Okay, don't look too closely at this picture, or you'll notice that we are not in focus, but the very lovely rocks and sand in the foreground are. And pay no attention to the fact that I'm standing in some sort of whacko pose. Both of these unfortunate attributes owe their existence to the fact that I am too timid to ask someone else to take our picture, but feel okay propping my camera in the sand, setting a timer, and running yards and yards away down the beach to stand next to my husband. Seeing this photo leads me to believe that I only just made it into the picture. It could have been worse; it could have been a photo of my retreating rear end.
"Did it take? Are we done?"
"I don't know. Hold still..."
This past weekend, Abe and I drove up to Traverse City, MI, the Cherry Capital of the World, to celebrate our 5th anniversary. What a gorgeous weekend to go north! The trees appeared to be the the peak of their fall color, the sun shone brilliantly the whole weekend, and temperatures were very mild. It was the perfect weekend!
We arrived in Traverse late Friday night and crashed. The next day, after carbo-loading on oatmeal, bagels, and fresh waffles (I know...), we headed to the Old Navy Outlet. Please don't mock me. I found a wonderful long anorak for $13 on the clearance rack which is The Coat I have been looking for for ages. Then, senseless outlet shopping aside, we hit the cute boutique shops of downtown Traverse. One highlight was a shop called Diversions which sold every kind of hat you could imagine: fedoras, barbershop quartet hats, cowboy hats, Civil War-era soldier hats, fur-lined aviator hats, flouncy Sunday hats, renaissance hats...needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), we tried most of them on. Sadly, again, I'm too timid to ask others to take a photo, so I have no documentation. My other highlight was the purchase of a small silicone spatula from Peppercorn, one of several kitchen stores. I have been wanting one of these bad boys for a while. It took a trip north to get one, which is sad.
After a tasty lunch at the Mackinaw Brewing Company (I had the Beef Brisket Sandwich, Abe had the Reuben), we walked the beach, then climbed back into the car and headed out for a scenic drive up to the tip of the Leelenau peninsula. It was gorgeous, even if its curvy roads did make me queasy. We drove all the way up to the tip, where we saw the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and walked out to the water.
For dinner that evening, we set out to find Boone's Long Lake Inn, a restaurant that was recommended by a friend. The wait was long, so we requested a menu to pass the time. When we saw the prices they were charging for steaks that we could enjoy at home for 1/20th of the cost, we made a hasty retreat. We drove around for ages trying to find a restaurant that didn't have a long wait, finally settling on Jesse James' restaurant in downtown Traverse. We were able to be seated immediately in this new restaurant. "Either it's so new, no one knows about it, or there's a reason it's empty on a Saturday night," Abe said. "We'll find out soon." $30 worth of mediocre-at-best Tex-Mex food later, we had our answer. Stinkin'...we should have stayed at Boone's.
Sunday morning, after being heavily fortified with breakfast (and I mean heavily), we headed out to Glen Arbor and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakefront. Our reason for visiting Glen Arbor was straightforward: The Cherry Republic. The Cherry Republic is a veritable campus of Cherry Goodness. There's the main building, stocked with more than 150 different cherry products, ranging from dried fruit to salsa and barbecue sauce to coffee to hand lotion. Then there's the winery, where you can sample 10 or so Cherry-based wines. Then there's the cafe, where you may partake of a cherry-laden lunch or a simple snack of--you guessed it--cherry baked goods. If you ever happen to be in Glen Arbor, plan to stop in here. We gorged ourselves on samples (after 15 tastes of the Cherry BBQ Southern Rub, I still liked it), tasted almost all the wines (we don't even like wine), and walked through the cafe...where we admitted that, after practically guzzling the Cherry BBQ sauce, we were not in the least bit hungry, and moved on.
After our cherry feast, we headed over towards the shore and Sleeping Bear Dunes. We opted out of the hill climb (too much like exercise) and chose instead to drive the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive to better view the dunes. It cost us $10, but it was worth it. We obediently got out to admire the view at stops 3, 9, and 11, as the park ranger had instructed us to do. 3 wasn't particularly noteworthy, but 9 was--at stop 9, you walk along the dune and out on a boardwalk over the edge of the 450-ft drop off to Lake Michigan. It was there that we had our most tangible dune experience: we were whipped by gusts of blowing sand a la Lawrence of Arabia. My bald husband yelped repeatedly as the sand stung his pate, and I tucked in my shirt and covered my face to avoid the certain exfoliation the sand promised. Hours later, I was still brushing sand out of my eyebrows and hair, and trying to scrape some of it out of my ears. Ewww. Um, it's a great view and all, but it's probably best if you wear some sort of mask and also an astronaut suit if you go. We did also stop at point 11, but after all the excitement of point 9, how could it compare? It is already forgotten.
Well, with sand in our shoes, cherry wine and cherry jam in our bellies, and joy in our hearts, we finally headed home to our kids, whom we actually missed quite a bit. It seemed they missed us too, and this just goes to show you: often, the best part of being away is coming home.