Fall Road Trip Day 1- Lexington, Grayling, the down state stops
It's Friday afternoon. We're leaving for what we think to be an 11 day, camping road trip. I finished up with my last client later than expected, have nothing packed, the weather is chill, we haven't booked any rooms or made a concrete schedule of where we're going and what we're seeing. And I'm dreading it all.
Let me tell you about the best road trip we've ever taken.
This trip came when I needed it most, but didn't know it. It's the perfect example of just take it as it comes, and simply enjoy the moment.
I need lists. I need organization. I enjoy some thrill with some more comfort. My husband, Jake, lives in chaos. He wants to be pushed and challenged. He seeks to be uncomfortable physically and mentally. We balance each other out pretty perfectly.
The most I know about this trip is that we're doing a loop around Michigan's Upper Peninsula (check out exactly where we visted here), hitting the major highlights as we go. Presque Isle Point, Pictured Rocks, Porcupine Mountains, just to start. Jake has planned the wish washy route we'll take.
As I freak out about getting the camping stuff- the cooler, the food, the grill, sleeping bags, chairs, lights…. the kitchen sink. Jake intervenes and sets the mood for the entire trip by saying- Then we won't camp, and we don't have to leave at any certain time, we have no plans or timeline to follow.
What!? But my whole life (and probably your life too, just like everyone's in the modern world!) is a timeline, a list.... you mean... we can just get in the car and... go? Go where? When? Fuck it. Let’s go.
I took a deep breath, threw clothes in my bag that would suit ANY weather, and instantly got excited all over again about this adventure.
The first thing we did the next morning was decide to go out of our way to get the best coffee around at
Lexington Coffee Company.
This did 3 things:
It reassured me this trip was going to be different. It was going to be based around doing things that make us happy, even if they don't make the most sense.
It slowed us down. We would have to drive 15 miles in the opposite direction of the expressway now, which forced us to take the country back roads for the first 3 hours of our trip. It would take longer, and that was perfect.
And it started the trip with that feeling of familiarity and comfort. We're not setting out on this new, big, confusing adventure, we're simply just taking a long drive. We know how to do that. AND the owners of this shop are seriously THE BEST, as is the coffee, so it was nice to see smiling faces in our own town before we set out to a place where we would know no one.
If you've never been to Lexington before it's the cutest, quaintest town that's right on calm, blue Lake Huron. Beaches, shops, food, boating, fishing. In the summer there are several Art and Craft Fairs, Fireworks, and Music in the park. In the Winter they have parades and a tree lighting. There are SEVERAL other events through out the year so be sure to check out this site to see what sounds the best for you:
So now, dirty chai and breve in hand we're on the road. The nice thing about Michigan back roads is you're away from the bland view of the expressway, but it's not small town stop signs every 2 miles. You just cruise and take in the calm life style of farmers and country families. Beautiful bean fields turning from green to bright yellow, pumpkin patches, cows, horses, goats, deer, beautiful aged barns, and the random huge tractor that looks like a transformer driving down the road. It's what we're used to.
Fast forward 3 hours and a mix of Harry Potter Audio Tapes and Dirt Bag Diaries Pod Casts later and we find ourselves in
This little calm town is known around the globe, especially to those who fly fish. The Ausable River runs through Grayling and in the spring it's full of small fishing boats, in the summer it's full of canoes and tubes. With a few small shops and a lot of forests, Grayling is the perfect "up north" feel for downstate. We’ve been here countless times for quick get aways!
A few years ago a new brewery opened in town-
This brewery has kept us coming back to the area even when there's 3 feet of snow on the ground- it's that good. And it's got an amazing vibe.
They actually have 2 locations on the same street. One is where they brew and only serve what they make, which is the perfect spot to go, chill, get a sampler, and try a variety of things. The other spot they have several rotating guest taps and rockin food, especially tacos!
Back to our trip- we roll into town where we decide to stop at both locations back to back.
A few beers later and we high five over the idea of saving money and just sleeping in the truck that night.
You see, we wanted to make it to Munising that night so we were in town to start the next day off in Pictured Rocks, and hotels ranged from literal cock roach reviews to $170 a night.
Well after the buzz wore off and we were in the empty gas station parking lot I think we both kinda regretted that decision, but we took it like a man, threw on some extra jackets, and went to sleep. Day 1- mad successful.
Discomfort aside, we survived the night, and that brings us to