We started celebrating Dons "Friday" birthday, Thursday evening, by having dinner out with Patrick, Julie, and Abigail. We, of course, had a great time. :)
Friday morning, Don's real birth date, we got going early and headed out towards Empire, MI, stopping at Dilbert's Cafe' (http://www.northernexpress.com/michigan/article-3582-the-customer-counts-at-dilbertlss.html) for breakfast. After breakfast our next stop was at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park Visitors Center (http://www.sleepingbeardunes.com). We went to buy an annual pass to the park so we'd be able to go anytime we wanted without needing to stop and get an entry pass. BUT......here is the "kicker". The regular annual park pass is $20, but as "seniors", we were eligible for $10 LIFETIME PASSES FOR ALL NATIONAL PARKS!!!! What a deal, eh? Finally, a real perk for becoming older....besides being able to retire. ;)
So off we went with our Lifetime park passes and headed to one of the parks shorter hiking trails, Empire Bluff Hiking Trail. It is approximately 1 1/2 miles long, round trip. We parked in the trails lot and headed up the trail....and then down, and then up, etc. LOL It is a very scenic trail with many ups and downs through woods. Perhaps about halfway along the trail, an open area was kept trimmed so hikers are always treated to this spectacular view. Here is the view to the north with South Bar Lake in the distance. Empire is there, too, but it is harder to see. ;)
Here are a couple more photos that have been zoomed in a little.....
At the end of the trail a boardwalk and railing are in place, which makes it really nice for feeling safe while sight seeing. ;)
Yes, we joined the "selfie" crowd......
After arriving back at the car, we drove into Empire and stopped at their Village Park, which is on the little isthmus between Lake Michigan and South Bar lake. The 2 lakes actually joined at one time, but the channel between the 2 continuously filled in naturally and efforts to keep it open via dredging were found inadequate. This is what I "remember" but I am not 100% sure about that memory. ;)
This small replica of a lighthouse sits at the north end of Village Park, while at the south end of the park, sits the remains of where the Empire Lumber Company was located
This photo was taken looking towards the south and I was "supposed" to line up the tip of Dons finger with where we viewed Lake Michigan at the end of Empire Bluff trail. I didn't do too well with getting his fingertip in the exact place, but you get the general idea....."I hope". ;)
A photo looking north......
Don didn't take my "just back a little more....a little more" directions very well and stayed put when he stepped onto the piece of ice. ;)
Driving further up the shoreline, we stopped at Leland's "Fishtown", snapping this photo of the tourist empty wharf.
Continuing north on M22, we ended our northerly drive in Northport, stopping for dinner at "The Soggy Dollar" (http://thesoggydollar.net/index.html), sitting at the very table shown on their website under the Angelfish painting. :)
It was a wonderful day......perfect weather....cool and sunny. :)