I’ve had some disappointing days due to the weather. I had envisioned the North Shore drive up Minnesota’s lakeshore to be something of a highlight of my trip. I’m sure it is very beautiful, but I wouldn’t really know because I drove through it in a thick foggy rain. I hoped maybe the weather would improve the next day, and I could turn around and get a chance to actually see it, but then I saw that the forecast for the next week was nothing but grey clouds and raindrops. So I decided to speed my way back to Michigan by continuing along Lake Superior into Canada. So for another day I drove in rain and fog, being tailgated by crazy Canadian truckers. But it was worth it. Despite the fog in Canada I could still see the shoreline. I can imagine things would be better in the bright glorious sunshine of summer, but the moody cold has its perks too. For one thing: there is absolutely no one here.
When I finally make it back into Michigan I feel relieved. Even though it is windy, cold and raining, at least the sky is clear. After driving over Mackinaw Bridge where my car feels like it’s going to be skidded over into oncoming traffic by the terrifyingly strong wind, I stick to the west side of Michigan on my way down the shore. When I first get out of my car to check out the views in Wilderness State Park, I have to tighten the hood on my jacket to combat the wind long enough to take pictures. When I turn around the wind pushes me so hard and it is so cold, I can’t help but run back to the car like a little kid. And it’s only when I get inside the car that I realize my cheeks and hands are stinging from the intensity of this wind. It’s crazy.
The road hugs the shoreline and I follow as it climbs higher onto the cliffside. The views are spectacular, exactly what I pictured I was missing on the North Shore drive. I come to a sign announcing that I’m entering the Tunnel of Trees scenic drive. I know that things would have been so much more beautiful weeks before when all the bright leaves were still on the trees. Now most of the leaves are dry on the forest floor, but there are still some shimmering holdouts remaining on the lower branches. Occasionally there are breaks in the trees allowing glimpses of the rocky coast below.
Out of the forest I roll through picturesque apple orchards and come across cute little harbor towns. I grab a delicious “maple river” macchiato which helps me warm up from the chilly winds. At the end of the day I’m in Traverse City: a great youth infused town on the water’s edge. It’s been an awesome day. The drive today has to be one of the most scenic in the country. You can't ask for much more.