A Short Road Trip

Partly to get past my resistance and partly because October is our favorite month and partly because we haven’t been away for a long time, we took a couple of days and went up north.1

I wasn’t going specifically to photograph stuff, but I sure was prepared to. Four cameras not including our phones. I made two exposures with the large format Toyo, and a couple with Stubbie (my Holga). The Hasselblad sat unused (sorry, not sorry). I used my digital camera for non-product work for the first time in months… it was nice change of pace.

We spent most of the time in the car, but made frequent stops. First was the Alden B Dow Home & Studio in Midland. They give tours at 2pm during the week, but they prefer to have reservations. Since we went on a Thursday outside of summer, we had the tour to ourselves on a beautiful autumn afternoon.

Dow was influenced by Wright, but had a different sensibility regarding materials. Given his status as a scion of the Dow Chemical company, he was not at all averse to using man-made materials in his designs. Neither was he tied to using the land-as-found. His house and studio abut a pond made specifically for the site and building. He was fond of angles and whimsy, such as in these house extensions that resemble frogs:

weathered copper and orange painted metal triangular shapes that look a little like open frog mouths

Alden Dow house

We toured for a couple of hours (photographs allowed, but only exteriors), and then made our way to Dahlia Hill, which we found by accident, but are glad we did! I knew there were lots of varieties of dahlias, but I didn’t realize they had so many shapes and colors.

Pink spherical flowers in front of a whitish sky

Dahlia Hill

With the light waning, we made our way to Bay City to spend the night.

A brick smokestack with sunset colored clouds over it

Bay City ‘Fire’

The next morning, I climbed the Bay City Clock Tower (open to the public!) and vowed to one day bring a bigger camera. My phone didn’t do too badly, though.

Landscape featuring the river, framed by a stonework arched window with columns

Bay City Tower View

We’d decided to travel along Old US-23, but we didn’t look at the Huron Shores Heritage Route before we left. This was good and bad. Good, because we didn’t really know what to expect, bad because we probably could have found a few more interesting places… though we saw so much in such a short time I’m not sure we could have fit more in.

We started the “tour” in Standish, forever known as the place we realized we had no internet on our phones. It was the first weekend of (archery) deer season, so there were lots of bundles of corn, carrots, apples and sugar beets stocked at gas stations. I’ve never been hunting, but I’m not averse to it, so it was simply an interesting observation. I didn’t realize that deer ate beets, but I guess they’ll eat anything vegetal (as many gardeners will attest).

One of the “secret” spots on the coast was a fascinating little scenic overlook near Au Gres, at the end of S. Santiago Road. We followed a sign for “Pt Au Gres Boardwalk” and ended up in a parking lot where a boardwalk extended into the marshy part of the bay. About 600 feet out, it stopped.

A wooden platform surrounded by green plants; dramatic clouds in the sky

End of the Line

It’s a well-kept structure, wheelchair accessible, and stops when you’re surrounded by grasses. I imaging it would be great for birding at the right time of year.

We continued on to Alpena, checked into a motel, and then skedaddled for Rockport State Recreation Area. We crossed paths with a guy toting several buckets of fossils (collection is allowed) who directed us to a prolific location, and spent a pleasant hour poking around the rocks. We even picked up a couple!2

Close up of a gray fossil in a beige rock


Closeup of fossilized coral

Petosky Stone

Macro image of fossilized coral, with a woven-like structure

Petosky Stone (Focus Stacked)

We headed home on Saturday, retracing our steps along Lake Huron. It was really windy and cold, so we didn’t stay outside very long!

For example, it was windy3 and barren4 in Harrisville:

Four flags on a compound pole are fully extended and their ropes are taut


A beach playground has slides and benches but no people


And forbidding in Alabaster:

A black and white photo with a historical marker for Alabaster. Next to it is a worn 'Keep Out' sign. There is a fence in the foreground, and forbidding clouds in the background.

Keep Out!

So we continued home. After lunch in Oscoda, a stretch at the Bay City Antique Center, and a freeway drive back in the rain (where I commemorated our return to T-Mo land)

Center grassy area of a highway, through the front window of a moving car

Back in T-Mo Land

And we’re home again, ready to do the next thing.

I didn’t photograph nearly as much as I thought I would, but I don’t mind. I got to use my digital camera for fun for the first time in a long while, and now I’m ready to do the work that needs doing.

  1. Since I’m not a Michigan native, I have a hazy notion of what “up north” means, but given we ended up past Alpena which is north of the 45th parallel, I think that counts, kinda. 

  2. No photos of the location, because we were busy! 

  3. Taken from the van window at the Harrisville Harbor 

  4. Harrisville State Park