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Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

Yes… the National Cherry Festival was eons ago… but a photo of the front lawn in July just makes me smile this time of year. Today, it is only 45 degrees out, rainy and damp. The sky is grey and cloudy.

This post had been sitting in the hopper for months, mainly because I didn’t capture any decent pictures of the air show. The Blue Angels are just too darn fast for my Kodak EasyShare. However, today the pure blue sky and white cumulus clouds looked downright alluring. So enjoy this little trip down memory lane. July will be here again soon.

For now, I’ll enjoy the crisp, clean fall air and grey sky. Tis the season, afterall.

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It was a date with a girlfriend that brought me out to the big lake (that’s Lake Michigan in case you were wondering) in mid-July. That day, the big lake seemed endless, the color of the water seemed vibrant and the air was light. There was a sense of calm to the day. 

When I woke up that morning, I already knew it would be a great day. I was greeted on my morning walk with a stunning early morning sky- brilliant pinks and purples-and wished I had a camera. As I walked with the dog, gazing at the sky, I smiled. I felt privileged to be awake. The next clue that the day was off to a supreme start came with a completed crossword puzzle during my morning coffee-and-the-paper routine. Just like I do each time I complete a crossword puzzle, I remarked, “today is going to be a good day,” then I put my pencil and puzzle down and am off to shower with a little extra bounce in my step. Next on tap, I had a big meeting in the morning followed by a drive to Glen Arbor to spend some quality time with a friend I’ve known since kindergarten. I had been meaning to catch up with her for months.
It was there, sitting on a beach towel, mulling over life with a dear friend and gazing at big blue that I got the news- a new job! I had interviewed with the City of Traverse City that morning and received a call the same afternoon with a job offer. It was a thrilling feeling, the onset of change, diving into a new work life chapter. At the same time, the natural surroundings gave me a peaceful, serene confidence in my next steps. We then waded in the water and dove in. It felt like I was taking the plunge, embracing my new job, and it was refreshing.

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OK. I realize the Cherry Fest was weeks ago, but that just is evidence of how behind I am with this little ol’ blog of mine. Please forgive me and read on.

A friend had extra tickets to the Cherry Festival’s “global wine pavilion event” so David and I decided to partake. We joyfully rode our bikes down the TART Trail to the event located in Clinch Park where the former zoo once stood. The only remnants of the old zoo are the imitation rocks that flank the landscape that once provided the allure of natural habitat for the animals.

We arrived at the event area and David continued on to attempt to withdrawal some cash from the ATM at his bank located on Front Street. We both forgot about the Fest’s Junior Royale Parade with the famous Bed Races. Yep, teams decorate a bed and race it down Front Street. Winners are judged by bed design, attire and speed. Oh yeah, and someone has to actually lie in the bed during the heat. It’s a hoot to watch… when you’re not trying to cross a street lined with people to get to your ATM. Needless to say, David never made it across the street even after he tried to go around the parade, but the parade cue went on endlessly down Washington Street. He came back to the wine pavilion without any tenspots, but no worries, the event was all set up to take plastic. Woo hoo.

We sipped our first complimentary wine pour in our commemorative wine glass, toured the tents to scan the wine offerings and plan our next move. We were delightfully surprised to see a fantastic selection of craft beers.

Our table happily drank frothy beers from our wine glass and collectively wondered, “is it wrong to drink beer at a wine event?” In the end, we didn’t care. The Moose Drool beer was amazing and was quite fun to drink from a swanky wine glass. Paired with some amazing pulled pork tacos offered by The Cooks’ House restaurant in Traverse City, we were happy as clams sipping our Moose Drool surrounded by the many vino drinkers.

On our bike ride home, we wandered past the midway, the festival food court, listened to the sounds of  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy playing on the big stage, peeked over the fence of the beer tent and marveled at the many people out and about enjoying a beautiful summer evening in Traverse City. Thanks Cherry Fest, for a nice night on the town.

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This summer, I started playing beach volleyball with friends on Sunday mornings at 9:30. We play overlooking the blue-green waters of Grand Traverse Bay. The busy TART trail runs behind the beachfront courts and is always bustling with activity. An occasional onlooker will pause for a moment or two on the many benches along the trail to watch our group play.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to play a team sport and how short bursts of energy really get the adrenaline pumping. Dont’ get me wrong, we’re not always playing ‘bump-set-spike’ volleyball, but we’re putting forth a solid effort while laughing, listening to music and having a good time. Inevitably, we end up with sand on our arms and legs from all of the digs and diving for the ball, but it’s nothing that a dip in the bay can’t fix.

There are plenty of nets, so gather up some friends and have a ball!

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Ok, so this little Vasa winter wonderland cross-country ski excursion actually took place back in February, but who’s keeping track anyway? I was just happy to be outside in the great outdoors getting some excercise and snapping a few pics.

The Vasa Pathway is a scenic and challenging trail that is groomed regularly for Nordic skiing fans. The trail is busiest in the winter months although the trail is also a haven for mountain biking in the summer. And since it took me so long to write this post , I’m happy to announce that I mountain biked the Vasa single track on Saturday. Other than the visual blight due to the DNR’s logging that occurred in the fall/winter, the trail is fast, technical and in great shape! There were only a few patches of snow left in the woods.

No matter the season, the Vasa trail will welcome you. So go for a glide or a roll through the woods of Northern Michigan. Isn’t it why we live here?

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Recently, a friend and I met at the Boardman River Nature Center and walked the trails along the Boardman River’s Nature Education Reserve. It was one of those walks that totally rejuvinates. We were drenched in sunshine, absorbed by beautiful surroundings and shared great conversation.  I came home even more energized after the hour+ walk.

The trails hug the river and wind between dense Cedar trees.

The trails feature several bridges over running creeks.

We found evidence of a busy beaver who had gnawed down a tree along the river bank.

Go see it for yourself. http://www.gtcd.org/contact/

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Nothing says Appreciating Life Up North quite like Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A recent trek along the Sleeping Bear Point Trail accessed through Glen Haven was truly remarkable. A girlfriend and I, and our four-legged friends, hiked the dune. We got caught up on the latest and greatest details in each other’s lives while walking through some amazing scenery.

We happened to see eight deer running up the dune in the distance. They stopped atop the dune overlooking Lake Michigan and looked back at us for a brief moment- all eight of them- their white tails on alert, then they crested the dune and were out of sight. Later in the hike, we passed their deer trail. It appeared to be a well-worn path that’s been taken before.

It’s amazing that we were the only people on the trail that day besides the white-tailed deer. It was a warm January day of which the sun shone intermittently and a seasoned northern Michigander could get by without wearing mittens. We marveled at how lucky we are to live so close to such beauty and wonder.

How important is a connection to nature? For me, I’ve felt that it provides a quiet environment to think things through, regenerates feelings of inspiration and awe, and helps me feel grounded. Whether it’s an occasional visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes, my regular walks to Ashton Park or Hickory Meadows, my backyard garden, or even the creek behind my parent’s house. These special places provide me with a real connection to this world and my life in it. Glen Haven reminded me of the value to reconnect with nature and the environment. Everyone needs to feel connected to this earth. It’s a part of us.

In the picture above, even Wyatt took pause on the side of the dune to look out into the distance and reflect on his doggy existence (I’m sure he’s the introspective type.)

Previous pontifications about Sleeping Bear Dunes include musings about the Empire Bluff trail and camping at Platte River.

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