Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Turn Right at the Goats!

 June 24 - 28, 2022
Suttons Bay, Michigan

Our first long drive in many travel days, 228 miles from the UP, over the Mighty Mac bridge, and onto the Leelaneau Peninsula is a beautiful drive that goes by really fast! We haven't seen all of Michigan, but without a doubt, this area is our favorite. It is absolutely beautiful! Through rolling green hills, and right at the goats, I pass the driveway and have to turn around at the top of the road - but then quickly we're here!

Turn here!

Even better than the drive is our destination - the 5-star site at Jim and Diana's (ExplorVistas) is perfect. And all three of us are so happy to see them after way too long! Tessa is wagging and jumping when she sees them through the window on our approach. We might never leave :-)

We've been following the building of their cabin in the forest for a couple years, but in person it's mind-blowing! The location in the dancing maple trees is serene and beautiful, and their house and barn are stunning. They have either done the work themselves or overseen the contractors, and the pride of ownership shines in every detail. We're glad our visit means they get to take a short break!

Peace and quiet.

Lovely views and perfectly level!

Diana's Day Lillies along the barn.

Last time we saw them in Michigan we enjoyed Music in the Park at a nearby harbor. We haven't been to live music since then, and are excited that the first concert of the season is the night we arrive! Warm weather and a friendly crowd in a lovely setting - and we even find a great parking spot!

A good turn-out for the season's kick-off.

Soon the dancers are up and having a great time.

I'm still a big fan of marinas!

Since Tessa loves to cuddle with Jim and Diana, we do our travels together in the Jeep. Saturday we're off to Traverse City for a few stops. One of the things I like best about this area is the clean, cute, artsy, foodie little villages along the lake. And then there's all the wineries, cheeseries, breweries and cideries!!

Jim takes this great shot of the sweet fluffy girl.

Raclette from Leelaneau Cheese and four unique varieties from the Cheese Lady - all delicious!

There's still projects to complete, but we're able to visit inside the cabin with tasty pie from Traverse Pie Company (yes, they have gluten-free options!) and ice cream. The views from their wall of windows feel like you're in a tree-house!

Sunday is cooler, and we're off for a drive south to Point Betsie Lighthouse. I love, love this area! Still lots of trees, but rolling hills, orchards, small inland lakes, vintage farms, and vineyards make this one of the most consistently beautiful places we've ever visited. 

One stop I need to make is Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor. I've promised Sherry (On My Own) that I'll get a cherry pie next time I'm here! Also need some wine and salsa - need.

All the little local nurseries give me gardening envy!

Before the lighthouse we enjoy a great lunch and brews at Stormcloud Brewing Company on Main Street in Frankfort - another cute little town, this one just off Betsie Lake.

The lighthouse has no parking lot but we find space on the little entrance road in the dunes. The grounds include the keepers' house, fog signal house, gift shop w/small musuem, and a rare intact oil house. The lovely docent provides seven of us with an informative tour of the beautifully restored keepers' house and the tower (for those like Jim and Diana who make the climb). 

Point Betsie Point Lighthouse

Most pieces are from the period, but not original to the keepers' house. An exception is the china in the cabinet donated by the family of one of the keepers. 

Our delightful docent explains the fourth order fresnel lens.

Up the tower.

In the signal house is a movie made of a real-life rescue from Lake Michigan using the original equipment that Jim and Diana worked with during their time as volunteers nearby. It's very engaging, we're very vested in the outcome, we've watched almost 30 minutes, the final rescue is about to happen. 

A staff person walks in, says they're closing, we have to leave. Uh??? We explain (passionately!) that there's just a few minutes left and surely he can wait. Nope! Turns off the TV, no apology, just rudely kicks us out. 

We're in shock, have never been treated so poorly, commiserate all the way back to the Jeep. Bill is waiting for us, and I'm sure we sounded like foot-stomping kids who were just denied our dessert :-)) Alas, we'll never forget this historic site visit!

Another gab-fest in the cabin, then we're off to our own homes for the night. 

Monday our hosts are back to work with still cooler temps to help them out on their house projects. We spend our last day wandering about taking photos, having brunch outside at the wonderful 9 Bean Rows, shopping in cute downtown Suttons Bay. 

Love small town book stores.

So many fun choices at Bay Gallery.

Immaculate shopping in Suttons Bay

Happy to find lots of country barns.

Gorgeous vintage school house.

This unique barn at a local winery blends into the rolling hills.

On a Centennial Farm - over 100 years in the same family.

Last time we were here the barn was surrounded by sunflowers. 

This year it's a corn crop - not as pretty :-(

Our arrival back at the cabin is perfectly timed, and we enjoy the perfection that is the outdoor space Jim is completing. Another favorite place from our last visit is Hop Lot, so we head there for more outdoor pleasure - this time it's cherry cider and yummy BBQ sandwiches. We even remember to get a photo!! 

Diana, Jodee, Bill, Jim

It's hard to believe when Tuesday morning arrives and it's already time to move on! We had such a great time, and will definitely be back for another visit. Bill washes the filthy windshield and fills the water tank before hooking up. Hard to say our good-bye-for-nows :-(

A couple more stops before we're done with Michigan. Next up Frankenmuth!


  1. That was a fun weekend with you guys! Thank you so much for coming! I love that you got a photo of that barn with the old painting on the side. We have been trying to figure out what it is…we may have to stop if we see someone outside there. Safe travels!

    1. Do let me know if you find out - I can't tell what it is either! Thanks again for a great time!!

  2. I can’t believe they would not let you finish the movie. Who is their boss? What is his address? How rude!

    You had to have Cherry Pie from Traverse City Pie company not Cherry Republic! Actually you should have had David’s pie. It was the best. I got hooked on the Cherry Republic cherry salsa and have them ship it to me by the case now. So spoiled!

    Just love the Lobel quote. Books are a big reason we never sold the house when we went full time. Books to the ceiling in every room. Love the rock schoolhouse too. What artistry. Can’t imagine anyone anywhere does such work now. Really love all the pictures of the barns. We lost ours to age sadly and a big storm. The farm will never be quite the same without it.

    1. We were so shocked we even forgot to get his name - left scathing reviews several places. Dang, I got a little blueberry pie at Traverse City, it was amazing. But hopefully the cherry pie from the republic will be good too :-)) I only ever had a small barn, but I do love finding them to capture.

  3. All that wood up there and a rock schoolhouse ??? Awesome!
    I'm a big fan of old barns and those with barn quilts. You've collected a a few great pics of both.
    So fun to see the same barn with sunflowers and corn ... I'm not that organized, glad you are!

    1. There were several of those rock buildings in that area - probably needed to do something with all the ones they dug up for crops! I had just happened to look back on the sunflower post when looking for the name of a place I wanted to visit again and noticed it was the same barn :-)

  4. It’s Gay…oh my, the beauty! First off, the photo of Tessa is so pretty! I am a cheeseaholic…you made my mouth water! Love the lighthouse and museum…we just want mention the last few minutes! The shops look fun, the barns are amazing and the old rock schoolhouse is gorgeous! Marinas are a favorite for me to photograph. And I totally agree, sunflower fields are much prettier than corn fields! Great post Jodee!

    1. Thanks Gay! I really owe Jim for that pic of our Tessa girl. The Cheese Lady has the best cheese I've had anywhere. Mango-Ginger Stilton is sooooo fabulous.

  5. What an awesome visit and what a name for a town--Frankenmuth! Loved that colorful garden pottery and "owls!" The school house covered in tiny rocks is cool! I've said it before but you guys have the best "connections" with friends!

    1. We really are blessed with friends!! Aren't those owls just the best?? Now I'm on the lookout for that shape :-) I wish I could capture some of the bizarre names of towns as we pass through the country - there are some real humdingers.

  6. What a sweet spot at Jim and Diana's! Love a level site!! I'm jealous that you got to see their place in person. It definitely looks amazing from the photos. We really like that area of Michigan. Not sure exactly why. Glad you made it to the Cherry Republic. Their cherry chicken salad sandwich is wonderful. Anything cherry is so yummy. Great photo of the four of you. And Tessa did such a nice job posing in the finally photo. Quite the pro!

    1. Their place is incredible!! I agree about cherries, and getting them where there are so many orchards is even better. Tessa really loved sharing the back seat with those two :-)

  7. We've seen those goats! Jim and Diana are great hosts and have a beautiful place!

    1. The goats do their job as directional beacons so well! It's been too long since we got to hang out with them. Can't wait to do it again!

  8. "Turn right at the goats," LOL!!! What a great visit you had with Jim and Diana. How fun that you got to see their beautiful home, and that you had so many adventures with them. With the exception of the cranky staff person who wouldn't let you watch the end of the film, it all sounds delightful. I'm so glad you mentioned that pies are available gluten-free! Now I'm in trouble for sure, haha! Also, I've been wanting to try that cherry salsa for YEARS. We'll get our chance before too long! Thanks for the wonderful tour of a place we're very excited to visit. XOXO

    1. All the places we ate with them have gluten free options prepared without cross contamination. You must load up on the salsa although I know Sherry orders it online too.

    2. Oh, Laurel….look up Third Coast Bakery. You will be here in the fall with their GF pumpkin spice donuts! Can’t wait to meet up with you and Eric!

  9. A most marvelous visit! Good people, good food, I love their place. Can't believe that employee could be so rude. Cherries with almost anything sounds good to me. So do all those rolling hills covered with lush green.

    1. Hard to beat cherries for me too! Michigan has so many layers of green and blue, it truly is beautiful here.