JB read an article a couple of weeks ago that suggested identifying the best part of each day as a way of improving outlook and mental health. We had been on the Keweenaw Peninsula at the far northwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, camping with friends. JB and I wanted to go to a place northwest of Houghton where there is a covered drive that we have visited before and wanted to see again – along with some other sights that needed a little more exploring. Our friends didn’t want to drive that far, and probably didn’t want to ride in our truck that far, and golf was on their agenda so we struck out alone. This was good for my introverted personality that needed some alone time to recharge.
That night JB asked what the best part of the day was for me… I thought a minute or two and then we both said, “The picnic lunch on the covered drive.” It is a narrow road, just wide enough for two cars but only where there are narrow pull-offs. This works fine as we only passed four or five vehicles on the four (give or take a little) mile drive. Nothing on this drive except trees, up close to the road, and no picnic tables. We pulled over on one of the little bulges in the road and had a picnic in the truck. Just the two of us.
Outside my window was a beautiful woods with a floor of sun-dappled ferns – and quiet and calm. I had packed crackers and humus and fig preserves. I also put in the cheese ball, an apple, and some trail mix I made from ingredients from our home-town health food store. And some of my home-made molasses cookies that have raw sugar on top that crunches when we bite into the soft cookie. What good eating as we sat and talked or didn’t say anything for long periods of time. Just sitting, knowing each other was there and being content with that.
Note: If you are ever in this area and want to get to the covered road, it is marked on the tourist information obtained at most retailers on the Keweenaw Peninsula. My directions are to turn onto the Portage Canal Road off highway 26 going south out of Houghton. The covered road goes between the Portage Canal Road and the road that goes to Redridge and Freda (old company towns for the mines). It isn’t far but make sure you have gas and a lunch because there isn’t anything out that way since the mines closed down many years ago.
To the east of Traverse City, on Lake Michigan, there is a small town I like to visit to do a little shopping – I always know just what I want. The town is Leland and the shopping area I go to is Fishtown. Fishtown is the commercial fishing district, just a couple of big docks, that has provided a living for the resident of Leland for over a century through fishing, lumbering, and iron smelting.
On our last visit I learned its current history. A few years back a developer was interested in buying up the property to tear down the buildings for some high-end condos. Some local residents got together and bought up the property to preserve the building by using them for small shops and charter fishing companies.
Our visit this spring was a couple of weeks before high tourist season began so we had a leisurely stroll around and then ate the picnic lunch we had packed. I can share the stroll with you but I’m sorry to say lunch is finished up.
And I bought what I needed from Fishtown – some fish sausage and smoked whitefish. So good with cheese and crackers and beer or wine.
We just returned from a few days on the Leelanau Peninsula, a piece of land between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay that would be the pinkie of the Michigan mitten. One day was spent at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore where we walked the boardwalk out to a lookout over the dune cliff and Lake Michigan. We have been visiting this area for 50 years so it is full of memories, especially of watching our children climb the dunes and play along the shore. Back then there were no boardwalks or concerns about protecting this fragile ecosystem.
Linked to Cee’s Which Way Challenge for June 1.
Along the northwest shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is the Grand Traverse Bay formed by the mainland and the Lelanau Peninsula. At the tip of the Lelanau Peninsula is the Grand Traverse Lighthouse marking the opening to the Grand Traverse Bay. This lighthouse has guided ships since it was built in 1858, now with an automatic light tower.
I wanted to photograph the lighthouse from a different perspective so I walked toward the beach. The beach was a surprise and provided a quiet retreat for the few minutes I wandered through the paths. I love the diversity of beach along the more than 3,000 miles of Great Lake beach front in Michigan.
We thought a Friday in the middle of September, before peak color season in upper Michigan, would be a good time to take a quiet, relaxing tour of the Leelanau Peninsula. We were wrong – many other people had the same false belief.
The Leelanau Peninsula is a narrow piece of land that runs north between Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay. If you can see in your mind’s eye Michigan as a mitten, the Leelanau Peninsula would be where the pinky finger is. It is most famous for its cherries and wineries; there are 26 wineries on the peninsula. It is close to the 45th parallel that is ideal for growing grapes, especially white. But our goal this time was not to do the winery tours that are well advertised.
Our goal was to visit the small villages as we drove the perimeter of the peninsula, the small towns that we have visited before. It has been many years since we have been here so we had the advantage of visiting places that gave us the feeling of “coming home” while also having new adventures.
We stopped at Leland because I had purchased really good fish sausage at a store on the docks once upon a time, long ago. There were scores of tourists, but we found a parking space behind some shops. I grabbed my camera and walked towards the shops below where the fish weather vane and sign identifying Historic Fishtown.
And I smiled. This isn’t for tourists – unless you want to charter a fishing cruise. This is where fishing boats are docked and fish are processed.
This is where I bought some excellent white fish sausage and smoked salmon. Just what we needed with our cheese and cracker mid afternoon snack.
Thought of the day: I tell myself that places like this are where I most enjoy taking photographs. They feel authentic and have personality and I like capturing the personality of a place. But then I have to question whether this is any more authentic than the “touristy” street up the hill from Fishtown. Both are commercial and both meet a need for both visitors and the community. Is the shopping district any less authentic? No, it is also Leland – but still it seems to be very much like other tourist shopping districts in all parts of the U.S. I don’t get excited about capturing the personality of a shopping district designed to meet the needs of tourists. What do you think?