Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pure Michigan–Lake Leelanau, Part II


Two weeks into our month-long stay at Wild Cherry Resort, we had settled into a comfortable daily routine. Most days, the highlight of Steven's morning was reading the local paper while enjoying his coffee and an almond croissant from 9 Bean Row Bakery, a fabulous little place located less than a mile from our site. I had a few myself and they were pretty yummy.

By this time our late spring stormy weather had improved, making for a few lovely afternoon outings. The thing we really loved about Leelanau County is that it is packed full of things to do and sights to see and all were relatively close by.

We explored Traverse City, including the downtown area and the former state hospital, which is a massive complex of old buildings, some restored to their former glory and filled with trendy shops and restaurants. How's that for repurposing? (More on this place in a bit.) We visited the little towns of Leland and Northport and hung out on the patio at the "Knot Just A Bar" restaurant with a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.

Lots of shopping at the former mental asylum that is now Grand Traverse Commons.

The view of Lake Michigan from Knot Just A Bar. Very relaxing.

Throughout the area we visited a ton of shops that celebrated all things cherry. Did you know that the area around Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the World? When you visit the area you come away with a real appreciation of the little tart cherry. I'm not particularly fond of cherries, but I found myself being assimilated. I made coleslaw with dried cherries and a cherry-lime dressing, and I added dried cherries to my granola mix. I also enjoyed numerous Michigan Mules, the cherry-lime version of the popular Moscow Mule and even more of my very favorite - the cherry-lime Rickey. I think I’m a fan!

Various flavors of olive oils and balsamic vinegar, including cherry, bought in Traverse City.


Elaborate landscaping at the Cherry Republic store in Glen Arbor (there’s one in Traverse City too).

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It was a foggy day when we went to visit Grand Traverse Lighthouse.


We bought some yummy local products from this store in nearby Suttons Bay.

We also put our car in for service while we were sitting still. The Chevy dealership in Traverse City gave us a nice Silverado as a loaner while Toadie was being tuned up. They ended up making a bit of a boo-boo that required them to keep Toadie for three days!! So we made a repeat visit to Petoskey in said Silverado to see an exhibit of photos by Ansel Adams. What a sweet ride!

While Toadie was away, the Silverado did play :)

What a treat to see the Ansel Adams exhibit!

One of the lovely views from the little town of Petoskey.

There are also a ton of wineries in the area but we didn't visit a single one. We meant to, but we just couldn't muster the enthusiasm. I think part of the reason is because we buy the majority of our wines through Naked Wines, an online wine retailer. We help fund independent winemakers from around the world and in return we buy the wines at wholesale prices. We've been doing this for years and have yet to find a single bottle of wine we didn't like. We usually buy a case or two at a time and had just received a shipment soon after we arrived at Wild Cherry. So we weren't in the market for wines and just didn't find ourselves in the mood to try any new ones. We talked about this and decided we enjoy wineries as a group activity rather than just the two of us.

You may recall in a previous post I mentioned that we met a couple, Bill & Cindy, from this area while on the ferry crossing from Cedar Island, NC to the Outer Banks. We had met them for breakfast on the OBX and enjoyed each other's company enough that we made plans to get together while we were in Lake Leelanau. Bill and Cindy first came over to our place for dinner and we found, the more time we spent with them, the more we really enjoyed their company. So we made more plans.

Lounging by the lake with friends Bill and Cindy.

We spent a beautiful afternoon kayaking on Glen Lake. I have only been kayaking once, last year in Alaska, and I really struggled because sea kayaking can be rough. But out on Glen Lake, it was fabulous! Afterward, we drove to Bill & Cindy's home, a beautiful property that they have nurtured and loved since they were a young married couple. Cindy has a bountiful garden and four chickens that, shockingly, don't have names. How is even that possible??

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Kayaking with Bill and Cindy on Glen Lake. What fabulous weather we had!

Bill and Cindy’s vegetable garden. We forgot to get photos of the nameless chickens. :(

We spent a lovely evening enjoying a grilled salmon dinner and best of all, their company. With just a few days left of our time at Wild Cherry, we decided one more get-together was in order. As it turns out, Bill & Cindy's wedding anniversary was just days away and they agreed to let us horn in on the celebration. We met for dinner at the 9 Bean Row Restaurant, sister to the bakery we enjoyed almost daily, which is actually in the town of Suttons Bay. While we again enjoyed the lively conversation of our little foursome, the food left a lot to be desired. We really enjoyed our time together and hope we see them again someday.

Good company made up for the mediocre food. Having said that, their breakfast offerings are fabulous.

So, back to the state hospital I mentioned above that has been repurposed. I know lots of RVers like to visit sites listed in the Roadside America book, well, this is one of those quirky places. It's a pretty big place and not all the buildings have been restored. Today it's called The Village at Traverse Commons, which is utterly quaint considering its history. It was open from the mid-1880s until 1989 and has dozens of buildings scattered across 63 acres. There are general tours available but the one that stood out for Steven was the in-depth, two-hour photographer's tour. You know if it's creepy, he's gonna go for it. Enjoy the photos. :)

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The outside of Grand Traverse Commons and former grounds of Traverse City State Hospital.

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Steven was in his element on the photography tour through the old asylum.

Next Up: The Great Lakes Freighters


  1. Oh, this just makes my heart sing. :)))))))) Lets schedule that wine tour sometime in the future!

    1. It's a date! Seriously, we talked about going nearly every day, but we were quite happy just being home and doing nothing. LOL, not very exciting, but it worked for us!

  2. Sounds like an awesome time! Glad Steven got in some creepy pic taking time! Ha! Miss you guys!

    1. Miss you, too! We had a great time. A little exploring, a little resting. I wouldn't want to stay put this way all the time, but after our go-go travels in the first part of the year, we were ready!

  3. Would not think of cherries when thinking of Michigan - sounds like you definitely immersed yourselves in the culture :-)) How fun to make local friends! I can't believe you didn't name the chickens while there. That lighthouse is so different from the west coast ones - pretty too. Hope Toady's all better. Great creepy building pics. While the tunnel is awesome, I especially like the windows!

    1. Poor nameless chickens. I thought about naming them, but since they aren't mine, I refrained. (I know, that hasn't stopped me in the past...)

  4. Your fireworks pictures came out lovely! Looks like a wonderful time! Dawn