Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Family Vacation – Part 1 (Michigan)

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My brother is in town from Colorado for a few months this summer to help do some household projects for my mom.  It’s been years since all 3 of us have taken a vacation together, so we decided to take the View and go somewhere.  But where?  I wanted to relax paddling at some quiet lake in the north woods, my brother wanted to do some single-track mountain biking, mom wanted to shop, and Millie, of course, just wanted to swim.   Where could we possibly go to do all of that? We decided on the Traverse Bay region in northwest lower Michigan.

We set up base camp at the Traverse City State Park located right in the heart of Traverse City just across from a nice beach along Traverse Bay (unfortunately for Millie, not a dog beach).  “Grandma” and Millie posed for a first night shot behind our Fire Dancer portable LP campfire (if you’re like me and can’t light a real wood fire worth a darn, or don’t like getting your clothes full of smoke, it’s a great fast alternative).

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The State Park is adjacent to a great regional bike trail called the TART.  So the next morning, I rode the TART into downtown Traverse City to explore, while my brother road it the other direction out to find the Vasa moutain bike trail system.  A few shots from my ride:

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The next day, we took a trip over to the Leelanau peninsula (that separates Traverse Bay from Lake Michigan) and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (along the western shore of Lake Michigan).

This whole area of Michigan with it’s rolling hills, cool climate, and large bodies of water, is the prime location in the Midwest for fruit-growers and vineyards.  One of my brother’s friends from Colorado runs a family cherry and honey farm on the Leelanau peninsula, so we decided to pay him a visit and see the farm.

The cherries weren’t ripe just yet, so we couldn’t help out with that harvest, but they showed us their honey-processing barn and some of their bee hives (for which I, unfortunately, didn’t yet have my camera with me). But I got a few other shots, and we got some delicious “melt-in-your-mouth” strawberries!

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After spending the morning in the backseat of the car, Millie was quite bored with bees and cherries, and she now demanded to get her to the beaches at Sleeping Bear pronto!  On our way into Traverse City, we had stopped at one of the beaches south of Empire which was gorgeous, clean,  and huge (with large mountainous sand dunes behind it).  A number of the National Lakeshore beaches allow dogs, so Millie was thrilled.  Today’s beach was north of Empire at the town of Glen Arbor.  This beach was a bit smaller, but still had crystal clear water and got the Millie “seal of approval”!

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On our final day in Michigan, it rained, so we took a driving and shopping trip up to Charlevoix and Petoskey.  We also explored the neat little Victorian community just north of Petoskey called Bay View.

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