The expected three-hour drive turned into four hours with multiple extra stops that I had not planned for. We arrived at the Downtown Motel in Gaylord and I was able to check in and get the key since I knew that we wouldn’t arrive back at the motel from our tour until much later that night. After that, we filled up the gas tank and decided on Panera for lunch. I have never really purchased food from Panera myself before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was a little pricey for my liking, but we ordered our food as well as a couple of kids meals, which are really just half portions of their regular menu items.
My seven-year-old agreed on a salad with a baguette and we ordered the mac and cheese with a Gogurt for our soon-to-be two-year-old. My wife and I split a full Cuban sandwich and bowl of broccoli cheddar soup. When the food arrived at our table, the salad came with a vinaigrette dressing. I just have to ask; what seven-year-old really enjoys a spicy vinaigrette dressing? This is what Panera believes a kids meal salad should have? We also didn’t think about the very loose front tooth Abby has when we requested the baguette, which was very tough to bite through. So, we traded the broccoli cheddar soup for the salad so she didn’t go hungry.
The mac and cheese was not your typical Kraft brand either. It was made with Vermont Cheddar and White American cheese with a Dijon mustard base that Allie wasn’t too fond of. So, she ended up just having the Gogurt and some crackers that we happened to have in her diaper bag. What a mess that $40 lunch turned out to be.
After that whole debacle, we schluffed it off and packed ourselves in the car and began our tour. The plan was to begin in Gaylord, head northwest toward Charlevoix, drive along the Lake Michigan Coast and Little Traverse Bay to Petoskey, up and around the bend to Harbor Springs so we could experience the Tunnel of Trees to Cross Village, then begin to make our way southwest through the towns of Pellston, Wolverine, and back down to Gaylord. Not far out of Gaylord, we finally came to a point where the electrical wires ended, and the road seemed to disappear ahead of us into a sea of bright orange, yellow, and red leaved woods. It was such a magnificent sight. I do have to say that I am quite perturbed with the quality of my photos, as I do not yet have a good camera for times such as this. I am at the mercy of using my phone to take photos, which does not even come close to providing justice for the spectacular views we encountered.