Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Leelanau Peninsula

We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised about northwest Michigan than if we had arrived on another galaxy.  It is definitely a beautiful and picturesque state.  Michigan is, as they say....Pure.  Our car is our moon rover and has faithfully scooted all over the main roads and back roads without so much as a hiccup.  We will leave the Traverse City area with so many memories we might have brain freeze.
Scenic Michigan Highway M-22

  The Leelanau Peninsula is a beautiful scenic shoreline drive on M-22, for the most part through miles of looking at big blue Lake Michigan to the inland Lake Leelanau and Glen Lakes.  Several clear, sand-bottomed rivers are along the way with sand dunes, vineyards, orchards, and small resort towns to just plain wilderness beauty.  This area is also on the 45th parallel, an area halfway between the equator and the north pole.  The significance is the atmosphere is extremely conducive to agriculture.
45th Parallel sign on Leelanau Peninsula

Cherry orchard

Picturesque and historical farm on M-22
Upon leaving Traverse City in a northwesterly direction you immediately see the marina beach of Suttons Bay.  They say the shallows of the bays are warm, but my definition of warm is very different from that of a person from Michigan.  The Suttons Bay shops are worth a visit on any casual afternoon, but the artist's galleries are one of the reasons this town was named "100 Best Art Towns in America".
Suttons Bay Shop, MI

Suttons Bay Shop - MI

Black Star Farms - Inn - Vineyard - Stables and Cheese Factory

Making famous Leelanau Raclette Cheese - (think Swiss fondue)

Raclette Cheese Factory - Black Star Farms - Suttons Bay

Processing Raclette Cheese - Black Star Farms - Suttons Bay
 Following M-22 north from Suttons Bay, the village of Northport has a beautiful municipal marina and just about every weekend has some event to attract tourists.  This village celebrates everything imaginable, but Northport is known as one of the area's earliest settlements.   We have met locals who are 5th generation descendants of Northport settlers who have remained involved in the same business on the same farms.
Northport store owned by 5th generation descendants 
 Since Glen Arbor/Glen Haven are within about 6 miles of us at Indigo Bluffs, we probably have gone here the most.  Glen Arbor is a vacation place in a package.  The cottages that line the turquoise water of Glen Lake are stunning.  The fine coastal sand dunes are just as beautiful as the view of the Manitou Islands, very visible on a clear day from the shoreline.    Spectacular sunsets define this area.  Glen Arbor is also the "world headquarters" of Cherry Republic, a tourist draw that sells 100+ items crafted from cherries.
Glen Arbor, MI

Glen Lake Cottages - Glen Arbor, MI

Glen Lake, MI
Cherry Republic Headquarters - Glen Arbor, MI

Olympic Size Pit Spitting Arena - Cherry Republic

View of Manitou Island off coast of Lake Michigan - Glen Arbor

Glen Haven, MI - from Glen Haven Coast Guard Station

Another day draws to an end on Lake Michigan
In our next blog I will take an opportunity to tell you about my interesting adventure to the old Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane, which opened its doors in 1886.  This massive structure in Traverse City served as a state asylum until its closure in 1989.  Very interesting.

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