Sunday, August 12, 2018

Peaceful Peninsula - Good Times on Leelaneau

August 1-6, 2018
Sutton's Bay, Michigan

The nearly 200 mile drive on Thursday morning takes us through more green forests and blue lakes. I'm still not used to all the expansion joints on cold weather state roads. They can be very annoying!

Crossing the beautiful Mackinac Bridge we see Lake Huron for the first time. We've now been to all the Great Lakes. 

Many of the small towns are packed with summer vacationers. The traffic is crazy.

Construction on the bridge requires us to drive in the middle at a reduced speed (oh darn!).

Traverse City is very popular.
I've been reading about Wild Cherry Resort on the Leelaneau Peninsula for years, and am looking forward to 10 days at this beautiful park. Even more so, we're excited to reunite with Linda and Steven (The Chouters), and Diana and Jim (ExploRVistas).

We saw Linda and Steven in Duluth a couple weeks ago. They went south when we went north, knowing we'd meet back here. It was the end of last summer, trying to outrun the smoke, that we last saw Diana and Jim. They're here for two months as interpretive hosts at the nearby national park.

What is it about water that makes a site so special? It's not a massive river, but even this little lake is a wonderful front yard. We also have a lovely concrete patio for our picnic table, and lots of beautifully maintained lawn to enjoy. 

A peaceful and relaxing space.
Our friends join us in the late afternoon for happy hour and getting caught up in the shade. From there we all head for dinner at Hop Lot Brewery - a unique outdoor eatery that is both tasty and very fun. It's great to spend time with these good friends. Naturally I fail to get any pics.

Friday morning Bill picks up fresh croissants which we enjoy with coffee on the patio. And the newspaper that is delivered to our front door every morning!  Diana and Jim join us later to head into Northport for an outdoor concert. A Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tribute band entertains us for a couple hours in the park. The large crowd has brought chairs, low tables, dogs, a variety of food, and adult beverages to enjoy with the music. Just like us :-)

We need to do this more often, we have a wonderful time.

Bill, Diana and Jim with dozens of our best friends.

All ages appreciate the classics.

Certainly this table is set up just for me!

Chef Mario Batali - I didn't know who it was :-)

Now this guy.....I know him!
Breakfast Saturday morning is bittersweet. So happy to spend more time with Linda and Steven, but sad it will be a long time before we can do it again. We're grateful we've had so many fun opportunities to get to know these two, and look forward to more in the future. Seriously, I still didn't get a photo :-(((

With plans to see Diana and Jim later in the afternoon, we take a drive around Lake Leelaneau and up the west side to the end of the peninsula. 

I spend some time exploring the artisan shops and pretty gardens of the little town of Leland.

The remaining trunk of the Champion Cottonwood Tree. Planted in 1901, it was 100 feet tall when taken down in 2011. One of sixty trees designated as "champion" that were all used to create clones for planting identical beauties throughout the state. The tree overlooked the historic Fishtown district.

Painted fenceposts - I want a garden just so I can have one, or three!

A lamp for the gearhead in your life.

You know it's a cute town when this is their bank.

A lovely spot to contemplate the beauty of life.
When you leave your Cadillac and fishing boat alone in the garage too long.....
The road ends at the small Grand Traverse Lighthouse. We pay the $9 fee for the park, but forego the additional $5/each for the "insides". 

Grand Traverse Lighthouse, erected 1858. Converted to house two families in 1900, kitchen added in 1916 (where did they cook for 16 winters?).

This beauty shades the whole lawn.

Trail follows the shoreline behind the light.

Delicate delight along the water.

The light was moved to a nearby automatic tower in 1972, and the building was closed. In 1986 the state opened the museum.

A sign of the times.....

"Interesting" planters on the grounds.

I love these fresh Hydrangeas.
Diana and Jim finish their morning training and we pick them up for our own special tour of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. We drive through Glen Haven Historic Village where they're volunteering in the life-saving-station at the Maritime Museum. Later in the week we'll come back to check out the buildings and see them in action!

We stop for the information movie at the visitors center, and learn the dunes were formed by glaciers. It is another uniquely beautiful place that thankfully has been protected for all of us to enjoy. The scenic drive takes us through green hardwoods to the overlook above the huge dunes.

A very, very steep wall of sand with signs advising people not to go down the dune.

So of course.......

The sign explains that if you can't get back to the top, you will pay for your rescue. The fellow on his knees looks like he may need to get out his checkbook. 
Late afternoon skies blend into the lake.

It "feels" like the sand should just slide into the water.

The Dune Climb offers a safer option for climbing. I still don't see the appeal :-)
After our private tour with information about the area not included in the "regular" offerings, we stop at Cherry Republic for a bite to eat. I remember reading about this world of cherry in Sherry's blog years ago, but forgot this is where it was! The cherry chicken salad is exceptional. Later I regret not taking home a piece of pie!! We pick up a few yummies in the large gift shop.

Everything cherry!
With such a perfect site in our peaceful park, we enjoy Sunday at home relaxing and taking advantage of full hook-ups to get all the laundry done. I'm already wishing I gave us more time here!

Cloudy and rain threatening on Monday, we head to Traverse City to run errands. Such a pretty town on the shore of Grand Traverse Bay. Unfortunately the dog wash place is closed :-( We find the rare car wash that cleans interiors and get the Jeep a much needed bath. The rain never comes so we luck out. Lunch at the Silver Swan is unique and delicious (really, check out the menu)! 

Mishwya with hommus and pita. OMG tasty!
Grand Traverse Bay
This pretty peninsula is living up to my expectations, and thankfully we have another five days to explore.


  1. I think you lucked out having the outside lanes closed on the bridge. I suspect we'll not be that fortunate next year. I tentatively have just 2 days to explore the area, yikes!, you have so many great ideas! I'm not sure if climbing the dunes will make it to the top :)

    1. LOL, definitely not on my list :-) We missed Macinac Island this time but it's still on the list for me. You'll enjoy the peninsula whatever you have time to see. I have to remember they only have a couple months of the weather we experienced though :-)))

  2. I too don't see it--climbing that steep a hill is hard enough without it being deep sand. Looks as if you are enjoying Michigan!

    1. I suppose if there was something amazing at the top....but just to climb a hill? Michigan is great! We're looking forward to seeing some more.


  3. How in the world did you get that great picture of the bridge with no cars in the way? Fantastic! Yes Traverse City is very popular especially in summer. If you are still there you MUST get a pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company. They are the only competition for David’s cherry pie in the world. Lucky Diana and Jim. We loved staying at Sleeping Bear Dunes. We hiked up and over and back down the dune. A feat for sure! It’s VERY difficult climbing in sand. Not something I need to do again. The Lelanau Peninsula is fantastic. So glad you remembered the Cherry Republic. But did you get any Cherry Salsa? I order it on line by the case ever since I was there. But they don't do pie as well as Grand Traverse. LOL at the Cadillac and fishing boat comment. You are a riot! Get that pie!

    1. Dang! Left without the pie :( But yes, I did get the salsa from Cherry Republic!! A agree Jim and Diana are lucky to have so much time in that beautiful area - and their gig is pretty cool too. I think the construction on the bridge actually helped with the fewer cars at that point :)

  4. So glad you are enjoying this area of Michigan. This was our first long stay (a week) when we began out fulltime journey. We stayed near the little town of Empire which is right in the middle of the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. We enjoy Indigo Bluffs RV Resort so much we returned on a whim as we heading north through Michigan a couple years ago. We pulled over just before we needed to make the decision to turn left and called to see if they had room. They did! So left we went and spent s few days biking and hiking around. I love the Cherry Republic and purchased several cherry products, as well. We, too, had their Cherry Chicken Salad sandwich which was so good. The Great Lakes are all so beautiful but Lake Michigan is my favorite. So nice that you are getting to visit with some friends. Enjoy your last five days. Fluffy dog???? Hello!!

    1. LOL, I know she has been camera shy lately. Will have to fix that! I was feeling like we were the only people who hadn't been there so I'm happy we finally made it!

  5. You have definitely peeked my those sleepy little towns! And what an awesome spot to call home for 10 days! Yummmmmmmm......cherries!

    1. Sooooo many cherries!! And soon the apples will be ready. Great corn too. Throw in the wineries, breweries and cideries and there's something for everyone to enjoy :-)

  6. Ha! No, you are not the only people to have not been there—I think WE are. It's been on our list for years, but it's just so danged far away from our usual travels! But we hope to remedy that next year. The Leelaneau Peninsula looks like summer paradise (would like a few thousand less people, but oh well).
    Love the outdoor concert, the beautiful dunes (but not hiking them, no thank you), and your always discerning eye to pick out the most random, fun things—the boat Cadillac progeny, hahaha!

    1. Oh you two must do this for one of your "going across" routes!! I'm already regretting not giving us another month in Northern Michigan. There were only a couple places where the crowd was an issue, and of course you'll take advantage of all the hiking available!

  7. Oh no...we need an extra month? How the heck are we ever going to fit everything in?? (Good problem to have, right?)
    Glad to hear the crowds aren't an issue. We will definitely take advantage of the hiking, but not those dunes. I hate hiking in sand. :-))

  8. We loved our time with you guys in Duluth and Leelanau! It's always fun to know that we're going to meet up with dear friends. It's just as well you don't have photos, I was probably wearing the same shirt I had on in Duluth. :) Love ya!

  9. We loved spending time making memories with you guys, Jodee! Glad you were able to experience Wild Cherry. Even though it was full most of the time, it is so peaceful. Mario’s schnozz has nothing on mine!

  10. What a lovely part of Michigan I am unfamiliar with. I like to look at the dunes but no thanks to climbing them as I did in Indiana in my youth. Cherry anything sounds good to me.