Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes have been on our radar for quite sometime. We had to go west. So we headed to North Lower Michigan's little finger for some bike riding and relaxing.
The Leelanau Peninsula is dotted with small communities surrounded by farms, vineyards and orchards making it a perfect place for stargazing and considered one of the state's dark sky areas. We haven't been fortunate to see the milky way due to the clouds but they do keep us cool while out and about.
After catching up on our sleep, we pulled out the road bikes and map to plan out our routes for the ten days we were here and got the rubber on the road.
The rails to trails paved path from Sutton Bay to Traverse city between lakes was a great 30 mile ride. I have found riding flat or rolling hills sometimes painful on the butt. this ride did not disappoint, delightful with a touch of discomfort. Actualy, it hurt.
The fish tacos were just right.
Our ride from Glen Arbor to Sleeping Bear Dunes along Glen Lake on the road was so pleasant returning on the Heritage Trail.
One of the museums in the Dunes.
It took a while to climb in the sand with a few calf cramps.
This part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is very steep. People were crawling back up on their hands and knees.
Northern Michigan's commercial fishing heritage remains alive today in Leland's Fishtown. We walked along the docks, amongst the weathered fishing shanties, smokehouses, racks of drying fishing nets, and fish tugs on the Leland River, and we could imagine what it would have been like in the early 1900s to live and work in this small fishing village, nestled along the shore of Lake Michigan. Fishtown still operates as one of the only working commercial fishing villages in the state of Michigan. Many of the shanties now house gift and clothing boutiques, art galleries and specialty food shops.
We took a ride around North Lake Leenanau stopping in Fishtown in Leland which was a favorite of ours. The ferry to the Manitou Islands leaves from these docks daily at 9:30 and returns at 5:30.
While living in Colorado Springs, we often enjoyed riding with the Colorado Springs Cycle Club on their Saturday morning Latte Rides. This stop at the end of our ride made us think about those rides and our friends. We think they would have enjoyed this ride on a perfect day around the lake.
Since our bike rides often end with a stop for "coffee", we often meet interesting people. There is something about being on a bike that makes people stop and talk. While stopped in Lake Leelanau at the end of one of our rides, we met a young lady that was touring along Lake Michigan on her mountain bike. She was riding 30 miles a day for 10 days and enjoying the lovely sunshine and blue water.
After our Sutton Bay ride, we met a man that is spending the summer sailing the lakes in and around Michigan's lakes. He had walked from the marina for coffee and a treat before heading over to the grocery store. He had stories to tell.
The Traverse Lighthouse that over looks Lake Michigan is said to be haunted by Captain Nelson. Danish ship captain Peter Nelson, was the lighthouse keeper at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse from October 12, 1874 to July 11, 1890. He died two years later.
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum accepts applications for volunteer lighthouse keepers for the season, April through December. You’ll work hard during the day greeting visitors, spouting historical information and helping with maintenance of the buildings and grounds, but, hey, it can’t be as grueling as the work of the 1880’s keepers, who spent their days
filling lights with sperm oil, trimming wicks, polishing lenses. You can watch panoramic sunsets in the lighthouse tower at day’s end, and tuck up in your own bed in the northern apartment of the lighthouse. Volunteer keepers live at the light for one or two weeks.
Along the country roads were self serve stands selling produce, pastries and jams along with anything else they want to sell. On our return ride from the lighthouse, we stopped for some great peaches and a piece of apple pie.
We did get a hike in to do some geocaching but the mosquitoes were insane in places. That just made us keep moving while we did the loop. We did find the caches and stopped at the overlook to enjoy the view.
This strange looking creature had just come out of his cocoon while we watched.
This part of our Michigan trip was better than we could have hoped. Riding our bikes to visit the small towns along the country roads with temps in the low 70s and very little rain was a perfect way to enjoy our summer or at least a small part of it.