Long Lake-Taylor Township Park

Spend a day at Taylor Park with friends and family for good old fashioned fun in the sun.

Taylor Park Long Lake

Taylor Park on Long Lake

The park is located on North Long Lake Road in Traverse City, Michigan just across the road from Long Lake Grocery. Long Lake Grocery, an up north classic, is a nostalgic sort of place with creaky wood floors and lots of charm. They have cold refreshments and make sandwiches and pizza. Many people who live on the lake enjoy the convenience of the public dock and pick up their pizza from their boat.

Pizza pick up from Long Lake Grocery

Pizza pick up from Long Lake Grocery

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I’ve been Chasing Rainbows-You’re in for a Rare Treat!

There are many great things about Traverse City.  One of them is that you can be downtown, and in just ten short minutes you can be out in beautiful rural farmlands.

There are small hobby farms and micro farms that supply local foods, as well as larger production farms. The main crops grown in the area are apples, grapes and cherries (Traverse City is known as the Cherry Capital of the World).

You’ll find locally sourced foods on the menu in restaurants all around the area.  This local emphasis is a contributing factor in the growing reputation of Traverse City being a Foodie Town.

I visited a farm today that offers a commodity you probably won’t want to eat.  This Iris Farm is open to the public when the flowers are in bloom.  They also grow Day Lilly’s.

To get there from downtown Traverse City, you head west on M-72 about ten minutes. The Iris Farm is on the right. And when it’s in bloom, you can’t miss it.

Out in the Iris field Traverse City Michigan

Out in the Iris field

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Spring Blossoms Overnight in Leelanau

Spring is here! I went driving around Leelanau County today and this is what I saw.

Forsythia.​​  I love forsythia.  Being one of the first plants to wake up in the spring, it is a bright light after many months of darkness in northern Michigan.  The yellow is a perfect yellow and the flowers are so simple.  If you cut it early, before it blooms outside,you can force it to bloom indoors.  Just bring a branch in the house and put it in a vase of water.

Forsythia in Leelanau County

Apple Blossoms​. The apple blossom is Michigan’s state flower. With an average apple harvest of 19.7 million bushels a year, Michigan is the third largest apple producing state in the United States.

Apple blossoms in Leelanau County

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In Search of Marsh Marigolds

One of my all time favorite flowers blooms only in the very early spring. They can be found in swampy areas around the Grand Traverse region. Marsh Marigolds grow in wetlands and pop with the brightest of bright yellows.

Just when you think you can’t take the dullness of winter any longer, the marigolds bloom.  A true sign of hope and better things (and weather) yet to come.  If you live in a northern climate, you know what I mean.

This year with our record snow fall- it has been a true test for northern Michiganders. According to mlive.com and the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a total of 266 inches of snow fell on these woods in Maple City this winter. And I know from the experience, not a lot of sunshine made it through all those snow clouds. Having lived through it, all I can say on this cloudy spring day is, “Thank God for Marsh Marigolds”.

They’re like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day.  Although in this case, a better analogy might be like a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day. But the glow of these flowers remind me more of the sun than hot cocoa.

Walt Whitman once said, “Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.”  I say, “marsh marigolds are so much sunshine to the square inch”.

Marsh marigolds on the side of the road

Marsh Marigolds Caltha Palustris.

 

To me, they are hard to miss. But most people never see them. When you’re driving down the road- look through the woods for patches of bright yellow in low lying areas.

Marsh Marigolds Michigan

If they are there, and you’re looking for them, you’ll see them. The contrast of yellow and green stands out against the dull grays and browns of the northern Michigan post winter landscape.

Marsh Marigolds on the side of the road in Leelanau County

Marsh marigolds in Leelanau County

If only I had a pair of rubber waders in the car so I could get even closer! This is the best I can do with the camera I have and without getting soaked.

Marsh marigolds Leelanau County up close and personal

Aren’t they lovely? Tell me, where have you spotted marsh marigolds?

 

Springtime on Spider Lake

Pussy Willow just starting to pop on Spider lake

Spring brings such wonder if you look close enough.​ A few days ago, this was a pussy willow bud just opening up.  Today it is bright yellow and upon closer look it is quite beautiful.    Don’t you think?

Pussy Willow just starting to pop on Spider lake

There are other signs of spring out in the woods today too.

Lone daffodil in the woods

Lone daffodil in the woods

Lying in wait on Spider Lake

Lying in wait on the shores of Spider Lake

We rented a cottage on Vacation Rentals By Owner.com. It was a very nice cottage.  The owners were very friendly and accommodating.  It was a great area to get out and walk. Even this time of year.

View from Cottage on Spider Lake in early spring

View from Cottage on Spider Lake

 

Sleepy road on Spider Lake in early spring

Moss on a log

mossy stumps in the swamp on Spider Lake

Lichen on tree at Spider Lake

birdhouse on tree on Spider lake

Panorama of Spider Lake

Ice Caves on Lake Michigan

Rumor has it, there are huge ice caves on the big lake. Lake Michigan doesn’t freeze over every year. But this has been an exceptional winter so far.

So we had to go see for ourselves. And the rumors are true. There are huge ice caves on Lake Michigan. They are really good just out from the shore a few miles north of Leland. You have to park and walk a bit as the road is blocked off out to the lake.

Road closed out to the ice caves on Lake Michigan

And in case you make it past the barricades, the county road ends at the water. As the signs says. You probably shouldn’t drive past here anyway. 🙂

road ends at water sign ice on lake michigan

We walked onto the ice about 400 yards from the shoreline.

people walking out on frozen lake michigan ice

There were huge pieces of ice sticking straight up and frozen in in place vertically.

clear ice pieces on lake michigan

There were giant snow boulders encapsulated in huge sheets of ice.

ICE BOULDERS IN LAKE MICHIGAN

There were ice caves about thirty feet high. Notice the people in the cave…and the big crack the ceiling of the cave? Yikes!

30 feet tall ice caves on lake michigan

There was white ice and blue ice and clear ice. We discovered clear ice buried under the snow. This picture was taken looking through very thick ice looking down onto the floor of Lake Michigan. The image on the right is not colorized! That’s how it really looked. The ice was more than one foot thick and the water was about six feet deep and it was this clear.

Looking through frozen Lake Michigan ice

What an awesome experience we had today!

Please share your thoughts and leave feedback and or questions.

And follow us on our next adventure in and around the Grand Traverse area!

panoramic view of the artic lake michigan

Edited: A note about safety. The ice can be very dangerous.  We are not suggesting you go out there. You can enjoy the views from the comfort of your own home online. 🙂 When we went out the temperatures had been well below freezing for more than three weeks. The next day the temperatures rose close to freezing and even a little above making for extremely dangerous ice conditions. Someone fell and got hurt.  Remember ice is very slippery too.

The Cicely Alaska of Traverse City, Michigan

Northern Exposure Traverse City

Years ago, in the 1990’s, our good friends knew they had an open invitation to come hang out at our house every Monday night.  The only catch was you had to be there by 10:00.  That was the time our favorite show, Northern Exposure came on the television. It was an open door on Monday nights.  Just for our closest friends.

We have never done that with any other television show.  Never had before then, and haven’t since. We were hooked. I think it was a combination of the story being told along with the blend of unique characters that lived in Cicely, Alaska. The tight-knit community they evoked on the show inspired us to create our own little community in Traverse City on Monday nights all winter long.

Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest

Today, we spent the day at the Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest .  Lake Ann is a little village about twenty minutes south-west of Traverse City. The locals call it LA. We felt like we’d been placed into the set of Northern Exposure.

The locals call it LA. We felt like we’d been placed into the set of Northern Exposure. The small town feeling was prevalent and charming.  The first guy we met stopped to talk with us while we got out of the car.  He gave us the rundown of the day.  We had just missed the pancake breakfast, but could still catch lunch at the town hall.  I think he was the towns Maurice Minnifield.

Welcome to Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest

Kids were having fun at a good old-fashioned pickup game of broomball on the village ice rink just off the park.

Ice Rink LA Snow Pine Fest

A red tractor ride pulled both young and old up the street to the museum and to a sledding hill complete with a warming station and hot cocoa to keep you warm!

Warming station LA Snow Pine Fest

We headed over to the town hall and took Maurice up on a bowl of chili, which we did but only after checking out the locally made quilt display at the Methodist church. This was an impressive display of handmade quilts made by the women of LA.

quilt show at methodist church lake ann snow pine fest 2014

The Almira Township Hall is a historical building in the center of town with original (creaky) wood floors, worn down by many community gatherings over the years.

Almira Township Hall downtown Lake Ann in Benzie County

We enjoyed our lunch and stayed for the live entertainment. The band played a mix of bluegrass and rockabilly. They were good! I really liked his white guitar.

Bluegrass band and his white guitar

 

Mother Nature provided a very wintry atmosphere for the Snow Pine Fest this year. These mailboxes buried in the snow bank prove it. It can be a challenge for the mailman, so they say. And I believe it. If it wasn’t bright orange, I may not have even seen this box buried in the snow.

mailboxes in snow

At the end of the day, the people of the village of Lake Ann were warm, friendly and very welcoming.  Thanks to all who worked hard and contributed toward putting on this small town winter fest.  It seems that everyone had a great time.  I know we did. 🙂

Hay Ride Tractor in the Snow Lake Ann

 

About Grand Traverse

Grand Traverse Area Map

The Grand Traverse area basically covers the tip of the pinky finger on your hand map.

What? You don’t know what a hand map is?  Then you must not be from Michigan! If you were from Michigan, you’d hold your left hand up, and with your right hand you’d point to the space where your pinky meets the ring finger. That’s the Grand Traverse area.

There are several counties that make up the region, all centering around Traverse City. The main hub of activity happens in T.C. It’s where you’ll most likely fly into.

Grand Traverse has been consistently making the headlines in the last few years. With high rankings on lists like best places to live, most romantic cities, best ice cream and best places for local wine.

Sshhhh! That’s what locals are saying about these accolades. Ssshhhhh!!!!

Well friends, I’m afraid that cat is out of the bag. Tourists are figuring out that the Grand Traverse area is the next best place to explore.

United States Map with Grand Traverse starred

If you are interested in traveling to the area, here’s some information you might want to know:

Location: In the northwestern part of the lower peninsula of the state of Michigan in the United States of America.

Language: English is the primary language, although the rural areas are historically farmland, so there is a significant Spanish speaking migrant worker population.

Local Terms: A Fudgie is a tourist, originally comes from one who has to buy Doug Murdock’s Fudge before leaving to go home. A Snowbird is a part time resident who flies the coop for warmer weather in the winter.

Currency: U.S. Dollars and some locals exchange Bay Bucks.

Time: Grand Traverse area is on Eastern Standard Time.

Airport: Cherryland Capital Airport.

Transportation: Taxi service in the Traverse City Region is served 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotels often have shuttle service. Public bus system serves most of the region. Car rentals are also available.

Counties: The counties we cover mostly in our blog are Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau.  We’ll go into Antrim and Charlevoix  at times, and may even stretch it up into Emmet County a little bit too.

Cities, Towns and Villages: Traverse City (T.C.) is the largest city in this area. Others include Petoskey, Charlevoix, Elk Rapids, Interlochen, Lake Ann, Lake Leelanau, Suttons Bay, Northport, Leland, Empire, Frankfort, Glen Arbor, Old Mission, Torch Lake and Mackinaw.

Population: The population was 14,674 at the 2010 census, with 143,372 in the Traverse City micro-politan area.

Geography: Other than it being the tips of the pinky and ring finger on your left hand? Maybe that’s not technical enough. The hills and lakes were shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago. Beach Maple Forests are mixed with Northern and White Pines. Sand dunes are vast. Crystal clear fresh water flows through the rivers and streams into the many inland lakes and finally out into the magnificent Great Lakes. The land is so special that a portion along the Lake Michigan shore is designated as the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

Agriculture: Traverse City is the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S. The first full week of July, the National Cherry Festival hosts approximately 500,000 visitors. The growing conditions on the peninsulas are also ideal for grapes, and there has been a recent boom in wineries popping up in the past couple of decades.

History: The area is named for the Grand Traverse Bay which is divided into East Grand Traverse Bay and West Grand Traverse Bay. Traverse City is located at the base. French voyagers in the 18th century named the bay le grande traverse or “the long crossing”. In the 19th century the area grew with the logging industry. Later came the cherry farmers and the railroad. Tourism was and is increasingly, a significant factor in helping to grow the area’s economy as well as the population.

Follow our blog to learn more about having your own grand adventure in the Grand Traverse area.