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Posts Tagged ‘Grand Traverse Bay’

About a month ago on a sunny early spring day, we ventured to the tip of Old Mission Peninsula. It’s a beautiful strip of land that separates Grand Traverse Bay in two: West Bay and East Bay. At the base of the peninsula it’s about a mile wide and extends northward about 20 miles to the very tip. I’ve written about adventures on the scenic peninsula here, here and here. Our travels led us to the Old Mission Point Lighthouse .

The lighthouse is located on the 45th parallel which is half-way between the North Pole and the Equator. There is even a nifty sign that depicts what other cities around the world share the 45th parallel alignment.

The water levels in Grand Traverse Bay and the Great Lakes are very low (as evidenced by the pictures below) and have been for several years. I’ve read that they are expected to be even lower this year, but hope with the above average snow/rain this spring will increase the lake level.

Even with snow on the ground, the spring sun was warm and welcome after an entire winter of grey skies. We walked the shoreline and rested for a bit atop the rocks and absorbed the suns rays.

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Thanks to Craigslist, we enjoyed the warm summer of 2010 on the water. David found an old Sailfish sailboat listing while perusing the online classified ad site, and the next day, it was in our driveway. Sure, it had seen better days, but it was reminiscent of the old Sunfish that he learned to sail on. Nostalgia aside, it was serendipitous to have made the purchase given that temperatures soon soared and the Bay was warm well into September.

Because the Bay is across the street, we wheeled the Sailfish down the driveway, along the sidewalk and across the State Highway to the waterfront. Jumping the curbs with the craft on the divided highway was the most difficult part about reaching the water.

David fixed the dings and holes with fiberglass and epoxy, sanded it down, repainted the entire craft with marine paint, affixed texture strips for grip, replaced the side rails with new mahogany and installed all new hardware. The waterlogged inner foam made the small boat weigh a ton, so he created a hatch with a cover and hooked up a portable fan to dry out the inside foam.

The refurbished sailboat features a clean white asthetic.
The Sailfish is the precurser to the more popular Sunfish. It is basically a surfboard with a sail. Two people can comfortably ride on the craft, but be prepared to get wet when the boat bobs over waves. Good thing it was a hot summer!

Here’s David taking advantage of the restored Sailfish!

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Sometimes a little beach time with a four-legged pal is just what the doctor ordered.
The beach area across the street from our house, locally referred to as ‘Slabtown Beach,’ has been busy all summer. We regularly make the trek across the Parkway to be refreshed by the bay whether it’s for a quick dip to cool off, a paddle in our kayaks or to tack back and forth in our small sailboat. With a summer as hot as 2010, we have definately been taking advantage of being so close to the bay. Afterall, it’s why we live here, right?

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If you are looking for a venue that offers great views and outstanding food, then look no further than Apache Trout Grill. Perched directly on West Grand Traverse Bay, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Apache is located next door to the Grand Traverse Yacht Club, which keeps the Bay alive with much activity. Wednesdays are race night for the Yacht Club, so Apache diners are not only treated with a bayfront scene but also can be mesmerized watching the many sailboats tack back and forth.


During the height of the summer, Apache often has a 30-40 minute wait for a table, but their waterfront Tiki bar will couch your hunger pangs (or at least make the wait enjoyable).

The Apache fare includes zippy salads, soups, barbecues, sandwiches, pastas, fish, steaks, and a selection of homemade desserts.

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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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Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is Climate Change. You might be wondering (especially since we had a super cold summer and where the heck did fall go…is it winter already?) if global warming is really happening here in northern Michigan. In Traverse City, there is a rather large  indicator that points us in the yes-global-warming-is-really-happening direction. It’s the Bay (you know the big body of water that we all love.) For over 130 years, the Bay had reliably frozen over for seven out of ten winters (in 1874, it was frozen solid from Jan. 13 to May 8, and from 1883 and 1902 it froze every winter) but during the 1990s it only froze three times, and most recently, it froze in 2003 and 2009. So, global warming is happening, what can I do about it?

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Consider your impact. Some of the major contributors to climate change is the increase in carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuels. So… shop local. Buying groceries from a local farmers market or fruit stand has a lesser environmental impact than the grocery store who may truck their produce in from California, Florida or Central America. Or even better yet, take the risk with your neighbor farmer and join a farm share and enjoy fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and in-season. Your carbon footprint is minimal when you are eating food that is grown just miles from your own front porch. Grow your own vegetables and enjoy the fruits of your labor and the savor in the first-hand knowledge that your veggies were never sprayed with chemicals.

Also, consider shopping at resale or consignment shops. I’ve read that some clothiers have coined the term ‘upcycled’ instead of resale, which is a great way to think about gently used goods. There are some great finds out there! You just need to be patient.

We enjoy a good cup of coffee and have fallen in love with Higher Grounds fair trade, organic, and shade-grown coffee. Higher Grounds is a coffee bar and roastery located in the Grand Traverse Commons. If you want your java to-go, make sure you bring your own mug because Higher Grounds doesn’t carry paper products. They do, however, have some donated mugs that you may take your beverage away in. We buy our coffee in bulk and have it delivered to our doorstep. They deliver “Beans by Bike” within the city limits by bicycle and had a special bike-delivery system custom built to accomodate their needs! It doesn’t get any greener than that. (They even have t-shirts for sale at the shop that say “I get mine by bike”… how cute!)

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There are many other local Traverse City area establishments from restaurants, clothing boutiques to speciality stores who are making conscious decisions about how they do business whether they have founded their business on sustainable principles or are changing the way they do business in a way that takes the environment into account. Choose to patronize businesses who share your values and who understand that there is a cost to being socially and environmentally responsible. Make sure you tell the owner that you applaud their decision to go green and let them know that you are willing to pay a little bit more to ensure a greener planet. 

And finally, Traverse City has its own currency, Bay Bucks, which ensures that dollars stay local. With Bay Bucks you can pay a handyman, buy food at the local organic food co-op, pay your cab fare, indulge with some designer chocolates, take a yoga class or hire a lawyer. There’s quite the directory of participating individuals and businesses who accept Bay Bucks as currency.

Yes, you can make a difference to prevent climate change even in Traverse City. Start small at first. Once you’ve made a few trips to the farmer’s market and know the farmers by name, you’ll be hooked. It will snowball from there. Enjoy.

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Two weeks ago, I went fishing on East Bay at 5:00 a.m. It was an early morning, but rewarding. We saw a stellar sunrise. My friend Jim is a regular out on East Bay during salmon season and has a boat that is decked out with fishing doodads- fishfinders, downriggers, lures, depth sounders, rods and more.
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Basically, all I had to do was show up and reel ’em in. When we got out on the water, it was dark. The moon and stars were on full display. We drank coffee and enjoyed fresh pastries from Potters (yep, they open really really early and we stopped on the way out to the boat launch and picked up a few pastries for the road boat.)
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Well, the 4:20 a.m. alarm was all worth it when I reeled in two salmon including the 15-pounder below. The salmon was amazing! We grilled it on a cedar plank. The plank needs to soak in water for about an hour, then brush the plank with olive oil on both sides, place the salmon on the plank, season the salmon with lemon pepper after drizzling with olive oil (just enough so that the lemon pepper has something to stick to.) The entire plank goes on the grill for about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the fish. We paired it with potatoes on the first night. For dinner number two, we had a salmon salad. I mixed my own dressing- a lemon vinagarette- which complimented the light meal very well. Fishing

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