Most of my readers are not interested in an entire blog post about another pair of hand knit socks. Instead I am sneaking a sock project into this post about a ladies trip I went on in July. I have traveled with high school friends in the past to Savannah, New Orleans and Quebec City. This time four of us went to the Traverse City area of Michigan, where I have some connections. My cousin lives in Glen Arbor near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and my niece and her husband own and run Falling Waters Lodge in Leland. It was not a hard sell talking the group into going there, as it is a beautiful and wonderful vacation area. I made reservations for a suite at Falling Waters Lodge a year ago to make sure we would be able to stay there.
Getting to Traverse City from Minnesota is not easy. You can fly, but it is expensive, there are not many options for flights, and sometimes they get cancelled at the last minute. It takes about 12 hours to drive whether you take the southern route through Chicago, or the northern route through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There is a ferry boat that goes across Lake Michigan, but taking that involves getting up very early to accommodate the schedule and there is a lot of waiting around while they load all the cars on the boat, so it does not save any time. My friend Sheri and I decided to drive the southern route on the way there and the northern route on the way back. The other two friends, Kris and Marla, purchased plane tickets to Traverse City.
A pair of socks was the perfect knitting project to bring on the trip since it does not take up much room and likely it would keep me busy for the entire trip, so I would not have to bring a backup project. I picked out some brown wool and nylon Highland Superwash Sock Twist yarn I had bought on sale last winter. It is a tiny bit thicker than most sock yarn, which means I could go up one size needle and have fewer stitches per inch.
I brought the sock yarn to the beach at the cabin during our family reunion, so I could get started on the project before the ladies trip. There was a lot going on in my head and I forgot to use my ball winder to make a ball out of the hank of yarn before heading to the beach. Instead my cousin-in-law held her arms out while I manually wound a ball. I did not get much farther than preparing balls of yarn for each sock before leaving on the trip a few days after the family reunion was over.
My journey started with driving three hours to Minneapolis, where I stayed overnight at my sister Betsy’s house. At the last minute Betsy needed a ride to Muskegon, MI, which was only a little way off our route, so she rode with us that far. In the morning the two of us met up with my friend Sheri for the first part of the trip from Minneapolis to Chicago where my son lives. The following photo is a typical scene of my lap on any road trip, with the brown sock project in progress, and my backpack and purse crammed in next to me. Usually our dog is also on my lap, but she was not invited this time.
We had arranged to stay overnight at my son James’s condo in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, which is a very Latino area. When we arrived in the afternoon, James and his wife Kelsey were still busy working from home, so we walked around near their place until time for dinner at a fun Mexican restaurant nearby. We left at 7:30 am the next morning just as Kelsey was starting her first zoom meeting of the day.
The next leg of the trip took much longer than we had planned, but worked out OK. We had told Kris and Marla that we would pick them up at the airport in Traverse City at about 12:30 pm when their plane arrived. It turned out that was never a reasonable plan, but it was more impossible after we realized that dropping my sister off in Muskegon added an hour and a half to our itinerary, and also I had forgotten that it is an hour later in Michigan. Oops. We were able to contact our friends and tell them to take a taxi from the airport to the cute main drag of Traverse City to have lunch and kill time until we could get there.
My sister was going to be spending a few days with her son-in-law’s mother, Gretchen, in Muskegon. Gretchen lives in a typical house for normal people but it has an indoor swimming pool. Someone had built walls around what was originally an outdoor pool. Of course we had to stop and visit a bit, get a tour of the house, and check out the pool. It was really nice and we were temped to get our bathing suits out of the car and go for a swim, but then we would have been even later picking up our other friends.
Traverse City was hopping when we finally got there at 4:00 pm. After finding Kris and Marla and a bathroom, we drove to Falling Waters Lodge in Leland. My niece and her husband, Emily and Cooper, bought this place from the estate of his grandfather after he passed away. Cooper used to work there during summers when it was owned by his Grandpa.
Falling Waters Lodge is right on the Leland River where there is a dam, and where the river empties into Lake Michigan. They have tee shirts that say “Best Dam Lodge”. Across a short bridge over the dam is historic Fishtown, a cute row of shops and location where actual commercial fishing still happens.
Along with nice shops, an amazing sandwich place, and a small history center, there is a business that sells smoked fish in Fishtown.
One of the must do activities in this area is going to the sand dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along the coast of Lake Michigan. There is a 284 feet high main dune with easy access. Climbing the dune is a lot harder than it looks. If you have more time and a lot of energy you can continue after you reach the top for a longer hike with amazing views, continuing on all the way to Lake Michigan. There is also a seven mile scenic drive with various marked points of interest where you can stop for more information and more views.
My cousin Lissa lives in Glen Arbor. She runs a wine tasting room, Glen Arbor Wines, in addition to her day job as editor at Traverse Magazine. There had been a memorial service for Lissa’s mother Mary Turak, my mom’s first cousin, one week before our time there. Mary was my knitting mentor and owner of The Yarn Shop in Glen Arbor. After she retired in 2018, I bought all the inventory that was left from her shop (click here to read about that). Because of the memorial service, Lissa’s brother Jon and his family were in Glen Arbor when I got to there. I cannot remember the last time I had seen him so it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up after many years. Even my friends who had never met these people enjoyed an evening sitting around the camp fire at Glen Arbor Wines listening to some of his crazy stories from teenage years at camp in the area. Glen Arbor Wines regularly has live music on the front porch, so we also had a couple of relaxing times partaking of that.
Other fun things we did were kayaking on the Crystal River, visiting a historic light house, looking in many cute shops, having a picnic lunch in Sutton’s Bay, watching the sunset over Lake Michigan a block from where Lissa lives, and having dinner on a lawn outside a restaurant with live music playing.
While driving around we happened upon two yarn shops. I do not need any more yarn, but naturally I had to buy something at each one. At one place I bought two skeins of some beautiful alpaca, merino wool, and silk blend yarn that will be good for woven scarves. At the other shop I bought some sock yarn in a color called “Petoskey Stones”. Petoskey stones are common to the area, so I thought it would be fun to have a pair of socks that would remind me of this trip.
I think everyone had a fun time on this trip. The friends kept saying they want to go back as there were so many things we did not have time to do, including hiking and bike riding. I don’t know if that will really happen, but I know I will be back there, maybe with our RV.
On the last day of the trip Sheri and I dropped Kris and Marla off at the airport at 11:00 am and then headed towards the Mackinaw Bridge for the scenic northern route home through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and across Wisconsin. We had expected to drive part way home and then stay overnight in a hotel before completing the home stretch of the trip. However once we were on the road we ended up driving all the way to Minneapolis, arriving at 11:30 pm. The next morning I met up with my daughter who had arrived from the west coast for a visit. We drove together from Minneapolis back to the lake for the next segment of a busy summer.
I did not get much knitting done on the trip, other than in the car. Most of the sock knitting happened after I was back home, usually in the evening in front of the TV, or sometimes at the cabin when visiting with guests. I finally finished the socks in September, eight weeks after winding the yarn into balls.