Michigan’s Thumb – Would You Like Beach – Or Farms?

If you want to get to anywhere good in Michigan’s Thumb, you have to drive through lots and lots of boring stuff first.

Me – talking to my husband on a recent road trip

I’m beginning to think that I might be a bit of a con artist! There we were…in our 2013 silver Chevy Malibu, on a quest to visit a beach on the tip of Michigan’s “Thumb,” in the town of Port Austin. And this is what I said to my husband – as we drove through miles and miles and miles of farmland. And more miles…is it possible to see more miles of farm land than you actually traveled by road? It sure felt like it!

Interesting side note, we learned by visiting the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park that there’s a reason the Thumb is chock full of farmlands. And why is that? FIRE! Specifically, a massive fire in 1881 that wiped out a good chunk of Michigan’s trees – leaving behind fertile, fertile soil (perfect for farming) – and some cool Native American carvings in stone. This fire was so massive that people went to extremes to escape it – even people sailing seven miles out in Lake Huron reported feeling the fire’s hot wrath.

Road in The Thumb leading to the Sanilac Petgroglyphs Historic State Park. Once we were at the park, rangers were only allowing 10 visitors at a time to see the petroglyph exhibit (due to COVID-19 restrictions).

In addition to wheat, corn and soybean crops (and others I didn’t recognize), we also saw many of the “I spy” things you’d normally see while driving through farmland – silos, barns, grazing animals, Tractor Supply Stores, grain elevators, places that sell tractors and plows…and fair grounds. Did someone say “moo?”

Mobile bovine spotted at the Eastern Michigan state fairgrounds in Imlay City, MI (aka “Pickle City” to me, because of its former Vlasic Plant (now owned by Conagra Foods). I had to actually stop and park and walk a ways to get this photo (the things I do for blog fodder, LOL). We joked that this thing was on the “moove!”

So why am I a con artist, do you ask? Because in order to get to pretty much ANYWHERE in Michigan – you need to be willing to drive through mile after mile of potentially mind-numbingly dull, dull scenery!

Just as an example? Want to go see Pictured Rocks in the U.P.? Well, you have to travel through miles and miles of endless pine forests. And you’ll likely have to traverse what has been dubbed “The Seney Stretch.”

Map of the roughly 25-mile “Seney Stretch,” between Seney and Munising in Michigan’s U.P.

I said something similar when we visited a state forest campground on the Upper Manistee River in June.

You can’t get to anything pretty (in Michigan) unless you’re taking a dirt road to get there.

Me talking to my husband
Road leading to the Upper Manistee River state forest campground. Many gravel roads in Michigan lead to some lovely, lovely places!

It’s pretty much “beach – or – farmland” in The Thumb! And our minds were focused on “beach or bust!” Plans were to do a one-night stay at Port Crescent State Park’s campground near Port Austin, MI.

While we were driving through Port Austin – perhaps as an attempt to let conversation distract us a bit while we logged the final miles to our destination, my husband joked about whether or not there is a statue for Sean Astin in the town. After correcting him by saying “It’s Astin, not Austin,” the conversation got…weirder!

I said…”Maybe they have a statue of Patti Austin there instead?” I guess I could’ve said “Stone Cold” Steve Austin instead, but my mind went to Patti Austin first. If you know anything about me and my weird brain – it shouldn’t be surprising!

Patti Austin, whom is best known (to me) for her 1982 hit duet “Baby Come to Me” with James Ingram, which hit #9 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #9 on R&B charts. “General Hospital” helped popularize the song.

“Who the fuck is Patti Austin,” my husband asked. Then I started singing some lines from the song “Baby, Come to Me…” then HE STARTED PICKING ON ME!

“How do you KNOW this crap?” Personally, I think he was just a bit road weary – and maybe a bit miffed I corrected him on Sean Astin’s name spelling! “All of those crappy boring ’70s R&B songs sound alike to me.”

“I don’t know!” I said. “How is it you know the crap you know?” I just have a “head” for stupid, useless music facts (especially from the ’70s to ’80s)! I don’t know why this garbage is in my head, but it’s there (and occasionally helps in trivia games)!

Finally, finally – after sitting in our car for about three hours and ogling what seemed like millions of miles of crops – WE WERE AT OUR CAMPGROUND! Husband followed the COVID-19 rules, put on his mask, and went to the contact station and checked us in. While he was doing all of that, I took a photo of an amusing sign greeting campers – regarding dogs:

That should teach those entitled dog owners who think their “furbabies” can do no wrong! But it probably won’t…

A lovely sunset was our just reward for our dull, dull trek through “The Thumb!”

Good night, Lake Huron!

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