08-10-09 Petoskey, Michigan

Betsy speaks: After filling up with gas we left beautiful St. Ignace, Michigan, this morning at about 8:30 and headed under the Mackinac Bridge, through the Straits of Mackinac and down to Petoskey, Michigan, a total distance of about 60 miles, a run of about 3 hours. We were slightly concerned about fog first thing, but once we were under the bridge and actually onto Lake Michigan (St. Ignace is actually on Lake Huron), the fog lifted and we had a perfect run on flat, glassy seas. After the day after day of high seas, wind and rain on the North Channel, we were certainly due for some smooth water, and we had it Friday on our run to St. Ignace and again today.

We had hoped to stay in Harbor Springs tonight. Harbor Springs is on one side of Little Traverse Bay, while Petoskey is 3 miles away on the opposite side of the bay. Several of our friends were headed for Harbor Springs. Problem is they don’t take reservations…it is strictly first come, first served. We called a couple of hours ahead of time (and ahead of our friends since we are much faster than them), and they said the chances of our getting a slip for the night were slim to none, but they couldn’t tell for sure until we stuck our nose into their harbor. I was able to call Petoskey and get a confirmed slip, so we came here without even trying Harbor Springs. Once we arrived here, we listened on the VHF radio as all of our friends got slips at Harbor Springs. By then, I was already glad we had come here instead. And now that we’ve been here all day I must say Petoskey may be my favorite stop yet on this entire trip.

The marina is very comfortable and is nestled right in a beautiful park. In fact, it seems there is a park on every block. The shopping district is large and colorful with beautiful flowers everywhere, and is an easy walk from the marina. This town doesn’t seem as touristy as some of the towns we’ve been in. It has a real homey feel.

Like much of Canada, I am amazed at the beautiful flowers everywhere. Their cool climate must be just perfect for growing annuals, and they just don’t look parched and dry like annuals do in our part of the country by this time of the summer. There is beautiful color everywhere…in front of both businesses and homes.

We ate lunch in a downtown pub that overlooked the water…it had a dog friendly outdoor seating area, but we had left Beamer the psycho dog behind to guard the boat so she wasn’t there to terrorize the restaurant. This is a very dog friendly town, with a special area in one of the parks to let dogs run free and swim in the beautiful water.

You can walk on the breakwater out to the lighthouse, which appeared to be a favorite gathering place for the local teen set. Today is one of the first days it’s been warm enough to really get out and enjoy the water and swim, and the teens were all jumping off the breakwater and having a blast.

I loved the beautiful clock in the park that framed the lighthouse in the distance, as you can see in this picture. The clock chimes loudly on the hour and half hour, a beautiful sound.

There is a wonderful museum right across the street that has a lot of history about Ernest Hemingway spending his summers here as a boy. His family owned a summer cottage on a nearby lake, and it is this area that he describes in some of his novels.

There is a bike/pedestrian path that runs the entire length of the waterfront all the way to the next little town…nice and flat, so I went for a long bike ride and just took in the beauty of this place.

Right next to the marina park area there is a softball field, and Rick and I enjoyed a fast pitch softball game late this afternoon…final score 14 to 2. Then we enjoyed a glorious sunset on the opposite side of the Bay, right over top of Harbor Springs where our friends are staying.
So I’m sure our friends will be raving about Harbor Springs, but I’m glad we’re here at Petoskey! In fact, Michigan’s state rock is the “Petoskey Rock” which is plentiful here. It is actually fossilized coral deposited by the glaciers, and I found several pieces of it at the water’s edge. Many of the jewelry stores sell necklaces and pins of polished Petoskey Rock.

Bear River runs right through town, a beautiful babbling waterway which draws many fishermen. It is the focal point of several of the parks.
There is an Indian casino nearby, but I was enjoying Petoskey so much I didn’t even make an attempt to go! That should tell you something!

Tomorrow we’ll head to Charlevoix, less than 20 miles south of here. Weather reports for the next several days sound perfect…it’s about time!

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