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Scenic views and fossils among treasures on U.S.-23 route

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Motorists pass the 45th Parallel sign earlier this month while headed north on the U.S.-23 Heritage Route.

ALPENA — There’s much to see and do along Northeast Michigan’s U.S.-23 Heritage Route.

The 200-mile route spans the Lake Huron shoreline from Standish to Mackinaw City and offers people a chance to get outdoors or explore a new destination. Not even the coronavirus pandemic could keep people from seeing the sights along U.S.-23 this summer.

Fairgrove residents Jim Carey and Cheryl Carey have come to Harrisville for years, usually for the city’s annual Harmony Arts and Craft Festival on Labor Day weekend. But Jim said that, even though they were notified the art show was canceled this year, they still planned to head up north to get away.

The Careys said they look forward to their annual trip to Harrisville and stay at the Harrisville State Park campground.

“We just enjoy God’s country, we really do,” Cheryl said.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson The Bernice D, a gasoline-powered fishing boat typical of the first half of the 20th century, is pictured recently at the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse in Harrisville.

The Careys for the first time visited the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, about six miles northeast of Harrisville, looking for Petoskey stones on the beach.

Farther north, Grand Rapids residents Tim Foley and Terri Foley were at Rockport State Recreation Area, where they planned to hunt for fossils in the quarry.

The Foleys planned their vacation along the U.S.-23 Heritage Route, where they stayed at the campgrounds at Cheboygan State Park and Harrisville State Park and toured many of the lighthouses.

The Foleys said they decided to stay at the campground in Harrisville because it was close to Rockport. Tim said he has always been fascinated by prehistoric life.

“I’ve been a dinosaur junkie since I was probably about 5 years old and I used to have a fossil of a trilobite when I was a kid,” he said. “I’ve always been fascinated, thinking that I saw one everywhere in my backyard — every round rock was an egg, every dent in a rock was a footprint.”

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Grand Rapids residents Tim Foley and Terri Foley talk about their trip along the U.S.-23 Heritage Route earlier this month while visiting the Rockport State Recreation Area.

In Presque Isle County, friends Shannon Atkinson, Vicki Tucker, and Denise Crawford visited the Ocqueoc Falls scenic site from downstate. The trio play pickleball together and also enjoy hiking outside.

The calm September day was the first time Tucker had visited the falls, which are the largest waterfalls in the Lower Peninsula.

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Fairgrove residents Jim Carey and Cheryl Carey walk to the Lake Huron shoreline to look for Petoskey Stones while visiting Sturgeon Point Lighthouse just north of Harrisville.

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