After leaving Branson, my first stop was to St. Louis and the famous Gateway Arch. I was able to snap this picture by getting off the trail a bit.
On this side sits East St. Louis which I hear is a glorious place. However I decided to save it for another adventure...
Ended up in a quaint little town called Zionsville as I missed a turn on my way to visit my buddie Bob in Kokomo, IN.
Zionsville is located just on the northside of Indianapolis and has a lot of cool, little boutique shops.
This one in particular was quite cool. It had an excellent and very large selection of wine and other goodies, with all of the scores from places like Wine Advocate listed by the name. They only choose the top wines based on these reviews to sell, and based on the one I bought and tried, it seems to be an excellent business model.
The beautiful view from my buddie's backyard. I couldn't believe in all the miles of cornfields and soybeans, there were huge tall trees like this here! Pretty certain they were imported. But nonetheless, very beautiful.
Notre Dame was close and on the way to my next destination so a stop was required.
Overall it was a pretty neat campus with cool features like this one to stop and admire. The most awesome part of the campus though was on the north side by two lakes which had an excellent mostly off road jogging trail that circled both.
The beach in South Haven, MI, is a nice place to stop for a nap. At this time of year, it seemed you had the town to yourself and the weather was still quite nice.
Following a tip from Emily in Grand Rapids (yep, same one from Seattle and Yellowstone) I decided to make the drive to the tip of Michigan where Mackinac Island lies.
This feature was called Cave of the Woods. Along with Crack in the Island and the other "caves" on the Island, it was obviously quite lame. However, that just made the amazing journey through the trees, along beautifully serene and secluded paths, that much sweeter. After all, it's not all about the destination. For me, the journey is much more important. And it was one that was much needed at this particular time when I had really started to miss the solitary, calming beauty of nature that was so much more prevalent on my Northwest trip. What better relief from the city than an Island with no cars allowed on it?
My timing turned out perfect for taking the ferry back from the Island at sunset. With an empty bottle of excellent red wine (tip: do not try to hike and drink red wine at the same time if you do not want it spilt on your clothing) and a great day of hiking behind me and a beautiful sunset in front of me, it was certainly a trip for the records.