Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Roadside attractions

It happens at least once one every road trip. That moment of decision where you have to choose between staying on schedule and stopping to see the world's largest cherry pie pan.  Or maybe it's the gravestone of the cow that produced the most milk or the spam (meat) museum. (home to the world's most comprehensive collection of spiced pork artifacts) , but whatever the attraction, it's the outcome of all those little decisions that determine whether or not your road trip is a good trip. 

When it's wet, it's raining!
On this trip, keeping on schedule won out most of the time. Either that or SD and I have to conclude that we are not very good tourists. Even though we passed within three miles of the pie pan, and five miles from the largest cow statue, we didn't stop. According to roadsideamerica.com we sped by hundreds more important attractions.

The Stein Haus
We did however manage to make a few stops.  First was the amazing weather rock located in downtown Foxburg. We also chanced upon an unknown, but lovely tourist destination, Bay City Michigan. Once a rambling lumbertown,  the city fathers (with a little help from Dow Chemical), have created a relaxing Saginaw riverside meca complete with river walk, waterfall park, bicycle lanes, coffee shops and restaurants. We stopped for the night, walked around and enjoyed sauerbraten at the Stein Haus.

Oh to live on Picnic Mountain!
Also in Michigan we chanced upon  the ultimate of American roadside attractions, the Roadside Drive. This is one attraction, courtesy of the National Park system that you can, but don't have to, even get out of your car to enjoy. The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park meanders through the coastal plain of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Providing pullouts for attractions such as the Glen Lake Overlook, the Dune Overlook and our favorite, Picnic Mountain.  We didn't stop at any but did marvel at how awesome it would be if the National parks started making similar loops for bicycles.

Our trip home was a 14 hour straight shot from Traverse City to Beverly and after being on the road for 7 days we were inclined to drive non-stop. There was however one roadside attraction, one that I had visited several years ago but S.D. had never seen,

The Mother of All Roadside Attractions

that was located tantalizing close to our route. Following a few hours of debate, and a stop at the regional tourist office to get maps we pulled into the parking lot for Niagara Falls around 4:00 in the afternoon.  The crowds were starting to thin out and the sun was just about to fall below tree line. The angle and opportunity were just right. We got to see one of the biggest roadside attractions in the Northeast, just as a double rainbow formed over the falls.