I find myself frequently amazed by the power of modern day technology. I can remember as a little girl going to the library to seek out information. And now, as Pete and I travel, we find the internet and phone apps have made traveling much more efficient. I mean, when and where we want to go, and how we want to do it, is right at our fingertips. As great as these resources have been, from Waze for directions to basic Google searches for things to do along each stop, I still think our greatest finds have been through word of mouth (the old-school way). Pete's dad told us when we travel always talk to the locals, see what they like and what is a must. He even suggested calling the local police department, because they always know good food at a good price! And as I think back to some of the bests of the bests of our trip so far, it really has been suggestions from others along the way:
1.) Best Breakfast/Brunch: Hot Suppa, Portland, ME. Pete's friend, Lyndsey, went to college in Portland and have to give it to her, it was the best corned beef hash I have ever had!!
2.) Cedar Point: Roller Coaster Capital of the World, Sandusky, OH. We had so much fun on some of the biggest roller coasters - thanks to Pete's friend Matt for the suggestion as we were driving through Ohio.
3.) HELL: We went to Hell and back - In Hell, Michigan. My mom will weekly text us about things she read or saw that we need to do. She found HELL in "2001 Things You Must Do Before You Die" (By: Dane Sherwood).
4.) Mackinaw Island, MI.
Mackinaw Island, and the story behind it, deserves a separate paragraph. It all started in Buffalo (NY), where we camped to see Niagara Falls. Pete and I were surprised at the obvious poverty in Buffalo, to which Google confirmed - it is the one of the nation's poorest cities. As we were driving through the city, we noticed abandoned warehouses to the left and right; it appeared Buffalo was a city that saw the highs and lows of the Industrial Revolution. But boy did Niagara shine. Twice, once from our guide in Bar Harbor, and then in Niagara, we were reminded that if you are in a terrible mood, go find running water or take a shower. The negative ions in the water are essential for high energy and positive moods. Our time in Niagara was truly magical (I think it was the ions). As Pete and I started our 8-hour tour to see the American & Canadian sides of the Falls, we hopped on a bus full of 60+ (in age). Being an old soul, I couldn't have asked for better company and Pete had the bus laughing all day. It stands in our memory as one of our favorite days. In between dancing in the Falls and experiencing the majestic power (crazy they are only at 50%; the US/Canada use the remaining 50% of the water that would be in the Falls for Power) of the Falls, we had such great company on the bus. But the bus trip also reaffirmed our decision to travel and see things while we are still young. One man that just had a knee replacement surgery couldn't go up and down the stairs to see the Falls. And after a long day and getting back around 11pm, Pete and I headed to the casino - to which one man sighed "OH to be young again!" They offered life advice along the way, like don't fight over the little things to checking the other person's family history before marriage, haha! As we talked (well mostly Pete talked) and made friends, we learned that some of couples had been traveling in RVs full-time since the 90's. Pete asked what is a must stop in the US - and that is when we learned about Mackinaw Island, MI.
To be honest, most of Michigan was a pleasant surprise. We swam in two of the Great Lakes, and saw all 5. It really baffles me how a lake can be so big it's like an ocean. But even more amazing are the resources we have here in the US. The Great Lakes alone make up 20% of the world's freshwater supply. The entire world!!! And so, in Michigan, we were on cliffs overlooking Great Lakes, hot springs, and the Island with no cars...Mackinaw Island. I know it's hard to go back to a time before the internet, but just imagine going back even further to no cars. Cars were outlawed on the island back in the 1920's, and today you see UPS, trash pickup, even people using solely horses to get around. Our bus friends also told us a must of the island is the fudge. However, as we arrived by ferry to the island, it was a little overwhelming choosing between the 17 fudge shops. So what did we do? We asked a local, our carriage tour guide, who was born on the island. She told us JoAnn's Fudge Shop is the favorite among locals because they use cream to make their fudge. And it really was the best fudge I've ever tasted. As we sat down for dinner at a dog friendly spot on the island with Lily under the table relaxing as we recapped our day, I heard a guy at a table nearby say how his in-laws go to Florida all the time and he can't understand why the go to Florida, because Michigan is much prettier. And I have to agree. "Pure Michigan" was a delightful surprise and a place Pete and I want to vacation again.