Nature All Aglow 10/10/2011

At home in Georgia, where spring days are warmer than the hottest summer day on the Island, and Summers are so sweltering that going outside for 30 minutes saps every ounce of energy from your body, the blessed relief of Fall is awaited with great anticipation.  Fall colors in Georgia are mostly sought in the mountains, although down where we winter along Lake Blackshear, the cypress trees standing along the water’s edge turn a wonderful burnt orange, and their reflections in the lake are a beautiful sight to see.  We mostly have pine trees in our part of Georgia, but the few hardwoods we do have will eventually give us a glimpse of what fall is all about between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  It all depends on when the cool-down comes, but yes, we’ve been known to eat our turkey and dressing in short-sleeved shirts and sit out on the deck later in the day to eat our Thanksgiving desserts.

Because I love cooler weather, Fall has always been my favorite season – wherever I am – and Mackinac Island is no different.

Usually Fall arrives almost instantly on the Island.  It comes blowing into town on the wind, whistling through the trees and around the edges of the buildings.  The Straits of Mackinac waters are whipped into white caps, and ferry trips take on the excitement of a carnival ride.  After two or three days of these winds, you awake one morning and, upon rising, think, “Where’s my sweatshirt!” 

Even though this fall has given us a glorious Indian Summer and a slow change in leaf color, the brillance of the trees is awesome and promises to continue for another couple of weeks.  Never was that more clear than when Frankie and I took a little trip off-island Friday to drive Michigan’s famous Tunnel of Trees – a twenty-mile stretch of road between Cross Village and Harbor Springs.

Almost immediately after turning right at Levering and starting toward Cross Village, we were into a wonderful palette of colors. I oohed and ahhed and finally turned off the road down a smaller country lane and pulled to the side of the road. Frankie quickly figured out she was with a crazy woman when it came to photographing leaves, but she never once complained. She did laugh a lot.

Green to red - with yellows and oranges thrown in for good measure.

My daddy was born and raised on a farm, and I never pass a tractor that I don't think of him. Although he never owned one like this as an adult, he did have an old Ford tractor he used to work his garden up until just a few years before his death. Good memories of daddy on his tractor.

A few more miles, and I pulled off the road again - this time next to a farm.

Now this photo reminds me of north Georgia in the fall. There's just something about a red barn and brilliantly colored trees that turns my heart into mush and fills my eyes with tears - happy tears.

Just before I got back into the truck, I snapped this one of the road ahead.

Soon I was stopping again. These two trees stood in the middle of a pasture.

I stopped in the middle of the road for this one and shot the trees beyond Frankie's side of the truck. And yes, Ted, I made sure nothing was coming either way before I did that.

Another middle of the road stop.

It's sixteen miles from Levering to Cross Village, where we planned to eat lunch. So far we'd been on the road for almost an hour. At this rate, we were talking about having dinner there instead.

One more straightaway shot before we reached our first destination - the historic Legs Inn in Cross Village.

This is one of those places where you almost hope there is a waiting line, so you can walk on through and take in the sights behind the restaurant.

Legs Inn is built on a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, It was created by Polish immigrant Stanley Smolak, who fell in love with Northern Michigan and its people, many of them Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and decided to settle in Cross Village in 1921.

While you wait for a seat, or after ordering, you can stroll around the huge back lawn and take in Lake Michigan . . .

. . . or wander around the gardens, where wood and stone carvings give the location a fantasy-world feel.

The restaurant is known for its Polish menu, but they also have American fare.

What a great spot for a restaurant!

Our next stop was Good Hart, a tiny, tiny stop in the road that we would have missed if we'd blinked. It might be small, but business was booming!

The best we could tell, Good Hart, MI consists of several local businesses - a general store, which includes a bakery and a deli (you can eat what you buy outside on picnic tables), a tea room, and several really, really cute shops. We hit every one.

We loved this little shop which sold really nice "up-north" items . . .

. . . and at the back of the shop was a tea room. You could carry your tea outside and sit in the middle of the beautiful woods while you enjoyed your refreshments. Very quaint! Loved it!

I think I could have just watched the sun bounce off the beautiful trees for the rest of the afternoon.

The most dazzling color we had seen so far on our trip was definitely at the little town of Good Hart!

We reluctantly left Good Hart (after I stocked up on home-made chocolate chip cookies and brownies) and got back on the road. Before we had gone another mile, we were into the Tunnel of Trees.

WOW! This stretch of road is truly one of the most beautiful I've ever been on anywhere. It so reminds me of a road where my best friend Helen and her husband Paul live on Pine Mountain, GA. The trees in both places extend out over the road, and in the fall you're encased in this cocoon of reds, yellows and golds. Again, the color peak is still at least a week away here, and I apologize for not having more pics along the road. It is very narrow, with hardly any place to pull off. I was disappointed I couldn't get more photographs.

Probably my favorite photograph of the trip. I love how the trees are reflected in the water.

We soon saw a sign for Pond Hill Farm and pulled off on another country road. This is a working farm, and from the condition of the fields, it was evident the fall harvest had just been completed.

Part of that harvest was pumpkins!

Another part was squash. I've never seen so many varieties of squash in my life! This was just one exhibit - there were three others of just squash!

Did I mention what a perfect day it was! This "cloud" was the fading vapor trail of a jet.

More brilliance through the wire fence.

We reached Harbor Springs around 3:30 . . .

. . . and spent a while walking the sidewalks - mostly window shopping. As with many northern Michigan towns, some of the shops are already closed for the season. I want to come back next summer . . .

. . . when the marina and the shops will be bustling. What a pretty little town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan!

Instead of backtracking, we returned to Mackinaw City through Pellston and were able to catch Shepler's 4:30 boat. What a fun afternoon!

Again, I apologize for not having more photos of the actual Tunnel of Trees, but maybe some of the others made up for it.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  We’ve been in the middle of the Somewhere in Time event here on the Island, and on Saturday afternoon Jill and I took in the promenade on the Grand Hotel’s front porch.  Join me back here tomorrow for the story and photographs!  See you then!

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23 thoughts on “Nature All Aglow 10/10/2011

  1. I think the drive from Cross Village to Harbor Springs is the most beautiful in the state. M-119 is gorgeous! Looks like you had a great time exploring northwest Michigan in the fall.

  2. Love the Tunnel of Trees route, love Legg’s Inn..what a wonderful route to take and see! I don’t know what to say except I’m so glad you and Frankie went to both places and spent some time to explore and hope that you loved it as much as we did! Loving the color change in the trees and thank you so much for all you do and the time you take to post and share all that you do.

  3. Such beautiful pictures. Oh, I get so homesick for Northern Michigan and it isn’t even my home anymore. What a wonderful day trip you had.

  4. Beautiful pictures Brenda! We used to come up 131 and then 31 going to the island but have since changed our route. We may just have to go back up 131 all the way again next year and drive along 119 and stop at Legs Inn. Looks like a beautiful place to stop and eat and Al will be very tempted when I tell him it’s Polish.

  5. Oh such beautiful pictures, Brenda. I would love to be up there to go through the Tunnel of Trees now. I went through in summer and in autumn the trees colors are so brilliant.

  6. Breathtaking…. The Tunnel of Trees is now on my list of must sees for the next autumn trip up. So glad you had a beautiful day to enjoy it!

  7. As always, pictures extraordinaire! Another trip to put on my wishlist. So glad you and Frankie had such a fun day. As Barbara Blem said, “Oh, I wish, and wish, and wish again. I wish I was in Michigan!”

  8. My parents have been the Legs Inn and highly recommends going there. Haven’t made it yet, but it’s on my Michigan bucket list. It took some convincing but I talked my hubby into coming up to the Island for a night next weekend….we’ve never done this much of a spur of the moment trip to the Island. Too many good deals and couldn’t pass it up. I just hope some of the color holds out for us and the weather too.

    • I think you’ll have color (unless we get a lot of wind) and sales, but don’t know about weather. I hear a change is coming toward the end of this week.

  9. Brenda, just beautiful pictures but I’ve never heard of this area tell me just where it’s at. Are Cabins in the Paradise area. And your right the U.P. can remind you so much of the south. I’m a southern girl to, most of my family is down there to all spread out. But in the middle area. I was raised here though. But your roots are always where there suposed to be. Thanks again.

    • Hi Debra! We did a loop. US 31 southwest out of Mac City, turned right onto County Road 66 at Levering, which took us to Cross Village. Took M119 south to Good Hart and Harbor Springs and almost to Petoskey. Before we got to Petoskey, we turned north again on US 31, which took us back to Mac City through Pellston. And yes, I think Paradise Lake does have cabins for rent.

  10. Loved your photos Brenda..We went that same route (and loved it too!) but on Sunday on our way home from Mackinaw City..I was in awe with the brilliant colors of the trees going through the Tunnel of Trees..the only drawback we ran into was LOTS of cars, motorcycles…traffic…people..but it was worth it. When we got to Legg’s Inn there was literally no parking spaces near the restaurant..we already are planning going back and make it during the week next time..but it may not be until next year!! Good Hart was packed out too but it was still a great day and a great trip. Glad you got to enjoy your time with Frankie and had such perfect weather!! Thanks again for the photos!! Beautiful!!

  11. Like you, I never tire of looking at the beautiful fall trees. What a wonderful day trip. Glad you had so much fun. The little shops look interesting. Great post as usual. Love the photos. Thanks.

  12. Totally worth the drive to Cross Village & then on through the Tunnel of Tree, isn’t it?

    I did the same thing you did, stopped took pictures, drove a little more, stopped took pictures….that was all BEFORE we even got to the Tunnel!! hahaha!!

    That whole area of Northern Michigan is gorgeous. Anyone considering making the trip should jump in the car and do it.

  13. What great pictures! I love my beautiful state in the fall. I go to Mackinaw City for a week every summer, we will have to try to do this drive next year, even though we won’t have the beautiful fall colors. The colors here in southeast Michigan are starting to reach peak. They seem so much more vibrant this year.

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