2018 Around the Shoreline of the Great Lakes travel blog

Old Mission Lighthouse

Lighthouse is on the 45th Parallel

Log cabin at the Old Mission Lighthouse

Enjoying (?) the cold water of Lake Michigan

Pyramid memorial to area veterans of WWI and WWII

Wine tasting and relaxing at Mari Vineyard

Winery on a hill with underground storage

Sunrise on Grand Traverse Bay

Sailboat silhouette - sunrise colors are not enhanced

A church on Old Mission Peninsula at sunrise

The peninsula is loaded with vineyards and wineries

An early morning view across the vineyards and orchards

Red barns make great pictures

Daisies and a red barn


The last couple of days we visited the Old Mission Peninsula which projects into the Grand Traverse Bay of Lake Michigan. It's named after the settlement at Old Mission which was the first community founded by Europeans in the Grand Traverse Bay region. It became know as the Old Mission when a "New Mission" was built in 1850 across the bay on the Leelanau Peninsula by the Presbyterian missionaries that were working in the area. At the tip of the peninsula is the Mission Point Light. It was built in 1870 as an exact copy of the Mama Juda Light (now destroyed) on the Detroit River. It served for 67 years before being replaced by a modern aid to navigation built on a shoal off shore. The lighthouse stands a few hundred yards south of the 45th parallel, halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. The lighthouse was purchased by the State of Michigan after it was deactivated. It is one of 29 places (six are in Michigan) in the U.S.A. where signs are known to exist that designate the location of the 49th parallel. As I've mentioned before we crossed this line numerous times. I think we may have seen at least 10 of the 29 signs over the years.

There are ten wineries on the Old Mission Peninsula. The Old Mission Peninsula sits close to the 45th parallel, which is also a latitude known for growing great grapes. The two Grand Traverse Bays provide the ideal moderate climate and the rich soil of this area does the rest. Northern Michigan specializes in growing white grapes and is known for its Rieslings. Every October the wineries host a harvest fest. Some Riesling grapes are spared being picked in the fall to be picked when they freeze, from which Ice Wine is made. We've tasted the ice wines in Germany when we visited a winery along the Rhine River. The wineries along the Old Mission Peninsula are 2 Lads Winery, Black Star Farms, Bonobo Winery, Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery, Chateau Chantal Winery And Inn, Chateau Grand Traverse, Hawthorne Vineyards, Mari Vineyards, and Peninsula Cellars. We stopped at the Mari Vineyards to try some of their wines, but got there too late for a wine tasting so we each had a glass and relaxed on the patio overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. Sue had one of the Rieslings and I had a Pinot Grigio, both were good.

We picked the Mari Winery because of the "famous" owner. If you've ever watched "The Curse of Oak Island" on the History Channel you would know the name Marty Lagina as one of the Lagina brothers who have been searching for the buried treasure on Oak Island in Nova Scotia for years. He and Marty have spent a bunch of their money, or at least the History Channel's money, drilling holes on Oak Island looking for a treasure that was supposedly left by everyone from Sir Francis Bacon to the Knights Templar. The TV series has run for 5 seasons since 2014. The latest ended this past spring without any resolution to the "Oak Island Mystery". It’s been 50 years since an article about the Money Pit appeared in Reader’s Digest, which not only sparked the imaginations of the young Lagina brothers, but also compelled Dan Blankenship, an Oak Island resident, to devote his life to solving the mystery. Legend has it that 7 people must die before Oak Island will reveal its secrets, so far the body count stands at six. Will the Lagina's reveal the secret of Oak Island or will the History Channel run out of money or audience first. My bet is the latter, but I'll continue to watch and the new series that involves Marty Lagina, The Curse of Civil War Gold. The new series focuses on people looking into a story of national treasure that goes back to the Civil War where a shipment of Confederate gold was brought back to Michigan by soldiers from the state. Part of the treasure was reportedly in a railcar that was pushed into Lake Michigan near Muskegon. We'll be passing through Muskegon next week so we'll have to stop to see some of the sites on the series. Stay tuned.

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