Today I departed from my family’s place in Beaver Island, and headed North. Well, really I had to head South for a bit. Then I headed North, and then West for a bit…I’m getting ahead of myself.

Bright and early this morning I boarded the Beaver Island Ferry, named the Emerald Isle, which you may remember I missed by a few minutes earlier last week. I didn’t hold a grudge, however, and my mother was very keen on waking me up in time for breakfast, so there was no worry about it leaving without me again.

The sunrise was beautiful over the water. The winds were finally calm. Monty and Niko were eager to leave, but I was a mix between a bit sad to leave my family and a bit excited to finally get to the “unknown” leg of my journey.

As the sun continued to rise, and the horizon grew lighter and lighter, that little bit of excitement grew and grew until it was something like this:

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Which was quickly thwarted by the fact that I still had a couple hundred miles to go before I slept.

Lola and I left Charlevoix in traffic, which has turned from being one of my least favorite things to being outright the worst. People were attempting to pass me on a tiny two lane road full of cars going much faster than the speed limit. It was nerve-wracking.

I was absolutely DREADING getting on the interstate to the Mackinax Bridge, and even more so the bridge itself, which is 5 miles long and has nothing but water underneath. If the wind is too strong, which is not unusual for northern Michigan, they close the bridge entirely. Today it was between 5 and 10 miles an hour from the south. Four lanes of traffic across a narrow bridge that sways in the wind with a trailer and two dogs. I was scared. So scared, I seriously considered using the free service from the Michigan highway department in which a driver will arrive and drive your car across for you.

But I shouldn’t have been worried.

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Truth was, while I was dreading the latter half of the drive, it was the traffic in the lower peninsula that was the worst part of my day. As soon as I hit the interstate, which I only had to follow for about a mile, there were many fewer cars. The bridge hovered on the horizon, and it was so beautiful, I completely forgot my fear. The speed limit on the bridge is quite slow, and because of construction, the bridge was only two lanes most of the way. Instead of being afraid, all I could think of was:

“What a cool-ass bridge I’m on!! Look how high we are! Hi, nice construction man, of COURSE I’ll slow down and look at this beautiful view!”

Okay, so maybe I took the bridge a little slowly. I didn’t care. I was very proud of myself.

The next highway I took was US 2, which is a gorgeous drive if you ever get the chance. The first hour’s drive from the bridge to the west reminded me of California’s Highway 1. The waves of Lake Michigan crashed right up to the road, and you could see all the way down the coast to the next point.

At the end of the day I found myself at the Indian Lake State Park Campground just outside of Manistique. Lola performed beautifully today, even when the wind began to get gusty near the end of the trip. As I had watched the sunrise, so I watched the sunset over the water. One thing became evident as I gazed out upon the HUGE lake.

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Things look smaller on the map.

This is a big place. I’ve got a lot of miles to go on my adventure.