Monday, June 29, 2015

Off the Beaten Path // Mio, Michigan

The "off the beaten path" sections of travel guides are somewhat laughable to me. Having grown up in rural Michigan, I am familiar with places so remote they barely make the map, let alone a travel guide. It is in places like these that I have found my traveling feet, and because of these places I'm not afraid to venture into less frequented areas in major cities because I know what the road less traveled really looks like.

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I took a quick day trip to Mio, Michigan. (That's pronounced "my-oh".) A small town similar to the one I grew up in, Mio has a population of about 2,000 people and is located in the northern part of the lower peninsula on the banks of the AuSable River. Fun fact: my senior trip in high school was a canoe trip on the AuSable, an adventure I was less than pleased about though it excused me from school for the day.

Mio is a popular destination with my family members. My mother took frequent trips there as a child to her grandfather's remote hunting cabin in the woods on Town Line Road, a gravel road that has been widened to accommodate 2 cars only in recent years. While the cabin has changed owners, Mio is a place my mom still enjoys going. I was about 12 the first time she took me there, and a floral dress was apparently my high fashion outfit choice to meander the woods of northern Michigan in the mid-90s:

Not a word.
The weather was not our friend on our recent trip, and the restaurant we wanted to eat in didn't open this season. Still, I managed to get some shots of the highlights (read: trees). After a pit stop at a quilt store, we took a swing on Town Line Road and ended up at the Amish bakery to get our favorite homemade pineapple squares. The bakery has changed ownership since I was a kid and the house is now equipped with electricity, so this could mean that the owners might identify as Mennonite rather than Amish, but I didn't grill the proprietor on her identity. In any case, they are not baking with updated equipment. Their lack of granite countertops and stainless steel appliances could be defined as "roughing it" by modern society's spoiled standards. Should you find yourself in Mio your trip would not be complete without a stop at the bakery on Camp Ten Road. (It's simply called "The Bakery" because it's THE one to go to.) We attempted to go to the scenic overlook by the AuSable, but by the time we got there the storm had moved in in full force. Even so, it was everything a trek off the beaten path should be: quiet, tourist-free, and relaxing. Mio doesn't boast major attractions, but that is the essence of its charm.

Traveling down Town Line Road. 

Begin horse and buggy traffic montage.

Storm clouds moving in.

We were unable to get a good view of the AuSable River on the overlook due to the weather.

The piece de resistance: Pineapple Squares from the Amish (?) bakery.

1 comment:

Cassie said...

"But I didn't grill the proprietor on her identity." :) Love these photos and trip back in time, lady!

I was never aware of the Amish/Mennonite distinction until we went out to Lancaster, PA's Amish country for a friend's wedding a few years ago. We stayed at a local B+B that she had recommended and got there very late. When we arrived, the owner (in very traditional dress) greeted us at the door and I apologized for the late arrival. She shocked me when she responded, "it's okay, I was upstairs playing computer games".

The next morning I found out over breakfast that she also had an iPhone and a food blog. AND that she was Mennonite :)