The UP, or upper part of Michigan, was getting cold real fast. The colder weather was coming in sooner and faster than previous years. So we decided to head back down into the main part of Michigan and continue our trek on the eastern side. Not knowing where or what we were in for, I just kinda picked a place that sounded interesting, was along our route and was under the 4 hours of driving time that we like to do.
Alpena and The Thunder Bay area on the “Sunrise Side” of Michigan seemed to have it all. A place to park, nice scenery, museums and shops and lots of history.
Unfortunately it seems as soon as we got there, the weather followed us and turned real cold, rainy and very windy. We only got out to explore one day into Alpena and we chose to go to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
This is a free museum that tells all about the marine area and the many many shipwrecks in and around the bay. This area is known worldwide for it’s shipwrecks. And because of the fresh water of the Great Lakes, the shipwrecks are perfectly preserved. If the weather holds out for you, their is a neat tour, from what I am told, where you can take a glass bottom boat out into the bay and see the shipwrecks for yourself. Without getting wet of course.
That would have been fun, but the weather was not cooperative when we were there.
We just looked around, learned a lot about the shipwrecks and that was it. Not a terribly interesting day, sorry.
The more interesting thing that happened to us was the place that we stayed. I love it when you have no idea where you are going and it turns out to be a real gem.
About 25 minutes west of Alpena is Hillman, MI. With a population of less than 1000 people, we weren’t sure what we were in store for. We picked it merely for it’s proximity to Alpena and the website looked nice.
Boy…I’m glad when the website actually is true to what you get. For those of you who travel, you know what I mean about false advertising on websites.
Thunder Bay Resort thankfully is just that. A beautiful resort. A small RV resort, but nice and plenty of other things to keep you busy.
We had plenty of space for our 42 footer and our tow vehicle. Great water pressure, perfect access to satellite and WiFi, which you know is high on our list. The spaces are nice in size. You are certainly not crammed on top of each other. Nice breathing room. And they stagger the coaches, so no neighbors if they are not full.
All spaces are on a concrete pad with a concrete extension that includes a nice outdoor table and 4 chairs. A community fire pit is right across the path with firewood included! They want to make sure you do not use or bring in other firewood as Michigan and this area in particular have been hit hard with the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle.
There are a few sites that I would imagine would not be good for satellite as they hug the trees, but other than that, no worries. All the sites look out onto the golf course. If you stay here, and I highly recommend that you do, you can buy nice golf packages for the time you are here. If you have guests that you want to invite, Thunder Bay Resort has a very nice looking lodge and some chalets that you can rent.
Now we are not golfers. Never have been. But we can appreciate a nice golf course. Especially this time of year when the colors are changing.
The fall colors were only mid peak. I can imagine how beautiful this place will be in another couple of weeks when everything surrounding here is at peak.
Note the ominous clouds. They were like this for most of our stay. Except for the last day and a half. Then it was blue skies and sunshine.
One of the very nice and different attractions that Thunder Bay Resort specializes in is an Elk Viewing, Sleigh Ride and Gourmet Dinner. What a nice addition to our stay. We soon found out why this is ranked as “One of the Top Ten Sleigh Rides” in America and is one of “Michigan’s Hidden Treasures” among other high praises.
The horse drawn carriage picks you up at the Clubhouse where you are whisked away onto the golf course? Yup…the horse and carriage goes through the golf course. I’m sure the golf course keeper loves that. Jack, the owner of this wonderful property, was our guide.
Then you literally go over the river, the Thunder Bay River that is, and through the woods.
Only you don’t end up at Grandmother’s house.
You instead are looking at some very large and beautiful Elk.
We saw a few Bull Elk, which are the males with the antlers and many females, which are called Cows. From what I understand, the males fight each other for the mating rights to the females. One Bull is the victor and he gets ALL the females. Yup…all of them.
It can get very dangerous for these large males to fight though. Some deaths have been reported.
Once you are done viewing the elk, and quite honestly, this can never get old, you get back on the sleigh and head towards the Elk Antler Log Cabin for your gourmet meal.
This is a beautifully built cabin that can seat just over 100 people.
The meal is several courses, each better than the next. All prepared by Jack’s lovely wife, Jan, on antique wooden stoves.
It’s a beautiful log cabin. Warm and inviting. And as you can see, lots and lots of trophies on the wall.
We had a wonderful meal and warm conversation. It was a great evening.
And when it was over, you hop back on that sleigh and it takes you back through the woods and up to the Clubhouse.
Taking a turn past the rv park of course. And how often can say you’ve had a horse and carriage clickity clack right past your motorhome? I imagine not very often.
And finally, once the weather broke and the wind calmed down, David and I had a good time roaming around the grounds and shooting video with the quadcopter. You can see the end result in the video below.
We want to say a big Thank You to Jack, his lovely wife Jan and all of the staff at Thunder Bay Resort that made us feel welcome and for giving us a nice ending to our 6 week trip on the road.
After this we are sadly headed home.
Oh…one last thing. When you get here, cause I know it’s a matter of when and not if, you must have the freshly made pizza in the Clubhouse. It’s really really good and you all know how hard it is to find good pizza on the road. Let’s just say we had it more than once and leave it at that :)