstanding view of Lake Michigan, especially at sunset, which I watched with several other campers from benches that faced the lake. The only downside was the staircase leading to the beach was closed-off, maybe for repair.

After sunset, I walked back to my site. Adored the tree by it! Rolled a couple smokes and talked with Tracy. Walked around for a couple hours, before zipping up.

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