During spring break, my family usually opts for chain hotels, busy cities, and shopping. My parents are from California and they love the glitz and glamour of L.A. I on the other hand, would rather spend my time off of school outside. Hiking and taking pictures in Northern Michigan with my best friend this break was the greatest remedy for schooltime stress, and we discovered some beautiful places in our mitten state.
The first place we went to was Hartwick Pines State Park. I had wanted to hike there ever since my high school environment teacher raved about it, and I was so excited to finally go. Hartwick Pines is an old growth forest, meaning that the area has never been used for lumber – something that is unfortunately rare. The trees can get up to 150 feet tall with diameters of four feet. I had never seen pine trees that I hadn’t compared to toothpicks until I went to Hartwick.
The next place we went to was Headlands International Dark Sky Park, just outside of Mackinaw City. We didn’t see any stars because of the cloud coverage, but the absence of artificial light was unnerving. I didn’t realize dependence on electricity until we were faced with a complete lack thereof. We walked along the Lake Michigan Shore and the power gel moonlight gave us dim shadows. The frozen, dark surface of the lake looked like another planet, and besides our footsteps, it was absolutely silent. It was truly an otherworldly experience I’ll never forget.
On our long trek home, we stopped at as many roadside attractions as possible, including the Man-Eating Clam museum, the Call of the Wild museum, the Bottle Cap museum, and Chillermania. The latter was our favorite, with it being an entire store dedicated to the American/ Michigan Chillers book series. We met the author’s wife and dog, and she told us nearby sites that inspired some of the stories. We bought a CD of “Creepy Campfire Chillers” and listened to it on the way home. Our inner twelve year olds were psyched.
This trip taught me the value of spontaneity. The only place we had planned to go to was the dark sky park, and we discovered so many beautiful and interesting places along the way. On your next school break, go for a drive or hike with no destination in mind (but be safe, of course). You might find a new favorite place, but you’ll definitely make a great memory.