Annual Mom and Son Weekend

The 3rd Annual Munising Weekend has finally arrived!  The weekend that Darrin and I head up north for a weekend of hiking, biking and waterfalls around Munising Michigan.  It all started in 2011 when I found an awesome deal on a Pictured Rocks Kayaking trip.  Last year we biked the entire loop around Grand Island.  Each trip is also full of hiking to the many beautiful waterfalls in the area, checking out new, fun places to eat and relaxing on the lake!  This year we left all of our plans up to whatever we felt like when we got there!  With the car packed and bikes loaded up, it was time to hit the road!

This year we started out the adventure with a visit to Fayette State Park with my parents.  Darrin had actually been traveling in the area with them for the past few days so I drove up to meet them Friday morning.  It still amazes me that I grew up just a few hours from this park and never visited it until today! This is definitely a park with a great deal of history and being able to walk through the remains of these buildings really makes you wonder what life was really like when this was a bustling iron smelting community!

We were able to spent a good part of the morning wandering through the open buildings, walking the various trails around the park and taking in the natural beauty of the surrounding cliffs.  It is amazing how easily we forget to stop and take a look around us each and every day!  Walking through the beauty and history of this park really helped me to remember to slow down and enjoy things.  In the every day hustle and bustle of life, being able to slow down and just enjoy the little things is something that I need to do more often – starting today!

After we spent the morning at the park, Darrin and I started out weekend adventure by heading the rest of the way into Manistique where we had to target destinations – the Mackinaw Winery and lunch… not necessarily in the order!  It was all going to depend on which one we found first.

As it turned out, the winery was right along the highway, next to the marina, as we drove into town!  I guess we knew where we were meant to stop first. Mackinaw Trail Winery is a family owned winery with locations in Manistique, Petoskey and Mackinaw City.  With a little bit over everything, you are sure to find something that you will enjoy!  My favorites?  I will have to say that the Blackberry was amazing as well as the late harvest Riesling.  Both of these made their way home with me, long with a few other selections!

Next order of business?  Lunch.  When Darrin and I travel together we have a few “rules” when it comes to where we eat.
1.  No fast food.  We don’t eat much fast food anyway, so why eat it when we are on vacation?
2.  No place that we can eat at home – which pretty much eliminates any chain type restaurants, forcing us to find those local hidden gems!
3.  No place that we have eaten before.  This encourages us to continually try new places.  Now, we have found that we have broken this rule a few times, and have added a condition to this rule – if we go someplace that we have eaten at before, we have to get something different – no ordering the same thing from the menu!

Since this was the first time that we were traveling through Manistique, we knew that we had many available options, so when we were at the winery, we asked for a recommendation.  The gal that was working suggested Upper Crust Deli, which was located right across the river from the winery.  With the crowd that was already sitting in the restaurant, we knew that we made the right choice!  Unfortunately, we now had the next big decision to make – which of the dozens of amazing sounding sandwiches did we want to enjoy?  I opted for the Ultimate Grilled Cheese – complete with several kids of cheese, mushrooms and Canadian bacon (hold the red onions please).  served with a side of chips and a pickle, this was just what I was looking for!  I don’t remember what sandwich Darrin ordered, but it was piled high with pastrami, mushrooms, cheese and onion.  The best part of the menu here is that you have your choice of several different fresh baked breads to build your sandwich on!  This was the perfect place to stop to refuel for the rest of vacation, day 1!

Time to move this adventure to Munising!!  I think this year was the first time that we were not at the motel to check in early!  On our first trip to the area, Darrin and I were lucky enough to have received a recommendation on where to stay that has turned into the only place we stay when we are in the area!  The Sunset Motel on the Bay is an awesome little motel, right on the lake that never disappoints!  Over the next few days, I will add more about this gem of a property!

Since we ate lunch later today, we were off to find some waterfalls!  Darrin’s choice for our adventure this afternoon was Laughing Whitefish Falls, about 30 miles from Munising, just outside of Chatham.   From the parking area, it is a short 20 minute walk to the top of the falls.  From there, you can take a few flights of stairs down to a lookout point at the base of the falls.  This is one of the tallest waterfalls in the area, in fact I thought I read somewhere that it could be the tallest readily visitable waterfalls in the state.  Breathtaking views in the quiet serine area make this a place that I could just sit for hours…  unfortunately, dinner time was approaching and Johnny Dogs was calling our name, so we made this a short visit and headed back to town!

Johnny Dogs is one of those exceptions that we have made to vacation dining out rule #3.  We discovered Johnny Dogs on our first trip to the area and have to stop at least once each time we visit the area.  The menu is filled with gourmet hot dogs, burgers and wraps, as well as fries and a variety of other sides.  Each time we visit, we order something different and have never been disappointed!  Darrin says that we have to keep vacationing in Munising until he gets through the entire menu.  I think that will be a never ending task, as each year we come back, there are new things on the menu!  This time, it was the Guadalajara dog for me (Lime Creme, Pico and avocado) and the Homewrecker for Darrin (Deep fried hot dog, homemade chile, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and fried onions.   Instead of eating there, we grabbed our food to go and headed back to the motel.  Nothing better than enjoying Johnny Dogs outside, sitting along the lake with the waves softly rolling in!  Sorry, once again, we were too hungry to post pics of our dinner… will have to try harder next time not to forget!!
We closed out the evening with watching the Packers Pre-season game – at least until we both fell asleep from a wonderful, exhausting day!
Tomorrow the adventure continues!

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