Sleeping Bear Dunes, Casino Camping and Tunnel of Trees

August 22-31, 2019 — The last week of August found us starting out by crossing back into the United States from Ontario, Canada into the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. After spending a few days near Detroit we turned north and continued until we reached St Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. 

This week was bittersweet for us as it signified the last full week of our summer circle tour to the east coast. We enjoyed this trip immensely and are struggling to see it come to an end. The time flew by so quickly and even though we spent 2.5 months seeing the sights, we still felt rushed. 

We are pleased with how we managed time throughout the summer and met our goal of being back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by the end of August without having to rush or wait around extra days. This time frame was imperative as we planned to attend a special event there on Labor Day. 

Follow along below for a pictorial and narrative of our time in Michigan during the last week of August. All stays during this time were free ones with one night at a Harvest Hosts location, three nights at a Boondockers Welcome host site and six nights at four different Michigan casinos. 

Mile Driven - RV
Miles Driven - Car

Good thing we weren’t in a big hurry to get to our destination in Michigan as it took 1.5 hours to complete the Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan border crossing. We didn’t really mind the delay but being stopped on a bridge and feeling it vibrate whenever a truck drove by was a bit unnerving. 

7,000 Ford F-150 trucks roll off the line each week at the Ford Rouge Factory in Dearborn, Michigan. The plant offers self-guided tours of the assembly line along with videos depicting the past, present, and future of American automobile manufacturing. Very interesting tour!

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan is a must-see when in the Detroit area. The museum is filled with stories of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation that helped shape America. Special collection displays rotate frequently so even if you have been here in the past chances are there is something new to see. 

During our visit the museum experienced a mechanical issue that caused the evacuation and closure of the building for the day. Thankfully we had seen the majority of what we came for prior to the evacuation. The museum allowed guests to either return on another day or receive a complete refund. We chose the latter option as we were staying about an hour from Dearborn and didn’t care to travel the distance again and were satisfied as to what we had seen in the museum. 

Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan offers RVers free overnight parking in their maintenance lot across the street from the main casino when they don’t have a special event occurring. The casino also has a RV resort located a few miles off-site with hookups and shuttle service.

We thought about climbing down the dunes to the bottom of the Lake Michigan Overlook at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Empire, Michigan but the warning signs stating the fees for rescues were $3,000 wised us up quickly. It may not look very steep in the photos but the dunes are actually 450 feet above the lake. 

Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel is located just outside Traverse City, Michigan. The casino offers free overnight RV parking with shuttle service to the main building. 

Turtle Creek Casino also has a gas station that had the cheapest fuel we had seen in months. 

Friske Farm Market in Ellsworth, Michigan is “Not Your Average Fruit Stand” as their sign states. In addition to fruit the market offers jams, seasonings, handmade Michigan products, a restaurant, bakery, outdoor playground and farm animals. They are also Harvest Hosts participants that offer free overnight RV parking to members. 

Odawa Casino in Petoskey, Michigan also offers free overnight parking in a lot specifically lined for RVs. Shuttle service to the casino is available or it can be reached by walking a short distance. The players club offers free $10 in slot play to new members. 

M-119 is a 27 mile long Michigan highway known as the Tunnel of Trees Scenic Heritage Route. The narrow road twists and turns as it follows the Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay shorelines. It’s a very pretty drive when in the Petoskey, MI area. 

What a fun stop! Since 1947 Kilwins has been making high quality chocolate, ice cream and confections in Petoskey, Michigan. The factory offers free tours where you can watch a variety of products being made while learning about the history, present state and future of the company. And…..they hand out free samples at the end of the tour. Yum!

Little Traverse Wheelway is a rail-to-trail bike path and part of U.S. Bicycle Route 35 in Michigan. The paved trail spans 26 miles along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan from Charlevoix to Harbor Springs. We walked a portion of the trail but look forward to returning when we have bicycles. 

The Mackinac Bridge, aka the “Mighty Mac” or “Big Mac” is a suspension bridge spanning the Straits of Mackinac to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The five mile long bridge has the distinction of being the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.  

We ended the week by crossing over the Mackinac Bridge and overnighting at the Keewadin Casino in St Ignace. We stayed in the immediate area for the Labor Day weekend where we participated in a local annual event that draws in thousands of people. Stay tuned to next week to find out what the event was and to see what fun we were up to following our stay in Michigan. See you then!

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